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Watch Speedy Ortiz play “I’m Blessed” for WXPN’s Indie Rock Hit Parade

Speedy Ortiz | photo by Taylor Johnson for WXPN

Don’t think for a second that music with pop leanings isn’t music for the mind. Take Philly indie four-piece Speedy Ortiz, which this week heads out on its last run of tour dates in support of this year’s awesome Twerp Verse LP. The band’s power chord riffs are ear pure candy, while frontperson Sadie Dupuis’ vocal melodies rise and fall in remarkably hooky arcs.

It’s fun to hear, but a closer listen reveals complexity, both structural — the odd angles and unexpected sharp turns each arrangement takes — and lyrical — Dupuis just published her first book of poetry, if that gives you any indication of the angle from which she approaches her songwriting.

One of the standouts when Speedy Ortiz recorded an Indie Rock Hit Parade session at WXPN last month was “I’m Blessed,” a song that burns and builds over about three different movements, and while the concluding melody seems in one sense uplifting, it’s also cathartic, as Dupuis spends the song unpacking repressed anger. Continue reading →

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Mirah

Mirah | Photo by Eric Schuman for XPN

Joining us in the studio for this Indie Rock Hit Parade live session is an artist with a celebrated and ever-evolving approach to songwriting. Though she was born here in Philadelphia, Mirah Zeitlyn is most closely connected to the music scenes of Olympia, Washington (and, more specifically, the venerated K Records label) and New York City. Over the course of the last decade, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Mirah perform her one-of-a-kind compositions in a variety of configurations. There was the live presentation of her insect-focused song cycle Share This Place, a collaboration with the Spectratone International string section, that featured stop motion creepy-crawlies projected above the stage. In 2011, Mirah teamed up with Thao Nguyen of the Get Down Stay Down for a co-headlining album (and memorable World Cafe session). This time around, Mirah brought two of the versatile musicians that appear on her new album, Understanding, bassist Maia Macdonald and drummer Andrew Maguire, to perform a set of new songs in our studio.

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Mass Gothic

Mass Gothic | Photo by Katie Tapman for XPN

Joining us in the studio for this Indie Rock Hit Parade session is a group that truly is a family affair. Led by the husband-and-wife duo of guitarist Noel Heroux and bassist Jessica Zambri, Mass Gothic released their second full-length album for Sub Pop, I’ve Tortured You Long Enough, earlier this year. Its title a winking nod to the often tumultuous nature of married life, the album weaves heartfelt ballads with experimental rockers in a thrilling and eclectic (and brightly colored) package. Just like on the record, Noel and Jessica are joined in this performance by keyboardist Cristi Jo Zambri (a performer in her own right and, as you might have deduced, Jessica’s sister) and drummer Joseph Stickney, who is Christi Jo’s partner. The fluid interplay between each member of Mass Gothic suggests a band that has ironed out all the kinks, but that doesn’t tell this album’s whole story. Listen to the live performances and hear the album unfold:

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Speedy Ortiz 2018

Speedy Ortiz | photo by Taylor Johnson for WXPN

Joining us in the studio for this Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session is a band that visited us back in 2015 when their last album was released. In the years since Foil Deer, Speedy Ortiz and its leader, singer/guitarist Sadie Dupuis, have kept rather busy. In addition to releasing a solo album as SAD13, Sadie relocated to Philadelphia and revamped her main band with a few new friends. Joining Sadie in the studio for this session are founding drummer Mike Falcone, guitarist/keyboardist Andy Molholt (also of Philly’s Laser Background), and bassist Audrey Zee Whitesides (whose credits include stints with Mal Blum and Lucky Cat). Speedy Ortiz dropped by our studios before they opened a sold-out show with Liz Phair at Union Transfer to perform songs from their newly released third album, Twerp Verse.

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Khruangbin

Khruangbin | Photo by Katie Tapman for WXPN

Joining us in the studio for this Indie Rock Hit Parade live session is the band behind my favorite album of 2018 (so far, anyway). The road to Khruangbin’s formation is as swirling and easily-paced as the band’s music. Guitarist Mark Speer and drummer Donald “DJ” Johnson originally met when they played in a gospel band in their hometown of Houston, Texas. Later, Speer met bassist Laura Lee while touring with another band and the idea came up to form a group focused on performing a mélange of globally influenced music. Once the trio was assembled, their fusion of Thai funk, jazz, film music and more immediately caught people’s attention. Earlier this year, Khruangbin released their second album, Con Todo El Mundo. The album is an expertly crafted blend of in-pocket grooves, textural vocals and the occasional funk breakdown. Before the first of two sold-out shows opening for Leon Bridges at the Fillmore, Khruangbin stopped by our studio for a career-spanning live performance.

