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Manchester Orchestra On World Cafe

Manchester Orchestra performs live at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia for a WXPN Free At Noon Concert.
Emma Silverstone
Manchester Orchestra performs live at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia for a WXPN Free At Noon Concert.

For fans who have been following Manchester Orchestra for the past decade and change, the sound of the band's new record, A Black Mile To The Surface, is a surprise. With early releases like I'm Like A Virgin Losing A Child, Simple Math and Cope, the band built their following on loud guitars and big emotions. Their latest is full of emotion, but finds that feeling through the songs' stories. It's sweeping, cinematic and really quite beautiful.

A couple influences factored in to what we're hearing. Core members Andy Hull and Robert McDowell put down their guitars for a bit to work on the sparse and mostly vocal score for a 2016 film called Swiss Army Man, directed by Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert (aka "The Daniels"). And Hull became a father – a theme that shows up often on the album, and in our chat.

In this session, we start with a performance Manchester Orchestra recorded on stage at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia. It's a song called "The Gold." Hull told me it was inspired by The Homestake, a shuttered gold mine in Lead, South Dakota. He wrote the song from the perspective of a woman whose husband worked deep in the mine every day ... a black mile to the surface.

Copyright 2017 XPN

Talia Schlanger hosts World Cafe, which is distributed by NPR and produced by WXPN, the public radio service of the University of Pennsylvania. She got her start in broadcasting at the CBC, Canada's national public broadcaster. She hosted CBC Radio 2 Weekend Mornings on radio and was the on-camera host for two seasons of the television series CBC Music: Backstage, as well as several prime-time music TV specials for CBC, including the Quietest Concert Ever: On Fundy's Ocean Floor. Schlanger also guest hosted various flagship shows on CBC Radio One, including As It Happens, Day 6 and Because News. Schlanger also won a Canadian Screen Award as a producer for CBC Music Presents: The Beetle Roadtrip Sessions, a cross-country rock 'n' roll road trip.