One of the longest-running bands to come from the first-generation British punk
movement, The Mekons have been making music since 1977. Punk at the core but not afraid to mix it up, The Mekons have dabbled in a range of other genres, from folk to reggae. But the eight members of The Mekons are still defined by their brand of post-apocalyptic cowboy punk, which has garnered them a significant amount of acclaim. Their 28th album, titled Ancient and Modern, was released just this past September--and it holds to Mekon sound, albeit some evidencing some of the Mekon's mellowing over time. But that doesn't mean it's any less charming.
True to form, the Mekons have infused Ancient and Modern with plenty of hooks and clever, thought-provoking lyrics. Group choruses abound in The Mekons' music and the band actually sound they are having fun when they play. It is this fact that makes The Mekons so appealing: in an age where being cool means acting unaffected, The Mekons are still not afraid to put everything on the table and to have fun while doing it.
Wrapping up a list of tour dates in the Midwest and Eastern US, the Mekons will be visiting World Cafe. Come see one of the longest-running, and still rocking, bands in the history of punk at XPN's Live Friday on October 7. It's free and it's undoubtedly the best way to start your weekend.
Scarcely over 30 years old, Rachael Yamagata is a vibrant and emotional songstress. She honed her skills as a vocalist for the funk band Bumpus, touring extensively and recorded three albums. As she shifted into a solo career in 2001, her rich vocals – tinged with jazz influences – landed her a record deal with Arista. With the 2004 release of her first full album, Happenstance , Yamagata distinguished herself from a coalescing crowd of contemporary pop artists.
Her newest album Chesapeake only heightens Yamagata's reputation as one of today's most gifted singer-songwriters. With a smoky voice that rises above elegant keyboard melodies, the album is a lush landscape of bluesy-pop rhythms. In anticipation of the album's release, Yamagata joined forces with her brother, director Josh Ruben, to produce a video for the single "Even If I Don't." You can watch the video on The Key. The product was a whimsical yet heartbreaking tapestry of lost love.
Yamagata was an XPN Artist To Watch in 2004, and her album Happenstance reached no. 11 that year on the XPN Year In Review Countdown. In addition to XPN's Live Friday Free At Noon, you can catch Rachael at World Cafe Live in Philly on October 31.
Click here to stream/download the just-released "Starlight," a first taste of the new record.
XPN Artist To Watch, Diego Garcia is on tour in support of his debut album, Laura, and plays two shows at the Tin Angel on September 21. He'll be here for a Free At Noon show Friday, September 23.
Former frontman of the indie band, Elefant, Diego Garcia went solo in 2010. His new album Laura is on many "Best of the Year 2011" lists, and is also a XPN Featured Album of the Week.
Incorporating his Latin background – his parents are both Argentinean – into his lush, delicate music, Diego Garcia’s deeply reflective music calls to mind the likes of Leonard Cohen and Morrissey. Garcia writes incredibly introspective, often-anguished lyrics, and subtly fuses the Spanish guitar with a more traditional folk sound. With lyrics that explore a range of emotional planes, Garcia is a master of subtlety: Whether it is with panicking guitar strums, twinkles of Spanish guitar, or his soft and intimate musings, Garcia is able to delicately move the listener on an emotional level. He manages to weave his sounds like a tapestry, crafting a dreamlike, confidential album that is sure to leave listeners wanting more. After all, the album is all about his wife, Laura, and signifies a new, more personal chapter in music-making for this talented artist.
Don't miss this Free at Noon--Diego Garcia's emotional web of sound can't be beat when it comes to starting off the weekend.
And be sure to listen to his live session in the World Cafe Archives, including two web extra songs - at WorldCafe.NPR.org.
Fresh off an appearance on the David Letterman Show, and just nominated by Mojo Magazine as "Best Live Band," The Jim Jones Revue play The Blockley in Philly on Friday September 16, and will surley rock, on the next XPN Free At Noon on September 16!
There's sure to be not a little fire and brimstone. If you've ever wanted to see rock'n'roll incarnated, the Jim Jones Revue is probably the closest thing to it. The five-piece garage-and-blues rock outfit from London came together in 2008, when frontman Jim Jones (a veteran of rock, creating solid songs since the '80s) met guitarist Rupert Orton at the aptly named 'Not the Same Old Blues Crap' club night. They recorded an eponymous debut in just 48 hours that year, and news of their back-to-basics sound, inspired by the likes of The Sonics and Little Richard, quickly began to spread.
