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Charly Bliss’ heist adventure in the Michelle Zauner-directed “Capacity” video is a cautionary tale about being a people-pleaser

Charly Bliss | still from video

In between releases with her Japanese Breakfast project, the multi-talented Michelle Zauner has become indie music’s most sought-after video director. Zauner first made the leap behind the camera to direct some of her own music videos, and she’s since branched out into creating visuals for other artists — and now she’s back with a new one for “Capacity” by power-pop faves Charly Bliss.

“Capacity” is the lead single off the Brooklyn band’s just-announced new album Young Enough, which will be out May 10. The 70s-styled video follows the aftermath of a not-so-well-thought-out bank heist, of which Charly Bliss frontwoman Eva Hendricks finds herself an unwilling participant who reaps the benefits nonetheless. While Hendricks tosses hundred dollar bills like confetti, Zauner makes a cameo as a wacky news broadcaster named Shelly Breakfast. Continue reading →

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Charly Bliss

Charly Bliss | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Joining us in the studio for this Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session is the NY “bubblegum punk” quartet Charly Bliss. Formed just a few short years ago by singer Eva Hendricks guitarist Spencer Fox, drummer Sam Hendricks and bassist Dan Shure. Charly Bliss released their debut album, Guppy, earlier this year. Plenty of other bands’ music sits at the crossroads of grunge and glitz, but what sets Charly Bliss apart is the band’s intricate harmonies. You’ll hear them on the three songs they performed live in our studio:

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The Guppy Effect: Charly Bliss LIVE, new Belle & Sebastian, The Clientele & Stars on the Indie Rock Hit Parade!

Charly Bliss | Photo by Jacqueline Harriet

After a short, festival-induced break, the Indie Rock Hit Parade is back and better than ever tonight at 11pm ET on XPN! Stay tuned after the similar return of Making Time RADio with Dave P for a full two-hour show that’ll waste no time in getting you back into an IRHP frame of mind. First up, we’ve got a brand new live session to share: NYC ‘bubblegum punks’ Charly Bliss released their debut album back in the spring, and they’ll play some tracks from Guppy live in our studio! There’s also a pile of brand new music that’s been growing taller and taller since our last meeting, so be sure to listen for new releases from Belle & Sebastian, Wolf Parade, Stars, The Clientele and more! Preview some of the new things below…

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: John Vettese’s Top Six Philly Music Finds of 2018

Low Dose | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2018 incredible. To kick off the series, Key editor John Vettese recaps six of his favorite Philadelphia music finds from the past 12 months.

This page of the calendar is always a blur for me. Thinking back over the 300-some previous days of listening to records from Philly musicians, getting to their gigs, recording them in the WXPN studio, and spinning their music on the air is a lot to take stock of. Putting together my annual rundown of jaw-dropping artists that were new to me in 2018 quickly went from “hmm, I know I was stoked about these three” to “OMG I already have 20, I need to narrow this down.”

But that’s the blessing of living in Philly, as I say every year. We have amazing musicians operating on all tiers — the broadly-reaching Meek Mills releasing the best and most poignant records of their career, the War on Drugs-es returning home this week for a sold-out run of underplay shows, the Hop Alongs garnering widespread acclaim for their own masterpieces — but we also have musicians who are still sweating it out on basement show bills, touring in battered vans, hustling across the bar scene, and grinding to make it all work for them.

Finding the most exciting musicians in that latter space, and watching them make their way to the former, is easily my favorite part of my job. Here are a handful of artists I hope to see make that journey this year.

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Indie luminaries Death Cab for Cutie were in top form for a dynamic Tower set

Death Cab for Cutie | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Does anybody out there remember a thing called The Death and Dismemberment tour? Named in homage to a throwaway line Bill Murray’s existential comedy Groundhog Day, and savvily designed to get as many turn-of-the-millennium indie rock fans in a theater as possible, the 2001 run starred Death Cab For Cutie, hot off the release of their emotive third LP The Photo Album, and the beloved math rock outfit The Dismemberment Plan. I specifically remember the Philly press at the time puzzledly contrasting the high-octane DisPlan with the “quiet as a kitten Death Cab.”

Again, this was 2001. It’s now seventeen years later, and Death Cab is no longer quiet as a kitten. 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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Just Announced: Death Cab for Cutie adds a second show at the Tower

Death Cab for Cutie | photo by Eliot Lee Hazel | via NPR Music

Right after Death Cab for Cutie shared the first single from their forthcoming album, their October 9 show at the Tower Theater sold out. Coincidence or not, it seems like the promise of the first new Death Cab tunes in three years has folks eager to see the band in action on their upcoming fall tour.

Fortunately for Philly concertgoers, a second show has been added — Death Cab for Cutie will stick around town for an extra day to make a second Tower Theater appearance on October 10. Continue reading →

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Best Coast brings their own jolly dose of surf rock to the Beach Boys’ “Little Saint Nick”

Best Coast
Best Coast | Photo by Michelle Montgomery for WXPN | michellemontgomeryphotography.com

Thanksgiving’s over, so you know what that means: time for bounties of the corniest, jolliest fa la la holiday cheer. While Christmas classics still run the show, it’s always fun to hear new takes on nostalgia-ridden tunes. Amazon agrees, as they’ve compiled a playlist called “Indie for the Holidays,” which includes a gleeful cover of the Beach Boys’ “Little Saint Nick,” by surf rockers, Best Coast. Continue reading →

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Now Hear This: New songs by Sylvan Esso, Juana Molina, Colin Stetson, White Reaper, Shugo Tokumaru, Alice Coltrane and more

sylvan esso
Sylvan Esso | photo by Shervin Lainez | courtesy of the artist

Every month, noted song expert K. Ross Hoffman presents Now Hear This, a sampling of fresh specimens for your consideration.

Let’s see. Cruel April gave us DAMN., Coachella, the debacle-du-spectacle that was Fyre Festival (not actually much a music story, as it turned out)… oh, and Record Store Day. Which, I gotta say, is the one capitalism-based holiday I can fully get behind – not so much for the cavalcade of exclusive releases, which feels more extraneous and vaguely exploitative every year, but for the explicit excuse/occasion to go hang out in record stores, which I sadly rarely do otherwise. And also because quirky devised human-scaled social rituals like that are just great.

I missed RSD this year for the first time in a while, but I made up for it later in the week by swinging by the Numero Group “Factory Outlet Roadshow” tour stop in Kensington: a traveling pop-up shop from the peerless Chicago-based reissue label: where I stocked up on gorgeously-packaged reproductions/assemblages of 20th-century pop ephemera. (Including, to keep things semi-2017-related, the supafunky sample source of Jens Lekman’s megajam “How We Met (The Long Version)” which has also been in my head for about a week.) So far I’ve barely even scratched the surface of my Numero haul – I’ve been much too busy combing through new releases in order to winnow out the month’s absolute finest strains to share with you, dear reader – but I’m pretty amped to dig in deeper as soon as I hit publish! Continue reading →