Find calming clarity in Tentative Plans’ sophomore EP debut, still

Tentative Plans | via

Local indie dream-pop duo, Tentative Plans, were brought together through the fateful forces of Craigslist to become a band and debut an EP last summer. Now, the angelic outfit, comprised of Cait Kellagher and Chris Caulder, have released their sophomore EP titled, still.

When I say that this EP is angelic, I’m not kidding or using that term lightly. Kellagher’s clear, bright vocals are so dang calming and ethereal, it’s unreal. Everything about this six track release is clean and precise, from the vocals to production quality, to the thoughtful and purposeful use of instrumentation. Continue reading →


PREMIERE: Introducing Tentative Plans, the angelic duo that was meant to be

Tentative Plans | photo by Eric Blitz
Tentative Plans | photo by Eric Blitz

Cait Kellagher and Chris Caulder were two people on two completely different paths. Now, they’re the musical duo that is Tentative Plans. And what do they have to thank for such a drastic change? Craigslist.

The two met online when they were both in search of a roommate. When they met up in person, Kellagher and Caulder realized their musical connection was two strong to ignore — they both shared influences like Azure Ray, Half Moon Run, Noah Gunderson, and Nirvana. With Kellagher on keys and vocals, and Caulder serving as a multi-instrumentalist, the duo began work on a debut EP. Continue reading →


Bettye’s Bob: A conversation with Bettye LaVette about Dylan, interpretation and how Things Have Changed

Bettye LaVette | photo by Mark Seliger | via

Releasing a new album during God’s holiest of holidays was a smart thing for Bettye LaVette. The raw-voiced interpretative R&B singer and current New Jersey resident makes the music of others a deeply religious and innovative experience as she uncovers (no, crafts lovingly and with incendiary force) never-before-witnessed nuances to songwriters such as Roger Waters, Lucinda Williams, Joan Armatrading, Peter Townshend, Willie Nelson, Eddie Hinton and others in her immediate past.

Her new Things Have Changed, however dissects and reassembles the stuff of Bob Dylan in a manner that resembles a mad scientist at play – cutting and changing and re-stitching the 20th Century Bard’s lyrics and music into something newly marvelous and provocative. LaVette shows up at World Café Live on April 5 and chatted with me on Good Friday, the album’s release day, about the good that God brings…even if she’s not so sure of divine providence. Continue reading →


Philly artists send love and support to Houston and beyond via Bandcamp benefits

Mock Suns
Mock Suns are among dozens of Philly artists supporting disaster relief through charitable online releases | photo by Chelsea Schryver | courtesy of the artist

In the aftermath of destruction that Hurricane Harvey wreaked onto the Texan coast — and as Florida grapples with the fallout of Hurricane Irma — Philly’s DIY creatives have been working in full force to support disaster relief by putting Bandcamp’s philanthropic possibilities to test.

From the full-bodied compilations of Good Behavior Records and DIY for Houston, to a release from fresh Items Tagged Philadelphia find, Nymphaea, and a new track from The Residuels, there’s a lot of chances for you to support Houston while also supporting the local scene. Continue reading →


Vita And The Woolf talks Firefly Festival, Barcelona, and inspirations for the new TUNNELS

Vita and the Woolf | photo by Ebru Yildiz
Vita and the Woolf | photo by Ebru Yildiz | courtesy of the artist

Philly’s Jen Pague and the rest of her band that makes up Vita And The Woolf has been pretty busy recently. For the past two years, they’ve been working on the followup to Fang Song, Vita’s first EP, recorded by Pague as a demo while she was studying at Temple University. Since then, the band has evolved from an 8 member band to a 3 piece that incorporates drummer Adam Shumski and guitarist Dane Galloway.

Since beginning their journey to TUNNELS — their debut LP out today, read our review here — the band has built a following not only in Philadelphia but also around the world. In the past 6 months, they’ve toured opening for Clap Your Hands Say Yeah across the United States and filmed a music video in Spain. Tomorrow, they play the Firefly Music Festival in Dover, Delaware, a major stepping stone for a band who has worked a lot for their accomplishments.

TUNNELS shows Pague and the rest of Vita And The Woolf at their finest. It’s an outstanding collection of not only modern synth-pop but also conducive songwriting. Pague channels her influences like a magician; sweet melodies blend with dark textures that bring not only a feeling of melancholy but also overwhelming joy.

I recently spoke with Pague over the phone about TUNNELS, read our conversation and watch the album teaser below. Continue reading →


Now Hear This: New songs by Jarvis Cocker and Chilly Gonzalez, Gabriel Garzón-Montano, Austra and more

Gabriel Garzón-Montano
Gabriel Garzón-Montano | Photo by Breanna Keohane for WXPN

Every month, noted song expert K. Ross Hoffman presents a sampling of fresh specimens for your consideration. Here are his picks for February, 2017.

