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XPNFest Recap: Commonwealth Choir made an energetic River Stage debut

Commonwealth Choir | Photo by Noah Silvestry | silvestography.com
Commonwealth Choir | Photo by Noah Silvestry | silvestography.com

Doylestown indie rock five-piece Commonwealth Choir brought a tremendous amount of energy to the river stage on day two of the XPoNential Music Festival. Their debut EP Shirtless was released in the fall, and the band has plowed forth with tremendous momentum since then, barnstorming the Philly rock club scene and starting a creatively-curated cassette label, Philly Tapes Philly (read more in Julie Miller’s interview with the band here).

For their XPoNential set, the band decided to roll out a healthy mix of new songs alongside its single “Rest.” Continue reading →

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XPoNential Artist Spotlight: Meet Commonwealth Choir, Fishtown’s new kids on the block

Commonwealth Choir | photo by Mike Bucher
Commonwealth Choir | photo by Mike Bucher

We’ve got a lot of great new local talent to look forward to this weekend, and Saturday will start off with one of the newer bands on the block.  Commonwealth Choir is closing out a year of “XPoNential” growth – even before the release of its debut Shirtless EP last fall, the band’s single “Rest” was placed in XPN’s rotation.  Since then, they’ve sold out shows at MilkBoy multiple times (including New Year’s Eve), opened for New Sweden’s record release show and recorded an incredibly popular Key Studio Session.  I spoke with Commonwealth Choir’s lead vocalist / guitarist Davis Jameson Howley to find out how the band got its start, what this past year has been like and what it means to them to be playing the XPoNential Music Festival. Continue reading →

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Commonwealth Choir, Pine Barons, Weekender and more to play at BITBY Summer Sounds

commonwealthchoir
Photo by Mike Bucher

Bands in the Backyard is bringing together some of Philly’s best for a one-night-only concert at the Theater of the Living Arts. BITBY will host the concert Summer Sounds on August 15. It’s a killer lineup topped by Bucks County rock band Commonwealth Choir as headliner (fresh off their slot at XPoNential Music Festival this weekend). Continue reading →

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The Week’s Best Free MP3s, including The Afghan Whigs, Milton and more

Photo by Rich McKie
Photo by Rich McKie

Reading, PA resident Milton stopped by for this week’s Key Studio Session.  The Maryland native surrounded himself with a full band that brought his jazzy, soulful compositions to life.  Check out “I Desire to Know” below and get the full session here.

Folkadelphia welcomed back its frequent subject Psalmships in April, recording a live session in celebration of Joshua Britton’s new LP I Sleep Alone.  Stream and download the session below, featuring guest appearances by Brad Hinton and Chelsea Sue Allen.

With the XPoNential Music Festival quickly approaching, it’s a good time to get reacquainted with some of the bands that will be performing, like Commonwealth Choir.  Originally from Doylestown but now based in Fishtown, the indie pop / rock group recorded a Key Studio Session earlier this year.  Get a free copy of their song “Palace” below.

2014 Non-COMM performers The Afghan Whigs will be back in town on October 3rd, supporting one of this year’s best records Do To the Beast.  You can get a free download of “Matamoros” below, courtesy of My Morning Download.  Tickets and information for the upcoming show can be found here.

 

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Download a Key Studio Session recording of “Palace” by #XPNfest artist Commonwealth Choir

Commonwealth Choir Key Studio Session | Photo by Ryan Boswell RBCameraWorks.com
Commonwealth Choir Key Studio Session | Photo by Ryan Boswell RBCameraWorks.com

One of the many local bands playing the XPoNential Music Festival presented by Subaru is Commonwealth Choir. The Doylestown indie-rockers will be opening up the day on Saturday, July 26th at 12:30. Earlier this year, the band recorded a Key Studio Session, performing songs from their recent EP and a couple of new songs. Below, download “Palace,” and make sure you watch the video of their performance of “Pacers.”

Commonwealth Choir are playing World Cafe Live at The Queen in Wilmington, tomorrow evening, Friday, July 11th at the New Sweden record release party. And you’ll be seeing them at #xpnfest on Saturday, July 25th. Go here for tickets to the fesyival.

Pacers by Commonwealth Choir from James Powers on Vimeo.

