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Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett’s album is called Lotta Sea Lice, features Belly covers and more

Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile | photo by Danny Cohen | courtesy of the artist

Back in the spring, we were very excited to hear that Philly’s Kurt Vile and Melbourne’s Courtney Barnett recorded a collaborative album, and were taking it on tour together.

Today, thanks to a new interview in Rolling Stone, we have some details on the record. Continue reading →

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All This and More: A radiant Belly reigns supreme at Union Transfer

Belly | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN
Belly | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

When a band frames a show as “An Evening With…,” the connotation is that this is a special event, a unique and refined occasion for the learned and erudite spectator. It can be construed as a veiled euphemism for “we’re all a little older now.”

As further evidence of the ‘90s revival that Gen X-ers are all enjoying lately, alt-rock darlings Belly have reunited for the first time since disbanding two decades ago. A new record — their third — is due out soon, and they closed the first leg of their reunion tour Sunday night at Union Transfer with “An Evening With Belly.” A special occasion for fans who are a little older now, it was.

Belly didn’t seem to want to let those older fans forget that, either, with lively stage banter throughout their two-hour set about parenthood and bathroom breaks at intermissions, advice on stretching before moshing to avoid sprains, and an interactive conversation about the prescription drugs that have long since replaced the recreational ones. (Cracking a joke about inhalers, bassist Gail Greenwood got a section of the crowd to chant “albuterol!”) Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Belly at Union Transfer, The Avett Brothers at Musikfest, PnB Rock at Chameleon Club and more…

Belly, circa mid 90s | Photo by Stephen Di Rado | via bellyofficial.com

’90s dream pop band Belly is back after 20 years off. Yup, it’s true, and they’re playing Union Transfer tonight. New music is promised to be released soon, but it’s a safe bet you’ll hear some of it live tonight. Relive the classic “Feed The Tree” below and get any more info you need on tonight’s show at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Back to Star: A conversation with Tanya Donelly on the return of 90s alternative faves Belly

Belly | photo courtesy of the artist
Belly | photo courtesy of the artist

On an MTV set in 1993, Tanya Donelly was interviewed in support of Star, the debut record she’d just released with her new band Belly. She exchanged several minutes-worth of witty banter with Kennedy, the mononymous veejay who always seemed to face the challenge of having to concurrently contain her effusive enthusiasm and her runaway ADHD. By contrast, the singer shows a unique guile and sly introspection, an unassuming administrator of a remarkably sharp tongue. Dressed in dark clothing and smoking a cigarette, Donelly is clearly a little uneasy in the spotlight, as she humors the host’s exuberant if erratic interrogation. Prompted early in the interview to address her place as a frontwoman in a predominantly male industry, Donelly responds almost immediately, as though she’d already given it plenty of thought, “Kurt Cobain’s allowed to be Kurt Cobain, and Michael Stipe’s allowed to be Michael Stipe, but it’s really hard to find a niche as a female. They have to put you somewhere.”

When asked about that quote during a recent interview with us, she debriefs about the industry’s evolution over the last two decades, in that regard. “I do think that’s updatable now, happily.” Twenty-three years on, the singer has rallied her seminal ‘90s dream pop band Belly for a new record and a reunion tour – which makes a much anticipated stop in Philadelphia this Sunday at Union Transfer – and when asked to reflect again on the role she played in several ways as pioneering female voice in a generally male-dominated industry, she seems glad to revisit. “I don’t think that the glass ceiling is totally smashed, but I do think that women in music are sort of taken much more individually now than back then. And I also think it comes in cycles, you know, that that waxes and wanes for women. And so there will be spaces sort of where everything feels like it’s moving forward, and then there’ll be a step back. But I would say for the most part I think that the playing field is much more level now than it was in the ‘80s.” Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Caracara

In a previous life, Will Lindsay and George Legatos played electropop for the basement show punk kids in W.C. Lindsay, a group we dug a lot around here at The Key. In a concurrent life, Carlos Pacheco-Perez and Sean Gill are two-thirds of Square Peg Round Hole, the progressive, percussion-driven instrumental ensemble that we also enjoy, whether they’re onstage or in the studio.

This would lead us to reason that we’d be all about Caracara, the new collaborative project of those various musicians. But we were nevertheless surprised how epic their debut record wound up being.
Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
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The Key Studio Sessions: The Bigness

Can we point to The Bigness an example of Philly D.I.Y.? They don’t play emo or punk rock — even though their songs are emotional, and they do rock. Their gigs don’t take place in tallboy-littered basements on the fringes of university campuses — but their sound is so dialed-in, it would feel just as good there as in a club. Hovering in and around their 30s, the bandmates have a solid decade-plus on the average D.I.Y. scene participant — but what is age, anyway, when it comes to art?

Surface similarities may be shaky, true. But as far as their work ethic, their love of hooks and their pure spirit, the common ground is hard to deny: The Bigness makes music by themselves, for themselves, and it’s an inviting and inclusive thing of joy.
Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
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XPN MusicNotes: Listen to Josh Ritter duet with Bob Weir, hear the first song from Margo Price’s new album

Josh Ritter | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/

“The song (with Josh Ritter & Bob Weir) pitches its tent midway between the country, gospel and soul camps, with thickly stacked harmonies that evoke the Dead’s own folk-rock classic American Beauty. Appropriately, Weir lends his warm, weathered voice to two verses. Behind him, a swirl of guitars, organ and brass turns the song into some sort of Americana hymn.” – Rolling Stone

Singer-songwriter Josh Ritter is getting set to release a new album which features a duet with the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir. Continue reading →