A brief, humble salutation by a recently de-beareded Jon Loudon preceded three snare hits before Philly’s own beloved Restorations launched into “Misprint” and kicked off a searing set at Johnny Brenda’s. This was the quintet’s first Philadelphia show in months, capping off a long tour in support of their excellent and sophisticated LP3, whose roomy and anthemic songs punctuated key points throughout the set (which also featured many songs from 2013’s LP2). Continue reading →
It’s hard to hear Kate Faust, the singer-songwriter whose RnB-meets-pop-meets-electro songs have teased Key readers for the past few years, when she asks me this. A crowd of nearly 50 people – a similarly-eclectic bunch, featuring members of her family mixed in with local scene mainstays like King Britt, Ross Bellenoit – hovers near us while songs from her upcoming Eros EP play over speakers (Charlie Patierno, who co-produced Eros with Kate, was notably in the audience as well). It’s a bit of a surreal scene, not least of all because of where Kate hosted this intimate, barely-advertised listening party and solo show. Continue reading →
Year-End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2014 awesome. In this installment, contributing writer Sameer Rao talks about songs that make you feel.
In case you didn’t read and feel what I wrote and felt last year, let it be known far and wide that 2014 was yet another hell of a year for nerve-poking chords, chill-inducing croons, and all manner of music that brought on heavy cases of the feels. And since this was a banner year for local artists of all stripes, we’re making this one Philly-exclusive. Get your tissues out for this list. Continue reading →
The means of production guiding our favorite songs and records are, to a great many, shrouded in mystery and reverential confusion. How do guitars make screaming noises? Do snare drums of different sizes pop at different pitches? What, exactly, is an EQ?
Gear Stories seeks to bridge those gaps by offering insight into what our favorite local artists are playing, what those pieces of equipment mean (or don’t), and highlight the unique means by which Philly musicians and gearmakers are constantly pushing the aural envelope. From Gamble & Huff to Questlove, Philly artists have led the way in sonic innovations and left their imprint on generations of music around the world.
For our inaugural installment, we spoke to Purling Hiss frontman and guitarist Mike Polizze last week while he and the band toured in support of their latest album Weirdon, out now on Drag City records. Among other aspects of his technical evolution, Mike addressed his minimalist set-up and its importance to Purling Hiss’s guitar-centric, hazy sound. Continue reading →
Amongst punk-leaning and DIY-defined artists in this city, Sunny Ali and the Kid are virtually peerless. Singer/guitarist Hassan Malik and drummer/multi-instrumentalist Abdullah Saeed took their music through an evolution from cheeky rockabilly and minimalist garage rock to a newer sound that incorporates electronics and ethereal soundscapes – all the while vaguely repurposing South Asian musical themes and punk urgency in punchy songs that defy easy categorization.
The band took a significant break through a roughly year-and-a-half-long period that saw Saeed’s journalism work flourish (he works with several publications and writes a popular VICE column on marijuana) and both his and Malik’s ongoing work with The Kominas, a punk band known for songs that similarly play with South Asian and Islamic musical tropes while incorporating lyrics that involve jabs at Western misconceptions of Muslim belief.
As men of Pakistani descent with a comprehensive and intuitive understanding of why their music and livelihoods defy racial stereotyping, Sunny Ali and the Kid personify the mission that the folks behind Rockers! (whose events highlight artists who otherwise don’t fit into the white-male-heterosexual-dominated rock world) take into every show. This is probably why Malik and Saeed are playing their first show in two years by headlining the last Rockers! show of 2014 at West Philly Ethiopian spot Dahlak Paradise.
We caught up with Malik and asked him about their return, race and class in scene politics, handling geographical divides and making music with a mission. Continue reading →
The narrow upstairs bar and stage at 3rd and Girard may not be the most intuitive of places to stop in for a weekend concert, but those who packed the room on Saturday night for hip-hop quartet Halfro‘s album release show were rewarded for their time.
To see Philly-based hip-hop quartet Halfro play live is to partake in one of the most fun and rare experiences a live show-lover can have: a young band with impeccable execution that gives its always-eclectic audience a raucous party while showing no sign of stagnation. When the band drops their debut self-released EP Squalor at Saturday’s album release show at 3rd and Girard, audiences will get to hear that energy dropped straight into a lively, sometimes-existential-always-rollicking record that successfully captures a great deal of their live show’s immense power. Continue reading →
The thought, 20 years ago, of Boyz II Men and Nirvana having anything to do with one another might have paralyzed the pop world with fear and anger. But in front of a small audience at Philadelphia’s High School for the Creative and Performing Arts (where the RnB legends famously formed while students), members Shawn Stockman and Wanya Morris felt no hesitation or weight of historical genre divides when they ripped into an impromptu, largely comical version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. Continue reading →
To describe Steven Ellison, better known as the Los Angeles-bred Flying Lotus, with traditional signifiers is a pretty difficult endeavor. He’s not quite a jazz artist, although his pieces smack of the heavy-concept, free-form complexity that defines that genre in the 21st century. He’s not quite a hip-hop producer, although his rhythms derive from the canon of that world’s sonic tapestry and ground performances from superstar luminaries like Kendrick Lamar. And he’s not even an electronic artist, despite his heavy use of blippy synths and membership on the genre-defining (and -redefining) Warp Records label. Continue reading →
With more than enough English-language music flooding American airwaves to make even the most eclectic music-lover’s heads spin, a group like Puerto Rico’s Calle 13 might easily fall under the radar. Maybe you were lucky enough to hear their eccentric mid-2000s breakout hits “Atréve te-te” and “La Jirafa” at a college- or work-sponsored Latin music night and thought “Hey, this is a pretty cool beat,” before shimmying your hips off-rhythm for the next few hours. Continue reading →