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Run To Your Bedroom: Carol Cleveland Sings LIVE, new Jens Lekman, Vagabon & Xiu Xiu on the Indie Rock Hit Parade!

Carol Cleveland Sings | Photo by Eric Schuman for WXPN

The Indie Rock Hit Parade returns with an all-new show tonight at 11pm ET on XPN! Listen for a number of things that will fill your Friday night with whimsy, including a brand new live studio session with Carol Cleveland Sings! The group, featuring Thomas Hughes of The Spinto Band/The Music tapes and singer-songwriter Gretchen Lohse, are pros when it comes to making ear-catching pop as well as constructing mesmerizing video collages. We’ll hear CCS perform songs from their 2016 debut, Effervescent Lure, live in the studio! Also in the mix tonight, new tracks from Europop lifer Jens Lekman, lyrical spellbinder Vagabon and the always adventurous Xiu Xiu. Check out a few of those selections below…

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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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Just Announced: Vagabon headlines PhilaMOCA this February with Julie Byrne

Vagabon | photo by Ebru Yildiz | via the artist's Facebook page
Vagabon | photo by Ebru Yildiz | via the artist’s Facebook page

New York’s Lætitia Tamko, AKA Vagabon, will headline PhilaMOCA this February 25th in support of her debut LP, Infinite Worlds. The album, which features previously released single “Fear & Force”, comes out the day before. “Fear and Force” is a reworking of “Vermont II” from her Persian Garden EP. Continue reading →

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Listen to “Fear & Force” from Vagabon’s new LP, see her with Sad13 at Everybody Hits

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

Easy-grooving indie pop outfit Vagabon — the project of Lætitia Tamko — has a new record coming out on February 24th of next year off of Father/Daughter Records. It’s called Infinite Worlds, it’s her first new material since 2014, and it’s Tarnko’s her full-length debut. If that’s not enough good news, she’ll be gracing the Everybody Hits stage on December 12th, hanging with Sad13 (the awesome indie pop project of Speedy Ortiz’s Sadie Dupuis, who recently moved to Philly), Emily Reo, and Told Slant.

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The Interest Group debut a new b-side, “Vagabond Dreamer,” via Interview Mag

philadelphia_magazine_interest_group_bandWith their debut 7″ The Passenger available for preorder as of yesterday, the Philly-based psychedelic indie band The Interest Group gave us a peek at its slow and swaying b-side, “Vagabond Dreamer.” Listen as the softly-plucked ballad strings together delicate harmonies, whispering Spanish guitar and poetic lyrics about an autumn love. “The thing about ‘Vagabond Dreamer’ is that lyrically it was written through stream of consciousness, yet it’s a story,” songwriter Yohsuke Araki tells Interview Magazine. Read how both Araki and songwriting partner, Marissa Lesnick, interpret the song here. Purchase a vinyl or digital copy of The Passenger 7″ here. Listen to “Vagabond Dreamer” below.

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Listen to “Head Down Vagabonds,” a new track from Philly singer-songwriter Andrew Lipke (playing Kennett Mushroom Festival on 9/7)

LipkePhilly’s Andrew Lipke has been working on his latest project, Song from Siddhartha, since late last year, and we got another taste of it today in the form of a new song called “Head Down Vagabonds.” A follow-up single to “Ascetic Blues,” released last December, this one also has a distinctly psychedelic vibe, but leans less airy and more poppy and irreverent – like Lipke is digging into the “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” side of his musical leanings. It’s an interesting progression considering the orchestral nature of his previous offerings, The Plague and Siddiqah. Or, as Helen Leicht put it, it’s “the many faces of Andrew Lipke.” Listen to the song below; Lipke performs live on September 7th at the Kennett Mushroom Festival, which is not as psychedelic as it sounds, but that’s okay – he’ll bring the weird.

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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.

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Allison Crutchfield longs for the west coast in new video for “I Don’t Ever Wanna Leave California”

Allison Crutchfield | courtesy of the artist
Allison Crutchfield | courtesy of the artist

In two weeks, Allison Crutchfield will release Tourist in This Town, her first for Merge Records, and she’s just shared its second single. “I Don’t Ever Wanna Leave California,” which follows “Dean’s Room,” fittingly sheds the new wave drive of its predecessor in favor of sun-drenched, breezy trappings. It’s safe to say she’s not the only one in Philly longing for the west coast right about now, so put on your favorite summer hat and stream the track below.  Continue reading →

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INTERVIEW: Brooklyn indie darlings LVL UP on making their most fully realized album, Return to Love

LVL UP | photo by Shawn Brackbill
LVL UP | photo by Shawn Brackbill

I’ll refrain from making the obvious joke here, and just say this: LVL UP‘s new album Return to Love sounds massive.

After five years and a couple of releases circling the grittier home-recorded periphery of the indie rock universe, the band goes full in on it’s third long player, released today on Sub Pop Records. Fuzzed out punk gives way to pristine pop, and you’ll hear hints of Neutral Milk Hotel and Pavement as much as you will Nada Surf and Fountains of Wayne. In short, it’s their most fully realized album on the sonic front, and talking to singer-guitarists Mike Caridi and Dave Benton, the guys are remarkably level-headed (ugggggggh, #dadjokes) and earnest about their craft.

I caught up with them via phone from Benton’s apartment in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. It was a hot August day and the band was laying low; they didn’t have anything on the calendar until a music video shoot the following week and a gig at Hopscotch fest in early September. Below, read our conversation about recording, running a label, and how their band and business lives intersect. Continue reading →