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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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The Guppy Effect: Charly Bliss LIVE, new Belle & Sebastian, The Clientele & Stars on the Indie Rock Hit Parade!

Charly Bliss | Photo by Jacqueline Harriet

After a short, festival-induced break, the Indie Rock Hit Parade is back and better than ever tonight at 11pm ET on XPN! Stay tuned after the similar return of Making Time RADio with Dave P for a full two-hour show that’ll waste no time in getting you back into an IRHP frame of mind. First up, we’ve got a brand new live session to share: NYC ‘bubblegum punks’ Charly Bliss released their debut album back in the spring, and they’ll play some tracks from Guppy live in our studio! There’s also a pile of brand new music that’s been growing taller and taller since our last meeting, so be sure to listen for new releases from Belle & Sebastian, Wolf Parade, Stars, The Clientele and more! Preview some of the new things below…

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Break Prep: New Broncho, Downtown Boys & Shilpa Ray on the Indie Rock Hit Parade

Broncho | Photo by Pooneh Ghana, courtesy of the artist

This week’s Indie Rock Hit Parade will be the last one for a little bit, but believe me I have a very good excuse. Listen at 11pm ET on XPN (right after a week-early edition of Land of the Lost with Robert Drake) for a full two-hour show that’ll hopefully tide you over until our post-XPNFest return. In the spirit of next weekend’s bonanza, we’ll hear from a few IRHP favorites who’ll be joining us at the festival, like Sweet Spirit, Strand of Oaks and Hop Along. We’ll also sample new releases from bands who won’t be at the festival (not this year, anyway). Listen for new singles from Providence political punks Downtown Boys, NYC’s preeminent ‘door girl’ Shilpa Ray, and a roadtrip-ready track from Oklahoma’s Broncho. Preview some of those new tracks below…
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Need to Feel Your Soft Sounds in the Storm: New Sheer Mag, Japanese Breakfast and Waxahatchee on the Indie Rock Hit Parade!

Sheer Mag
Sheer Mag | photo by Marie Lin | courtesy of the artist

A jam-packed Indie Rock Hit Parade is coming your way tonight, and there’s no way to stop it! Listen at 11pm ET on XPN (that’s right after What’s The Frequency??? with John Vettese, ya know?) for a full two-hour show that features not one, not two, but THREE spotlights on new releases from three very different bands out of Philly. We’ll hear from Sheer Mag‘s incendiary debut, Need To Feel Your Love, the dreamy sophomore album from Japanese Breakfast, Soft Sounds From Another Planet, and (of course) the latest from Katie Crutchfield’s Waxahatchee, Out In The Storm. Also in the mix, you’ll hear new tracks from Speedy Ortiz, Cults and Parquet Courts singer A. Savage! Preview some of those below…

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