Happy new(-ish) year!  January tends to be a slow time for new music, as release schedules (and concert calendars) gradually shift back into gear following a generally-observed hibernation around the holidays.  That felt especially true this year, with no major releases dominating the musical conversation the way, for instance, Bowie did in 2016.  (I guess we also had a few other things to pay attention to.)  But there were still a handful of gems to sift through, all well as some promising signs for what’s to come later in the Spring.  The selections below includes a pair of pre-release teasers from disgruntled old geezers, sterling examples of several different strains of soul music, a smattering of political content – sorry, you can’t escape it here either – and the first great pop banger of 2017.

Continue reading →


Farewell to a Listening Room: Reflections on the closing of Old City’s Tin Angel

Kristen Hersh at the Tin Angel | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Kristen Hersh at the Tin Angel | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Back in early December, I saw something at Old City’s famed Tin Angel that I hadn’t seen in forever: a line. A queue of people running down the staircase, out the door, stretching up 2nd Street, waiting in earnest for a performance by alternative-era singer-songwriter Kristin Hersh.

Certainly the 150-capacity room drew packed crowds countless times over the years, but something felt different this night. It was a sold-out show heading into a long string of sold-out show as the venue calendar wound down, this weekend presenting its final concert after more than two decades in business. Tonight, The Hillbenders take the stage in a show curated by the Philadelphia Folksong Society, and it’s the last gig you’ll be able to buy tickets for at the door; tomorrow’s show with Steve Forbert and Saturday’s double-header with Ben Vaughn have long been sold out. And after that, the Tin Angel belongs to the ages. Continue reading →


PREMIERE: Listen to Bryant Eugene Vazquez’s All Damn Day / The Greatest Hits

BEV by Sara Stickley 2
Bryant Eugene Vazquez | Photo by Sara Stickley

Even the newest music from Bryant Eugene Vazquez‘s sounds like it’s been around forever. The Philadelphia-based songwriter has explored a range of ideas and styles over the past several years, from folk to hard psychedelic rock in his Beverly Mud band, to garage pop. But kept in a blanket of vintage production tones, his music maintains a cohesive core and impeccably classic sensibilities.

“I guess, I never fancied myself a ‘pop’ songwriter,” Vazquez tells us. “But I grew up listening to The Four Tops a lot, I loved John Lennon before I even knew he was in The Beatles, CCR and other random good stuff: 60’s / 70’s and whatever ‘grunge’ was in the 90s.”

Vazquez grew up in Arizona, and moved to Philadelphia in 2013. He released the album Caliber on arrival, and it immediately impressed, documenting his cross-country move in spare, haunting acoustic compositions that wander nontraditional twists and turns in the vein of Austin cult fave Josh T. Pearson. Continue reading →


Unlocked: A look at the extracurricular activites of Purling Hiss

2013phissMike Polizze cut his teeth on stage with his local guitar assault act Birds of Maya before Purling Hiss came to fruition. But Polizze’s bandmates are also active outside of their collective power trio, some very recently, others not as much.

Kiel Everett, the bassist of Purling Hiss is also the guitarist, main song-writer and singer of local roots rockers Tin Horses. Their first release, 2011’s well-received American Radiance was full down-trodden reflections of days past but not missed. Everett and and the rest of Tin Horses, whose lineup has changed a little over the last several months, released A Life of Trouble at the beginning of this album to his approval.

A Life of Trouble actually feels like a band’s album,” Everett says. Continue reading →


Philly space-rock savant Brendan Codey releases new cassette, “Casco”

Philadelphia songwriter Brendan Codey just released his latest collection of spacey jams: the Casco EP, available through Treetop Sorbet Recordings, the cassette label run by Arches’ Julien Rossow-Greenberg. The set was recorded over several years, and in several locales – a bedroom in New Jersey, apartments in Maine and Chicago, and his current home in Philly – and is a fine survey of the tones and textures Codey has explored thus far in his recording career. “Diaspora” showcases his nimble folk-style acoustic fingerpicking; “What a Lucky Girl You Are” blends that with spacey backwards loops similar to his debut EP A Bottle House Vernacular; “The 43rd Suite” is a straight-up space rock anthem in the vein of “Twelfth Page” (spotlighted last year in the Philly Local Philes). Codey says a few of the tracks are destined for a full album he plans to release later this year, tentatively titled Phoenicia 1995. We’ll keep you posted with more on that release as it develops, but in the meantime, listen to the current release below – you can also order it from the label here.