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Just Announced: Wu-Tang Clan will celebrate 25 years of 36 Chambers at Franklin Music Hall

Wu-Tang Clan circa 1995 | via Billboard

Legendary Staten Island rap crew Wu-Tang Clan is playing two full-cast reunion concerts at the top of the new year (well, almost full-cast; RIP, ODB) to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their groundbreaking debut LP, Enter The Wu-Tang: 36 Chambers…and we’re #blessed to have one of them here in Philly.  Continue reading →

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Here’s what you’re saying about the 80s #XPNAtoZ

Even in detention, Ally Sheedy’s Allison Reynolds knew that Prince was going to be a hit in the #XPNAToZ | still from video

The 80s edition of the #XPNAToZ special has been in full 24/7 swing for the past week, and the conversation on social media and in the real world is booming. People love it, people can’t stand it, people are generally into it but didn’t like that we played that one song, people don’t understand the Springsteenian excess. Here’s a roundup of some of The Key’s favorite Tweets from the #XPNAToZ hashtag. Join the conversation over that-a-ways, and keep listening; we’ve still got a lot of 80s A to Z to go! Continue reading →

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Casual Splendor: The Met Philly makes its debut with Bob Dylan in the driver’s seat

A sold-out crowd awaits Bob Dylan at opening night of The Met Philly | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

A chilly breeze cut up Poplar Street yesterday morning, blowing broken caution tape and discarded Wawa bags above the heads of dignitaries gathered for the ribbon cutting of The Met Philly. Out on the building’s North Broad Street face, a team of carpenters scrambled to reinforce windows and hammer out other down-to-the-wire touch ups.

“Did you bring your checkbook?” developer Eric Blumenfeld asked his colleagues from the podium. “We still have some work to do.”

The crowd chuckled at his quip, but it seems that The Met will be well into its inaugural season before work on the building is completely finished; and not for nothing, either, since renovating a century-old music venue is a delicate task. Not that the casual concertgoer will really notice the ongoing work. The parts of the venue that matter the most — the concert hall, the bars and other hospitality centers — were mostly in full swing last night for the opening concert with Bob Dylan and his band. And from there, the calendar only gets more exciting: John Legend tonight, Lindsey Stirling in a couple weeks, Kurt Vile near year’s end. As Live Nation’s regional president Geoff Gordon said upon taking the mic, “We don’t want to be pigeonholed into one genre, whether it be Tyler Perry or Charlie Wilson, whether it be PnB Rock, Mariah Carey, or Bob Dylan. We’re going to do it all.”

Returning to the venue just ahead of showtime, the disarray of the morning — confetti strewn around the streets, construction gear lining the sidewalks — had all been swept away for the glitz and glamour of a searchlight casting a radiant golden glow on the building’s white brick facade and arched windows. Once inside, though, the mood of the night became remarkably more casual. This didn’t feel weighed down by the formality of, say, seeing a show at the Kimmel Center or Academy of Music, where you’re likely to be surrounded by concertgoers wearing button-up shirt / tie combos or and cocktail dresses, sipping wine out of plastic cups. Some of that was going on at The Met, sure, but for the most part the vibe was a rock show audience in a venue filled with grandeur.  Continue reading →

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Kofie Carter flips negativity into shine on his new single “No Shade”

Kofie | photo courtesy of the artist

Emerging Philadelphia rapper Kofie Carter has been developing a distinctive style for himself over the past year, whether you’re talking about the prominence of bright yellow in his wardrobe choices, or the heady mix of U.S. trap textures with rhythmic patterns and vocal cadences inspired by the pop music of Ghana, where his family hails from.

Earlier this month, Carter released “No Shade,” a single teasing the full-length project 7%, which he plans to release in January. On this one, mellow and meditative synths offset the wind-up hi-hats and thunking kicks as Carter trades vocals with B’chillz, an MC from Lusaka, Zambia, the two of them meditating on living one’s best life and fighting disrespect with shine.

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Armani White’s mega-meta “Onederful” video captures his live energy in an endless pile of browser windows

Armani White at Made In America | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | racheldelsordophotography.com

One of the best performances we saw at this year’s Made In America festival was, hands down, Armani White. The Philly rapper and singer kicked it in the first artist, first day slot, and had a packed crowd of people leaping into the air at the foot of the festival’s Skate Stage.

