By

PHOTOS: Hardwork Movement, Aphra, ILL Doots and Maitland threw down at NPR’s Tiny Desk Philly concert

Hardwork Movement | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | <a href="http://racheldelsordophotography.com" target="_blank">racheldelsordophotography.com</a>
Hardwork Movement | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | racheldelsordophotography.com

To kick off the month of May, the folks at NPR Music brought their #TinyDeskContest tour to Philadelphia for a terrific night of music for a sold out crowd at World Cafe Live upstairs featuring some of our favorite artists from the city: high-energy hip-hop bands Hardwork Movement and ILL DOOTS, ethereal electronic singer and songwriter Aphra and expressive rockers Maitland. Check out scenes from the night below, care of our photographer Rachel Del Sordo.
Continue reading →

By

Aphra, Maitland added to NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Philly concert

Aphra | photo by John Groome for WXPN
Aphra | photo by John Groome for WXPN

Earlier this month, the team at NPR Music announced the return of its Tiny Desk Concert to Philadelphia. Set for Tuesday, May 2nd at World Cafe Live upstairs, it showcases standout local participants in the 2017 contest: hip hop big band Hardwork Movement as well as the like-minded ILL DOOTS, and today we bring you news of two additional artists.

Joining the bill is Aphra, the emotive electropop project of singer/songwriter/producer Rebecca Way, which released its debut LP Sadness is a Gesture this winter via startup Bay Area label Inherent Sounds. Also performing is Maitland, the anthemic rock outfit of singer and songwriter Josh Hines; they have a new album en route this summer, and just recorded an impressive Key Studio Session.
Continue reading →

By

Tonight’s Concert Picks: Aphra at The Barbary, Louie Louie at Underground Arts, The Ok-Oks at Chameleon Club

Aphra | photo by John Groome for WXPN
Aphra | photo by John Groome for WXPN

We’re super thrilled with Sadness is a Gesture, the debut record from Philly electropop artist Aphra, which came out last week via Bay Area upstart label Inherent Sounds. There’s a limited edition clear vinyl version on the way, but tonight Aphra celebrates the moving collection of songs about heartache, addiction and finding inner strength tonight at The Barbary. Tickets and more information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.
Continue reading →

By

Listen to three songs from Aphra’s debut LP Sadness Is A Gesture

Aphra | via aphra.bandcamp.com

Philadelphia’s Rebecca Way writes songs about heartbreak in her electropop project Aphra — but not that kind of heartbreak.

“Most people would listen to my songs and assume it’s about boy meets girl, boy breaks girl’s heart, girl cries,” she writes on her Bandcamp page of Aphra’s long-awaited new record Sadness Is A Gesture. “But these songs are actually about my family and the crippling confusion and heartbreak addiction causes.”

This is a pain that runs deeper and isn’t as easily cured; this is a pain that all the cheery well wishes in the world don’t do a thing to soothe; this is cutting, existential and scary, and these are the feelings Aphra is turning into compelling art.

We’ve been following Way since her time in the indie ensemble Tutlie and watched her transformation into a captivating R&B / pop persona; ever since premiering her “Geronimo” video a year ago, we’ve been itchy to hear more of her work-in-progress. When she recorded a Key Studio Session back in the fall, we were graciously treated to three songs from the record, and today we’ve got the final studio version of one of them — along with a bevy of album details. Continue reading →

By

Tonight’s Concert Picks: PUP at Union Transfer, Aphra at The Barbary, Toots and the Maytals at Ardmore Music Hall, and more…

PUP | photo by Vanessa Heins | via the band's Facebook page
PUP | photo by Vanessa Heins | via the band’s Facebook page

Canadian pop-punkers PUP will storm Union Transfer tonight with their trademark barrage of singalong choruses and searing guitars. This past May, they released their sophomore LP, The Dream Is Over. If your dream is to see PUP live in concert, it’s not over yet, so head over to XPN’s Concert Calendar for tickets and more information. Then, stream the video for “If This Tour Doesn’t Kill You, I Will” below. Continue reading →

By

The Key Studio Sessions: Aphra

Philly’s Rebecca Way is a multifaceted artist with a lot of ambition. Over the past several years, she’s dabbled in various avenues of songwriting, from humble beginnings as a folk-leaning solo artist to a long run in art-rock ensemble Tutlie. Lately, her attention has been focused on Aphra, an alluring electronic pop project bringing all aspects of her work under a single umbrella.

Its sound is very much in line with modern pop visionaries – James Blake, Banks, Lorde, Youth Lagoon – though Way’s songwriting has a distinctly broad reach. Take “Would You,” a yearning romantic ballad recorded for this week’s Key Studio Session: its structure is very traditionally rooted in folk, in sort of the way that Conor Oberst does folk, but the delivery is pure R&B, hitting some serious Lady Gaga highs. Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
By

Tonight’s Concert Picks: Slingshot Dakota at Everybody Hits, Aphra at Bourbon and Branch, The Smith Street Band at Boot and Saddle, and more…

Slingshot Dakota | Photo by Hope Helmuth for WXPN | hopehelmuth.com
Slingshot Dakota | Photo by Hope Helmuth for WXPN | hopehelmuth.com

Bethlehem indie-punk duo Slingshot Dakota released their new album Break earlier this month via Topshelf Records, and they will be throwing their Philly record release at Everybody Hits tonight. The bill will also include Petal, Hurry, and Mercury Girls. We also premiered the band’s Key Studio Session on Thursday. Tickets and more information can be found via the XPN Concert Calender. Continue reading →

By

Give Me TV, Give Me Something: The melancholic intensity of Aphra’s Rebecca Way

Aphra
Aphra | photo by Megan Matuzak | courtesy of the artist

It’s 10 p.m. and Rebecca Way is crouched in fetal position in the middle of a frigid, musky Philadelphia warehouse. The spacious room is filled with an eclectic assortment of objects befitting a garage sale – an antique dinner table, a dusty sofa, a potted cactus, a stack of books, an old Epson scanner. The building releases a deep rumble every few minutes as the nearby Market-Frankford El passes by. Suddenly, Way, clad in an all-black outfit that matches the color of her hair, pops up and begins to nimbly roll her way around the cold concrete floor. She’s in the middle of rehearsing her music video for “Geranimo,” the first single from Sadness Is a Gesture – the debut EP from her one-woman project Aphra, set to be released this spring.

Way barks commands to her backup dancers, a group of three hip twenty-somethings: “Pump! Pump! Frankenstein! Frankenstein! Body roll!” But in between run-throughs she also casually ruminates on twerking with one of the dancers, asking, “Don’t you have to be able to like, vibrate?” They share a laugh, and the rehearsal continues.
Continue reading →