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Camp Cope balance important lyrical topics with impeccable punk grooves at the First Unitarian

Camp Cope | photo by Julia Leiby | instagram.com/julia.leibyjulialeiby.com

This past Saturday, Australian-bred band Camp Cope stopped at the Church for a sold-out show with Philly locals Thin Lips and New York’s Oceanator. Their set featured cameos from Kiley Lotz of Petal, members of Thin Lips, and Elise Okusami of Oceanator. Playing through most of their two LPs and throwing in a new solo song from frontperson Goergia Maq, there wasn’t a slow moment in their performance. Clearly having developed a dedicated following of their catchy, complex rock while also handling tough topics with their lyrics, the Melbourne three-piece showed off the power their songs have, even halfway across the world from their hometown. Continue reading →

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Japanese Breakfast grooves with emotion on new benefit single “Essentially”

Japanese Breakfast | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Michelle Zauner has been putting out pitch perfect content lately. She released her last album, Soft Sounds from Another Planet, in 2017, and since then has announced her book Crying in H-Mart (named after her essay for The New Yorker), directed music videos for Better Oblivion Community Center and Charly Bliss, and written music for the indie video game Sable. All that while continuing to tour with dates at Coachella and SXSW. In the latest update from her intense creative output, she’s released the new Japanese Breakfast single “Essentially,” as part of Marriott International W Hotel’s record label, W Records. Continue reading →

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Navigating the lift and drag of Better Oblivion Community Center’s Union Transfer gig

Better Oblivion Community Center | photo by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordophotography.com

Better Oblivion Community Center is the name of Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst’s surprise collaboration, who released their debut album back in January after a performance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Since then, they’ve begun a tour across North America, branding the project with semi-cultish merch and a creepy answering machine message.

On their stop in Philadelphia at Union Transfer, they performed songs from their self-titled album, as well as selections from Bridgers’ solo work and Oberst’s time with Bright Eyes. Their energy was vibrant the entire night, with a clear artistic chemistry between Oberst and Bridgers that demonstrates the obvious impetus behind the project. But it felt like that original spark was the only thing driving this machine forward. Many of their performances felt lackluster and half-hearted, others more self-satisfying, with a few gems hidden within the largely tiring night. Continue reading →

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The Mountain Goats are their truest selves on the new single “Cadaver Sniffing Dog”

The Mountain Goats | via twitter.com/mountain_goats

“Cadaver Sniffing Dog” is quite possibly the most “The Mountain Goats” Mountain Goats song yet. A four-minute track describing a grizzly crime scene, which frontman John Darnielle reports is “a metaphor for a relationship in which there is nothing whatsoever left to salvage,” it is the second single from their tabletop RPG-inspired album In League with Dragons. Along with the song, the band announced a stop at Union Transfer July 19th, 2019.

“Cadaver Sniffing Dog” diverges from the sound of their most recent album, Goths, and touches closer to 2011’s All Eternals Deck or 2012’s Transcendental Youth. Darnielle’s acoustic guitar is coupled with an electric, played by Matt Douglas, while strings underlay the entire thing, barely audible at times but swelling during the chorus. The bridge features a sharper guitar solo than is typical for the group, but the bones of the song are classic Mountain Goats. Continue reading →

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Sharon Van Etten stuns a sold-out Union Transfer, covers Sinead O’Connor on night two of tour

Sharon Van Etten | photo by Rachel Barrish for WXPN

Sharon Van Etten‘s new album Remind Me Tomorrow is a different direction for the singer-songwriter: futuristic and spacey synths colliding with her one-of-a-kind voice and old-school style. Her stop in Philly at Union Transfer explored all of this. Van Etten’s set on Thursday felt like a new awakening for the artist, who had taken a long break from touring after her previous album, Are We There. The energy from the stage was palpable, and the crowd was electrified by the band’s performance and Van Etten’s gripping presence. With it being only night two of eighteen, there are still kinks to be worked out, but they were far outweighed by the sheer star power Van Etten brings to her live show. Continue reading →

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Talking divine intervention, self-care, Bohemian Rhapsody and Magic Gone with Petal’s Kiley Lotz

Petal
Petal | photo by Katie Krulock | courtesy of the artist

Petal is the project of singer-songwriter Kiley Lotz, a Scranton native whose unflinchingly honest rock draws from some of her favorite singers growing up, including Freddie Mercury, Carole King, and Nina Simone. Her newest album, Magic Gone, takes Lotz’ struggles with mental health and questions about her sexual identity and crafts them into a series of beautiful and intimate punk songs with guitars and drums just as raw. Her live performances are nothing short of awe-inspiring, whether she’s bringing down the house with a full band shredding, or taking it solo and captivating crowds with her steady and transfixing voice. Ahead of her first headlining appearance at the First Unitarian Church, I spoke with Lotz just before the new year, and we talked about her new album, self-care while on tour, her college education in Theatre Arts, and the movie Bohemian Rhapsody. Continue reading →

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Just Announced: Nashville’s Daddy Issues will play PhilaMOCA in January

Daddy Issues | photo by James Rice | via facebook.com/daddyissuesforreal

After playing Union Transfer with The Menzingers over the weekend, Daddy Issues just announced a headlining show at PhilaMOCA this January 26th with Cincinatti’s Leggy opening. The Nashville-based grunge trio got their name from a scratching in a DIY venue bathroom, which frontwoman Jenna Moynihan mistook for an already existing punk group. Upon realizing no such group existed, she enlisted Emily Maxwell and Jenna Mitchell to form her ideal band, whose cathartic lyrics grapple with adolescence, abuse, and relationships over thick distortion. Continue reading →

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Consider the Angles: Abi Reimold on combining passions for introspective music and outrospective photography

Abi Reimold
Abi Reimold | photo by Emily Kuhar | courtesy of the artist

While Abi Reimold’s song are intensely personal, their love of photography is based around capturing others. On their album covers, they combine the two passions. The photograph on their most recent LP, 2016’s Wriggling, centers around a bowl of worms on a clean white table, the creatures writhing and wrapping around each other.

“I just liked the idiom: ‘opening a can of worms.’ I felt like that would tie the songs together very well,” Reimold said while munching on a salad bowl, seated across from me at a table on Walnut Street. “[It’s about] getting through things, and even though you can be in a situation or a mindset, and feel those feelings, that doesn’t mean that’ll be something permanent.”

Reimold recounted taking the shot that would become the cover of Wriggling. Filmmaker J. Miller was documenting the process, the room was set up. They just needed one thing: the worms. For that, Reimold went to their gardener friend, Katy.

“She was like, ‘Actually, I have a bunch of worms in my bathtub!’ It was really serendipitous.” Continue reading →

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Phoebe Bridgers covers (Sandy) Alex G’s “Powerful Man”

XPNFest 2018 Behind The Scenes | photo by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordophotography.com

As if Phoebe Bridgers wasn’t already making all your indie rock dreams come true releasing boygenius’ EP last week with Julien Baker and Lucy Dacus, she just today shared a cover of (Sandy) Alex G’s “Powerful Man” via Amazon Music. The single is part of Amazon’s “Produced By” series, this time featuring Simone Felice of The Felice Brothers. Conor Oberst is also credited on harmonica. Continue reading →