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Listen to Japanese Breakfast’s stripped down, synth-y cover of “California Dreamin'” by The Mamas and The Papas

Japanese Breakfast | photo by Ben Wong for WXPN | brotherlylost.com

She and her band are playing California’s biggest gig, so Michelle Zauner went and recorded a cover in honor of it.

In the midst of last night’s Coachella lineup announcement, discerning viewers probably noticed one of our fave bands of recent years — Japanese Breakfast — in the entirely-too-small-font-size section on the Sunday lineups (April 15 and 22nd). Regardless of the megafestival’s questionable choice to not bill one of the most critically acclaimed artists of 2017 a tad bit higher, it’s doubtless exciting news, and in sync with the announcement, Zauner released a cover version of “California Dreamin'” by The Mamas and The Papas via Sirius XM. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: 2017’s ten best Philly artist portraits

Cayetana | photos by Mary Ferrigno | courtesy of the artist

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. Today, Sarah Hojsak takes a look at some of the best artist portraits of 2017.

During last year’s end-of-the-year rush, The Key took a brief step away from music itself and instead started digging through the images surrounding it. The result was 2016’s ten best Philly artist portraits — a collection of some of the most visually stunning, ridiculously outlandish or otherwise eye-catching promotional photos from our beloved local musicians.

As you well know, we have no shortage of great music happening here in Philly, and lucky for us so, so many of our favorite artists released new music this year. With those new tunes came a whole new batch of images to take in — they range from the standard artsy but professional press photo to the quirky personality pic and everything in between, and they come from some of music’s best photographers. The best ones, regardless of the forms they take or the themes they use, caught our attention and didn’t let go. Here’s a far from thorough but nonetheless delightful selection of some of 2017’s standouts. Continue reading →

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Just Announced: Japanese Breakfast continues their Philly takeover with a headlining gig at Union Transfer

Japanese Breakfast | photo by Galea McGregor for WXPN

It’s been quite a year for indie darling Japanese Breakfast. But, I mean, when you release a record as amazing as Soft Sounds from Another Planet, it only makes sense that everyone everywhere’s going to want a chance to see a live performance of said record.

So although Michelle Zauner’s earnest, electro-ambient pop tunes have been sounding off at all corners of the earth for a while now (she and the crew are currently sharing her songs with the Eastern side of the planet with an Asia / Australia tour) Japanese Breakfast has just announced another ring of shows back in the States after just a tiny — but much deserved — winter break.

Starting February in Zauner’s early hometown of Seattle, the tour will conclude with a massive (current) hometown celebration at Union Transfer on June 3rd. Continue reading →

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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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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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