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Support for My Morning Download, from Flying Fish Brewing Company
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Download The Key Studio Sessions Volume 10 (feat. Modern Baseball, Elegant Animals, Marah and more)

TheKeyStudioSessionsVol10Summing up an entire region’s music scene in an hour-ish long compilation is pretty much impossible. But dangit, we try our best. I’m very psyched for the roster of artists we’ve lined up on The Key Studio Sessions Volume 10, out today as a free download you can grab below. Pop-punk wave makers Modern Baseball did a version of “The Weekend” from their 2012 debut LP Sports, and the mini XPN shoutout they deliver at the end of the first chorus might be my favorite moment of the set. The song as a whole is insanely fun and on point, and MoBo’s basement-scene brethren W.C. Lindsay (more synthpop leaning) and The Hundred Acre Woods (more folk-leaning) also make solid appearances. There are several acts on the comp who you’ll see this summer at the XPoNential Music Festival: Ginger Coyle, Commonwealth Choir, Marah and Marian Hill. I love using our studio to allow more experimental-leaning artists to blaze new paths, whether its Trophy Wife‘s expansive rager “Neil Young” (very reminiscent of the Dead Man score for sure), Tutlie‘s elegant dreamscape “Kaito” or Bleeding Rainbow‘s noise-punk jam “Time or Place.” Suave downbeat crooners Elegant Animals knock a track from their back catalogue out of the park, and though the comp is admittedly short on hip-hop, eclectic electronica soundscaper Ganou spits a fierce verse on “Detainment.” (We’ll have a lot more Philly hip-hop on volume 11 in August, don’t worry.) A summation of an entire scene? Of course not. I think of this more of an incomplete but nonetheless awesome snapshot of Philadelphia-area music circa spring 2014, one we’ll continue building on. Major thanks go to production assistants Dan Hatton and Dan Malloy; photographers Rachel Del Sordo, Megan Kelly, Allison Newbold, Dominique Montgomery and Ian Lewis; videographers Bob Sweeney, James PowersRyan Chowansky and Bands in the Backyard; and guest engineers Mattias Nilsson and Adam Staniszewski. Listen to the comp and download it for free below.

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Rodrigo y Gabriela, Hurray for the Riff Raff, The Hold Steady and more top the XPoNential Music Festival lineup

Rodrigo y Gabriela | photo via rodgab.com
Rodrigo y Gabriela | photo via rodgab.com

Dueling acoustic duo Rodrigo y Gabriela, eclectic New Orleans folk-blues combo Hurray for the Riff Raff, and stalwart rock n’ rollers The Hold Steady are just some of the 25 artists announced today in the full lineup of this year’s edition of the XPoNential Music Festival.

These acts will play the two stages in Wiggins Park from July 25th to July 27th of this year, alongside the festival’s headlining concerts at Susquehanna Bank Center featuring Ryan Adams, Jenny Lewis and Dawes (July 26th) and Beck, Band of Horses and The Districts (July 27th).

Hurray for the Riff Raff | Photo by Kate McCann | katemccannphotography.com
Photo by Kate McCann | katemccannphotography.com

The Wiggins Park bill is filled with WXPN favorites, like alt-country heroes Old 97s, Jersey singer-songwriter Nicole Atkins and Diego Garcia, all of whom are return-XPNFest-ers.

There is also an assortment of up-and-coming names like countrified Nashville singer-songwriter Caitlin Rose (featured on World Cafe’s Sense of Place: Nashville series); Bear’s Den, a UK rock trio with a flair for drama (they made a splash at the March Edition of the Communion Club Night at Underground Arts), the jazzy / folky vocal combo Lake Street Dive and the art-pop powerhouse Lucius, (who knocked our socks off at Free at Noon late last year.)

Man Man | Photo by Rachel Barrish | rachelbarrish.com
Man Man | Photo by Rachel Barrish | rachelbarrish.com

The greater Philadelphia scene is nicely represented as well. Bigger names like avant-garde rockers Man Man (who leaked their appearance last week), punk rock troubadour Dave Hause and reinvented folklorists Marah will mix with emerging artists Commonwealth Choir, Our Griffins, Marian Hill, The Lawsuits, Ginger Coyle and Viv and the Revival.

And adding an even more eclectic scope to the lineup is a taste of zydeco from C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band and some Mississippi blues care of harmonica master James Cotton.

