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Listen to Toy Soldiers’ new Daytrotter Session (playing the Strand Capitol on 10/26)

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Toy Soldiers have always been an active band (they played a couple hundred shows in 2012 alone) so it’s no surprise the news keeps rolling out of their rootsy and rocking camp.  Today’s installment is the Philly band’s Daytrotter Session, recorded a few weeks ago in Rock Island, IL while on tour supporting their debut full-length The Maybe Boys.  The five-track live session pulls content from that LP and includes a new song called “Street Sweeper” (which Ron Gallo and his troupe also recorded for their September Key Studio Session).  Daytrotter members can listen to and download the set here.  Below, stream and download the KSS take of “Street Sweeper.”  XPN welcomes Toy Soldiers to the Strand Capitol Theater in York, PA on October 26th, and the boys will be back in town at The Ardmore Music Hall on December 14th.  Tickets and information for both events can be found here.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Local Natives at Electric Factory, Anjuli Josephine at MilkBoy, Alo Brazil at Underground Arts

localnatives970600WXPN welcomes L.A. indie rock outfit Local Natives to the Electric Factory tonight. If you missed them on their summer tour, the band just released a video shot between performances completely on their phones put to the stimulating single “Ceilings” off of their latest release Hummingbird. Catch them on their Fall tour by finding tickets and information for tonight’s show here. Watch the new “Ceilings” video below.

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Toy Soldiers will perform at Out Of Town Films’ second “pop-up concert” this Wednesday

Photo by Seth Klinger
Photo by Seth Klinger

If you missed Toy Soldiers‘ epic, sold-out album-release party for The Maybe Boys this past Friday night, here’s a chance to make up for it. Our friends at Out of Town Films just sent out word that they’re hosting their second “pop-up concert” this Wednesday, September 18th, and Ron Gallo and crew are the stars.

The series is basically what it sounds like – a band performs a free concert at an undisclosed location, and the Out of Town videographers film it for a series of live shorts. Their first one happened this summer with The Districts at Girard Hall in Fishtown; to RSVP for this show, shoot an email to outoftownfilms(at)gmail(dot)com. You’ll be notified of the location the morning of the show. Below, check out The Districts performing “Long Distance” at the first pop-up concert, and download “Tomorrow to Today” from Toy Soldiers’ Key Studio Session.

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The Week’s Best Free MP3s, incl. Balance and Composure, Free Energy, Ben Smith

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Toy Soldiers celebrated the release of their full-length The Maybe Boys with a Key Studio Session. For their encore session (they first visited the WXPN studios in 2010) the rootsy blues rock band recorded a few songs from the new record, as well as an unreleased track called “Street Sweeper.” Stream and download “Heart in a Mousetrap” below and get the full set here.

West Chester’s Ben Smith has released a new EP called Ravine Road. The singer-songwriter recorded it himself in his home studio, using vintage equipment he picked up at the estate sale of his seventh-grade teacher. Listen to the title track below and get a name-your-own-price download here.

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Energy, confidence and devil sticks: Toy Soldiers celebrate The Maybe Boys at Johnny Brenda’s

Toy Soldiers | Photo by Mike Bucher | www.bucherphotography.com
Toy Soldiers | Photo by Mike Bucher | www.bucherphotography.com

All photos by Mike Bucher | www.bucherphotography.com

Toy Soldiers released their newest record, The Maybe Boys, this past Tuesday and celebrated last night with a sold-out release party at Johnny Brenda’s last night. Overheard within the crowd before the five-piece took stage: “I’ve never seen so many people I don’t know but from seeing them at Toy Soldier’s shows.” Said crowder noticed the Levee Drivers, TJ Kong, and members of the Get Real Gang in the attendance.

The boys opened up with an enormous rendition of “Heart in a Mousetrap,” and weaved in and out of old and new songs, shouting out the record’s producer, Bill Moriarty, before performing its first song, “Tell the Teller.”

Thing is, I’d never been to a Toy Soldiers show before last night. I’d also never been to a show with a live devil sticks performance until last night. It’s been sometime since I’ve had that problem where my shoes stick to the floor that’s sticky with so many spilled beers, but no one in the room last night was holding back.

On stage and off — it was the same energy, same confidence through and through. Absolutely everyone is dancing, from front man Ron Gallo on stage and members of the audience, who whip each other around frenzied-like. It’s no wonder about the beer thing, no one’s worried about a little spilled beer.

