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Nirvana, Garbage recording sessions remembered in The Smart Studios Story doc, screening at PhilaMOCA

Steve Marker in Smart Studios, 1987. Note the studio Mac computer to his right. | via facebook.com/thesmartstudiosstory

It’s hard to believe that a nondescript, seemingly-abandoned brick building on a street corner in Madison, WI could produced records like Nirvana’s Nevermind, Smashing Pumpkin’s Gish, and Death Cab for Cutie’s Plans, but that’s exactly what Smart Studios did.

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Get to know No Thank You with her debut EP A Nü Start

No Thank You
No Thank You | via nothankyouband.bandcamp.com

Raw acoustics, dreamy vocals, and stunning lyrics are a just a few of the things you can expect from new Philly artist No Thank You.

The project of singer and songwriter Kate Della Monica, No Thank You recently posted a three-track demo on Bandcamp called A Nü Start. The tracks were recorded on her iPhone in Della Monica’s house in South Philly.

The straightforward approach to recording gives these songs a reverberant vibe similar to Bon Iver’s massive hit For Emma, Forever Ago. We hear Della Monica playing acoustic guitar accompanied by breezy vocals; the intro track “Juicy J” juxtaposes a persisting guitar riff with idyllic lyrics: “Colors that are complementing spectral spiral never ending / I feel so astoundingly pretty around you.” It carries a poetic sense of innocence. Continue reading →

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The Key Presents: Pinegrove

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

“I’m a happy guy that makes sad music,” jokes Evan Stephens Hall with a smile. Spending time with someone as effervescent as Hall in person, you might never even realize the fact that the songs he writes for Pinegrove bring together packed rooms of yelling, sometimes tearful people. But over the past year, Pinegrove catapulted from their hometown of Montclair, NJ to the big time — signing to Run For Cover Records, selling out almost every date of a massive summer tour of the US and appearing at festivals like Lollapalooza. The reception speaks volumes to the relatability and maturity that Evan brings to the project. These aren’t just sad songs for sad people, or an attempt to jump on the “emo revival” bandwagon. These songs are holistically approached pieces of work, that touch on every emotion under the sun — good and bad. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: LVL Up at PhilaMOCA and Pylon Reenactment Society at Johnny Brenda’s

LVL UP | photo by Shawn Brackbill
LVL UP | photo by Shawn Brackbill

Tonight, the lo-fi Indie rockers of LVL Up will be playing at the PhilaMOCA. The four-piece outfit just released their third full length LP, Return to Love, on Sub Pop Records; read our interview with the Brooklyn band here, and let them personally guide you through their new album tonight at PhilaMOCA. For more information about the show check out the XPN Concert Calendar. Watch the video for “The Closing Door” off their new album below. Continue reading →

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INTERVIEW: Brooklyn indie darlings LVL UP on making their most fully realized album, Return to Love

LVL UP | photo by Shawn Brackbill
LVL UP | photo by Shawn Brackbill

I’ll refrain from making the obvious joke here, and just say this: LVL UP‘s new album Return to Love sounds massive.

After five years and a couple of releases circling the grittier home-recorded periphery of the indie rock universe, the band goes full in on it’s third long player, released today on Sub Pop Records. Fuzzed out punk gives way to pristine pop, and you’ll hear hints of Neutral Milk Hotel and Pavement as much as you will Nada Surf and Fountains of Wayne. In short, it’s their most fully realized album on the sonic front, and talking to singer-guitarists Mike Caridi and Dave Benton, the guys are remarkably level-headed (ugggggggh, #dadjokes) and earnest about their craft.

I caught up with them via phone from Benton’s apartment in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. It was a hot August day and the band was laying low; they didn’t have anything on the calendar until a music video shoot the following week and a gig at Hopscotch fest in early September. Below, read our conversation about recording, running a label, and how their band and business lives intersect. Continue reading →

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Celebrate 9 years of The Deli at PhilaMOCA next month with local music and lots of fun

retinas
The Retinas | photo by Ashley Cordoba | courtesy of the artist

Our friends over at The Deli are celebrating nine years of supporting local bands next month, and of course they’re doing it in style. An anniversary bash has been scheduled for Saturday, October 15th at PhilaMOCA with live music, free snacks and an open bar for 21+ partygoers. The all-local line-up includes indie pop act LOUDS and garage rockers The Retinas, with more fun to be announced as we get closer to the big date. In the past, The Deli’s birthday parties have included costume contests and live DJ sets so who knows what else they have up their sleeves for this milestone.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Weaves / Cayetana at PhilaMOCA, Bonnie Raitt at The Mann, Flightschool at The Foundry and more

Weaves | photo via NPR Music

High-energy Toronto indie rock four piece Weaves wrap up their summer tour with Philly punk favorites Cayetana tonight at PhilaMOCA. Weaves self-titled LP came out earlier this year, while Cayetana is working on the followup to its 2014 debut Nervous Like Me. Find tickets and more information for the all ages show at the XPN Concert Calendar. Below, listen to Weaves’ recent feature on World Cafe, and watch Cayetana performing “Madame B” during their 2015 Cafe session. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Pick: Amanda X at PhilaMOCA

Amanda X
Amanda X | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | racheldelsordophotography.com

Amanda X headline PhilaMOCA tonight. The band of Cat Park and Kat Bean has long been a favorite of the local scene, ever since their 2012 debut Ruin EP. Since then they’ve given us songs that reach from garage rock to airy atmospheric punk, most recently on the 7″ single Hundreds and Thousands. Listen to that recording below and get more information for tonight’s all-ages show with Shelf Life, Winter Break and Yankee Bluff here. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Wildhoney at PhilaMOCA, Tiny Rhymes at Rigby Mansion, GoToBeds at Kung Fu Necktie and more…

wildhoney
Wildhoney | photo by Zach Inscho | courtesy of the artist

Baltimore outfit Wildhoney are doing a quick tour with Philly’s Literature, and the pair hit PhilaMOCA tonight. Wildhoney’s dreamy popgaze was put on glistening display with last year’s Your Face Sideways and continues with brand new track “Horror Movie.” The latter is part of a collaborative “mini LP” curated by Slumberland Records and Fortuna POP!. More information for the all-ages show with Hurry and Free Cake for Every Creature can be found here.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Girlpool at PhilaMOCA, Tigers + Thieves at Tellus 360, Teenage Bigfoot at Kung Fu Necktie and more…

Girlpool
Girlpool | photo by Simon Klein for WXPN

Local duo Girlpool play PhilaMOCA tonight while in the midst of a quick east coast tour. Cleo and Harmony released their breakthrough LP Before the World Was Big last year, which quickly got picked up by outlets like the New York Times and NPR (they even filmed a killer Tiny Desk Concert). Watch the video for “Magnifying Glass” below and pick up tickets for the all-ages concert here.

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