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September 15, 2018

Philly music we're listening to: Kurt Vile, Korine, Barney Cortez, and Cave People

A look around the city's music scene for our favorite jams and gems

Music Staff Picks
Barney Cortez Barney Cortez/YouTube

A still from Barney Cortez's music video for "Dream Within A Dream."

In the streaming age, it’s easy to be paralyzed by choice and feel like good music is passing you by every day.

A few years ago, it seemed everyone sort of realized at once that a lot of that good music was coming from Philadelphia.

To try and help keep you up to date with the best stuff coming out of the city and its surrounding areas, we’re going to regularly highlight a few songs we’ve been listening to from local bands.

If you have your own recommendations, feel free to shout them out in the comments or email me at

(Yes, this means you have permission to @ me.)

Let’s get listening.

1. Bassackwards by Kurt Vile

Here’s a surprise: Kurt Vile’s new single is a long one. We don’t hear Vile’s voice until the 64-second mark, but when it arrives, it’s more of his classic conversational drawl, describing scenes and inner thoughts only he can totally understand. A gorgeous reverse guitar riff loops behind the lyrics for nearly 10 minutes, and it never picks up to more than a trot, but then grooving is what Vile does best.

“Bottle It In” is out Oct. 12 via Matador.

2. Heaven’s Servant by Korine

I’d never heard of Korine before this week, but the duo’s very, very 80s sound welcomed me with open arms. They’re not ashamed to lean into their obvious influences, and they don’t try to meld the drum pad-and-synth formula into something new: this band listened to a lot of Joy Division and Pet Shop Boys, and now it’s their turn. It’s refreshing to hear a song so unabashedly sure of itself.

“New Arrangements” is out Oct. 31 via Born Losers.

3. Some Kind of Exit by Barney Cortez

I’m a sucker for an opening song, and Barney Cortez opens his new EP with shimmering guitars and a bicycle to heaven, and to 7/11. What more could you want? This track is one big dream, complete with sweeping backing vocals and an acoustic guitar-led rhythm that plods along in no big hurry. Think Washed Out, but with way more guitar. The whole EP is a good time.

“Pretty Thin” is out now via The Philadelphia Record Company.

4. I Shall Believe by Cave People

We end today with a cover. Philly band Cave People recorded this new EP in New Jersey, and they're donating the proceeds from cassette sales to Juntos, the South Philly non-profit organization fighting for the rights of the latinx-immigrant community. It’s a lo-fi bit of acoustic guitar, weathered keys, and layered vocals, the kind of song you look for when the weather starts to cool. It’s gorgeous.

“Salt” is out now.

You can listen to every song (that's available) from Philly Music We're Listening To in this Spotify playlist: