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Listen to Mystery Science Theater 3000’s Joel Hodgson join Kristen Kurtis on the XPN Morning Show

Joel Hodgson and Kristen Kurtis | photo by Robert Drake for WXPN

We’re all pop culture fiends here at WXPN, so when Joel Hodgson of Mystery Science Theater 3000 fame first started appearing in our Twitter mentions over the past couple years, we collectively got a little giddy.

Turns out Hodgson is as big of a fan of us as we are of him (and his adventures in cheesy movies with Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo), and has been a loyal XPN listener since moving to the Philadelphia region with his wife ten years ago. He listens on his way to work, checks in with our hosts on social media, and was a huge voice in the commentary throughout XPN’s 50th anniversary broadcast of Woodstock.

Though he was still admittedly running on fumes from tuning in all weekend, Hodgson joined Kristen Kurtis on the XPN Morning Show on Monday, August 19th, to talk about the magical trip that was #XPNStock, among other things. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Great Time

They’re rigorously schooled musicians, but as their name suggests, Great Time likes to have fun. Back in the early teens, vocalist Jill Ryan, guitarist / bassist Zack Hartmann, and drummer Donnie Spackman connected in New York City, where all of them were jazz students. They loved the music they were absorbing in class, but they also wanted to do their own thing. So after graduation, they moved to the Philadelphia burbs, built a home studio, and began writing electronic pop songs in the vein of Twin Sister, Sylvan Esso, and Little Dragon. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Boogieman Dela

Think you know Boogieman Dela? Think again. The Philadelphia artist has spent the past few years blurring genre lines, as we heard on his projects like last year’s Broken Watch series and 2017’s Feels Different. He can spit over hard-hitting trap rhythms just as easily as he can sing suave melodies, his love songs can be blunt and his raps can be sweet.

For this week’s Key Studio Session, Boogie stretches that musical grey area even further. Continue reading →

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The tower of the Tower Theater is coming down

via instagram.com/towerphilly

It’s hard to imagine traveling to 69th and Market streets in Upper Darby without the Tower Theater‘s namesake greeting you on the horizon. The iconic aerial, a curious mix of 1800s oil well and space-age orb with red light-up letters vertically descending to spell out T-O-W-E-R, is coming down today, the Inquirer reports. The removal follows engineering reports that the decades-old fixture had become structurally unsafe. Continue reading →

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Reconstructing History: Listen to Woodstock Archivist Andy Zax in conversation with XPN’s Dan Reed


There’s Woodstock as it happened — the three-day music festival that took place in the summer of 1969 on a dairy farm in Bethel, New York, not too far from Scranton, Pennsylvania. And then there’s Woodstock the legend — the peace-and-love totem of the hippie generation, memorialized in Michael Wadleigh’s documentary film and two album releases over the course of the 70s.

As the 50th anniversary of Woodstock approaches this week and various commemorative celebrations are held — including #XPNStock, a set-by-set playback of the entire festival beginning on Thursday, August 15th at 5:07 p.m. — a new, massive collection of music seeks to parse the difference between the legend and the reality of Woodstock. Compiled by archivist Andy Zax over the past decade-plus, Woodstock – Back to the Garden: The Definitive 50th Anniversary Archive puts together every scrap of audio in the order it occurred, creating a more nuanced picture of the event than the less-than-accurate narrative of the film version.


Live Stream: Woodstock – As It Happened – 50 Years On


Ahead of #XPNStock, Zax caught up with XPN Program Director Dan Reed to discuss the project at length, beginning with the surprisingly difficult search for the most basic of information: set times.      Continue reading →

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#XPN5050: 2004

For fifty weeks this year, we’re celebrating the music of a specific year every Saturday on WXPN. We’ll be choosing the years randomly; for this week’s #XPN5050, Julian Booker is putting the musical spotlight on the year 2004.

