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Strand of Oaks is ready to transform on “Weird Ways” from new Eraserland LP

Strand of Oaks | photo by Alysse Gafkajen | courtesy of the artist
Strand of Oaks | photo by Alysse Gafkajen | courtesy of the artist

There’s an air of finality in the opening notes of Strand of Oaks‘ new single “Weird Ways,” as frontman Tim Showalter very plainly and directly sings “I don’t feel it anymore.”

Set to warm, close-mic’d acoustic guitar, with his robust baritone upfront in the mix, this is the intimate and vulnerable Showalter we hear once a year at the Boot & Saddle Winter Classic; it’s the Showalter of back-catalog songs like “Kill Dragon” and “Sister Evangeline.” And it’s a Showalter who, as he was writing, clearly felt out of place with the direction his music traveled versus the direction the music world was heading.

“The scene isn’t my scene anymore.”

This is the way that Strand of Oaks’ just-announced sixth album Eraserland begins, and a glance over song titles like “Final Fires” — or knowing the song “Keys” from his live set, where he sings “we should just run away” to his wife Sue — seem to paint a picture of somebody ready to move on.

But then a snare drum downbeat kicks in. And the realization hits — we’re not going anywhere just yet. Continue reading →

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Meek Mill is the SNL musical guest on January 26th

Meek Mill at Made In America | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Though the folks over at Saturday Night Live are offering this season’s first clunker of a musical guest this coming weekend — the generic dude rock band everyone loves to hate, Greta Van Fleet — they’ve redeemed themselves today by announcing the January 26th musical guest: Philly rapper Meek Mill.

On the heels of his Championships LP, released in December, Meek is making his debut on the late night sketch comedy show; that week’s host is Glaswegian actor James McAvoy, who stars in M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass, out January 18th.  Continue reading →

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Gary Clark Jr. takes on racism in middle America on his powerful “This Land” video

Gary Clark Jr. at Made In America | Photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN
Gary Clark Jr. at Made In America | Photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN

Blues rocker Gary Clark Jr. has announced that his forthcoming album This Land on will be released on March 1, and ahead of the release he’s shared a powerful video for the title track. Lyrically, Clark uses “This Land” to illustrate how inextricably tied the personal and political can be, using autobiographical details of his rural Texas upbringing, a place he describes as “right in the middle of Trump country.” Continue reading →

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The Revivalists are a knockout alongside American Authors at The Met

The Revivalists | photo by Dylan Eddinger for WXPN | dylaneddinger.com

New Orleans natives The Revivalists played hit after hit for all their Philly friends at the still-new Metropolitan Opera House Saturday night. Supported by Boston’s American Authors, known for their hit “Best Day Of My Life” a couple years back, both bands brought a mostly seated crowd to their feet for the whole night. Featuring a cover of The Killers’ iconic “Mr. Brightside” and several just-released tracks, American Authors continuously thanked The Revivalists for including them on this tour after they played a show together early last year. The catchy pop-rock songs and engaging frontman made for the perfect opener. Continue reading →

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Potty Mouth will release SNAFU on Get Better Records

Potty Mouth | photo by Nazrin Massaro | courtesy of the artist

It’s great news enough that Potty Mouth has announced the release of SNAFU, their first full-length album in several years. But here in Philly, we have another reason to celebrate: the new record will be released on local label Get Better Records. Though Potty Mouth is based in LA, the band’s bassist Ally Einbinder co-runs the Philly-based label with her partner Alex Licktenhour. Continue reading →

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The Extraordinaires have rebooted for 2019, and will play PhilaMOCA next month

The Extraordinaires | courtesy of the artist

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from infamous Philly rockers The Extraordinaires. The band released its last album, Dress for Nasty Weather, back in 2012 and have pretty much kept quiet ever since, its members moving on to new projects. Until now, that is.

This year, Extraordinaires songwriters Jay Purdy and Matt Gibson are bringing the band back. Their entire catalogue, most of which is currently available on Bandcamp, will be released on Spotify next month. But them most exciting piece of news is that in just a few short weeks, we’ll be able to see The Extraordinaires live, as they take the stage at PhilaMOCA on February 6 to revisit their storied past with a deep dive into their catalogue, which reaches back to the early aughts. Continue reading →

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The (com)passion of Karuna: old friends-percussionists Adam Rudolph and Hamid Drake join forces with saxophonist Dave Liebman

Liebman, Rudolph, Drake are Karuna | photo courtesy of the artist

From its name — the Tibetan word for compassion — to its conscious interplay and improvisation (or spontaneous composition), Karuna radiate soul, intimacy and humanity. Part of this touch-sensitivity surely stems from the fact that the trio’s two percussionists, Adam Rudolph (djembe, congas, tarija, sintir, electronics) and Hamid Drake (kit, vocals, frame drum) palled around as kids in Chicago, are dear friends, and have played together in diverse bands from leaders such as Baba Fred Anderson, Don Cherry, Yusef Lateef, Pharaoh Sanders, Hassan Hakmoun and more.

After one loving recording with reeds man Ralph M. Jones, Karuna’s Rudolph and Drake are touring and making music with legendary tenor and soprano saxophonist (to say nothing of bamboo flautist) Dave Liebman for an album called Chi, due out in February. Before that release, the trio (who also go by Liebman Rudolph & Drake) make a pit stop at Boot & Saddle on Monday, January 14, under the watchful curatorial eye of Philadelphia’s Ars Nova Workshop.  I caught up with Rudolph at home in New York City, just days before the live proceedings to see what friendship and fire mean to this union. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Guster gears up for a busy 2019 at World Cafe Live

Guster | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Guster is about to be extremely busy: in just one short week, the band will release Look Alive, their first album in four years, and head out on an extensive world tour. But this week they’ve been reveling in the calm before the storm, rehearsing new songs, and prepping their live set for a real-life audience. Their official release week festivities began just this afternoon, right here in Philly, as they joined us for a sold-out Free at Noon performance.

Many in the extremely packed audience seemed to be enthusiastic Guster fans (some might have been here for the band’s last Free at Noon, almost exactly four years ago), and their anticipation was palpable as they rushed to fill the room; only increasing with every second of the additional ten-minute wait for the band to come onstage. We soon found out why the band was running late — they have a lot of fancy technological aspects to their performance, some of which it seems like they’re still getting used to. Continue reading →