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NonCOMM Recap: The Growlers make magic happen

The Growlers | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman for WXPN

Among the many things that I love about NonCOMM each year is the tangible sense of magic in the air that’s just everywhere. From the joy of seeing old friends and favorite bands play to the joy of discovering a slamming new act, it’s all there. No band better captured that raw feeling of mystery and cautious optimism than The Growlers. Playing upstairs to an absolutely packed room, the SoCal-based band mixed elements of pulp noir and classic Americana to make NonCOMM magic come true. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: Hot takes from The Music Meeting with Sean Coakley

The NonCOMM Music Meeting | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Radio industry pros, XPN listeners, and music nerds alike packed together this afternoon for NonCOMM’s annual Music Meeting. Hosted by Sean Coakley of Songlines, this exciting yearly tradition resembles a type of new music auction — where each crowd member becomes a judge armed with score cards, and votes on new or generally unknown songs presented by Coakley. Immediately after voting, members voice their opinions on their score choices, which results in unbarred, honest, and overall, incredibly entertaining responses. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: Kyle Craft comes out larger than life

Kyle Craft | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

Living in a post-ironic, post-Portlandia world, it’s with good reason that many things coming out of Portland these days are met with skepticism. Even though Kyle Craft operates out of the rainy northwestern metropolis, his well-heeled Southern roots give him more than an ounce of sincerity that informs his fiery songwriting.  Continue reading →

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The Key Presents: Joseph

Joseph | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com
Joseph | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

Joseph is the band you can’t forget. Whether you saw them first on Jimmy Fallon or during our own NonCOMM this past spring, it’s likely that the haunting harmonies created by the Closner sisters are stuck in your mind for good. And they’re just getting started. With this year’s sophomore release I’m Alone, No You’re Not out on ATO Records, the Oregonians are taking hold of hearts and minds across the country — and with good reason. Catchy folk licks and haunting harmonies aren’t the only thing that Joseph brings to the table. With an ear for striking songwriting, the band doesn’t back down. Continue reading →

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NonCOMM Recap: Hayes Carll lifts up World Cafe with musical history and country storytelling

Hayes Carll | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman for WXPN | <a href=http://jeremy-zim.com target="_blank">jeremy-zim.com</a>
Hayes Carll | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman for WXPN | jeremy-zim.com

All that sat on the stool next to him was a harmonica, a bottle of water, and a glass of whiskey. That pretty much sums up the set that the Texas-born and Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Hayes Carll brought to the PRX Stage tonight.

His introduction was set by WFPK in Kentucky’s Kyle Meredith, who said that he was shocked when he heard that Carll’s new album would be made up of mostly ballads, since his previous work had mainly been country stompers. But just like Meredith said, Carll’s stripped-down set of songs from Lovers and Leavers brought simple yet thoughtful melodies, intrinsic beauty, and one of the most unorthodox drum kits I have ever seen. Continue reading →

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Recap: Brian Wilson cruises through NonCOMM Free at Noon

Brian Wilson | Photo by Cameron Pollack | cameronpollack.500px.com
Brian Wilson | Photo by Cameron Pollack | cameronpollack.500px.com

Legendary American songwriter Brian Wilson graced the World Cafe Live stage for to kick off day three of the NonCOMM convention.

Wilson, age 72, moved swiftly and seamlessly through a rock n’ rolling setlist. He played songs from his latest album, No Pier Pressure, as well as Beach Boys fan favorites “I Get Around,” “Fun Fun Fun,” “Surfing USA,” “In My Room,” “Good Vibrations” and “God Only Knows”.

Wilson was accompanied by a huge backing band playing a diverse array of instruments, including vibraphones, saxophone and harmonica, to perfectly emulate the signature Beach Boys sound. Continue reading →