Three days passes for new and renewing WXPN members are available now here. Tickets for the general public go on sale on May 1st; as with previous years, three-day passes will include lawn admission to the Susquehanna Bank Center shows (seated tickets to those are on sale separately, here and here).

Below, listen to a Spotify playlist of the Wiggins Park lineup, and read the complete list of artists after the jump.

Continue reading →

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Air is Human reveal secret guest Commonwealth Choir for final residency night at Ortlieb’s

Air is Human | photo courtesy of the artist
Air is Human | photo courtesy of the artist

For their final free residency night at Ortlieb’s, local experimentalists Air is Human have announced that Commonwealth Choir is the secret special guest.  The Doylestown outfit follows in the footsteps of Acres of Diamonds, Heat Thunder and Left of Logic as support for Air is Human, which released its debut record The Infinity Limit in 2012.  Both bands will perform individual sets and will play a collaborative “Choir is Human” performance to top everything off.  More information can be found on the Facebook event page here.

Pacers by Commonwealth Choir from James Powers on Vimeo.

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An all-local lineup topped by Commonwealth Choir and Pine Barons packs MilkBoy

commonwealthchoir.7
Commonwealth Choir | Photo by Rachel Barrish | rachelbarrish.com

Saturday XPN welcomed Doylestown’s intrinsic and frolicking Commonwealth Choir to MilkBoy, along with local three piece Big Tusk, with who Commonwealth Choir recently collaborated  on a limited edition cassette tape. They only made 50 tapes and sold them all out by the end of the evening; maybe we’ll get lucky and the new “Big Choir” will release more music together.

The evening started out with Brooklynites Vintage Villain making their Philly debut. The crowd responded well, grooving their keyboard sounds and deep vocals reminiscent of Phantogram and Deerhunter.

Next up was new Big Tusk, who performed songs off their most recent EP, Flood. They brought the energy forward with trickling pop guitar riffs, banging drums, and zinging keyboards. Drummer, Howe Pearson got so jazzed up and that he ripped his shirt off and began swinging it around, sort of a nod to Commonwealth Choir, who last year released an EP called Shirtless. For their final song, Big Tusk brought up a bassist and a second percussionist who played the washboard, a tin can, and a tambourine.

South Jersey natives Pine Barons hit the stage next, and they brought out an extremely excited and enthusiastic crowd of folks who were amped up from seeing their debut music video, “Don’t Believe What They Told You,” earlier in the day. The band played a selection of tracks from their self-titled EP, released last March; they’re currently recording a follow-up with Kyle Pulley at Headroom Studios in Fishtown.

Last but certainly not least, Commonwealth Choir took to the stage feeding off the crowd’s good spirit and eagerness, jumping right into jangling bells and rockin’ rhythms singing cuts from Shirtless. Frontman Davis Howley howled the melodies of tunes like “Rest” and “Movie Song,” jangling out sweet grooves on his guitar and bringing up buds from Big Tusk up during “Palace,” riling up an already feverish audience.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: The Hundred Acre Woods at Kung Fu Necktie, Commonwealth Choir at MilkBoy, Marissa Nadler at Johnny Brenda’s and more

Photo by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordo.tumblr.com
Photo by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordo.tumblr.com

Philly folk outfit The Hundred Acre Woods recently joined us for their stellar Key Studio Session and tonight they play at Kung Fu Necktie. A folksy take on pop-rock, their sound is lively and fresh as heard on their latest 7″ Cold In The Morning. Check out a video of the band performing “All I Love” at their session and get $5 tickets tonight at the door before the show kicks off at 8:00 p.m.

Milkboy welcomes Commonwealth Choir to its stage tonight. The Doylestown natives released their Shirtless EP with a rock-based pop sound reminiscent of The Smiths and The Replacements. Watch a performance of “Pacers” below from their recent Key Studio Session and get tickets here.

Fresh off the release of her new album July which Stereogum calls “an ethereal spine-tingler”, Marissa Nadler brings her folksy dream pop to Johnny Brenda’s stage tonight. With underlying gothic themes, Nadler’s music is haunting and pretty all at once. Watch the video for “Dead City Emily” below and get tickets here.

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Also tonight…

You Do You at Boot and Saddle (8:30 p.m., $10, 21+)

Hogmaw at The Depot (9:00 p.m., $5, 21+)

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