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Marillion make a statement with new LP F.E.A.R. at the Keswick Theater

marillion
Marillion | photo by Joe Del Tufo for WXPN | moonloopphotography.com

It’s hard to know where to begin reviewing a Marillion show. With over 35 years as progressive rock icons, their live history is overwhelming and complex. Even more so with the release of F.E.A.R. (Fuck Everyone and Run), their astounding new album that recently debuted #4 in the UK charts, an unprecedented act for an artist this deep into their career. But F.E.A.R. is not just any album, it is perhaps the best album they have written since Steve Hogarth took over as vocalist for Fish in 1989. At once an indictment of Brexit, Greed, Trump and the other powers that press down on us, it is also a much more personal look into the mirror of anxiety and disconnection. It is has teeth and is unflinching, musically and lyrically. For me F.E.A.R. is hands down the best album of 2016 which is nothing short of shocking – the equivalent of The Who suddenly releasing an album as good as Quadrophenia in 2016.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Mikal Cronin at Johnny Brenda’s, Passenger at The Keswick Theater

Mikal Cronin
MIkal Cronin | photo via Facebook

Yes, the Pope is here. Many people have left town for a long-weekend vacation but if you’re staying put, you may be happy to know that things will be business as usual for many Philly area venues, including the ones below.

Garage pop musician Mikal Cronin plays Johnny Brenda’s tonight. The California native released their LP MCIII on Merge Records earlier this year, with album cut “iv) Ready” landing on Paste Magazine’s list of the 25 Best Songs of 2015 (So Far) back in July. Listen to the song below and pick up tickets for the show here. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: D’Angelo at The Keswick Theater, Flounder Warehouse at Bourbon and Branch, Stranger Cat at Boot and Saddle and more

D'Angelo | Photo via facebook.com/dangelo
D’Angelo | Photo via facebook.com/dangelo

Modern funk / soul great D’Angelo brings his critically-acclaimed Black Messiah album to the Keswick Theatre tonight. The Second Coming tour features D’Angelo’s band The Vanguard, a star-studded roster of music industry vets: bassist Pino Palladino (who’s played with The Who), guitarists Jesse Johnson and Isaiah Sharkey, drummer Chris “Daddy” Dave, keyboardist Cleo “Pookie” Sample and vocalists Kendra Foster (of George Clinton’s P-Funk), Charlie “Red” Middleton and Jermain Holmes. Anchoring the group is D’Angelo on guitar, keyboards and vocals. Tickets and more information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.

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Shelby Lynne will play the Keswick Theater come June; listen to her new single “I Can’t Imagine”

Alexandra Hedison
Photo by Alexandra Hedison | via facebook.com/shelbylynne

Soulful country crooner Shelby Lynne will take on the Keswick Theater this summer on June 21st where WXPN welcomes the artist to perform two of her albums, I Am Shelby Lynne and latest I Can’t Imagine, in their entirety. I Can’t Imagine is set to be released May 5th, but you can give a listen to her latest single release off the record, the title track “I Can’t Imagine”, below. For more information on her show this summer, head over to the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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As Comfortable as Home: Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield perform at the Keswick Theater

Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield / Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko
Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield / Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko

“When I first heard Jessica sing this song, there was a spark,” Seth Avett said while sitting at the piano to the far right of the Keswick Theatre’s stage. He talked about when he realized their this common love for Elliott Smith had to become a project, and how he kept coming back to Jessica Lea Mayfield singing “Twilight” as the push to keep up with it over the years.

Conveying a sense of home, Avett and Mayfield performed in front of a kitchen backdrop on Saturday evening, complete with a working kettle, refrigerator, vacuum, shelves of teas and cereals, and a table placed to hold Seth’s various guitars. Touching on a bit more than cherished Elliott Smith tunes, the two musicians intertwined some of Smith’s influences along with their own works for the set. Continue reading →

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Interpreting Elliott Smith with Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield

Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield | photo via sethandjessicasing.com
Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield | photo via sethandjessicasing.com

Jessica Lea Mayfield’s introduction to Elliott Smith was the song “Clementine” – some dude with a Weezer tattoo played it for her after a gig in Ohio, hoping to impress her, and she was pleasantly surprised.

Seth Avett’s gateway song was “Say Yes” – a friend wanted to learn it, and asked the singer-guitarist of The Avett Brothers to teach him.

This winter, the two musicians – both big players in the American roots / rock scene – are releasing a tribute album to the iconic singer-songwriter, who died tragically in 2003 at age 34. Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliot Smith is out on Tuesday, March 17th, and it’s an outstanding record (listen to it in its entirety via NPR Music’s First Listen to hear for yourself).

Over the course of twelve songs, Avett and Mayfield mix up well-known numbers with deep-cut fan favorites; some arrangements stay relatively faithful to the original recordings, others take thrilling liberties. And all around, they channel the raw emotion that lives at the music’s core. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Divers at Boot & Saddle, Tedeschi Trucks Band at the Keswick, Liz and the Lost Boys at Bourbon & Branch and more…

Divers
Divers | photo by Abi Reimold

Local outfit Divers headline Boot & Saddle tonight.  The dark-rock four-piece, comprised of Emily Ana Zeitlyn, Ross Bellenoit, Todd Erk and Tom Bendel, is finishing up a new record that was funded by fans through a PledgeMusic campaign.  Divers recorded a Key Studio Session in 2013; check out “Eggshells” from the session below and learn more about the new record here, which is set for a release on December 15th.  Tickets and information for tonight’s show can be found here.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Angus and Julia Stone at Union Transfer, David Bazan at the First Unitarian Church, Todd Rundgren at the Keswick Theater

Angus and Julia Stone
Angus and Julia Stone | photo courtesy of the artists

Australian brother-sister act Angus and Julia Stone make an appearance at Union Transfer tonight.  The duo teamed up again for this year’s self-titled LP, following a handful of solo efforts that were released after 2010’s critically acclaimed Down the Way.  While primarily an acoustic folk project, the Stones approach their songs from a blues angle.  Watch their video for “A Heartbreak” below and pick up tickets here.

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