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Mitski takes hold of Union Transfer with an arresting performance

Mitski | photo by Michelle Montgomery for WXPN

“When I last came here I was opening for another band and I remember thinking that this was some huge stadium venue,” said Mitski Miyawaki from the stage at Union Transfer on Friday night. “But now, it seems like the perfect size.”

Mitski was wrong. The wide, cavernous hall of Union Transfer was nowhere near large enough to contain her, though I’m not so sure any venue would. There is filling a room, which Mitski indeed did for the duration of her long-ago sold out show, and then there is owning a room. Few artists working today display the kind of quiet command which has become her trademark, able to arrest as easily with a soft croon as an impassioned howl. Continue reading →

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Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s Alec Ounsworth on the role of constant reivention

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah | photo courtesy of the artist
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah | photo by Michael Regan | courtesy of the artist

Buzz is a fickle thing, especially in the world of indie rock, and few artists are more experienced in its ups and downs than Alec Ounsworth of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. It was over 10 years ago that the band’s debut self-titled album cut so piercingly through the muddled early aughts indie scene, demanding attention like few other debuts. Notoriety, as many bands have found throughout the years, is truly a double-edged sword. Success is certainly rewarding but it also leads to oversimplification, from bloggers and listeners alike, who make their new favorite band into whatever they want them to be, ignoring the artist themselves.

Ounsworth could have easily succumbed to the pressure that arises in the face of such success. He could have doubled down, he could have churned out album after album of fan service and perhaps he would have been more ‘successful’ because of it, but that’s not what make Clap Your Hands Say Yeah the band they are. Even today, the release day of the band’s fifth LP The Tourist, Ounsworth remain steadfast in his individuality. “We didn’t get in this business to acquiesce,” Ounsworth told me during a recent phone interview. Continue reading →

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Brian Walker of A Day Without Love shares his thoughts on finding Solace ahead of record release party

Photo by Amanda Silberling
Photo by Amanda Silberling

Brian Walker, the songwriter behind indie/emo/punk band A Day Without Love, is a man who seems comfortable in his own skin. He speaks in modest tones that never once seems rehearsed or pretentious and he can discuss thoughtfully and honestly topics some would never dare breach with their closest friends — much less strangers requesting an interview.

But like any skill, and this is certainly a skill, it is not something that \Walker was born with but something that evolved from years of digging deep and not being afraid of what he might shovel up. His newest record Solace, out now and available for purchase here, is a study in how much one can grow by addressing things that are, by their very nature, difficult to tackle but worth it all the same. Continue reading →

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Purling Hiss’ Mike Polizze talks about the band’s career-culminating new album High Bias

Purling Hiss Photographed by Constance Mensh
Purling Hiss Photographed by Constance Mensh

The whir and steady crackle of coffee grinders hard at work fill Higher Grounds, a small trendy coffee shop in Northern Liberties. It is the kind of place that revels in its unique blend of styles. The flea market seating, the posters and paintings and art pieces whose only discernible style is a difficult to define panache. It has a confidence and intentionality that resists coming off as anything but genuine and patiently accumulated through years of collection. Sitting across from me towards the back of the shop is Mike Polizze, front man and songwriter for Purling Hiss, whose aesthetic, and brand new album High Bias due out October 14, feel equally as earned. Continue reading →

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Interview: Man Man frontman Honus Honus gives us the lowdown on his debut solo record Use Your Delusion

Photo via facebook.com/honushonusbandband
Honus Honus | photo courtesy of the artist

“It is an album about people with real and unrealized dreams. I know that sounds a little pompous but it is true.” From anyone else this may indeed sound pompous, but from Ryan Kattner – better known as Honus Honus of band Man Man – it could not be more intriguing.

Kattner never planned on making a solo record, but when Man Man took a break after their rocking 2013 outing On Oni Pond, he didn’t want to stop writing — so Use Your Delusion was born. It marks the first solo effort for Honus Honus – keeping the stage name established through Man Man – and it gives the dynamic frontman a chance to explore plenty of new opportunities and take some exciting creative chances, while still maintaining the eclectic nature that has made Man Man one of our favorites here at The Key.

While Man Man has released most of their work via indie-rock mainstay ANTI-, Honus Honus decided to take a more DIY approach to his first solo effort. I recently spoke with Kattner over the phone about, among other things, the choice to self-release, the wide variety of collaborators, the solo-record writing process and how he should have become a venture capitalist. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Wildhoney at PhilaMOCA and A Fistful of Sugar at World Cafe Live

Wildhoney | photo courtesy of the artist
Wildhoney | photo courtesy of the artist

Baltimore punk-rockers Wildhoney had a very good 2015, having released their first LP Sleep Through It before going out on a lengthy U.S. tour. Tonight the five-piece will return to the Philly area with a show at PhilaMOCA in support of Indiana’s Cloakroom; for tickets or more information click hereContinue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Maceo Parker at Ardmore Music Hall, Thief, Steal Me a Peach at Kung Fu Necktie, Xiu Xiu at First Unitarian Church and more

 

Maceo Parker | photo by Philip Ducap | courtesy of the artist
Maceo Parker | photo by Philip Ducap | courtesy of the artist

Maceo Parker is a one-of-a-kind performer, but that doesn’t mean that he isn’t willing to borrow from the best. Playing saxophone in bands with both George Clinton and James Brown provided a pretty solid basis for how to get a crowd going and Parker has used this experience, as well as his own long solo career, to put together one of the most energized and exciting live performances going. Parker will be at Ardmore Music Hall tonight alongside Philly-natives Rugby Road; click here for more info. Continue reading →

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Free At Noon Flashback: Bobby Long brings intimate power to World Cafe Live

 

Bobby Long | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Bobby Long | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Bobby Long is a singer-songwriter who does not forget where he came from, and that was on full display this afternoon at World Cafe Live. Whether it was his many quips about his birthplace in England or the credit he gave to XPN’s Dan Reed for playing his music before anyone else was giving it radio play, Long not only plays roots folk with the skill of a veteran but constantly remembers and acknowledges his own roots. Continue reading →

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Watch Andorra recap a successful year in the video for “Still Got Me”

 

Andorra | Photo by Matthew Trycieckyj | courtesy of the artist
Andorra | Photo by Matthew Trycieckyj | courtesy of the artist

Andorra had quite a run in 2015, and their new video for “Still Got Me” shows us just how much of a whirlwind it was for the burgeoning alt-rockers.

The Philly four-piece kicked off the year with a bang by releasing their debut LP Etc, Etc, Etc…  and have since gigged around Philly from Festival Pier to World Cafe Live. All of these important band events are captured in the “Year In Review” video, which you can check out below. The band also gives a glimpse into what goes on off stage, as the video intersperses shots of the guys simply hanging out, eating hot dogs, practicing in living rooms and getting ice cream from Mister Softee. Continue reading →

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Watch Square Peg Round Hole bring atmospheric rock to the Red Room Series

square peg round hole
Square Peg Round Hole | photo by Eric Tsurumoto | courtesy of the artist

Last spring we shared some awesome live videos of local bands like Mumblr and Former Belle that were part of Germantown-based studio Sleepless Sound’s Red Room Series. After a short hiatus, the folks at Sleepless Sound Studio are back and have released a ambient and awesome three-song set from Philly’s Square Peg Round Hole. Continue reading →