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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Cold Specks

Cold Specks | Photo by Katie Tapman for WXPN

Joining us in the studio for this Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session is Cold Specks, the Canadian group led by singer Ladan Hussein. On earlier albums, Hussein dabbled in menacing folk and piercing guitar rock, but on Fool’s Paradise her tone is brooding and delicate. With longtime bassist/producer Jim Anderson and drummer Josh McIntyre providing the dark electronics, Hussein performs three selections from the album in this session.

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Mister Heavenly

Mister Heavenly | Photo by Katie Tapman for WXPN

Joining us for this Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session is a group whose members have all visited us before, both separately and together (long, long ago). Mister Heavenly was formed by Nick Thorburn of Islands, Ryan “Honus Honus” Kattner of Man Man and Joe Plummer of Modest Mouse and The Shins around seven years ago. Back then, when their debut album Out Of Love came out, they stopped by our studios to record a handful of live tracks. Joining the trio this time around is bassist Brett Morris, who doubles on guitar in Kattner’s solo Honus Honus band. Even if you can’t keep all those affiliations straight, it’s easy to fall in love with Mister Heavenly’s long-awaited new album, Boxing The Moonlight. Before a sold-out show, the four friends returned to our studio to perform a few of the new songs live.

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The Key Studio Sessions: Japanese Breakfast

Japanese Breakfast | photo by Galea McGregor for WXPN

A lot’s been said already this year about Japanese Breakfast — not to mention its driving force: singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Michelle Zauner.

Candid and vulnerable lyricist. Charismatic and inspiring frontperson. Tight and transcendant live band. Sonic visionaries. Near-universal acclaim for JBrekkie’s Soft Sounds From Another Planet has come in from all corners — The Guardian to The New York Times and NPR — and it is, quite frankly, incredible to see, as we’ve been fans of Zauner and her bandmates in their various forms over the years. She and bassist Deven Patrick Craige go back to beloved punk four-piece Little Big League, she goes further back to Post Post and her production partner (and drummer) Craig Hendrix has worked with anyone from Birdie Busch to Jesse Hale Moore, The Dove and the Wolf and his solo project Auctioneer.

The band is rounded out by guitarist and keyboardist Peter Bradley, and it’s safe to say that Japanese Breakfast has become the highest profile pursuit that any of these Philly-rooted musicians has taken on…and rightfully so. Beyond the emotional hook of Zauner’s songs — which, on Soft Sounds, dissect human connection and communication, positing that our only barriers to intimacy and trust are one another — the band has a tremendous ability to translate that emotion sonically, to make listeners at home and folks in the crowd feel what they are feeling.
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Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Cults

Cults | Photo by Eric Schuman for WXPN

Joining us in the studio for this Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session is the New York-based band Cults. Formed in 2010 by singer Madeline Follin and keyboardist/producer Brian Oblivion, Cults are no strangers to our building; they’ve visited for assorted sessions and Free at Noon concerts over the years. This time around, they bring material from their newly released third album, Offering. Recorded after the band took an extended break, the record explores influences that weren’t so apparent on the group’s earlier recordings. Heavy electronic rhythms and spacey textures are coupled with the core duo’s signature pop songwriting to create a sound that’s both fresh and familiar. Follin and Oblivion are joined by longtime touring members in this session: guitarist Gabriel Rodriguez, drummer Cory Stier and bassist Max Kamins.

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Weaves

Weaves | Photo by Katie Tapman for WXPN

Joining us for our latest Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session is the Toronto-based band Weaves. Formed in 2012 by singer Jasmyn Burke and guitarist Morgan Waters, Weaves also features bassist Zach Bines and drummer Spencer Cole. The group released their second album, Wide Open, earlier this year on Kanine Records, and stopped by our studio before their show at the Boot & Saddle to perform some of the new songs live.

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: The Safes

The Safes | Photo by Eric Schuman for WXPN

For our latest Indie Rock Hit Parade live session, we’re joined by the Chicago garage-pop combo The Safes! Formed by brothers Frankie and Patrick O’Malley, The Safes recently released their third full-length album, Tasty Waves, on Hidden Volume Records. More than just a throwback rock crew, The Safes combine punchy pop songcraft with the ragged edges of ’90s indie. Top that off with harmonies that can only come from a pair of brothers and you’ve got an instantly likable performance.

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Madeline Kenney

Madeline Kenney | Photo by Liz Waldie for WXPN

Joining us in the studio for this Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session is an artist who actually visited our building earlier this year when she was on tour with another band. Madeline Kenney caught the ear of Toro y Moi’s Chaz Bear, who produced her first EP as well as her recently released debut album, Night Night at the First Landing. Kenney was traveling with Bear and the Mattson 2 when they recorded their IRHP session in the spring, and it was only a matter of time before Kenney returned for her time in the spotlight.

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Dent May

Dent May | Photo by Eric Schuman for WXPN

Joining us in the studio for our latest Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session is a musician that I’ve been a fan of since his humble beginning with a ‘magnificent ukulele.’ Dent May is originally from Mississippi, but recently relocated to Los Angeles. This fish-out-of-water story serves as partial inspiration for Dent’s new album, Across The Multiverse, which was released this summer on Carpark Records. Featuring a blend of effervescent electro-pop and Brill Building-informed songwriting, the album shows off Dent’s nearly obsessive approach to music making. With a full touring band in tow, Dent joins us in the studio to play some of the new songs.

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Charly Bliss

Charly Bliss | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Joining us in the studio for this Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session is the NY “bubblegum punk” quartet Charly Bliss. Formed just a few short years ago by singer Eva Hendricks guitarist Spencer Fox, drummer Sam Hendricks and bassist Dan Shure. Charly Bliss released their debut album, Guppy, earlier this year. Plenty of other bands’ music sits at the crossroads of grunge and glitz, but what sets Charly Bliss apart is the band’s intricate harmonies. You’ll hear them on the three songs they performed live in our studio:

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: She-Devils

She-Devils | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Joining us in the studio for our latest Indie Rock Hit Parade live session is the Montreal-based duo She-Devils! Featuring Audrey Ann on vocals and Kyle Jukka on synths and samplers (and a few other unclassifiable gizmos), She-Devils’ self-titled debut was released earlier this year on Secretly Canadian. Rather than re-create the apocalyptic beach party feel of the album, Audrey and Kyle rearranged a few songs to highlight the alluring menace burbling underneath their playful exterior. The result is a session that’s both spacious and claustrophobic, with instruments and vocals being warped to the point where they’re unrecognizable.
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