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Lefty’s Deceiver returns with their first two songs in 14 years

Lefty's Deceiver | photo courtesy of the artist
Lefty’s Deceiver | photo courtesy of the artist

Whether you fancy them math rock, indie rock or rock-rock, Lefty’s Deceiver was a fixture on the Philadelphia scene from the late 90s through the mid aughts, releasing a string of records and EPs that culminated in  2003’s excellent Cheats, a dizzying record of post 9-11 frustration and ennui.

By the middle of the decade, the band had parted ways to pursue various other projects — among them guitarist Ed Hogarty’s The Bigger Lovers, as well as Audible, featuring drummer Mike Kennedy and bassist Kristine Kennedy. However, surred by a Facebook fan group built on the promise of getting clocked in the head with a maraca at a Lefty’s Deceiver gig, the band reunited to play Johnny Brenda’s in 2011, with other shows following at MilkBoy and Boot & Saddle.

Lefty’s’ activity since has been semi-occasional, made a bit trickier by singer-guitarist and songwriter Andy Williams’ relocation to California. But their name recently popped up on the Boot & Saddle events calendar for a December 29th show, and this week we found out that they’re releasing a new record to go along with it. The Lefty’s Deceiver LP comes out on December 25th, and the band’s first two songs in 14 years are online right now.  Continue reading →

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R.I.P. Pat DiNizio of The Smithereens; revisit their 2011 Free at Noon and their 2007 World Cafe session

The Smithereens at XPoNential Music Festival 2011

Singer, guitarist and songwriter Pat DiNizio — the leader of New Jersey rock and roll favorites The Smithereens — passed away Tuesday night. He was 62 years old.

DiNizio’s bandmates Jimmy Babjak, Mike Mesaros and Dennis Diken shared the news in the early morning hours on the band’s official Facebook pageContinue reading →

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Queen of Jeans joined the Topshelf Records roster and made a John Hughes-esque trailer about it

Queen of Jeans | photo by Bob Sweeney | via facebook.com/queenofjeansmusic

Exciting news of the afternoon: Philly popsters Queen of Jeans will release their much-anticipated full-length debut in early 2018. The band made a splash about two years ago with the irresistible single “Dance (Get Off Your Ass)” and, following the release of its debut EP on Indianapolis label Third Uncle Records, toured and gigged around town a lot. We most recently caught them at the Made In America skate stage, and today we got news that they’ll be releasing the aforementioned long-player via Boston’s revered Topshelf Records. Continue reading →

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David Byrne will bring his “most ambitious show since Stop Making Sense” to Hershey and Wilkes-Barre

David Byrne | photo by Eric Ashleigh for WXPN

When David Byrne last played Philadelphia, it was at the Tower Theater during his collaboration with St. Vincent, Love This Giant — where the stage was wide open and filled up with horn players, various guitarists and a keyboard station up on risers. Byrne found the setup freeing and inspiring, and is patterning his 2018 run off of it.

As he posted in an announcement on his Facebook page earlier today, Bryne developed an even more open design for his current run of shows, which will include material from a new album he’s releasing in 2018. Working with Clair Brothers in Lancaster County, Byrne developed a setup that made the stage a completely blank canvas, free of risers and drum platforms, free of monitor wedges and hovering stage-hands.

“I’d experienced a taste of this on the tour I did with St. Vincent, where all the brass players were mobile,” Byrne wrote. “With everyone mobile, I realized the stage could be completely clear. If we could have the monitors in our ears, the amps off-stage and the lights up high, then we had the possibility of a completely empty space.” Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Young Statues

South Jersey indie rock four piece Young Statues became something of a surprise hit about six years ago.

Led by songwriter Carmen Cirignano, the band started super casually; just a writing and recording project with friends at Haddon Heights hub Gradwell House Recording. Those sessions became their self titled debut, which was picked up by Boston label Run for Cover Records, and Young Statues was off to the races touring with Saves the Day and The Early November.

The band’s sound, undeniably indebted to Death Cab and The Promise Ring, played well with those crowds, but their tastes went beyond the emo canon. Their 2014 sophomore LP The Flatlands are Your Friend, explored darker and moodier sounds and textures, and a covers EP showcased a collective fondness for Billy Bragg, The Magnetic Fields and Ryan Adams. And then life came calling. Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Five holiday soul classics from the York Street Hustle

York Street Hustle | photo by Seeetpea Shots Photography | courtesy of the artist | sweetpeashots.com

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. But sometimes we get a little seasonal, and as it gears up for its final show of 2017, Philly’s York Street Hustle weighed in on its favorite sounds of the holidays.

Philadelphia ten-piece York Street Hustle always brings the party, whether they’re celebrating R&B, soul and Motown hits from the stage of World Cafe Live and Underground Arts, or they’re celebrating with stringed lights and tinsel at their annual holiday spectacular.

With this year’s show set to take place at Union Transfer tomorrow night, December 8th, we asked York Street’s Imani Roach to share the band’s five favorite holiday jams. Read on below, and get tickets and more information on tomorrow’s show at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: John Vettese’s Top Six Philly Music Discoveries of 2017

Aleana | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Aleana | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. To kick off the series, Key editor John Vettese recaps six of his favorite Philadelphia music discoveries from the past 12 months.

Earlier today, I was listening to a conversation with Johnny Brenda’s talent buyer Chris Ward on the 25 O’Clock podcast, and he made a very interesting point. The bumper crop of musical talent in Philadelphia, or what is often perceived as such, is no sudden phenomenon. It’s not as though, pre-2006, the city was in some dire straits or a lesser creative state, and has subsequently grown and evolved to the present-day bursting of the proverbial seams.

The truth is that amazing music — rap music, rock music, pop music, soul music — has always existed in the 215; in many cases (the Gamble & Huff era), it’s downright thrived. But as Ward pointed out, a more recent confluence of factors and persons and places and institutions over the past decade (like him and JBs, I might add, or like our friends at The Deli and Jump, or like countless others) have helped amplify the scene tremendously.

Every year around this time, as we launch into The Key’s annual year-in-review extravaganza, I begin by sitting down and reflecting on the new artists and new-to-me artists who, over the past twelve months, have knocked me sideways. There have always be artists like this, whether or not the outside world is paying attention. And there always will be; even if, at some point, the zeitgeist declares Philly to be “over,” if you look and listen, you’ll find them continually creating, somehow, somewhere.

Continue reading →

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Listen to Johnny Brenda’s talent buyer Chris Ward on the 25 O’ Clock Podcast

Chris Ward at Johnny Brenda's | photo by Scott Troyan for WXPN | scotttroyan.com
Chris Ward at Johnny Brenda’s | photo by Scott Troyan for WXPN | scotttroyan.com

From drumming Pattern is Movement across four albums and several U.S. tours to holding down the fort at Fishtown live music institution Johnny Brenda’s, Philadelphia’s Chris Ward is one of the most seasoned players currently active in Philly music.

Over the past two weeks, Ward checked in with Dan Drago of Philly’s 25 O’Clock Podcast for a two-parter episode touching on all aspects of his involvement in the scene.

Continue reading →

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Strand of Oaks releasing a collection of demos called Harder Love in January; listen to “Passing Out”

Strand of Oaks’ Harder Love | via Bandcamp

A good argument for arriving early to Strand of Oaks‘ three-night stand at Boot & Saddle this weekend: main man Tim Showalter will be selling limited edition vinyl copies of Harder Love — yes, you read that correctly, HardER. This is a new collection demos from the 2016 studio sessions for this year’s Hard Love.

The album comes out January 19th on Dead Oceans Records, and is limited to 500 copies. Continue reading →