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Get a glimpse of Vita and the Woolf’s tour life in this photo diary

vita and the woolf
Jennifer Pague of Vita and the Woolf | photo by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordophotography.com

Getting out of town, even if it’s still technically for work, can be good for the creative process. Earlier this month local electro-pop outfit Vita and the Woolf took a weeklong break from putting the finishing touches on their forthcoming Tunnels LP, hitting the road for the second time this summer. Joining Jennifer Pague & co was photographer and Key contributor Rachel Del Sordo, who just posted a great photo tour diary on her website.

Continue reading →

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Camp Candle: Instinctive electropop for the people

Camp Candle | Photo by Joe Del Tufo | courtesy of the artist
Camp Candle | Photo by Joe Del Tufo | courtesy of the artist

“And I feel it….I’m still shaking…..The weapons are drawn against me…I can’t take it.”

“Weapons,” the opening track from Philly-based Electro­Pop duo Camp Candle’s debut ERE, delivers these words on top of a bed of sweet, dreamy synth chords. Heavy programmed beats, handclaps and tambourine bring the song into the realm of traditional black sacred music, a 21st century gospel spiritual of survival and self­-awareness.

Dynamically shifting between loud and quiet sections, the brief, two-minute piece alternately flirts with light and darkness, capturing tense and fearful but resolute spirit of the day. Singer / guitarist Hetepsa describes the song as the hymn of a heart and mind heavy with disappointing revelations about our world. “’Weapons’ represents an awakening to the lies we are surrounded by and fed. The song sounds so happy because although the truth can be hard, it’s still beautiful to be in the know,” Hetespa says. Continue reading →

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In Conversation with Garbage’s Butch Vig

Garbage
Garbage | photo courtesy of the artist

Garbage have had a lot of ups and downs over their twenty-plus years together. Through it all, however, they’ve consistently managed to produce pristine, propulsive pop-rock hybrids that sounds as thrilling and just ahead of the curve now as they did on their self-titled introduction to the world back in 1995.

Their current album, Strange Little Birds, is already being heralded in many circles as their best album since then, and not without good reason. Over its eleven tracks, the band’s signature sound stretches and sprawls with a playfulness and precision they haven’t shown in over a decade. We’ll get to see how it stretches out live too when they play The Fillmore this Saturday night.

Alas, drummer and co-founder Butch Vig will not be in attendance. Grounded from flight on doctor’s orders after a bout of sinusitis, this freed him up for a chat about the new album, how the band fits into the musical landscape of today, and what’s kept them band together all of these years… Continue reading →

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XPN Fest Preview: Meet Rosemary FiKi, the force of nature kicking off the show on Friday

Rosemary FiKi
Rosemary FiKi | photo by John Vettese

Need a compelling argument to get to XPNFest early this year? Two words: Rosemary Fiki.

The Philadelphia singer / songwriter / rock and roller / entertainer caught our ear this past year based on an eclectic assortment of streaming songs on her Soundcloud page. One moment, it was a vibrant nightclub bump with soaring diva vocals, another moment there was an acoustic guitar strumming and FiKi’s plaintive vocals doing a sensitive Feist / Laura Nyro kind of thing.

These days, she’s straddling both of those worlds; as we saw when FiKi recorded a Key Studio Session last fall, she’s currently backed by a high-energy three-piece band, freeing her to dance at the mic, shake her tambourine and work the crowd with relentless energy. That’s on prominent display in the fired-up “Come To Me,” which you can watch a video of below, and the endlessly catchy “Ooh” — but FiKi and the band also delve into a more nuanced side of things with ballads like “The Great Unknown,” and the groovy askew rhythms of “Pro.” Chatting with her over email, it sounds like her music is about to explore another direction still after XPoNential.

For now, read on below to get to know Rosemary FiKi — and make sure you arrive at Wiggins Park tomorrow in plenty of time to catch her 4 p.m. set. Continue reading →

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XPN Fest Preview: Veteran sidewoman Eliza Hardy Jones takes center stage

Eliza Hardy Jones
Eliza Hardy Jones | Photo by Ryan Collerd | ryancollerd.com | courtesy of the artist

Eliza Hardy Jones is a seasoned side-woman. She plays keys and sings in the Grace Potter band, Strand Of Oaks and Nightlands, she’s one-half of the founding partnership in Buried Beds. She excels in maintaining a stage presence that adds to live experience, begs the audience to turn their glances to her.

