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90′s Emo Frontrunners Texas is the Reason to play Union Transfer on 2/16

New York City’s Texas is the Reason is one of the most influential and trendsetting bands to emerge from the 90′s emo-punk movement. After almost two decades, only one album, multiple breakups and an immense cult fan base, Texas is the Reason will once again be hitting the road for a few tour dates in 2013. The band will be stopping in nine major cities, including Philadelphia’s Union Transfer on February 16th. This tour is in support of their remastered anthology, which includes two never-before-released songs (recorded with Jawbox’s J. Robbins in 1997) that will mark the band’s final goodbye. The complete remastered discography will be released by Revelation Records on February 12th The band will be supported in Philadelphia by the Kingston, Pennsylvania 4-piece Title Fight, who recently released a new album in September of 2012. Title Fight’s new album can be found here. For more information and ticket sales visit the R5 page located here. Below, watch video of Texas is the Reason playing the First Unitarian Church in 1996.

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Meet Philly’s Pill Friends, download their new track “Please Murder Me For My Sins”

“Hell’s a place where I feel fine
 as long as your not mine” — Pill Friends “Bummertime”

Punk…death…and friendship. The lo-fi/indie trio Pill Friends’ recent  2012 release, It’s Kyle’s Birthday Everyday, is a chaotic yet heartfelt reunion with emotions usually reserved for an intervention. With just three members (as well as a bass player who is supposedly “missing”), Pill Friends creates a full orchestra from only a guitar, drums and cello. The beauty in this album comes from all the unoccupied space between the notes that is filled in a unique and personal way be each listener. The group has an affinity for using their limitations to their advantage, allowing the vocals on each track to crawl from beneath the noise – on it’s hands and knees – like being one shot shy of an overdose. Pill Friends, sonically, have settled somewhere in the realm of folk music, infused with a heavy dose of morphine, and then played through headphone speakers while mowing the lawn. It’s Kyle’s Birthday Everyday is sparse, its eclectic and extremely discomforting– and that’s what makes it satisfying to listening to. You can download It’s Kyle’s Birthday Everyday, Pill Friend’s first official EP, on Bandcamp. Last week the band released an even newer track called “Please Murder Me For My Sins” – download it below.

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Nick Morrison’s top 5 Underground Philly albums of 2012

For The Key’s year-in-review, we asked our trusted sources – our writers and photographers, XPN’s on-air staff, fellow bloggers in the Philly scene and even a few musicians – to send us their Top Five Whatevers. Could be the traditional music route – albums, songs, concerts of the year – or it could be only loosely connected. We’ll be sharing these recaps every day through to the end of the year. Today, Key intern Nick Morrison shares his favorite underground albums from the local scene this year.

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Scope Rare Chandeliers with Action Bronson (performing at The Blockley on 12/28)

On Friday, December 28th, Queens hip-hop artist Action Bronson will be performing at West Philadelphia’s The Blockley. Bronson, a respected chef turned rapper, has released a string of critically acclaimed mixtapes and albums since 2011 and has collaborated with Ghostface Killah (from Wu-Tang fame) and Earl (from the controversial hip-hop collective Odd Future). On his most recent release, a 2012 mixtape called Rare Chandeliers, he was able to work with legendary producer, The Alchemist — who produced tracks featuring the likes of Schoolboy Q and Styles P. Also performing on the bill is Ground Up, Meyhem Lauren, Guy Harrison and Pooda Dappa. For more information and tickets visit the Blockley’s website located here. Bronson’s new mixtape Rare Chandelier can be found here. Below is the video for his latest video “The Symbol.”

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Boy Wonder at World Cafe Live, Cozy Galaxies at Chameleon Club, Scuzbot at the Fire

Funk-rock musician Boy Wonder, a.k.a. host of World Cafe Live’s Philly Rising Open Stage, play World Cafe Live with singer/songwriter Mary Scholz. A native of Havertown, PA, Scholz will be returning to the area after a long stint in Los Angeles to perform. Below, stream Boy Wonder’s album Heavy, released in summer of 2012.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: In Memory of Joe Stummer at North Star Bar, World/Inferno Friendship Society at Chamelon Club, Kalob Griffin Band at World Cafe Live, The Babies at Kung Fu Necktie

To mark the anniversary of Clash guitarist Joe Strummer’s passing, the North Star Bar will be hosting In Memory of Joe Strummer: A Benefit for Strummerville. The show benefits the Strummervile charity that financially support struggling musicians who aspire to change the world through music. The charity was established by family and friends of the influential punk rocker, and a variety of acts will be performing in support of the cause including Blayer Point du Jour and the Rockers Galore, The Cold Roses, Betty Iron Thumbs, I Yahn I Arkestra, The Future Unwritten (named after the Strummer documentary), The Successful Failures and Split Red. More information on the foundation can be located here. Below, watch one of the Strummerville sessions directed by famed punk scene DJ and Clash associate Don Letts.

