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Shamir becomes every meme imaginable in video for the millennial battle-cry, “90’s Kids”

Shamir | photo by Jason MacDonald | courtesy of artist

I’m a millennial / 90’s kid. Before I was decorating my AIM profile to perfection with stupid song lyrics, I was playing CD-rom Detective Barbie games on my family’s huge dial-up computer.

Fast forward to now, where there’s memes and irony and debt and avocado toast. It’s a heckin weird world, and Shamir somehow manages to mash up this strange generation of feelings into his song and video for the new, aptly titled “90’s Kids.” Continue reading →

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Esperanza Spalding, Shamir, and Good Old War lined up for SoFAR Philly’s Amnesty International fundraiser

Esperanza Spalding | photo by Holly Andres | via facebook.com/EsperanzaSpalding

Remember that super secret, super cool Sofar Sounds Philly show in partnership with Amnesty International we let you know about a few weeks back? You know, the one with the winning recipe of: a heaping of community, a splash of mystery, and a million cups of good tunes. Well, friends, the lineup has been revealed, and it’s pretty dang tasty. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Chelsea Sue Allen at Boot and Saddle, Shamir at First Unitarian Church, Son Little at Johnny Brenda’s and more

Photo by John Galla via facebook.com
Photo by John Galla via facebook.com

Earlier this week, Chelsea Sue Allen released her latest record, Lonely Ages, and we streamed it here. On the record, Allen croons lovely narratives accompanied by haunting instrumentation. Catch Chelsea Sue Allen tonight at Boot and Saddle; get ticket and show info at the XPN Concert Calendar, and listen to Lonely Ages after the jump. Continue reading →

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Catching up with Good Old War’s Dan Schwartz new sounds, second chances and making honest music

Photo Courtesy of Dylan Eddinger Photography

The original three members of Philly’s Good Old War are finally, finally, back together again, and I was lucky enough to catch the end of their reunion tour at World Cafe Live back in August. The band is set to play a SoFar Sounds Amnesty International Benefit on September 20th, with new music out in the world as well — “Part of Me” was released on September 1st. Guitarist Dan Schwartz — also known as Danny Black for his solo work — was kind enough to give me some insight into what went into the making of their newest EP. With the rejoining of drummer Tim Arnold, the band is back and really better than they’ve ever been before. Continue reading →

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Vagabon blasts off with Infinite Worlds release show at PhilaMOCA

Vagabon | photo by Rachel Del Sordo

“You’re a big fish now, though!” someone shouted from sidestage, just before Vagabon launched into “The Embers,” the final song of a stunning record release show at PhilaMOCA on Saturday night. Vagabon — the stage name of one Laetitia Tamko — was riding high on the release of Infinite Worlds, out the 24th on Father/Daughter Records. “The Embers,” a song exploring a more solipsistic landscape, repeats in its refrain that “I’m just a small fish.” While inside, Tamko may feel like a small fish in a big pond, the acclaimed release of Infinite Worlds and it’s two sold-out release shows (Friday night she appeared in Brooklyn with Mal Devisa and Jelani Sai) are ripples indicating that something big is emerging from beneath the surface. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Vagabon at PhilaMOCA, Lil Kim at Santander Arena, Two Piece Fest at First Unitarian Church, and more…

Vagabon | courtesy of the artist
Vagabon | courtesy of the artist

Singer/songwriter/producer/creator Vagabon will headline PhilaMOCA tonight in support of her new record Infinite Worlds. She’ll be joined by recent Philly transplant Shamir and the enchanting Julie Byrne. Find a full write-up of the album here, and listen to lead single “Fear and Force” below. For tickets and more information, head over to XPN’s Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Vagabon stands tall on Infinite Worlds

