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Summertime Sips and Summertime Sounds: The Bul Bey

The Bul Bey
The Bul Bey

Summertime Sips and Summertime Sounds is our occasional, seasonal foray into summer vibes with our fave local “summertime” bands, in which we meet up, share a drink, and revel in the sunny weather (check out past editions here). Today we catch up with rising West Philly emcee The Bul Bey.

South Philly’s the best around the holidays, when row homes battle for “brightest” and “most festive,” and Old City’s gorgeous in the spring, when the national park gardens come alive. But I’ll take West Philly in the summer hands down, when everything is green and lush and farmers’ markets dot Baltimore Ave., yet the bars remain comparatively empty, the college kids and shore-goers all away for the season. Is it a coincidence that The Fresh Prince, in West Philadelphia born and raised, chose summertime as the subject of his epic, seasonal anthem?  Is there anywhere east of 40th you’d rather than be than your friend’s giant, wrap-around porch, drinking a beer, after Ethiopian / Eritrean / Vietnamese food at Gojjos / Dahlak / Vietienne?

Amir Richardson, who performs under the name The Bul Bey, is like Smith in that he grew up in West Philly; unlike Smith, he still lives there now. In fact, his neighborhood is the subject of his breakout music video “Where I’m From,” a lively and complex portrayal of a place where, yeah, you better lock your doors—but where there’s also a real sense of community, whether hanging with your crew at a house party or laughing at your drunk uncle’s block party dance moves. The video, with its bright colors and enthusiastic participants (Bey tells me he did not instruct the kids to dance; they just did it) is sort of the ultimate tribute to summers in Philadelphia. So who better to talk summer vibes with than Richardson, who not only created a new summer classic, but is also one of our very fave rising hip-hop artists in the city right now? Continue reading →

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Summertime Sips and Summertime Sounds: Cheerleader

Cheerleader
Cheerleader

Summertime Sips and Summertime Sounds is our occasional, seasonal foray into summer vibes with our fave local “summertime” bands, in which we meet up, share a drink, and revel in the sunny weather (check out past editions here). Today we catch up with indie pop group Cheerleader; read on for our adventure.

I have very fond memories of summers circa 5th or 6th grade, hanging with my best friend Katie N., pouring over the class yearbook and selecting summer crushes, then planning to casually bump into them at the pool—and taking quizzes in Seventeen magazine with titles like “What kind of a flirt are you?” (not an answer: an awkward one).

Our favorite music back then was Madonna, Celine Dion, and The Crystals, and the soundtrack to Grease—songs about romance and young love, which seemed like the Most Important Thing Ever at the time. Cheerleader weren’t a band yet back then—but if they were, I imagine we would have adored them, their airy melodies and yearning choruses an elegant reinterpretation of our own tween angst. (Also we would have thought they were dreamy).

Cheerleader first caught our attention a little over a year back with carefree single “Perfect Vision” (read our 2014 interview with them here), then proceeded to hold us captive with a burgeoning collection of perfect pop gems. Their new record The Sunshine of Your Youth is a breezy collection of tunes inspired by “the nostalgic gloss you put on the past”; it’s also essential listening for Sunday drives and sunny mornings and anytime you need a pick-me-up. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Kate Bracaglia’s top 5 post-show brunch spots in Philly

Brunch at South Philly's Cantina Los Caballitos (photo via the author's Instagram: @BookishKate)
Brunch at South Philly’s Cantina Los Caballitos (photo via the author’s Instagram: @BookishKate)

Year-End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2014 awesome. In this installment, Key contributor Kate Bracaglia shares her favorite post-concert eateries of the year.

 Live music and brunch are two things I take very seriously (as anyone stalking my Instagram might discover). There are few things I love less than being front and center at a show, feeling the vibrations wash over my entire body…except for perhaps a perfect omelet and a Bloody Mary.

On weekends when I’m NOT recovering from a post-show hangover (I swear there are some!) I’m flexible about my brunch options. Need me to wake up early to beat the crowds at Sabrina’s or Green Eggs? I’m down. Want to soak up rays while waiting for our table in Morning Glory’s “spillover” garden? Hand me my shades. Feel like classing it up for the Center City crowd at Parc or Kanella? I have just the sundress in mind.

But for the morning after a show, when your head is a little fuzzy and you need coffee, stat, I have a different game plan in mind. Continue reading →

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How mushroom soup and an optimistic work ethic keep Courtney Barnett moving

Courtney Barnett | Photo via facebook.com/courtneybarnettmusic
Courtney Barnett | Photo via facebook.com/courtneybarnettmusic

Courtney Barnett sometimes gets saddled with the “slacker” tag—she’s got this shaggy hair and these boxy tees, and these slow, shuffling bass lines that amble lazily across your eardrums, like maybe they had two beers and it’s a Saturday. Really though, she’s anything but—the Aussie crooner founded her own record label, Milk Records, while in her early 20’s; now, barely into her mid-20s, she’s emerged as somewhat of a workaholic, playing no less than 64 shows since I saw her last February, in addition to working on a new record.

“I don’t reckon you would know anything about me if I wasn’t moderately hard-working,” she once quipped.

