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Load-In to Load-Out: Eliza Hardy Jones celebrates her breakout year at Boot & Saddle

Eliza Hardy Jones | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com
Eliza Hardy Jones | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

It’s a dark night in a city that knows how to keep it’s secrets. But on one of the first truly bitter days of December, as the wind howls down South Broad, there’s true warmth to be found inside Boot & Saddle. Hometown hero Eliza Hardy Jones is playing the Boot in a celebration of sorts. As the year ends, she’s commemorating the first year of making and playing music under her own name, a project entirely her own. After years as a crucial member of many other cherished Philly projects — you’re thinking of Buried Beds, Strand of Oaks, and Grace Potter’s band — this is her year. Continue reading →

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Wednesdays in the Danger Room: Run The Jewels at the Electric Factory

Run The Jewels | Photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN | <a href=http://cameronpollack.com/ target="_blank">cameronpollack.com</a>
Run The Jewels | Photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN | cameronpollack.com

Run The Jewels inspires confidence. They exude it in their records, flaunt it in their interviews, and as they proved last night, on the first night of this tour, they embody it in their live shows too. Killer Mike and El-P, two middle aged rappers at the top of their game, walked out to thunderous applause from a crowd that sold the room out in five minutes, singing along to the chorus of “We Are The Champions.” Their smiles could trick you into thinking, just for a while, that the world isnʼt all that bad. Continue reading →

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In Our Darkness, A Light Shines: mewithoutYou Celebrate 10 Years of Brother, Sister

mewithoutYou | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com
mewithoutYou | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

For a band that does an awful lot of protesting their own existence, mewithoutYou are doing pretty well for themselves, 15 years in. On Thursday night, they celebrated a record that begins and ends with “I do not exist,” turning 10 years old — no small feat when you think about it. This closed tautology of self-denial bookends indie punk classic Brother, Sister — and has become an anthem for those searching for something beyond the easy answers. While all of mewithoutYou’s work deals heavily in symbolism and clever turns of phrase, the album doubles down on philosophical questions and existential probing. Billed as “The Sun & the Moon Band,” mewithoutYou again shrugged off that troublesome self in order to play in secret at Boot & Saddle, a venue several orders of magnitude more humble than their usual digs for the special occasion. Continue reading →

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On nursing a Guided By Voices hangover the evening after their three-hour Underground Arts epic

GbV

A photo posted by Scott Troyan (@sxt) on

Last night, surrounded by a throng of sweaty bearded men and at least one persistent fart, I hung out with our Uncle Bob. We were there to see him, and like any great uncle, he entertained us until we were exhausted and then left us to our own devices.

Seeing Bob Pollard and his newest Guided By Voices lineup at Underground Arts on December 30th makes New Year’s Eve seem a little redundant. I mean, what kind of toast can compete with the one our pumping fists offered to “Exit Flagger”?

Bob even gave us his New Year’s resolution. In 2017, he promised us 100 new songs and six new albums. “At least two of them good,” he said. We all laughed at that one. We didn’t laugh because there might be four bad Guided By Voices albums or Robert Pollard solo records. We laughed because if there’s one thing we’ve learned from Uncle Bob, it’s to stop being so precious with everything. Write a song. Finish the song. Move on. The crowd was certainly old enough to remember that 24 exposures on a roll of film might yield two good photos. Maybe one great one. In the 365 days of a rough year like 2016, this was a good rule to remember. In 2017, it might become mantra. Continue reading →

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Ben Vaughn Quintet threw a pre-holiday record release party at Boot and Saddle

Ben Vaughn Quintet | Photo by Ellen Miller | http://ellencm.com/
Ben Vaughn Quintet | Photo by Ellen Miller | ellencm.com

December 23rd is typically a day that is filled with shopping and cooking to prepare for holiday parties. However, there also tends to be many holiday concerts happening on the 23rd. This year, the Ben Vaughn Quintet took people’s minds off of the stress of the season Friday night with an outstanding record release show.