It’s a community effort and it’s obvious that most of the crowd has never missed a show. In fact, a ton of the crowd is a part of this particular music community, playing side-by-side with the outfit more often than not. Maybe this show is a way of forgetting the day, whatever happened during it, and to kind of just bask in Toy Soldiers’ energy and the group’s loud, fiery onstage presence.

One lucky member of the audience even got to get on the devil sticks for the entirety of “Throw Me Down,” a few minutes before the show ended and there was a mad dash to pick up the ceremonious vinyl from the merch table.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: XPN Welcomes Toy Soldiers at Johnny Brenda’s, Steve Gunn at Little Berlin, XPN Welcomes Shovels & Rope at Union Transfer and more

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Toy Soldiers celebrate the release of The Maybe Boys at Johnny Brenda’s.  The local roots / rock outfit recorded the LP with Bill Moriarty (Dr. Dog, Man Man) this year,  capturing most of the songs in a live set-up.  Live is the best way to experience the band – they’ve clocked in hundreds of shows on the road and know how to get the crowd invested.  Tickets and information for tonight’s 21+ show can be found here.  Check out Toy Soldiers’ Key Studio Session from earlier this week here and watch them perform “Tell the Teller” and “Forget How it Used to Be” below.

Steve Gunn returns to his home city for a show with Cian Nugent and Chris Forsyth at Little Berlin tonight.  The guitarist / singer has reached a new audience with his latest Time Off release, which he put out earlier this year through Paradise of Bachelors.  As he proved at the record’s release show in June, Gunn has a knack for blending playing styles from all over the world in an enthralling and transcendent way.  Tickets and information for tonight’s show can be found here.  Below, watch Gunn’s Tiny Desk Concert, presented by NPR Music.

Cold Roses headline MilkBoy Philly tonight.  The gravely-voiced local band released its debut EP The Georgia Fugue earlier this year and recently followed it up with August’s “The One You Love” single, taken from an upcoming LP.  Cold Roses echo the hard-lived grit of deep country rock but temper the edge with upbeat, danceable melodies.  Tickets and information for tonight’s show can be found here.  Listen to “Lose That Man” below.

XPN welcomes Shovels and Rope to Union Transfer.  The husband and wife duo have toured with Dawes, Jack White and Justin Townes Earle since releasing their debut LP O’ Be Joyful but are striking out on a headlining tour across the States this fall.  Based in South Carolina, Shovels & Rope perform foot-stomping , twangy and heartfelt country that is easy to sing along to.  Tickets and information for the show can be found here.  Watch the band perform “Gasoline” below.

Also happening: Hard Skin at Boot & Saddle; Randall Bramblett at the Sellersville Theater; Cheers Elephant at Ortlieb’s.  Tickets and information for all shows can be found on the XPN Concert Calendar.

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The Key Studio Sessions: Toy Soldiers

TSPhilly’s Toy Soldiers were featured on The Key Studio Sessions once before, but back then it was a completely different band. Ron Gallo was still at the helm, and the music was still a romping rootsy Americana-blues pastiche, but the scope was through the roof by comparison. Fluctuating between seven and eleven members (I believe nine were in the lineup the day we recorded, but records from that era are spotty), there were horns, backup singers, folkified instrumentation (banjo, uke), and gang vocals; all various things that made their 2009 debut LP Whisper Down the Lane sound really really big.

The newly-released sophomore album The Maybe Boys also sounds big, but the band has grown more focused. Through various personnel changes, Gallo is playing with an entirely different crew: Dominic Billett on drums, Bill McCloskey on bass, Matt Kelly on guitar and
Luke Leidy on keys. They’ve been together long enough (two-plus years) and play out with enough frequency that Toy Soldiers is a massively well-oiled machine that blew through its return Key Studio Session in no time flat. The band even had time to squeeze in an unreleased ragtime jammer called “Street Sweeper,” and tack on a punk-ish homage to Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’” at the end of “Tell The Teller” (pretty funny).

Beyond the band’s tightness and lighthearted air, this new record find Toy Soldiers being musically adventurous in a different way – not through pileups of instruments and voices, but by stretching its musical vernacular. My favorite moment in our session was a sleek performance of “Tomorrow To Today,” a number rooted in poppy Afro-Cuban jazz. It’s a sound and rhythm that I couldn’t imagine the Toy Soldiers orchestra of yore pulling off, and here’s to hearing more of that as the band continues to grow. Toy Soldiers celebrates the release of The Maybe Boys this Friday, September 13th at Johnny Brenda’s; get tickets and information here, and download the session below.

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