By

Beano French, A.M. Mills, Octave Cat and more join the Waterfront Sessions July lineup

A.M. Mills | photo by Joshua Cicetti | courtesy of the artist // Octave Cat | photo by Ben Wong | courtesy of the artist // Beano French | photo courtesy of the artist

On a Thursday night in the summer, there’s no better place to be than Spruce Street Harbor Park. The park’s annual Waterfront Sessions encourage you to “tap your toes and groove to jams by some of Philly’s finest artists,” with a free concert each week throughout the season. The sessions kicked off last week, and the July lineup has just been announced, bringing us four more weeks of music to look forward to. Continue reading →

By

Tonight’s Concert Picks: Jens Lekman at Union Transfer, Sheena & Thee Nosebleeds at Kung Fu Necktie, Octave Cat at Johnny Brenda’s, and more…

Jens Lekman | photo by Ellika Henrikson
Jens Lekman | photo by Ellika Henrikson | courtesy of the artist

Swedish songwriter Jens Lekman will bring his idiosyncratic pop stylings to Union Transfer tonight in support of his latest album, Life Will See You Now. It features the infectious lead single “What’s That Perfume That You Wear?”, probably the most romantic song about smells I’ve heard. Stream the video for the track below. Then, head over to XPN’s Concert Calendar for tickets and more info on the show. Continue reading →

By

PREMIERE: Members of Lotus and Dopapod team up for new Octave Cat project, share “Fever Subsides” single

octave cat
Octave Cat | photo by Mike Ryan | courtesy of the artist

Octave Cat is an experiment that went right.

The funky new collaboration from Jesse Miller (Lotus), Eli Winderman (Dopapod), and Charlie Patierno, (Kate Faust, Kuf Knotz), was supposed to just be a day spent messing around with some vintage synths. But the tapes were rolling as Miller and Winderman twisted knobs and pressed keys on The Cat, a rare synth made by Octave in the 70s (see what they did there), and on playback the pair heard something more than just experiments. That session turned into a full-fledged project that will release its debut self-titled album this year, and today we have the premiere of new single “Fever Subsides.”

Continue reading →

By

The Week Ahead: Jessie Reyez, Max Swan, Pusha T, Killiam Shakespeare and more

Killiam Shakespeare | photo via killiamseason.bandcamp.com

Think a holiday week means there’s no live music to keep you entertained? Think again. Starting tonight with rising R&B star Jessie Reyez, carrying through an album release from Killiam Shakespeare this weekend, and a Green Room showcase with DaniLeigh on Monday, here are twelve concerts you can see in the next seven days all around Philadelphia. Continue reading →

By

The Week Ahead: The Posies, Strand of Oaks, King Britt, Inara George and more

XPoNential Music Festival | photo by Joe Del Tufo | deltufophotography.com

Let’s send out January in a big way, friends. The weather is unseasonably warm and we’ve got 24 concerts over the next week for you to choose between, centered in Philadelphia with a couple day trips to locales like Bethlehem and Ardmore. Dig in below, and happy concertgoing. Continue reading →

By

The Key’s Year-End Mania: Ben Wong’s favorite artist portraits of 2017

You Do You | photo by Ben Wong | brotherlylost.com

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. Today, Key photographer Ben Wong revisits some of his favorite artist portraits from the past 12 months.

The artist portrait is an interesting process for both the photographer and the musician(s). It’s one of the few times that there are literally no rules. In many cases the more imperfect the better. It requires trust and creativity for both parties to conceive a vision and tell a story by showing. Philadelphia especially, while rich with talented musicians, is also home to some of the most talented visual artists. We help contribute to the artist’ brand as much as they help build ours. This year I was fortunate enough to work with a variety of different artists and explore my love for portraiture with musicians from all corners of the Philadelphia scene. Continue reading →

By

Faces of Philadelphia (Musicians) portrait series opens at Brewerytown Beats tonight

anna mraz
Portrait of Raj Haldar by Anna Mraz | photo via Philebrity

Local artist Anna Mraz is celebrating the diverse spirit of the Philly music scene with her Faces of Philadelphia (Musicians) exhibit, opening tonight at Brewerytown Beats. We want to give several hat tips to Philebrity, who spotted the First Friday event and gave us a sneak peak into the watercolor-on-plexiglass portraits that will be lining the walls of the Brewerytown record store.

Continue reading →

By

Free at Noon Flashback: Amy Ray and her band offer a delightful start to the holiday weekend

Amy Ray and XPN go way back. She has appeared at World Cafe Live and on World Cafe the show countless times, both as one half of Indigo Girls and as a solo artist. She will play World Cafe Live again tonight and XPoNential fest in July. Before all that though, she and her band treated us to a fantastic Free at Noon set. It was a great way to roll into the long weekend.

Continue reading →

By

The Key Studio Sessions: Grandchildren

“All right, are y’all ready to rock?” I asked the members of Grandchildren as we finished setup and soundcheck in WXPN studios last month…and drummer Roman Salcic had the perfect response: “We are ready to art-pop!”

Truly I love the idea of “art-pop” as a verb. It’s an active phrase, definitely more active than the word “rock” — which, if it wasn’t the name of a legacy music genre named after a colloquialism for sex, would be a simple and unimpressive noun, a word for a heavy and blunt geological material. By comparison, the activity implied by “art-pop” feels vivid and full of imagination. Which is a perfect description of the consistent trait that has defined this adventurous Philadelphia band for the past decade. Continue reading →

By

Find Your Tribe: Hermit High Priestess makes punk ethereal on their heavenly, heavy new EP

Hermit High Priestess | Photo by Sarrah Danziger | via facebook.com/atreenamedturtle

“THERE’S ALWAYS MORE”– Hermit High Priestess on trauma, eclecticism, and the hope of being understood

The idea of “shattering the binary” is often a lofty one in music, especially in genres and scenes as insular as punk rock. On the one hand, punk has a reputation for being unabashedly free, artistically daring, its practitioners eschewing constraint and announcing themselves as “other.” Yet if you dig beneath the surface — past the bullet belts, gas station attendant jackets, and spiked hair — you’ll find a uniform orthodoxy that often holds the genre in stasis.

Hermit High Priestess are two wandering spirits informed by an idealistic re-imagining of punk rock, where magic and incantation are as much a part of the punk rock process as are cryptically scrawled black t-shirts. Dani and Anna play music that is heavy, yet still somehow heavenly, forgoing the three-chord stomp and bash of yet another Ramones or Discharge reincarnation. Instead their music, like on “The Rake’s Wave”, a standout track on their forthcoming EP, infuses warm strings, mischievous bass and xylophone lines, along with Anna’s determined, heartfelt vocals ruminating on the necromantic nature of systems that corrupt our dreams.

It’s almost as if the still-expanding underground music scene struggles to make room for HHP, yet still they persist, turning up on bills with aggressive punk bands, spoken word artists, R&B acts, metal bands — when you’re an ethereal, romantic, tribal folk band evoking Dead Can Dance, and Tori Amos as much as more obscure Crass Records bands like Tappi Tikarras, there’s a certain amount of work you’ve got to be prepared to do to find your tribe. Although they’ve yet to be embraced fully, HPP, with their latest work, are ready to start the ritual to affect the change they want to see in their world — non-binary, brilliant, and free of the trappings of genre.

We sat down and talked with them on the precipice of their latest release to find out what conversations they were having as a band that led them to create such rousing work. Continue reading →