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XPN MusicNotes: Watch Jeff Tweedy explain how Wilco names albums, listen to the new Pixies album Head Carrier

Wilco at Solid Sound Festival | Photo by Noah Silvestry | silvestography.tumblr.com
Wilco at Solid Sound Festival | Photo by Noah Silvestry | silvestography.tumblr.com

“The next time someone tells you Wilco doesn’t put a lot of work into things, just tell them…I don’t know. Something. You make it up.”
-Jeff Tweedy

With tongue firmly planted in cheek, Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy recorded a video, (prior to last night’s appearance on The late Show with Stephen Colbert) in which he responds to critics of the band’s recent album titles. Funny stuff. Continue reading →

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And now, a (nearly) complete list of Tiny Desk Contest videos from Philly

The Bul Bey | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordophotography.com
The Bul Bey | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordophotography.com

For the second year running, the folks at NPR Music held their Tiny Desk Contest this winter, with artists all over the country competing to be a featured performer on the endlessly popular Tiny Desk Concert video series. Word is the winner will be announced tomorrow morning, so just like last year, we here at The Key compiled a list of nearly every Philly area musician who entered.

Last year, NPR told us that Philadelphia artists contributed 75 videos to the 7,000 overall entries. This time, we’re counting 131 videos…almost double.

Each group reconfigured their setup for an intimate performance, staged behind a desk of some sort. The mix and variety of styles parallels the variety of musical talent pouring out of this city right now. And this isn’t even all of it. Continue reading →

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Watch Wilco perform a Tiny Desk Concert at NPR Music

Wilco at Solid Sound Festival | Photo by Noah Silvestry | silvestography.tumblr.com
Wilco at Solid Sound Festival | Photo by Noah Silvestry | silvestography.tumblr.com

XPN favorites Wilco have always been known for their largely rocking and experimental, and musically intense live shows, however, in quiet beauty the band shows another side of themselves.

Wilco recently stopped by the NPR Music for a Tiny Desk Concert to play acoustic versions of new and old songs. They opened their set with “The Joke Explained” from their most recent album, Star Wars, a rollicking country rock song featuring guitar virtuoso Nels Cline on slide. They followed up with “Misunderstood,” a melodic ballad that captures everything that is great about the band, introspective storytelling lyrics about inner-self and strange atonal mumblings that channel Jeff Tweedy’s former crippling migranes. Continue reading →

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SXSW Dispatch: Partying with NPR Music, TV On the Radio, Stromae and more

TV On the Radio | Photo by John Vettese
TV On the Radio | Photo by John Vettese

At SXSW, the word “party” can mean just about anything: singer songwriters strumming in the courtyard of a bistro, pyschedelic bummer-rockers playing off of the sixth street chaos, a DJ spinning to a crowd of ten somewhere on the other side of the highway. For its annual opening night party at Stubb’s, NPR Music defined “party” very literally; every one of the eclectic array of artists exuded energy and cheer, and got the packed-in crowd moving in a big way. Continue reading →

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Does it matter that the Tiny Desk Contest winner was once signed by Interscope?

Fantastic Negrito, winner of NPR Music's Tiny Desk Contest
Fantastic Negrito, winner of NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Contest

Without a doubt, the Tiny Desk Contest was one of the most inspiring musical happenings of the past year.

After developing a global fan base with their uniquely-curated videos of unfussy, informal concerts held at producer Bob Boilen’s desk, the NPR Music team this winter opened up the floor to the public, inviting them to shoot their own DIY Tiny Desk-esque videos and submit them via YouTube for a chance to win a slot on the series.

On the one level, it felt like the small-time local heroes from around the country were being given a chance at stardom in that special, Tiny Desk kind of way. Beneath the surface a bit, those of us who work in music know that many of the artists already featured in the series are in the midst of some sort of press cycle, a national promotional push for whatever album they happen to be selling at the time.

As I said, it’s a well-curated run of videos, but most of the artists who make their way to Boilen’s desk are doing so with some level of industry connectedness in hand. Continue reading →

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Spoon debuts a new song LIVE at 2PM today

Burak Cingi/Redferns via Getty Images
Burak Cingi/Redferns via Getty Images

Spoon release their new album They Want My Soul on August 5th. Below, watch the band debut a new song, “Rent I Pay” via NPR music from Le Poisson Rouge in New York City.

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Stream Conor Oberst’s new release, Upside Down Mountain, via NPR Music

Photo by Butch Hogan
Photo by Butch Hogan

Singer-songwriter Conor Oberst releases his new album, Upside Down Mountain on Tuesday, May 20th. You can listen to it in its entirety here via NPR Music. WXPN Welcomes Conor with special guests Dawes to the TLA on Wednesday, May 21st. The show is sold out.

Writing about the album for NPR Music, Tom Moon says:

Upside Down Mountain suggests that Oberst is growing, rapidly, as a craftsman. It’s the first truly intimate set of songs he’s offered in a while — really since his 2008 eponymous gem, though contemplative moments seeped into 2009’s Outer South, which he recorded with the Mystic Valley Band. Oberst visits some of the rowdy backbeats of those previous works, but even in the driving rock tracks (the -ish “Zigzagging Toward the Light”), he’s brokering interior thoughts, choosing clusters of words for the ways they thrive, or sometimes disappear, inside the sonic swirl.

Upside Down Mountain was co-produced by Jonathan Wilson, who also plays various instruments throughout the album. Oberst gets some additional help from Blake Mills, Orenda Fink, Mike Moogis and Andy LeMaster. The gorgeous back up vocals are performed by Klara and Johanna Söderberg, known to many as the duo First Aid Kit.

Listen to Upside Down Mountain here.