JD Souther is a veritable country-rock living legend, writing songs over his impressive career for the likes of The Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, and Jackson Browne. He's on tour in support of his latest album "Natural History," and will be here for an XPN Free At Noon on December 2, along with a special set by Magnolia Memoir.
After Souther relocated to Nashville, he wrote for an even greater variety of artists--India Arie, Trisha Yearwood, George Strait, and Brooks & Dunn and over time has accumulated numerous awards for hit records, Grammy nominations and gold and platinum albums. He's also a successful solo artist, releasing several charting albums in the '70s and '80s. In 2008, he released his fifth solo album. Though "If the World Was You" is undeniably Souther--hearty, solid country-rock--the years of change are evident in this collection. Now he's back with a follow-up, released just this past May.
"Natural History" is retrospective and hearty, full of a mix of obscure recordings from Souther's long history, a new song, and plenty of reclamations from his past - the Eagles with 'The Sad Cafe', 'Best Of My Love' and 'New Kid In Town', and Linda Ronstadt with 'Faithless Love' are now all Souther's again. Souther described the result as "smoky and rainy", almost like "film noir", full of occasionally jazzy acoustics and his sophisticated vocals.
Don't miss JD Souther at this Free at Noon, as he brings some truly inspired country rock to the World Cafe stage. There's not a better way to start the weekend!
And, be sure to catch him for a full show on Saturday night, December 3 at Sellersville Theater.
Magnolia Memoir brings the sultry danceability of jazz to contemporary rock. Self-described as "Billie Holiday meets the Killers with a dash of the Clash," LA-based Magnolia Memoir is making waves. Vocalist and songwriter Mela Lee boasts a five-octave range and a girlishly sweet voice, which has been featured in numerous movies, television shows and commercials. With Alexander Burke as music director and keyboardist, bassist Gordon Bash, guitarist Aron Forbes and Matt Lucich on drums, the ensemble will be doing a special acoustic set opening for J.D Souther this week's Free at Noon show. They are currently touring their EP "What's A Good Girl Do?" and their debut album "The Perfect Crime" will be released on eOne Music Group in February.
Complete with strings, drums, guitars, and bass, Deer Tick is a self-described rock-rock-rock outfit with a little something more--a twist of alt-country and gritty blues, as demonstrated on their 2010 studio album, The Black Dirt Sessions. With their serious music and humorous on-stage banter, these five young musicians have one goal: to rock across the continent.
One of two great Live Friday artists gracing the World Cafe stage this week, The Peace Creeps are a Philly-based psychedelic rock outfit. Front man Richard Bush was originally the leader of local icons The A's, but after some label issues Bush brought together guitarist John Marchiano, drummer Jeff Pancoast and bass guitarist Roy Fisher. The Peace Creeps had gotten their start. Their debut, "Autumn of Love", brought together a number of local musiciams on a nostalgic and colorful journey through human experience.
Just about five years later, The Peace Creeps are back with their second offering. "Time Machine" is definitely an album for Bush to hold his '60s rock reverence high--one can easily here the Beatles, the Stones, and British Invasion as influences, along with more contemporary and closer inspirations such as Dr. Dog and Wilco. Yet "Time Machine" is aptly named--it's clear that this album was deeply inspired by the Era of Flower Children and their best rock. Any listener can tell that Bush means it when he sings,
"We can do anything we want to when I get my time machine together. I'll stop back and pick you up, we'll go and meet The Beatles."
And just about every listener feels the pull as keenly with the Peace Creeps on stage or through headphones. Don't miss them on the stage with Beck & Cauthen this Friday at noon.
David Beck and Paul Cauthen have both been professional musicians, going solo, for some time. Both natives of Texas, they had childhoods full of music--Beck was the son of a successful touring artist, and Cauthen was singing in church at the age of seven, learning guitar from his grandfather. Both eventually made their way to Austin, where they formed a collaboration in 2009 after a series of chance musical encounters. Today, Beth & Cauthen have just cut their studio debut, "Sons of Fathers".
