What we’re checking out this week!
Wednesday, May 29: The Uncluded at World Café Live
The Uncluded are Kimya Dawson (The Moldy Peaches) and Aesop Rock—an unlikely pair who together craft quirky, genre-bending nugs that sound on paper like they shouldn’t work, but strangely do. Spurred by a mutual respect, as well as a mutual sense of loss, the pair joined forces more than a year back to record their debut record, Hokey Fright, which explores big questions like Mortality and Pain with a childlike sense of curiosity. Perhaps not surprising coming from Dawson, who’s long displayed an affinity for playfulness (consider her 2008 record Alphabutt)—but certainly a new direction for Aesop Rock, who tells Pitchfork, “I found myself writing about shit I had just never written about. Maybe it's just because of how Kimya writes, where it's just very honest and very straight." Stream the record for free right here—then check out the oddly sweet vid for “Delicate Cycle” (featuring Yo La Tengo’s James McNew).
8:00 at World Café Live, 3025 Walnut St., $18–$20. Tickets available here.
Thursday, May 30: Realysm CD Release at Vango Sky Lounge
Realysm is the moniker of rapper Shawn Kristopher Savage, a Philly native who creates soulful, literary raps imbued with positive vibes. Formed when Savage bid adieu to his previous job in the automotive industry in order to focus on making music, Realysm quickly made a name for himself in the local scene, and this Thursday, will celebrate the release of his sophomore record, Written in Red. According to Savage, Red deals with topics like passion, fury, and partying down—the latter of which will be the focus Thursday night, during an extravagant, red carpet event hosted by local funnyman Buck Wild (no relation to the cancelled MTV series.) Live, the fun-loving rapper has been known to perform with a posse of senior citizens acting as back-up dancers, an idea that he admits “came from his mom.” And did we mention it’s free? Just ‘cuz the record is called Written in Red doesn’t mean your bank account should be. Before you go: scoop up killer jam “Not What Eyes Expecting,” and get psyched.
9:00 at Vango Sky Lounge, 116 S. 18th St., free. RSVP in advance here.
Friday, May 31: Nightlands at Johnny Brenda’s
Nightlands, the solo project of War on Drugs bassist Dave Hartley, returns to Philly for its first headlining show since January. Hartley keeps a low pro when performing with WOD, crafting sold bass grooves that anchor front man Adam Granduciel’s melodies—but with Nightlands, he lets his creative spirit fly, weaving lush, space-age concoctions that twinkle with myriad layers. His sophomore record Oak Island was fastidiously recorded, with Hartley himself playing “98% of the instruments”—and takes its name from a Nova Scotian island in which explorers unearthed layers of treasure—and which serves as a metaphor for his creative process. Live, Hartley will recreate its splendor with the help of friends Eliza Jones (Buried Beds), Jesse Moore (Auctioneer, Ladies Auxiliary), Anthony LaMarca (St. Vincent), and a five-piece back-up choir (yes!)—for result that promises to transport even the most grounded of listeners. Before you go: check out this trippy vid for “Born to Love” and vibe out.
9:15 at Johnny Brenda’s, 1201 N. Frankford Ave., $12. Tickets available here.
Saturday, June 1: Charli XCX at Union Transfer
Here in America, we know her for life-affirming, summer rock anthem “I Love It” (with Icona Pop), but across the pond she’s a rising star, whose debut LP True Romance debuted in the Billboard Top 100. Actually, strike that—here in the States, she’s a rising star too, having garnered a Pitchfork BNM designation AND placement in a Victoria’s Secret commercial, all before the age of 21. We chalk it up to her fiercely defiant vocals, and ability to craft darkly enchanting pop songs that surprise you with their influences (think: moody ‘80s pop, art rock, bubblegum and power pop, hip-hop). Born Charlotte Aitchison in Hertfordshire, England, she began writing songs at age 14, and made her critical breakthrough with hypnotic single “Nuclear Seasons” on 2011. We <3 Charli for her honest, emotionally-charged songwriting, bad-ass, goth-princess style, and the fact that she chose “Spice Up Your Life” for her cell-phone ring. Gotta respect those who paved the way! Opener alert: Arrive early for NYC’s Little Daylight, whose single “Overdose” proves similarly dark and beguiling.
8:30 at Union Transfer, 1026 Spring Garden St., $15. Tickets available here.
Saturday, June 1: The 6th Annual Roots Picnic
It’s hard to believe that the Roots Picnic is already in its sixth year—but this Saturday, our fave summer kickoff returns to Penn’s Landing with an incredibly diverse group of performers handpicked by the band. Here are some of the artists we’re psyched to see:
Grimes: Claire Boucher is like a magical, indie-pop nymph, whose atmospheric tunes will bewitch and seduce.
Naughty by Nature: 21 years ago, ‘90s rap vets Naughty by Nature released “O.P.P.,” an untouchable jam gracing many a summer mix still today. They’ll perform backed by the Roots.
Gary Clark, Jr.: No one plays guitar like Gary Clark Jr.
Solange: Beyonce’s lil sis has a killer voice, and killer fashion sense too.
The Roots: What do Questlove and co. have in store for us this year? We couldn’t guess, but are psyched to find out!