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All These Sick Scenes: Los Campesinos! at the TLA

Los Campesinos! | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

“Enjoy this night, because I know for a fact that we’re not likely to be invited back.” It seems impossible that it’s been six whole years since hearing those words, the last time Los Campesinos! played in Philadelphia. At one of the first ever shows at the newly inagurated Union Transfer, the Welsh post-twee band celebrated the same thing they always have been — that the present is the only thing we’re ever guaranteed, even as bleak as it may seem. It’s a common theme in the band’s work, and existence as a whole. Even while remaining prominent cult favorites, eleven years into their so-called career, the future band has never been assured. At the TLA on Wednesday night, they approached the end of an impossible US tour and proved that there’s a certain kind of charming nostalgia hidden within bitter nihilism. Continue reading →

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Vagabon blasts off with Infinite Worlds release show at PhilaMOCA

Vagabon | photo by Rachel Del Sordo

“You’re a big fish now, though!” someone shouted from sidestage, just before Vagabon launched into “The Embers,” the final song of a stunning record release show at PhilaMOCA on Saturday night. Vagabon — the stage name of one Laetitia Tamko — was riding high on the release of Infinite Worlds, out the 24th on Father/Daughter Records. “The Embers,” a song exploring a more solipsistic landscape, repeats in its refrain that “I’m just a small fish.” While inside, Tamko may feel like a small fish in a big pond, the acclaimed release of Infinite Worlds and it’s two sold-out release shows (Friday night she appeared in Brooklyn with Mal Devisa and Jelani Sai) are ripples indicating that something big is emerging from beneath the surface. Continue reading →

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The Key Presents: You Blew It!

 

You Blew It! | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo racheldelsordophotography.com

No matter which way you slice it, You Blew It! are anything but a simple band. What appears at first glance to be fairly stock-standard twinkly post-emo fare transcends the sum of its parts, both sonically and particularly in the lyrical department. On their latest effort Abendroit — released in November on Triple Crown — the band cashes in its cred with the pop punk crowd and looks towards softer pastures and more still waters. Continue reading →

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Load-In to Load-Out: Eliza Hardy Jones celebrates her breakout year at Boot & Saddle

Eliza Hardy Jones | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com
Eliza Hardy Jones | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

It’s a dark night in a city that knows how to keep it’s secrets. But on one of the first truly bitter days of December, as the wind howls down South Broad, there’s true warmth to be found inside Boot & Saddle. Hometown hero Eliza Hardy Jones is playing the Boot in a celebration of sorts. As the year ends, she’s commemorating the first year of making and playing music under her own name, a project entirely her own. After years as a crucial member of many other cherished Philly projects — you’re thinking of Buried Beds, Strand of Oaks, and Grace Potter’s band — this is her year. Continue reading →

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In Our Darkness, A Light Shines: mewithoutYou Celebrate 10 Years of Brother, Sister

mewithoutYou | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com
mewithoutYou | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

For a band that does an awful lot of protesting their own existence, mewithoutYou are doing pretty well for themselves, 15 years in. On Thursday night, they celebrated a record that begins and ends with “I do not exist,” turning 10 years old — no small feat when you think about it. This closed tautology of self-denial bookends indie punk classic Brother, Sister — and has become an anthem for those searching for something beyond the easy answers. While all of mewithoutYou’s work deals heavily in symbolism and clever turns of phrase, the album doubles down on philosophical questions and existential probing. Billed as “The Sun & the Moon Band,” mewithoutYou again shrugged off that troublesome self in order to play in secret at Boot & Saddle, a venue several orders of magnitude more humble than their usual digs for the special occasion. Continue reading →

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The Dudes Abide: The Districts shine at Johnny Brenda’s residency

The Districts | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com
The Districts | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

Well, well, well. If the gosh darn boys aren’t back in town. After what felt like almost whole year, our hometown heroes The Districts returned to a Philadelphia stage for three proper headlining shows at Johnny Brenda’s. And while 2016 wasn’t necessarily a quiet year for them — touring with both Modest Mouse and Dr. Dog is nothing to sneeze at — it definitely felt like a bit of a building year for a band that otherwise seems to have unlimited amounts of energy. It makes sense, with hints of LP3 trickling out at shows, and word coming that the band spent almost a month in LA over the summer, demoing and recording new material. But as summer faded, and the memories of The Districts’ slamming XPNFest set weren’t keeping my heart as warm as they once had, this three-night stand at JB’s came just in the nick of time. Continue reading →

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The Key Presents: Big Thief

 

Big Thief | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com
Big Thief | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

It’s been quite the year for Big Thief. Between getting picked up by Saddle Creek in Feburary, putting out the stunning debut LP Masterpiece in May, and filling the rest of the year with tour dates both headlining and alongside folks such as M. Ward and Frankie Cosmos, they’ve been quite busy. The Brookyln-based band has also racked up accolades in everywhere from Pitchfork to NPR Music. (They’ll even appear on World Cafe next week.)

And with good reason. With sensible, classic Western-Americana-influenced songwriting, the band rips ballads while also making a hard left each time you think they’re about to play right into a classic alt-country troupe. Sitting on the southern borderline of “indie,” Big Thief avoids falling into those all-too-familiar patterns, as well. Adrianne Lenker’s fragile, yet tempered songwriting carries the band down a winding road, that allows her to exert great strength both in quietus and with actual sonic force. Continue reading →

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The Key Presents: David Bazan

David Bazan| photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com
David Bazan | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

David Bazan isn’t exactly a household name. It’s both a blessing and a curse for Bazan, who actually prefers to keep things intimate with his fans. Even if you’re not particularly familiar with either his solo work or one the many projects that he’s had his hands in down through the past two decades, it’s almost certain that one of your favorite bands is. When he played at Johnny Brenda’s in July, the audience was a veritable who’s who of the Philadelphia scene. Members of Modern Baseball, mewithoutYou, Hop Along, Tiger’s Jaw and more filled the room, standing in awe of a one man powerhouse. Continue reading →

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Spooky Scary: Celebrating Hurry-ween at PhilaMOCA

Hurry | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com
Hurry | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

Something wicked good this way comes. With autumn magic in the crisp evening air, the mood on Friday at PhilaMOCA was just right for a stacked bill of four Philly bands to transform into haunted visages of their former selves and take the stage by force. Put on by your friends and mine, the breezy power-poppers in Hurry presented the Hurry Halloween Spectacular — a veritable Hurry-ween. Continue reading →

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Youth No More: Local Natives Come Out Larger-than Life at Electric Factory

Local Natives | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com
Local Natives | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

What does it even mean to be an indie darling in the year 2016? It feels like just yesterday that I was back in college, jamming Gorilla Manor and then eventually Hummingbird any chance I had to on my school’s radio station, convincing all my friends to take a chance on this indie thing. Seeing Local Natives absolutely crushing the stage at Electric Factory on Wednesday night was both a startling reminder that those days are gone, and a celebratory revel in what it means to have achieved “indie” success in the modern era. Continue reading →