Beck & Cauthen could best be described as roots rock powerhouse--with influences such as Robert Earl Keen, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and the Stones, the moving harmonies of this duo can be deeply country, folksy, experimental, or just plain rock-based. After secluding themselves in Doss, Texas, to perfect their finest work, Beck & Cauthen headed to the studio. Their debut was produced by Grammy winner Lloyd Maines, and it promises to be full of their signature melodies, fine instrumentation, and the feel of Texas on the road. Beck & Cauthen currently have a number of shows lined up in the Lone Star State, but they will be in Philly this weekend, so catch them at the Free at Noon! They're playing with Philly natives, The Peace Creeps. There's no better way to start the weekend--two great acts, a beer, and good company.
This week's Live Friday features a local band that's been gaining a lot of buzz, both here and across the pond. With lyrical and vocal techniques reminiscent of Petty, Springsteen, and Dylan and the blazing guitar rifts of Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine, Philadelphia trio The War on Drugs plays retrospective music in a progressive manner. Founding members Adam Granduciel and Kurt Vile met at a party and indulged in their mutual admiration for Bob Dylan. The two would soon begin recording together. Granduceil's gritty vocals are supported by the band's dreamy ambience, inventing a masterful soundscape. With their full-length debut, "Wagonwheel Blues", the band experimented with various sounds and influences, blending noisy distortions and roots rock.
Though Kurt Vile has left the band and other line up changes have occured, The War on Drugs have been steadily building an audience--locally and abroad--in the past few years. Their latest release, "Slave Ambient", has them embarking on an extensive tour both in the States and abroad. "Slave Ambient" is a hearty dose of rock 'n' roll, with plenty of side influences. From the expertly placed synthesizers and bold electric guitars to the undercurrents of country rock and old pop ditties, "Slave Ambient" is just plain stimulating. It's been under construction for four years, recorded in Granduciel's home studio here in Philly. Don't miss this chance to hear from The War on Drugs right before the official release of their second proper album. It's the Free at Noon at World Cafe Live, and it's the best way to start off the weekend.
And, check out their performance from the 2008 XPoNential Music Festival. Listen to the full concert at NPR.org/music, recorded live in concert from WXPN at Wiggins Park in Philadelphia on July 11, 2008.
Frightened Rabbit is in town supporting Death Cab for Cutie, and plays the Mann Music Center on Friday night at 7:30pm - opening for Death Cab for Cutie. They will be here for a live "Free At Noon" show Friday, August 5.
Since their formation in 2004, Scottish indie rockers Frightened Rabbit have been lauded for their folk-tinged introspection. Their breakthrough album, "Midnight Organ Fight," launched the band into international acclaim. Led by singer/guitarist Scott Hutchison, Frightened Rabbit recently released "The Winter of Mixed Drinks" to critical acclaim. A grand, sweeping album, "The Winter of Mixed Drinks" finds Frightened Rabbit adding an uplifting, optimistic tone to their music that was previously not to be found. This works well for Frightened Rabbit too; their music sounds urgent and
important, while still being very soulful and emotive. Featuring intelligent wordplay, densely layered guitars, and fervent choruses, the album's themes of liberation and escape are highlighted throughout. Complete with smooth, slick production, "The Winter of Mixed Drinks" serves as a sort of bridge for these Scottish musicians from their more lo-fi, folk roots. Thanks to many years spent honing and polishing their sound, Frightened Rabbit have created an impressive, complex album worthy of all its hype.
"The Winter of Mixed Drinks" has done very well since its release, charting very high on the US and UK Independent Albums. Critics are not holding back the praise either, first calling it a contender for the Best of 2010 and often noting the 'sharp' songwriting. As best put by Dave Simpson from The Guardian, "...most of their songs – with themes of escape, freedom and reinvention – have huge impassioned choruses that are made to be shouted from the nearest available mountain." Their live performances are just as passionate.
Currently, Frightened Rabbit is touring the US, headlining as well as sharing the stage with names as big as Death Cab for Cutie. Don't miss them this Friday as the light up the stage at World Cafe--it's the Free at Noon, Scottish style! There can't be a better way to start the weekend.
Tim Robbins (yes, the Hollywood A-lister of such notable films as Shawshank Redemption and Mystic River) has a band, an album, and a record deal. He's going to be at World Cafe, giving a free performance with his superb backing band, this Friday. Don't miss the Americana stylings of this Academy Award winner--Tim Robbins and the Rogues Gallery Band know how to make the country blues come alive on stage.
