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The Key Studio Sessions: I Think Like Midnight

This week’s Key Studio Session is for those who love to hear artists venture outside their comfort zone.

West Philly guitarist Andrew Chalfen spent the late 80s and early 90s playing raucous power pop in The Wishniaks, around the same time that keyboardist Joe Genaro and drummer Dean Sabatino made weird and wonderful rock music in the Dead Milkmen. As the years passed, Chalfen shifted his focus to the soaring indie tones of The Trolleyvox and connected with folk-leaning bassist Josh Newman, who played with Philly scene staples American Altitude and Heyward Howkins.

The collective project of those four musicians, I Think Like Midnight, doesn’t sound like any of those bands, and is all the more special for it.

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Hop Along wrangles with sympathy and understanding in two parts on “Not Abel”

Hop Along
Hop Along | photo by Tonje Thilesen | courtesy of the artist
Philly’s Hop Along will release its latest LP, Bark Your Head Off, Dog, on April 6th via Saddle Creek Records, and today the band released the latest teaser from the album.

“Not Abel” is a journey of a song in two parts. Opening as a stately, waltzing English folk ballad with immaculate string arrangements by Sarah Larsen of local folk faves Ladybird, the song progresses across lyrical images of war and poverty that could be the distant past as much as they could be today. Just before the three minute mark, a dissonant orchestral squall gives way to a rousing indie rock riff, and the song shape shifts into anthem territory for the last minute and 36. Continue reading →

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Willie Nelson reflects on mortality in his new song “Last Man Standing”

Willie Nelson’s Last Man Standing | via Brooklyn Vegan

“Gettin’ hard to watch my pals check out,” sings country music icon Willie Nelson, reflecting on the deaths of his peers like Merle Haggard while celebrating life in the title track of his new record. Last Man Standing comes out on April 27th, two days before Nelson turns 85, and though the song’s subject matter can be morbid, in typical Nelson style, it’s infused with lyrical wit and toe-tapping energy.  Continue reading →

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Courtney Barnett is releasing a new album, playing Union Transfer, being generally awesome

Courtney Barnett | photo by Pooneh Ghana | courtesy of the artist
Courtney Barnett | photo by Pooneh Ghana | courtesy of the artist

Okay, so about that mysterious news from the awesome Courtney Barnett? It’s exactly what we suspected, and it is good news indeed.

There’s a new album coming out. It’s called Tell Me How You Really Feel. It’s got a wicked lead single called “Nameless, Faceless,” a total F the patriarchy jam about power, inequality, internet trolls and objectification set to hard-hitting riffs; the chorus incorporates the Margaret Atwood quote, “Men are scared that women will laugh at them, women are scared that men will kill them.” There’s a video for the song by Lucy Dyson, and you can watch it below. The album comes out May 18th through Mom + Pop, and you can pre-order it hereContinue reading →

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Watch Japanese Breakfast’s “magnum opus,” a high school dance drama set to “Boyish”

Japanese Breakfast | still from video
Japanese Breakfast | still from video

Japanese Breakfast has always excelled in the music video game: the playful karaoke party of “In Heaven” and the El Bar dance off of “Everybody Wants To Love You“,  the spectral sci-fi romance of “Machinist,” the Lynchian macabre of “Road Head,” and the nostalgia-infused “Body Is A Blade.”

For their latest — and, production-wise, most ambitious — music video, the band brings the sweeping orchestral pop of “Boyish” to an introspective melodrama set at a high school dance. A lead character seems in love and out of sorts and, abandoned by her squad of friends, finds inspiration and transcendence watching Michelle Zauner and her Japanese Breakfast bandmates performing on the gymnasium stage. In a Facebook post, Zaunder says the video is her favorite yet.

After nearly a year, our magnum opus is finally here. Boyish has gone through many transformations but ultimately it’s simply about wanting to feel pretty & loved.

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The Key Studio Sessions: Matt Cappy

Local trumpeter Matt Cappy is full of loving references to his native New Jersey. Just look at the song titles that he and his band played for their Key Studio Session: “856,” for the area code. “Rose Lane,” for a street he grew up on in Berlin, NJ. “East Philly,” regional slang for Camden County.

But as much as Cappy makes it clear where his roots run, he’s Philly through and through. The University of the Arts-schooled jazz player gigged at the now-defunt Wilamena’s back in the day, blew horns in late 90s ska staples The Freakin’ Cads and has played on and off with Jill Scott since her band went by the name Fatback Taffy.

Last year, Cappy released his long-in-the-works debut solo album, Church and State, and it sees him flexing his sound and style both inside and outside the jazz spectrum. Continue reading →

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Happy Valentine’s Day from Ryan Adams! Listen to “Baby I Love You”

Ryan Adams
Ryan Adams | Photo by Noah Silvestry | silvestography.com

Rock and roll singer-songwriter Ryan Adams is celebrating Valentine’s Day with a brand new love song called “Baby I Love You.” The track, which you can listen to below, jangles like The Posies and Big Star, with church bell accents and a big chorus. But Ryan Adams being Ryan Adams, it flips the scripts just a bit — so instead of a saccharine, lovey-dovey outlook, its lyrics come off like a story of desperation, even with the big uplift of the chorus. Continue reading →