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Watch Sharon Van Etten cover Sinéad O’Connor’s “Black Boys On Mopeds” for SiriusXM

Sharon Van Etten | photo by Rachel Barrish for WXPN

Sharon Van Etten has been performing a cover of Sinéad O’Connor’s “Black Boys On Mopeds” on tour this year, and recently she stopped by SiriusXM to record a live acoustic version of the powerful song. “Black Boys On Mopeds,” from O’Connor’s 1989 album I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, was written in response to the 1983 death of Colin Roach, a 21-year old black man who was shot and killed inside a London police station. Though the death was ruled a suicide, the circumstances of the tragedy spurred protests that still feel painfully relevant in today’s world. 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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Liz Parsons’ vocals are smooth like “Honey” on Big Nothing’s newly released track

Big Nothing | photo by Jared Castaldi | courtesy of the artist

This week, Philly punk four-piece Big Nothing released a second song from their album Chris after releasing lead single “Real Name two weeks ago, and though the album won’t be released until May 10 via Salinas Records, “Honey” is keeping us satisfied in the meantime. Bassist Liz Parsons writes and sings the track, and her smooth yet powerful vocals combine punk and pop in an irresistibly ear-catching blend. The song takes a classic sound and adds spice, delivering a catchy chorus that’ll get stuck in your head. Continue reading →

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Wyatt Flynn shifts from uncertainty to optimism on Moving Day EP

Wyatt Flynn | via wyattflynn.bandcamp.com

Philly singer-songwriter Wyatt Flynn makes his debut with the new Moving Day EP, out now on Bandcamp. A self-described “Trans Sadboy Making Music About Being Gay And Having Feelngs,” Flynn filters his personal experiences into narrative-driven songs, moving from uncertainty to optimism over the EP’s four tracks. Continue reading →

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DJ Haram fuses bounce and Middle Eastern dance music in new EP Mixed Berries

DJ Haram spins at Break Free Fest | photo by John Vettese

Philadelphia-based producer DJ Haram just released her debut EP, Mixed Berries, which mixes the energy of booty bounce with brooding electronic textures and darbuka percussion heard in Middle Eastern dance music. Or, as DJ Haram put it on Twitter, “#darbukabloodrave.”

The album features three songs, “Rotten”, “Ripe”, and “No Wave.” The songs interact with each other to create a cohesive whole — rather than three separate songs, its three songs that work together as one. Haram’s sound is part percussion, part spoken samples, part electronic club beats. It feels like she is challenging the boundaries of club music and pushing for an international sound. Continue reading →

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Lucy Dacus continues 2019 singles series with “My Mother & I”

Lucy Dacus | photo by Elizabeth Weinberg

Lucy Dacus shared a new song, “My Mother & I,” in honor of both Mother’s Day and the Taurus astrological season, during which she and her mom will celebrate their birthdays. With the soft, guitar-driven track, Dacus takes a heartfelt look at her relationship with her mother and the many things they share.

This is the second track in her 2019 song series, which will eventually make up an EP. We last heard her cover of Edith Piaf’s “La Vie En Rose” around Valentine’s Day, and she will continue to mark special occasions with new songs — a mix of covers and originals — throughout the year. Continue reading →

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Thin Lips surprised us with a new EP, Carrot Milk

Thin Lips
Thin Lips | photo by Scott Troyan | photo courtesy of the artist

What better way to start the week than with some unexpected new music from Thin Lips? The band released a new EP, Carrot Milk, this past weekend, showing a stripped-down, introspective side to the band. It’s three tracks are sparse and intimate demos that set Carrot Milk apart from Thin Lips’ usual punk sound that we’re used to. It’s also a deeply personal project for singer-songwriter Chrissy Tashjian, who wrote, recorded and produced the new release. Continue reading →

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With new music on the horizon, CRUISR shares single “Get Out”

CRUISR | photo by Natalie Piserchio | courtesy of the artist

CRUISR is up to something. The Philly indie-pop trio has been hinting at new music for a while now, and they just shared their second single of 2019. The upbeat new tune “Get Out” is out now wherever you listen to your music, and it’s certainly worth a listen — or two or three. Chances are you’ll soon have the bright, poppy tune on repeat; and like most CRUISR tracks its smooth, catchy melody makes it a great one to dance to, too. 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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Birdie Busch and Rachel Alina tackle time, place, friendship and growth in multimedia project Locals // If You Swim Far Enough

Birdie Busch and Rachel Alina | photos courtesy of the artists

Local songwriter Birdie Busch has teamed up with sound engineer and poet Rachel Alina and illustrator Ashley Smestad Vélez for a collaborative project. Locals // If You Swim Far Enough sees each artist drawing on their respective creative forms to build a work that tackles time, place, friendship and growth.

Alina’s chapbook of poetry, Locals, is accompanied by over 80 of Vélez’s illustrations, and complements Busch’s acoustic album If You Swim Far Enough, which she recorded with Alina several years ago at Scullville Studios in New Jersey, featuring acoustic versions of several previously released songs from her catalog Continue reading →