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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Now Hear This: New Songs from Cold Specks, Moses Sumney, Cults, Susanne Sundfør, Laura Baird, Eamon and Mavis Staples

Moses Sumney | photo via

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

October is the coolest month – musically speaking.  There are more (and, pound for pound, bigger) new releases flying around these days than any other time of year.  It’s dizzying.  And correspondingly, of course, there are also many many artists touring through town, now and in the coming weeks.  It’s left me with little choice but to offer an, umm, especially generous baker’s dozen by way of my monthly recap below.  So come feast your ears! 

Among other things, last month saw a considerable number of comebacks, of varying magnitudes – returns to action, artistic reinvigorations, etc – from artists all across the spectrum.  I’ve highlighted a good number of them below, along with a smaller, select handful of shining newcomer – most of whom turn out to be not entirely that new, after all.

The biggest (unintentional) theme for this month, a through-line linking all of these widely ranging selections, is the power of the voice.  The playlist below features a striking array of voices – extraordinary voices and commonplace voices, singly or in multiple, highly processed or unadorned.  And whether or not I call attention to to it in my write-up, each and every cut here offers something memorable in terms of its vocal dimension; a certain quality of the voice (or voices) at hand, or of the way that voice are used.  Let it be a reminder for us all, to keep on using our voices. Continue reading →


Cults blend vintage sounds and modern synths in new “I Took Your Picture”

Cults | photo by Shawn Brackbill | via

Last month, atmospheric duo Cults sprung back into music consciousness by sharing news of an upcoming album titled Offering, along with the title track from the upcoming release. Now, the two have unveiled another single — titled “I Took Your Picture” — before the October 6th album date. Continue reading →


Just Announced: Cults announce new album, Johnny Brenda’s show, share single, “Offering”


Olivia Malone/Courtesy of the artist

Melodic indie synth-duo, Cults, have been a away for a while. To make up for it, they’ve just hit us with all of the good news. Like all of it. For a triple whammy of blessings, the Cults announced 1) a shiny new album titled Offering, 2) a fall show at Johnny Brenda’s, and 3) shared the title track single, “Offering.”

The new single is heavy on the shimmery, synth vibes — piled with layers upon layers of background 8-bit fuzz, with Madaline Folin’s pure, ethereal vocals slicing through the static psych atmosphere. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Cults at The TLA, Communion Club Night featuring Rosco Bandana at Underground Arts, Myrrias at Ortliebs and more

Olivia Malone/Courtesy of the artist
Olivia Malone/Courtesy of the artist

Indie-pop duo Cults will take to the TLA stage tonight. The New York natives released their sophomore album Static in October on Columbia Records and it has impressed fans and critics. Bullet Magazine recently included “So Far” from the new record on their “Indisputable, Definitive Best 53 Songs of 2013” list. Get tickets to the show here and watch them perform “Always Forever” from their WFUV Session below.

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Watch a new music video for “High Road” by Cults (playing The TLA on 10/23)


Last week Cults released a music video for their newest single “High Road,” which you can watch below. After releasing their first album in 2011, this indie pop band has continued to gain popularity in anticipation of their new album Static, which is due out October 15th. With sweetly sung vocal melodies and simple bass lines, such as on “High Road,” Cults is one of the best new bands in indie pop. Check out the first single off Static, “I Can Hardly Make You Mine,” here; listen to the album in its entirety here via NPR Music’s First Listen series. Cults will be performing at The Theatre of Living Arts on October 23rd, you can buy tickets here.


Listen to the new Cults album, Static (playing TLA 10/23)

Olivia Malone/Courtesy of the artist
Olivia Malone/Courtesy of the artist
It’s been since June, 2011, when Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion of Cults released their debut album. The band has a new record, Static, being released on Tuesday, October 15th. Stephen Thompson, of NPR Music writes: “Like Cults’ self-titled 2011 debut, the duo’s new album keeps its sound rooted in a kind of plaintive shimmer — Follin remains approachable even as her words tap into the mystery and desolation wired into many of the arrangements.”

You can listen to the new Cults album in its entirety here. You can sample a new song, “High Road,” below.

The band performs at the TLA on Wednesday, October 23rd. Go here for tickets and more information.

Purchase Static here.

Listen to the new Cults album, Static, in its entirety here.


This Weekend’s Concert Picks: Cults at Union Transfer, Pissed Jeans at Johnny Brenda’s

With a Google-proof band name and zero social-networking presence, Cults used to be such a mystery. Then the unassuming New York duo posted a few tracks online in 2010, which immediately set off a hunt for the truth about their backgrounds and catapulted them into the indie spotlight. The single “Go Outside” channels ’60s girl-group pop; it’s a sunny song with Lesley Gore-esque vocals, glockenspiel, and an eerie undercurrent (courtesy of samples of cult leader Jim Jones muttering about death). Though they’re not in any rush to make every autobiographical detail and quirk public, the original pair of Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion (both former NYU film students and California natives) have warmed up to the additional attention, growing into a full five-piece group and signing to Columbia for a full-length album, which was released last summer. Cults performs with Dirty Fences at 8:30 p.m.; tickets to the all-ages show are SOLD OUT—Kiley Bense

Also Playing: Minas at World Cafe Live (8 p.m., $20); Adrien Reju And Friends at Tin Angel (10:30 p.m., 21+, $10); The National Rifle + Waking Lights, Blayer Pointdujour at Milkboy Philly (9:30 p.m., 21+, $8–$10); Swift Technique + Lady, Dr. Ruckus at Kung Fu Necktie (8 p.m., 21+, $10)


Pissed Jeans performs with Blues Control and Veiled at 9:15 p.m. at Johnny Brenda’s; tickets to the 21+ show are $10–$12.

Also Playing: Negative Department + The Only Ghost in Town, Pray For Polanski, Sure Juror at The Level Room (8 p.m., 21+, $8); New Sweden + KeN, Lettuce Prey at Milkboy Philly (9:30 p.m., 21+, $8–$10);

Far-Out Fangtooth + Lantern, Harsh Vibes at The Level Room (9 p.m., 21+, $10); Allison Weiss + Mitten, Former Belle, Conversations With Enemies at PhilaMOCA (8 p.m., all ages, $7–$10)