The Best of Philly Music 2013

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Photo by Abi Reimold
Photo by Abi Reimold

In September 2010, we started The Key because we wanted to offer the local music scene another platform to reach more audiences. We also started it because starting in the early aughts we noticed something happening here creatively amongst the local music scene that was hadn’t felt in a while – it was growing creatively and the buzz about how good the local scene was becoming more significant.

More new bands were starting than ever before, more music was becoming available for fans and more musicians were looking for ways to connect to fans. To me, the last five years of “the scene” reminds me a lot of the Philly music scene in the mid-Eighties to early Nineties when bands like Electric Love Muffin, Three Times Dope, The Wishniaks, Nixon’s Head, the Goats, the Dead Milkmen, Schoolly D, The Low Road, The Hooters, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, and Tommy Conwell all represented for Philly on both local and international stages. We thought Philly 2012 was a banner year for the local music scene. Guess what? 2013 was even better. Here are some of the best things about the Philly music scene in 2013.

Dr. Dog made their best album yet, B-Room.

Man Man made their best record yet, On Oni Pond.

The Districts signed with Fat Possum. Look for an EP with a couple of old songs and new tunes on January 26th.

Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield delivered a gorgeous collection of songs, Cerulean Salt.

Waxahatchee “You’re Damaged” – Key Studio Session at WXPN from WXPN FM on Vimeo.

Crews: In hip-hop, crews are essential. Collectively – as The Wrecking Crew – and individually – Zilla Rocca, Curly Castro and Has Lo knock out song after song and album after album of creative hip-hop jams rooted down in the old school but with new school ideas. Same holds for Illvibe Collective.

Beatmakers: In the 215, Wes Manchild and Hank McCoy are two of the best.

The Stray Birds started off 2013 with their self-titled debut being named one of the best Folk/Americana record of 2012 by NPR Music. They’ve ended the year with the beautiful Echo Sessions a collection of covers recorded in one session.

Musician and producer Quentin Stoltzfus emerged with a new project Light Heat and made a mini psychedelic masterpiece. Here’s a tune from their Key Studio Session.

For many good reasons, alot of people – including the City of Philadelphia and Mayor Nutter, Kurt Vile’s Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze.

Nobody’s got nothing on noisy shoegzaers Nothing.

Rapper Grande Marshall signed with Fool’s Gold, did a Daytrotter Session and put out one of the best mixtapes this year, Mugga Man. Download it here. Download a new song, “Time” from his forthcoming debut album.

Guitarist Chris Forsyth released one of the best jam band albums of the year, Solar Motel. Well, the descriptive “jam band” tag might not be exactly the right thing if you’re looking for Phish or Government Mule or Lotus, but if psychedelic spiritual guitarism is your thing, then you need to add this to your list of records to buy. The music blog Aquarium Drunkard said it best about the record: “Try to imagine Television circa 1977 recording a cover of Pharoah Sanders’ “The Creator Has A Master Plan” and you’re halfway there.” Listen to Chris’s Key Studio Session he did this past October here. Or download “Solar Motel Part Three” below.

Philly 2013 Gold Star MVPs: Toy Soldiers, DRGN King, The Fleeting Ends, Pattern Is Movement, Dave Hause, Lushlife, Chill Moody, Moosh & Twist, Dice Raw, Cold Fronts, Modern Inventors, Work Drugs, Joey Sweeney and the Long Hair Arkestra, Reef the Lost Cauze, Khari Mateen, Dave Hartley, Ali Wadsworth, Lindsey Buckingham Appreciation Society, and anyone who plays an instrument in Fishtown.

My apologies to all the great musicians in Philly who I left off this list. As The Geator says: “Keep on rockin’ cause you only rock once.”

  • happyasannie

    we love dr. dog! check out sympathetic frequencies, nominated for deli mag la’s artist of the month! http://la.thedelimagazine.com