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Watch Rasan In The Heyday play practically every club in Philly ahead of a big weekend of Philly gigs

Rasan In The Heyday | still from video

Philly rock outfit Rasan In The Heyday first appeared last April with a Bandcamp demo that, while rough around the edges, showed a great deal of promise. A year later, the band is beginning to deliver on that with the release of “Rely On,” an uplifting modern rock song in the vein of The Lemonheads and Recovering the Satellites-era Counting Crows.

Band leader Rasan Allbritton sings with conviction about the race through life the connections we make on the way, and in the accompanying music video, we see him and his bandmates Hayden Remick on guitar, Patrick Bayer on bass, and Josh Caton on drums rushing across a spectrum of Philly clubs from Kung Fu Necktie to Bourbon and Branch to MilkBoy and more. Continue reading →

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The International House building is being sold; future of its arts programming is unclear

Joe Jack Talcum
Joe Jack Talcum at International House | Photo by John Vettese

The towering International House building at 37th and Chestnut has long been home not just for students from around the world attending college in Philadelphia, but for a vibrant array of arts and cultural programming. Their events calendar runs the gamut from film screenings to musical performances by traditional ensembles like the Liberian Women’s Chorus for Change, experimental artists like J.G. Thirwell and Zola Jesus, and left-of-center multimedia events like The 78 Project’s direct-to-acetate taping of a Joe Jack Talcum performance.

This week, however, the long-running institution announced plans to vacate and sell the property, and “set a new course for the organization.” Continue reading →

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The Black Keys’ “Eagle Birds” is another boot-stomp earworm from their next album “Let’s Rock”

The Black Keys | photo by Alysse Gafkjen | courtesy of the artist

Akron, Ohio rockers The Black Keys have been dominating the airwaves, not just here on XPN, but pretty much everywhere with their barn-burning single “Lo/Hi,” and today we have another new song from Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney to add to the mix. The bluesy boot-stomper “Eagle Birds” is a get-lonely jam that comes with the announcement that The Black Keys’ ninth studio album will be called “Let’s Rock” — something we previously knew as the name of their tour — and it comes out on June 28th via Nonesuch / Easy Eye Sound. Per the album cover, those quotation marks are part of the title — punctuation nerds, take note.  Continue reading →

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Bruce Springsteen is releasing a new album called Western Stars

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band | photo by Joe Del Tufo for WXPN | deltufophotography.com
Bruce Springsteen | photo by Joe Del Tufo for WXPN | deltufophotography.com

After a couple days of teasing the news on Twitter with prismic photos of Western landscapes, Bruce Springsteen has announced his 19th studio album will be called Western Stars, and it comes out June 14th on Columbia Records.

On one level, it appears The Boss is hopping on the super-prevalent cowboy trend in pop culture that runs from Kacey Musgraves to Lil Nas X to Orville Peck and Chris Stapleton; that title, the photo of a galloping stallion on the cover (see below), song titles like “Tuscon Train” and “Chasin’ Wild Horses.” Then again, wasn’t Bruce doing Americana like 40 years ago? So maybe it’s just the trends coming back around to him. Continue reading →

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#XPN5050: 1983

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, Robert Drake is putting the musical spotlight on the year 1983.

In the third year of the eighth decade of the twentieth century, the new wave of Talking Heads’ Speaking in Tongues walked arm in arm with the bookish college rock of R.E.M.’s Murmur. David Bowie demanded Let’s Dance, and The B-52s gave us plenty of fodder to do so with Whammy!. Donna Summer showed how she works hard for the money, Herbie Hancock blew minds with “Rockit,” and New Edition introduced themselves to us and “Candy Girl.” And let’s not forget War, the third studio album and commercial breakthrough from U2.  Continue reading →

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American Trappist walks the line, drunkenly, in the “Holy Moses” video

American Trappist | still from video

Joe Michelini of American Trappist is a generally positive person, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t dealt with his share of darkness. His last album, Tentanda Via, was born out of a struggle with existential dread, rejection of the religion he’d been raised in, but also a fear of a world sans faith.  His latest song, the distressed rocker “Holy Moses,” came from a different kind of low where Michelini needed to work out the idea of forgiveness. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Empath

We weren’t even ten minutes into setting up for Empath‘s Key Studio Session this week and conversation had already shifted from record pressings and tour schedules to laser light shows and the prospect of finding one that works at a basement gig scale.