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The Babies and Swearin’ bring garage-pop to Kung-Fu Necktie on Saturday 12/22

The Brooklyn garage/punk outfits, The Babies and Swearin’, will be playing at Fishtown’s Kung Fu Necktie tomorrow. The Babies, the side project of Vivian Girls and Woods, have been steadily gaining popularity since their 2011 self-titled album. The band also recently released their second album Our House on the Hill in mid-November. That album can be purchased through Woodsist Records here. Swearin’, who recently wrapped up a tour with Japandroids, released a new, self-titled LP over this past summer that can be found here. For more information on the event click here. Below is the video for the Babies’ new track “Baby.”

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Cheif Keef to headline eight artist blowout at TLA tonight

The TLA will host a massive lineup headlined by Chicago rapper Cheif Keef as well as seven other performers tonight. The 17 year old hip-hop artist, who is the CEO and founder of the Chicago label Glory Boys Entertainment, released his highly anticipated debut Finally Rich this past Tuesday through Interscope Records and GBE. Cheif Keef rocketed to fame earlier this year with his viral hit, “I Don’t Like,” and the subsequent remix on G.O.O.D. music’s Cruel Summer. The guest line-up, consisting of exclusively Philadelphia hip-hop artists, includes Blonde Gang (recently featured in JUMP Magazine), Lee Mazin, Ar-AB, Young Savage, Ground Up and Tiana Victoria. For tickets and more information you can visit the event page located here. Below is a video from Keef’s new album for the track “Love Sosa.”

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Meek Mill pledges to donate $10,000 to Strawberry Mansion High School; school still proposed for closure

North Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill pledged to donate $10,000 to his alma mater Strawberry Mansion High School, according to a report on Philly.com. Along with the $10,000 donation, he is using his new endorsement through Puma to set up the Strawberry Mansion Knight’s basketball team with new shoes.

These efforts from Meek (offstage name: Robert Williams), who is prohibited from touring for the next 30 days because of his 2008 legal troubles, come as Strawberry Mansion High School is one of the eight schools proposed for closure in concordance with Superintendent Hite’s initiative to consolidate Philadelphia public schools. From Philly.com:

Calling it “a historic moment,” Hite said his recommendations also included changing the grade levels of 23 schools and making other program changes affecting another seven. The total savings for the district could be up to $28 million beginning in 2014-15, he said. The proposed changes will be presented to the School Reform Commission Dec. 20 and, if approved, would affect 17,000 district students, 45 principals and 1,168 teachers. The number of schools would drop from 237 to 199; one in six schools would be closed.

Some community members, including Mill, believes that this consolidation will hurt the public school system. Many believe that forcing students from rival neighborhoods to converge onto the same campus will cause an increase in violence. With all these safety concerns, as well as regards  over-crowding, the Hite administration has been assuring Philadelphia residents that a portion of the money being saved will be allocated to address these concerns so that the safety of the children remains a top priority.

More on this topic as it develops. For now you can follow Meek Mill on his twitter, and check out a gallery a review of his fans-only show at Sigma Sound Studio on Tuesday night here.

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Gilbere Forte releasing soundtrack to his short film called “Pray”

Dynamic Philadelphia based hip-hop artist Gilbere Forte is set to release his latest project, a short film and an accompanying soundtrack called Pray, due out in early 2013. Forte, perhaps best known thus far for his 2010 single “Black Chukkas,” has proven himself as a powerful voice in hip-hop, cemented by his swift emergence onto the scene and his various honors (including being featured on the BET Awards, Fuse and putting out releases with Pusha T and Tyga). He had a brief reconstruction period after signing with Anigma Records, but 2013 may mark Forte’s triumphant return. Along with his college friend and producer, Raak, Gilbere Forte has the potential to keep pushing Philadelphia hip-hop rhythmically and lyrically. For more on Gilbere Forte you can stream his 2012 mixtape YOTD: Year of the Dragon here. Below is the first video from his upcoming release Pray.