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It's been interesting to watch (and listen to) the career offerings of XPN favorites Old 97's. In their 15-year existence, Rhett Miller and company have consistently given us quality rock & roll with a touch of Texas twang, and while they break no new ground, Blame It On Gravity, is a solid effort full of hooks and attitude.

Death Cab for Cutie is a band that boasts two of the very best artists in all of indie-dom: singer Ben Gibbard, who's blessed with an amazing, natural voice, and guitarist and producer Chris Walla, who has the knack of making everything he touches sound real and epic at the same time. The talent is certainly on display on this new album, Narrow Stairs, but the subject matter is much more suffocating.

Combining elements of hip-hop, punk, new wave, electronica and classic pop music, Santogold's self-titled debut album is truly a remarkable piece of work.  Philadelphia native Santi White, along with songwriter and producer John Hill – a.k.a. Johnny Rodeo – is quickly developing a reputation as one of music's best and brightest, and this album certainly shows why.

As most people probably know the only things closer to Helen Leicht's heart (other than her family and Paul McCartney) are our local musicians. Helen loves having the opportunity to share this music with you, the WXPN audience.

The bad news first: the second Gnarls Barkley album The Odd Couple does not contain any song with the hit single potential of "Crazy" from their St. Elsewhere album. The good news is – as far as consistency, soul, and overall performance is concerned,The Odd Couple is maybe even better than the debut. This mid-fi delight combines pop touchstones of the past with hip-hop beats and electronica attitude, and the result is warm and decidedly real...

On their fifth and best album to date – Attack & Release – Akron, Ohio minimalist duo The Black Keys take a step forward sonically and in songwriting. The record sounds more like a complete work than anything they've ever done, but long-time fans will not be disappointed in the results.

In what just may heralded as Peter Buck's long-anticipated R.E.M. "guitar album", Athens, Georgia's finest let it rip on Accelerate, the beloved band's 14th studio album. As the title suggests, the tunes are faster, more urgent, and sound a lot less fussed-over than a lot of the group's past catalogue.

On Adam Duritz's self-confessional tour de force Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings, Counting Crows successfully remind us of all the components that went into making them one of the 90's most popular rock acts. After a six year hiatus, the band has emerged with a muscular, passionate and honest record.

It's their first release in 16 years, but after listening to Funplex once, it's like they never went away. The B-52's' new album is everything you were hoping it would be: fun, irreverent, bouncy, kooky. Time certainly has changed since the band emerged from Athens, Georgia (of all places) in the late 70's, looking and sounding like absolutely nothing else, but the band's inherent kitsch and attitude hasn't changed one iota. Even better, vocalist Cindy Wilson is back in the fold after not appearing on 1992's Good Stuff. Founding members Kate Pierson, Keith Strickland and the irrepressible Fred Schneider are back as well.

Devotchka is a four piece, multi-instrumental group that sound like nobody else. Their strange but beautiful combination of Gypsy, Greek, Slavic, and Mariachi music was featured in the soundtrack of Little Miss Sunshine, and the band has toured extensively the past four years, including tours with the likes of Calexico, Belle & Sebastian, and Flogging Molly. However, that description cannot begin to describe what Devotchka is all about... you'll just have to listen.

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Philly Local Covers 2014

Philly Local Covers 2014 Looking back on 2014, we asked some Philly local musicians to cover their favorite songs of the year. Listen to their studio recordings on The Key.

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