Now The Jim Jones Revue is onto their second release, which is out on August 16th in the US. They've created another masterpiece of bluesy riffs and raspy vocals, all infused with endless, primal energy. The band previewed "Burning Your House Down" at London nightclub Madame Jojo's for a sold-out audience last September. Oasis singer Liam Gallagher as well as members of Grinderman and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds were in attendance, and it's safe to say that the reputation of The Jim Jones Revue is growing. "Burning Your House Down" could very likely take the US by storm, just as it has across the pond.
Produced by Jim Sclavunos (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Grinderman), this 11-track collection catches most of the power of The Jim Jones Revue on stage, but to get the full effect of their take-no prisoners vibe, a live performance is necessary. Thus, this week's Free at Noon is not to be missed. There's not a better way to start the weekend!
Central PA's Kingsfoil are one of Helen Leicht's recent musical discoveries on the local scene. Fronted by the charismatic Jordan Davis, the four-piece released its latest album, On Our Own Together, last June. Kingsfoil began as a duo in the early '00s; Davis and guitarist/vocalist Tristan Martin released The Almond Tree EP in 2005. Joe Cipollini was later added on drums and in 2007 Tim Warren joined the group on bass. The songs from On Our Own Together are incredibly polished and catchy bring to mind the musical likes of Coldplay and The Fray.
The band played the XPoNential Music Festival this summer. You can listen to their full set here.
The band plays The 8X10 in Baltimore with Virginia Coalition on September 16, and the Dewey Beach Music Conference 2011 the weekend of September 24-25, 2011.
This York, PA native has figured out how to capture an audience. With a distinctly memorable voice that could relax even the most uneasy mind, Alexandra shows she is not only a beautiful voice but an accomplished songwriter as well. After her first released debut, "Fashionably Late" in 2008, Alexandra embarked on a 32 date college tour in Fall 2009. Taking a small hiatus from shows to bomb a highly anticipated album "Wash Your Mouth Out", recorded in Nashville, TN with producer Dustin Burnett, the album is due out on June 24th! Dana Alexandra is making the change from solo act to a full band and is ready to start throwing a dance party at every show all while keeping her sound grounded and straight from the heart.
Dana performed at this summer's XPoNential Music Festival, as guest vocalist with Kuf Knotz. She plays Tin Angel in Philly on September 8, and the York Fair, First Stage on September 10, in York, PA.
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.
US Rails is a diverse collective comprised of musicians Ben Arnold, Tom Gillam, Joseph Parsons, Scott Bricklin and Matt Muir. With their Philly-grown folk and rock-pop sensibilities, this members of this five-piece have been creating buzz for their great harmonies as well. Coming off a brand-new release called "Southern Canon", US Rails have been playing a slew of shows in the area. They will be at World Cafe Live at the Queen in Wilmington on Thursday, August 25, Steel City in Phoenixville on Friday night, August 26, and of course at the XPN Free At Noon!
Each of the band members has been forging their own path through the music world, long before the collective that is US Rails began to take shape. Frontman Ben Arnold hit it big in the '90s, signing to Columbia Records, playing European shows, and building quite the following in the States for his soulful piano and guitar ballads. He and Matt Muir (percussion) are also part of LA band Pistol for Ringo. Muir is another multi-talented individual, playing the parts of writer, producer, singer, and drummer at times--he's now contributing his up-front, precise beats to the US Rails. Scott Bricklin is yet another jack-of-all-music-trades: singer, bassist, guitarist, and producer. He knows what creativity is, and he brings it to US Rails. Tom Gillam was raised in New Jersey but he's got southern rock in his blood--his slide guitar is mixed with '70s pop influences as well, and he's toured all over the lower states proving it. Finally, Joseph Parsons is a successful solo artist, especially in Germany. He's released multiple albums over the years, all infused with his passion for story and an eclectic of genres.
Together, these five musical forces make up US Rails. They recorded "Southern Canon" in Germany late last year, and now they are releasing the deft mix of styles that is "Southern Canon" throughout their stops in the US, first here in PA. Don't miss them at this week's Live Friday!
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.