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Trash Boy talks new music, Philly’s DIY scene, and the hopelessness of our society

Trash Boy | via facebook.com/trashboyphilly

Punk-rock quartet Trash Boy is exemplary of Philly’s independent music scene, and proud of it. Forming in 2016, the band put out their debut album The Future is Trash in 2017. Two years and one bass player later, Trash Boy has polished off their second studio album Who Will Take the Trash Out When We’re Gone?, scheduled for release this Friday, August 16th via Good How Are You Records. They’ve recently shared a single from the new record, entitled “Perfect Teeth”— a catchy, uptempo, humorous-yet-accurate rejection of societal conventions.

To celebrate Who Will Take the Trash Out When We’re Gone?, Trash Boy will play a release show at Everybody Hits this Friday, August 16th. They’ll also be playing Johnny Brenda’s on Wednesday, October 30th. For more information about both of their Philly shows, visit the XPN Concert Calendar. To read what the band’s guitarists and vocalists Chris Fortunato and Dan Baggarly have to say about their single, their album, and how much the world sucks, read on. Continue reading →

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How Queens-born Aime aimed for Philly’s hip-hop scene

Aime | photo by Mike Ryan | courtesy of the artist

It’s easy to fall in love with the city of Philadelphia. I moved to Upper Darby when I was 13 years old, and for the past 16 years I’ve grown to cherish this gritty cultured city as my own, the same way Queens-born rapper Aime has.

Since coming to the north side of Philadelphia while attending Temple University ten years ago, the aspiring hip hop artist admired the how the city shared his appreciation for creating quality content with lyrical ability. That love is what got him into Philly’s hip hop scene allowing to meet known local acts (like Chill Moody) as well as his mentor (producer Dameadelphia who has worked with Philadelphia’s own the Grammy award winning hip hop band legendary The Roots ).

Projects like Aime for the Sky, Class Act, When It’s Cold Outside and Perfect Aime have helped the MC earn his stripes, while Book of David and The David EP aided him into getting recognized by the city he calls home. However, his recent project Flowers Started Dying Yesterday shows a more polished and confident Aime, telling the beautiful yet sad tale of the cycles of life.

While Aime prepares for performing at Dayne Jordan‘s annual No Place Like Home party this weekend, I got a chance to sit with him to discuss his journey in the Philly hip-hop scene, how the city became his second home, and the backstory to the musical drama Flowers Started Dying Yesterday. Continue reading →

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Inara George knows an awful lot about The Bird and The Bee

The Bird and the Bee | photo by Alexa Nikol Curran | courtesy of the artist

Inara George has several lives as a musician and as a haunting, expressive vocalis: as a solo artist, as a member of The Living Sisters. Yet it is her work as The Bird and The Bee with Greg Kurstin – producer and co-songwriter to the likes of Adele, Foo Fighters and Paul McCartney — that intrigues us this week as the ensemble hits World Café Live on August 16 for one of its rare shows hot on the heels of Interpreting the Masters, Volume 2: A Tribute to Van Halen. We caught up to her in a tour bus en route to the east coast to discuss all manner of bird talk. Continue reading →

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From outsider rock to pure pop, Honey Radar are experts at harvesting jams

Honey Radar | photo by Scott Troyan | courtesy of the artist

There are a few things that catch your eye right away upon walking into Jason Henn’s Kensington home where he lives with his wife. Some might be drawn to the shelf holding a variety of books, CDs and records along the wall to the right of the front door. It’s hard to miss the dinner table-sized textile loom just behind the couch, right next to the actual dinner table, which fills the living room as if it were any other ordinary piece of furniture.

Henn, guitarist and singer of Philly lo-fi rock band Honey Radar, walks into the living room where the other four members of the group are sitting. They’ve gotten together tonight to discuss their new album Ruby Puff of Dust. Fast forward to an hour later when wiry and exuberant guitarist Jess Stober makes an observation of something on Henn’s shelf.

“Jason, I just noticed all of your Jandek CDs on your shelf,” he says half excitedly, half amazed. “Man, I thought I had a lot.”

Everyone turns toward the shelf where there are stacks of jewel cases with white labels on their spines. “Yeah, they’re there because I wanted to protect my Monkees box sets,” Henn replies without a moment’s hesitation.

A collective belly laugh fills room. Continue reading →

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DJ Hvnlee brings heaven on Earth to Philly

DJ Hvnlee | photo by James Johnson Jr. | courtesy of the artist

Earlier this summer, while attending the REVOLT Summit New York, I got a chance to watch media personality Charlamagne Tha God interview District 18 CEO Brooklyn Johnny. During the interview, they said that people will respect an artist’s hustle even if they don’t respect their music…and I agree. Music is subjective, but there’s something about being able to witness hard work and dedication pay off for an artist.

