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The Key Studio Sessions: Nik Greeley

We’ve had our eyes on Philadelphia’s Nik Greeley for a little while now, and it’s always been clear that he is one driven and charismatic dude. His old band Black Stars gave him a solid start – the four-piece fused classic and modern rock, showing a heavy reverence for two of his favorites, Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Rolling Stones. Even though that group’s recorded output never quite managed to equal the polish and precision of its live show, it got Greeley established in navigating the Philadelphia music scene.  Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Iron & Wine and Ben Bridwell at Union Transfer, Delicate Steve at Underground Arts, Milky Chance at The Mann

Ben Bridwell, Iron & Wine | Photo via Facebook.com/ironandwine
Ben Bridwell, Iron & Wine | Photo via Facebook.com/ironandwine

This year, Sam Beam of long running indie folk project Iron & Wine got together with Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses to produce Sing Into My Mouth, a record of covers from Talking Heads’ “Naive Melody (This Must Be The Place)” to Pete Seeger’s “Coyote, My Little Brother.” Tonight, they headline Union Transfer; tickets and more information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert CalendarContinue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Pick: R. Ring at Johnny Brenda’s

R. Ring | Photo via facebook.com/rringsings
R. Ring | Photo via facebook.com/rringsings

A few years back, Kelly Deal of The Breeders and The Kelley Deal 6000 teamed up with Mike Montgomery of Ampline to form the new duo project R. Ring. Though their releases have been somewhat limited – it seems like they get together to write, record and perform when the mood strikes them, rather than forcing EPs and LPs out into the world – the energy is undeniable. You can hear traces of their respective bands, as well as forerunners like The Wipers and The Fall, and Deal and Montgomery’s urgent vocal harmonies carry it all. They’ve currently got a split single out with Detroit badasses Protomartyr and they perform tonight at Johnny Brenda’s. Tickets and more information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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XPNFest Recap: Guitar jams and artistry from St. Vincent and My Morning Jacket at SBC

St. Vincent & My Morning Jacket | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordophotography.com
St. Vincent & My Morning Jacket | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordophotography.com

At first glance, last night’s headlining XPNFest pairing was an unusual one. Theatrical, otherworldly indie rock diety St. Vincent played first, followed by a set from jam-intensive roots / Americana faves My Morning Jacket - how was this going to work?

As it turned out, it worked out phenomenally, and the artists has more in common than meets the eye. Both boast some of the best living guitarists in rock – Annie Clark, the woman behind St. Vincent, as well as Jim James and Carl Broemel, the dueling duo at the front of MMJ. Both have a strong artistic sensibility to what they do – St. Vincent’s cerebral pop songs and clever choreography, MMJ’s expressive and expansive jams. And both have songs that totally slay in concert – St. Vincent’s “Actor Out of Work” and “Digital Witness,” MMJ’s “Lay Low” and “One Big Holiday,” just to name a handful. Continue reading →

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XPNFest Recap: Delta Rae’s thunderous energy closed out the River Stage

 

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Delta Rae | Photo by Cameron Pollack | cameronpollack.500px.com

Return XPNFest-ers Delta Rae played a high-energy set to close out Wiggins Park on XPNFest day two as the sun set over the Delaware.

With their April LP After It All in tow, the band’s energy was palpable from the get-go. The charging “Outlaws” opened the set, “Cold Day in Heaven” had a touch of 80s synthesizer and pop hooks. Dipping back to their second album for “Morning Comes” riled up the crowd to clap along, while “Bottom of the River” was re-imagined with an intense instrumental opening before the thundering drums kicked in. Continue reading →

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XPNFest Recap: Dawes gives Philly fans the set they’ve been craving

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Dawes | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordophotography.com

If you’re an #XPNFest regular, I probably don’t even have to tell you the story. Los Angeles rock and roll four-piece Dawes played in 2012, and it rained during their set; they returned in 2013, and it rained even harder, so much so that their set had to be called off. In 2014 they were back, this time on the Susquehanna Bank Center stage opening the night for Jenny Lewis and Ryan Adams…but fans were crushed that they only got to play a five-song / 25 minute set. Which brings us to tonight, with Dawes headlining the first night of XPNFest 2015 and nary a cloud in the sky. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Alex G

It takes a moment to wrap your brain around the sheer volume of music on Alex G‘s Bandcamp page. Five full-lengths, three EPs and four standalone singles, all released in the past five years – most released in the past two – but recorded in fits and starts in various apartment bedrooms and suburban houses, ever since the man behind the project, Alex Giannascoli, was a teenager.

But he’s not just prolific for prolific’s sake; there seems to be a definite method to Alex’s madness, whether you’re talking about his DIY discography or his on-point live band. Instruments are arranged in a minimal but alluring manner – the interplay of chiming guitar lead with the chugging rhythm strums on “Black Hair” is intoxicating; the thumping floor toms on “Soaker” are moving and emotive. Then there are his lyrics, which are just as specific and descriptive as they are loose and mysterious – like “Wicked Boys,” and its mantra-like opening “real men walk / on the outside / and they take it for the team.” Continue reading →

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Ain’t No Party Like a Hemming Party: Watch the new “Some of my Friends” video

From Hemming's "Some of my Friends" video
Candice Martello ducks to avoid a living room crowd surfer in Hemming’s “Some of my Friends” video

We’re super psyched for the release of Hemming‘s self-titled debut here at The Key – it’s in stores both digital and physical this Friday – and we’re doubly psyched to find that the Philly rock project fronted by Candice Martello just released an incredibly fun music video for the best song on the album.  Continue reading →

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PREMIERE: Pine Barons cover mewithoutYou’s “January 1979″

Pine Barons | Photo by Dan McGurk | Root Down In The Shadow
Pine Barons | Photo by Dan McGurk | Root Down In The Shadow

One of my favorite aspects of the innumerable cover song projects out their on the web is getting artists out of their comfort zone and breaking down the preconceived notions we’ve built up about them. Getting them to do do away with concepts like scene and genre and just focus on the idea of connecting with songs.

Our buds over at Root Down in the Shadow are well into their third season of their Philly-centric Cover Club webseries, and it’s already had some sweet entries – Hezekiah Jones doing a track by his good buddy Johnny Miles in the studio, Jersey’s Anthony D’Amato tipping a cap to Philly’s Marah along the Manayunk Canal on a windy Record Store Day.

Both those videos are great, but not necessarily far from the tree for either performer. Enter the latest episode of Cover Club, featuring XPoNential Music Festival artists Pine BaronsContinue reading →

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Elvis Depressedly and Mitski turned it up at PhilaMOCA. Way up.

Elvis Depressedly | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordophotography.com
Elvis Depressedly | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordophotography.com

I’m not saying they’re easygoing on record or anything. Even when an artist’s studio work skews quieter and contemplative, it can have nuance and depth. Sure, their Bandcamp discography is filled with chilled-out and downtempo moments, but Asheville’s Elvis Depressedly is the antithesis of a beachy bro-band; Brooklyn’s Mitski is a singer-guitarist who writes songs, but she’s hardly a naval-gazing singer-songwriter. Both acts boast a reserved intensity, and when you put them in front of a crowd, it turns up and explodes. Which is what made them great tour partners, and made their sold-out show at PhilaMOCA last Wednesday so captivating. Continue reading →