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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Hiss Golden Messenger at World Cafe Live, Kweku Collins at Johnny Brenda’s, Wolf Alice at The Trocadero, and more

Hiss Golden Messenger | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN

The ever-changing personnel and spectrum of recordings from Hiss Golden Messenger is anchored by the uber-talented compositional abilities of band leader M.C. Taylor. The Durham, North Carolina resident, whose instantly recognizable voice straddles Bob Dylan and Jim James, maintained his high level of songwriting and acoustic indie rock on Hiss Golden Messenger’s 2017 project Hallelujah Anyhow. Taylor writes of religious questioning, homesickness, and unexpected love on the new album with a bluesy conviction driving the project along. World Cafe Live hosts Taylor and Hiss Golden Messenger tonight, and the set is sure to impress. Pick up tickets quick from the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Listen to Wolf Alice’s latest, catch them at The Foundry Saturday night

Wolf Alice
Wolf Alice | Photo by Matthew Shaver for WXPN | brightloud.com

The second full-length album from Wolf Alice is on the way, due out Sept. 29, and the UK-based band shared a few more pieces of it Wednesday. Along with the artwork of Visions Of A Life, they released another single entitled “Don’t Delete The Kisses.”

This is the second single from the album, following up “Yuk Foo.” As opposed to its predecessor’s angry rant of a song, “Don’t Take The Kisses” laces Ellie Rowsell’s whispering verses with an echoey chorus, all throughout a spacey pop beat that soothes instead of scolds. The shredding from the first single is replaced with layers of synths. On Apple Music’s Beats 1 Radio, the four-piece explained Wednesday that the gap between the two songs won’t seem as wide once the whole album is out. We’ll hear the proof in a couple of months. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Japanese Breakfast at Ortlieb’s, Wolf Alice at Union Transfer, Roof Doctor at Lavender Town, and more…

Japanese Breakfast
Japanese Breakfast | Photo by Julian Master | courtesy of the artist

Japanese Breakfast holds the album release show for their acclaimed new LP Psychopomp. We’ve loved what we’ve heard so far: album singles “The Woman That Loves You”, “In Heaven”, and “Everybody Wants To Love You” have all rocked so far, and surely the rest of the album will too. Also performing will be Littler (who just released their new album Of Wandering) and Myrrias. More information can be found via the XPN Concert Calender. Continue reading →

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UK noisemakers Wolf Alice own The Troc

Wolf Alice | Photo by Matthew Shaver | brightloud.com
Wolf Alice | Photo by Matthew Shaver | brightloud.com

Wolf Alice is some sort of weird wonderful mishmash between past and present. Their debut album, My Love Is Cool, belies the thundering nature of their live show. Like watching Garbage channel British shoegaze through modern alt-rock aesthetics, it is a beautiful sight. The band clicks together perfectly, and The Troc, though an unexpected venue, was a perfect fit for them. From the crushing rock choruses of “Moaning Lisa Smile” and “You’re A Germ” to the gentle beginnings of “Swallowtail” that lead to reverb soaked walls of guitar, it was a fantastic display of rock prowess and showmanship. A promising Philly set from a promising UK band. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Bully at Boot and Saddle, Wolf Alice at The Trocadero, Air is Human at Kung Fu Necktie

Bully| Photo by Matthew Shaver | brightloud.com
Bully| Photo by Matthew Shaver | brightloud.com

After making a huge splash at all the summer festivals they played (and there were a lot of them), Nashville rockers Bully headed out on a solo tour that brings them to Boot and Saddle tonight. Their debut LP Feels Like dropped on Colombia Records this summer, and their music is loud and gritty guitar rock (the best kind of guitar rock). More information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Listen to Feels Like below. Continue reading →

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Now Hear This: New songs by Sylvan Esso, Juana Molina, Colin Stetson, White Reaper, Shugo Tokumaru, Alice Coltrane and more

sylvan esso
Sylvan Esso | photo by Shervin Lainez | courtesy of the artist

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

Let’s see. Cruel April gave us DAMN., Coachella, the debacle-du-spectacle that was Fyre Festival (not actually much a music story, as it turned out)… oh, and Record Store Day. Which, I gotta say, is the one capitalism-based holiday I can fully get behind – not so much for the cavalcade of exclusive releases, which feels more extraneous and vaguely exploitative every year, but for the explicit excuse/occasion to go hang out in record stores, which I sadly rarely do otherwise. And also because quirky devised human-scaled social rituals like that are just great.

I missed RSD this year for the first time in a while, but I made up for it later in the week by swinging by the Numero Group “Factory Outlet Roadshow” tour stop in Kensington: a traveling pop-up shop from the peerless Chicago-based reissue label: where I stocked up on gorgeously-packaged reproductions/assemblages of 20th-century pop ephemera. (Including, to keep things semi-2017-related, the supafunky sample source of Jens Lekman’s megajam “How We Met (The Long Version)” which has also been in my head for about a week.) So far I’ve barely even scratched the surface of my Numero haul – I’ve been much too busy combing through new releases in order to winnow out the month’s absolute finest strains to share with you, dear reader – but I’m pretty amped to dig in deeper as soon as I hit publish! Continue reading →

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20 albums you shouldn’t overlook in 2017

20 albums you shouldn’t overlook in 2017

The more of your life you spend consuming music, the more you realize an essential truth: the records deemed “the best” in any sort of ranking system — whether it be year-end lists or the Grammys — are not necessarily the ones you should be listening to.

Or not the only ones, rather. An as I said last year, the stuff everyone agrees on is a mere starting point. So while we brought you The Key’s top 15 albums of 2017 earlier this month, today we encourage you to dig deeper and further explore the spectrum of compelling music that was released this year. For this list, we highlight critics’ favorites from The Key’s staff of contributors; albums that topped individual lists but did not crack our overall top 15.

From the life-affirming punk rock of Amanda X to the eviscerating metal of Converge, the defiant electro rock of Fever Ray to the compellingly personal rap of Ruby Ibarra, our writers and photographers make their case for those albums: why they moved them, why they impressed them, why they loved them and why they’re important for you to listen to in 2017. Read (and listen) on for The Key’s roundup of 20 albums you should not overlook in 2017. –John Vettese
Continue reading →

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No Fooling: Get to know XPN’s Artist to Watch Sunflower Bean

Sunflower Bean
Sunflower Bean | photo by Andy DeLuca | courtesy of the artist

The life of a touring musician is one that’s packed with hacks. It has to be, really. When you’re traveling by van from city to city and playing shows almost nightly, you need to find ways for the comforts of home to tag along, too. At the very least, you need to remember to bring enough clean pairs of socks and underwear.

That’s #1 on Sunflower Bean’s list of tour tricks. And at this point, they have a lot of them. After playing CMJ in 2014, the group got hooked up with a booking agent and a label and hit the road, playing shows stateside and overseas with everyone from Cage the Elephant, the Pixies and most recently, Wolf Alice.

Since that fated CMJ week, they’ve barely stopped working to catch a breath. With one EP and a full length record down, each release — scratch that, each new song — gives their sound new dimension. It’s as much a nod to the New York art rock scene in the ‘70s as it is to Rock & Roll Hall of Famers Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and, after last month’s single, “I Was a Fool,” Fleetwood Mac. It’s dark, fuzzy and soaked at times, and dreamy, jammy and bright at others. And it’s so, so fun to watch these songs and beautiful people come alive on stage.

Read our interview with Sunflower Bean below. Continue reading →