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Mixtape Master: Get to know Philly’s F. Woods before he opens for Dead Milkmen at Laurel Hill

F. Woods | photo courtesy of the artist
F. Woods | photo courtesy of the artist

Make sure you arrive early to the sold-out Dead Milkmen show at Laurel Hill Cemetery this Friday night, because you’ll see a mixtape master at work. F. Woods is known around the Philly scene for being a founding member of Mercury Radio Theater, the zany and subversive troupe informed by eastern European folk sounds and early 20th century radio plays.

Woods also played in Farquar Muckenfuss, a comical and surf-rooted band that made the rounds in in the late 90s Philly punk scene.

As Woods said when I caught up with him by phone earlier this month, it’s pretty simple – he likes a lot of music, and he wants to play it all. His first-ever solo album, Found On Road Dead, came out via Bandcamp last November, and it’s a varied and eclectic set. There’s a bit of surf, a bit of math rock complexity, some tunes reminiscent of the airy pop production of the pre-rock-and-roll 40s and 50s.

It’s basically a collection of stuff that together feels very unified, even though the songs are individually distinct. In that sense, it reminds me a lot of a Tarantino soundtrack, or a really good compilation. Below, read my interview with Woods about his musical origins and outlook. Continue reading →

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Listen to a candid conversation with A Day Without Love’s Brian Walker on the 25 O’ Clock podcast

Brian Walker of A Day Without Love
Brian Walker | Photo by Abi Reimold

Back in July, Brian Walker of A Day Without Love posted a moving and poignant essay on his website. Under the headline Being Black in a White DIY Scene, Walker explores exactly that: his own experiences and frustrations as both an artist and a music fan in a scene that preaches inclusivity but doesn’t always practice it. Continue reading →

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Download The Key Studio Sessions Volume 17 (featuring Aaron West, Mercury Girls, The Dove and The Wolf and more)

The Key Studio Sessions Volume 17
The Key Studio Sessions Volume 17

The Philly music community is our first love around here at The Key HQ, it’s something we’ll always rep loudly and proudly. But on the latest installment of our Key Studio Sessions compilation series, we allowed ourselves to get a bit more geographically relaxed.

There are still Philly ties across its 19 tracks, make no mistake. But many of the artists on this set are ones who started locally and moved away, or recently arrived on the scene from other places on the map. Or, in some cases, both. Continue reading →

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Create Something Positive: Watch Tool perform at the First Union Center in September 2001

Tool
Tool in Philadelphia | still from video

Fifteen years ago this month, the world was – to say the least – a stressful and scary place.

With the September 11th attacks in New York City, Washington D.C. and central Pennsylvania fresh in everybody’s minds and no certainty about where the hell the future was pointing, fans of the progressive metal band Tool flocked to the sports complex at Broad and Pattison for a concert on September 27, 2001 — for many, their first concert since witnessing endlessly looped news footage of two hijacked planes flying into the World Trade Center.

It’s safe to say some people in the sea of 15,000 fans were directly affected by the attacks; numerous locals worked in either New York and D.C. themselves, or have family who did. Maybe they lost somebody on 9-11, or maybe it was simply that their proximity was immediate and horrifying. For others, the impact was more one of remove; they were only affected in that they watched it unfold on television, their feelings were more empathy and fear and nervousness of the world around them. In either case, everybody in attendance that night sought some degree of musical healing and catharsis — and not of the sappy, Hallmark-ed out, exceedingly patriotic sort that had been spilling from the various benefit telecasts for the previous two weeks.

They wanted to scream. And Maynard James Keenan and co. allowed them the space to do so. Continue reading →

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Just Announced: The Districts will play a special string of shows at Johnny Brenda’s this fall

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

One of the first major Philly gigs The Districts played was the stage of Johnny Brenda’s back in fall of 2014, opening for The Lawsuits’ Cool Cool Cool album release party. Now that they’re heading into a new year, hopefully with a new record on the horizon along with some of their biggest shows to date, it seems fitting that the Philadelphia by way of central PA rockers return to the JBs stage for a string of intimate shows on Thanksgiving weekend. Continue reading →

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Rock and Roll Animals: Listen to The Rolling Stones at JFK Stadium, September 25, 1981

Cover art for a bootleg of the Rolling Stones’ Philadelphia date in 1981

Thirty-five years ago today, The Rolling Stones kicked off their massive tour in support of 1981’s Tattoo You with a two-night stand at South Philly’s iconic JFK Stadium. Reportedly, both nights drew a ridiculous attendance of 90,000 spectators — it was not only the highest grossing tour of the year, per Wikipedia, but for several years to come. Continue reading →

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Watch JFK Stadium freak out in 1987 as Bruce Springsteen and U2 cover “Stand by Me”

Bono of U2 and Bruce Springsteen | still from video
Bono of U2 and Bruce Springsteen | still from video

A live music treat for your Sunday morning: it was 29 years ago today that U2’s heralded Joshua Tree tour made its way to Philadelphia’s JFK Stadium, and the show  concluded with an incredible cover of Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” featuring the one and only Bruce Springsteen.

As we can see in the video below, Bono slyly asks the crowd “Anybody else want to play my guitar? Would Bruce Springsteen like to play my guitar?” The crowd goes wild as The Boss struts to the stage, and Bono cracks “I guess you guys know him. Is he a local boy or something?” Continue reading →

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INTERVIEW: Brooklyn indie darlings LVL UP on making their most fully realized album, Return to Love

LVL UP | photo by Shawn Brackbill
LVL UP | photo by Shawn Brackbill

I’ll refrain from making the obvious joke here, and just say this: LVL UP‘s new album Return to Love sounds massive.

After five years and a couple of releases circling the grittier home-recorded periphery of the indie rock universe, the band goes full in on it’s third long player, released today on Sub Pop Records. Fuzzed out punk gives way to pristine pop, and you’ll hear hints of Neutral Milk Hotel and Pavement as much as you will Nada Surf and Fountains of Wayne. In short, it’s their most fully realized album on the sonic front, and talking to singer-guitarists Mike Caridi and Dave Benton, the guys are remarkably level-headed (ugggggggh, #dadjokes) and earnest about their craft.

I caught up with them via phone from Benton’s apartment in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. It was a hot August day and the band was laying low; they didn’t have anything on the calendar until a music video shoot the following week and a gig at Hopscotch fest in early September. Below, read our conversation about recording, running a label, and how their band and business lives intersect. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Peter, Bjorn and John at The Trocadero, Anais Mitchell at Tin Angel, Puff Daddy at Wells Fargo Center

Peter, Bjorn and John | photo courtesy of the artist

Swedish pop is arguably some of the best pop there is, as Peter, Bjorn and John has handily proven time and again. From their infectious and ubiquitous hit “Young Folks,” all the way up to the new Breaking Point LP, the long running trio are masters of their craft. Tonight they headline The Trocadero. Tickets and more information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Below, watch the music video for “Dominos.”
Continue reading →