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XPN MusicNotes: Kings of Leon and George Clinton tease new albums, Daft Punk and The Weeknd tease collaboration?

Kings of Leon | Photo by Michelle Montgomery | www.michellemontgomeryphotography.com
Kings of Leon | Photo by Michelle Montgomery | www.michellemontgomeryphotography.com

Kings Of Leon are releasing details about their next album. The conflicting reports say the album may be called “Walls” or “We Are Like Love Songs.” Caleb Followill says the new song “Over” deals with his own battle with alcohol. Kings Of Leon cancelled a tour in 2011 when Caleb was being treated for alcohol addiction. Continue reading →

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MusicNotes from the XPN Morning Show: See Mary Poppins sing death metal, Daft Punk revealed in wood, & Watch Sleater-Kinney perform “Price Tag” live.

marypoppins

Ahh yes, what would a Friday be without a beloved Disney character singing “Death Metal?’ Some interesting viral video shows Mary Poppins singing and dancing among an animated cast as they would during the original film…except the original lyrics to “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” have been replaced with “something quite atrocious.” Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Breakwater at World Cafe Live; Tedeschi Trucks Band at Mann Center, DRGN King at The Fire

breakwater-62While you’re hypnotized by that amazing animated GIF above, we’d like to invite you not to miss Breakwater, performing at the World Cafe Live tonight. When Daft Punk sampled their song “Release the Beast” in the 2005 hit “Robot Rock”, the 70s Philly funk band was put back on the map. See what our Bruce Warren has to say about the rediscovered band here. Find more information and tickets for tonight’s show here. Below, watch Breakwater’s performance of “Work It Out” at The Savory this past June.

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WXPN’s Best Albums of 2013 (so far)

Photo by Alex John Beck
Photo by Alex John Beck

The first six months of 2013 are almost a wrap and the amount of great new music that’s piped its way into our collective earbuds is staggering. Before another wave of releases hits us, we here at The Key decided to pause and take the temperature of the year in music so far. What albums are bringing everyone together? What albums have some folks uniquely excited?

An informal poll of the WXPN on-air staff showed a lot of consensus around Vampire Weekend‘s excellent third outing, Modern Vampires of the City. It appeared on all but two of the lists, and ranked number one with World Cafe‘s David Dye and evening / weekend host Eric Schuman.

Dye says “I think the reason Modern Vampires of The City stands out so much for me – besides the fact that from note one of their debut I have loved this band – is how it builds on their two album legacy. From the simplicity of the harmonies and piano of ‘Obvious Bicycle’ thru the unexpected manipulation of ‘Diane Young’ this is a band working to do things differently.  But of course they can’t escape their melodic and percussive strengths, nor would we want them to!  Seriously, every song is good.  Half a year from now I expect it to be near the top of 2013.”

Also appearing on several lists is the lush and orchestrated Ghost on Ghost, the latest from Iron and Wine. For his fifth album, singer and songwriter Sam Beam broadened his palette to incorporated jazzy textures and ambitious arrangements. When he performed at Union Transfer in support of it this May, Beam’s band numbered 13 musicians, all dressed to the nines. Earlier that same day, Beam played a solo acoustic set at World Cafe Live, and that was the performance that caught the ear of XPN Morning Show host Michaela Majoun.

“It really hit home what an extraordinary songwriter Sam Beam is when he performed some of these songs at NonComm,” she says. “His language is so eloquent and the music perfectly suited to the sensibility that comes through these songs.  What an inspired piece of work.”

The funky disco rhythms, smooth downbeat jams and ambitious movie soundtrack set-pieces that make up Daft Punk‘s Random Access Memories also performed well among XPN’s hosts. Dye, Schuman and XPN Program Director Bruce Warren all ranked the album on their lists. Schuman says that his favorite thing about the album is its attitude.

“For Daft Punk, the pressure was on after a lackluster studio album in 2005, a renaissance tour in 2007 and little activity outside the film music world in the years since. They had a lot of options for what their new album could sound like, and I think that reinventing themselves as a live band that dabbles in prog-rock and soul is the duo’s boldest and most admirable move yet.”

Below, watch videos from each of these top performing records and dig a little deeper by reading each host’s personal top five. Do you agree with our picks? Did we miss anything? What are you looking forward to hearing in the second half of 2013? Let us know in the comments.

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Watch Wilco, playing AmericanaRama – XPoNential Music fest in July, cover Daft Punk

Wilco, WXPN XPoNential Music Festival, 2012
Wilco, WXPN XPoNential Music Festival, 2012
This weekend is Wilco’s music and arts festival Solid Sound at the Massacheusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. Last night, during their all fan request show (featuring covers of songs by Thin Lizzy, Cheap Trick, Yo La Tengo, The Kinks, Bob Dylan, Pavement and The Beatles), they performed a cover of Daft Punk’s “Get Lukcy.” Wilco, along with Bob Dylan, My Morning Jacket and Ryan Bingham are playing the AmericanaRama Festival of Music on Sunday, July 28th that is part of the XPoNential Music Festival with a three day “go everywhere” festival pass. Go to buy your tickets.

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Philly electronic music experts sound off on Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories

Photo from BBC Radio 6
Photo from BBC Radio 6

Tomorrow brings the official release of the album the internet has been eagerly anticipating since a 16-second ad aired without fanfare during a March episode of SNL. Random Access Memories, the latest from French discotronic duo Daft Punk, has been streaming on iTunes since last Wednesday, and its lead single – the pop earworm “Get Lucky,” sung by the ever-charismatic Pharrell – has been bumping the XPN airwaves since last month.

But what about the album beyond that? There’s a lot of hype and excitement in the air for it, but hype doesn’t always equate to quality. Sure, the duo of Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter released the trend-setting 1997 album Homework and the irresistible Discovery in 2001. And yeah, James Murphy name-checked them in that song title that one time. But less discussed is the uneven 2005 effort Human After All, or the Tron soundtrack.

Does Random Access Memories hold up? Is it a new chapter in dance music and a return to glory for these mysteriously helmet-clad techno-heads? Or is it a bunch of bluster that will breeze away with the next album-of-the-minute? We asked a handful of Philly’s own electronic music heads – from Chris Powell of Spaceship Aloha and Man Man to DJ Apt One– for their thoughts on Random Access Memories, and got a variety of responses. Check them out below. Continue reading →