The Key Studio Sessions’ Summer Mixtape

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In less than a week, it will officially be summer. Longer days and warmer nights—except for those that are unseasonably cold (thanks, jet stream, you temperamental weather pattern). A time for relaxation and reflection. A time to once again look back over the archive of studio sessions I’ve recorded with the uber-talented musicians and songwriters of the Philadelphia region, as we look ahead to the next milestones in our journey: the XPoNential Music Festival and the first birthday of The Key.

Revisitation is a fun task; we’ve done a lot this past year that I’m excited about. The Philly Local Allstar Jam Sessions, for one. The brainchild of XPN2 Philly Local host Jake Rabid, these were held on three Sundays in the fall where pretty much in everyone we’d recorded with up to that point was invited to WXPN. We threw them in the studio for six hours, hit record and watched what happened. The result: well, a lot of looooong guitar solos and dude jams. But also moments of magic. In October’s Allstar Jam, Elkins Park native Dan Malloy—recently called an “experimental guitar daredevil” by The Deli—improvised a blissful free-form piece with Early Ape’s Nate Rylan on bass and Canadian Invasion’s Eric Miller on lead guitar. The previous month, Butch Tressel of Drexel Hill roots-punks The Tressels taught a bunch of complete strangers (Josh Pennepacker of Shorty Boy-Boy, Zach Morris of Otispunk) “Priscilla,” a new song he was workshopping. There’s also been a fine showcasing of local folks on Fred Knittel’s Folkadelphia show (Sundays from 3-5 p.m. on XPN2) –a breathtaking set by Honey Watts, a boisterous appearance from Brandon Morsberger.

On the XPN2 Philly Local Show, we’ve welcomed an eclectic array of guests on-air in the past six-ish months: reunited Philly staples like power poppers The Bigger Lovers and coffeeshop rockers Stargazer Lily; emerging pop/new wave heads The New Connection (who went all banjo-fied on their old song “A Giggle”); Andy Molholt of recently disbanded psych heads The Armchairs, showcasing his new solo work; garage punks Band Name; and one legit, mega-chill legend, Mr. Gene Ween. In combing through it all, I cobbled the best moments together, presented for your listening pleasure as The Key Studio Sessions Summertime Mixtape. Rounding the set out is a trip into our archives, for some songs that are sunshiny and bright, or ‘round-the-campfire calm.

We go deep (and rough, and unrefined) for a look at some of our earliest recordings: The Swimmers in 2007 and Rarebirds in 2008. Forgive the audio quality on those, folks, I had no idea what I was doing, but the songs underneath are gems. Things got better in 2009 with a new Black Landlord song (from the album finally getting its release this year), as well as a Feelies-esque traveling tune from Lemons Are Louder than Rocks, some spot-on pop rap from WyldLyfe and my favorite deep cut from Free Energy. And, from last summer, we have a take on “High Ground” by The Great Unknown that’s somehow works both extremes—feisty and mellow.

Dig in, and happy days to you and yours from the Key Studio Sessions. (Click here to download the entire mixtape as a .zip file.)

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