AhhhhhhhhhhhhhI’M COMING OUT OF MY CAGE AND I’VE BEEN listening to the records that we had on repeat 15 years ago. This week, for a spotlight on 2004, it’s all about the beats and bravado of Franz Ferdinand, Kanye West, The Killers, and Modest Mouse. We’ll hear sky-high anthems from Arcade Fire, raw indie rock burners by The Walkmen, and contemplative ballads by Mindy Smith.

Looking for folk-pop? How about Feist or Nellie McKay. Some orchestrated indie rock? Regina Spektor’s Soviet Kitsch, coming right up. Some funky love jams from Prince? Of course! Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: AnnonXL

AnnonXL is a singer who can stop you in your tracks. From strong core melodies to vibrant melisma, teasing drops of pitch-shifting and a constant sense of passion and joy, he is a commanding force as a vocalist…not to mention as a charismatic frontperson and left-of-center songwriter.

The emerging Philadelphia artist caught our ear with his second project, last year’s Teen Angst album; this year he followed it up with a breezy EP called Summer Affair. While both releases have their roots in pop and R&B, they branch into unexpected directions — bubbling, dancefloor-ready electropop as easily as cloudy and cosmic balladry. Some moments vibe like house jams, others like Disney theme songs. In a way, AnnonXL makes music in the spirit of other unable-and-unwilling-to-be-easily-defined artists — Prince to Frank Ocean to James Blake — and with a new six-piece band joining him for this week’s Key Studio Session, the sound and style expands even further. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: American Trappist

In a sense, American Trappist is the project of a single person: New Jersey’s Joe Michelini. He’s a rock and roll singer-guitarist who led the blog-popular collective River City Extension in his 20s, and more recently refocused his song-craft and existential dread into records like last year’s great Tentanda Via, which is as cathartic as it is uplifting.

But American Trappist is also very much a band, as we see in this week’s Key Studio Session, and to whatever extent Michelini is a blossoming producer (he recorded the most recent album by The Vernes at his home base of Berlin Studios) and the visionary behind the songs (though we’re reasonably sure he’s too humble to embrace the term”visionary”), it’s the skill and chemistry of his bandmates Shane Luckenbaugh on drums, Max Kulicke on guitar, and Lewie II on bass that brings the music to life. Continue reading →

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#XPN5050: 1982

For fifty weeks this year, we’re celebrating the music of a specific year every Saturday on WXPN. We’ll be choosing the years randomly; for this week’s #XPN5050, Dan Reed is putting the musical spotlight on the year 1982.

Combat RockNebraska1999. Need we say more?

The year 1982 was awash in the glitz, glam, and hair products of New Wave acts like A Flock of Seagulls, Culture Club, and Adam Ant, who wrote impossibly catchy music to go with their aggressive fashion statements. It was the year Marvin Gaye got “Sexual Healing,” Neil Young went supersonic on “Transformer Man,” and Queen and David Bowie found themselves “Under Pressure” in one of rock’s most enduring duets. It was the year that Toto’s “Africa” topped the charts for the first time. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions Double-Header: Secret Nudist Friends and Blushed

Secret Nudist Friends (left) and Blushed | photos by Emily DeHart for WXPN

In a way, doing this week’s feature as two separate sessions wasn’t an option for us. As much as they are stylistically distinct, South Philly DIY faves Secret Nudist Friends and Blushed are very much inseparable, even when they’re each off doing their own thing.

A brief accounting of spaces where they overlap: Matty Klauser sings and plays guitar in SNF, while Missy Pidgeon plays keys; in Blushed, Pidgeon sings and plays guitar, while Klauser drums. Both bands are on the roster of the local Good How Are You label / collective, a group of artists (also including Trash Boy, Kelsey Cork and the Swigs, and Canine 10) that throws regular shows and one annual festival at the Vonnegut-referencing Newbold house venue Tralfamadore. And both artists upped their profile with So Cool, the Headroom-recorded split EP they released last year.  Continue reading →