Tim Robbins grew up surrounded by music. His parents met in the UCLA marching band, and his father eventually moved the family to Greenwich Village during the height of the '60s and '70s folk renaissance to pursue a career his band The Highwaymen. The result was an abiding love of blue-collar Americana for Robbins, as evidenced by the tone of The Rogues Gallery's eponymous debut. It's safe to say that Robbins draws a lot of his inspiration from country-blues and rock staples like Bruce Springsteen, Steve Earle, and Bob Dylan. With a stellar line up of supporting musicians like keyboardist Roger Eno, musical saw player David Coulter, multi-instrumentalist Kate St. John and vocal contributions by Joan As Policewoman, "Tim Robbins and The Rogues Gallery Band" is a solid release of mixed Appalachia. The songs are heartfelt and lovingly crafted. As Robbins described it, "I have too much respect for music to put out something that wasn't coming from a genuine place."
Don't miss out on this week's Free at Noon--Tim Robbins and the Rogues Gallery Band have a reputation for charming and also rousing live performances.
Don't miss this Friday's Free at Noon performance by Cults, one of XPN's Artist(s) to watch for July! Cults have a bit of a fairy tale beginning, and their quick rise speaks volumes about the allure of their music.
Brian Oblivion and Madeline Follin have been together as a band and a couple for just about a year now, and they've commemorated with an eponymous debut. Oblivion and Follin met as students at NYU, and began to make music in their spare time. After the two posted a three-track demo on the popular indie music website Bandcamp, they began to get some serious buzz--in fact, the song "Go Outside" was labeled by Pitchfork as 'Best New Music'. Within a very short time after their initial viral success, Cults were picked up by major label Columbia and featured on NPR. It's rare that a band reaches the spotlight in so little time before actually releasing an album, but Cults did it. And going by the recent reception of their '60s pop collection, it seems like this little-band-that-could out of New York is not leaving any time soon.
"Cults" has already received another 'Best Music' label from Pitchfork for the sinister yet sweet flavor of the 11 pop-infused tracks. The sunny vocals of Follin can easily take a turn for something darker and edgier that obviously has more to do with the idea of cults. With the raspy, modern guitar riffs of Oblivion, the quick-changing pace of drum beats, and the glockenspiel-y reverb, this is a mesmerizing release--mysterious, cute, and dysfunctional all at once. Oblivion adeptly describes their music on NPR as "cautionary and romantic", taking inspiration from the "ambivalent, fascinating feelings with the concept" of a cult. Cults have successfully transcended their Internet notoriety into real life with this release, which has charted in both the UK and Canada. After adding to the lineup, Cults is touring the rest of the summer in North America and Europe. They've got stops in Portland, Los Angeles, and the UK--and of course World Cafe! They're an XPN Artist to Watch for July, and their quick rise to fame speaks volumes about their music--they're mesmerizing, whether in headphones or on a stage. But if you can, don't miss this live performance--it's sure to be a great way to start off the weekend.
The Smithereens are back with a brand new release called Smithereens 2011. They're playing our XPoNential Music Festival on Friday, July 22, 2011, and will be here for an XPN Free At Noon, Friday, July 1, 2011!
The Smithereens are rock music veterans who have earned their living with successful release after release for more than 25 years, dating all the way back to their debut album "Girls About Town" in 1980. Since that time, they have appeared all over US Billboard charts, performing concerts domestically and internationally, and even lent their signature sound to a handful of movie soundtracks. The Smithereens might be one of the only bands in history to take lifelong influences Buddy Holly and The Beatles and spin it with a heavy metal, prog-rock twinge.
Pat DiNizio started the band in New Jersey in the late 70's after placing ads for local college- and high school-aged musicians and recruiting Jim Babjak, Mike Mesaros (to be replaced by Severo Jornacio in 2006) and Dennis Diken to form a solid team. They worked through the early 80's, playing largely within the New York bar scene with a variety of Brit Pop, classic oldies, and hard rock, a veritable cornucopia of the band's varied musical interests and ambitions. Finally in 1986, they had a major breakthrough with the hit single "Blood and Roses" from their debut studio album Especially For You. They signed a major label deal with Capitol and went on to release three more albums with Capitol, including 1989's highly successful Smithereens 11. In 2007, they set out to release Meet the Smithereens, an album they recorded covering the entire Meet the Beatles album.
