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Powerful, Poignant, Fun: Open City celebrates City of Ash this weekend

Open City | photo by Scott Troyan | courtesy of Get Better Records
Open City | photo by Scott Troyan | scotttroyan.com | courtesy of Get Better Records

How much can you pack into just two songs? If you’re Open City, the answer is a ton. The hardcore quartet’s new 7” record City of Ash is seven minutes of incredibly powerful, poignant, and fun music. You might not consider ‘fun’ as being an important quality when it comes to purposely political art, but nobody wants to listen to something that is dull, even if it does share their ideals. Think of it as a ‘the medium is the message’ sort of thing. City of Ash is anything but dull. Continue reading →

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Meet Open City: Philly punk scene vets raging with abandon

Open City | photo courtesy of the artist
Open City | photo courtesy of the artist

Long running members of the Philadelphia hardcore punk scene got together this year to make new music under the Open City banner; the album, self-released today, is a fierce kick of energized outrage, deftly delivered by a crew with decades of experience under their belt.

Rachel Rubino of Bridge & Tunnel and Worriers fronts the band with gut-wrenching vocals and incisive lyrics; Andy Nelson and Dan Yemin from Paint it Black (and various others) play bass and guitar respectively, with Yemin on guitar for the first time since his Kid Dynamite days; pounding out the rhythms is Chris Wilson of Ted Leo & The Pharmacists and HOUND. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: XPN Welcomes Freelance Whales to The Abbey Bar, Dave Hause opening for Flogging Molly at The Electric Factory, XPN Welcomes The Stray Birds to World Cafe Live, Sour Mash at City Tap House

Brooklyn indie kids Freelance Whales head out to Harrisburg for a show at The Abbey Bar tonight.  The quintet followed up their 2009 debut with Diluvia last year.  The sophomore effort sees Freelance Whales expanding their sound and their narrative with more intricate arrangements and a complex sci-fi concept running through the tracks.  What hasn’t changed with the new release is the band’s accessible and appealing indie pop sound that got the buzz started in 2009.  Tickets and information for tonight’s 21+ show with Hundred Waters can be found here.  Below, watch the video for “Spitting Image.”

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Hop Along and Kite Party at The Fire, RNDM at Union Transfer, Now Now Opening for Motion City Soundtrack at TLA, Milk Carton Kids at Tin Angel


Hop Along and Kite Party will be performing tonight at The Fire. Hop Along released their debut full-length album Get Disowned earlier this year in May, while fellow local band Kite Party have the entirety of their first album Hand Claps Music available as a free download here. The all ages show tonight starts at 6:30; tickets are available here. Below, watch Kite Party performing “Buried in Dogs.”

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Just Announced: Cold Fronts and City Rain opening for Vacationer at Underground Arts

Photo by Kirk Love | kirklove.tumblr.com

We love to see a musical pairing that’s working this well. Electro-pop outfit City Rain and swaggery rockers Cold Fronts first shared the stage at PhilaMOCA in August. Since then, they’ve opened the Work Drugs Endless Summer Kickoff at Johnny Brenda’s last weekend, and now they’ve both been added as openers on the September 28 Vacationer show at Underground Arts. Tickets to the 21+ show are available here; below, check out Cold Fronts’ video for “Blood.”

Cold Fronts – Blood from think/feel on Vimeo.

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MilkBoy Coffee’s Center City location opened this week, live shows start next month (including plenty of local acts)

MilkBoy Coffee’s third location opened earlier this week at 1100 Chestnut Street. The coffee shop, bar, and music venue joins the franchise’s two Main Line locations in Ardmore and Bryn Mawr. Like its sister sites, MilkBoy Philly will serve coffee as well as breakfast, lunch, and dinner fare, with many vegetarian options available. The Center City spot is the first to hold a liquor license, and will feature a full bar on each of its two floors. The top floor will feature a 200-person standing room 21+ music venue, for which eight shows have already been announced. One highlight is sure to include a September 29th show with local Eastern European brass band-inspired collective West Philadelphia Orchestra and recent 2nd Street Festival performers, Philly band The Great Unknown. Other local acts with scheduled shows include Gang, Black Landlord, Meeting in the Aisle, and Man Like Machine.

Ticket prices for the concerts are cheap, ranging from $8 – $13.50, so be sure to check out the new venue and support some local music while you’re at it.

Preliminary MilkBoy Philly show calendar:

9/17: Gang w/ Hank & Cupcakes and Pink Skull
9/21: Jim Ward
9/24: Black Landlord
9/28: We Are Augustines
9/29: West Philadelphia Orchestra w/ The Great Unknown
9/30: Meeting in the Aisle (Radiohead Tribute Band) w/ Man Like Machine
10/6: Toubab Krewe w/ Gongo Junction
10/20: Lisa Hannigan

MilkBoy Philly is located at 1100 Chestnut Street. Its hours of operation are from 6am – 11pm. Tickets to all upcoming shows can be found here.

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Charly Bliss’ heist adventure in the Michelle Zauner-directed “Capacity” video is a cautionary tale about being a people-pleaser

Charly Bliss | still from video

In between releases with her Japanese Breakfast project, the multi-talented Michelle Zauner has become indie music’s most sought-after video director. Zauner first made the leap behind the camera to direct some of her own music videos, and she’s since branched out into creating visuals for other artists — and now she’s back with a new one for “Capacity” by power-pop faves Charly Bliss.

“Capacity” is the lead single off the Brooklyn band’s just-announced new album Young Enough, which will be out May 10. The 70s-styled video follows the aftermath of a not-so-well-thought-out bank heist, of which Charly Bliss frontwoman Eva Hendricks finds herself an unwilling participant who reaps the benefits nonetheless. While Hendricks tosses hundred dollar bills like confetti, Zauner makes a cameo as a wacky news broadcaster named Shelly Breakfast. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Haerts trades flashy synths for stripped-back simplicity

Haerts | photo by Gabriela Barbieri for WXPN

New York-via-Germany indie pop duo Haerts made their way down to Philadelphia today with none of their trademark synths in tow. Instead, they treated today’s Free at Noon crowd to what they described as a “very stripped down” performance, trading flashier sounds for simple acoustic guitar and piano. It was both a look back at the band’s roots as a singer-songwriter duo, and a heartfelt exploration at the emotions at the center of their new album. Continue reading →

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Reef the Lost Cauze will rap you out of the city in the video for “The Majestic”

Reef the Lost Cauze | still from video

I wouldn’t exactly describe Philly MC Reef the Lost Cauze as an old school rapper of the 90s vanguard; he came of age in the 21st century, after all, and just last month released what might be his most essential work — a full-length project called The Majestic. His sound doesn’t follow trends in either direction; some of the beats and textures he works with sound decidedly current, some are way futuristic, and some reach back to that classic boom-bap sound.

Reef the Lost Cauze has never been one to be pigeonholed, but what we can say is he takes a defiant us-v-them stance towards the modern rap industry, taking it to task for putting too much emphasis on fashion and branding and not enough on, like, just being a good rapper. Continue reading →