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The Dove and the Wolf bring their new album Conversations home to Philadelphia

The Dove and the Wolf | photo by Koof Ibi Umoren for WXPN

Along with playing their headlining set, The Dove and the Wolf pulled double duty last weekend for their album release at Johnny Brenda’s, serving as the backing band for the opener Michelle Blades. Lou Hayat filled in on bass (which I just learned is “le loup” in French and also means wolf), with Paloma Gil on keys, Brendan Mulvihill on guitar, and Anne Dole on drums, adding to the poppy post-punk feel of Blades’ music. You could tell they were on the last leg of a tour by how effortless and fun the performance seemed. The standout track “Politic!” had the how venue bouncing along while Blaeds’ vocals evoked Devo’s sharp lyrical delivery. Her most recent release Visitor mixes this upbeat aesthetic with some darker, denser accompaniment. Continue reading →

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American Trappist walks the line, drunkenly, in the “Holy Moses” video

American Trappist | still from video

Joe Michelini of American Trappist is a generally positive person, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t dealt with his share of darkness. His last album, Tentanda Via, was born out of a struggle with existential dread, rejection of the religion he’d been raised in, but also a fear of a world sans faith.  His latest song, the distressed rocker “Holy Moses,” came from a different kind of low where Michelini needed to work out the idea of forgiveness. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Low Dose

Like a lot of Philadelphians who encountered them last summer, I was completely taken by surprise the first time I saw Low Dose. It was one of their first-ever shows, it took place at the Everybody Hits batting cages, was headlined by the always-galvanizing Soul Glo, and found the bandmates setting up gear in the wake of an instrument-slamming set by post-hardcore ragers Great Weights — in other words, they were bookended by two fellow Philadelphia punk scene players who don’t skimp on the captivating energy.

Not that it was an obstacle. Frontwoman Itarya Rosenberg stood quietly holding the mic, a brutal guitar riff began looping out of the speakers, and it was like a switch flipped on — bandmates Mike McGinnis on guitar, Jon DeHart on bass, and Dan Smith on drums launched into a crushing jam, Rosenberg crouched to the floor, and howled. I stood to the side, next to Great Weights’ Meri Haines, and we both watched drop-jawed and awestruck. Twenty minutes of poppy hooks, dissonant freakouts, and general punk catharsis later, we looked at one another all like “What the hell was that?”

Low Dose, to put it lightly, knows how to make a formidable first impression. Continue reading →

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Ceramic Animal commits the live favorite “All My Loving” to tape in memory of a late loved one

Ceramic Animal | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | racheldelsordophotography.com

For the past few years, Philly rock outfit Ceramic Animal has been closing their live sets with the expansive, ten-minute jam “All My Loving,” an explosive and exploratory composition that evokes The Allman Brothers on the one end and The Black Keys on the other. The band often debated the song’s fate — should they ever record it? Should it stay a concert exclusive, a reward for the people who went out to see them play?

Last year, the passing of a loved one spurned them into a decision.

Continue reading →

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Killiam Shakespeare and friends brought A Town Called Elsewhere to Johnny Brenda’s

Killiam Shakespeare with Bilal | photo by Matthew Shaver for WXPN

Philadelphia groove-riders Corey Bernhard and Steve McKie keep plenty busy as session musicians and producers in Philly and beyond, so when they manage to converge for a new Killiam Shakespeare project, it’s cause for celebration indeed.

Saturday night, the band — McKie on drums, Bernhard on keys, augmented by guitarist Anthony DiCarlo — took the stage at Johnny Brenda’s to celebrate A Town Called Elsewhere, the band’s second full-length project. Continue reading →

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Catch Kuf Knotz’s new collaborative project with Christine Elise at Johnny Brenda’s later this month

Kuf Knotz & Christine Elise | photo via kufknotz.com

Philly native Kuf Knotz has a new project in the works. Paired with classically trained harpist Christine Elise and backed by the Trap Rabbit band, it may seem like an unlikely combination, but their music — right now all we have are some live concert videos, but there’s an album on the way — proves that the joined musical forces are onto something good. Currently on tour, they’ll play Johnny Brenda’s for the first time on August 28, opening for Liniker e os Caramelows. Continue reading →

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Strange Parts, Tact and Full Bush to play benefit show for Planned Parenthood

Strange Parts | photo by Adam Haney | via facebook.com/pg/strangeparts

Amid all of the usual Fourth of July festivities happening next weekend, Johnny Brenda’s will play host to a smaller event, bringing together local music for a good cause. On Saturday, July 7, a lineup of three local bands will join forces for Rock & Roll & Birth Control, a benefit show in support of Planned Parenthood. Strange Parts, the duo of Attia Taylor and Corey Duncan who just released their debut album Oh God, What A Beautiful Time I Spent In The Wild, will headline the show. Also on the bill are local duo Tact and punk four-piece Full Bush. Listen to music from each artist below. Continue reading →

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Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever bring the mainland to Johnny Brenda’s

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever | Photo by Jack Madden for WXPN

Melbourne-based five piece Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever took to Johnny Brenda’s this past Thursday night for their second visit to Philadelphia. The band’s current month-long U.S. tour started with dates at both Coachella weekends, and ultimately lead the band to road trip across 30 states before closing out the U.S. leg in Philly, then flying to Europe for the second leg of the tour. Thankfully, the Aussie five piece still had plenty of energy when they stopped by JB’s to enchant the upstairs crowd.

As the clock stuck 11, the house spun George McCrae’s 1974 pre-disco hit “Rock Your Baby.” The disco ball‘s shimmering red lights cast upon the crowd as McCrae’s crooning faded, giving way for the band to take the stage. The disco ball would continue to paint the room in red, blue and green throughout the night as the band’s jangle pop infused summertime rock tunes dazzled the upstairs crowd.

The Melbourne-based quintet kicked off their set with “Clean Slate” from their 2016 debut EP, Talk Talk. In one sense, the lead track is quintessential Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: a trio of vocalists/guitarists contributing their own flavor to the mix, punchy upbeat punk drums, and a driving yet off-kilter bassline. The effervescent blend of neo-pop and sunny punk-tinged rock got the Thursday night crowd moving instantaneously. Continue reading →

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Rosali’s “Lie To Me” is a great glimpse of what’s ahead

Rosali | via NPR Music

When Philly songwriter Rosali Middleman isn’t fronting the psych-rock outfit Long Hots, she’s busy making solo tunes in a different vein as just Rosali. Next month, she’ll release her second solo album, Trouble Anyway, and the folk rock first single “Lie To Me” is a great glimpse of what’s ahead for the musician. Continue reading →