The Key Studio Sessions: Cheerleader - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

Photos by Rachel Del Sordo |

Philly electronic indie rock outfit Cheerleader has had a swift rise to prominence this year, and it’s easy to understand why. The project of longtime songwriting partners Chris Duran and Joe Haller got its start as two teenagers making music in their parents’ basement in Hartford, CT. A few years of collaboration and a move to Philly later, and the band is dishing out a steady string of hooky, infectious singles.

The style is a blend of vintage and contemporary – you can hear nods to the melancholic 80s pop of Echo and the Bunnymen and New Order, crossed with a sleek modern sound that wouldn’t be out of place at a Barbary DJ night. But what makes Cheerleader super winning is the local players Duan and Haller recruited when they arrived in town in 2013. (Read more about their origins in Kate Bracaglia’s interview with the band.) Keyboardist / guitarist / singer Josh Pannepacker has been kicking around as a producer and multi-instrumentalist for years in Sun Airway, Streetwalkers and his own project, Shorty Boy-Boy; bassist Paul Impellizeri splits his time between Cheerleader and Wild Rompit; drummer Carl Bahner is also an engineer at Springhouse Sound. They are an impressively polished, well-oiled machine of experienced musicians on one level, but on the other level they’re not such vets that they phone in their performances.

As you hear in their Key Studio Session, there’s a high energy and sense of rock and roll immediacy – you can tell they still new enough at the game to be way excited by what they’re doing, and the songs pack a punch, from the raging “Perfect Vision” to the twee “Do What You Want” and the new jam “On Your Side.” Stream and download all three performances below, and catch Cheerleader live at MilkBoy on October 22nd; tickets and information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.

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