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The Key Studio Sessions: Queue

East coast modern rock four-piece Queue has had a wild ride of a 2017. Despite being geographically split between Philadelphia and Washington D.C., the band — a project of singer-songwriter Olivia J. Price and lead guitarist Aida Mekonnen, with bassist Matt Clinkscales and drummer Steve Vannelli filling out the rhythm section — finds time to rehearse weekly, play gigs on the regular…and when the stars align, go somewhat viral.

That’s what happened to their song “Frontier,” a high energy jam with entrancing vocal harmonies and an indelibly catchy guitar lead from Mekonnen zipping you across an anthem about escaping into the unknown. The song was released this spring, landed on Spotify’s coveted Fresh Finds playlist shortly thereafter, and is presently closing in on 60K spins — not too shabby.     Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Hiss Golden Messenger at World Cafe Live, Kweku Collins at Johnny Brenda’s, Wolf Alice at The Trocadero, and more

Hiss Golden Messenger | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN

The ever-changing personnel and spectrum of recordings from Hiss Golden Messenger is anchored by the uber-talented compositional abilities of band leader M.C. Taylor. The Durham, North Carolina resident, whose instantly recognizable voice straddles Bob Dylan and Jim James, maintained his high level of songwriting and acoustic indie rock on Hiss Golden Messenger’s 2017 project Hallelujah Anyhow. Taylor writes of religious questioning, homesickness, and unexpected love on the new album with a bluesy conviction driving the project along. World Cafe Live hosts Taylor and Hiss Golden Messenger tonight, and the set is sure to impress. Pick up tickets quick from the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Young Statues

South Jersey indie rock four piece Young Statues became something of a surprise hit about six years ago.

Led by songwriter Carmen Cirignano, the band started super casually; just a writing and recording project with friends at Haddon Heights hub Gradwell House Recording. Those sessions became their self titled debut, which was picked up by Boston label Run for Cover Records, and Young Statues was off to the races touring with Saves the Day and The Early November.

The band’s sound, undeniably indebted to Death Cab and The Promise Ring, played well with those crowds, but their tastes went beyond the emo canon. Their 2014 sophomore LP The Flatlands are Your Friend, explored darker and moodier sounds and textures, and a covers EP showcased a collective fondness for Billy Bragg, The Magnetic Fields and Ryan Adams. And then life came calling. Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
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It’s a Lame-O afternoon this Friday when Slaughter Beach, Dog and Cherry play WXPN’s Free at Noon

Slaughter Beach, Dog and Cherry | via xpn.org

A show like this Friday’s Free at Noon doesn’t come along every week — not only is this week’s concert a rare doubleheader, it’s also a chance to see performances by two of Philly’s best local acts together in one place — and at lunchtime, nonetheless. Slaughter Beach, Dog and Cherry will both perform, and while they’re each fixtures of the Philly scene on their own, lately their careers have been running parallel: both artists released debut LPs in October, and both played Lame-O Records‘ 5th birthday showcase a few weeks back. Continue reading →

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Just Announced: John Prine will be joined by Kurt Vile at Merriam Theater this April

John Prine | photo by John Kurc | courtesy of artist

Not only will legend John Prine grace the Merriam Theater this spring, he’ll also bring Philly hero Kurt Vile along for the wise ‘n folky party on April 14th.

This year, Prine released a songbook titled John Prine Beyond Words through his own independent label, Oh Boy Records, which featured selected songs from Prine’s catalogue and the stories behind them. Kurt Vile has been rocking his incredible tour with Courtney Barnett, which recently brought an intimate-feeling gig to Philly at Tower Theatre. Continue reading →

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PREMIERE: Aphra navigates the complexities of grief in the new video for “Honey”

Aphra
Aphra’s Honey | still from video

Rebecca Waychunas, the woman behind Philadelphia emotive etherial pop outfit Aphra, has had a heavy year. On the one end, she released her moving debut, Sadness is a Gesture, on west coast label Inherent Sounds back in February. On the other end, she faced a series of personal tragedies these past twelve months, including the passing of her mother, Annunziata (Nancy) Geraldine D’Orazio. “She was an internationally well known progressive house DJ in the late 80s to early 2000s,” Waychunas remembers over email. “She was a good mom.”

But the grieving process is never a straightforward thing, and Aphra’s new music video for “Honey” — a song we first heard in her Key Studio Session a year ago — navigates its tensions and complexities, its feelings of anger and resentment, as we see Waychunas performing a gripping modern dance in a dimly lit room, where two characters reach various points of personal conflict. The video was choreographed by Megan Matuzak and filmed by Ella Miller and Tim O’Donnell at Underground Arts.

Continue reading →

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Soulful singer Robert Finley breaks down his new album, Goin’ Platinum!, track by track

Robert Finley
Robert Finley | photo by Alysse Gafkjen | courtesy of the artist

When Dan Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound Revue rolls through Union Transfer this spring, keep a lookout for one of his featured performers — 63-year-old Robert Finley, a self-taught bluesman and soulful vocalist from Bernice, Louisiana. After touring Europe as the United States Army’s bandleader in his teenage years, Finley made a living for decades as a carpenter, playing music as an informal side hustle — sometimes busking, sometimes leading his band Brother Finley and the Gospel Sisters.

After retiring in 2015, he set to work on his debut album, Age Don’t Mean a Thing, with the help of Music Maker, a nonprofit that gives a financial leg up to older and underprivileged musicians. When the record came out last fall, it caught Auerbach’s ear, and he co-wrote and produced Finley’s sophomore album, Goin’ Platinum!, which releases on Easy Eye Sound next Friday, December 8th. The record mixes the searing vocals of Howlin’ Wolf with delta grooves in the vein of John Lee Hooker and and Booker T, and Finley co-wrote its songs with John Prine, Nick Lowe, and more.

Ahead of the album release and the Union Transfer gig, Finley shared a stream of the new album with us, as well as a track-by-track breakdown of what the songs mean to him — a story about life and reality. “It puts the cards on the table and allows people to say what they really feel and what’s on their heart,” Finley says. “It tells a great part of my life story, and the songs feel predestinated because the songwriters telling it didn’t know anything about me when they wrote it. Faith has a great part in album – believing in your dreams. I’m living witness that dreams do come true. Thank God that here at the age of 63, my dream is coming true. Greatest testimony to my kids and grandkids is hold on to your dreams and beliefs – faith will pay off.”

Listen and read below, and get tickets and more information on the show at the XPN Concert Calendar.       Continue reading →

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Palm delivers an inverted take on rock with their new single “Dog Milk”

Palm
Palm | photo by Dylan Pearce | courtesy of the artist

While everyone else uses drums and bass as the standard rhythm section, Palm opts to flip the script, using vocals and guitar as the primary time-keeping instruments. The Philly based group is in a league of their own in the genre of experimental rock because they do it pretty darn well. Following up on “Pearly,” the first single for their upcoming album Rock Island (out February 9th via Carpark Records), Palm just dropped their second single “Dog Milk” on SoundCloud. Continue reading →

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Just Announced: California crooner Miguel brings his new record to The Fillmore in March

Miguel | Photo by Rachel Barrish for WXPN

After dropping Wildheart in 2016, which led to a slew of Grammy nominations and much critical acclaim, Miguel is gearing up to release his next project War & Leisure on December 1st. In the last month, the Los Angeles native has put out two killer singles in “Pineapple Skies” and “Come Through And Chill” to build some anticipation for the upcoming album after an almost two year hiatus from commercial releases. Continue reading →