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Free at Noon Flashback: Jukebox the Ghost gives the audience a sneak peak of its new record

Jukebox the Ghost | Photo by Kelsey Stanger
Jukebox the Ghost | Photo by Kelsey Stanger

Today’s Free At Noon concert presented Jukebox the Ghost, the indie-pop trio from D.C. who came in support of their new, self-titled album, out October 21st.

The boys kicked off their set with their popular tune “Somebody”, which immediately garnered the attention throughout the room. After, they gave the audience a sneak peak at some of their brand new songs from their aforementioned album, it was clear that they were excited to be there. Continue reading →

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Wave Radio, RFA take top honors at Beta Hi-Fi Philly

Wave Radio performing at Wave Radio, RFA take top prizes at Beta Hi-Fi Philly
Wave Radio | Photo by John Vettese

For the ninth year running, World Cafe Live in Philly hosted its annual Beta Hi-Fi Emerging Music Festival last week, with top honors going to cinematic indie trio Wave Radio and garage rock four-piece RFA in last night’s finals.

As I do every year, last night I sat on the judges’ panel of the final round, alongside Jennifer Logue of Rock On Philly and Christianna LaBuz of World Cafe Live at The Queen. It’s always a great way to take in a cross section of up-and-coming musicians from our region. Last night we got quite the range, from haunting Australia-born singer-songwriter Elspeth Tremblay, the funky and charismatic Nalani & Sarina, the country-infused Allie Carroll and the poppy Valerie Broussard. Continue reading →

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Agnes Obel performed a stunning set at World Cafe Live

Agnes Obel | photo by Michelle Montgomery | www.michellemontgomeryphotography.com
Agnes Obel | photo by Michelle Montgomery | www.michellemontgomeryphotography.com

Danish singer-songwriter and pianist Agnes Obel played a mesmerizing set at World Cafe Live on Tuesday night. Returning to the US for part of her global tour in support of her sophomore LP, Aventine (2013), Obel primarily performed songs from that record, as well as a few selections from her debut release Philharmonics (2010).

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The Early November kicked off two nights of sold-out acoustic shows at World Cafe Live

The Early November | Photo by Allison Newbold | allynewbold.com
The Early November | Photo by Allison Newbold | allynewbold.com

The Early November embarked on a three-week intimate acoustic tour this summer and are closing out the tour in Philly with two nights at World Cafe Live. It’s a sort of a homecoming for the Hammonton, NJ pop punk icons, and frontman Ace Enders and his bandmates got an incredibly warm reception from the sold-out crowd at last night’s kick off show. In return they played a set that was career-spanning and memorable.

Last night’s show began at 8:00 sharp with a solo performance by Young Statues frontman Carmen Cirignano. He played a few old songs as well as new songs off of a record that will be released this fall. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Jimmer Podrasky performed a career spanning set upstairs

Jimmer Podrasky | photo by Cameron Pollock
Jimmer Podrasky | photo by Cameron Pollack

At a recent Free at Noon performance, Jimmer Podrasky put on an excellent showcase of unplugged music upstairs.  Formerly of the critically acclaimed rock group The Rave-Ups, Podrasky came to World Cafe Live in support of a new solo album called The Would-Be Plans, his first in nearly 25 years. Continue reading →

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Free at Noon Flashback: Trampled By Turtles bring Wild Animals to World Cafe Live

Trampled By Turtles | photo by Cameron Pollock
Trampled By Turtles | photo by Cameron Pollack

Trampled By Turtles treated attendees to an impeccable display of folk at a recent Free at Noon appearance, featuring frequent violin solos, four part harmonies, and stomp box and tambourine percussion.

The band stopped in Philly for the first of two times as part of the US leg of their tour, and they will return to Philly’s Union Transfer on the 10th of September. Hot off the release of their latest album, Wild Animals, they arrived at World Cafe to showcase the same infectious folk that kept them in the top 10 of Billboard’s Bluegrass chart for an entire year. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Veruca Salt at TLA, Michael Franti and Spearhead at Mann Center, Conjunto Chapptoin y Sus Estrellas at World Cafe Live

Photo Credit: Gary Kordan
Photo by Gary Kordan

Chicago alt-rocke four-piece Veruca Salt will be at TLA tonight.  The band reunited after a fifteen year (too) long hiatus, and have been touring all around the U.S.  About a month ago, they released a new single titled “It’s Holy,” which you can hear below. Find tickets for the all ages show here. Doors open at 7pm.

