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Strand of Oaks makes an electrifying homecoming at Boot and Saddle

Strand of Oaks | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
Strand of Oaks | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

Before the first of two sold-out homecoming shows for Strand of Oaks on Friday at Boot & Saddle, I briefly told Oaks’ leader, Timothy Showalter, how much I loved the record and how excited I was for the show. Returning my handshake, Showalter reciprocated his excitement for what was to come with a beaming smile and utter giddiness. This genuine excitement for the performance was palpable throughout his band’s 75-minute set. It was a sea of joy and pathos, misery and head banging; it was rock of the highest order. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Joyce Manor at Union Transfer, Belgrade at The Barbary, and Busses at Boot and Saddle

Photo via facebook.com/joycemanorband
Photo via facebook.com/joycemanorband

Californian pop-punk band Joyce Manor will take the stage at Union Transfer tonight. Members Barry Johnson, Matt Ebert, Chase Knobbe, and Kurt Walcher recently released their third studio album Never Hungover Again. They refer to its as a collection of songs about how things fall apart – including the loss of friends (“In The Army Now”),  the regret of getting a tattoo (“Heart Tattoo”), and the panic of facing the unknown future (“Catalina Fight Song”). For tickets and more information check out the XPN Concert Calender. Below, listen to “Schley.” Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Dr. Dog at the Mann, Mo Lowda and the Humble at Bourbon and Branch, and Jad Fair and Danielson at Boot and Saddle

Photo by Nicky Devine
Photo by Nicky Devine

Long-time Philadelphia indie-rock favorites Dr. Dog are set to take the stage at the Mann tonight. With over eight albums and a handful of EPs under their belts, the six-piece has a plethora of material to chose from to curate a rockin’ set-list. Their most recent album, B-Room, has a psychedelic flair with tracks like “The Truth” and “Love.” For tickets and more information head over to the XPN Concert Calender. Below, check out the music video for “Shadow People.” Continue reading →

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The Rosebuds played a vibrant set to a packed Boot and Saddle

The Rosebuds | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com
The Rosebuds | Photo by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

We all have bands we love that we wish would make it big. Among mine are The Rosebuds. They certainly have found success, as Merge signed them back in 2003 and they have worked with big-name collaborators like Justin Vernon. The well-attended Boot & Saddle show on Thursday night showed a demand for their indie-pop aesthetics. But at the end of the day they should at the very least entertain a full house at Union Transfer. Why? Harmonies, percussion, keys and strings floating between early ‘60s rock, Hall and Oates and the dance floor make them a unique, creative force that exists in a class of its own.

Ivan Howard, with his newsboy cap and rich vocals, and Kelly Crisp, front-and-center on keyboards with sweet harmonies at the ready, were a joy to watch. The one-time married couple are completely in-synch musically, leading The Rosebuds current line-up. Among the mix were drummer Rob Lackey, guitarist Brian Weeks and bassist and back-up vocalist Mark Paulson. Continue reading →

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Tales of the Open Road: Get Real Gang leader Juston Stens on riding his ’72 Triumph cross-country to write and record Share the Road

Juston Stens | Photo by Ellie Tremple | courtesy of the artist
Juston Stens | Photo by Ellie Tremple | courtesy of the artist

About 45 minutes before I’m supposed to meet Philly pop rebel Juston Stens for a poolside cocktail at North Shore Beach Club, I get a text: “Kate, I’m so sorry. My van broke down in South Philly. Should we reschedule?”

I’m headed back to South Philly myself, and his van just so happens to be near my neighborhood. So I tell him no worries, we can do the interview as he waits for a tow. It’s about 90 degrees out and by the time I reach him, he’s already been waiting 4 hours. “They sent a guy out already, but the trailer bed wasn’t big enough,” he quips, gesturing towards his monolith of a vehicle.

Considering how long he’s been waiting, he’s in a surprisingly good mood. He apologizes profusely for ruining our pool plans, then eagerly starts describing his new record. When the tow truck arrives, he chats with the driver, then helps push the van into a parking spot post-tow. “I work as a mover, part-time,” he tells me, unphased by its enormity. “This is nothing.” Continue reading →

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Catch The Ambulars tonight at Boot and Saddle

Photo via facebook.com/The-Ambulars
Photo via facebook.com/The-Ambulars

Local indie rockers The Ambulars have recently started touring and performing songs that will be on their newest full-length. The band consists of Jen Twigg, Michael Cantor and Barrett Lindgren. In 2012, the band released its LP Dreamers, Asleep at the Wheel; soon afterwards, the band did a Pink Couch Session. Earlier in May, Jen Twigg contributed to a great, funny article on Impose Magazine about surviving as the only girl in a band.  

The vocals alternates between male and female as well as duos which makes it an interesting listening experience. The restless, energetic music tackles universal subjects of heartbreak, growing up and love. Though the lyrics certainly have dark overtones, the sweet, catchy melodies somewhat alleviate the tone. Overall, The Ambulars convey a sense of urgency and passion.

Tonight, The Ambulars will be playing Boot and Saddle with Vancouver pop band The Courtneys and Philadelphia pop-punk group Mike Bell and the Movies. Listen to “Asleep at the Wheel” from Dreamers, Asleep at the Wheel below. Get more info about the show here.

