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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Harmony Woods at Everybody Hits, Curtis Harding at World Cafe Live, Aster More at Boot & Saddle

Harmony Woods | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | racheldelsordophotography.com

If you missed Harmony Woods on the big stage opening for Modern Baseball a few weeks ago, you can still catch them tonight at Everybody Hits. The project of Philadelphia’s Sofia Verbilla, Harmony Woods has been making strides this year following the release of Nothing Special. Verbilla and band joined us for a Folkadelphia + Key Studio session a few months ago, listen below and read The Key’s feature on Harmony Woods hereSave Face, Secret Stuff and Brackish also play tonight; find more information on the Home Outgrown Presents gig here. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Aster More at The Barbary, Commonwealth Choir at The Fire, HR at MilkBoy and more

Aster More | via their Facebook page
Aster More | via their Facebook page

After debuting at this summer’s First Time’s The Charm festival, Philly six-piece Aster More released a self-titled EP of amped up tunes indebted as much to shoegaze as post-hardcore. Tonight, the band plays The Barbary; tickets and more information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Aster More bring punk hooks and shoegaze instrumentation on self-titled debut

Aster More | via their Facebook page
Aster More | via their Facebook page

Philadelphia’s Aster More may have just hit the scene a few months ago, but they’ve already shared their debut, self-titled EP, and it’s a promising start for the sextet. If you like your guitars blaring, your vocals passionate, and your lyrics confessional, then stop whatever you’re currently doing–this is more important. Find somewhere private, put on your headphones, and slam dance your troubles away. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Katie Frank and the Pheromones at MilkBoy, The Wood Brothers at Prince Music Theater, Lancaster Roots and Blues Festival and more

Photo by Will Hoover | Courtesy of facebook.com/katiefrankmusic
Photo by Will Hoover | Courtesy of facebook.com/katiefrankmusic

Foot-stomping folk rock band Katie Frank and the Pheromones will fill MilkBoy with their Americana roots sound tonight. This is the band’s record release party for Counting Your Curses, their debut full-length from Elizabethtown, Pa. native Frank. The band broke through with their country-influenced, twangy sound and shared their tunes with us in a Studio Session. Fit to their sound and style, their newest record was recorded in a homey, carriage-like recording studio outside of Philadelphia with Kawari Sound, according to an interview they did about the new album with The Vinyl District. Joining them will be indie-pop folk favorites The Lawsuits and folk/Americana artist Kevin KillenThis 21+ show will start at 8:30 p.m. Tickets cost $8 in advance, $10 at the door and can be purchased here.

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James Cotton, Loudon Wainwright III, Carsie Blanton and more playing the Lancaster Roots and Blues Festival on 2/21 and 2/22

Photo by Laura Jane Brubaker
James Cotton | Photo by Laura Jane Brubaker

The annual Lancaster Roots & Blues Festival will take place on February 21st and 22nd of next year, with over 50 musicians set to perform during the multi-venue event.  Currently billed artists range from folk to bluegrass to funk and include Loudon Wainwright III, Edgar Winter, and James Cotton, who recently closed out XPN’s Mississippi Blues Project.  The local contingent includes Carsie Blanton, Dana Alexander and Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers.  Tickets and information can be found here.  Check out videos of some performers below.

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XPN Weekend Arts Crawl: First Friday, Middle Eastern cinema, Chinese puppets, and much more!

img_1389 It’s Philadelphia’s First Friday in Old City and elsewhere. 3rd Street Gallery has two new exhibitions: Interact by Heather Riley, exploring consumption and the role of objects in our lives, and a solo show by Kristine Flannery, abstract interpretations of cityscapes, flora, and the human figure. A097_C008_1204IZ

New Middle Eastern Cinema is presented by the University of Pennsylvania in conjunction with the Jewish Film Festival at International House,  Aziz Ayse and Facing Mirrors are screening on Friday and Horses of God and Rags and Tatters (pictured above) on Sautrday.Theatre Horizon

I Am My Own Wife is a Pulitzer Prize winning play based on the true story of a German man who survived both the Nazi and Communist regimes in the guise of a woman. The play, which runs through November 24, is a one man show presented by Norristown’s Theatre Horizon, and stars Charlie DelMarcelle in over 30 roles.

Screen Shot 2013-11-01 at 11.13.54 AMDream Journeys, a solo exhibition by Beijing born master puppeteer Hua Hua Zhang, defies the traditional boundaries of the gallery by using puppetry as a form of sculpture, installation and performance. Zhang’s work is deeply rooted in her upbringing during China’s cultural revolution, and deals largely with self expression in a climate of creative restriction. Hosted at the Asian Arts Initiative, the exhibition runs through January 24, and features an opening reception and performance Friday and a performance on Saturday..

