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The decade-plus wait is over: stream Rainer Maria’s new S/T album via NPR now

Rainer Maria | photo courtesy of artist

Hey, Rainer Maria fans: your eleven year wait comes to a close today. Though the band’s new heftily anticipated, self-titled album won’t be officially released until August 18th via Polyvinyl Records, NPR has secured an early listen for you — you can stream the album in full here.

S/T is able to keep the raw intensity of Rainer Maria’s earlier works, while also carving out enough space for growth. As example, personal favorite track “Suicide and Lazy Eyes” is a fuzzed-out, non-stop live wire of sound and energy, with “Lower Worlds” slowing it down but remaining just as heavy with a buildup to cathartic, muffled shouts. Continue reading →

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Stream Waxahatchee’s new album Out in the Storm via NPR Music’s First Listen

Waxahatchee Tour | courtesy of Merge Records
Waxahatchee Tour | courtesy of Merge Records

If you’re like me and you like to know every song on a concert setlist before a show (it makes jamming along easier, okay?), Friday just got a little better. Ahead of the June 14th release date of Waxahatchee‘s highly anticipated fourth album on Merge Records, Out in the Storm is available to stream in full right now on NPR Music’s First Listen series. Continue reading →

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Hear Broken Social Scene’s eclectic and expansive new album, ‘Hug of Thunder’

Broken Social Scene | Courtesy of the artist

Broken Social Scene’s new LP, Hug of Thunder, is the album I didn’t know I needed. It’s eclectic, it’s thought-provoking, it’s dance-worthy, and as what you’d expect from a fifteen-piece group — yes, like a one and a five next to each other — it’s big.

No matter the tone of the tune, each song conjures up its own expansive, atmospheric flavor — fully immersing the listener in it’s individual world — while simultaneously connecting to a larger woven fabric of sound. Though Hug of Thunder isn’t officially released until the 7th, you can stream the album in full here thanks to our friends at NPR. Continue reading →

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Chicano Batman charms with suave tunes at NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert

Chicano Batman | Photo by Noah Silvestry | silvestography.com

Chicano Batman recently packed their eclectic ensemble into NPR’s office for a Tiny Desk concert full of suave, smooth and spirited grooves. As per usual of the Californian four-piece, the dapper band was dressed to the nines as they performed three songs, including “Freedom Is Free,” “Friendship (Is A Small Boat In A Storm,)” and “Jealousy.” Continue reading →

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Listen to Margo Price’s solid set on NPR’s Mountain Stage

Margo Price | photo by Hope Helmuth for WXPN
Margo Price | photo by Hope Helmuth for WXPN

Taped at West Virginia’s Civic Center Little Theater, country breakout Margo Price made her debut on Mountain Stage this week, performing tunes from her recent record Midwest Farmer’s Daughter. She was joined by Nashville’s Micah Hulscher, Dillon Napier, and Jamie Davis on keys, drums, and guitar, respectively, along with Luke Schneider on pedal steel and dobro and Kevin Black on bass.

Listen to the episode below, and if you dig what you hear, catch Price this summer at BB&T Pavilion with Chris Stapleton; tickets/more information can be found on the XPN Concert Calendar.

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Listen to Andrew Bird’s Mountain Stage performance from West Virginia

Andrew Bird
Andrew Bird | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/

NPR’s Mountain Stage recently aired folk staple Andrew Bird’s gig in Charleston, West Virginia. His masterful instrumentation shines in this 30+ minute set, sporting his signature whistling and plucky energy to nail tracks from his 2016 Grammy-nominated record Are You Serious and beyond.

Bird is accompanied by fellow musicians Steven Elliott, Alan Hampton, Kevin O’Donnell on guitar, bass and drums (respectively) and The Flat Five’s Nora O’ Connor joins Bird on backup vocals.

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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 →