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Free at Noon Flashback: The Lone Bellow exudes togetherness in an exuberant World Cafe Live set

The Lone Bellow | photo by Liz Waldie for WXPN

Fall — at least for me — is time for sad folk music. As leaves are painted warmer, and breezes are swept colder, that somber sweet-spot of brittle-strummed melancholy whispers endlessly from my earbuds. And as these songs are often paired with hopeless, dismal lyrics, this seasonal soundtrack tends to be more than a little depressing.

Enter: The Lone Bellow’s exuberantly optimistic vein of folk, which will have none of this dispirited business. Though in no way strangers to feelings of pain and devastation, members Zach Williams, Brian Elmquist, and Kanene Donehy Pipkin have an infectious ability to channel their wounds into earnest hopefulness.

The result is a sound that lets you wallow — but only if we’re all wallowing together in unison. A sound that says yes, life is very often the absolute worst, and don’t worry, we are going to croak out the intense heartache of it all. But we are also going to yell and shout and stomp and clap up a storm of unbridled joy.

All of which these moods were summed up immediately at today’s sold out Free at Noon, as the trio opened their acoustic set by belting the bluesy prayer, “Is It Ever Gonna Be Easy,” off their newest album, Walk Into a Storm. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: The Lone Bellow at Union Transfer, Friendship at Everybody Hits, AllegrA at Planet Phitness, and more

The Lone Bellow
The Lone Bellow | Photo by Hope Helmuth for WXPN | hopehelmuth.com

The wait is almost over for The Lone Bellow‘s long-anticipated Union Transfer appearance, the band’s first Philly show in two years. If you missed out on today’s sold out Free at Noon, you can still catch the folk rockers tonight, along with openers The Wild Reeds. The Lone Bellow released their third studio album Walk Into A Storm in September. Find tickets and more information on tonight’s show on the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Slowdive at Union Transfer, Arkells at Underground Arts, Plaque Marks at Kung Fu Necktie, and more

Slowdive | photo by Ingrid Pop | courtesy of the artist
Slowdive | photo by Ingrid Pop | courtesy of the artist

Slowdive, a perenniel 90s shoegaze favorite, is back on tour after releasing their first album in 22 years. The band hits the Union Transfer stage to show off their spaced out dreampop sound, which is still solid after their long hiatus. Listen to the self-titled new record below and get tickets and more information on the show at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Just Announced: Godspeed You! Black Emperor will headline Union Transfer in March

Godspeed You! Black Emperor | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Not many groups have the personnel and vision to make the epic rock orchestral sound that Godspeed You! Black Emperor does so well. Luciferian Towers, GY!BE’s September release, is a colossal display of sound to say the least. With biblical undertones and an array of instruments, from violins to gripping electric guitar, the project is chapter after chapter of experimental gold. Continue reading →

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Angel Olsen’s newly-released track, “Sans,” is a stripped and longing traveller’s ballad

Angel Olsen | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman for WXPN

Indie music world’s cool and crooning folk-rock Queen, Angel Olsen, is putting together some unreleased B-side tracks to make up a “new” 12-song album titled Phases. Out on November 10th via Jagjaguwar, the release will feature the already-shared single, “Special,” along with the latest track, “Sans.” Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Hamilton Leithauser at Union Transfer, Ratboys at Everybody Hits, Telepathic at Kung Fu Necktie, and more

Hamilton Leithauser at Firefly 2016 | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Hamilton Leithauser played a stunning show at Johnny Brenda’s at the beginning of the year, and now he’s moving his expansive sound into a bigger space with a headlining gig at Union Transfer. Known as the former lead vocalist of the Walkmen, Leithauser released an album with Rostam last year and a song with Angel Olsen just a few weeks ago, which you can listen to below. Courtney Marie Andrews opens tonight’s show; find tickets and more information on the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: U.S. Girls at Johnny Brenda’s, Goblin at Union Transfer

U.S. Girls | photo by Daniel Williams | via the artist’s Facebook page

2017 marks 10 years of U.S. Girls, and they’ll celebrate tonight with a show at Johnny Brenda’s. The long-running art-pop project of Meg Remy, U.S. Girls is preparing to release a follow-up to 2015’s Half Free. It’s Toronto-based expatriate Remy’s first Philly stop in a few years, and she’s bringing a nine-piece baking band with her, plus an opening set by Philly’s Long Hots. Find tickets and more information on the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Julien Baker and friends create a contemplative community at Union Transfer

Julien Baker | Photo by: Ellen Miller | ellencm.com
Julien Baker | Photo by Ellen Miller for WXPN | ellencm.com

There’s a word that’s often used to describe Julien Baker‘s music: devastating. I think I’ve seen it in almost every review and feature surrounding the release of Baker’s new album Turn Out the Lights; I think I’ve even used it myself. And it’s true, listening to Baker’s songs sometimes verges on painful — but in the most achingly beautiful way. From the Tennessee songwriter’s 2015 debut Sprained Ankle to the just-released Turn Out the Lights, Baker’s music is quiet but powerful, sparse but resonant, and sad in a way that makes it just about impossible to stop listening.

The heart-aching melancholy of Julien Baker may beg a quiet solo listen to her recordings (especially when unpacking the rich layers of the new album), but in a live setting, any sense of despondence that may accompany Baker’s music dissipates, replaced by an overwhelming sense of community. The persistent feeling of “we’re all sharing this special moment together” remained constant throughout Julien Baker’s headlining show at Union Transfer last night, and was shared not just by the audience but by all three sets of performers onstage. Continue reading →

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Just Announced: Dan Auerbach will play Union Transfer with the Easy Eye Sound Revue

Dan Auerbach | photo courtesy of the artist
Dan Auerbach | photo courtesy of the artist

Singer-songwriter, guitarist, Black Keys co-founder, and versatile producer Dan Auerbach comes to Philly to play Union Transfer on March 24th. Billed in full as Dan Auerbach and the Easy Eye Sound Revue featuring Robert Finley, Shannon Shaw with special guest Shannon and the Clams, it’s a night of jams and collaboration, and it goes on sale this Friday, November 3rd. More information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →