The Week’s Best Free MP3s, incl. Sonny Landreth, Busses and more…

Sonny Landreth
Sonny Landreth | Photo by Brittany Salerno for WXPN

Monday kicked off with a My Morning Download from Sonny Landreth.  The Legendary guitarist was on World Cafe for the show’s Sense of Place: Lafayette special recently and he performed a rocking version of his song “Native Son.” Get a free download of the song below and listen back to the full interview and performance here.

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The Chairman Dances cover Wilco and Woody Guthrie with “Someday, Some Morning, Sometime”

The Chairman Dances
The Chairman Dances | photo courtesy of the artist

Local art-rockers The Chairman Dances have released a cover of “Someday, Some Morning, Sometime,” a song with lyrics by Woody Guthrie and music by Jeff Tweedy and Billy Bragg and appearing on Mermaid Avenue Vol II.

The Chairman Dances’ version was premiered on XPN’s Sleepy Hollow with Julian Booker last weekend and comes along with the announcement of a new EP;  Samantha Says will be recorded with Daniel Smith (Sufjan Stevens, mewithoutYOU) and is the follow up to Chairman Dances’ 2014 The Death of Samuel Miller.  Stream and download the cover below.

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Hey you! Check out this new music video from The Chairman Dances

The Chairman Dances | photo courtesy of the artist
The Chairman Dances | photo courtesy of the artist

The Chairman Dances just released a music video for what will be their first single off their new album, The Death of Samuel Miller.  The track is titled “Dance to the Neighbor’s Stereo,” and it’s going to be the catchiest song you hear today.  You can’t not like it.  If you say you don’t like it, then you’re just lying to yourself.

The video is set in the year 1990, with the band members displaying typical 90s fashion trends such as flannel shirts, ugly sweaters, and Michael Jordan Bulls jerseys.  The band acts as a stereo, blasting their music loudly so the neighbors can hear and dance along.  But keep a look out for the single’s release this Tuesday, and the album’s release on June 27th via Grizzly Records (they’ll be playing the Rotunda on Walnut Street this same night).

Dance to the Neighbor’s Stereo from Steady State Productions on Vimeo.


The Key’s Year End Mania: Kate Bracaglia’s Top 5 tunes by local artists

Photo by Laura Jane Brubaker
Year End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2013 awesome. In this installment, our trusted reporter Kate Bracaglia talks Philly tunes.

Living in Philadelphia, I’m always blown away by how many amazing artists there are right in our back yard, crafting tunes capable of filling many, many carefully curated playlists. 2013 was no exception. There were so many great songs released this year that picking just five was really tough. And so—in support of all the unsigned and DIY bands out there—I limited myself to tunes that were self-released or on small indie labels (sorry Kurt Vile/Man Man/Purling Hiss). These are bands you might not have heard of yet, but who are very capable of becoming new faves. Happy 2013!

 5. Laser Background, “Disappearing Ink”

The first tune off Laser Background’s first full-length, Super Future Montage, teems with lush vocal layers, wiggly guitar lines, and Andy Molholt’s nasally vocals. Molholt tells John Vettese the record was inspired by childhood, Roald Dahl books, and imagination, a combo that apparently yields breezy, summertime pop.

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The Week So Far: 11 must-read stories on The Key (incl. Rosanne Cash, The Staves, Dr. Dog)


Rosanne Cash | Photo by Chris Sikich |
Rosanne Cash | Photo by Chris Sikich |

Rosanne Cash stunned a sold-out Sellersville Theater crowd Sunday night – check out photos and a review of the concert [link]

Experimental cellist Dan Kassel is featured in this week’s Key Studio Session [link]

Brand new Philly rapper JustXSudan released a debut track called “Away” – get to know him in this week’s profile [link]

Give a listen to XPN’s Gotta Hear Song of the Week, “Young Fathers” by Typhoon [link]

Pattern is Movement will headline Union Transfer in October with support from Norwegian Arms, The Spinto Band and Worshyper [link]

Check out Kurt Vile‘s cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Down In It,” recorded for A.V. Undercover [link]

XPN premiered a new track from TV On the Radio called “Million Miles” [link]

Before releasing B-Room in October, Dr. Dog have shared a second track “Broken Heart” [link]

The Staves joined Folkadelphia at the Historic St. George’s United Methodist Church for a spectacular Suitcase Session [link]

Fishtown River City Festival announced headliners for its 6th annual event, including Vacationer and Cheers Elephant [link]

The Chairman Dances will perform at Friday’s opening of the Pterodactyl Gallery’s new exhibit, the Unnatural Behaviour [link]


The Chairman Dances head up opening of Unnatural Behaviour exhibit at Pterodactyl Gallery

chairman-dances-620x413-1Opening this Friday at Port Richmond’s Pterodactyl Gallery, the Unnatural Behaviour exhibit is a month-long celebration of up-and-coming Philadelphia artists – illustrators Jenn Hall and Luca Chiriani, painter Nicholas Stathopoulos and more – and Philly art-pop luminaries The Chairman Dances will headline the opening night concert. The band released its ambitious second LP Michael and the Prophetess earlier this year, blending literary allusions, modern classical motifs and pop songwriting (read Kate Bracaglia’s interview here); to coincide with the Pterodactyl opening, they released a music video for “The Words Came Out at Once,” the song that opens the LP in a progressive swell, building from airy and minimal to orchestral. The music video, produced by J. Randolph Brown and Steady State Productions, follows band members through black and white Old City with an alluring color overlay. Check it out below, and find out more about the Unnatural Behaviour opening at its Facebook event page.

The Words Came All At Once [Prologue] from Steady State Productions on Vimeo.


