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Tonight’s Concert Picks: New Sweden at World Cafe Live at the Queen, Natalie Merchant at Keswick Theatre, Northern Arms at Johnny Brenda’s and more

New Sweden photo by Joe del Tufo
New Sweden photo by Joe del Tufo

Americana indie-folk band New Sweden will be at World Cafe Live tonight at The Queen. The five-piece band, which just played the Firefly Music Festival in its home state of Delaware, has a robust, scratchy sound that makes it a folk powerhouse. New Sweden is set to release its latest album, Fabric Room, in four days, but is available for streaming now. Check out the song, “Burdened Days” off the new album and go to the XPN Concert Calendar for more information and tickets.

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Watch Northern Arms’ chilling new video for “Below the Pines”

Northern Arms (photo by Max Gaines, http://www.thechurchofmax.com)
Northern Arms (photo by Max Gaines, http://www.thechurchofmax.com)

Philly dark Americana ten-piece Northern Arms released a new video this week for “Below the Pines” directed by David Kain of BITBY.  The song comes from their self-titled album, which will be released June 17th, and the video follows the band members in various settings including the woods (shot on location near Kain’s parents’ home in South Jersey) and inside the very decorated Fleisher Art Memorial, where listeners dance to the slow, melancholic music.  Watch the video below.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Sharon Jones at Union Transfer, Northern Arms at Johnny Brenda’s, Red Fang at The Trocadero and more

via facebook.com/sharonjonesandthedapkings

On their latest release, Give the People What They Want, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings showcases the dynamic frontwoman’s high energy and resolve more than ever. The band returns to Philadelphia tonight to play Union Transfer and for her fans, Jones’s return to the stage is a triumph, given that the singer was diagnosed with cancer just last year. Regardless, the new album is full of great tracks like “Retreat!” and “Stranger to My Happiness.” Join Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and James Hunter for a night of classic soul. Get more info here at the XPN Concert Calender.

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How music and friendship saved Philly noir-rock army Northern Arms

Northern Arms (photo by Max Gaines, http://www.thechurchofmax.com)
Northern Arms (photo by Max Gaines, http://www.thechurchofmax.com)

In some ways, the story of Northern Arms is a story of redemption. It’s also a story about friendship, and being true to one’s self emotionally.

“I always felt that a lot of bands held back if they did anything emotional—like they had to do it ironically, or with a smirk,” says Eric Bandel, from the back balcony of Standard Tap. “The stuff we were working on—we just wanted it to be true. We didn’t want to hold back.”

His band mate Keith Pierce nods in agreement. Emotional honesty has always been at the core of Northern Arms’ process, leading to beautiful, complex compositions that juxtapose highs and lows, for a result that feels startlingly cathartic.

Over the past 13 years, the band’s gone through several incarnations, including the 10-person rock monolith it is today. This Friday, they’ll celebrate the release of their debut, self-titled record with a party at Johnny Brenda’s. Afterwards, they have plans to tour the East Coast. These days everything seems to be falling into place.

But that wasn’t always the case.

“[When we first started playing together] we made some really beautiful stuff, but we were fuck-ups,” says Pierce. “We couldn’t keep it together. We would play out just enough that we could sustain our drinking. We let our worldview weigh on us, and it had bad effects.”

But perhaps we should start from the beginning. Continue reading →

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PREMIERE: Northern Arms release new video for “What You’ve Got On,” announce details of debut LP

Northern Arms | Photo courtesy of the artist

In Northern Arms‘ new video for “What You’ve Got On,” a routine ride on the Broad Street line becomes a little less normal for a young woman making her way from Tasker-Morris in South Philly to Cecil B Moore in North Philly.  We watch her wait behind the yellow line (leaning over every now and then to check for headlights down the tunnel), write in a journal, look out the window and listen to music – all normal, everyday things we all do to pass time on SEPTA commutes.  Meanwhile, scenes of the local ten-piece playing live on the platforms of several stops (definitely not a normal or everyday occurrence on SEPTA) lead us to believe the two will meet at some point in the video.

And meet they do, when the band catches the traveler’s eye before mysteriously appearing in the car itself, one by one.

If ever there was a Philadelphia answer to Arcade Fire or Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Northern Arms seems to be it with their cavernous, dark art rock that comes complete with a horn section.  When we first heard “What You’ve Got On” back in March, XPN’s Bruce Warren called for a big year from the band.  And with the impending release of their debut record coming later this month via BITBY, Northern Arms is definitely on the right track.

Northern Arms will celebrate the LP’s release on May 30th at Johnny Brenda’s; tickets and information can be found here.  Check out our premiere of the “What You’ve Got On” video below, and revisit their Key Studio Session from last year here.

NORTHERN ARMS- WHAT YOU’VE GOT ON from BITBY on Vimeo.

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Listen to a new Northern Arms song, “What You’ve Got On”

Photo by David Kain
Photo by David Kain

We’re predicting a big year for Philly’s Northern Arms. The ten piece band, fronted by singer and songwriter Keith Richard Peirce, is releasing its self-titled debut album on June 3rd, and have just released the epic “What You’ve Got On” from it.

