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Now Hear This: New songs by Amber Coffman, The Mountain Goats, Jade Jackson, Bleachers, Diagrams, Blondie and more

Amber Coffman | via facebook.com/AmberCoffman123

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

The calendar still says it’s spring, but that’s purely a technicality. It is summertime, buddypals, and with the year we’ve been having, it’s about dang time. So where are the jams? Doesn’t quite seem like Katy Perry’s coming through for us this time around – the Teenage Dream summer of 2010, it turns out, was a long seven years ago. I’m personally getting major mileage out of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Cut To The Feeling,” a soundtrack loosie packing as potent a dose of fizz-pop headrush euphoria as anything on E*MO*TION, let alone last year’s B-Sides (Man, was 2015 only two years ago?) Keep a lookout for Lorde’s new LP this Friday (and Haim a bit down the line), but in the meantime I’ll share some other prospects with you below.

On the live show front, it’s been a busy month what with another fabulous NonCOMMvention here at WXPN, last weekend’s dueling cross-town polarities of the Roots Picnic and West Philly Porchfest, and an action-packed concert calendar across the board – my personal highlight being the first of Sylvan Esso’s two-nighter at Union Transfer, featuring the most fervently enthusiastic audience I’ve been a part of in ages (no wonder, considering the show sold out in a matter of hours.) Things are looking strangely sparse for the remainder of June, at least from my vantage point (U2 who?), which I blame on the increasing dominance of the summer music festival circuit, infiltrating nearly every level of the industry as opportunities for the sweaty intimacy of those AC-free mid-summer Unitarian basement gigs steadily dwindles. Perhaps. Still, there are a handful of bright spots, particularly on the rootsy/folky end of things, which I’ll get to a bit further on. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: Blondie reinvent cool pop again with Pollinator

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

You would think the highlight of a Blondie set would be the flawless performances of classic hits like “One Way or Another,” “Call Me,” “Heart of Glass,” “Dreaming,” and the rap-filled “Rapture,” all of which we heard during tonight’s NonCOMM set and all of which were real treats. But to be honest, the band’s new album Pollinator, released May 5th, is so good that it’s those songs, bridging disco, pop and darker rock, that had the crowd in the palm of Blondie’s hand.

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Just Announced: Blondie and Garbage team up at The Mann this summer

blondie
Blondie | photo via Facebook

Here’s a doubleheader blast from the past! Legendary outfits Blondie and Garbage are joining forces for a summer fling dubbed The Rage and Rapture Tour, and today they’ve announced an August 2nd date at The Mann. Debbie and Shirley will be touring behind new records with their respective bands, the former with the also-just-announced Pollinator (out May 5th) and the latter with last year’s triumphant Strange Little Birds return.

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This Day in Music History: Blondie makes their live debut, Rod Stewart plays his last show with The Faces

Blondie

1955 – Chrysler introduces the world’s first in-car sound systems – record players, complete with an assortment of classical vinyl, mounted under the dashboard. The unit measures about four inches high and less than a foot wide. The seven inch discs spin at 16 2/3 rpm and require almost three times the number of grooves per inch as an LP. The players are discontinued in 1961.

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XPN MusicNotes: Watch Courtney Barnett perform on Colbert, Blondie and The Pixies added to NYC Bowie Tribute Shows, & Foals is taking a break

The Key
Courtney Barnett | Photo By Noah Silvestry for WXPN | silvestography.com

She may have missed out on the Best New Artist of the Year Grammy but Courtney Barnett is a hit with nearly anyone who’s seen or heard her music. Check out Courtney’s live-performance of “Nobody Really Cares If You Don’t Go to the Party” on last night’s  Late Show With Stephen Colbert. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Dark Blue at Johnny Brenda’s, Blondie at Tropicana, Leana Song at The Fire and more

Dark Blue | photo courtesy of the artist
Dark Blue | photo courtesy of the artist

Three Philly punk scene vets will take over Johnny Brenda’s tonight bringing a mix of 80s oi! and Britpop. Made up of John Sharkey III, Andrew Mackie Nelson and Mike Sneeringer, Dark Blue is a relatively new to Philly, but it has quickly been making a name for itself. Tickets and info on tonight’s show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar; listen to its single “Subterranean Man” below.

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Blondie and X bring their classic punk fire to The Keswick Theatre

X | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com All photos by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

Punk rockers Blondie and X arrived at The Keswick this past Thursday as part of the “No Principals” tour, and despite a name evoking a youth revolt against authority, the rockers present are nearing the other end of the age spectrum at nearly 60 (X frontman John Doe) and 70 (Blondie’s Debbie Harry). No matter the age and the dunce cap prop (which looked closer to a witch’s hat, October appropriate for sure) that Doe and Harry wore at the beginning of their respective sets, they both rocked. The tour that has taken them to many other seated venues, like Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium, and while it’s a strange fit, Blondie succeeded in raising the nearly sold-out crowd to its feet for most of the show.

X’s opening set, using gigantic overhead screens filled with television color bars and other retro static images, was filled with their mostly 2-3 minute fast-paced songs. The original lineup of lead guitarist and singer John Doe, singer Exene Cervenka, guitarist Billy Zoom and drummer D.J. Bonebrake blasted through a set drawn from their first four albums. Entering the stage to some of Sergio Leone’s Spaghetti Western strings, they launched into the first track from their first album, Los Angeles, “Your Phone’s off the Hook, But You’re Not.” The crowd was mostly seated for the entire set, save when Debbie Harry joined them for “Breathless.” Nonetheless, X still has fire in their veins.

Standing became a requirement when Blondie entered to the tune of “One Way or Another.” Harry and fellow founding members guitarist Chris Stein and drummer Clem Burke, along with three newer bandmates, took the crowd on a hit parade journey that had the crowd singing along and dancing. Using the video screens to put a visual exclamation point on songs like “The Tide Is High” with the ebb and flow of water for all to see, Blondie certainly knew how to showcase all angles of their craft. Harry owned the stage, walking back and forth to the edges of the crowd, absorbing the love of fans that has been going strong for 30-plus years. And they were not afraid to showcase new works, with the encore beginning with the brand-new “Mile High,” a catchy song, but certainly not as memorable as their show-closer “Dreaming.” Blondie already was assuring another tour in greater support of their older material, so fans should not fret that this New York band’s staying power for years to come.