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Just Announced: Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker will bring abysskiss to the Church

Adrianne Lenker | photo by Shervin Lainez | courtesy of the artist

Adrianne Lenker may be best known as the vocalist and songwriter of Big Thief, but fans of the popular indie band would be remiss to overlook her solo work. The prolific musician will release her next solo album, abysskiss, next month, and while Big Thief will be busy touring this fall, Lenker will tour the new album in early 2019, with a stop at the First Unitarian Church on February 15. Singer-songwriter Luke Temple will open. Continue reading →

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Listen to “cradle,” the new track from Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker

Adrianne Lenker
Adrianne Lenker | photo by Shervin Lainez | courtesy of the artist

Adrianne Lenker, the vocalist and songwriter for indie trio Big Thief, has announced a new solo album, abyskiss and released the first single, “cradle.”

Capturing Lenker’s rich songwriting in a haunting and intimate folk arrangement, “cradle” is a chilling track that recalls the minimalist dirges of Sun Kil Moon. Talking of the album’s creation, Leneker says she “felt a growing need to document this particular time in her life in an intimate, immediate way.” The album, then, is her “document” of the songs she’s written for herself while touring and recording with Big Thief over the last few years. Continue reading →

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Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker and Nick Hakim bring Johnny Brenda’s to a hush with two sold out solo sets

Adrianne Lenker | photo by Koof Ibi Umoren for WXPN

Two seated shows on a snowy night at Johnny Brenda’s last Wednesday night had the audience holding their breath in fear of interrupting these intimate solo performers. If you closed your eyes you, couldn’t tell that anyone was in the room beside the person onstage. Performing for sold out crowds at 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., Adrianne Lenker (co-frontperson of acclaimed indie folk act Big Thief) and Nick Hakim had the room’s complete attention. Continue reading →

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Just Announced: Big Thief’s Adrianne Lenker to play an all-ages and 21+ show at JB’s this March

Adrianne Lenker of Big Thief | photo by Scott Troyan for WXPN

If you couldn’t attend the Project Pabst fest this past September — and if, like I, you were distraught at missing Big Thief performing in the general vicinity without your presence to soak in the immense beautifulness of it — don’t you fret. You can still experience the soft, lulling magnificence of front woman Adrianne Lenker’s project this March at Johnny Brenda’s. Continue reading →

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Just Announced: Big Thief will play First Unitarian Church in this fall

Big Thief | Photo: Shervin Lainez
Big Thief | photo by Shervin Lainez | courtesy of the artist

Brooklyn-based indie rock band Big Thief announced their fall tour and are set to appear at Philly’s First Unitarian Church in October. The tour announcement comes on the heels of Big Thief’s recently-released experimental EP, Wide Winged Bird. The EP was made while on tour from summer 2015 to spring 2017, and contains ambient background sounds, field recordings, poems, and songs intertwined through out the 30-minute experience. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Top 15 Albums of 2017

This is the music that moved us this year

As far as years go, 2017 was…complicated. And so it stands to reason that The Key’s annual go at determining the top 15 albums of the year — the records that resonated the most with us, the collections of songs that best captured the spirit of the past twelve months — was no straightforward affair.

In 2017, we thrilled to the reflective psych-rock sprawl of Philly’s The War on Drugs, a seasoned band delivering its most confident and refined artistic statement to date. We also heard the hushed introspection of Big Thief‘s sophomore album, which transformed trauma and pain into beautiful atmospheric folk. Artists looked deeply inward to discover raw personal truths, whether we’re talking about U.K. singer-songwriter Sampha, Philly newcomers Katie Ellen or hip-hop mogul Jay-Z, sounding more down to earth and honest than he has in years (decades?). They refused, as Lorde and (Sandy) Alex G did, to be confined by boxed-in preconceptions of their work, and pushed their chops into new territories, whether they be on album three (The Districts) or nine (Spoon).

