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Free At Noon Flashback: Rostam delivers expansive experience with Half-Light

Rostam | photo by Liz Waldie for WXPN

Rostam Batmanglij released his debut LP Half-Light on September 15th, and to say that it was a long time coming is a definite understatement. It was six years ago this month that Rostam’s first solo track – and now Half-Light track – “Wood” was released on Soundcloud, as his band Vampire Weekend recorded their chart-topping Modern Vampires of the City. 

The years since have seen Rostam leave Vampire Weekend in 2016 to pursue solo work, produce tracks on a number of records for genre-spanning artists from Solange to Carly Rae Jepson to Hamilton Leithauser, and all the while steadily release singles that would eventually become his solo debut.

Half-Light is fifteen tracks of mystical, musical magic, and at today’s Free At Noon show Rostam performed seven of them (plus a bonus Vampire Weekend cover). Continue reading →

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Free At Noon Flashback: Josh Ritter celebrates his new Gathering at World Cafe Live

Josh Ritter | photo by Liz Waldie for WXPN

Friday was a big day for Josh Ritter: it marked the official release of his ninth studio album Gathering following 2015’s excellent Sermon on the Rocks, and he and the Royal City Band were able to bring their foot-stomping, fast-talking tunes to World Cafe Live before flying to Minneapolis to kick off the record’s tour.

The singer-songwriter has long been a favorite of XPN and its members, and the crowd that had been steadily lining up outside quickly filled the venue to capacity in anticipation of his triumphant return. As one of the audience observed, “Nothing like Josh Ritter to get the people out of the woodwork.” Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Ted Leo and the Pharmacists at Union Transfer, Ms. Lauryn Hill at BB&T, Bastille at The Fillmore, plus more

Ted Leo | photo courtesy of the artist

Ted Leo is back and bringing his trusty crew, the Pharmacists, with him to Union Transfer tonight. This past week, Leo smashed his seven year hiatus with the new record, The Hanging Tree, which was funded through the generosity of his fans via a successful Kickstarter campaign. Watch his latest video for “Can’t Go Back,” below, then find info on tonight’s show here. Continue reading →

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More Than Jake: Jake Clemons goes beyond what you think you know of Fear + Love

Jake Clemons | photo courtesy of the artist

Calling from a solo tour stop in Montreal, saxophonist-singer Jake Clemons offered up a smart and pleasant, conversation and a humble man’s attitude when it came to being a guy you (think) you know from brand-name family ties, literal and figurative. Soft-spoken and easy to laugh, Clemons seemed pleased to open up about the studied songwriting process and the emotional connections to the songs on his new album, Fear + Love, a record he’ll pull form at World Café Live this Wednesday September 13. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Christian Scott at World Cafe Live, Lady Gaga at Wells Fargo Center, Prophets of Rage at TLA

Christian Scott | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Christian Scott brings his innovative take on jazz at the intersection of popular music to World Cafe Live tonight. The New Orleans trumpeter recently released Diaspora, the second in a trilogy of albums all released in 2017. Check out XPN’s interview with Christian Scott about the new releases here, listen to the record below, and find tickets at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Abi Reimold talks faith, homeschooling, and weddings on Oh Word?! podcast

Abi Reimold | photo by Michelle Montgomery for WXPN

Abi Reimold makes some seriously heavy and haunting music. But during a recent guest appearance on Joe Manno’s podcast, Oh Word?!, the local fuzz rock songwriter lets listeners get acquainted with their easygoing, earnest personality.

The conversation gets deep real quick as they immediately delve into topics of faith and religion while discussing Reimold’s Christian, home-schooled upbringing, along with lighter topics of  recent summertime gig playing hymns at a church.

We also learn about Reimold’s work as a wedding photographer, which is also where we learn that they’re a sap for a good love story. With Manno playing the self-addressed role of “wedding grinch,” Reimold remains a ray of sincere sunshine, gushing about a love of weddings, and the happiness that surrounds the celebration. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: West Philadelphia Orchestra at Spruce Street Harbor Park, MH the Verb’s Vibe House at South Bowl, Laser Background at Johnny Brenda’s, and more

west philadelphia orchestra
West Philadelphia Orchestra | photo courtesy of the artist

West Philadelphia Orchestra are this week’s featured headliner at Spruce Street Harbor Park’s Waterfront Sessions. The mammoth sized crew will be rocking two sets of their horn-heavy Balkan dance. Check out info for the show on the Facebook event page, and watch their Tiny Desk Concert entry below. Continue reading →

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Tremellow’s new track “Look Up” is a folky, outerspace sonic adventure

Tremellow | photo via artist’s Bandcamp

When Keith Abrams isn’t rocking out as frontman for Pine Barons, or helping to produce other legendary albums (i.e. The Districts Popular Manipulations,) he gets strange and experimentally lo-fi as his side-project, Tremellow. From all the recent and much deserved hooplah of Pine Barons’ and The Districts’ new releases, it’s crazy that Abrams has time to let alone breathe. But here he is, releasing a new Tremellow track — which is unsurprisingly a total jam. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Verite at Boot and Saddle, Artists Against Islamophobia at Kung Fu Necktie, Brett Dennen at The Ardmore Music Hall, and more

Verite | photo by Eric Ryan Anderson | via artist’s Facebook page

I have a feeling that Brooklyn indie popster Verite is going to blow up very soon. She’s got the voice, electro beats that aren’t just homogenized recyclables, and an edgy weirdness that’s sorely lacking in mainstream pop today. And tonight she’s playing at Boot and Saddle. Don’t miss your chance to see Verite at a smaller scale space before her rise inevitably skyrockets. Tickets and info are available here; watch the video for “When You’re Gone” below. Continue reading →

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Free At Noon Flashback: The Districts redefine “explosive” at World Cafe Live

The Districts | photo by Emma Silverstone for WXPN

I had long resigned myself to the bittersweet fact that since I’ve always been unlucky in catching The Districts live, the first time I’d finally see them would be in some large, sold out venue given the skyrocketing trajectory of their career and fanbase around the world that will only grow once their newest release Popular Manipulations reaches the ears and hearts of the masses.

Fortunately, this was not the case. A week after the crazy sold out Union Transfer record release show (read our review here) found The Districts back in Philadelphia to perform for XPN’s Free At Noon series at the smaller, more intimate World Cafe Live. It appeared that the rareness of this opportunity was not lost on fans, as the line stretched up the stairs and out onto the sidewalk long before doors opened and filled the venue to capacity by the ten-minute mark. Continue reading →