Philadelphia is blowing up NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert Contest and it’s amazing

Levee Drivers' Tiny Desk submission | photo by Bob Sweeney
Levee Drivers’ Tiny Desk submission | photo by Bob Sweeney

For those of you who don’t know about NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts, you may want to head over to their site and root through their enormous and equally impressive archive. Their 15-minute videos feature live performances from artists of all genres held in the quaint offices of NPR at All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen’s desk.

Ranging from big names like Adele and Alt-J to up-and-coming artists such as Angel Olsen and Rubblebucket, viewers are able to watch the artists perform in the intimate setting, giving the performances a stripped-down, no B.S. vibe. While these videos are ultra fun to watch (perhaps continuously, one after another…), NPR kept things interesting this winter by kicking off a contest to feature a new artist in their series.

Based entirely off of video submissions from all over the United States, an artist will be chosen to perform a Tiny Desk Concert at NPR headquarters in Washington D.C. as well as snag a slot in the big Lagunitas Couchtrippin’ showcase in Austin, Texas. Philadelphia, brimming with the amazing musical talent that it is, seems to have jumped at this opportunity. Continue reading →


What will a new My Bloody Valentine album sound like, anyway? (plus: listen to MBV-influenced Philly musicians)

A big bomb dropped this morning for fans of loud amplifiers, effects pedals and that hypnotic musical genre known as shoegaze. Kevin Shields, singer and guitarist for My Bloody Valentine, told long-standing UK music news source NME that his band will release a new album by year’s end. The as-yet-untitled work would be available through Shields’ website, and would be followed up by an EP of even newer material.

This news is nothing short of staggering, considering that MBV’s last recorded work was the landmark record Loveless, released some 21 years ago back in November of 1991. Its blend of dissonance and agression with beauty and tranquility had no major parallels at the time, but went on to influence countless artists in the subsequent decades. You could hear the echo of Loveless in 90s acts like The Verve and Mazzy Star as well as 21st century rock demagogues Radiohead, all the way down to smaller-profile artists like Japancakes (who covered the album in its entirety in 2007), Black Angels and currently buzzing Baltimore outfit Secret Mountains.

So the question is – what is the band’s first album in 21 years going to sound like, anyway? Shields told NME that the engineers and musicians who have heard the record, which has been in the works since sometime the 90s, find it to be more far-out than Loveless. He doesn’t agree, however.

So does that mean it will merely be Loveless II? One would think that a band wouldn’t release its first album in 21 years unless it had something new to say / do, right? Even a bad My Bloody Valentine record would rule pretty hard…but what if the unthinkable happens and it is bad? Could it tarnish the legacy of Loveless? Are you excited or afraid to listen?

Ponder these questions, and let us know what you think in the comments below. And while you do that, check out an assortment of artists from our own local music community here in Philly that, one way or another, have drawn influence from My Bloody Valentine. Continue reading →


Cough Cool, Dan Malloy, and Brendan Codey to perform at the first Still Life local ambient music showcase on Oct. 24th

XPN2’s John Vettese—who, in addition to hosting the Philly Local Second Shift (Thursdays, 5 p.m.-midnight), records and produces all of our Key Studio Sessions—has organized the first in what he hopes will be “a regular series showcasing experimental/ambient music from the Philly region” The inaugural “Still Life” showcase will feature Cough Cool, Dan Malloy, and Brendan Codey at the First Unitarian Church at 7 p.m. Monday, October 24th; tickets to the all-ages show are $8.