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Camera Obscura bring sweetness, sentimentality to World Cafe Live

Camera Obscura | Photo by Kate Bracaglia | underwaterexplosions.blogspot.com
Camera Obscura | Photo by Kate Bracaglia | underwaterexplosions.blogspot.com

It was a beautiful night Saturday night: moderate, breezy, low-humidity—and Camera Obscura—the long-running, Scottish twee act—proved the perfect digestif, their similarly breezy melodies closing out a perfect evening. The band regaled fans with an hour-and-a-half-long set at World Café Live, imbued with sweetness, sentimentality, wistful vocals, and warm, candy-coated harmonies.

The past year has been a busy one for the band, due to two, new, Camera Obscura babies [both front woman Tracyanne Campbell and bassist Gavin Dunbar welcomed sons]; as a result, the band is hitting the States just now in support of their 2013 LP, Desire Lines. But if the new material feels stale to them by now, they certainly didn’t show it, running through half the record with energy and workman-like charm: bouncing in place to “Do It Again,” then dialing it down slightly for calypso-tinged slow groove “Cri du Couer.” Normally a five-piece, the band numbered seven Saturday night, with the addition of a trumpeter and a second percussionist.

Camera Obscura | Photo by Kate Bracaglia | underwaterexplosions.blogspot.com
Camera Obscura | Photo by Kate Bracaglia | underwaterexplosions.blogspot.com

And while the whole band was on-point, it was front woman Tracyanne Campbell who really shone, and whose gorgeous, gauzy vocals—which can convey both sadness and euphoria in a single note—are a large part of what makes Camera Obscura so magical. Live, Campbell was just as mesmerizing as on record, her nuanced intonation lending the songs depth and breadth.

When I spoke to keyboardist Carey Lander the other week before the show, she revealed that it’s impossible to fully give in to the pain behind the songs night after night without burning out; instead, she explained, “You have to make it a song you perform for other people to enjoy.” Still, Campbell did such a good job replicating songs’ emotional highs and lows, I felt like I was experiencing everything for the first time, and left feeling strangely cleansed.

With so many earnest, summery tunes, it’s hard to pick faves—but I felt particularly exhilarated during joyous, summer anthem “Honey in the Sun”—and thrilled during swirling, twee standby “Lloyd, I’m Ready to Be Heartbroken.”

The band closed its set with a trio of old songs—“Come Back Margaret,” “Books Written for Girls,” and “Razzle Dazzle Rose”—but I swear I could’ve listened to them for another hour easily. Camera Obscura’s reality is warm, inviting, and invigorating; bathed in their tunes, I felt simply invincible.

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Interview: Camera Obscura on family, emotional memory, and how the Glasgow scene has supported and shaped them

Camera Obscura (photo via Facebook)
Camera Obscura (photo via Facebook)

For nearly 20 years now, Scottish rockers Camera Obscura have delighted and enchanted fans with breezy, candy-coated gems that come alive thanks to front woman Tracyanne Campbell’s gorgeous, gauzy vocals, and an undercurrent of unease. The band first made a splash in 2001, with the Stuart Murdoch-produced, John Peel-acclaimed Biggest Bluest Hi Fi—then continued to churn out albums, while at the same time refining their orchestral, summer pop.

2013 saw the release of their fifth LP, Desire Lines, as well as the birth of Campbell’s first child, Gene. Now one year later, they’re headed to the States in support of Desire Lines, and will stop by World Café Live on July 19. In advance of their show, we rung up long-time keyboard player and vocalist Carey Lander—to talk family, emotional memory, and how the Glasgow scene has supported and shaped them.

The Key: I hear that Tracyanne is bringing along baby Gene on tour. What has that been like?

Carey Lander: Well, we’re partially finding out still. We did a weekend in the UK with him, and that went fine, which is reassuring. The baby will be on the bus for the tour though, so that will be interesting. But hopefully it will be ok.

TK: Are you worried you won’t be able to have as much fun with a baby on board? Do you like to go out and party a lot when you’re on tour?

CL: Not really. We are actually very boring. Our ideal night is to stay in, get room service, and watch TV—basically to be as boring as possible. We’re not too wild.

The band
The band

TK: That actually sounds pretty nice! So to me, one of most striking things about Camera Obscura is that you guys write these beautiful pop songs, but with an undercurrent of sadness. The juxtaposition is part of what makes them so great. Is this deliberate?

CL: The misery is in our songs is always hidden because I think we’re a little bit embarrassed to reveal our pain too much. So we try and make something that sounds lovely no matter what is behind the songs. Today we were talking about what a miserable album [2009’s] My Maudlin Career is. You might not realize it if you’re just casually listening, but there’s a lot of pain in those lyrics. It’s not all downhill though. Continue reading →