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Lizdelize will celebrate their album release with Strawberry Runners and Snake Boy Gang at the next House Key Philly music showcase at Underground Arts

photo by Max Kulicke | flyer by Matt Poirier

After an incredibly fun inaugural gig in November, the HOUSE KEY SHOWCASE returns to Underground Arts on March 23rd for another night of spotlighting Philadelphia musicians and artists. Curated by House Cat Presents along with The Key, and sponsored by Founders Brewing, the gig will be headlined by Lizdelise, the boundary-pushing Philly rock trio fronted by songwriter and guitarist Elizabeth De Lise. They just released their third LP, Holy Matrimony, and it’s their first written and recorded as a collective. Continue reading →

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Watch The Cactus Blossoms serenade the polar vortex in their “Got A Lotta Love” video

The Cactus Blossoms
The Cactus Blossoms | photo by Nate Ryan | courtesy of the artist

Winter storms shut down the midwest last week, but for Minneapolis natives The Cactus Blossoms, a bit of snow and ice is par for the course. With their second studio LP Easy Way on the way on March 1st via Walkie Talkie Records, the band set out into last week’s polar vortex to shoot a music video for “Got A Lotta Love” in central Minneapolis’ Bockley Gallery, not far from Lake of the Isles.

“A good friend of ours was kind enough to let us use his gallery space to shoot this video,” says the band’s Page Burkum. “When we heard a blizzard was headed way we thought we might have to call the whole thing off but everyone showed up and the snow made a beautiful backdrop.” Continue reading →

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The Essential Love Songs of Philadelphia: “A Long Walk” by Jill Scott

Jill Scott | still from video

Every day leading up to Valentine’s Day this year, The Key is recapping 14 songs that scream “love” just as strongly as they scream “Philly.” The Essential Love Songs of Philadelphia continues with “A Long Walk” from Jill Scott’s 2000 album Who Is Jill Scott? Words and Sounds Vol. 1.

Last fall, Jill Scott broke the internet (as folks like to say), when a YouTube video went viral showing the Philadelphia singer, songwriter, and poet onstage and imitating oral sex using her microphone as an apropos prop. While there was much pearl-clutching among casual listeners who maybe gravitated towards the wholesome facade of her music, longtime fans pointed out that Jilly from Philly has always celebrated sexuality in her art — with Questlove’s take, as usual, being the best: “Lol at y’all Jill Scott newbies. Y’all thought she was incense and sandals huh?”

But why is this even a choice? Why can’t Scott be a proud sexual being as well as somebody who revels in the simple things in life and love, like commitment and devotion? Let’s go back to her first album Who Is Jill Scott: Words and Sounds Vol. 1 and one of her first big hits to see how both things coexist.

Continue reading →

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Just Announced: Belle and Sebastian will play Union Transfer this July

Belle and Sebastian | photo by Kate McCann for WXPN

What have we done to deserve this super-intimate, super-special show from Scottish indiepop faves Belle and Sebastian? This two-decades running Glaswegian band just announced a Union Transfer show on Friday, July 12th, and tickets go on sale this Friday, February 15th at 10 a.m. It’s unclear at the moment why they’re touring — or how extensive their tour is. Their website, at present, just makes note of their Boaty Weekender cruise featuring fellow Scots Mogwai, Teenage Fanclub, and Camera Obscura, as well as U.S. indie faves Yo La Tengo and Japanese Breakfast. (UPDATE: The band announced a short July tour leading up to the Weekender: dates below.) Their last Philly show was 2017 at The Mann Center.

And, come to think of it, all of their successfully-performed Philly shows have been at significantly bigger venues. Continue reading →

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Just Announced: Frank Zappa’s hologram is coming to Collingswood, Wilkes Barre

The Bizarre World of Frank Zappa | via Brooklyn Vegan

Having never experienced a hologram concert ourselves, we’re going to reserve judgement on the whole phenomenon. For certain, it could potentially be dazzling, but it also has the potential to exploit an artist’s legacy in strange and potentially distasteful ways. But if it’s going to work for anybody, Frank Zappa would be that artist. Continue reading →

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Just Announced: Beck, Cage The Elephant, Spoon, and Sunflower Bean will play BB&T Pavilion

Beck | photo by John Vettese for WXPN // Cage The Elephant | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman for WXPN // Spoon | photo by Wendy McCardle for WXPN // Sunflower Bean | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN

A strong contender for the ridiculous concert lineup of the summer has arrived. Long-running alternative-era impresario Beck and Kentucky rock juggernaut Cage the Elephant announced a co-headlining tour this morning, which would be good enough news as it is. But for their Philly regional date, August 21st at Camden’s BB&T Pavillion, they’ve enlisted not one but two incredible openers: indie stalwarts Spoon and garage rock newcomers Sunflower Bean. Continue reading →

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The Essential Love Songs of Philadelphia: “Baby’s Arms” by Kurt Vile

Kurt Vile
Kurt Vile | photo courtesy of the artist

Every day leading up to Valentine’s Day this year, The Key is recapping 14 songs that scream “love” just as strongly as they scream “Philly.” The Essential Love Songs of Philadelphia continues with “Baby’s Arms” from Kurt Vile’s 2010 album Smoke Ring For My Halo.

It’s hard to imagine Kurt Vile as anything but a goof. He’s the person with a smarmy half-smirk looking at you from out of the album cover of Bottle It In. He pays compliments to the fashion choices of his own reflection in “Pretty Pimpin’.” He wrote an entire song, “Loading Zones,” about how to find free parking in Philadelphia. And the wordplay; Vile is big into wordplay, and at the opening of his 2013 album Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze, he combines his prankster and poet leanings for a lyric that is possibly peak KV: “Risin’ at the crack of dawn / And I gotta think about what wisecracks I’m going to drop along the way.”

Acclaimed guitarist, spectacular vibe-caster, noted smartass — that’s our Kurt. Except for those moments when he’s being unexpectedly, unabashedly, heart-warmingly sincere. The song that opens his pop breakthrough LP, 2011’s Smoke Ring For My Halo, is one such moment. Continue reading →

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#XPN5050: 1995

For fifty weeks over the next year, we’re celebrating the music of a specific year every Saturday on WXPN. We’ll be choosing the years randomly; for this week’s #XPN5050, David Dye is putting the musical spotlight on the year 1995.

Between Blur, Oasis, Pulp, and Elastical, the year 1995 saw the rise of Britpop in the alternative rock world, but that’s not all that was going on. Singer songwriters broke through in a big way, like Alanis Morissette and Joan Osborne on Jagged Little Pill and Relish. Heritage artists like Randy Newman, Paul Weller, and Annie Lennox made compelling new work, while hip-hop like Coolio and Shaggy ruled the charts.  Continue reading →