Here at The Key, we spend a lot of time each week digging through every new release from Philadelphia that shows up on Bandcamp. At the end of each week, we present you with the most interesting, most unusual and overall best of the bunch: this is Items Tagged Philadelphia.
A drumline marched through uptown Philadelphia on Thursday. A singer-songwriter strummed an acoustic guitar in a minivan on Saturday. A world famous DJ mixed up hits in the middle of the dancefloor on Tuesday. A passionate fan pushed their way to the front of a crowded room on Wednesday, energized from the dance party that shut down the streets a dozen blocks north. All of those things actually happened in some form or another, but it was a bit of a blur to be honest with you.
The busses on the way home were delayed. I wound up out at Broad and Olney kicking the curb with dozens of others into the late hours. Between that, and headlines seeping into my dreams, and the book I’m reading full of its hysteria-inducing passages, and my cats jumping on my lap at 4 a.m. because that’s what cats love to do, sleep wasn’t much of a thing, and focus was a bit off. I have no right or room to complain, though, since I have it so much better than so many others these days.
What I can be certain of is that all of the below artists released music this week. It ranges from drifting and dreamlike to uncompromisingly angry, to introspective and nostalgic. Their moods ran the gamut, as did mine, as I wager yours did too.
Somewhere in the zone of Beach House and Bat For Lashes, of Lana Del Rey and Low, sits this emerging Philly duo plus one. Zoe Tanner and Jordan Dupree are the core instrumentalists, songwriters and collaborators — it seems from the above photo that their current tour, which wrapped up Friday night in Murfreesboro TN, might include a third player in the band (or at least van driver / tour manager / merch slinger).
They recorded their debut LP You Went To Space, Good Bye Dear in a Philly apartment, and it brilliantly incorporates unnervingly prescient Bill Hicks clips a la Tool’s Ænema with drifting, dreamlike synthesizer textures, vocal harmonies, and Desdemona typeface, setting a mood that’s otherworldly and hypnotic, but conscious of an uncertain reality, that unsettled fog between sleep and consciousness.
This eight piece instrumental / jazz crew from the Philly region should pair up with like-minded locals Darla, if they have not already done so. Three Oranges can do smooth and slick crowd-pleasing pop with the best of them, but they come at it from a left-of-center angle. The new Dry Water opens on a minute and a half of tripped-out notes colliding at vaguely deconstructed angles, but when “Pulp” kicks in, it’s a joyous seven minute ride. The record as a whole works that push-pull — occasionally challenging the listener, but just as often delighting them.
Shoutouts to the personnel: band leader Sam Greenfield (sax and synth), Tim Brey (keyboards), Josh Nussbaum (guitar), Brian Howell (bass), Gusten Rudolph (drums), Chris Stevens (trumpet), Nick Lombardelli (trombone), and John Swana (electric valve instrument)
Last week’s set of music for Items Tagged Philadelphia featured selections that were fired-up and political, and this new single via local punk distro Slugsalt Records moves in step. S-21 is midtempo by hardcore punk’s standards, hard-hitting by most others’, and as vocalist Cella explains it, the band’s new single references 20th century genocide in Cambodia, offering a warning and taking a stand against fear-driven policies based on division.
Philly’s Tyrese Davis draws inspiration from some of the hip-hop greats of NYC — Wu-Tang, Nas, Biggie and the late Sean Price — and his latest project, I Spit The Soul 2, mixes subtle and cinematic beats recalling the Dilla / De La / Tribe era with his rhymes of motivation and ambition. Though the set is sometimes too much on the subtle side, when Reese goes all in — like we hear on “Cornerz” — its a gripping ride of Common and Mobb Deep proportions.
The description section said “susie derkins is ps eliot’s little sister who doesn’t read enough,” and that was enough to get my attention. But the music when I hit play on this demo seriously won me over. Singer, songwriter and guitarist Samantha Stoakes wrote these songs between 2014 and 2015, and teamed up with friends Jaclyn Walsh on bass (also of Northampton, Mass band DUMP HIM) and Zoë Wyner on drums (of both DUMP HIM and Boston’s halfsour). While the overall set does indeed live up to Stoakes’ self-description, “New Skin” has a Photo Album Death Cab vibe going on, with touches of Eskimeaux on “Not Tired.” Not sure what their next move is after this long-in-the-making demo, but we’ll be paying attention.
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