Hard work probably got Courtney there a little sooner. But it’s her songwriting—and quirky, relatable lyrics—that did most of the heavy lifting. Continue reading →

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Lily Allen brings charm and giant baby bottles to the E-Factory

Lily Allen | Photo by Kate Bracaglia | underwaterexplosions.blogspot.com
Lily Allen | Photo by Kate Bracaglia | underwaterexplosions.blogspot.com

In some ways, British singer Lily Allen is your typical pop star: she’s sold millions of records worldwide and attracted tons of media attention thanks to her wild partying and antics; if you didn’t know any better you might compare her to Miley Cyrus (in fact, she opened for Cyrus on her 2014 Bangerz tour).

But look at it another way and she’s totally different: where much of pop music is based on artifice and least-common-denominator lyrics, Allen is real and quirky; where most pop stage shows are carefully choreographed extravaganzas, Allen is spontaneous and down-to-earth, her strong personality a large part of what makes her so magnetic. Friday night, Allen brought her unique view and vision to life at the Electric Factory, dazzling fans with witty lyrics and candid commentary. Continue reading →

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Interview: Cut Chemist talks record-shopping, Philly, and his collaborative Afrika Bambaataa tribute with DJ Shadow

Cut Chemist (Photo via Facebook)
Cut Chemist (Photo via Facebook)

Cut Chemist, né Lucas MacFadden, doesn’t just make beats. He makes vibes. The DJ, producer, and mix-Master (with a capital M) has been soundtracking moments for 20 years now. He got his start with boisterous underground rap crew Jurassic 5 (remember them?)—then also took turns in Latin-funk band Ozomatli and Less Than Jake (yes, really)—in addition to creating his own, mind-blowing jams.

Throughout the years MacFadden has worked closely with fellow DJ and like-minded artist Josh Davis—a.k.a., DJ Shadow. The pair has released four live records together, and share an affinity for creative yet effortless beats. This Saturday, they’ll team up at the TLA for their “Renegades of Rhythm” tour, featuring the music of hip-hop progenitor Afrika Bambaataa. Continue reading →

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Summertime Sips and Summertime Sounds: The Pretty Greens

The Pretty Greens, from L to R: Julia Green, Carly Green, Kool Schmool (photo via Facebook)
The Pretty Greens, from L to R: Julia Green, Carly Green, Kool Schmool (photo via Facebook)

Summertime Sips and Summertime Sounds is our occasional, seasonal foray into summer vibes with our fave local “summertime” bands, in which we meet up, share a drink, and revel in the sunny weather (check out editions 1, 2, and 3, featuring Work Drugs, Cruiser and Chill Moody, here). Today we catch up with Philly’s The Pretty Greens; read on to experience the adventure.

One thing I love about The Pretty Greens is that their take on “summer” music is delightfully multi-faceted. They’re not writing music to escape, or bliss out to; and they’re not writing ragers to sweat out to in some basement. No, The Pretty Greens are writing music that’s visceral and tough to characterize, incorporating bits of surf, garage, Brill Building pop, punk, new wave, and more, into a warm blend of sounds that’s perhaps more evocative of the real complexities of life.

Not surprisingly, people have started to take notice. Continue reading →

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Soak up Tinmouth’s riotous new single “Prevent Defense,” see them tonight at Johnny Brenda’s

Tinmouth (photo via Facebook)
Tinmouth (photo via Facebook)

Philly rock trio Tinmouth has been kicking around the city for a couple of years now, playing bills with the likes of Eternal Summers, Free Time, and Dent May while refining their brand of fuzzy, college rock. A self-described bunch of “reformed romantics, somewhere beyond Missed Connections and Casual Encounters,” the band both distills and pays tribute to classic rock tropes, creating something exciting and warmly familiar. Continue reading →

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Summertime Sips and Summertime Sounds: Chill Moody

Chill Moody | Photo by John Vettese
Chill Moody | Photo by John Vettese

There’s something about old-school hip-hop that just oozes summer in the city—whether it’s DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince  celebrating chicks at Fairmount Park or Snoop paying tribute to his favorite bev—and the videos, with their beach chairs, bbqs, and wild block parties—only drive this home. Summer in the city is not like the other seasons: people go wild and indulge, as if their inhibitions melt under the summer sun.

West Philly rapper Chilly Moody is no stranger to summers in the city. The up-and-coming rhyme-spitter grew up in Philly, and has proven himself a master of all things SUMMER—whether ruling it on stage on the festival circuit, mixing up a perfect cocktail, or even (yes) having the coolest swim trunks this side of the Schuylkill. He’s also responsible for one of this summer’s flyest bangers, the bbq-ready “Concrete Jungle” – which makes a nice nod to Bob Marley, another summertime staple.

Every year to celebrate summer, Chill hosts a #nicethings Weekend (#nicethings is his catch-all catchphrase), complete with bbq, bowling, and a pool party at a mystery location. This year’s #nicethings event runs August 22 through 24. Curious about the event—and his summer go-tos in general—I met up with Chill at one of his fave Center City bars, Time, to talk Will Smith, cocktails, and how he’d spend his ultimate summer in Philly. Continue reading →