That performance plays heavily in the visual for Armani’s new single “Onederful,” an uplifting singalong that closed out his MIA set on a euphoric, Chance-level high. But instead of being a mere concert video, this becomes a mega-meta video where a YouTube screen literally comes to life, the song’s lyrics get spelled out in captions and comments, new browser windows open on top of other browser windows, and the system comes perilously close to a blue screen of death. (Watch it below, or watch it on YouTube itself for the optimal video-within-a-video experience.) Continue reading →

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Kate Dressed Up talks Bright Eyes, a cappella, and North Jersey on the 25 O’Clock podcast

Kate Dressed Up | via katedressedup.bandcamp.com

New Jersey singer-songwriter Kate Miller has been playing music as Kate Dressed Up since 2016, and is readying her first full-length album for release sometime next year. This Saturday, she performs at Asbury Park’s Gurlzilla mini-festival, a benefit for the LGBTQ advocacy group Garden State Equality, and as a lead-up to the gig, she appeared on this week’s episode of the 25 O’Clock Podcast.

In the conversation with host Dan Drago, Miller talks about growing up in the semi-rural suburbs of North Jersey and contrasting it with life in the city, and how the scene of young songwriters in her home town of Jefferson influenced her direction — particularly when she won a songwriting competition while in high school.

She enthuses about her favorite songwriters, like Bright Eyes and Sufjan Stevens, talks about exploring music at a deeper level in college (“Arranging a cappella music broke my brain on more than one occasion”), talks how her collaboration with London’s Ganda Boys came to be, and reflects on how to make your style distinctive in as universal as a genre as folk. Continue reading →

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Watch Speedy Ortiz play “I’m Blessed” for WXPN’s Indie Rock Hit Parade

Speedy Ortiz | photo by Taylor Johnson for WXPN

Don’t think for a second that music with pop leanings isn’t music for the mind. Take Philly indie four-piece Speedy Ortiz, which this week heads out on its last run of tour dates in support of this year’s awesome Twerp Verse LP. The band’s power chord riffs are ear pure candy, while frontperson Sadie Dupuis’ vocal melodies rise and fall in remarkably hooky arcs.

It’s fun to hear, but a closer listen reveals complexity, both structural — the odd angles and unexpected sharp turns each arrangement takes — and lyrical — Dupuis just published her first book of poetry, if that gives you any indication of the angle from which she approaches her songwriting.

One of the standouts when Speedy Ortiz recorded an Indie Rock Hit Parade session at WXPN last month was “I’m Blessed,” a song that burns and builds over about three different movements, and while the concluding melody seems in one sense uplifting, it’s also cathartic, as Dupuis spends the song unpacking repressed anger. Continue reading →

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The Week Ahead: Speedy Ortiz, RFA, Ellen Siberian Tiger, Travis Scott and more

via Epic Records
Travis Scott’s Astroworld | courtesy of the artist

From Speedy Ortiz’s final run of shows in support of Twerp Verse to Travis Scott’s hotly anticipated Astroworld tour stop at Wells Fargo Center, rock and roll from RFA, folk from Kaia Kater, and our House Key Showcase with Ellen Siberian Tiger and more, there’s a lot for you to take in all around the scene this week. Here are 20 concerts to see in the next seven days.  Continue reading →

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Watch Sharon Van Etten’s stunning, cinematic video for “Jupiter 4”

Sharon Van Etten | still from video

“Holy shit!” Sharon van Etten exclaimed on Instagram this morning. “Did I write a happy, almost poppy, love song!?”

Sonically, this track from the singer-songwriter’s highly anticipated Remind Me Tomorrow LP is spacious and spectral, occupying a gripping space somewhere between her pensive ballads and her barreling rockers. Lyrically, “Jupiter 4” is all about devotion, and its video finds Van Etten emoting in a variety of natural surroundings in sweeping, dramatic black and white shots. Continue reading →

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Tierra Whack’s Hot 97 freestyle was filled with Philly love

Tierra Whack on Hot 97 | still from video

DJ Funkmaster Flex’s show on NYC station Hot 97 is something of a proving grounds for rappers to showcase their skills on the mic, those on the rise and established names alike. Last Wednesday, Philly MC Tierra Whack dropped by Funk Flex’s studio to take part in his freestyle series, and over two minutes of the beat from Busta Rhymes’ “Put Your Hands Where I Can See,” she was fierce, funny and filled with Philly love. Continue reading →