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CeCe Winans will host the Gospel Roots of Rock and Soul radio documentary this February

The Dixie Hummingbirds | Photo by Ellen C Miller for WXPN

Wrapping up the year-long Gospel Roots of Rock and Soul project, a new radio documentary series will launch in February, hosted by Grammy-award winning gospel singer CeCe Winans. Produced by WXPN, distributed by NPR, and airing in Philadelphia on XPN as well as WRTI, Temple’s classical and jazz station, at 90.1 FM.

#XPNGospelRoots was supported by a grant from the Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, and included a sold-out series of concerts featuring The Dixie Hummingbirds, The Fairfield Four, and more — in addition to a website of short blog posts and long-form essays tracing the history of 20th century gospel music and how we still hear it reflected today.  Continue reading →

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#XPN5050: 1986

For fifty weeks over the next year, we’re celebrating the music of a specific year every Saturday on WXPN. We’ll be choosing the years randomly; for this week’s #XPN5050, Bruce Warren is putting the musical spotlight on the year 1986.

For a turbulent year of alarming news stories — from the Challenger to Chernobyl to Mad Cow Disease and the Iran-Contra Affair — the music of 1986 was equally turbulent, and not easily contained in a box.

You had Paul Simon collaborate with Ladysmith Black Mambazo and the Boyoyo Boys to record Graceland, the album that defined the second era of the veteran singer-songwriter’s career, and an eternal best-rock/pop-album-of-all-time contender.

You saw New Order release its fourth LP, Brotherhood, topping charts in its native United Kingdom and getting a warm reception stateside as well, solidifying the Manchester band’s transition from post-punk to electronic dance, particularly on the hit single “Bizarre Love Triangle.”

Run D.M.C. and Beastie Boys brought hip-hop to the mainstream with Raising Hell and Licensed to Ill, respectively, while Janet Jackson re-invented herself as a pop goddess on Control and They Might Be Giants debuted with their self-titled collection cerebral indie rock.

Other albums with hits galore on the mainstream and college rock scenes were Prince’s Parade, Madonna’s True Blue, and R.E.M.’s Life’s Rich Pageant. 

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Announcing Live at the World Cafe Volume 45, featuring Hozier, John Prine, Neko Case and more

Attention World Cafe fans — there will soon be another compilation CD to add to your collection. Live At the World Cafe Volume 45 will be available to XPN members this winter, and it features performances from some of our favorite artists.

Chances are a lot of the songs on the CD are ones you haven’t been able to stop listening to over the last year, from Neko Case‘s infectious “Bad Luck” to The War & Treaty‘s rousing “Healing Tide.” The compilation features trusty favorites like Dawes and Amos Lee, newer voices like Rayland Baxter and Rainbow Kitten Surprise, plus a few artists who made comebacks recently, like John Prine and Belly. All tracks on the compilation were recorded live right here in Philly for NPR’s World Cafe. Continue reading →

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Jenny Lewis gives us an On The Line release date, shares single “Red Bull & Hennessy”

Jenny Lewis | photo by Autumn DeWilde | courtesy of the artist

New Jenny Lewis music is always a cause for celebration — especially when it marks her first release in almost five years. Last month, Lewis announced her new album On The Line, but kept us hanging without many details. Now, she’s shared that the record will be released on March 22 via Warner Brothers, and its lead single “Red Bull & Hennessy” is out now. Listen below, and pre-order the album here. Continue reading →

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#XPN5050: 1999

For fifty weeks over the next year, we’re celebrating the music of a specific year every Saturday on WXPN. We’ll be choosing the years randomly; for this week’s #XPN5050, Eric Schuman is putting the musical spotlight on the year 1999.

It was a musically bizarre landscape during final year of the 1990s (and, depending on who you ask, the final year of the 20th century): the alternative zeitgeist had long since died away, pop music was developing a new sheen for the new millennium, nümetal was in its unfortunate ascendence.

