There’s plenty of holiday music to go around, but the season always seems a little more festive when a new tune comes our way. John Legend recently put his own stamp on some classic holiday songs with his new album A Legendary Christmas, and just released a fun, retro-inspired video for “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.” The singer duets with Esperanza Spalding on the track, and the video sees both musicians decked out in their holiday best, reveling in the season’s festivities as they sing. Continue reading →
Massive Attack’s influential 1998 album Mezzanine is turning 21. To celebrate, the band has announced the Mezzanine XXI anniversary tour of Europe, the UK, and North America in 2019. Accompanying them will be Liz Fraser of the Cocteau Twins, who sang on several songs on the album, most famously on “Teardrop.” In a statement the band called the tour, “our own personalized nostalgia nightmare head trip.” Massive Attack reissued Mezzanine encoding the album into DNA, and released a limited edition in the form of spray paint. Continue reading →
English rock act The Zombies are back! The band will be touring their Odyssey & Oracle record with all surviving members who appeared on the album. Since guitarist Paul Atkinson passed away in 2004, they will be completed by Tom Tooney and Steve and Jim Rodford.
The tour will hit Glenside’s Keswick Theatre October 11th, and you can get tickets and more information at the XPN Concert Calendar. If that was not enough for fans, they have announced that they are planning to release a record some time in the fall. More info at their website; listen to Odyssey & Oracle below. Continue reading →
Whenever I walk into a venue, I look around and try to guess the median age of the crowd. Sometimes it’s for kicks, but sometimes it’s very telling about what the nature of the concert will be. I’ve walked into enough shows with the crowd brimming with high-school age teenagers to know that, should the crowd be of this age, the show will involve the bulk of the audience bobbing their heads and pretending to know the words. Alvvays at Union Transfer was very much an exception. Continue reading →
Philly indie rockers Mike Pays Heat released an EP last week called Headspace. When we first met the group back in September, after we took note of their quirky tunage and fun Youtube videos. Now, the group has collaborated with Modern Baseball bassist Ian Farmer to produce their new record, an exciting point for the band. Continue reading →
San Diego’s Rocket From The Crypt proved they were back from the dead last week, rocking a sweaty, aggressive packed house at Underground Arts. The group disbanded in 2005 after fifteen years and seven guitar-and-horn-fueled punk albums together, including the classic Scream, Dracula, Scream! in 1995. The band was also known for saying that anyone that got a Rocket From The Crypt tattoo would be admitted to any show by the band for free. They reunited under the most bizarre circumstances, due to a children’s TV show. Singer John “Speedo” Reis is a recurring character on Yo Gabba Gabba called “The Swami” and the band reunited to play on an episode in 2011. One thing led to another and the band has since played some dates and a handful of festivals, sticking to their old material while being warmly received by fans that never expected to see them together again.
Timothy Olyphant look-alike Dan Sartain opened, delivering a memorable forty minute rapid fire set of his rumbling rockabilly punk rock. Joined by just a drummer, Sartain sweated and bashed out chords on his battle-worn Silvertone hollowbody guitar. The Ramones influence is obvious in his music and fittingly he kickstarted most songs with a hearty 1-2-3-4 countdown. The crowd seemed very familiar with his material, and sang along frequently. Sartain seemed to really appreciate the crowd’s reaction, and proved he was one of them by showing off an old Rocket From The Crypt tattoo on his upper right arm. Sartain has a new album called Dudesblood due out soon.
After Sartain’s set ended there was a forty five minute wait for Rocket From The Crypt to take the stage, which led to some grumbling in the sell-out crowd. All was forgiven when the band hit the stage and ignited the crowd with a trio of songs from their ‘95 EP The State of Art is on Fire – “Light Me,” “A+ In Arson Class” and “Rid Or Ride.” What followed was an intense twenty-plus song set spanning their career with neither the band nor crowd taking their foot off the gas pedal till the end. The six piece band barely fit on the small stage and the crowd was even packed around the open sides of the stage, giving the show a claustrophobic but exciting vibe. The crowd cheered and smiled throughout, regularly surging forward to get closer to the band. The highlight of the night was a swaggering blitz through the first three songs from Scream, Dracula, Scream! – “Middle,” “Born in ‘69” and “Rope”.that sent the crowd into a sweaty, moshing, roaring frenzy. The band’s performance spoke louder than words, and it said that this is a band that is still powerful and that can have a future to add to their past success. Here’s hoping that they stay together and make more music.
Frances Quinlan is melting hearts once again. On Friday morning, she came to Facebook with some pretty stellar news for any fan of Philly punk band Hop Along – the group is set to go on a nationwide tour with West Coast stops supporting Waxahatchee and East Coast stops supporting the band Owls. Quinlan and her crew will be swing by Union Transfer on July 14. Tickets for the all-ages show are $15 and doors open at 7 p.m.
Oh, and for those who don’t know, Owls is the project of Tim and Mike Kinsella, Victor Villarreal and Sam Zurrick; pretty much, it’s everybody from iconic emo band Cap’n Jazz, less Davey van Bohlen (aka the guy from The Promise Ring and Maritime). The members of Owls have also variously played in Owen, Joan of Arc, Make Believe, and Ghosts and Vodka.
But you’d never really be able to guess with their newest record. However, you still get exactly what you need from each artist. Two‘s got that punk poppy feel loaded with sporadic guitar notes that have Villarreal moving up and down the neck at lightning speed.
The story of Karmin is one of the most interesting in music the last few years. Engaged pop duo Nick Noonan and Amy Heidemann started out covering hits by other artists in an attempt to show off their talents. They amassed millions of views on YouTube and fulfilled the dreams of every struggling musician by getting signed to a major label. They got backed by Questlove of the Roots here and here. They released an EP called Hello in 2012 that yielded a hit in the form of the inescapably catchy “Brokenhearted.” Everything seemed to be going their way, but then the ride got bumpy. The first full length album, Pulses, has been complete for over a year but in limbo due to disagreements between Karmin and Epic Records. The band is out on the road for their first tour as headliners despite the album not being for sale (it’s scheduled for release 5/25), and gave an impressive show at the Theatre Of Living Arts on Friday night on one of the first dates of their Pulses tour. Continue reading →
Nika Danilova, perhaps more commonly known as Zola Jesus, always seems to have something interesting up her sleeve. This time around, she’s releasing a collection of previously recorded/released material transformed into classical string arrangements, called Versions. The album will be out later next month, and in support of the unique new LP, she, accompanied by producer JG Thirlwell, and the Mivos Quartet, will set out on a short string of US tour dates, kicking off early in the fall. The tour gets started at Philly’s own Ibrahim Theater on September 12th. Tickets are on sale now, and more info can be found here. Check out the new version of the previously released tune “Avalanche”, below.
Legendary 80s rockers The Waterboys have announced that they’ll be making a stop in Philly this fall, for a show at The Electric Factory on September 29th. The band will be performing material from their latest full-length, 2011’s An Appointment with Mr Yeats, out now via Proper Records, as well as all their classic hits and fan-favorites; Freddite Stevenson will open. Tickets go on sale July 13th, at noon. Find more info here, and listen to the single, “Sweet Dancer”, off An Appointment with Mr Yeats, below.