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Listen to Japanese Breakfast’s stripped down, synth-y cover of “California Dreamin'” by The Mamas and The Papas

Japanese Breakfast | photo by Ben Wong for WXPN | brotherlylost.com

She and her band are playing California’s biggest gig, so Michelle Zauner went and recorded a cover in honor of it.

In the midst of last night’s Coachella lineup announcement, discerning viewers probably noticed one of our fave bands of recent years — Japanese Breakfast — in the entirely-too-small-font-size section on the Sunday lineups (April 15 and 22nd). Regardless of the megafestival’s questionable choice to not bill one of the most critically acclaimed artists of 2017 a tad bit higher, it’s doubtless exciting news, and in sync with the announcement, Zauner released a cover version of “California Dreamin'” by The Mamas and The Papas via Sirius XM. Continue reading →

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Philly MC King Shampz kicks off 2018 with two new singles, “Cigar Smoke” and “Pop Shit”

King Shampz and Azaan | Photo by Bob Sweeney
King Shampz and Azzan | Photo by Bob Sweeney | courtesy of the artist

Philly rapper King Shampz has been on our radar since the 2014 release of his All Hail The King mixtape. For the past couple years, he’s been focused on Dead Wrong Records — the digital label he manages with his brother and production partner Azzan — and building their roster, including impressive Chester spitter Frio.

But to kick off 2018, Shampz dropped two new solo tracks — premiering one on Spitfire Hiphop, and dropping the other on Soundcloud.

Continue reading →

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XPN MusicNotes: Watch Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong ring in 2018 by covering The Replacements with Steven Van Zandt and more

Steven Van Zandt and Billie Joe Armstrong | via billboard.com

There was no shortage of artists ringing in 2018 with New Year’s Eve performances including Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong teaming up with Steven Van Zandt,Tommy Stinson and others for a new year’s set at New York’s Club Berlin. Below, watch the super-group — which also included Blondie’s Clem Burke, The Hold Steady’s Tad Kubler, Jesse Malin, and Billie Joe’s own sons — cover “Color Me Impressed” by The Replacements. Continue reading →

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Your top 50 XPN songs of 2017

 

The War on Drugs | photo courtesy of the artist
The War on Drugs | photo courtesy of the artist

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. In this installment, WXPN’s listener-voted best songs of 2017.

We played songs, you listened. You voted, we listened. Today, after tallying up the numbers and playing back the jams, we are delighted to bring you Your top 50 XPN songs of 2017.

You’ll notice a lot of recurring themes, whether it be the mission statement of Strand of Oaks — “play it, play it loud on the radio” — or multiple cuts from epic space rockers Lo Moon, who made a galvanizing introduction this year; art popster St. Vincent, who won over the masses with the daring MASSEDUCTION; disco infultrators LCD Soundsystem, who returned from retirement in top form; or Philly’s The War on Drugs, whose major label debut is their strongest and most confident artistic statement to date.

A Deeper Understanding was a massive winner in our listening community, and you voted four of the album’s ten songs in to the overall top 50 list. Revisit the ranking below, or scroll to the bottom of the page to listen to the entire package in one handy dandy Spotify playlist. And whatever you wind up doing tonight, have a safe and happy New Year. We can’t wait to discover more music with you in 2018. Continue reading →

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Items Tagged Philadelphia: I turned the pages solemnly, and then

Bumsweat | via bumsweat.bandcamp.com

Here at The Key, we spend a lot of time digging through every new release from Philadelphia that shows up on Bandcamp. Periodically, we’ll check in to present you with the most interesting, most unusual and overall best of the bunch: this is Items Tagged Philadelphia.

Looking back, I totally would have done a few things differently. I would not have set an arbitrary “weekly” benchmark to report back to you on the weird, wild and wonderfully ear-catching Philly artists I find in my Bandcamp digging. My weeks are unpredictable at WXPN HQ; the only constant is an already high volume of listening, reading, writing, recording and editing, before this project even comes into play. I also would have made a more valiant effort to keep up with these artists I uncovered throughout the year; some were easy to follow (shoutouts Sea-Offs, MHYSA, S-21, Erica Gibson) and some I haven’t checked in on since initially spotlighting them.

I might have tried to be more discerning, choosing fewer releases each week so I’d have space and time to reflect and write more about the ones I was highlighting. I would have found better things to say to introduce each column; I should have STFU about the weather, which seems to be a de facto entry point to many of them. Get it together, man.

But for something that started as a New Years’ Resolution whim twelve months ago — ie. give a listen to every single release posted to Bandcamp with a Philadelphia tag in 2017, report back on the good stuff — I’m decently pleased with how it played out. Continue reading →

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Listen to XPN’s 25 most-played songs of 2017

Spoon | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN // Tash Sultana | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN // Chicano Batman | photo by Dylan Eddinger for WXPN

As the year draws to a close, the WXPN programming staff crunched the numbers on its playlist to determine the songs that filled its airwaves the most. The resulting top 25, which you can check out below, is a nice snapshot of what the station is all about: singer-songwriters and indie rock, psychedelia and Americana, a little bit of jazz and modern rock, fresh faces and industry vets alike.

There’s a bit of bias towards the stuff that’s been out there longer, of course; tracks by glam rocking Austinites Sweet Spirit and experimental Australian guitarist Tash Sultana, which were first played last winter, rank higher than, say, The War on Drugs, or Phoebe Bridgers, who have only been in the mix since late summer.

Whatever the case, though, these are 25 fantastic songs that are absolutely worth taking out for another spin. We’re interested to see how many of them will appear again in the listener-voted Top 50, which broadcasts on WXPN on New Year’s Eve afternoon. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Matthew Shaver’s best food and tune pairings in Philadelphia

The Tasty | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | racheldelsordophotography.com
The Tasty | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | racheldelsordophotography.com

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. Today, Key photographer Matthew Shaver ponders unlikely combinations of eats and sounds.

Eating out is meant to be a social event, a gathering of friends and family where someone else does the hard work, leaving you to drink and be merry. Time and circumstances align every so often that I eat out alone, my only company are my headphones and an iPod full of hopes and dreams. Like fine friends or fine wine, fine music can be associated with a great restaurant, or a great plate. I’ve listed some of my favorite pairings below (Note: I am a vegetarian, and the choices all reflect that.) Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: John Morrison’s five haikus for the homies

Naeemah Maddox | photo by Kev Steele | courtesy of the artist
Naeemah Maddox | photo by Kev Steele | courtesy of the artist

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. Today, Key contributing writer John Morrison shares five haiku reviews of releases by his Philly friends.

2017 was a fantastic year for music in Philadelphia. As a lifelong resident of this city, I’ve been blessed to build relationships with many brilliant DJs, MCs, producers and musicians. To honor those relationships and to celebrate this incredible year of music, I’ve compiled a list of my Top 5 favorite local releases, and written a short Haiku to capture the spirit of each.

Continue reading →