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Listen to the debut single from Spirit Haus, the side project of CRUISR’s Bruno Catrambone

Bruno Catrambone, known thus far as the guitarist from Philadelphia’s CRUISR and singer-songwriter behind Former Belle, has released the first single from his solo project Spirit Haus, which first emerged a couple summers ago while remixing his Philly indie scene peer Suburban Living. “You Don’t Love Me (Like You Used To)” features contributions from CRUISR frontman Andy States, the song sets emotionally probing lyrics against a murky soundscape reminiscent of Tame Impala’s modern psychedelia. Based on “You Don’t Love Me”, Spirit Haus seems something like a shy cousin to CRUISR’s extroverted pop thrills, keeping the pristine production sensibility while exploring new sonic environments. Continue reading →

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Now Hear This: New songs from The Internet, Dirty Projectors, Bodega, Daniel Bachman, Bad Bad Hats, Steve Hauschildt and more

Shy Boys | photo via shyboys.bandcamp.com

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

We are officially in the dull. drums. of the dog. days. of the slow end of summer. Musically speaking. Not that there’s nothing going on, of course. I mean, this month alone I have already seen fantastic shows by several of my longtime favorites – a triumphant return to Johnny Brenda’s from the perennially entertaining Jeffrey Lewis, and a basement show by the great guitarist Glenn Jones – both of them previewing material from super-promising new albums still forthcoming (later this month in Jones’ case; no official word yet from Lewis.) And yeah oh yeah, I got to see Radiohead for the first time in way too long and fall completely and utterly back in love with them, which seems like it was more or less the consensus regarding their just-wrapped US tour. That said, the column below, as it turned out, only manages to highlight a couple of shows this fall. (Several of these artists, I’m sorry to report, already played Philly in the last month or two, well before their respective album releases – some of them in opening slots, which gives me hope that they might return to headline before too long.)

The upside of a month with a relatively slow release schedule (at least for big-name new releases) is that it inspires me to dig a little further than I might otherwise. Because, let’s face it, we live in an age when it’s all but impossible to get away from worthwhile if not downright vital new music on a virtually weekly basis. Or anyway, it feels that way if you spend an ungodly percentage of your waking hours (and plenty of the ones you should be sleeping too) poking around on the internet as if furiously trying to prevent it from passing you by. (My lord, when will it stop?) Anyhow…here are some knockouts, knick-knacks and novelties from the last month or so. Enjoy, and I’ll See You In September! Continue reading →

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Revisit XPNFest with a 45-song VuHaus video playlist

Drive By Truckers | photo by Wendy McCardle for WXPN

The annual XPoNential Music Festival is easily the highlight of our year around these parts, and this summer’s lineup was a particularly strong one. From Rhiannon Giddens to The Record Company, Strand of Oaks to Sweet Spirit, Hardwork Movement to Hurray for the Riff Raff we were covered across the board with sounds and styles and incredible performances. And thankfully, those sets don’t have to remain too far in our memory. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Sweet Spirit kicked out the jams with St. Mojo

Sweet Spirit | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Sweet Spirit | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Last November we were graced with the presence of The Pretenders at a Free at Noon concert and as Helen Leicht pointed out, today we were treated to a set by a band that Chrissie Hynde & co. would probably be fans of. Austin’s Sweet Spirit stopped by World Cafe Live while in town supporting their sophomore LP St. Mojo, a record with track after track of confident rock that is pure fun.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: King Azaz at Haus of Yarga, Slaughter Beach, Dog at Boot and Saddle, Whaler at Kung Fu Necktie

King Azaz | via kingazaz.bandcamp.com

Drummer Sarah Schardt and singer-guitarist Christo Johnson met in North Carolina eight years ago, transplanted more recently to Philadelphia and are currently destroying in the punk two-piece King Azaz. Their record Spiritus Mundii was a quiet standout in 2016, filled with grungy riffs, hammering drums and minor key aggression – but there’s also a level of Fugazi / Dischord style socially charged catharsis. Tonight they’re on a pretty stacked lineup at West Philly staple Haus of Yarga, along with Thin Lips, Tombo Crush and more. Info on the show can be found at Facebook. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Hamilton Leithauser and Rostam shake the rafters “A 1000 Times” over

Hamilton and Rostam | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN
Hamilton and Rostam | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN

When I first heard that Hamilton Leithauser and Rostam Batmanglij were putting out an album together, I was as excited as I was apprehensive. It sounded great on paper, of course, but rarely do collaborations like this go over as well as they’re theoretically supposed to. With The Walkmen and Vampire Weekend in their respective back catalogs, the duo had a lot to live up to, but this afternoon, they did just that with an exhilarating, eight-song set at WXPN’s Free at Noon concert. Continue reading →

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Forget Everything You’ve Learned: Philly gamer brings a playful spirit to musical improv

Tonic Game
Tonic Game | Photo courtesy of Scott Hughes

Where improvised music is concerned, every moment on stage is a roll of the dice. Scott Hughes wants to help beginning or struggling musicians by taking that idea literally.

The former UArts piano major successfully raised nearly $10,000 in a Kickstarter campaign earlier this summer to create Tonic: The Card & Dice Game for Musicians, which prompts players to create sounds prompted by techniques more reminiscent of a round of Monopoly than a late night jam session.

“It’s a practice tool disguised as a game,” says Hughes, who eventually shifted his academic focus to a Physics major at Temple and now considers himself an avid amateur musician. “It’s not a game in the sense that you’re going to keep score. It’s a way to explore and play and get out of your comfort zone. You can do it alone or with a group, but it’s certainly not competitive in any way.” Continue reading →

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Watch Delta Rae perform “Dance In The Graveyards” and “Chasing Twisters” at XPNFest via VuHaus

Delta Rae | Photo by Cameron Pollack |
Delta Rae | Photo by Cameron Pollack |

The gospel harmonies and rock and roll fury of Durham, NC family band Delta Rae brought down the house at this summer’s XPoNential Music Festival. The band was showcasing its second album, After the Fire, released in April. Below, check out videos of “Dance In The Graveyards” and “Chasing Twisters” via VuHaus, listen to their entire set here and check out photos from the band’s recent show at World Cafe Live at The Queen hereContinue reading →