XPoNential Artist Spotlight: Catching up with Our Griffins

Our Griffins | Photo by Daniel Jason Savage
Our Griffins | Photo by Daniel Jason Savage

Atmospheric rock ensemble Our Griffins released its debut full-length Michael Boyd in September and has spent the ten months since establishing its presence in Philly and beyond. Led by Easton’s D.J. Brown, the band has sharpened its game as an evocative live act – some moments recall Bon Iver, others explode like The Appleseed Cast – appearing on the Communion Music showcase in the spring and being spotlighted in Root Down in the Shadow’s Cover Club series. “It’s been solid,” Brown tells us. “I definitely learned a lot from the whole cycle of things.” Continue reading →


Rock out with Cheerleader, The Lawsuits, Our Griffins and more at MilkBoy’s free three-day birthday party

Photo courtesy of artist.
Photo courtesy of artist.

Center city venue MilkBoy its third anniversary next month with three days of free shows. The party also marks the 20th anniversary of its parent company, MilkBoy the Studio. From August 14 to 16th, the venue will host phenomenal performances from artists like The Ataris, Cheerleader, and the Lawsuits. To help you map out your show-going, we’ve highlighted an artist (or two) for each day. Continue reading →


Our Griffins debut new song “Run Through The Mines” during Cover Club Session

Photo |

After their beautiful rendition of the Strand of Oaks song “Last to Swim,” Our Griffins have released a video for a new original song called “Run Through The Mines.”  The song was actually debuted during the same #CoverClub session at Nomad Recording Studio.  The song is simple, focusing on DJ Brown’s raspy vocals and guitar playing.  “Run Through The Mines” will most likely be included on their next full-length album.

Want to see Our Griffins live?  You’re in luck.  They will be at Bourban and Branch tomorrow along with Maitland and Jeremiah Tall.  Find tickets here.  Additionally, they will play #XPNFest at the end of July.  

Watch a performance of “Run Through The Mines” below.


Our Griffins covers Strand of Oaks just in time for their album release

cover club capture
Photo via Roots Down in the Shadow

The latest #CoverClub session is Our Griffins‘ take on “Last to Swim” by Strand of Oaks. Guitarist Alex Luquet  told Root Down in the Shadow that he first saw Strand of Oaks two years ago at Union Transfer and has been a fan ever since.

Brown’s low raspy monitor builds subtly yet beautifully with the rhythm of the song.  Our Griffins actually played the cover live a few weeks ago when they opened for Kishi Bashi at TLA.  Make sure you catch them this Friday, June 27th at Bourban & Branch along with Former Belle, Maitland and Jeremiah Tall (tickets and info here); and make sure you catch Our Griffins at the XPoNential Music Festival later this month.

Strand of Oaks is having an exciting few months. Their new album HEAL, out today,  is garnering enthusiastic coverage from NPR Music and Spin, and they perform for our Free at Noon Concert this Friday. Check out the “Last to Swim” cover below


Rodrigo y Gabriela, Hurray for the Riff Raff, The Hold Steady and more top the XPoNential Music Festival lineup

Rodrigo y Gabriela | photo via
Rodrigo y Gabriela | photo via

Dueling acoustic duo Rodrigo y Gabriela, eclectic New Orleans folk-blues combo Hurray for the Riff Raff, and stalwart rock n’ rollers The Hold Steady are just some of the 25 artists announced today in the full lineup of this year’s edition of the XPoNential Music Festival.

These acts will play the two stages in Wiggins Park from July 25th to July 27th of this year, alongside the festival’s headlining concerts at Susquehanna Bank Center featuring Ryan Adams, Jenny Lewis and Dawes (July 26th) and Beck, Band of Horses and The Districts (July 27th).

Hurray for the Riff Raff | Photo by Kate McCann |
Photo by Kate McCann |

The Wiggins Park bill is filled with WXPN favorites, like alt-country heroes Old 97s, Jersey singer-songwriter Nicole Atkins and Diego Garcia, all of whom are return-XPNFest-ers.

There is also an assortment of up-and-coming names like countrified Nashville singer-songwriter Caitlin Rose (featured on World Cafe’s Sense of Place: Nashville series); Bear’s Den, a UK rock trio with a flair for drama (they made a splash at the March Edition of the Communion Club Night at Underground Arts), the jazzy / folky vocal combo Lake Street Dive and the art-pop powerhouse Lucius, (who knocked our socks off at Free at Noon late last year.)

Man Man | Photo by Rachel Barrish |
Man Man | Photo by Rachel Barrish |

The greater Philadelphia scene is nicely represented as well. Bigger names like avant-garde rockers Man Man (who leaked their appearance last week), punk rock troubadour Dave Hause and reinvented folklorists Marah will mix with emerging artists Commonwealth Choir, Our Griffins, Marian Hill, The Lawsuits, Ginger Coyle and Viv and the Revival.

And adding an even more eclectic scope to the lineup is a taste of zydeco from C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band and some Mississippi blues care of harmonica master James Cotton.

