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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Nap Eyes

Nap Eyes | Photo by Eric Schuman for WXPN

Joining us for this latest Indie Rock Hit Parade live session is a band with some of the most sneaky-catchy songs you’re likely to hear all year. Nap Eyes formed in 2011 out of the solo project of singer/guitarist Nigel Chapman. Joined by bassist Josh Salter and drummer Seamus Dalton, the group is rounded out by lead guitarist Brad Loughead. Earlier this year, Nap Eyes released their third proper album, I’m Bad Now. The album has a breezy, laid-back quality that evokes keystone records by Silver Jews or early Wilco. The band visited us before their show at Johnny Brenda’s to perform some of the new songs in our studio.

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: The Mattson 2

The Mattson 2 | Photo by Eric Schuman for WXPN

We’re joined for this Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session by a pair of identical twin brothers who made their IRHP debut just over one year ago.
The Mattson 2, featuring guitarist Jared and drummer Jonathan, joined us last spring along with Toro Y Moi’s Chaz Bear, for an in-studio performance of songs from their 2017 collaboration, Star Stuff. Flash forward and the Mattsons are back out on the road, this time on their own. Bringing peerless instrumental chops and omnivorous musical influences and inspirations, The Mattson 2 stopped by before their sold out show with Khruangbin at Underground Arts for this session. Despite the overflow of sounds, I can assure you that there are just two people performing!

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Ought

Ought | Photo by Eric Schuman for WXPN

Joining us for our latest Indie Rock Hit Parade live session is a group that I’ve been trying to get on the show for years! I first heard about the Montreal-based quartet Ought when they released their 2014 debut album, More Than Any Other Day. In fact, I had slated to have Ought come to the studio to record a live performance for the IRHP, a booking which quickly turned into the group’s World Cafe debut. Four years on, Ought still features singer/guitarist Tim Darcy, drummer Tim Keen, keyboardist Matt May and bassist Ben Stidworthy, but the band’s sound takes a bold new shape on their newly released third album, Room Inside The World. Serving as their first album for Merge Records, Room Inside The World sees Ought subverting pop conventions by fusing their experimental tendencies with urgent, concise songwriting. Though the sprawl of earlier songs like “Gemini” and “Beautiful Blue Sky” might be toned down this time, Ought’s new material is their strongest yet. Hear for yourself in their long-awaited Indie Rock Hit Parade performance:

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Shopping

Shopping | Photo by Eric Schuman for WXPN

Joining us for this Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session is a band that I’ve admired ever since their debut album was released in the US. Formed in 2012 by members of several punk- and dance-leaning bands in the London scene, Shopping features guitarist Rachel Aggs, bassist Billy Easter and drummer Andrew Milk. Earlier this year, Shopping released their third full-length, The Official Body. Not surprisingly, given the involvement of producer and indie rock luminary Edwyn Collins, the album is one of Shopping’s best and brightest. The nervous energy of their early records is not sacrificed but rather augmented by a momentum that keeps each song moving forward. Before their show at Johnny Brenda’s, Shopping stopped by to perform selections from The Official Body in our studio:

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Girl Ray

Girl Ray | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Joining us in the studio for our first Indie Rock Hit Parade session of the year is the band behind one of my favorite records of the last year. Formed just a few years ago in London, Girl Ray‘s debut, Earl Grey, was released in 2017 when all of the members were still teenagers. Featuring Poppy Hankin on guitar, Iris McConnell on drums and Sophie Moss on bass (along with their friend and producer Mike O’Malley on guitar and keys), Girl Ray’s music incorporates influences well beyond the members’ years. Everything from pop to punk to dance music comes together in Girl Ray’s performance, which gives exciting new life to these still-evolving songs.

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Mister Heavenly

Mister Heavenly | Photo by Katie Tapman for WXPN

Joining us for this Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session is a group whose members have all visited us before, both separately and together (long, long ago). Mister Heavenly was formed by Nick Thorburn of Islands, Ryan “Honus Honus” Kattner of Man Man and Joe Plummer of Modest Mouse and The Shins around seven years ago. Back then, when their debut album Out Of Love came out, they stopped by our studios to record a handful of live tracks. Joining the trio this time around is bassist Brett Morris, who doubles on guitar in Kattner’s solo Honus Honus band. Even if you can’t keep all those affiliations straight, it’s easy to fall in love with Mister Heavenly’s long-awaited new album, Boxing The Moonlight. Before a sold-out show, the four friends returned to our studio to perform a few of the new songs live.

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Cults

Cults | Photo by Eric Schuman for WXPN

Joining us in the studio for this Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session is the New York-based band Cults. Formed in 2010 by singer Madeline Follin and keyboardist/producer Brian Oblivion, Cults are no strangers to our building; they’ve visited for assorted sessions and Free at Noon concerts over the years. This time around, they bring material from their newly released third album, Offering. Recorded after the band took an extended break, the record explores influences that weren’t so apparent on the group’s earlier recordings. Heavy electronic rhythms and spacey textures are coupled with the core duo’s signature pop songwriting to create a sound that’s both fresh and familiar. Follin and Oblivion are joined by longtime touring members in this session: guitarist Gabriel Rodriguez, drummer Cory Stier and bassist Max Kamins.

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: The Safes

The Safes | Photo by Eric Schuman for WXPN

For our latest Indie Rock Hit Parade live session, we’re joined by the Chicago garage-pop combo The Safes! Formed by brothers Frankie and Patrick O’Malley, The Safes recently released their third full-length album, Tasty Waves, on Hidden Volume Records. More than just a throwback rock crew, The Safes combine punchy pop songcraft with the ragged edges of ’90s indie. Top that off with harmonies that can only come from a pair of brothers and you’ve got an instantly likable performance.

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Madeline Kenney

Madeline Kenney | Photo by Liz Waldie for WXPN

Joining us in the studio for this Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session is an artist who actually visited our building earlier this year when she was on tour with another band. Madeline Kenney caught the ear of Toro y Moi’s Chaz Bear, who produced her first EP as well as her recently released debut album, Night Night at the First Landing. Kenney was traveling with Bear and the Mattson 2 when they recorded their IRHP session in the spring, and it was only a matter of time before Kenney returned for her time in the spotlight.

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Dent May

Dent May | Photo by Eric Schuman for WXPN

Joining us in the studio for our latest Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session is a musician that I’ve been a fan of since his humble beginning with a ‘magnificent ukulele.’ Dent May is originally from Mississippi, but recently relocated to Los Angeles. This fish-out-of-water story serves as partial inspiration for Dent’s new album, Across The Multiverse, which was released this summer on Carpark Records. Featuring a blend of effervescent electro-pop and Brill Building-informed songwriting, the album shows off Dent’s nearly obsessive approach to music making. With a full touring band in tow, Dent joins us in the studio to play some of the new songs.

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