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Desoto Jones changes name to KISKA, will play debut show at Boot and Saddle 8/28

KISKA2b
Photo | KISKA

About a month ago, Philly alt-rockers Desoto Jones, decided they wanted a fresh start.  The group changed their name to KISKA and haven’t looked back since.  The band is making headway with writing and recording their first full LP.  So far, they have finished 8 tracks and aim to finish the rest over the summer.

“Dying Balloon,” which you can preview below, is a solid example of a power ballad that delivers both in terms of vocals and guitar solos.  Both the beginning and end of the song are slow; as if they are prepping you for what’s to come and then calming you down after the intense bits.

KISKA will be at Boot and Saddle on August 28th and tickets are $10.  Click here for more info.

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Surf’s Up: PAPA, Cayucas and Sun Club bring summery sounds to Boot & Saddle

Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/
Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/

Even though the weather here in Philly might not be fully ready to acknowledge it, we’re in the throes of Summer. On Tuesday night, the humidity was certainly in the right place as Cayucas, PAPA and Sun Club brought the surf-pop party to a small, yet appreciative crowd at Boot & Saddle. After an afternoon of torrential downpours, the skies cleared for a bit as the sun sank, and the three bands reminded us that longer, warmer days are here.

First up were the Baltimore boys of Sun Club. Ever since seeing them tear the roof of the legendary 9:30 Club in DC, I’ve been in love with these guys, and putting them on a bill with Cayucas made this show an absolute must-see. Before the show, I chatted briefly with the guys. Getting to know them reveals that the earnestness that they put into their music is just a reflection of their collective characters. During our chat they regularly interrupt each other, or finish sentences that started to drag. It’s obvious that they’re five best friends, doing something awesome every day. They’re giddy on playing the music they love, and about the fact that they just wrapped their first headlining tour this spring — “Mostly basements and tiny places, but it was just so much fun,” says frontman Shane McCord.

Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/
Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/

The East Coast isn’t really known for its surf-music scene, that’s something which California both invented and perfected. Sun Club is putting their foot in the waters of a different shore and making waves, all based out of the ever-eclectic Baltimore. “Yeah, the sound is really reflective of our environment. We all grew up in Maryland, on boats and stuff, so that feel – the water, the sun, all that – comes out naturally when we write music.” Incorporated into the sunny sound is a gritty, almost-punk aesthetic as well. McCord laughs when I mention it and says “Well that’s the suburban background that some of us bring, we had to get out, to get to the city, ya know?”

Gathering buzz – and new management – at this year’s South By Southwest, the future looks bright for the Baltimore boys. This fall promises time in the studio to record a full-length follow up to January’s EP Dad Claps at the Mom Prom, as well as the possibility of a short European tour. I can’t help but project them as a Maryland version of our own hometown boys, The Districts. Watch out for them in the future, and don’t let strange track titles dissuade you from adding Sun Club to your beach playlist this year.

Hitting the stage, Sun Club gives it everything that they’ve got. All of the yelps, chants, and yips found in their exuberant songs are amplified tenfold, live. Guitarists McCord and Mikey Powers leap about the small stage at the Boot, with McCord’s hips gyrating when he needs to remain stationary to use the mic. Multi-instrumentalist Kory Johnson switches back and forth between a floor tom and a keyboard with seasoned fluidity, sometimes even playing both at the same time. Continue reading →

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The Philadelphia Songwriters Project to host All Star Benefit for Animal Welfare

ginger coyle

The Philadelphia Songwriters Project is launching its first ever benefit concert called All Star Benefit for Animal Welfare at Boot and Saddle on June 1st. The benefit concert will feature past winners from the project’s songwriting contest including performances by local Philly artists Dawn Hiatt, Dante Bucci, Katie Barbato and more. The lineup also features Ginger Coyle, who will headline the event. (You can also catch Coyle this summer at 2014 XPoNential Music Festival.)

Free compilation CDs of the night’s artists will be given out to those who bring items on the no-kill shelter’s “wish list” to the event and will also be on sale for $10. The night’s proceeds will benefit several local organizations that work to support the welfare of animals including PAWS, Mercy For Animals, The Humane Society, The Anti-dog-fighting Campaign and Main Line Animal Rescue. For tickets and more information about the event, visit the project’s website here. Check out Ginger Coyle’s WXPN Key Studio Session below.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Acid Mothers Temple at Boot and Saddle, Spaceship Aloha at Johnny Brenda’s

via facebook.com/acidmotherstempleofficial
via facebook.com/acidmotherstempleofficial

Japan-based psychedelic rock ensemble Acid Mothers Temple is coming up on twenty years of cranking amps and tripping out minds the world around. Their discography is so sprawling that it merits its own Wikipedia entry, and I won’t even speculate how many records they’ve put out before this year’s Astrogasm From The Inner Space. Suffice it to say, band leader Makoto Kawabata and his rotating cast of players have a strong Philly following (thanks to the enthusiasm of local promoters R5 Productions, as well as like-minded locals Bardo Pond) and tonight’s show will be a loud, expansive and expressive journey in the best imaginable way. Listen to Astrogasm‘s title track below, and get more information on the show at the XPN Concert Calendar.

Continue reading →