Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: The Monochrome Set

The Monochrome Set | Photo by Eric Schuman for XPN

Joining us in the studio for this Indie Rock Hit Parade live session is a band that, without exaggeration, is the most influential group we’ve ever had on the show. Formed in 1978, The Monochrome Set would quickly become one of the most celebrated bands of the UK’s post-punk era. Influencing everyone from The Smiths to Pulp to the Arctic Monkeys, The Monochrome Set’s witty wordplay and irresistible melodies are still plenty vibrant 40 years on. After a few brief breaks in the ’80s and ’90s, The Monochrome Set have returned to their prolific ways, recently releasing their fifth post-reunion album, Maisieworld. Two founding members remain in the band today, singer/guitarist Bid and bassist Andy Warren. They’re joined by drummer Mike Urban and keyboardist John Paul Moran, both of whom have played in the band at various points since the ’90s. While on a rare US tour, The Monochrome Set stopped by our studios to perform a few of their favorites. Continue reading →


Just Announced: The Monochrome Set will play PhilaMOCA next year

The Monochrome Set | via

Influential UK post-punks the Monochrome Set will return to PhilaMOCA for the first time since 2015 on March 3rd. The show comes as part of a world tour to promote this year’s Maisieworld album and celebrate the band’s 40th anniversary. Tickets and info are available here. Check out the stylish music video for the band’s 1983 classic “Jet Set Junta” below. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Song Dogs at MilkBoy, Sonja Sofya at World Cafe Live, The Monochrome Set at PhilaMOCA

song dogs

Local Americana / rock outfit Song Dogs play MilkBoy Philly tonight.  The six-piece released their debut full-length Wild Country in January after working with Bill Moriarty at Waking Studios in East Falls.  Part Neil Young, part Jackson Browne, Wild Country is a collection of songs blending rock, folk and blues with a focus on storytelling.  Tickets and information for tonight’s show with Joshua Popejoy and Music Box Dynamo can be found here.  Listen to the title track of Wild Country below.

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Rediscovering UK post-punkers The Monochrome Set in six songs (playing PhilaMOCA on 5/30)

coletttemsetnyc1980_2Stylish post-punk, pre-new wave UK outfit The Monochrome Set has long been on my list of influential artists of yesteryear to dig more deeply into. With the 2012 release of its tenth studio album, Platinum Coils, and its first U.S. tour in 30 years just announced – including a stop at PhilaMOCA on the 30th of May – the time seemed as appropriate as ever.

The band formed in late 70s London after the dissolve of a formative group called The B-Sides. The frontman of that group, Stuart Goddard, went on to become Adam Ant; two of his mates, monickered Bid (offstage name Ganesh Seshadri) and Lester Square (Thomas W.B. Hardy), continued forth in a nervy and eclectic direction with The Monochrome Set.

Its ever-in-flux sound echoed the uneasiness and paranoia of contemporaries Television Personalities, Young Marble Giants and Wire, then evolved to bridge that world with the arty pop songwriting of XTC and The Smiths, and even the emerging twee sounds coming from The Vaselines. So, in general, they worked in tandem with lots of cool, revered artists, and paved the way for even more cool, revered artists. Check out a selection of music videos and audio tracks from the band’s vaults below, and get tickets and information for the band’s May 30th appearance at PhilaMOCA’s website.

“Eine Symphonie Des Grauens” – performed at Minneapolis’ M80 festival in 1979. This garagey number, released as an early 7″, mixes a loopy minor key eastern-influenced refrain with some sinewey guitars and a stomping beat. Continue reading →


Music for Installations: Stealing Brian Eno’s idea for a box set, The Key looks at the sound of Philly galleries

Vinny performs at Neighborhood Time Exchange | photo courtesy of Ellen Tiberino

This May, producer-composer-sound designer Brian Eno released Music For Installations — six albums of new, rare and previously unreleased music made for use in gallery installations and exhibitions from 1985 to the present — and his longtime work in ever-different and changing music became clearer.

“Generative” music, mastered by a system, and made to order for visual experiments with light and video (his own installations), as well as gallery exhibitions for painterly works, go beyond the idea of ambient atmospheres (his usual, when it comes to instrumental work). They move into something proactive, provocative, and at one with the creation it is meant to score or accompany. An active exhibition art-soundscape should dance along with the images at its forefront, move in tandem with each brush stroke, static video image, and color. At least that’s what happens within the spare, yet opulent, confines of Eno-music that appeared within installations during the Venice Biennale and inside the St. Peterberg’s Marble Palace, Beijing’s Ritan Park and the Sydney Opera House.

With that in mind, I became curious as to how (and why) Philadelphia artists, gallery owners and curators teamed site-specific sound and music (or not?!) to the images portrayed along their four walls. Continue reading →


Desire Lines: Brit rock icons Lush played a riveting reunion set at Union Transfer

Lush | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN
Lush | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

A line of fans of all ages trailed down Spring Garden Street last night, all the way around the corner at 11th and halfway down to Callowhill, waiting for Union Transfer’s doors to open for the return of British rock faves Lush.

Their anticipation was twenty years in the making for this reunion, another in a recent wave of local appearances from ‘90s dreampop bands. Just last month, in another 20th anniversary reunion tour, record label 4AD compatriots Belly played the same beloved Philly venue, which celebrates its 5th anniversary this week. And in December, Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips of Luna and Galaxie 500 will play a Velvets tribute show, headlined by Yo La Tengo.

Each of these events is a highlight in its own right, and Lush’s stood out as special for all of the adoration. Continue reading →


Bleeding Rainbow thrash and shred at Johnny Brenda’s (photos, recap, setlist)

The past few months have been a whirlwind of activity for Philly foursome Bleeding Rainbow, between signing with a label (Kanine Records), prepping a new LP (Yeah Right, out January 29), and scoring a sweet opening spot on tour with A Place to Bury Strangers. There is no doubt that the four-piece are well on their way to becoming one of Philly’s biggest bands. But that doesn’t mean they’ve lost sight of what rock n’ roll is really about: letting loose and having fun. Friday night at Johnny Brenda’s, the band treated fans to a short but energetic set of hazy jams and thrash-y freak-outs, mostly drawn from Yeah Right. Continue reading →


Gear up for Halloween with this spooky mix by Mercury Girls

Mercury Girls
Mercury Girls | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

The members of the Philly indie-pop band Mercury Girls took some time out of their busy tour schedule to create a deliciously spooky 31 song mixtape called The Halloween Party. If you’re as sick as I am of hearing “Monster Mash” at Halloween parties, then this mixtape should be an enthusiastically welcomed alternative. Continue reading →