Northern Arms did a Key Studio Session in October, 2013. Writing about the band at the time, The Key’s John Vettese said:

The band incorporates dark imagery with a musical mystique that hits on jazz, folk, and gospel, and blends it with gothic Americana. Northern Arms’ songs are more like short stories than histories, vignettes about fears and uncertainties, and the power of people bonding together in the face of these things.

Recorded and mixed by Jeff Ziegler, and mastered by Ryan Schwab, “What You’ve Got On” is a phenomenal debut single. With some dark Americana swagger, a belting horn section, a thunderous rhythm section, and Pierce’s Nick Cave-like intensity, there’s an anthemic, yet intimate quality to the song. Below, listen to “What You’ve Got On.”

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Download The Key Studio Sessions Vol. 9 (feat. Amanda X, Balance and Composure, Mean Lady and more)

The Key Studio Sessions Volume 9
Album cover photo by Tiffany Yoon | tiffanyyoon.com

Today we bring you our latest Key Studio Sessions compilation, pulling together the best of what we’ve recorded in the final four months of 2013. I’m always psyched about these comps, but The Key Studio Sessions Vol. 9 in particular presents a tremendous variety of musicians from around the Philadelphia region that I’m excited to showcase for you. Bucks County has a healthy showing, from the acoustic alt-punk swagger of Balance and Composure and the retro-grunge of Daylight to the booming Americana of Levee Drivers and the flower child folk stylings of Lily Mae. We trip away into a spacious, 12-minute jam by Chris Forsyth and his Solar Motel Band, rock out to Amanda X and get chillingly meditative with ambient musician and filmmaker Michael James Murray. A Christmas selection from Jersey’s The Classic Brown makes the cut, sultry new jammers from Delaware’s Mean Lady and Central Pa.’s Kate Faust, a fierce bass-backed rap by Curly Castro, an Afro-Cuban jazz rocker from Toy Soldiers, and more. Special thanks to guest engineers Steve Poponi and Mike Kennedy, to Tom Volpicelli at Mastering House for his post-production help, and to production assistants Dan Hutton and Dan Malloy as well as photographers Rachel Del Sordo, Megan Kelly, Laura Lynn, Caitlin McCann, Ally Newbold, Kellie O’Heron, Tony Oppenheim, Matthew Shaver, Mike Trutt and Tiffany Yoon, and videographers Bands in the Backyard and Bob Sweeney for sharing their work this fall. Listen to the 17-song set and get a free download below.

Want more? Get a roundup of our previous free-downloadable Key Studio Sessions compilations after the jump. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Low Cut Connie at Johnny Brenda’s, Kalob Griffin Band at World Cafe Live, The Districts / Pine Barons at Chameleon Club, and more

Photo By: Charlotte Jacobson
Photo By: Charlotte Jacobson

Old school rock ‘n’ roll outfit Low Cut Connie is playing at Johnny Brenda’s tonight. With a tone like an upbeat “Piano Man” it’s no wonder that the honky tonk group’s whimsical tribute to Philadelphia “Boozophilia,” off of Call Me Sylvia, reached number 31 on Rolling Stone’s “50 Best Songs of 2012″ list. Just last month the band premiered their cover of Harry Nilsson’s “Jump Into the Fire” from their forthcoming tribute album via Rolling Stone. Get ready for their Philly show by listening a live performance of the new track below. Find details and tickets here.

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The Week’s Best Free MP3s, incl. Kurt Vile, Marietta, Shawn Kilroy

 

Photo by David Kain
Photo by David Kain

This week’s Key Studio Session featured local storytellers Northern Arms.  Fittingly for the season, the ten-piece band creates dark and haunting songs in the form of narrative vignettes like “Warm Springs Georgia “below.  Stream and download the track, then check out the full session here.

Singer-songwriter Jessica Pratt stopped by recently for a Folkadelphia Session.  The San Francisco native released her debut LP earlier this year somewhat out of the blue and without much explanation, adding to the already mysterious nature of her music.  For this session, Pratt recorded songs that did not appear on the LP.  Stream and download the full set below.

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The Week So Far: 10 must-read stories on The Key (incl. Jessica Pratt, Northern Arms, Gene Shay)

Father John Misty | Photo by Noah Silvestry | silvestography.tumblr.com
Father John Misty | Photo by Noah Silvestry | silvestography.tumblr.com

Get caught up on the week’s shows with reviews and photos from appearances by Miguel, Pearl Jam and more [link]

Congratulations to XPN Folk Show host Gene Shay, who will be inducted into the Philadelphia Walk of Fame today [link]

Read XPN host Mike Vasilikos’s review of Dr. Dog‘s B-Room, this week’s featured album [link]

San Francisco’s Jessica Pratt performed unreleased songs for this week’s Folkadelphia Session [link]

The Wonder Years’ Nick Steinborn will release a solo EP next month; listen to a new song now [link]

Blayer Pointdujour & The Rockers Galore are throwing a Kompa party at The TLA with T-Vice in December [link]

Delco Pacers will celebrate the release of Stereo Streets at Milkboy on 11/14 [link]

Reef the Lost Cauze has announced a free show at Hard Rock Cafe tonight and a free song called “92 Flow” [link]

Northern Arms stopped by for a mysterious and powerful Key Studio Session [link]

Local rock band Rob, Lately has released a new EP called The Liar [link]