Tag Archives: local music

To WXPN, with love

I’m in love.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted something here, but I have a burning in my heart that MUST be shared with the world. I feel like Buddy the Elf, twirling into his father’s big meeting with the “angry elf”. I’m in love and I don’t care who knows it!

Yes, I am in love. I am in love with 88.5 FM WXPN, Philadelphia’s best and most vital radio station.

How did this happen? Well, as chance would have it, I was driving on I-76 into Philadelphia (well, “driving” may be a stretch… more like slowly seeping eastward), and I felt the need to listen to something other than my collection of music on my iPod. So, I turned to my old friend the radio, something I don’t normally do. The last time I honestly enjoyed listening to the radio was probably when I was still driving around with my mom and “How Bizarre”  was being played.

After I switched the radio on, WXPN was the first station I landed on, right there at the beginning of the dial. And what to my wondering ears should appear but the XPN Morning Show with Kristen Kurtis and Bob Bumbers, playing one of my favorite artists – Courtney Barnett – on the radio of all places, a medium usually reserved for teeny-boppers and Rihanna.

From there, I was hooked. It didn’t take much. That morning, I was serenaded by some current & old favorites of mine, but was also introduced to artists like Sarah Jarosz, Lake Street Drive, and Oh Pep!. They even played a few great tracks off of the Day of the Dead compilation (including the great rendition of “Sugaree” by Phosphorescent, Jenny Lewis & Friends). It was love at first listen, I tell ya.

WXPN, a non-commercial, member-supported radio service of the University of Pennsylvania, strives to connect artists and audiences with a particular emphasis on new and significant artists and music. You won’t hear any commercials clogging up airtime (other than the occasional PSA). What you WILL hear is a celebration rock, blues, folk, and world music, giving many local and indie artists an opportunity to be heard. The next song you hear could be your new favorite band, and your new favorite band could be living next door (or hey, it could be me… sorry for the shameless self-promotion).They’ll play The National, David Bowie, Car Seat Headrest, The Strokes, Kurt Vile, Bruce Springsteen, and… well, you get the picture. Hell, any radio station that is willing to play “Watcher of the Skies” by Genesis in the middle of the day has my heart forever.

Since that fateful day cupid took a hold of my car radio, DJs like Helen Leicht and Dan Reed and programs like “New Music Tuesday”, “Throwback Thursday”, and “Friday Mixtape” have given me faith that radio, at least in Philadelphia, can still play a vital role in a community. WXPN also produces the live music program The World Cafe with host David Dye, a program that distributed nationally to over 200 stations across the country through NPR Music. 88.5 FM WXPN is proof that radio can still expand your musical tastes and not simply pander to it.

Yes, I am in love with a radio station, and it is a love that grows stronger with every listen.

You too can fall in love with WXPN on your computer here: xpn.org.




New Music: Pool Cosby – MMHMM (remixes x mash​-​ups x edits)

Pool Cosby isn’t your typical band, and MMHMM isn’t your typical remix album. In an era where anyone with GarageBand can create a passable remix, Brooklyn’s Pool Cosby turns the mash-up genre on its head, and in turn creates something entirely organic and fresh. While the White Pandas or Girl Talks of the world rely heavily on computerized beats and blistering EDM freak outs, Pool Cosby makes smooth beats out of live instruments intertwined with hip hop and soul samples, never relying on any clichés.

Pool Cosby is Joseph Caravalho (producer/sampler), Kevin Kuh (Violins), Kristine Kruta (Cello), and Nacor Zuluaga Morelo (bass and drums), and MMHMM shows the band working together as a cohesive unit, capturing their live energy better than anything the band has released thus far in their young career.

The album starts out subtly, as far as instrumental aesthetics go, but then again, introducing your remix album with a classic Sam Cooke sample is anything but subtle. It’s a bold mission statement that says while the likes of Marvin Gaye, the Isley Brothers, and Sam Cooke have long ago laid the foundations of pop and soul, Pool Cosby is here to respectfully and creatively gesture to a new direction. And when it comes down to it, isn’t that what remixes and/or covers are all about?

Other artists like Danny Brown, Frank Ocean, Missy Elliot, Sigur Ros, and even Will Smith are juxtaposed and molded together throughout MMHMM, which isn’t exactly a revolutionary concept, but Pool Cosby’s ability to bring it all together and make it sound natural from song to song truly takes some skill.

MMHMM is a refreshing take on hip hop and electronic music because it never feels manufactured. The live strings and percussion found on a majority of this album and other Pool Cosby tracks add a human element that lots of electronic projects lack.

Download Pool Cosby’s MMHMM here, and be sure to see them at their next show on April 4th at Cameo Gallery in Brooklyn.