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Unpredictable things will happen when you see Todd Rundgren in October

ToddRundgrenA Often when you see an artist billed as “A Special Evening With,” it usually means it’s going to be an acoustic performance, often a solo one. Todd Rundgren’s upcoming show at the Keswick Theatre is billed as “An Unpredictable Evening with” Todd Rundgren. This tells fans right up front to that he isn’t going to play Something/Anything in its entirety. Continue reading →

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Watch Pattern is Movement’s evocative “Suckling” video

Pattern is Movement | photo by Mark Schaffer
Pattern is Movement | photo by Mark Schaffer

Philly experimental pop duo Pattern is Movement recently released a video for “Suckling”. The group has been making headlines lately, with features on both NPR’s World Cafe and on the Key’s Unlocked series. This year, the duo released their self-titled fifth album. It is a baroque, yet vibrant collection of electronic pop, with elements of R&B.  Interestingly enough, the inspiration to use R&B came from a surprising source. As Andrew Thiboldeaux explained, the  parallels between his religious background and R&B, “But the feelings I had in those church meetings were TRUE. My brain was registering it, I was high as a kite. There’s something about R&B and hip-hop that resonates with me as a result.” In his album review, the Key’s Sameer Rao states that “ every string-and-horn ensemble buildup in the beautiful service of capturing something as ephemeral as it is universal.” Continue reading →

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Rock out with Cheerleader, The Lawsuits, Our Griffins and more at MilkBoy’s free three-day birthday party

Photo courtesy of artist.
Photo courtesy of artist.

Center city venue MilkBoy its third anniversary next month with three days of free shows. The party also marks the 20th anniversary of its parent company, MilkBoy the Studio. From August 14 to 16th, the venue will host phenomenal performances from artists like The Ataris, Cheerleader, and the Lawsuits. To help you map out your show-going, we’ve highlighted an artist (or two) for each day. Continue reading →

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Philly’s Downtown Club returns with a haunting video for “Victoria”

The Downtown Club | Photo by Theo Constantinou
The Downtown Club | Photo by Theo Constantinou

Vibe-wrangling Philly rockers Downtown Club recently released a video for the new song “Victoria,” to promote the trio’s new 7″, which will be available soon. (They also recently dropped the “The” from their name, so take note!) The video, which is shot in black and white, features the band playing in a dark room, mixed in with brief nature scenes. Check it out below, and listen to an early version of the single in the band’s Key Studio Session.

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WXPN Welcomes #XPNFest band The Hold Steady to Underground Arts in September

The Hold Steady | Photo by Laura Fedele | WFUV.org
The Hold Steady | Photo by Laura Fedele | WFUV.org
In the midst of a tour that brings them to the #XPNFest this Friday night, The Hold Steady have added a Philly date to their tour schedule on Monday, September 8th at Underground Arts. This past May, the band played WXPN’s Non-COMM music conference. Watch them perform “Sequestered In Memphis” below.

Single day tickets and weekend passes for the XPoNential Music Festival are available here.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Trails and Ways at Boot and Saddle, Neutral Milk Hotel at Mann Center, OOIOO at Johnny Brenda’s

Photo via facebook.com/TRAILSANDWAYS
Photo via facebook.com/TRAILSANDWAYS

Oakland quartet Trails and Ways are causing quite a stir. Two years ago, the band released their debut EP Trilingual, which had multilingual lyrics, political themes and an eclectic blend of 90s shoegaze and modern beats. For example, “Border Crosser” is in support of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. When they’re not making great, politically active music, the band also does dope covers, like their trilingual take on Frank Ocean’s “Lost”. Watch their video for “Tereza” below. The band will make its Philly debut tonight with another talented band, PHOX. Get more details at the XPN Concert Calendar.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Queens of the Stone Age at the Mann Center, The Clientele at Boot and Saddle, Turks Head Festival at Everhart Park

Photo via facebook.com/QTSA
Photo via facebook.com/QOTSA

Desert rock legends Queens of the Stone Age return to play the Skyline Stage at the Mann Center tonight. Last year, the veteran rockers played a fantastic show at Made in America. The group just released their latest LP …Like Clockwork. Bassist Josh Homme recently appeared in an episode of Portlandia. The band also released an action-filled, drunken adventure for “Smooth Sailing”. Watch the video below. Get more information about the show at the XPN Concert Calendar. 

