Recently reunited Slowdive announces U.S. Tour, playing Union Transfer 10/23

Photo via

Hazy UK faves Slowdive are back together and will begin a North American tour this fall; the dates include a Union Transfer show on October 23rd. The band, whose early 90s album pioneered the dream-pop genre, recently performed at Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona and will play Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago this weekend.  Tickets for their Philly show go on sale on July 18th, more information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Watch Slowdive play “Golden Hair” below at Primavera Sound.


Eraserland Radio is Strand of Oaks’ source of creative fuel, motivation and inspiration

Strand of Oaks | photo by Alysse Gafkajen | courtesy of the artist

Philly’s Strand of Oaks is getting ready to release its latest LP, Eraserland, and the album traces frontman Tim Showalter’s journey from the frustrated lows of a creative rut to the euphoric highs of rediscovering one’s passion for not just making music and art, but also living. Part of that personal journey lies not just in writing new music, but also listening to music.

Shortly after announcing Eraserland earlier this month, Showalter rolled out a project he’s calling Eraserland Radio. It started out as a Spotify playlist collecting the music that sparked life in him as a songwriter — songs by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit (“Alabama Pines”), Brandi Carlile (“The Story”),  Jessica Lea Mayfield (“Too Much Terrible”) and R.E.M. (“Country Feedback”). It’s since grown, via fan submissions on social media, into a 67-song playlist that includes Miles Davis’ “Maiysha (So Long)” alongside Alabama Shakes’ “Gemini,” The Cure’s “Open” next to Slowdive’s “Sugar for the Pill,” and on and on. Continue reading →


You And Your Autumn Sweater: Listen to the October 2018 edition of What’s The Frequency?! on WXPN

#WTFXPN, August 2018

On the second Friday of every month, WXPN’s John Vettese hosts WHAT’S THE FREQUENCY?!?!!, a four-hour, request driven showcase of 90s and 90s-adjacent music. If you can’t tune in live, we’ve got archives of each episode for you here on The Key.

October is my favorite month of the year and the second Friday is my favorite day of the month, so the October edition of What’s The Frequency is always something special.

This time around, I delved into the autumnal vibes and moods with goth-leaning nuggets and otherwise ominous selections from The Cure, Angelfish, Dr. Octagon and DJ Shadow. Indie rock had a strong showing, and thanks to the recent Death Cab for Cutie double header at The Tower Theater, we mixed in some Letters to Cleo, Number One Cup, and that dog. And the requests were out of control this month, with listeners recommending fantastic cuts by Dub Narcotic Soundsystem, Ghost Town DJs, Sleater-Kinney, Slint and more.

Listen to an archive of the entire show below, subscribe to the official #WTFXPN Spotify Playlist here, and tune in for the next edition on November 9th, 2018.

Continue reading →


Belly of the Beats: Why Nothing’s Domenic Palermo is turning his sights to prison reform

Nothing | photo by Ryan Lowry | courtesy of the artist

Domenic Palermo has been thinking a lot about his old neighborhood lately.

He thinks about the people he spent his childhood with; he thinks about how much things have changed and how much they have not. It makes sense, since the places we grow up shape us in innumerable ways. They’re our first impression of the world; they’re the center of our young universe. Our neighborhoods help us decide where we want to travel with our lives, whether we want to get as far away as possible or if we’d rather just stay in place. And the ramifications of those choices somehow touch the lives of people we knew; our family, our community. Even though he’s up in Brooklyn these days, the frontman of Nothing is constantly thinking about his childhood in the Frankford and Kensington sections of Philadelphia…and the things he can do to make it a better place in 2018.

This Friday, Nothing releases its third LP, Dance on the Blacktop, via Relapse Records; it’s an explosive and highly personal record, touching on themes of mortality, addiction and family, and after a long build-up of writing and working in the studio with producer John Agnello, the band will spend Saturday unwinding with family and friends in the Port Richmond section of Philly — just a short jump down the river wards from his old home.

The Nothing Record Release Block Party is just what its name suggests: a gimmick-free gathering with a DJ, games, food and fun; no Nothing live set, just a day-long hang. “We didn’t want it to be like a Diplo block party, we wanted it to be very neighborhood-friendly,” Palermo says when I caught up with him via phone last week. “We really just wanted to have a few hours where we can just see people enjoying themselves. I imagine that most of the people that show up to this block party aren’t even going to know why it’s really there, which is kind of the point. It’s purely just a Philadelphia celebratory kind of thing.”

For Palermo and his bandmates, its a way to kick back before getting into the grueling stress of another album cycle. But even in choosing the spot, he had a lot to think about. Continue reading →


Nothing pours it all into the 7-minute ballad “Carpenter’s Son”

Nothing | photo by Ryan Lowry | courtesy of the artist

Each song Philly shoegazers Nothing drops off highly anticipated Dance On The Blacktop, out August 24th on Relapse, is another tile in the mosaic masterpiece this album promises to be. Frontman and songwriter Domenic Palermo holds back nothing on latest track “The Carpenter’s Son,” pouring his entire self into this 7-minute ballad. Continue reading →


The Districts bring Popular Manipulations home to Philly and a wild Union Transfer crowd

The Districts | photo by Michelle Montgomery for WXPN

“We all almost went to college,” Rob Grote of The Districts told a sold-out Union Transfer on Friday night. “We talked about how this album is like a college degree. Hopefully we learned something, right?”

The band was headlining in support of their third record, Popular Manipulations, which came out on Friday. The record already sounds huge, but performed live it’s even more so, particularly the thundering “Violet” and the quiet-to-scream progression of “Ordinary Day.” The crowd was revved up and spent much of the night off the floor, stage diving and crowd surfing. Continue reading →


Now Hear This: New songs by Lorde, Ride, Algiers, Offa Rex, Saint Etienne, Japanese Breakfast and more

Lorde | Photo By Noah Silvestry |

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

We are having a shoegaze moment.  I’m not entirely sure that the fuzzy, buzzy swirls of early-‘90s Britain speak to our times in any particular way, beyond their basic, perennial resonance with the heavy haze of a hot summer.  But there seems to be as much life in the now-venerable style – along with its cuddlier, more scrutable cousin, dream-pop – as at any point in the last quarter-century. Continue reading →