XPN Fest Recap: Hozier and Japanese Breakfast close night one with their hearts on their sleeves

Hozier | photo by Emily DeHart for WXPN

Emotion was in the air for all of XPNFest yesterday, but particularly during the pairing of night one headliners Hozier and Japanese Breakfast. Both are masters of songcraft that is intensely personal and often quite cathartic. But their music is also able to transcend their own experience and connect with listeners in a big way, thanks to innovative, engaging arrangements and a strong pop sensibility.

With hearts on sleeves from both ends of the BB&T show, last night’s set was also a study in contrasts — Hozier’s rough-hewn gospel / blues homages with Japanese Breakfast’s ethereal electronic pop, and Andrew John Hozier-Byrne’s direct and detailed lyrical confessions with Michelle Zauner’s nuanced, impressionistic songs of loss and connection. Continue reading →


Japanese Breakfast has your next bout of strep covered, music-wise

Japanese Breakfast, Current Mood | photo by Joyce Jude | via thefader.come

Are you ever home with a serious case of strep — hacking and coughing all over the place — wishing that you had the perfect strep throat playlist to jam to? If you can relate to this weirdly specific scenario, it’s your lucky day! NYC-based music/culture magazine The Fader often asks their favorite artists to put together a playlist of songs that represent a certain vibe. They call it their Current Mood Series and, in its sixth edition, Philly’s Japanese Breakfast shares 11 songs that got frontwoman Michelle Zauner through a recent case of strep throat. Continue reading →


Listen to Japanese Breakfast haunting rendition of “Head Over Heels”

Japanese Breakfast | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

“Head Over Heels” is known for being an upbeat 80s single by Tears for Fears, as much as it’s known for its use in the cult classic horror film, Donnie Darko. The track’s instrumental intro is unforgettable and unsettling, and Japanese Breakfast seems to take inspiration from the song’s more sinister connotations on their newly released cover of the track. Continue reading →


Japanese Breakfast grooves with emotion on new benefit single “Essentially”

Japanese Breakfast | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Michelle Zauner has been putting out pitch perfect content lately. She released her last album, Soft Sounds from Another Planet, in 2017, and since then has announced her book Crying in H-Mart (named after her essay for The New Yorker), directed music videos for Better Oblivion Community Center and Charly Bliss, and written music for the indie video game Sable. All that while continuing to tour with dates at Coachella and SXSW. In the latest update from her intense creative output, she’s released the new Japanese Breakfast single “Essentially,” as part of Marriott International W Hotel’s record label, W Records. Continue reading →


Hozier headlines #XPNFest’s Friday lineup, with Dawes, Bettye LaVette, Japanese Breakfast and more

Hozer | photo courtesy of the artist // Dawes | Magdalena Wosinska // Bettye LaVette | photo by Mark Seliger | courtesy of the artists

The XPoNential Music Festival presented by Subaru returns to the Camden Waterfront in just a few short months, the weekend of July 26, 27, and 28.

Headlining the BB&T Pavilion on Friday, July 26 is Irish singer-songwriter Hozier, who debuted in 2013 with “Take Me To Church,” a ubiquitous song that led his 2014 self-titled album to double-platinum status. He returned earlier this month with his sophomore album, Wasteland, Baby! Watch him perform the opening track, “Nina Cried Power,” on World Cafe below.  Continue reading →


Japanese Breakfast frontwoman Michelle Zauner to write memoir Crying in H Mart

Japanese Breakfast | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

Known for rocking the stage with cosmic sound and aching lyrics, Philadephia’s own Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast is embarking on a new artistic adventure: writing a book. Zauner signed a deal with Knopf to publish her memoir, Crying in H Mart, which shares the story of her childhood as a Korean-American, losing her mother to cancer, and her hunt for identity.

In 2018, Zauner published an essay in the New Yorker by the same title that explored the loss of her mother and how she connected to her late mother through Korean food. Continue reading →


The Essential Love Songs of Philadelphia: “Everybody Wants to Love You” by Japanese Breakfast

Japanese Breakfast
Japanese Breakfast | photo by Ebru Yildiz | courtesy of the artist

Every day leading up to Valentine’s Day this year, The Key is recapping 14 songs that scream “love” just as strongly as they scream “Philly.” The Essential Love Songs of Philadelphia continues with “Everybody Wants to Love You” from Japanese Breakfast’s 2016 album Psychopomp.

Chances are, “Everybody Wants to Love You” was one of the first songs you heard from Japanese Breakfast, the project of Philly’s Michelle Zauner. It was released in early 2016 as a single off Psychopomp, her debut album with the project, but it’s origins are a bit deeper — an early version of the song was written with one of Zauner’s old bands, Birthday Girlz, before she decided to repurpose it for Japanese Breakfast. That turned out to be an excellent idea. “Everybody Wants to Love You” the kind of bright, open song that is the catchiest of catchy; you can sing and dance along to it as much as you want, but it also draws you in so intensely that you’ll immediately want to listen to everything else this artist has ever written.

And if you have taken a dive into Japanese Breakfast’s two albums, 2016’s Psychopomp and 2017’s Soft Sounds From Another Planet, you’re familiar with the kinds of themes Zauner gravitates toward. She’s often open about the real-life subjects of her songs, which include her husband-slash-bandmate, and even more frequently her late mother. She doesn’t shy away from baring pain and heartache, and even songs that betray grief, sadness, anger and frustration are also full of great love. Continue reading →


Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast directed a Better Oblivion Community Center video; BOCC announced a Union Transfer show

Better Community Oblivion Center | still from video

After not-so-surprise releasing their collaborative album as Better Oblivion Community Center, Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst today announced the project’s U.S. tour, and shared a brand new music video for the song “Dylan Thomas,” directed by Michelle Zauner of Philadelphia’s Japanese Breakfast.

The video plays on ideas of cult and the occult, as well as the weirdness of technology, following Oberst and Bridgers as they attend a meeting by the titular 800-number self-help group, which devolves into candlelit ritual, which devolves into V.R. party. Continue reading →