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Spank Rock at Underground Arts, Ceremony at First Unitarian Church, Chelsea Reed and Fairweather Five at Ardmore Music Hall

Spank Rock | Photo by John Vettese
Spank Rock | Photo by John Vettese

Philadelphia via Baltimore hiphop artist Spank Rock (aka Naeem Juwan) will be playing Underground Arts this Saturday. Last year, Spank Rock teamed up with longtime collaborator Amanda Black for their club track “We Can Go All Night”. He also played alongside the Walkmen, Sun Ra Arkestra and Sharon Van Etten at the Rail Park Benefit at Union Transfer. He recently released another single, “Gully” which promptly got remixed by Brodinski. In addition he made a mixtape for Jump Philly with DJ Sylo. Listen to the remix of “Gully” below. Get more details about the show at the XPN Concert Calendar.

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Watch Of Monsters and Men play an exclusive acoustic “Silouhettes” for World Cafe (plus other videos from Iceland!)

Of Monsters and Men recording for World Cafe in their practice space | Photo by John Vettese
Of Monsters and Men recording for World Cafe in their practice space | Photo by John Vettese

All this week, WXPN’s World Cafe has explored the music of Iceland in its Sense of Place series, and it culminated today with a video of poppy indie rock collective Of Monsters and Men performing an acoustic version of their song “Silhouettes” in their practice space in a remote location just outside of Reykjavik.

Originally appearing on the Hunger Games soundtrack, the song was performed live for the first time here, and the contemplative acoustic reinvention was a treat to hear. The performance was recorded on the fly by World Cafe producer Kimberly Junod after a red-eye flight and an early morning bike tour on the streets of Reykjavik; I shot video under similar conditions, while XPN digital content manager Rich McKie edited the final product together safely ensconced back here in Philly.

We’re pretty psyched about the final product, and you can check it out below.

This was just one of a series of videos featured this week from the Cafe’s travels in Iceland. After the jump, check out performances by haunting folk ensemble Árstíðir, ambient / classical composer Ólafur Arnalds and bright electronic pop outfit Sin Fang. Continue reading →

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Interview: Camera Obscura on family, emotional memory, and how the Glasgow scene has supported and shaped them

Camera Obscura (photo via Facebook)
Camera Obscura (photo via Facebook)

For nearly 20 years now, Scottish rockers Camera Obscura have delighted and enchanted fans with breezy, candy-coated gems that come alive thanks to front woman Tracyanne Campbell’s gorgeous, gauzy vocals, and an undercurrent of unease. The band first made a splash in 2001, with the Stuart Murdoch-produced, John Peel-acclaimed Biggest Bluest Hi Fi—then continued to churn out albums, while at the same time refining their orchestral, summer pop.

2013 saw the release of their fifth LP, Desire Lines, as well as the birth of Campbell’s first child, Gene. Now one year later, they’re headed to the States in support of Desire Lines, and will stop by World Café Live on July 19. In advance of their show, we rung up long-time keyboard player and vocalist Carey Lander—to talk family, emotional memory, and how the Glasgow scene has supported and shaped them.

The Key: I hear that Tracyanne is bringing along baby Gene on tour. What has that been like?

Carey Lander: Well, we’re partially finding out still. We did a weekend in the UK with him, and that went fine, which is reassuring. The baby will be on the bus for the tour though, so that will be interesting. But hopefully it will be ok.

TK: Are you worried you won’t be able to have as much fun with a baby on board? Do you like to go out and party a lot when you’re on tour?

CL: Not really. We are actually very boring. Our ideal night is to stay in, get room service, and watch TV—basically to be as boring as possible. We’re not too wild.

The band
The band

TK: That actually sounds pretty nice! So to me, one of most striking things about Camera Obscura is that you guys write these beautiful pop songs, but with an undercurrent of sadness. The juxtaposition is part of what makes them so great. Is this deliberate?

CL: The misery is in our songs is always hidden because I think we’re a little bit embarrassed to reveal our pain too much. So we try and make something that sounds lovely no matter what is behind the songs. Today we were talking about what a miserable album [2009’s] My Maudlin Career is. You might not realize it if you’re just casually listening, but there’s a lot of pain in those lyrics. It’s not all downhill though. Continue reading →

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