Vagabon | courtesy of the artist
Vagabon | courtesy of the artist

The music Laetitia Tamko makes as Vagabon is all about defiance. Be it odds, expectations, or cultural norms, it always seems to come back to being made to feel small. Whether its through internal or external forces, this sense of smallness is what drives her new album Infinite Worlds. It’s given to us right away in the first lines of opener “The Embers”, where she finds herself “on the bus where everybody is tall”. As a woman of color writing and performing in white male-dominated indie rock, there’s a lot of charged ideas and imagery for Tamko to grapple with here, but it’s the bravery and empathy she does it with that makes the record what it is. You can stream it now via NPR First Listen. Continue reading →

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Now Hear This: New songs by Jarvis Cocker and Chilly Gonzalez, Gabriel Garzón-Montano, Austra and more

Gabriel Garzón-Montano
Gabriel Garzón-Montano | Photo by Breanna Keohane for WXPN

Every month, noted song expert K. Ross Hoffman presents a sampling of fresh specimens for your consideration. Here are his picks for February, 2017.

Happy new(-ish) year!  January tends to be a slow time for new music, as release schedules (and concert calendars) gradually shift back into gear following a generally-observed hibernation around the holidays.  That felt especially true this year, with no major releases dominating the musical conversation the way, for instance, Bowie did in 2016.  (I guess we also had a few other things to pay attention to.)  But there were still a handful of gems to sift through, all well as some promising signs for what’s to come later in the Spring.  The selections below includes a pair of pre-release teasers from disgruntled old geezers, sterling examples of several different strains of soul music, a smattering of political content – sorry, you can’t escape it here either – and the first great pop banger of 2017.

Continue reading →

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Best of 2015: Who voted for what

Best of 2015: Who voted for what

The albums that moved us in 2015
The albums that moved us in 2015

RULES OF PLAY: Each contributor’s top-five list was entered into an excel doc with their picks assigned a point value. For ranked lists, the number one album was issued five points, the number two album was issued four points, three was three, four was two, five was one. For lists submitted in no particular order (the “equally-ranked lists” you’ll see below), each album was issued three points. My picks were given the same weight as everybody else’s. This is the hard data, the math, and math tells us that Hop Along ruled 2015. – John Vettese, editor

Tom Beck, contributing writer

1. Hop Along – Painted Shut
2. Alabama Shakes – Sound and Color
3. Wilco – Star Wars
4. The Districts – A Flourish and a Spoil
5. The Sonics – This Is The Sonics

Kate Bracaglia, contributing writer

1. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit
2. Tame Impala – Currents
3. Deerhunter – Fadine Frontier
4. Belle and Sebastian – Girls in Peacetime Just Want to Dance
5. Jacuzzi Boys – Happy Damage

Jay Breslin, contributing writer

1. Battles – The Yabba
2. Kurt Vile – b’lieve i’m goin’ down…
3. Hop Along – Painted Shut
4. Loose Tooth – Easy Easy East
5. Mutoid Man – Bleeder

Shaun Brady, contributing writer

1. Charles Lloyd – Wild Man Dance
2. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
3. Steve Coleman and the Council of Balance – Synoviall Joints
4. Matt Mitchell – Vista Acumulation
5. Arturo O’Farrill & The Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra – Cuba: The Conversation Continues

Bill Chenevert, contributing writer

1. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
2. Jamie xx – In Colour
3. Hop Along – Painted Shut
4. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie and Lowell
5. Kamasi Washington – The Epic

Rachel Del Sordo, contributing photographer

1. Hop Along – Painted Shut
2. The Front Bottoms – Back On Top
3. Waxahatchee – Ivy Tripp
4. All Dogs – Kicking Everyday
5. Saintseneca – Such Things

Joe Del Tufo, contributing photographer

1. Steven Wilson – Hand.Cannot.Erase
2. Noah Gundersen – Carry the Ghost
3. San Fermin – Jackrabbit
4. Zella Day – Kicker
5. Dawes – All Your Favorite Bands

Maura Filoromo, contributing writer

1. Beirut – No No No
2. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie and Lowell
3. La Luz – Weirdo Shrine
4. Jonagold – We Threw Our Applecore
5. Harsh Crowd – Don’t Ask Me