A common thread was embracing vulnerability, practicing self-reflection and finding inner strength. That’s the story of albums by Waxahatchee and Harmony Woods, Cayetana and Kelela. It’s also an undercurrent to Kendrick Lamar‘s remarkable DAMN., which The Key’s contributors rallied around to vote it number one album of the year. Our John Morrison does a deep dive on the record, dissecting its nuanced pairing of hard-hitting hip-hop production with complex themes about fear and internal conflict, virtue and vice, weakness and wickedness and whether those traits make us flawed.

Last year, you’ll recall, was also a complicated year. It left many in artistic circles revving up to fight and affect change…and some, like Hurray for the Riff Raff, chased that impulse with thrilling results. But it seems that the records that stuck with us the most at year’s end are all saying, in one way or another, that before we go out to better the world, we need to look within and (to borrow a phrase from Adam Granduciel and co.) gain a deeper understanding of ourselves. – John Vettese Continue reading →

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Catch up on the latest news from #NPRSlingshot artists Jamila Woods and Big Thief

The artists in NPR Music‘s inaugural Slingshot class — Jamila Woods, Big Thief and Lo Moon — have had a busy 2017. In addition to recording and releasing new music and traveling the world on tour, they’ve been chosen as the featured musicians in the artist-championing collaboration between NPR and several of its member stations, including XPN. Slingshot was announced in September and will continue throughout the coming year as an effort to support and promote the work of some of the most promising emerging artists out there.

Until recently, Jamila Woods was known primarily as a frequent guest collaborator in hip-hop and R&B, appearing with the likes of Chance the Rapper. Woods has been touring behind her debut solo album HEAVN, and made a stop last week at BLK Wednesday in her hometown of Chicago, adding some unexpected covers to her set. Watch Woods’ take on Rage Against the Machine and Nirvana below, where she mashes up “Killing in the Name” with “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” Continue reading →

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Get to know Slingshot, a new artist-championing collaboration backing Big Thief, Jamila Woods and Lo Moon


Teased this spring at the annual NonCOMM-vention, the new program Slingshot is an artist-championing collaboration between NPR Music and 18 VuHaus member stations — including founding stations WXPN, WFUV, KCRW, KUTX and The Bridge.

Over the summer, programming staff from the member stations each nominated a handful of artists to throw their support behind over the coming year. The submissions were reviewed, and the stations came to a consensus — Big ThiefJamila Woods and Lo Moon would be backed by Slingshot affiliates through interviews, editorial coverage, live performances and more over the next several months.

“Everybody in this room knows the impact of public radio on artist development,”  XPN general manager Roger LaMay told the crowd at NonCOMM this spring. “It’s really been essential with NonCOMMs and public radio writ large to pool our resources and work together to grow our impact.” Continue reading →

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Big Thief announce new record Capacity with new snow-capped video for “Mythological Beauty”

Big Thief | Photo: Shervin Lainez
Big Thief | Photo by Shervin Lainez

Brooklyn’s Big Thief announced their highly anticipated follow-up to 2016’s Masterpiece. Titled Capacity, the record comes out on June 9th through Saddle Creek. The indie rock four-piece revealed their plans with a new music video for the record’s hushed first single “Mythological Beauty.” It follows singer/guitarist Adrianne Lenker’s The Revenent-like adventures through a snow-glossed woods, sheltering and attempting to save a blanket-draped man (guitarist Buck Meek) before a mysterious woman (played by Lenker’s mother) offers some help.

Continue reading →

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Watch Sharon Van Etten join Big Thief onstage at Bowery Ballroom

Sharon Van Etten and Adrianne Lenker of Big Thief | photo by @joe_saturday via Brooklyn Vegan

Think of it as an old favorite teaming up with a new favorite. On Saturday night, Brooklyn breakouts Big Thief headlined The Bowery Ballroom in New York City in support of their killer 2016 record Masterpiece, and they were joined onstage by the wonderful Sharon Van Etten — who has taken a bit of a detour from her music career to act in the new Netflix series The OA, stunt double and all. Continue reading →