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Kimbra gives Philly fans a sneak preview of Primal Heart at Union Transfer

Kimbra | photo by Koof Ibi Umoren for WXPN

New Zealand singer/songwriter Kimbra took the stage at Union Transfer last Wednesday night, standing in front of two cube projector screens that slightly hid her bandmates. It made it clear: she was the main focus of the set, as was the music of her forthcoming record Primal Heart. With the right projector flash, Spencer Zahn, bass, and Timon Martin, guitar, could be seen rocking out and adding music textures with the multitude of tiny electronic music boards that seem to be able to do anything. A similar synth / vocal processing station was positioned center stage for Kimbra, allowing her to manipulate her already wildly flexible voice. Continue reading →

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Kimbra’s Primal Heart wins out

Kimbra at The Roots Picnic | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

It’s hard not to embrace an interview subject who enters the conversation laughing before the first question is lobbed. That’s Kimbra: the New Zealand soul singer whose albums before 2018 (The Golden Echo, Vows) were cheerfully cluttered, genre-mixing experiences marinated in the meaty juices of dance-pop.

Her newest album following her recent move to NYC, Primal Heart, is due in April, and takes a different tact in that the whole of the album is a windier, more minimalist experience, which allows her emotional lyrical perspective to shine through to a greater extent than in previous sonic settings. Before she appears at Union Transfer on January 31, Kimbra chatted about golden echoes, gods and Gotye. Continue reading →

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Kimbra’s kaleidoscopic pop shines at World Cafe Live

Kimbra | Photo by Morgan Smith | phobymo.com
Kimbra | Photo by Morgan Smith | phobymo.com

The sophomore effort of Kimbra Johnson, co-star of 2012’s “Somebody That I Used to Know”, is anything but sophomoric and, frankly, Gotye should be thanking his lucky stars for playing her “somebody.” Kimbra‘s lush, sinuous pop masterclass “Golden Echo” is an anarchic yet remarkably cohesive melange of elements altogether unique to this beautifully strange Kiwi; the echo of a distant echo perhaps, as the album’s spectacular reverberations are entirely fresh and ambitious in scope. At no point did Kimbra’s performance Saturday at World Cafe Live fail to deliver on the promise of her recordings, either. Continue reading →

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Alita Moses gives Kimbra’s “Miracle” a lot of soul in new Ruba Club video

Alita Moses | Photo via twitter.com/amofro
Alita Moses | Photo via twitter.com/amofro

This fall, Northern Liberties’ Ruba Club launched a monthly video series to promote not only their stage and studio but also the talented musicians here in Philly. Their latest video features the lovely Alita Moses, a Philly-based jazzy vocalist trained at University of the Arts, doing a cover of Grammy Award winning singer Kimbra’s “Miracle.” If you’ve heard the original version, you know that Kimbra brought a ton of electric energy to her song. What Moses did with her version is pretty interesting: she put a timeless spin on it. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: XPN Welcomes Indigo Girls to Scottish Rite Auditorium, Father John Misty at Union Transfer, Kimbra at TLA, Sea Wolf at North Star Bar


XPN Welcomes the Indigo Girls to the Scottish Rite Auditorium in Collingswood tonight. The folk rock duo, whose career spans over two decades, are on tour playing old favorites like “Closer to Fine” and “Power of Two” in addition to tracks from their 2011 record Beauty Queen Sister. Tickets for the 7:30 show are available here. Below, check out the video for their “Making Promises” from Beauty Queen Sister.  Continue reading →

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SXSW Dispatch: Let’s dance (or not) with Kimbra, Apparat, Sleep ∞ Over and more

South by Southwest is a good place to find variety in just about any style of music. But variety doesn’t equate to quality across the board, as I found in a Thursday night survey of dance-music acts of various stripes. Things started off decently enough at Austin’s The Iron Monkey as I caught the last few numbers by D.C. art-punk act E.D. Sedgwick. Bandleader Justin Moyer has been dishing out subversive, groove-oriented jams in various acts since the late ’90s, and this one moves in the same dirty disco step. They were tight, the small crowd was moving modestly, but from there, the night took a massive dive at Barbarella with poor showings by two blog darlings: Sleep ? Over and Korallreven. Both had an absurd amount of electronics and delay pedals and seemed not exactly sure how to set them all up, much less use them properly. After 40-odd minute soundchecks for each, the sets were each underwhelming in their own way. Korallreven, despite (ultimately) sounding awesome, had an absolute nadir of stage presence (not good for beat-oriented industrial rock); Sleep ? Over’s Stefanie Franciotti, an Austin native, at least made an effort at dancing, and had a crew of loyalists up front who joined her, though she sounded messy and unstructured, and took to snapping at the sound and stage crew for her failings. (Not cool.)

Escaping the disappointment, I rushed to Deco Lounge to catch a midnight set by Virginia’s Eternal Summers. Their new material sounds great, but the roof deck they were playing at was higher and more removed from the crowd than The Troc stage. It’s behind a fence—whose idea was that? Finally at the Haven nightclub, things came together at the KCRW Showcase. New Zealand soul-rocker Kimbra had the room packed, and threw as much energy into her stage presence as she saw coming from the fans in the front row. She worked the crowd with hand-slaps and spins off the riser, and her band punctuated it with sharp playing. Following her, Germany’s Apparat brought down the mood but kept up the energy with dark, rhythmic, electronic pop reminiscent of Depeche Mode, played pointedly with movement, energy and enthusiasm—something others could sure take a page from.

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Arc Iris, Square Peg Round Hole light up MilkBoy

Arc Iris | photo by Senia Lopez | senialopez.photography

Last February I was introduced to experimental pop trio Arc Iris when they opened up for New Zealand singer Kimbra at Union Transfer. I was incredibly interested in not only their sound but the visual elements they brought to the stage: backlit wings worn by singer Jocie Adams, pig-masked mascots dancing on stage during their final number.

Now on tour for their new album Icon of Ego, Arc Iris co-headlined a show last weekend with instrumental local band Square Peg Round Hole at MilkBoy. When talking to some fans in the crowd, there was mentioning about seeing Arc Iris perform in a such an intimate venue. By the end of the night everyone knew that a smaller stage did not hinder their grand performance in the slightest.  Continue reading →

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The Week Ahead: Vita and the Woolf, Brockhampton, Brandee Younger, G. Love and more

Brockhampton
Brockhampton | photo by Ashlan Grey | courtesy of the artist

This week we get something of a break in the live music landscape on Sunday, when there are pretty much zero shows of note and a couple cancellations due to the Eagles making it to the Super Bowl. There are more than enough options the rest of the week to keep you entertained, though. From two double headers packing the house (Brockhampton at TLA, G. Love at The Fillmore) to solid showings from local faves (Vita and the Woolf tonight, T.J. Kong on Friday), you’ve got no excuse for staying in. Continue reading →