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Just Announced: Beth Ditto will headline Union Transfer in March

Beth Ditto | photo by Mary McCartney | courtesy of the artist

The final record from Portland-via-Arkansas dance punk trio The Gossip landed in 2012 and the band officially parted ways in 2016, but frontwoman Beth Ditto keeps plenty busy. Between acting (a part in a new Gus Van Sant’s new Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot), fashion (a plus-size clothing line designed with Jean Paul Gaultier), collaborating with her heroes (she contributed to Blondie’s 2013 album), and writing (a memoir Coal to Diamonds), Ditto has a full agenda of pursuits outside the music-specific zone.

But oh, that music. And specifically that solo album, Fake Sugar, Ditto’s first outing under her own name, released in June on Virgin Records. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Beth Orton at The Trocadero, Cousin Brian and Vintage Kicks at PhilaMOCA, Bell X1 at World Cafe Live, David Gray at American Music Theatre, Gossip at The TLA

Singer-songwriter Beth Orton will take the stage at The Trocadero tonight.  The English musician’s forthcoming record Sugaring Season is her first in six years and represents a time of self-reflection and transitions in both her personal life and her music career.  Supporting Beth Orton is Vermont-bred folk singer Sam Amidon.  Tickets for this seated all-ages  show are $29.50, available here.   Doors are at 7:00 p.m. and music begins at 8:00.  Below, watch the video for Beth Orton’s single “Magpie”.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: The Flaming Lips at Festival Pier, Blondie / X at Keswick Theater, Wesley Stace at World Cafe Live and more

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Hailed for their dense psychedelic compositions and exuberant nature, experimental alt-rock legends The Flaming Lips play alongside Tame Impala tonight at Festival Pier. Although the Oklahoma native, five piece outfit toned down their never-leave-a-dull-moment-untouched attitude with April release The Terror, front man Wayne Coyne tells Rolling Stone that the album is “possibly the best Flaming Lips record ever made.” However bleak the release may be, it has not stifled the internationally acclaimed band’s over the top personality; which can be seen in their recent “Turning Violent” and Devo cover “Gates of Steel” videos seen below. Find details and tickets for tonight’s show at the XPN concert calendar.

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Get your moody alt-rock fix with Blacksalt’s new Rubix EP

Blacksalt | courtesy of the artist
Blacksalt | photo by Rocco Peditto | roccopeditto.com | courtesy of the artist

Last year, Philly’s Blacksalt “welcomed” us into their world of darkness with their debut EP Welcome. A year later, they’re picking up where they left off with a new, four song set they’re calling Rubix. With a better sounding mix and more varied, mature songwriting, it’s an improvement on all fronts. Continue reading →

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Michaelapalooza: Sending off XPN Morning Show host Michaela Majoun at World Cafe Live

Michaelapalooza | Photo by Rocco Peditto | roccopeditto.com
Michaelapalooza | Photo by Rocco Peditto | roccopeditto.com

It’s the end of an amazing era; WXPN Morning Show host Michaela Majoun will host her final shift on Tuesday, June 30th. Michaela started at WXPN on March 1, 1989. Last night at World Cafe Live, her time on the air and contributions to the Philly music, arts and culture scene were recognized during Michaelapalooza, a two and a half hour outpouring of love for Michaela. Continue reading →

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What was the best new song you heard in 2013?

Parquet Courts being awesome

With the year winding down, we’ve reached the point of reflection and retrospection. Looking back on the new music of 2013 and pondering what was tops – not just in terms of a full album, but in terms of just pure songwriting.

The “songwriting” bit broadens it somewhat. It steers the topic away from a collective body of work making some grand statement and towards sounds, towards songs that just straight-up connect. For example, while I might not be the biggest Dawes fan, I can’t deny that “Most People” is a jam. That arcing guitar riff, with the harmonics placed at the proper accentuating points, is infectious. Ditto Kanye West’s “Bound 2” – the “Uh huh honey” loop pulls you in to the groove of the full piece.

Those are only two examples of standout tracks of these past twelve months, songs that defined the year two thousand and thirteen. Tonight, on a whim, I posed the question to XPN’s Twitter audience, and got a variety of responses. I compiled these responses into a Spotify playlist. You can listen to it below. And if there are any amazing songs from 2013 excluded from this set – as undoubtedly there will be – please leave them in the comments. We’ll update the playlist as we go. Continue reading →