Which, for four people dubbed “2018’s trippiest punk band” by Rolling Stone, it’s not entirely surprising. On the one hand, the booming low end blasts from Randall Coon’s Moog bass synthesizer throw us back to the cutting indie-dance of The Faint, or earlier to the sheen 90s noise-popsters Stereolab, earlier still to 70s experimentalists Suicide, while singer-guitarist Catherine Elicson spends the outro of “Soft Shape” coaxing caustic squeals out of her instrument, feverishly picking way up the fretboard in a frenzy reminiscent of Sonic Youth and Versus. Empath is punk at heart, and when it wants to hit, it hits hard and unrelenting, choosing the path of vivid and visceral expression over a more approachable conventionality.

But listen to their performance of “Hanging Out of Cars,” another song from their new Active Listening: Night on Earth, and a spark of serenity enters the picture. The introductory minute and a half of warbling guitar, racing rhythms and lyrics about travel, freedom, and desire give way to an ambient expanse. For the next four minutes, we’re adrift in upper-register keyboard pulsations from Emily Shanahan, soft and subtle free-time beats by drummer Garrett Koloski, bubbling loops from Koon, waves of sound from Elicson, with an underbelly of windchimes, bird sounds, and a voice murmuring indistinctly. It’s peaceful without being overly pretty, a potent improvisation in the spirit of Pink Floyd at Pompeii, and an immersive experience for performers as much as the spectators. Watching from the mixing console, the phrase Active Listening clicked in a big way. I also realized that, yeah, they weren’t at all joking about those laser lights. Continue reading →

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Cayetana will play its final shows this August in Boston, New York, and Philly

Cayetana | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

Things have been extremely quiet in the world of Philadelphia power trio Cayetana since they wrapped a European tour with The Menzingers over a year ago. Singer-guitarist Augusta Koch founded Gladie, bassist Allegra Anka went back to school, drummer Kelly Olsen co-launched Zimmerman’s Deli with Dan Zimmerman of Restorations. And today, the band re-emerged to share with fans that it would be officially closing the book on this part of their lives. Continue reading →

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Let the music move you in Hozier’s “Sweet Music” video

Hozier | still from video

Irish singer-songwriter Hozier knows a thing or two about connecting music with deep sentiment, and in his new music video, he adds an element of motion to all that emotion.

The snappy “Sweet Music” boasts a slight electronic groove and a massively catchy melody, and as the song plays out, we find Hozier performing it in a warehouse space, surrounded in various corners by musically-inclined people dancing to the rhythm: a cellist and a jazz trio, a tap dancer and a couple pulling interpretive moves in their apartment. Continue reading →

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Stinking Lizaveta, Pissed Jeans, Alright Junior, Lisa Christ Superstar and more to play The Troc’s last local show

Stinking Lizaveta | photo by John Vettese for WXPN // Pissed Jeans | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN // Alright Junior | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN // Lisa Christ Superstar | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

When word got out that iconic Philadelphia venue The Trocadero was closing its doors for good this spring, owner Joanna Pang promised “We’re going to go out with a bang, in grand Troc style,” with a series of final concerts.

One of those is a an all-local showcase, curated by Lisa Flynn, who was a promoter at the venue in the late 90s and early thousands, and packed the Balcony bar and big room alike with Philly rock favorites like her power trio Lisa Christ Superstar. That band is back together for the May 19 main stage show, along with aughties psych mindbenders Three-4-Tens, and alternative-era faves Dandelion, who released two LPs during the major label boom of the 90s. Continue reading →