But while their covers and compilations have filled in the last decade, this year's release "2011" marks their first set of brand new originals since 1999's "God Save the Smithereens." Decades worth of fans are ecstatic to acknowledge the band's truimphant return. And what better way to celebrate than to join us this Friday for another mid-day concert?
In addition to this Free At Noon concert, you can catch The Smithereens at this summer's XPoNential Music Festival on Friday, July 22, 2011.
Joseph Arthur's new album, Graduation Ceremony was just released. He's playing the XPoNential Music Festival in July, and he'll be here for XPN's Free At Noon this Friday, June 17.
Singer-songwriter, Joseph Arthur began singing at the age of 21, although his fondness for music and the guitar began earlier than that. Having grown up in Akron, Ohio, Arthur relocated to Atlanta where he found a thriving music scene. A masterful painter as well, Arthur fuses his two passions, designing his own cover art and sometimes using his paintings as backgrounds for his sets. The now Grammy nominated musician's career began with a slow start but with his talent, his success was always destined to be. Having been compared to the likes of Jeff Buckley, Leonard Cohen, and Joe Henry and having toured with Tracy Chapman, Ben Harper, and Gomez, Arthur carries on the legacy of great singer-songwriters.
Dawes was an XPN Artist To Watch in April, 2010.
They live for the stage, pouring every ounce of their work into soul-bearing live performances; and show no signs of slowing down. The L.A. quartet's blend of classic '70s folk-rock and contemporary flair made their debut "North Hills" an instant hit, quickly pushing them onto everyone's radar. The combination of Taylor Goldsmith's lyrical and powerful voice and the backing folk-pop harmonies managed to capture the nuances of sorrow and optimism all throughout an overarching thread of mature condidence. Along with instrumental backing from Griffin Goldsmith (Tayler's younger brother), Wylie Gelber and Tay Strathairn (who replaced original member Alex Casnoff), this was a fine-tuned recipe for early success.
Two years since their debut, they are now preparing for the release of their sophomore effort, "Nothing Is Wrong," which is bound to evoke the same sense of nostalgia and anticipation that made their debut a standout. Going for more of a Springsteen/Petty American rock and roll sound, Dawes ultimately recorded the album at Echo Park studio between touring. According to the band, "the difference between this record and [2009's North Hills] is that this one has a much more live quality, because they were learned and arranged on stage."
The 1970's marked a turbulent time in Cambodian music history, when in 1975 the Pol Pot regime took over; western-influenced music was banned, musicians killed, and many recordings eliminated. But the influence of popular artists such as Sinn Sisamouth continues to live on decades later, sparking the interest of Zac and Ethan Holzman. The brothers fell in love with vintage Cambodian pop music and after collecting old Cambodian casettes they went to work on creating a band that would incorporate such elements. Their idea materialized when Dengue Fever formed in 2001 after a chance meeting with Ch'hom Nimol,an esteemed Cambodian songstress who stems from a family of wedding singers and who moved to Long Beach from Cambodia merely a year prior. Specializing in Khmer Rock, a mix of Cambodian Khmer style and psychedelic pop-rock, Dengue Fever started out as a Camboidan pop cover band. But as the group grew into a dynamic 6-piece band featuring saxophone, bass, drums, guitar, farfisa and vocals, their style developed into an intriguing hybrid of eastern and western styles.
Since their start, Dengue Fever has released a total of four albums, showing ever-increasing growth with each release. Their third album "Venus on Earth" really launched the band forward with its solid mix of hypnotic psychedelic riffs, jazzy accents and artfully graceful Cambodian singing. Three years later, the group now presents their fourth and latest album "Cannibal Courtship," which features a shift towards more songs in English.