Lauren Gruber, contributing writer

1. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
2. Joanna Newsom – Divers
3. Jamie xx – In Colour
4. Kamasi Washington – The Epic
5. FKA Twigs – M3LL155x

K. Ross Hoffman, contributing writer

1. Carly Rae Jepsen – E.mo.tion
2. Joanna Newsom – Divers
3. Shamir – Ratchet
4. Miguel – Wildheart
5. Natalie Prass – Natalie Prass

Skye Leppo, contributing writer

1. Florence and the Machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
2. The Districts – A Flourish and a Spoil
3. Grimes – Art Angels
4. Alabama Shakes – Sound and Colour
5. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit

Hope Helmith, contributing photographer

1. The Arcs – Yours, Dreamily
2. Dawes – All Your Favorite Bands
3. Lord Huron – Strange Trails
4. Father John Misty – I Love You, Honeybear
5. Leon Bridges – Coming Home

Sarah Hughes, contributing writer

1. Grimes – Art Angels
2. CRUISR – CRUISR
3. Tame Impala – Currents
4. Girlpool – Before The World Was Big
5. Lord Huron – Strange Trails

Wendy McCardle, contributing photographer

1. Mutemath – Vitals
2. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
3. Foals – What Went Down
4. Alabama Shakes – Sound and Colour
5. Miguel – Wildheart

Julie Miller, editorial assistant (equally-ranked list)

1. Panda Bear – Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper
2. Ryley Walker – Primrose Green
3. Vulfpeck – Thrill of the Arts
4. Alex G – Beach Music
5. Friendship – You’re Going to Have to Trust Me

Michelle Montgomery, contributing photographer
1. Sufjan Stevens – Carrie and Lowell
2. Tame Impala – Currents
3. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit
4. Leon Bridges – Coming Home
5. Torres – Sprinter

Josh Pelta-Heller, contributing photographer

1. Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit
2. Speedy Ortiz – Foil Deer
3. Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment – Surf
4. Waxahatchee – Ivy Tripp
5. Blackalicious – Imani Vol. 1

Cameron Pollack, contributing photographer

1. Hop Along – Painted Shut
2. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
3. Carly Rae Jepsen – E.mo.tion
4. Jamie xx – In Colour
5. The Districts – A Flourish and a Spoil

Sameer Rao, contributing writer

1. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
2. Boots – AQUARIA
3. Lianne La Havas – Blood
4. Miguel – Wildheart
5. Hop Along – Painted Shut

Matthew Shaver, contributing photographer

1. Grimes – Art Angels
2. A$AP Rocky – At Long Last A$AP
3. Wolf Alice – My Love Is Cool
4. CHVRCHES – Every Open Eye
5. The World Is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die – Harmless

Chris Sikich, contributing photographer

1. Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love
2. Screaming Females – Rose Mountain
3. Lower Dens – Escape From Evil
4. Low – Ones and Sixes
5. Hop Along – Painted Shut

Noah Silvestry, contributing photographer (equally-ranked list)

Braids – Deep In The Iris
El Vy – Return to the Moon
Hop Along – Painted Shut
Christian Scott – Stretch Music
Wilco – Star Wars

Elliott Sharp, contributing writer

1. Ryley Walker – Primrose Green
2. Horrendous – Arareta
3. Daniel Bachman – River
4. Big Brave – Au De La
5. Earl Sweatshirt – I Don’t Like Shit

John Vettese, editor

1. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
2. Hop Along – Painted Shut
3. Grimes – Art Angels
4. Friendship – You’re Going to Have to Trust Me
5. Kamasi Washington – The Epic

Maureen Walsh, contributing writer

1. Hop Along – Painted Shut
2. Best Coast – California Nights
3. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly
4. Blur – The Magic Whip
5. Kamasi Washington – The Epic

Brian Wilensky, contributing writer (equally-ranked list)

Fuzz – II
King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Paper Mache Dream Baloon
Tenement – Predatory Headlights
Ryley Walker – Primrose Green
Waxahatchee – Ivy Tripp