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The Key Studio Sessions: Wallace

Lancaster’s Wallace Gerdy first showed up on the Philadelphia scene as the lead shredder in basement show regulars Mattress Food. Then, back in January of this year, she ventured out on her own with a short set of demos that were heavily informed by her love of classic rock. The instantly likeable “Sunny Monday” (with its undeniable debt to “Sweet Jane” by The Velvet Underground) caught my ear during the December edition of Items Tagged Philadelphia, I checked out the project’s full band debut at Ortlieb’s, and Wallace — as it’s eponymously called — was officially on The Key’s radar. Continue reading →

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Indie luminaries Death Cab for Cutie were in top form for a dynamic Tower set

Death Cab for Cutie | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Does anybody out there remember a thing called The Death and Dismemberment tour? Named in homage to a throwaway line Bill Murray’s existential comedy Groundhog Day, and savvily designed to get as many turn-of-the-millennium indie rock fans in a theater as possible, the 2001 run starred Death Cab For Cutie, hot off the release of their emotive third LP The Photo Album, and the beloved math rock outfit The Dismemberment Plan. I specifically remember the Philly press at the time puzzledly contrasting the high-octane DisPlan with the “quiet as a kitten Death Cab.”

Again, this was 2001. It’s now seventeen years later, and Death Cab is no longer quiet as a kitten. Continue reading →

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Watch the unveiling of Seattle’s new Chris Cornell statue

A life-size bronze sculpture depicting the late Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell now stands in his hometown of Seattle at the entrance to the Museum of Pop Culture. Commissioned by Cornell’s late wife, Vicky, and designed by artist Nick Marra, it made its debut yesterday in a ceremony where Cornell’s children — Lily, 18; Toni, 14; and Christopher, 13 — did the unveiling. Continue reading →

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Lovelorn will play its debut gig as a duo later this month at PhilaMOCA

Lovelorn | photo by Don Devore | courtesy of the artist
Lovelorn | photo by Don Devore | courtesy of the artist

As their debut LP moves ever closer to reality,  Philly noir synthwave project Lovelorn will make its debut as a two-piece on Saturday, October 20th at PhilaMOCA. Joining them on the lineup are Don Devore of 90s Philly goth-punks Ink & Dagger — who produced Lovelorn’s album, which the band tells us it wrapped up recording in New York this past weekend — as well as New York’s Russian Baths and locals Korine.  Continue reading →

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Alternative Routes: Roger Harvey goes it alone on the new Gold EP with some of his poppiest material to date

Roger Harvey | photo by Cassie Lopez | courtesy of the artist

In the early morning hours last Saturday, singer-songwriter Roger Harvey announced his latest project: the Gold EP, a quick and lively collection of three new roots-tinged indie rock songs, plus a re-recorded version of the song “Gold” from his 2017 album Two Coyotes.

The late night timing of the news was very intentional — Harvey tells us it was “to remind myself that I can create something and put it into the world at any time. I feel that sometimes as artists we lose sight of how easy that is to do on our own as we try to seek approval from others and conform to antiquated systems of marketing. Many of which don’t seem to really hold up any longer.”

And now here we are, 168 hours (or exactly seven days) later, and we have more from Harvey: an exclusive early listen to the EP. Continue reading →

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Vijay Iyer delivers a beautiful and bombastic solo set at Annenberg Center

Vijay Iyer | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

If you’ve dedicated any portion of your life to obsessively writing about rock and pop, you’ve probably arrived at an eventual point where rock and pop alone become…boring. Uninspired. You begin to explore other sounds, to expand your proverbial horizons. Sometimes the process can be gradual, and sometimes the gates can blow wide open.

For me, a major entry point not only into jazz, but the possibilities of what music can sound like using jazz as a baseline, was a hand-me-down vinyl copy of Keith Jarrett’s The Köln Concert, a double LP, 66-minute, entirely improvised concert where the famed pianist for Art Blakey and Miles Davis rocked to and fro across 88 keys, punctuating his playing occasionally with moans and cries, finding himself in moments of cathederal-like reverence, and later cascading into dissonant depths.

Watching award-winning jazz band leader, composer, and scholar Vijay Iyer give a rare solo performance at the Annenberg Center’s Harold Prince Theatre on Saturday night, I was very much reminded of Jarrett, and this album in particular. Continue reading →

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Kurt Vile gets sentimental on his new song “One Trick Ponies”

Kurt Vile | photo by Jo McCaughey | courtesy of the artist

Philly’s Kurt Vile releases his latest record, Bottle It In, next Friday via Matador, and it’s shaping up to be an expansive and eclectic set in the vein of his 2013 double LP Wakin On A Pretty Daze. While the previously released central tune “Bassackwards” wandered in weird alleyways for nine-plus minutes, his new “One Trick Ponies” is a pop gem with left-of-center quirks. Continue reading →

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Just Announced: John Legend will bring his Christmas tour to The Met in December

John Legend | photo by Doug Interrante for WXPN

Singer-songwriter John Legend is infused with the holiday spirit this year, and drops his first holiday LP, A Legendary Christmas, via Columbia Records on October 26th. The album features collaborations with Stevie Wonder and Esperanza Spalding, with Raphael Saddiq executive producing, and Legend takes the album on the road starting in mid-November and stretching to the end of the year. Continue reading →

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Unwind with Boogieman Dela’s new video “Bring Me Down”

Boogieman Dela | photo by Dylan Eddinger for WXPN | dylaneddingerphoto.squarespace.com

Philly’s Boogieman Dela caught our ear this year with a suave sound straddling the worlds of clubby hip-hop and melodic R&B, and that balance comes to the forefront in his new music video.

Set to “Bring Me Down,” the Anderson .Paak styled closing track to Boogie’s spring release Broken Watch 02: Future Currents, the video gives us a depiction of how his sound is custom designed to unwind, as we follow a woman returning home from a stressful day and indulging in some self-care time (with the aid of a certain mood-enhancing substance).    Continue reading →

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Kilamanzego joins ZenSupremacy roster, releases meditative track “Myth of the Groove”

Kilamanzego | photo by Manny Arocho | courtesy of the artist
Kilamanzego | photo by Manny Arocho | courtesy of the artist

Philly audio collager and beatmaker Kilamanzego recently made her debut on the Amsterdam-based label / collective ZenSupremecy with a new track called “Myth of the Groove.” Opening with spacious beats and haunting atmospheres in line with a vintage Aphex Twin joint, Kila kicks it into gear at the 40 second mark with an 8-bit melody, alluring pops and synthesizer moans, and an occasional rhythmic “AYYYE” interjection. It’s a 2 minute 40 second jam that brings you up in the same breath as it mellows your mind. Continue reading →