But there were stone cold classics released that year as well: The Magnetic Fields’ magnum opus 69 Love Songs captured the imagination of the indie rock underground, The Roots’ Things Fall Apart launched them from the Philadelphia map to the global map, R&B trio TLC crafted another chart-topper to perfection with “No Scrubs” from Fanmail, and Moby’s Play was not only a critical hit, but it redefined commercial success when it managed to license every single one of its 18 tracks to various commercials.

Veteran artists like Blondie, Blur, and Luscious Jackson tried to re-invent themselves with new releases in 1999; the year also saw the quiet debut of bands who would go on to huge acclaim, like The White Stripes and My Morning Jacket.  Continue reading →

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One-Two, One-Two, Keep It On: Listen to the January 2019 edition of What’s The Frequency?! on WXPN

Listen to the ish because we kick it ’til dawn

On the second Friday of every month, WXPN’s John Vettese hosts WHAT’S THE FREQUENCY?!?!!, a four-hour, request driven showcase of 90s and 90s-adjacent music. If you can’t tune in live, we’ve got archives of each episode for you here on The Key.

It’s funny how some classics experience a new life. In the January 11 edition of #WTFXPN, we started the show off with a cut from Bay Area hip-hop faves Luniz, “I Got 5 On It,” that is seeing a new life thanks to its inclusion in the trailer for Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us. The day after the trailer dropped, Genius.com reported a huge spike in searches for the song.

On the either side of that, there are the classic-then-classic-now sorts of 90s cuts (Green Day’s “She”) and the firmly-remaining-in-the-underground cuts (“The Boatman” by Brighton anarcho-folk punks Levellers), and we heard the whole gamut on this month’s show, along with a Jon Spencer Blues Explosion jam for the folks headed to see him at Johnny Brenda’s, the amazing Beastie Boys’ fan fave jammer “Get It Together” (featuring incredible bars from Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest), and a small celebration of to the 20th birthday of Britney Spears’ debut album Baby One More Time. Listen back to the show and peruse the playlist below.  Continue reading →

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The Cranberries share “All Over Now” from final album In the End

Dolores O'Riordan of The Cranberries | photo by Amarvudol | via Wikimedia Commons
Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries | photo by Amarvudol | via Wikimedia Commons

In the year since the tragic passing of Dolores O’Riordan, the voice of The Cranberries, the band’s remaining members have been working on completing the unfinished projects that were in progress at the time of O’Riordan’s death. The Cranberries had been working on a new album in 2017, for which O’Riordan had already recorded vocals. The band had plans to finish the album early last year, but it was put on hold until they eventually came to the decision to go ahead with the release. Called In the End, The Cranberries’ eighth and final album will be released on April 26. The first single, which is aptly and eerily titled “All Over Now,” is out now. Continue reading →

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Soon to be Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Rick Allen of Def Leppard, sits in with the Dan & Dan Music Podcast!

Courtesy of the artist
Courtesy of the artist

Meet Dan and Dan! Dan Reed, Music Director and Afternoon Host at WXPN/Philadelphia and Dan DeLuca, Music Critic and Columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer sit down on a bi-weekly basis to talk MUSIC!

In addition to being the drummer for soon-to-be Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band Def Leppard, Rick Allen is also a visual artist. He calls in to talks with the Dan’s about his current art show Legends and Dreams, which is out on tour now. We’ll learn about the inspiration behind his artwork and some of the organizations that Rick has teamed up with. Plus, the guys talk about the recent Hall of Fame nomination and what other plans Rick has in the year ahead. Also on the show, Dan and Dan pick new songs of the week and tell us their New Year resolutions in song form.

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#XPN5050: 2015

For fifty weeks over the next year, we’re celebrating the music of a specific year every Saturday on WXPN. We’ll be choosing the years randomly; for this #XPN5050, Kristen Kurtis is putting the musical spotlight on the year 2015.

In some ways, it seems strange to be celebrating such a recent period of time in our year of throwbacks, the #XPN5050. Like, wasn’t it just 2015 not all that long ago?

But take a look at a few of the albums released then, and you’ll agree. This wasn’t a year where music needed time and distance to be assimilated and appreciated in the realm of music history. This is a year of records that arrived on the scene fully formed, of instant classics. Continue reading →