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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Japandroids at Union Transfer, Maxi Priest at The Keswick Theatre, The Best of Joey Sweeney at Johnny Brenda’s, Work Drugs with Shark Tape at Ortlieb’s, XPN Welcomes Ra Ra Riot at The Chameleon Club

Vancouver, BC duo Japandroids shook the walls at their midsummer Johnny Brenda’s show and tonight they’ll shake the walls of Union Transfer.  Japandroids are touring in support of an album many consider to be one of the year’s best (here, here and here).  The punk rockers released Celebration Rock earlier this year and were subsequently named Band of the Year by Spin, with their song “The House That Heaven Built” being named Song of the Summer by Paste.  Tickets and information for tonight’s show with DIIV can be found here.  Below, watch the video for “The House That Heaven Built.”

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The Week’s Best MP3 Downloads, incl. Ellie Goulding, Kingsfoil and The Trouble With Sweeney

Joey Sweeney | Photo by Marie Alyse Rodriguez
Alex James, the Blur-bassist-turned-cheesemaker, once said he celebrated his 20th birthday with alcohol, his 30th with drugs and his 40th with food.  I can’t speak to how Arctic Splash‘s Joey Sweeney celebrated his 20th and 30th birthdays but I do know his 40th will be celebrated with a reunion of his bands, past and present, at Johnny Brenda’s on December 8th.  To celebrate the celebration, download “The Break Up” from Sweeney’s 1999-2004 band The Trouble With Sweeney.  Information about the show is available here.

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The Trouble With Sweeney (and more) reuniting for Johnny Brenda’s show next month

There’s been a lot of excitement for Philly bands circa late 90s / early aughts in the past week. First there was The Low Road’s reunion at The Tin Angel, then there was the announcement that B.C. Camplight will be releasing a new album in early 2013. Now we hear that The Trouble With Sweeney – the rock and roll combo fronted by then-Philadelphia Weekly writer, now-Philebrity editor Joey Sweeney – is reuniting for an appearance at Johnny Brenda’s on Saturday, December 8. Capping off a night they’re calling “JOEY SWEENEY YOUR LIFE IS CALLING: The Best Of Joey Sweeney, 1992-2012,” Jojo’s current band Arctic Splash is also on the bill, along with The Barnabys, the group he started at age 17, and Bitter Bitter Weeks, the band fronted by Philly uber-producer (and Sweeney’s friend) Brian McTear. The whole night is in celebration of Joey’s 40th brithday, and tickets and information on the show (party? happening?) are available at the venue’s website. Below, listen to “The Break Up,” the melancholic-poppy opening track from The Trouble’s 2002 LP I Know You Destroy.

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The Key Studio Sessions: Heyward Howkins

The rare combination of a warm southern storyteller and a cool northern soul, Heyward Howkins is a longtime player in Philadelphia’s music scene who is coming into his own on the debut LP he’ll release later this month. The Hale and The Hearty is an album that rewards multiple listens – particularly the selections that Howkins recorded spaciously arranged versions of for his Key Studio Session with guitarist Severin Tucker and drummer Erik Schmidt. “Spanish Moss,” one of the best songs I’ve heard this year, is simultaneously a nod to the songwriter’s family roots in Georgia, as well as a vignette of working class life in Philadelphia. It’s so lyrically subtle, you almost have to be from the 215 to pick up on all the clever turns of phrase it contains (the line “My city’s way hungover / still sore from red October” is a good one), but the song is also melodic and sublime in a way that transcends its regional references. Likewise, “The Live Oak” makes a solid case for naming Howkins poet laureate of Oaklyn, N.J. The album is in stores and online on June 26, but you can get a copy early with the price of admission at this weekend’s album pre-release show at the Maas Building in Fishtown. Heyward Howkins performs with Oh! Pears, Le Fits and Juliet Hope Wayne at The Maas Building, 1320 N. 5th St., on Sat. June 9 at 8 p.m. Admission to the show is $10.