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: BODEGA

BODEGA | Photo by Katie Tapman for XPN

Joining us in the studio for this Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session is a band whose debut album is packed with energy, wit and irreverence. Formed out of the ashes of singer/guitarist “Bodega” Ben Hozie and singer Nikki “Icky” Belfiglio’s previous group, Bodega Bay, BODEGA‘s guiding principles are as much about stylistic exclusion as inclusion. With mantras like “No references to Glam Rock” and “No vocal effects,” BODEGA quickly rose as a fresh and exciting entity in the Brooklyn punk scene. It didn’t hurt that Austin Brown, co-leader of Parquet Courts, took notice and produced the band’s 2018 debut album, Endless Scroll, even employing the same recorder that his own band used for their 2013 breakthrough, Light Up Gold. After the dissolution of Bodega Bay, Hozie and Belfiglio teamed up with a new crew of musicians, including bassist Heather Elle, lead guitarist Madison Velding-Vandam, and drummer Montana Simone . The quintet made a special trip down to Philadelphia to record this session, which showcases a young band that’s already locked into a solid groove.

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: OHMME

OHMME | Photo by Eric Schuman for WXPN

Joining us in the studio for this Indie Rock Hit Parade session is a band whose co-leaders first met when they were in high school. Formed in Chicago in 2014, OHMME (previously HOMME) is fronted by guitarist Sima Cunningham and guitarist/violinist Macie Stewart. Though both are classically trained pianists, this project finds them exploring overdriven art-rock and intricate vocal harmonies. Cunningham and Stewart are joined in this session by drummer Matt Carroll, who also supplied all the drum parts on OHMME’s newly released debut album, Parts. The record is an energizing concoction of rock, jazz, folk and world music styles, centered around Cunningham and Stewart’s overlapping vocals. Before their Boot and Saddle show (which featured an opening set from IRHP session veteran Renata Zeiguer), OHMME stopped by to perform some of their new songs live in our studio.

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: wimps

wimps | photo by Senia Lopez for WXPN | senialopez.photography

Joining us for this Indie Rock Hit Parade live session is a band whose witty and effervescent songs are sure to bring a smile to your face. Formed in 2012 by three veterans of Seattle’s DIY punk scene, wimps released their fifth album (and second for Kill Rock Stars), Garbage People. Co-fronted by guitarist Rachel Ratner and bassist Matt Nyce, with drummer Dave Ramm rounding out the power trio, wimps blend energetic punk with thoroughly relatable lyrics. Before their show at Boot and Saddle, wimps stopped by our studio to record a session that turned out to be more like a mini radio concert!

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Tanukichan

Tanukichan | Photo by John Vettese for XPN

We’re joined for this Indie Rock Hit Parade live session by an artist who’s a member of an unofficial community that we’ve been celebrating for a few years. Based in Oakland, singer/multi-instrumentalist Hannah Van Loon has been recording as Tanukichan for a handful of years, and earlier this year she released her debut album, Sundays. Produced by Chaz Bear of Toro Y Moi (who’s been on the show with the Mattson2), the album is an extremely intimate listen, with close-sounding vocals and distorted instrumentation giving the impression that Van Loon is singing right across from you. Before her show at Kung Fu Necktie earlier this month, Van Loon and her bassist, fellow Oaklander Matt Horton, stopped by to perform live in our studio.

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: (Revenge of) Eternal Summers

Eternal Summers | | photo by Dylan Eddinger | dylaneddinger.com

(Re)joining us for this Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session is a band that’s been on the show more times than any other! We first struck up a friendship with the Roanoke trio Eternal Summers when they were still a duo in 2010. Around then, guitarist Nicole Yun and drummer Daniel Cundiff had just released their debut album, Silver. Not long after, bassist Jonathan Woods joined the fold and Eternal Summers has become one of the most prolific and consistently great bands around. Their newest album, Every Day It Feels Like I’m Dying, came out this spring, and we jumped at the chance to have these regulars come back to the studio.

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