“Part of your job as a side person is to be a part of the performance,” she says. “You can’t stand there like a sad lump, like you’re bored. You have to be engaged to the music because that helps other people be engaged with the music.”

Hardy Jones has performed twice at XPoNential Music Festival before – once with Grace Potter and the other with Strand Of Oaks. This year she’ll perform, on the River Stage at Wiggins Park at at noon on Sunday, July 24, for the first time as herself. As a frontwoman. Continue reading →

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XPN Fest Preview: Billy Hector brings his blues rock from the beach to Wiggins Park

Billy Hector | Photo courtesy of artist
Billy Hector | Photo courtesy of artist

You can take the man out of the shore but you can’t take the shore out of the man. Blues rock vocalist and guitarist Billy Hector has earned himself a rightful place as one of the Jersey shore’s musical legends, playing up and down the state for nearly four decades and counting. From opening shows for Buddy Guy and running in the same circles as Bruce Springsteen and Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, Hector is as vivacious as ever and ready to take on one of his most exciting gigs to date — the band is packing their things and trading coastlines for skylines to perform at this weekend’s XPoNential Music Festival. Hector and his band, composed of drummer Sim Cain and bassist Winston Roye, have a set of big proportions planned, with an even bigger point to prove. Continue reading →

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Time Capsule: Kurt Vile on channeling blue-collar blues into “Space Forklift”

Kurt Vile
Kurt Vile | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

In Time Capsule, we ask artists to revisit songs they may have forgotten: pieces they wrote, released, and packed away—until now. Each month, we’ll pick one band who will pick one song and tell us the story behind where they were and what they were thinking when they wrote it.

It’s not news that Kurt Vile used to drive a forklift for a living; a lot of his work is influenced by a blue-collar attitude — from folky fingerpicking to his gravely voice and lyrics. In this city, to gain any respect, you better have worked a dead-end job shoveling shit, fixing radiators, or some day in, day out task that propels you to dream of something better — and deserve it when you get it.

Kurt spent two years handling a mini tractor, rising its giant prongs up and down, over and over, 9 to 5, between lunch and dinner. He lived in Boston at the time. Then, he quit and moved home.

Which is how “Space Forklift” came about. Continue reading →

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Summertime Sips and Summertime Sounds: Queen of Jeans

Queen of Jeans | courtesy of the artist | photo by Bob Sweeney
Queen of Jeans | courtesy of the artist | photo by Bob Sweeney

South Philly in the summer doesn’t get enough credit. Sure, we don’t have the natural shade, or farmers markets, or outdoor screenings of other neighborhoods—but we have something else. There’s a certain summer vibe that seems to seep into the air when you cross Washington Ave; a sense of solidarity that’s palpable, as you sit on your stoop, air-conditioning units humming above. A few houses down, someone’s selling clothes and cookwear on the sidewalk; a block away the ice cream truck—not Mister Softee, but the South Philly ice cream truck that plays “Fur Elise”—is meandering toward you, offering temporary relief from the pounding sun.

I’ve lived in South Philly for 3 years now; Philly rock band Queen of Jeans live here as well (in fact singer/guitarists Miriam Devora and Matheson Glass are practically my neighbors). Their name, Queen of Jeans, is both a re-appropriation of, and commentary on, the iconic (if misogynist) “King of Jeans” sign that hung on East Passyunk Ave. at 13th Street for 21 years, before being removed in 2015.  It’s a sweet name for a (mostly) girl band from South Philly, but it’s also more—as if adopting the name, the band acknowledge the sign’s legacy, while at the same time offering their own (non-misogynist) alternative. Also it’s pretty funny. Continue reading →

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Dweller bridges the gap between abstract and concrete on debut album, This Is What Happens When You Wait Too Long

Dweller | photo courtesy of the artist
Dweller | photo courtesy of the artist

Luke Harsel and Cody Bluett have been making music together for many years, and at this point they are two sides of the same coin. They met early on in college at Temple University and spent most of their time at school with Family Vacation, the breezy beach-pop band who recently called it quits when the several band members decided to go in different musical directions.

“We just wanted an outlet for other musical ideas than we were getting at the time through Family Vacation, and once that band broke up we put all our focus on just writing and recording new songs,” said Harsel about Dweller, the duo’s new project that just recently released their first album, This Is What Happens When You Wait Too Long. Continue reading →