Okkervil River is an indie-rock band with folk influences and hailing from Austin, Texas. Formed in 1998 by high school buddies from New Hampshire, Okkervil River went through the typical garage-band phase when they self-released their first work. The band, taking their intriguing name from a Russian piece of fiction, paired with producer/engineer Brian Beattie in March of 2000. The result was the band's first full-length album, "Don't Fall in Love with Everyone You See". The debut was later picked up for release by indie label Jagjaguwar in 2002, and Okkervil River has been producing numerous EPs, compilations, and albums ever since.
A critics' darling from inception, Okkervil River is keeping its numbers up. The band's recognizable lyrics and music—full of deep storytelling supported by emotional performances—combined with frontman Will Sheff's quavery, paradoxically strong voice have built Okkervil River a sturdy reputation for satisfying, emotional music. Their last release, The Stand Ins, was the band's highest-charting record, reaching 42 on Billboard 200, and critical reception wasn't half bad either. Now Okkervil River is back. I Am Very Far is their sixth release, and the Austin-based band is pushing their music to even greater limits. Out on May 10, the album includes a string and horn section. Front man Will Sheff will also no doubt be adding what he learned from producing and collaborating with Roky Erickson and The New Pornographers during the band's break.
Okkervile River is on tour in support of their brand new release, I am Very Far. They play the Trocadero in Philly Friday night, June 3.
From World Cafe Live In Philadelphia, 88.5 XPN and NPR Music present "The Philly Folk Parade". Four great Philadelphia Artists on stage including Hezekiah Jones, The Spinning Leaves, Plus Chris Kasper and the Great Unknown.
The Philly Folk Parade is a music community initiative, maintaining a 'rolling revue' of its 40 local musician members. Since most of the members are well-known within the Philadelphia area, some fans have named them the local All-Stars. It's based on an idea of empowering the community through joyous music as well as spreading the word about the great Philadelphia music environment; so far, the group has pushed along a string of performances and a tour.
This latest showcase, spread out across the month of May, features four great Philly artists: Spinning Leaves, Hezekiah Jones, Chris Kasper, and the Great Unknown. The Spinning Leaves, a traditional yet psychedelic folk duo, is comprised of Barbara Gettes and Michael Baker--organizers of the Philly Folk Parade. Hezekiah Jones is a group of artists itself, rotating with songwriter Raphael Cutrufello, creating folky tunes infused with styles like reggae. Chris Kasper is an Americana songwriter who treads in between genres and has cultivated a devoted fan base. The Great Unknown is an alt-folk outfit who take their performances seriously, hand-decorating venues and baking food for the audiences.
The end of the Philly Folk Parade's month-long Fire residency is drawing to a close--don't miss the last of this great musical revue together with XPN!
...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead has a name that unravels as epically as their music and is as lengthy as their band's history. With a career that spans over seventeen years and seven albums, their story begins in Olympia, WA, where in 1994 the band's core members Conrad Keely and Jason Reece first started playing together. After moving to Austin,TX they would form Trail of Dead. Their line-up continued to grow and in 1998 they released their self-titled debut album, capturing the ears of epic rock lovers with their wildly energetic shows. the group would shift through various labels including Trance, Merge and Interscope Records for their album releases until they created their own Richter Scale Imprint label (with Justince Records and Superball Music).
When their sixth studio album "The Century of Self" came out in 2009, they became the raved progressive rock noisemakers of our day, receiving high praise from press critics. But just when it seemed as though they had topped their well established prog-rock standing, they spent the past two years honing in on their latest epic tale "Tao of the Dead." After teaming up with famed indie producer Chris Coady, they tap into 70's rock inspiration from Pink Floyd, Yes, NEU and the like. Conceptual in nature, the album is more of an unfolding two part tale with melodic jam sessions that fit within the frame of several chapters and movements.
In support of "Tao of the Dead" they will be engaging the crowd in one of their many unpredictable live performances at this Friday's Free at Noon. Some expected highlights include new tunes, energetic switching of instrument playing and possibly some instrument destruction... you never know what they'll do next.
The band is on tour in support of the new album, kicking things off in Europe this past March on a co-headlining tour with Rival Schools and then heading out in the US at the end of April. They play First Unitarian Church on on Thursday night, May 12, and will hit the XPN Free At Noon stage at World Cafe Live on Friday May 13.