And there’s always more going on…
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Now Hear This: New music by Belle & Sebastian, Django Django, Tune-Yards, Soccer Mommy, Nils Frahm, Shopping and more

Belle and Sebastian | photo courtesy of the artist

Every month, noted song expert K. Ross Hoffman presents Now Hear This, a sampling of fresh specimens for your consideration.

We’ve had a pretty good last month or so here in Philadelphia, on a couple of fronts.  Musically though, at least in terms of the broadest, pop-cultural arena, things have felt just a tad uninspiring lately.  The best-selling album of the year thus far, by a wide margin, is the Greatest Showman soundtrack; an artistic triumph I have no doubt.  Camila Cabelo’s full-length bow, despite a couple of serviceable bangers, basically failed to make good on the promise of “Havana,” the year’s first new Hot 100 chart-topper and one of the best we’ve had in a while.  The most notable musical performance, the halftime show of that one football game, was a perfectly enjoyable and well-executed medley of five-to-fifteen-year-old hits with no real relevance to anything in particular – I’m not sure whether it’s more dispiriting that Justin “Man of the Woods” Timberlake chose not to even attempt promoting his just-released new album by actually performing something from it, or that this was, on balance, probably the right decision.  I mean, no offense JT…

Then there were the Grammys, which despite well-deserved (if largely meaningless) acknowledgments for the likes of LCD Soundsystem, The National, Aimee Mann and our very own War on Drugs, overwhelmingly reaffirmed its own insignificance, diversity issues and fogeydom (I mean, no offense Bruno); adding insult to irrelevance by denying a performance slot to (sole female) album-of-the-year nominee Lorde.  That hot pile of nothingness was capped off by the truly vile, toxic comments of Recording Academy president Neil Portnow, who, in response to questions about the underrepresentation of women among winners and nominees, called for “women who have the creativity in their hearts and souls…to step up, because I think they would be welcome.”

Of course, it goes without saying that, beyond the psychotically warped bubble that is mainstream culture and the self-congratulatory machinations of the “music industry,” music itself continues on and, as always, the past month offered plenty of tunes worth digging into.  You’ll find a smattering below, from indie-pop earworms to exuberant dance jams, including a handful of artists experimenting in various, intriguing ways, with strains of world music.  And – I swear I didn’t plan this – it just so happens that all but one of the selections below were made, either by solely or in part, by female artists.  Step on up! Continue reading →

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The Radiator Hospital gang escape “Lonely Road” on a fun coaster escapade

Radiator Hospital | screenshot from video

Contrasting high energy excitement with more somber lyrical content is Radiator Hospital’s cup ‘o tea. Their Play the Songs You Like track “Lonely Road” is testament to this, and its new video goes a step further by bringing the band’s sonic dichotomy to a visual level: coaster style.

Following the gaggle of pals at Hershey Park, everyone’s having a hoot of a time — well, almost everyone. I didn’t quite notice so clearly until the end, but it becomes very apparent that someone’s having a pretty glum day — even when packed together with friends and fun.

On this, Sam Cook-Parrot says “Lonely Road,” is a “song about how you may feel like life is just one long lonely road that you walk alone, when really all your loved ones are there wishing you could break from that cloud.” He adds, “It’s a special song to me so I’m glad we have a special video to accompany it.” Continue reading →

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Music, Modern Art and More: Get to know Philly’s hip-hop renaissance man Ronniere Spacely

photo via twitter.com/brucespacelee

In a world of multihyphenates, Philly based MC / producer / multi-instrumentalist / visual artist, Ronniere Spacely effectively straddles disparate worlds of music, film and modern art. A native of Norfolk, Virginia, and a dedicated acolyte of Virginia production duo The Neptunes (Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo), Spacely absorbed the heavy-hitting, melodic and harmonically rich aesthetic of his hometown heroes into his own music.

He poured these influences into his recent self-released Uncle Lahk Jaw mixtape and his self-shot and produced short film Yo Bro, a lo-fi, experimental musing on love, infatuation and music. A striking work complete with oddball editing, vintage visual effects and a colorful musical score that bridges the gaps between hip-hop, pop and soul, Yo Bro made its debut this summer at the Black Star Film Festival. We linked up with him (via Facebook chat) to talk music, art and the spirit of inspiration.  Continue reading →