If this week’s soaring temperatures are any indication, summer has very much arrived here in Philadelphia. With that comes dozens and dozens of summer tours from some of our favorite musicians, not to mention the absolutely stuffed festival circuit. Perhaps that is why this month has such an awesome slate of in-studio sessions. What better way to prepare for massive tours and shows all over the country than to hone your set, and cultivate some excitement, with a prime slot at one of the many excellent in-studio performance spaces? Here we’ve compiled the best of the best from around the web, giving you just a taste of the amazing work so many bands and artists are doing. Enjoy!

Ada Lea – Tiny Desk (Home)

The Tiny Desk series is, in many ways, the father of the modern in-studio session. Created by All Things Considered host Bob Boilen back in 2008, Tiny Desk has featured hundreds and hundreds of performances and collected billions of views on YouTube. Of course, as with all things, COVID-19 made the traditional Tiny Desk impossible and so Tiny Desk (Home) Performances was born. A way to continue the series safely, the (Home) series also allows for a bit of creativity from its performers, something we see in the video featured here from Montreal singer-songwriter Ada Lea. She released her sophomore album one hand on the steering wheel the other sewing a garden back in 2021, and it’s a colelction of wistful world-building that landed among my favorites of last year. Below we see Lea play some of the best cuts from that record, the first portion of the video sliding from album highlight “damn” into a languid, inviting rendition of “Partner.” Lea then changes things up, splitting the third song of the performance, “writer in ny” into two sections, the first of which she plays seated on a coach, muted yellow light creating a twilight scene as she harmonizes with Felicity DeCarle. It’s flourishes like this that allow the Tiny Desk (Home) series to explore territory the traditional set up wouldn’t allow.

Ada Lea: Tiny Desk (Home) Session

Hovvdy – Live at WNXP’s Sonic Cathedral

Hovvdy like to describe their music as “pillowcore,” a qualifier that may be used with a hint of irony but isn’t exactly far off when you consider the band’s blend of country-fried indie rock and bedroom folk. In this video session, filmed in Nashville, Tennessee at WNXP’s Sonic Cathedral (awesome name), songwriters Will Taylor and Charlie Martin run through songs from their recently released fourth record, True Love. Hovvdy recently made a stop in Philly, and here they bring much the same energy that they did back in April at The Foundry. The set below is highlighted by “Blindsided,” a wonderful rendered vignette featuring the kind of honey-sweet harmonies that are the band’s most endearing skill.

Hovvdy Live at WNXP's Sonic Cathedral

Dehd – KUTX Studio 1A

There might be better bands than Dehd working today but I’m not entirely sure there is a cooler band than Dehd (that name alone is unequivocally awesome). This Chicago band, recently named WXPN Artists to Watch for the month of June, first arrived on the scene back in 2015 and have since set out to master their brand of psyched-out, energetic surf rock, creating a sound that is immediately identifiable. This session, performed in Austin, TX at KUTX’s Studio 1A, was filmed only days before the band released their fourth studio album, Blue Skies (out now on Fat Possum Records). Here we see them play a couple of Blue Skies’ best tracks, highlighted by the thudding, propulsive “Bad Love.” There’s a lot to recommend Dehd but perhaps foremost is vocalist and guitarist Elily Kempf’s razor-sharp vocal stylings, which are on full display during their KUTX session.

DEHD - KUTX Studio 1A 5.13.22

Gang Of Youths – Live at WNXP’s Sonic Cathedral

Perhaps no rock band has released an album this year as massive, earnest and affecting as Gang Of Youth’s angel in realtime. Much of this can be ascribed to frontman Dave Le’aupepe, who continuously delves deep throughout the record, mining, among other things, his fractured relationship with his recently deceased father and the parts of his life he was and wasn’t a part of. It’s particularly interesting to see these songs — which include “in the wake of your leave” and “the angel of 8th ave.” — stripped down a bit. Le’aupepe is a forceful performer and vocalist, one who appears very comfortable even on the biggest of stages, but seeing him accompanied by only a couple of guitars and a violin gives you perhaps an even greater sense of his charisma. He’s only not afraid to be a bit cheeky, dropping a slight dig at the constant comparisons the band get to The National. “He’s not the only person with a deep voice in history, ya know,” Le’aupepe says with a chuckle before diving into “forbearance.”

Gang of Youths Live at WNXP's Sonic Cathedral

Mountain Goats – “Dark In Here”

If you are at all familiar with The Mountain Goats you know that they do not stop making, performing, and releasing music. Fronted by songwriter John Darnielle, The Mountain Goats have released five records since 2020. Yes, you read that right, five. Two of these, however, have been compilation records. Titled The Jordan Lake Sessions, these live recordings are incredibly comprehensive, featuring songs from all over their dizzying catalog. Here we see a performance of one of their more recent singles, “Dark In Here”, a track off their 2021 record of the same name. Rather than a full-band arrangement, Darnielle tackles this one solo, stripping away the driving drums and ethereal backing of his bandmates in favor of something more haunting and subdued. You can check out this, and countless other videos from the Jordan Lake Sessions, on the band’s official YouTube page. 

the Mountain Goats - Dark In Here (Jordan Lake Sessions)

Sadurn – “Snake” – The Key Studio Sessions

I’ve already written several hundred words about up and coming Philly indie-folk band Sadurn but perhaps it’s best to let the video below do the talking. This session comes from right here in Philly as part of our Key Studio Sessions series and sees the band perform “Snake,” the first single from their excellent new record Radiator (out now via Run For Cover Records). The way “Snake” slowly unfurls, building from frontperson Genevieve DeGroot’s heart-piercing vocals into a lush, swaying tune is a wonderful encapsulation of what Sadurn does best.

Sadurn - Snake (The Key Studio Sessions)