You may know Ben Vaughn from his WXPN show “The Many Moods of Ben Vaughn.” While on that show he plays less of his own music, more by an encyclopedic range of other artists, “Many Moods” tends to fit his own music as well. Continue reading →

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Yo La Tengo, Dean & Britta celebrated 50 years of the Velvet Underground at the Gershman Y

yo la tengo
Britta & Dean | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

Fifty years after Andy Warhol made Philadelphians uncomfortable with the local debut of his “Exploding Plastic Inevitable” featuring Lou Reed and Velvet Underground, The Gershman Y offered up the very same stage for a commemorative event last Thursday evening. The show was a veritable double-feature, though technically headlined by indie rock vets Yo La Tengo’s full set of Velvets covers, who followed Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips’ live rendition of their score for Warhol’s “screen test” films.

Having been commissioned some seven years ago to compose an original soundtrack for the films, Dean and Britta offered their 13 Most Beautiful — instrumentals and original songs, with some Dylan and Velvets mixed in — all presented against the backdrop of a selection of Warhol’s short black-and-white video portraits of contemporary icons that loomed hauntingly over the stage. Between songs, the two singers narrated with biographical anecdotes of the likes of models Edie Sedgwick and Baby Jane Holzer, Nico and Dennis Hopper, creating four-minute mini-portraits, the ultimate distillation of a prominent ‘60s counterculture. Lou Reed’s own screen test was juxtaposed against a cover of “Not A Young Man Anymore,” — an early Velvets’ song that surfaced only relatively recently — as their frontman Lou Reed’s nursed a glass Coke bottle, his lips curled characteristically, his eyes obscured behind his trademark dark black shades.

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Shearwater highlight Jet Plane and Oxbow during spirited set at Underground Arts

shearwater
Shearwater | photo by Joe del Tufo | www.moonloopphoto.com

“This venue says it’s a place for emerging artists,” Shearwater vocalist Jonathan Meiburg mentioned early in their Underground Arts set last Saturday night. “We’ve been emerging for 15 years.” It was meant as a self-deprecating statement, but the reality is that Meiburg and band have gradually crafted a body of work that at once defies genre and stands as a bold musical statement. The massive guitars over plaintive, shimmering vocals – the mesmerizing journeys from unnamed islands to the shores of a darkening America. It’s all laid out and stripped bare in a lush layered sound that is distinctly Shearwater.

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Free At Noon Flashback: Secret Sisters play joyously “depressing” music in arresting afternoon set

The Secret Sisters | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN
The Secret Sisters | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN

With 2016 coming to its hotly anticipated close, it’s about time we got a little sentimental. The eve of yearly self-reflection is upon us, and with that in mind, maybe some sad, slow country songs from The Secret Sisters were just what the doctor ordered.  Laura and Lydia Rogers were self-deprecating throughout, calling their music “depressing,” but they backed it up with a passionate, arresting performance that I’ll be thinking about into the new year. Continue reading →

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Norah Jones brings new songs, eclectic covers and a winning jazz to the Academy of Music

Amazing show. Thanks @norahjones for a great evening and bringing pieces of my childhood back with your music.

A photo posted by Lucas Hippel (@lucas14surf) on

Singer-songwriter Norah Jones brought a gripping performance to the Academy of Music this past Saturday. Currently on her Day Breaks Tour with The Candles as her opener, she premiered an array of songs from much of her new album, Day Breaks, as well as a number of covers that compliment her style and range.

The Academy of Music is the perfect setting for Jones, allowing her jazzy vocal timbre to resonate throughout the floor and top balconies. As she opened her set with her lyrically driven “Sinkin Soon,” she set the tone for a smoky heartfelt evening of jazz and pop. Going right into a sultry “I’ve Got to See You Again,” the band paused and she sang the chorus to the background of just her piano and drums with drummer, Greg Wieczorek. Continue reading →