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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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Japanese Breakfast brings Soft Sounds and a string ensemble to NPR’s Tiny Desk

Japanese Breakfast | still from video | via twitter.com/jbrekkie

Somewhere in between the release of the stunning LP Soft Sounds From Another Planet, a U.S. tour, a celebratory Philly homecoming show and a European tour, Japanese Breakfast found time to stop by NPR Music to film a Tiny Desk Concert. The intimate setting of the famed Tiny Desk provides the perfect opportunity for experimentation and often leads artists to strip down their songs into quieter, acoustic versions — and for Japanese Breakfast this happened to include the addition of some unexpected but beautifully executed string arrangements performed by members of D.C. string quartet Rogue Collective. Continue reading →

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Japanese Breakfast brings home Soft Sounds to a sold-out First Unitarian Church

Japanese Breakfast at the First Unitarian Church | photo by Scott Troyan | courtesy of the artist

It was a triumphant night for Japanese Breakfast at the First Unitarian Church. Not only was it the band’s homecoming show after an extensive US tour and the long-awaited hometown celebration of the release of Soft Sounds From Another Planet, but JBrekkie sold the dang place out. Bandleader Michelle Zauner expressed disbelief at the size and enthusiasm of the crowd, reminiscing on her days as an R5 Productions intern when she was the one mopping the church basement floor after shows. No mopping was in store for Zauner last night, though — after opening sets by fellow locals The Spirit of the Beehive and Mannequin Pussy, Japanese Breakfast took over the church’s iconic stage for a energy-filled hour-long set of favorites off of 2016’s Psychopomp and 2017’s Soft Sounds. Continue reading →

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Japanese Breakfast’s video for “The Body Is A Blade” meditates on memory and surviving tragedy

Japanese Breakfast
Japanese Breakfast | photo by Ebru Yildiz | courtesy of the artist

Japanese Breakfast‘s Michelle Zauner has proven herself as not only one of Philly’s best and most prolific artists of the last few years — with 2016’s Psychopomp and 2017’s Soft Sounds From Another Planet —  but as an accomplished music video creator, too. After directing the last few Japanese Breakfast videos, as well as Jay Som’s video for “The Bus Song,” Zauner is back today with another self-directed video — this time for Soft Sounds track “The Body is A Blade.” Continue reading →

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Listen to Japanese Breakfast collaborate with Giraffage on “Maybes”

Japanese Breakfast | Photo by: Ellen Miller | ellencm.com
Japanese Breakfast | Photo by Ellen Miller | ellencm.com

Japanese Breakfast released two of the best albums of the last two years: 2016’s Psychopomp and 2017’s Soft Sounds from Another Planet were both met with widespread acclaim. But the project of Philadelphia’s Michelle Zauner isn’t showing any signs of slowing down — amid an extensive tour, Japanese Breakfast recently found time to make a guest appearance on a song with EDM artist Giraffage. The Bay Area artist Charlie Yin is the mastermind behind Giraffage, and the project is set to release it’s bedroom-recorded debut LP Too Real on Oct. 20 via Counter Records. Continue reading →

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Just Announced: Japanese Breakfast will headline a stacked bill at the First Unitarian Church this fall

Japanese Breakfast | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Japanese Breakfast | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

As the saying goes, Japanese Breakfast is having a moment. The band’s sophomore album Soft Sounds From Another Planet came out last month on Dead Oceans to widespread acclaim in outlets from The Guardian to NPR, and it went from a summer tour of sold-out clubs with (Sandy) Alex G to much bigger spaces opening for Tegan and Sara. And now they’ve got a fall run of dates on the horizon and a just-announced homecoming show in the basement of the First Unitarian Church.

The show, set for Thursday, October 19th, caps Japanese Breakfast’s month-plus on the road with Mannequin Pussy and Spirit of the Beehive — which, talk about a Philly-rooted power lineup. Fun fact: frontwoman Michelle Zauner is a proud R5 Productions intern alumnus, so this is one of many full circle experiences she’s experienced since her onetime side project became a full-time thing with 2016’s Psychopomp LP. Continue reading →

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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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Dreams of Pavement: New Broken Social Scene, Japanese Breakfast and spotlight on CAN on the Indie Rock Hit Parade!

Broken Social Scene | Photo courtesy of the artist

On tonight’s Indie Rock Hit Parade, you’re going to hear some new things. That might not come as much of a surprise, but bear with me. The show starts at 11pm ET on XPN and will feature a whole bunch of newly released tracks, as you might expect. We’ll hear the latest from Broken Social Scene, Dent May, Saint Etienne and more. Then things get wild in the second hour.
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Get swept away in Japanese Breakfast’s melancholy ballad, “Boyish”

Japanese Breakfast | photo by Ebru Yildiz | courtesy of the artist

Michelle Zauner’s Japanese Breakfast just blessed us with a second single in anticipation of her upcoming (and very eagerly awaited) sophomore album, Soft Sounds From Another Planet, which is due out on July 14th on Dead oceansTraveling back in time from the futuristic, electro-pop dance party of “Machinist” comes the 50’s reminiscent, somber and sweeping ballad of “Boyish.” Continue reading →