The Chairman Dances covers Joni Mitchell’s “Blonde in the Bleachers” (playing Milkboy on 8/2)

chairman-dances-620x413-1Philly-based group The Chairman Dances, whose latest LP Michael and the Prohetess is available now via their Bandcamp, recently took a break from writing their own music to do a charming cover of Joni Mitchell’s “Blonde in the Bleachers” from her 1972 album For The Roses. Check out the Gregor Knell-directed video for the cover below, as well as the original, and be sure to catch The Chairman Dances this coming Friday, August 2nd, when they’ll be performing at Milkboy Philly. More info can be found here.

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The Chairman Dances take an artisan approach to songwriting (playing Kung Fu Necktie on 6/14)

The Chairman Dances: your fave library band (photo via Steady State Productions)
The Chairman Dances: your fave library band (photo via Steady State Productions)

If the Philly music scene were a school, The Chairman Dances would be the library, an endless trove of information and stories; if it were a food court, they’d be an artisan bakery, selling handmade pastries crafted with care. The Philly art-pop foursome take a classical, craftsmen approach to songwriting—while other bands are getting stoned in the basement and jamming mindlessly, The Chairman Dances are fastidiously arranging string and horn parts, and working in allusions to their favorite literary works. It’s all in a day’s work for the band, whose members all boast music degrees, and whose new LP Michael and the Prophetessout Friday, teems with lush strings, horns, and yes, allusions.

“We’re sort of library band,” says bassist Ben Rosen with a smile.

It’s an appropriate description, given that Rosen met vocalist/guitarist Eric Krewson while working at U Penn’s rare books department; the friends teamed up with drummer Mike Giuliana (a classmate of Krewson’s) in 2010, and The Chairman Dances were born. Guitarist Andrew Ciampa came on board earlier this year, rounding out the current line-up.

The band’s name is a nod to the 1985 outtake of John Adam’s opera Nixon in China, which Krewson (who adapted the moniker while still an undergrad), finds particularly inspiring. The rest of the band shares his fervor.  “Modern classical music has always had an influence on our songwriting,” says Ciampa.

As eldest statesman, Krewson is the band’s primary songwriter. A wiry, bookish type who graduated from Drexel’s music industry program, and Temple’s musicology program, he gushes about the influences of Mikhail Bulgakov (who Michael was named after), Vladimir Nabokov, and Gabriel García Márquez in his songwriting, and explains how Michael employs magical realism to access complex emotions.

“In some ways I think that [magical realism] can be more true than writing in a sort of Hemingway style,” he explains, noting how Michael fuses the magical and the mundane— “because I think when you make that leap, or use hyperbole in that way, it can resonate more emotionally.”

Michael tells the story of a young man growing up in 1956 Brooklyn, and peppers its narrative with supernatural elements. Continue reading →


Download Philamixington II, featuring Norwegian Arms, Radiator Hospital, Catnaps and more


Matt Marchinowski of Big School Records is moving out of Philadelphia.  To celebrate his time here, Marchinowski has pieced together a snapshot of the local music scene with a 27-track mixtape called Philamixington II, available as a free download via his Tumblr.  The second installment in the local music mixtape series, this collection samples various genres, circles and side projects with tracks from radio favorites like Cheers Elephant (pictured), basement staples Roof Doctor and The Hundred Acre Woods and new-projects-from-old-buddies like Avery Rosewater.  From Marchinowski:

Although April will see my moving out of Philadelphia for the peaceful confines of the sticks I will still consider its scene ‘home’. It wasn’t easy narrowing this collection down to 27 jawns but I can assure you it won’t be the last notch in the Philamixington series.

Download the full mixtape for free on Beat the Indie Drum here and stream a sampling of the tracks below.  The first Philamixington set can be downloaded here.


The Week’s Best MP3 Downloads, incl. Oldermost, Ruby the Hatchet, The Lawsuits


In advance of their upcoming debut full-length, local five-piece Oldermost dropped a download of two free tracks earlier this week. “Close to the Fire” and “Once I Left” display two distinct moods of the band, recalling dreamy Americana favorites My Morning Jacket and Lord Huron. Stream the songs below and download them on Oldermost’s Bandcamp here.

New Paradise Laboratories have announced that they will put their production of 27 back on the stage this spring.  The play takes a surreal and improvised look at music’s “27 Club” with portrayals of Amy Winehouse, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain.  Narrator / musical accompanist Alec MacLaughlin stopped in the WXPN studios for an interview and improvisation session during the play’s run last fall – download his appearance below.

Tuesday’s My Morning Download featured Philly’s The Lawsuits and their new single “Onion.”  The track, and the album it will appear on, was recorded by Bill Moriarty.  With the release of Cool Cool Cool happening this summer, the band has some free time on their hands, which they will fill with a few shows next month – catch The Lawsuits at Johnny Brenda’s on May 3rd, at The Fire on May 5th and at Hard Rock Cafe on May 10th.  Tickets and information for all shows can be found here.  Download “Onion” here and check out the Key Studio Session version below.

Ruby the Hatchet stopped by to record this week’s Key Studio Session, reprising two songs from their wild Ouroboros album that was released last fall and previewing a new one, “Paralyzed,” which you can stream and download below.  The Angry Mountain was also on hand to capture the local band’s performance of “Paralyzed” on film.  Ruby the Hatchet will be at Kung Fu Necktie on April 25th – tickets and information can be found here.  Check out the full session here.

Ruby The Hatchet “Paralyzed” from The Angry Mountain on Vimeo.

Local art rock outfit The Chairman Dances shared their new two song Michael and the Prophetess EP this week.  The free download is “a song cycle steeped in biblical language and set in a fictionalized 1950s era Brooklyn” and follows the band’s longer form concept efforts A Promise and Long Lost / A History of Iniquity.  The Chairman Dances will perform at Kung Fu Necktie on June 14th; tickets and information can be found here.