There are many people in the city of a Philadelphia, myself included, who have been fortunate of enough to watch the growth of DJ Hvnlee, who continues to gain the respect and attention from her city. Since her early days spinning at Maxi’s bar on Temple University campus, the North Philly native has made a name for herself on the turntables and her music selection DJ’ing at different venues across the city like The Saint, Dolphin Tavern, the TLA and many more. The genuine love she has received from her city has kept Hvnlee going hard over the past six years.

As she prepares to rock out at another Philly hometown hero Dayne Jordan’s annual No Place Like Home concert, I was able to sit down with her to talk about her journey, the struggles of a woman in the male-dominated DJ industry, and how that caused her to create her own event, Honey. Continue reading →

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Stef Chura

Stef Chura | Photo by Makena Duffy for XPN

Joining us in the studio for this Indie Rock Hit Parade live session is an artist who is a mainstay of the Detroit music scene. Stef Chura began gigging around Michigan about a decade ago, and turned the tragic death of a friend into motivation to take her music into the studio. The resulting album, 2017’s Messes, caught the attention of celebrated label Saddle Creek, who signed Chura and reissued her debut the following year. Matching her relentless touring schedule, Chura quickly teamed up with Car Seat Headrest’s Will Toledo to write and record her next album, which materialized earlier this year. Midnight contains some of Chura’s most potent material yet, and she brought her full touring band (guitarist Clara Salyer, bassist Chad Stocker and drummer Ryan Clancy) to our studio to rip through a trio of new songs.

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Good night, Circadian Rhythms.

Circadian Rhythms | courtesy of the band
Circadian Rhythms | courtesy of the band

On October 31, 2005, Halloween, my friend Justin and I set out for an evening of fun and NOT drug-enhanced adventure in Northeast Philly. On that crisp autumn evening, we made our way to a jam session in the city’s Fox Chase section. Carrying my Roland JP-8000 synthesizer under my arm, we made our way to the basement of my future friend and bandmate Mike Eckstrom’s house. I spent the next few hours in that basement, meeting new faces, talking shit and doing my best Brian Eno impression on keys. Someone was supposed to be recording that night but I’m not sure if anyone did. 15 years later, what I recall of the sound we made that night is close to what you’d expect from a group of young people — many of whom had just met each other — attempting to play coherent music together.

Taking a smoke break outside, Chris Clark, one of the kids present at the jam, invited me to his car to listen to his new band that he and a few childhood friends had started. We sat in the car as he played me a rough recording of their first rehearsal. From what I remember, the music was sparse, nimble and little bluesy. “Yo, I like this a lot,” I said, because I did. Chris informed me the band’s name was Circadian Rhythms. Continue reading →

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Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: Operators

Operators | photo by Emily DeHart for WXPN

Joining us for this Indie Rock Hit Parade live session is a band that began life as a spin-off of a spin-off. In 2012, Wolf Parade/Handsome Furs guitarist Dan Boeckner and New Bomb Turks drummer Sam Brown teamed up with Spoon’s Britt Daniel for a (as of this moment) one-off album as Divine Fits. After returning to their respective projects, Boeckner and Brown reunited a few years later, joined by keyboardist Devojka, to form Operators. Fusing rich electronic textures with hard-hitting guitar rock, Operators released their second full-length, Radiant Dawn, earlier this year. They stopped by our studios before a show at Johnny Brenda’s to perform a few cuts.

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The High Key Portrait Series: Killiam Shakespeare

Killiam Shakespeare | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

High Key” is a series of profiles conceived with the intent to tell the story of Philly’s diverse musical legacy by spotlighting individual artists in portrait photography, as well as with an interview focusing on the artist’s experience living, creating, and performing in this city. “High Key” will be featured in recurring installments, as the series seeks to spotlight artists both individually and within the context of his or her respective group or artistic collective.

Steve McKie and Corey Bernhard have conspired for the past five years on Philly-based collective Killiam Shakespeare. The two manage to leverage life-long musical roots, their own creative chemistry, a deep star-studded creative network and classical instrument training to great effect, marrying diverse influences to build beats and establish unique musical moods.

McKie and Bernhard are gearing up for a big back-half to 2019, including west coast collaborations, new music, and an appearance later this fall at the World Café’s World Jam. They’re kicking it off though at the XPoNential Music Festival this weekend, with an opening night appearance at BB&T Pavilion this Friday. Continue reading →

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Dave Hause, Democracy, Brotherly Love and You: The Roxborough native arrives at XPNFest with a Kick

Dave Hause | photo by Kyle London | courtesy of the artist

When Dave Hause talks about his past home life near Philly, his new home life near Santa Barbara, his present, his future, his family and his politics, the Roxborough native does so in a sharply direct, yet convivial fashion. He’s like a high school debate team captain who’s also pleased to be his team’s QB. This weekend, Hause and The Mermaid tackle Wiggins Park’s Sunday schedule for XPNFest 2019. Continue reading →