Three days passes for new and renewing WXPN members are available now here. Tickets for the general public go on sale on May 1st; as with previous years, three-day passes will include lawn admission to the Susquehanna Bank Center shows (seated tickets to those are on sale separately, here and here).

Below, listen to a Spotify playlist of the Wiggins Park lineup, and read the complete list of artists after the jump.

Wiggins Park
Rodrigo y Gabriela
Trigger Hippy (featuring Joan Osborne, Jackie Greene & Steve Gorman)
Lake Street Dive
Old 97’s
The Hold Steady
Hurray for the Riff Raff
C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band
Man Man
Nicole Atkins
Diego Garcia
James Cotton
J. Roddy Walston & The Business
Dave Hause
Jeremy Messersmith
Caitlin Rose
Bear’s Den
The Lawsuits
Marian Hill
Ginger Coyle
Our Griffins
Viv and the Revival
Commonwealth Choir

Susquehanna Bank Center
Ryan Adams
Jenny Lewis
Band of Horses
The Districts


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Angelique Kidjo at the Prince Theatre, Those Darlins at Boot & Saddle, Our Griffins & Lost In The Trees at Johnny Brenda’s

Photo courtesy of the artist.
Photo courtesy of the artist.
There’s no shortage of musical diversity in town tonight, with some excellent shows touching down on world music, garage rock, alt-country, orchestral pop, and ambient soul. The sensational African musician, singer and songwriter Angelique Kidjo plays the Prince Music Theater tonight. The Grammy award winner is one of the world’s most important and influential African performers. Go here for tickets and information about the show.

Nashville rockers Those Darlins and Diarrhea Planet bring the rock to Boot & Saddle tonight.

Philly’s Our Griffins open for All Tiny Creatures and Lost In The Trees at Johnny Brenda’s. Go here for information.


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Aspiga at Kung Fu Necktie, Minus the Bear at the Electric Factory, Our Griffins / Rosu Lup at North Star Bar

Photo by John Vettese
Photo by John Vettese
New Jersey punk outfit Aspiga will play at Kung Fu Necktie tonight. The band released their split 7 inch record Aspiga/Among Giants back in July. Stream the record below and revisit their performance from our Key Studio Sessions here. Tickets are available at the door for $8.

Continue reading →


The Week’s Best MP3s, incl. Magic Man, Christopher Paul Stelling, Our Griffins

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Folkadelphia shared its session with Christopher Paul Stelling, a musician from New York who is quick-fingered and impassioned.  Stelling performed songs from his new False Cities LP, including “Every Last Extremist,” which you can stream and download below.  Grab the full set here and tune into XPN’s Folk Show with Gene Shay on September 15th to hear more from Stelling.

Our Griffins‘ debut Michael Boyd LP was the focus of this week’s Unlocked series.  The Lehigh Valley project of DJ Brown has grown since its Conversations EP was released in 2012, expanding its introspective hushed sound to a Bon Iver-esque proportions.  Stream and download the “Blood On My Sleeves” below and check out the full feature here.

Kate Faust stopped by for a Key Studio Session recently.  The local singer and collaborator  released her solo Crucial Companion EP this year and performed three songs from the record for this session.  Soaring and personal, the tracks, alongside two new ones, are stellar introductions to Faust and her new band.  Stream and download “Crucial Companion” below and get the full set here.

Wednesday’s My Morning Download was a track from This Frontier Needs Heroes called “It’s Over Now.”  Based in Brooklyn, the brother-sister duo came down to Philly to record Hooky at Dr. Dog’s studio.  Tight vocals and trickling drums float between sitar-sounding melodies, bridging Americana and psychedelic worlds in a delicate and memorable way.  Stream and download the song below.

XPN was happy to premiere Magic Man’s new single “Every Day” this week after getting to know the New England-based band with a My Morning Download earlier this year.  It’s a colorful electro-pop track featured on Magic Man‘s new You Are Here EP, set for release this Tuesday, September 10th.  Download “Every Day” via Noisetrade below.


Unlocked: In conversation with Our Griffins’ D.J. Brown

Our Griffins | Photo courtesy of the artist

In the four years he’s been making music under the Our Griffins moniker, Easton singer and songwriter D.J. Brown has experienced a steady growth. Previously haunted and introverted, his music is now lush, expressive and cathartic, perhaps best exemplified by Michael Boyd, the new full length album we’ve been examining all week in the Unlocked featured album series.

Even since we first met him here on The Key, there’s been a change. As we pointed out on Tuesday, the band was more of a subdued chamber group when it recorded a Key Studio Session in 2012. Flash forward to a Johnny Brenda’s gig opening for Nightlands this sumer, and there was notably more energy, volume and emotion.

I asked Brown how this growth came to be. He sees it, however, as less growth and more realization.

“That’s what I heard in my head all along,” Brown says, attributing the live energy more to getting drummer John Kimock into his his tight-knit ensemble of players. “That was the last piece that fell into place.”

Though another part of it, undoubtely, is the batch of songs on Michael Boyd that find Brown in exploratory mode, simultaneously looking inward and out into the experience of others – specifically his family members.

He came up the with the name for this record when sifting through an old box of family photographs. Continue reading →