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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Ought

Ought | Photo by Eric Schuman for WXPN

Joining us for our latest Indie Rock Hit Parade live session is a group that I’ve been trying to get on the show for years! I first heard about the Montreal-based quartet Ought when they released their 2014 debut album, More Than Any Other Day. In fact, I had slated to have Ought come to the studio to record a live performance for the IRHP, a booking which quickly turned into the group’s World Cafe debut. Four years on, Ought still features singer/guitarist Tim Darcy, drummer Tim Keen, keyboardist Matt May and bassist Ben Stidworthy, but the band’s sound takes a bold new shape on their newly released third album, Room Inside The World. Serving as their first album for Merge Records, Room Inside The World sees Ought subverting pop conventions by fusing their experimental tendencies with urgent, concise songwriting. Though the sprawl of earlier songs like “Gemini” and “Beautiful Blue Sky” might be toned down this time, Ought’s new material is their strongest yet. Hear for yourself in their long-awaited Indie Rock Hit Parade performance:

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Anna Burch

Anna Burch at Underground Arts | Photo by Eric Schuman for WXPN

For this Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session, we’re joined by an artist whose solo debut is certain to be one of 2018’s best releases. Until earlier this year, Anna Burch was a member of the celebrated folk-rock band Frontier Ruckus. Her solo debut, Quit The Curse, which was released earlier this year, marks a musical change of pace for the Detroit-based singer. Operating in a retro-leaning but still forward thinking rock combo, Burch’s lyrically stimulating songs are strong, funny and effortlessly catchy. Joined by guitarist Paul Cherry, drummer Matt Rickle and bassist Lauren Mott, Burch stopped by during her tour with Ezra Furman to perform songs from Quit The Curse in our studio.

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Shopping

Shopping | Photo by Eric Schuman for WXPN

Joining us for this Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session is a band that I’ve admired ever since their debut album was released in the US. Formed in 2012 by members of several punk- and dance-leaning bands in the London scene, Shopping features guitarist Rachel Aggs, bassist Billy Easter and drummer Andrew Milk. Earlier this year, Shopping released their third full-length, The Official Body. Not surprisingly, given the involvement of producer and indie rock luminary Edwyn Collins, the album is one of Shopping’s best and brightest. The nervous energy of their early records is not sacrificed but rather augmented by a momentum that keeps each song moving forward. Before their show at Johnny Brenda’s, Shopping stopped by to perform selections from The Official Body in our studio:

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Renata Zeiguer

Renata Zeiguer | Photo by Eric Schuman for WXPN

Joining us in the studio for this Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session is an artist whose debut album is already one of my favorites of this young year. Renata Zeiguer teamed up with Adam Schatz of Landlady to record her album, Old Ghost, which came out in February. With a nimble voice that effortlessly navigates through knotty melodies, Zeiguer is an artist who becomes more and more beguiling the more you listen. Joined by guitarist Will Graefe, bassist Christian Carpenter and drummer Jason Burger, Zeigeur came to our studio to perform a few of her new songs before a house show in West Philly.

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Girl Ray

Girl Ray | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Joining us in the studio for our first Indie Rock Hit Parade session of the year is the band behind one of my favorite records of the last year. Formed just a few years ago in London, Girl Ray‘s debut, Earl Grey, was released in 2017 when all of the members were still teenagers. Featuring Poppy Hankin on guitar, Iris McConnell on drums and Sophie Moss on bass (along with their friend and producer Mike O’Malley on guitar and keys), Girl Ray’s music incorporates influences well beyond the members’ years. Everything from pop to punk to dance music comes together in Girl Ray’s performance, which gives exciting new life to these still-evolving songs.

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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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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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