15 Philly songs we’re thankful for on Thanksgiving 2015

Hop Along | Photo by Rachel Del Sorso |
Hop Along | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo |

As we’re surrounding ourselves with friends and loved ones this holiday weekend and talking about what we’re grateful for in our lives, one major thing comes to mind for us here at The Key: Philly music. It’s our reason for being, both the talented artists that set up shop in our city and the passionate fans that cheer them on. We literally would not be here were it not for them, and for Thanksgiving 2015, we bring you these 15 Philly songs that we’re particularly thankful for. Continue reading →


The Key Studio Sessions: Spill

For the members of Lancaster indie rock crew Spill, this is their second go as a band, but very much informed by their first. The four-piece is made up of members of howling punk rock outfits Placeholder and We Were Skeletons, both of which went hard on the DIY touring circuit, landing on house shows and festivals, in some ways becoming better known in other corners of the country than they were back home. But life as a musician is easy for nobody, and when Placeholder’s set at FEST 13 – one of their final shows – pretty much consisted of frontman Brandon Gepfer playing acoustic in a courtyard, it seemed that a turning of the tide was in motion.

Enter Spill, which emerged in March with an incredible track called “Sucks Either Way.” It took a more melodic, fuzz-rock direction in the vein of Pavement, Nirvana and Weezer. Thanks to strong support from the Brooklyn Vegan crew right out the gate, the new band got their name out there in a big way, following it up with a lively music video. Lyrically, though, the song explores the flipside of creative life versus nine-to-five live in grim detail. Continue reading →


PREMIERE: Illinois frontman reemerges as Archawah on “Silvermoon”

Archawah | Photo courtesy of the artist
Archawah | Photo courtesy of the artist

Long-running Bucks County modern rockers Illinois work in waves, and their re-emergence on the Philly show circuit this fall indicates that there’s something more in the can now that their long-awaited fifth LP Shine came out back in February.

Then again, it’s hard to say when exactly we’ll hear that – so it’s exciting to know that frontman Chris Archibald recently ventured out on his own with the new Archawah solo project, and we’re excited to bring you a premiere of its debut single today. Continue reading →


Strand of Oaks covers My Morning Jacket, announces acoustic double-header at Boot and Saddle

It’s been a long year and a half since Strand of Oaks released its breakout album HEAL, and the band has been on the road more or less constantly ever since. Last night it opened for My Morning Jacket and today frontman Tim Showalter appeared on the XPN Morning Show with Helen Leicht to cover a beautiful MMJ cut and make an exciting announcement he first told the crowd from the Tower stage: next month, Oaks is playing two intimate, “anything goes” acoustic sets at Boot and Saddle in South Philly. Tickets for the December 11th and December 12th shows are on sale now. Continue reading →


Hindustani Hip Hop sets up shop at International House tomorrow

Photo courtesy of the artist
Christylez Bacon and Nistha Raj | Photo courtesy of the artist

There’s music that’s progressive and innovative, and then there’s music that bridges worlds. Washington D.C. rapper Christylez Bacon has built a name for himself by mixing his lyrical and beatboxing skills with a range of genres, from jazz – a bit more of a natural companion to hip-hop, considering the genre’s sample-oriented roots – to classical and global sounds, and frequently collaborates with north Indian classical violinist Nistha Raj.

For this Thursday’s installment of the Intercultural Journeys series at West Philly’s International House, Christylez and Raj will perform in an ensemble with tabla virtuoso Jomy George, saxophone player Aakash Mittal, and keyboarist John Stenger. Continue reading →


R.I.P. Damien DeRose of Peasant, 1985-2015

Damien DeRose of Peasant | Photo by Heidi Schlenzig
Damien DeRose of Peasant in the WXPN Studio | Photo by Heidi Schlenzig

(UPDATE: We received word from the family that Damien’s Celebration of Life takes place at Aldie Mansion, 85 Old Dublin Pike in Doylestown, on Saturday Nov 28 from 1 to 3 p.m.)

Bucks County singer and songwriter Damien DeRose, who has been making heartfelt and sensitive music under the name Peasant for over a decade, passed away last night at Temple University Hospital. He was 30 years old.

DeRose first began performing on the Doylestown scene as a teenager with an acoustic guitar in the mid-thousands. His self-released debut, Fear  Not Distant Lover, came out in 2005. DeRose garnered national and international acclaim following Peasant’s 2008 sophomore record On the Ground, released on Paper Garden Records and distributed through Conor Oberst’s Team Love label.

His music struck an emotional chord with listeners: beautiful melodies set to affecting arrangements, lyrics of personal introspection, and a voice that was delicate and captivating. It channeled Sufjan Stevens, Jackson Browne, Elliott Smith and Simon & Garfunkel, putting DeRose on the radar of All Songs Considered, Paste, Daytrotter and many others; several songs like “Fine is Fine” were licensed for use in TV shows. Continue reading →


The Key Studio Sessions: Plainview

The latest band to emerge from the fertile grounds surrounding Drexel University’s Music Industry program is Plainview, and it has had a productive 2015. Fronted the enthusiastic Jeremy Berkin on vocals and guitar, the uber-catchy pop punk outfit also features drummer Dan Siper, lead guitarist Josh Leib and Lauren Altman (a Key intern) on bass. Their well-received debut I’ve Seen This Before was recorded in the winter and released in the spring, along with an infectious music video for “Ten Feet Tall.” The band undertook a spring tour with fellow Philadelphians Mike Pays Heat and is hunkering down again this winter to record its full length record, but not before stopping by WXPN to preview new music for The Key Studio Sessions. Continue reading →


Maximum Devotion: Hippo Campus plays to the fans at The Barbary

Hippo Campus | Photo by John Vettese

Turns out we only sort of knew Minneapolis popsters Hippo Campus. Their XPN Free at Noon appearance this summer was terrific, but hardly the full experience. The audience didn’t once shriek at the top of its lungs, for one thing. Seeing this charismatic four-piece play to a crowd of daydrinking first-timers nodding their heads and slowly coming around to the idea that, hey, these boys can rock is altogether different from seeing it play to the fans. At The Barbary last Thursday night, the show was sold out and the crowd lined the front of the stage, smiles on their face, smart phones at the ready. Continue reading →