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Free at Noon Flashback: Amy Ray and her band offer a delightful start to the holiday weekend

Amy Ray and XPN go way back. She has appeared at World Cafe Live and on World Cafe the show countless times, both as one half of Indigo Girls and as a solo artist. She will play World Cafe Live again tonight and XPoNential fest in July. Before all that though, she and her band treated us to a fantastic Free at Noon set. It was a great way to roll into the long weekend.

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Anderson .Paak proves he’s got the best “teef” and live show in the game

Tuesday, night Anderson .Paak and the Free Nationals treated his Philly fans to a magnificent show at The Met, just months after their rousing show at The Fillmore. This latest show is part of .Paak’s “Best Teef In The Game Tour” which is in support of his new album, Ventura, released just five months after last year’s Oxnard. With a set that stretched five albums, .Paak demonstrated yet again, that he is one of the best out there. Continue reading →

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Everything But The Girl announce 25th anniversary Amplified Heart vinyl release

Everything But The Girl | photo by Richard Haughton | courtesy of the artist

In honor of its 25th anniversary, UK alt-pop duo Everything But The Girl have announce the first ever vinyl pressing of their cornerstone album Amplified Heart. Originally released in June 1994, the album has been mastered at half-speed at Abbey Road Studios. The vinyl pressing will feature the original track list, including the hit “Missing”. It is now available for pre-order and will ship around July 5th.

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Mavis Staples shares new album via NPR Music’s First Listen

Mavis Staples | photo by Myriam Santos | courtesy of the artist

Despite turning 80 this summer, Mavis Staples is showing no signs of slowing down. A week before its official release, the legendary singer, has shared her new album We Get By via NPR Music’s First Listen. Written with Ben Harper, the album is an intense and moving body of work. In line with her recent output, the music feels of the present, but in touch with the past. It is a rich listen, marked by Staples’ luxurious sounding voice. Continue reading →

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NON-COMM Recap: Orville Peck makes a strong case for the “Yeehaw Agenda” on the PRX stage

Orville Peck | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Yeehaw is having a moment. With Kacey Musgraves snagging the top prize at The Grammys, “Old Town Road” being the biggest song in the country, and artists like Solange and Mitski embracing cowboy imagery, country’s future has never seemed brighter. Toronto-based Country crooner, Orville Peck, treated NonCOMM attendees to a taste of that future. With his bulletproof voice, punk -inspired playing, and masked face, Peck put on a rousing and fringe-filled set.

Peck and his band, which included two bassists, a drummer, and one guitarist/synth player/vocalist, arrived in their Western best. They each had a bolo tie and many wore cowboy hats. Peck dawned one of the BDSM meets cowboy mask-hat combos. With fringe and leather covering his face, one might expect his music to be similarly inaccessible. Luckily, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. With a voice reminiscent of Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison, Peck delivers every lyric with supreme conviction, continuously intriguing his audience more and more.

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NON-COMM Recap: Christone “Kingfish” Ingram proves he is well worth the hype

Christone “Kingfish” Ingram | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Even before his set started, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram had won everyone over. All those lingering around the PRX stage were blabbering nonstop about how they all believed he was one to watch. He then blew everyone away with a soundcheck that many, understandably, thought was his actual show. Once the set actually began, Mississippi artist quickly proved that he is worthy of all the hype.

He opened with “Before I’m Old”, off his debut album Kingfish which will be released tomorrow via Alligator Records. Ingram’s otherworldly guitar playing and ridiculously rich voice make it hard to believe that he is only twenty years old. He is clearly aware of the absurdity of his talent given his age, as he sings “they say I got an old soul and I ain’t even 21.” Continue reading →

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NON-COMM Recap: The National preview the stunning new I Am Easy To Find

The National | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

During today’s Free at Noon, indie rock giants The National treated us to an early taste of over half of their new album. Produced by Mike Mills, I Am Easy To Find will be officially released tomorrow, May 17th, and is accompanied by a short film directed by Mills and staring Alicia Vikander. Expanded to a ten-piece band, The National showcased ten of the album’s sixteen tracks, demonstrating the beauty and strength of the project. Vocalist Matt Berninger led a the group’s vast array of instruments and vocalists, and kept everything from sounding overwhelming. The resulting set was a glorious display of emotion and expansive sound.

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NON-COMM Recap: Ali Awan wows us yet again with an explosive set

Ali Awan | photo by Makena Duffy for WXPN

As if Ali Awan hadn’t already proved his worth as WXPN’s Artist to Watch for the month of January with his fantastic Free at Noon set and Key Studio Session, he proved it tonight with a thunderous performance on the PRX stage. Awan and his six-person banded opened with the bombastic “Be a Light.” The track, which Awan just released a surreal video for, highlights the band’s ability to make a lot of noise. The Philly artist’s whole set was drenched in sound, and yet the crowd always seemed eager for even more. Continue reading →

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NON-COMM Recap: Kelsey Lu enchants the NPR Music stage on her own terms

Kelsey Lu | photo by Emily DeHart for WXPN

It’s hard to guess what the crowd was expecting when they saw Kelsey Lu‘s six-piece band waiting for her on stage. Or when they saw her, with flowing black, red, and orange hair, and ring laden gloves. Despite what they assumed she would sound like, she dazed everyone with her ethereal four song set this evening on the NPR stage. Lu started, just her and her keyboardist, with the title track of her debut album Blood, which was released in April via Columbia records. The song is a touching tribute to the love that permeates all. She delivered it with such conviction, as did her band, who gradually all joined in. From “Blood” she swerved straight into the glitter of “Due West” and got the crowd moving along with her.

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NON-COMM Recap: Black Pumas kick off the week with an electrifying set

Black Pumas | photo by Emily DeHart for WXPN

The rumbling among Non-COMM attendees swiftly stopped when psychedelic soul group, Black Pumas, started their set on the PRX stage. Within the first few minutes it became clear why they were named Austin’s best new band at the Austin Music Awards. The dancing commended practically instantaneously; it is hard not to be moved by Eric Burton’s powerful voice. Joining Burton onstage was production partner and guitarist Adrian Quesada, as well as a bassist, keyboardist, and two backing vocalists. The whole band moved as a unit, but each member added their own unique talents, making Black Pumas’ sound undeniably theirs. Continue reading →