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Watch Tina Fey lead a band of 18th century Eagles fans on SNL

Mikey Day, Tina Fey, Keenan Thompson as Revolution-era Eagles fans on SNL | still from video

It was an overall solid week for SNL last night, but the hands-down highlight was a sketch early in the show that set tonight’s New England v. Philadelphia Super Bowl rivalry in colonial times.

Watch below as Upper Darby native Tina Fey leads a band of 1775 Eagles fans (Mikey Day and Keenan Thompson), while dropping references to the Schuylkill, Wawa hoagies, and greased poles. Continue reading →

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The Week Ahead: Vita and the Woolf, Brockhampton, Brandee Younger, G. Love and more

Brockhampton
Brockhampton | photo by Ashlan Grey | courtesy of the artist

This week we get something of a break in the live music landscape on Sunday, when there are pretty much zero shows of note and a couple cancellations due to the Eagles making it to the Super Bowl. There are more than enough options the rest of the week to keep you entertained, though. From two double headers packing the house (Brockhampton at TLA, G. Love at The Fillmore) to solid showings from local faves (Vita and the Woolf tonight, T.J. Kong on Friday), you’ve got no excuse for staying in. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Top 15 Albums of 2017

This is the music that moved us this year

As far as years go, 2017 was…complicated. And so it stands to reason that The Key’s annual go at determining the top 15 albums of the year — the records that resonated the most with us, the collections of songs that best captured the spirit of the past twelve months — was no straightforward affair.

In 2017, we thrilled to the reflective psych-rock sprawl of Philly’s The War on Drugs, a seasoned band delivering its most confident and refined artistic statement to date. We also heard the hushed introspection of Big Thief‘s sophomore album, which transformed trauma and pain into beautiful atmospheric folk. Artists looked deeply inward to discover raw personal truths, whether we’re talking about U.K. singer-songwriter Sampha, Philly newcomers Katie Ellen or hip-hop mogul Jay-Z, sounding more down to earth and honest than he has in years (decades?). They refused, as Lorde and (Sandy) Alex G did, to be confined by boxed-in preconceptions of their work, and pushed their chops into new territories, whether they be on album three (The Districts) or nine (Spoon).

A common thread was embracing vulnerability, practicing self-reflection and finding inner strength. That’s the story of albums by Waxahatchee and Harmony Woods, Cayetana and Kelela. It’s also an undercurrent to Kendrick Lamar‘s remarkable DAMN., which The Key’s contributors rallied around to vote it number one album of the year. Our John Morrison does a deep dive on the record, dissecting its nuanced pairing of hard-hitting hip-hop production with complex themes about fear and internal conflict, virtue and vice, weakness and wickedness and whether those traits make us flawed.

Last year, you’ll recall, was also a complicated year. It left many in artistic circles revving up to fight and affect change…and some, like Hurray for the Riff Raff, chased that impulse with thrilling results. But it seems that the records that stuck with us the most at year’s end are all saying, in one way or another, that before we go out to better the world, we need to look within and (to borrow a phrase from Adam Granduciel and co.) gain a deeper understanding of ourselves. – John Vettese Continue reading →

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PHOTOS: Red Bull’s Three Days in Philly party with Syd, Noname, Girlpool and more

Syd | photo by Koof Ibi Umoren for WXPN

Easily one of the most well-curated musical gatherings of the fall, Red Bull’s Three Days In Philly brought an eclectic assortment of femme-forward sounds to Underground Arts and The Trocadero earlier this month.

On Thursday, October 12th, Los Angeles indie rock outfit Girlpool topped the bill at Underground Arts, with local dreamscapers The Dove and the Wolf and Queen of Jeans mixing in twinkling pop sounds with expansive rock jams. On night two, of of the leading lights of Chicago’s bustling hip-hop and poetry scene, Noname, headlined, alongside jazz-tinged Philly singer-songwriter Andrea Valle and the more folk-rock oriented Brianna Cash. Night three moved the party over to the main stage of The Trocadero, and the dynamic, impossible to pin down Syd – of The Internet and Odd Future — headlined the sold-out show, with support from Atlanta band St. Beauty and Chicago’s Ravyn Lenae.

See photos from the entire three-day festival below, care of photographer Koof Ibi Umoren of The Random Tea Sessions.
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PHOTOS: Shabazz Palaces and Porter Ray at Union Transfer

Shabazz Palaces | photo by Koof Ibi Umoren for WXPN

Speaking of artists with ambitious 2017 release schedules, Seattle hip-hop outfit Shabazz Palaces released two records this year via Sub Pop Records: Quazarz: Born on a Gangster Star and its “monozygotic twin” Quazarz vs. The Jealous Machines. The group, comprised of Ishmael Butler (aka Butterfly of Digable Planets) and Tendai “Baba” Maraire, stopped by Union Transfer last Thursday night for a multimedia performance in support of the dual release. Continue reading →

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PHOTOS: Christian Scott at World Cafe Live

Christian Scott | photo by Koof Ibi Umoren for WXPN

New Orleans trumpeter Christian Scott is in the midst of releasing an ambitious trilogy of albums this year. After the spring’s introductory Ruler Rebel, he returned last month with Diaspora and plans to finish before year’s end with Emancipation Procrastination. His style incorporates modern trap and NOLA bounce with classic jazz approaches; as John Morrison put it in his interview a couple weeks ago, Scott is “reverse-engineering the past ten decades of American popular music, connecting it all back to the roots of the tree, jazz and the blues.” Continue reading →