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Two to Tango: Mirah and Sammus

Mirah, Sammus
Mirah | photo by Shervin Lainez | courtesy of the artist // Sammus | photo by Zooloo Brown | courtesy of the artist

Brooklyn-based (but Philadelphia born) Mirah Yom Tov Zeitlyn would seem radically different from the Ithaca-raised, Philadelphia-based SAMMUS (Enongo Lumumba-Kasongo) at first, with one playing askew folk pop and the other hip hop. Yet, both women keep their musical and melodic processes raw, and both lyricist/vocalist/rappers are emotive, clever and cutting in a fashion that you may not recognize until after the song or the set is over. The subtle glories of Mirah and SAMMUS sneak up you – as you shall find when the make a tour stop at Johnny Brenda’s tonight.

This interview was conducted late this week, via email, and sadly SAMMUS fell off the email chain, but I think the essence of the “tango” is still shared between these two women. Continue reading →

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Watch Kurt Vile cover Tom Petty’s “Learning To Fly” in a Sirius XMU session

Kurt Vile | photo by Jo McCaughey | courtesy of the artist

Whether you can hear it or not (and it definitely took me a minute), Kurt Vile has always been a huge Tom Petty fan, and takes any opportunity he gets to sing his praises. And sometimes, actually sing his songs. In a new acoustic session recorded for SiriusXMU, Vile puts his spacey drum machine stamp on “Learning to Fly” from Petty’s 1991 album Into the Great Wide Open. Give it a watch below, and catch Kurt Vile at The Met Philly on December 29th; tickets and more information on the show can be found here. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Wallace

Lancaster’s Wallace Gerdy first showed up on the Philadelphia scene as the lead shredder in basement show regulars Mattress Food. Then, back in January of this year, she ventured out on her own with a short set of demos that were heavily informed by her love of classic rock. The instantly likeable “Sunny Monday” (with its undeniable debt to “Sweet Jane” by The Velvet Underground) caught my ear during the December edition of Items Tagged Philadelphia, I checked out the project’s full band debut at Ortlieb’s, and Wallace — as it’s eponymously called — was officially on The Key’s radar. Continue reading →

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Girlpool returns with two emotionally complex singles

Girlpool | photos by Benedict Brink | courtesy of the artist

Los Angeles indie duo Girlpool, composed of songwriters Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker, has returned with two grungey, emotionally complex singles. The first, “Lucy’s” was written by Tucker, who also takes charge of the vocals, singing over grinding guitar chords and doomily pounding drums. The lyrics make a possible Beatles allusion in the repeated line, “I swear I’ll be alright / although Emily’s in the sky”; it’s also a reference to Tucker’s role as nurturer in a past relationship, speaking on the seesawing co-dependency between two people. Continue reading →

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Just Announced: Neko Case will play the Keswick in January

Neko Case | photo via Facebook

Neko Case released her eighth studio album Hell-On over the summer. A fiery and rage-filled effort, it was crafted with the help of several talented collaborators, including backing vocals from the likes of Beth Ditto and Robert Forster, and guitar work from Doug Gillard of Guided by Voices, among others. Through fusing the styles of so many musicians, Case was able to create an edgy and unique work, which received an overwhelmingly positive response from critics. Continue reading →

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The Week Ahead: Swearin’, Death Cab For Cutie, Gorillaz, Florence and the Machine, and more

Florence and the Machine | photo by Vincent Haycock | courtesy of the artist

This week, our concert agenda includes indie rock institutions as well as left-of-center art popsters, arena shows to DIY shows, rock and roll and folk and Afrobeat and everything in between. Here are 19 concerts you can see in and around Philadelphia over the next seven days. Continue reading →

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J. Cole spreads wisdom at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday

J. Cole | photo by Isaiah Spicer for WXPN | iospicer.com

South Philly’s Wells Fargo Center entered Cole’s World on Saturday as the North Carolina raised raper J. Cole was open and vulnerable onstage, giving words of wisdom that left the audience thinking while rocking their Saturday night. On the lead-up Earthgang, Young Thug and Jaden Smith lifted our spirits with performances that got the blood pumping and feet moving before the Dreamville artist drop some heavy material upon us. Continue reading →

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Just Announced: Speedy Ortiz will headline the Church in November

Speedy Ortiz | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

Last week, Speedy Ortiz‘s Sadie Dupuis launched a last-minute campaign to get Gritty, the new Flyers mascot, to make an appearance at the band’s sold-out show with Liz Phair Friday at Union Transfer. (Phair supported the effort, too.) Alas, Gritty was a no-show, but the show was otherwise fantastic, and Dupuis will have another chance to win over Philly’s favorite orange monster next month — Speedy Ortiz just announced a hometown headlining show at the First Unitarian Church on November 28. Continue reading →

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Years & Years and Troye Sivan: Queer pop turns a corner

Years and Years | photo by Ed Cooke | courtesy of the artist

If queer pop with subtle, social message points about the ups and downs of the movement for LGBTQ equality and a sense of lyrical sexual freedom had banner years, they would be 2015 and 2018. Those are the years that Australia’s Troye Sivan and England’s Years & Years (and its frontperson, Olly Alexander) first made themselves known in larger, broader ways.

With both starting their careers as actors (Sivan continuously, in this year’s Boy Erased), each explored the melodic ends of ambient dance-pop since their start: Sivan with 2015’s Blue Neighbourhood and 2018’s Bloom, Years & Years with 2015’s Communion, and 2018’s Palo Santo. Further connecting the two is each act’s upcoming tour schedule. While Sivan headlines The Tower tonight, Years & Years play Theatre of Living Arts, October 10. Continue reading →

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Alternative Routes: Roger Harvey goes it alone on the new Gold EP with some of his poppiest material to date

Roger Harvey | photo by Cassie Lopez | courtesy of the artist

In the early morning hours last Saturday, singer-songwriter Roger Harvey announced his latest project: the Gold EP, a quick and lively collection of three new roots-tinged indie rock songs, plus a re-recorded version of the song “Gold” from his 2017 album Two Coyotes.

The late night timing of the news was very intentional — Harvey tells us it was “to remind myself that I can create something and put it into the world at any time. I feel that sometimes as artists we lose sight of how easy that is to do on our own as we try to seek approval from others and conform to antiquated systems of marketing. Many of which don’t seem to really hold up any longer.”

And now here we are, 168 hours (or exactly seven days) later, and we have more from Harvey: an exclusive early listen to the EP. Continue reading →