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The Skeleton Key: From Amanda X, Break Free Fest, and Eugene Chadbourne to Nina Simone, Sun Ra, The Trocadero, and Yarrow, we’ve got you covered this May

Break Free Fest | flyer by @goodestboylili

A friend of mine who has been playing in bands for more than two decades recently asked me, only half-joking, where I find the energy to go to as many shows as I do. While I wanted to protest or at the very least get humorously defensive — “I don’t go to that many shows! Whatever!” — I realized it was a good question because, well, I do end up at a lot of shows every month. I mean, duh, I was asked to do this column for a reason.

Truth be told, I didn’t have a great answer for her. I found a home in music when I was 18 and moved to Philadelphia after spending five long, boring, and lonely years in South Florida. My first proper show was a couple weeks after getting here in September of 1997 — Helmet, The Melvins, Today Is The Day, and Hovercraft at The Trocadero — and I haven’t looked back since. It’s just what I do, for better or worse.

But while I didn’t have a good or even clever response to her question, I did have the realization that part of the reason I spend so much time watching live music is because there’s so much going on. Jazz, punk, hip hop, klezmer, chamber music. Eastern European choral bands. Indian classical. Harsh noise, catchy indie rock, techno DJs spinning all night long. If you wanted to, you could see a different type of music just about every night in our city and I think that’s amazing. Continue reading →

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Feel the urgency of Amanda X’s new two-song single, Vivid End of Days

Amanda X | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Philly rock three-piece Amanda X played their first headlining show in a minute this past Saturday at Everybody Hits, and alongside classic rippers like “Parsnip” their setlist boasted an exciting presence of new material. Two of those songs quietly slipped on to Bandcamp the day of the gig, and we bring them to you today for your listening enjoyment. (Hat-tip to our buds at The Deli for the heads up.) Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Derrick Hodge at Spruce Street Harbor Park, Amanda X at Space 1026, Maze ft Frankie Beverly at Dell Music Center

Derrick Hodge | photo via artist’s Facebook page

This week’s installment of Spruce Street Harbor Park’s Waterfront Sessions features Philly bassist Derrick Hodge. Hodge takes over the two sets of the night, playing tunes in anticipation of his 2016 release The Second. Find info on the event here, and listen to the title track, “The Second” below. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Blondie and Garbage at The Mann, Hurry at Everybody Hits, Amanda X at Ortlieb’s

Blondie | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | racheldelsordophotography.com

It’s a double header of still-vital rock and roll pioneers at The Mann Center tonight with Blondie and Garbage. In the 70s and early 80s, Debbie Harry and her bandmates bridged downtown New York punk rock with the dance-driven international New Wave scene, and wrote a massive amount of hits in the process; in the 90s, Shirley Manson brought a bold dose of glam and pop sensibilities to the dreary grunge landscape. Thing is, neither band is resting on its laurels or going through the nostalgia motions. Blondie and Garbage have both released albums of new material in the past year that stand strongly alongside their work from 20 (and 40) years ago — Pollinator, from the former, totally rips, as Harry and the band proved at NonCOMM this year, and Strange Little Birds is Garbage at its most vulnerable and honest but still kicks out driving anthems. Watch videos for “Long Time” and “Empty” below and get tickets and more information on tonight’s show at the XPN Concert CalendarContinue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Amanda X at Boot and Saddle, Madalean Gauze at Johnny Brenda’s, R. Ring at Everybody Hits and more

Amanda X | photo courtesy of the artist
Amanda X | photo courtesy of the artist

Kensington power punk trio Amanda X will bring their high-energy tunes to Boot and Saddle tonight. Comprised of Cat Park on lead guitar, Melissa Brain on drums and Kat Bean on bass, the group doles out hooky guitar riffs, bumping drum grooves and memorable melody lines. This summer, they will release their second full album later this summer, Giant, and based on opening track “Exquisite,” they keep up with their tendency toward dance-able guitar licks, passionate vocal work and well-crafted melodies. Check out the song below and show details at the XPN Concert Calendar.
Continue reading →

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PREMIERE: Amanda X returns with the soaring rocker “Exquisite”; new Giant LP will benefit Women Against Abuse

Amanda X | photo by Kian Sorouri | courtesy of the artist
Amanda X | photo courtesy of the artist

Philly’s Amanda X has rocked a winning combination since debuting in 2012. Propulsive, power trio punk energy mix with serpentine, exploratory instrumental jams and graceful, poetic lyrics unpacking identity, self-doubt and the bigger questions in life.

The band’s debut 2014 long-player Amnesia was followed up in 2015 by the Hundreds and Thousands EP the following year, and in the time since, the trio of Cat Park (vocals, guitar), Kat Bean (vocals, bass) and Melissa Brain (drums) have been finalizing their second full-length album, recorded in South Jersey’s Gradwell House Studio.

That record, Giant, will be released on August 18th via Self Aware records, and we’re super excited to premiere the opening track, “Exquisite,” for you today. Continue reading →

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Don’t let Clasp slip under your radar; listen to the new solo project from Amanda X’s Kat Bean

Clasp | photo by Adam Peditto via Bandcamp

Amanda X‘s Kat Bean quietly released a solo project at the end of June that is anything but quiet. If you search for Clasp online or spend a slightly embarrassing amount of time scouring social media for any information about the project, all that you will find is one congratulatory Facebook post by Big Mama’s Recording, the studio where the record was produced, and a Bandcamp page. There the description gives just a glimpse into the story of Clasp, which started “from some basements and some bedrooms across the US during a very something winter, 2015-2016.”

The good news is that this record doesn’t need any of the social media, any of the marketing or fanfare (though it certainly deserves some fanfare). Kat Bean allows Clasp’s self-titled debut to speak for itself, making it all about the music. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Jaguar Wright plays Nina Simone at Ardmore Music Hall, Arto Lindsay at Boot & Saddle, Amanda X at PhilaMOCA (Get Better Fest 4) and more

Jaguar Wright | via facebook.com/JaguarWright
Jaguar Wright | via facebook.com/JaguarWright

Jaguar Wright & Gerald Veasley perform the music of Nina Simone tonight at the Ardmore Music Hall. Wrapping up the Philadelphia Jazz Festival, this Unscripted Jazz Series show unites two renowned soul artists to celebrate the life and legacy of Ms. Simone. The show is 21+, and more information/tickets can be found on the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →