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Philly Progress Report 2016: What’s new, what’s next in the music scene

Japanese Breakfast
Japanese Breakfast | photo by Morgan Smith | phobymo.com | courtesy of the artist

The halfway point of 2016 is nigh, making this week an opportune time to look back over the past six months and take the pulse of the Philly music scene. But in a way, that’s easier said than done. As The Key’s staff of contributors weighed in on regional releases we dig in a Facebook group conversation earlier today, the names kept on flying – from the hip-hop sphere (Hardwork MovementLushlife) to singer-songwriter folk (Birdie Busch, Rosali), indie rock (Swanning, Hurry) experimental (Nick Millevoi, Mary Lattimore) and more.

As our Marc Snitzer put it: “It’s only June and that list is huge. We all know how much talent the city boasts but when you go ahead and list it out, it’s bonafide bonkerz.”

Suffice it to say, the Philly music scene is tremendously healthy – and here’s a look at what’s made it thrive so much this year, along with our prognostications for the second half of 2016. The list is thorough but admittedly far from complete…know of anybody we forgot? Shout them out in the comments.

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Japanese Breakfast evoke the supernatural in “Jane Cum” video, land a deal with Dead Oceans

Japanese Breakfast
Japanese Breakfast | photo by Morgan Smith | phobymo.com | courtesy of the artist

Japanese Breakfast’s debut full-length Psychopomp quickly became one of our favorite albums of the year so far. Lending its name from Greek mythology, (a psychopomp guides souls to the place of the dead) the LP touches on issues of loss, death and healing following vocalist and guitarist Michelle Zauner’s mother’s death.

The result is something sonically special, peculiar in its honesty, with pain often disguised under layers of pop-friendly melodies. In her new music video for “Jane Cum,” Zauner walks away from the upbeat, candid night out portrayed in her “In Heaven” music video out last month.

The “Jane Cum” video is exceptionally pieced together, playing more like a short suspense film with a killer soundtrack. The dreary backdrop and forest imagery combined with the black-rimmed hats and supernatural undertones made for a Twin Peaks x American Horror Story: Coven mashup that was enthralling to watch unfold. Continue reading →

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Japanese Breakfast flips the script on pain in the new “In Heaven” video

Japanese Breakfast
Japanese Breakfast | photo by Morgan Smith | phobymo.com | courtesy of the artist

With the release of Psychopomp this spring, songwriter / guitarist / singer Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast has received a heaping of well-deserved critical acclaim. Which is no surprise; we’ve been fans since she lived in Philly and fronted the badass rock four-piece Little Big League. This record, though, is truly some next-level stuff.

Majestic, impeccably orchestrated songs with a stunning emotional center channeling Zauner’s grief in the wake of her mother’s passing…and incredibly catchy, uplifting pop songs at that. There’s a hazy, dream-like lacquer to them, but the music itself trades in the inspiring melodies Zauner has honed over a decade and change of songwriting. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Santigold at the TLA, Japanese Breakfast at World Cafe Live, The City and I at Boot & Saddle

santigold
Santigold for WXPN| Photo by John Vettese

Santigold brings her latest LP 99¢ to the TLA tonight. The Philly native gave an outstanding performance at last year’s Made In America Festival, complete with live band and dancers. It’s safe to say that tonight’s show will be equally mesmerizing, no matter what Santi has planned. Check out “Chasing Shadows” below and pick up tickets here.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Japanese Breakfast at Ortlieb’s, Wolf Alice at Union Transfer, Roof Doctor at Lavender Town, and more…

Japanese Breakfast
Japanese Breakfast | Photo by Julian Master | courtesy of the artist

Japanese Breakfast holds the album release show for their acclaimed new LP Psychopomp. We’ve loved what we’ve heard so far: album singles “The Woman That Loves You”, “In Heaven”, and “Everybody Wants To Love You” have all rocked so far, and surely the rest of the album will too. Also performing will be Littler (who just released their new album Of Wandering) and Myrrias. More information can be found via the XPN Concert Calender. Continue reading →

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Japanese Breakfast releases newest Psychopomp single, “The Woman That Loves You”

Japanese Breakfast
Japanese Breakfast | Photo by Julian Master | courtesy of the artist

For Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast, melody sounds like a walk in the park. On the newest single from the upcoming Psychopomp, “The Woman That Loves You”, Zauner literally walks through an ambient park of spacey synths and bitingly sharp guitars.

The past two singles from Psychopomp, “In Heaven” and “Everybody Wants To Love You”, were surfy indie-pop in a vein similar to Grimes or Fleetwood Mac. “The Woman Who Loves You” takes Zauner in a different direction while still maintaining that JB sound, like a chilling yet inviting breeze during the warm months of summer. Continue reading →

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Listen to Japanese Breakfast’s new single “Everybody Wants To Love You”

Japanese Breakfast
Japanese Breakfast | Photo by Julian Master | courtesy of the artist

Japanese Breakfast, the alias of singer-songwriter Michelle Zauner, has released a new single, “Everybody Want To Love You”.

The song, which will be on Zauner’s next Japanese Breakfast album Psychopomp, is a quick two minute run of dreamy indie-pop chock-full of slicing guitars and dancing synths. Background vocals on the track were provided by Radiator Hospital’s Sam Cook-Parrot. Continue reading →

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Listen to a new song by Japanese Breakfast, “In Heaven”

Japanese Breakfast | Photo by Julian Master | courtesy of the artist
Japanese Breakfast | Photo by Julian Master | courtesy of the artist

Japanese Breakfast is the Brooklyn-based band from Michelle Zauner, who also fronts Philly indie punk four piece Little Big League.

After the release of several cassettes, Japanese Breakfast will release a new full length debut album, Psychopomp on April 1st on Yellow K Records. Recorded in Eugene, Oregon, the album was co-produced by Zauner with Ned Eisenberg. Continue reading →

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Watch the new video from Japanese Breakfast, the solo project from Michelle Zauner

Michelle Zauner | Photo by Allison Newbold allynewbold.com
Michelle Zauner | Photo by Allison Newbold allynewbold.com

Japanese Breakfast is the solo project of Michelle Zauner, otherwise known as the front-woman of Philly four-piece Little Big League. With a new video and an upcoming US tour, Zauner continues to display raw emotion laced with indie pop (found on this summer’s Where is My Great Big Feeling) through Japanese Breakfast. Continue reading →

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Michelle Zauner of Little Big League to release solo project American Sound & Where Is My Great Big Feeling?

japanese bfast
Photo via http://michellezauner.tumblr.com/

This week we learned via Brooklyn Vegan that Michelle Zauner, frontwoman of Little Big League, has plans to release a solo cassette called American Sound & Where Is My Great Big Feeling? via Sea Green Records.  Zauner produces her own work aside from Little Big League under the name Japanese Breakfast, and this is a combination of two recent EP releases.

Last month, Zauner participated in a blog called Song a Day for a Week along with a few other artists including Frankie CosmosAmerican Sound is a compilation of the songs Zauner created for Song a Day for a Week, which takes on a raw, emotional tone as she had just discovered her mother had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  Zauner tells Brooklyn Vegan “The songs became incredibly cathartic. I didn’t have much time to write or record them. They became more like diary entries, lacking any real narrative. They became pieces of conversation and feelings of anger and defeat.”

You can listen to the Where Is My Great Big Feeling EP below via Zauner’s Bandcamp page: