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Good Spirits, Bad Spirits: PhilaMOCA channels the occult for Cinedelphia 666

Cinedelphia 666 flyer | via philamoca.org

Alfred Hitchcock famously said, “A glimpse into the world proves that horror is nothing other than reality.” This year’s Cinedelphia Film Festival aims to prove that quote true by focusing not just on horror movies but on the evil that exists in our day-to-day environment. The two week event, which officially starts tomorrow with a sold out screening of the Italian masterpiece Suspiria at the International House, is a mix of films and concerts all under the theme of “Spirituality, The Occult, and Outsider Art.”

This will be the sixth year of the festival. It is curated by Eric Bresler and mostly hosted at PhilaMOCA, which he runs. The programming includes a screening of 1970s psychedelic horror musical Phantom of the Paradise; The Allins, a new documentary about shock rock musician GG Allin, The Ranger, a horror movie about a deranged park ranger stalking a group of NYC punks who are hiding out in the woods following a brush with the law; and Zerzura, which is described in the program as, “The world’s first ethnographic acid western! A spiritual journey into the Sahara set to the sounds of improvised Tuareg-style guitar.”

There will also be two concerts during the festival: the first, on April 20th, is with Wax Trax! Records industrial legends My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult, performing their first two albums in their entirety. Opening that show will be 7th Victim, Rodney Anonymous from The Dead Milkmen. The next day is the Mausoleum Monster Hop all-ages dance with The Crimson Ghosts, an instrumental Misfits cover band, and The Primitive Finks.

We caught up with Bresler to discuss Cinedelphia and everything going on at PhilaMOCA for the next couple weeks. Continue reading →

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Philly bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma on risk-taking, Outsiders Improvised Festival, and the state of jazz in 2018

Jamaaladeen Tacuma
Jamaaladeen Tacuma | photo courtesy of the artist

While you should listen to jazz every day of the year, April is Jazz Appreciation Month and with it the City of Philadelphia’s Philly Celebrates Jazz, a spotlight on our deep and fascinating connection with the music and culture. This includes lectures, exhibitions, films, and of course live performances. It was all kicked off a week ago in City Hall with the presentation of the annual Benny Golson Award to acclaimed electric bassist and North Philly native Jamaaladeen Tacuma.

Tacuma’s storied career is intertwined with Philadelphia and the jazz scene here. The Thomas Edison High School graduate passed on a scholarship to Berklee School of Music to start playing with local organist Charles Earland and then go on an extended European tour with the great Ornette Coleman and his band Prime Time. This was in 1975, when Tacuma was just 19. He recorded with Prime Time and other Coleman bands for the following decade, cementing his tight relationship with the late saxophonist and his music. Continue reading →

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The Skeleton Key: Bottle rockets, Satanic Panic, Record Store Day and gigs from Screaming Females to Robyn Hitchcock

Screaming Females | photo by Farrah Skeiky | courtesy of artist
Screaming Females | photo by Farrah Skeiky | courtesy of artist

April Fool’s updates:

Swearin’ is back. HIRS is putting out an album with Shirley Manson from Garbage. Erik B. and Rakim are at the TLA. Oh, and Lou Barlow is playing a small show in a park on the Schuylkill in Southwest Philly. Did I mention that Sheer Mag is recording an album with Hall and Oates? Because that is totally happening.

Okay, so maybe one of those is a lie. I’ll let you figure it out on your own. But as usual in this great city of ours, there’s so much awesome stuff happening that even the absurd seems plausible. I mean, the Eagles won the Super Bowl! Anything can happen. Continue reading →

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Sewing, Screen Printing and Visual Style: The side hustles of Screaming Females

Screaming Females | photo by Grace Winter | courtesy of the artist
Screaming Females | photo by Grace Winter | courtesy of the artist

Local sweethearts and rockers extraordinaire Screaming Females released their seventh album All At Once on Don Giovanni Records last weekend. If you haven’t given it a spin yet, you really should. The double LP – 15 tracks on one record and demos and an AV Club session on the other – is both impressive in scope and incredibly hard hitting and catchy. So catchy. This is nothing out of the ordinary for the long-standing band, which started in New Brunswick back in 2005, but it’s still very exciting.

That’s actually a bit of a lie: this album is so good and so sonically expansive that it very much is rather extraordinary and to claim otherwise wouldn’t be fair to anyone. Just listen to that first track, “Glass House”, and revel in Marissa Paternoster’s heady guitar licks and her soaring vocals that reach out and match the music in intensity. Continue reading →

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The Skeleton Key: A Blizzard of gigs for March including Creten lutes, London postpunks, and a Bugg

Palm | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Palm performs at the First Unitarian Church on March 26th | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

You heard that story about Barbara Streisand getting her dog cloned, twice? I’ve been thinking about getting the same thing done to myself, just so I maybe can go to all the awesome shows happening this month. Unfortunately I went to school for journalism and not biomedical engineering so instead of having a mad scientist lair full of half-baked clones walking into walls while screaming, “I can’t wait for Superchunk and Swearin’ next month!” … I’m writing this column saying the same.

Welcome to the March edition of the Skeleton Key, your friendly neighborhood gossip column. As I sit here working on this, the weather report is calling for nonstop rain and possibly even snow for the next 24 hours. But just because it’s gross out doesn’t mean you should stay inside! It doesn’t keep bands home and so it shouldn’t keep you home. So bundle up and get to the gig. Continue reading →

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HIRS lines up a hit parade of guests, from Shirley Manson to Laura Jane Grace and Marissa Paternoster, for new LP

HIRS’ Friends. Lovers. Favorites. LP cover art | via SRA Records

The only thing more exciting than the mere existence of a new LP by the always brilliant Philadelphia punks HIRS is the veritable who’s who of feminist and queer icons lending their voices to Friends. Lovers. Favorites.

They include Laura Jane Grace (Against Me!), Shirley Manson (Garbage), Sadie Switchblade (G.L.O.S.S.), Martin Crudo (Limp Wrist), Alice Bag (The Bags), and Marissa Paternoster (Screaming Females), along with many more. The album will be released April 20th jointly by Get Better Records and SRA Records, and pre-orders are available here. Continue reading →

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The Guests link Popular Music and populist politics on their new LP

The Guests | photo by Kevin Spaghetti | courtesy of the artist
The Guests | photo by Kevin Spaghetti | courtesy of the artist

It would be easy to ignore the message on Popular Music, the new album by Philadelphia new wave act The Guests, because the songs are just so damn pleasant. The band knows this. That’s why they’ve put their politics front and center, making it all almost impossible to ignore. You can hear this in their lyrics, with songs like, “Kicked and Punched, Rounded Up, and Stunned” and “Watching the War” driving home the band’s anti-capitalist, populist platform.

Despite having formed in late 2014, this is The Guests’ first full length release, following two cassettes and a European-pressed record collecting the songs from the tapes. According to guitarist Alki Meimaris, the band, made up of him, Florence Lin on synth, lead singer Christian Vogan, Kyle Seely on drums, and his brother Hart on bass, has always kept the same intentional approach to making music: “The purpose of the band is to make the idea of radical left politics more approachable as a solution to global issues of poverty and inequality, to whoever listens.” Continue reading →

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The Skeleton Key: Moor Mother exhibition, Bowerbird series, Two Piece Fest XI, and more new music than you can shake a greased pole at.

Slutever plays Two Piece Fest in 2013 | Photo by Kate McCann | katemccannphotography.com

While the post-Superbowl riot might be the DIY event of the season, there’s a lot more going on this month than just a bunch of greased poles on Broad Street

Hi! Welcome to the second edition of The Skeleton Key, your friendly neighborhood gossip column just fighting the good fight against mediocrity and boredom. While we might (still) be in the middle of winter, warm weather –  and with it, touring season –  is on the horizon. I promise!

There was no better reminder of that than the recent announcement by R5 that Lighting Bolt and Moor Mother would be playing the First Unitarian Church at the end of March. While Lighting Bolt could sell out the Church all on their own, the fact that the good people at R5 are having Moor Mother open makes for a truly amazing and electric night. Which is to say: I really hope you got tickets because it sold out almost immediately. Continue reading →

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Powerful, Poignant, Fun: Open City celebrates City of Ash this weekend

Open City | photo by Scott Troyan | courtesy of Get Better Records
Open City | photo by Scott Troyan | scotttroyan.com | courtesy of Get Better Records

How much can you pack into just two songs? If you’re Open City, the answer is a ton. The hardcore quartet’s new 7” record City of Ash is seven minutes of incredibly powerful, poignant, and fun music. You might not consider ‘fun’ as being an important quality when it comes to purposely political art, but nobody wants to listen to something that is dull, even if it does share their ideals. Think of it as a ‘the medium is the message’ sort of thing. City of Ash is anything but dull. Continue reading →

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How Philly’s Perry Shall went from basement show punk to in-house artist for Dan Auerbach

Perry Shall
Perry Shall | photo by Alyssa Tanchajja | courtesy of the artist

You might not know Perry Shall by name, but if you’re a music fan in Philadelphia, you’ve almost certainly heard the longhaired rocker in one of his many bands or seen his art gracing the albums and t-shirts of some of your favorite acts. You might have even heard him on WFMU’s The Best Show – he has the show’s slogan WE GET IT / THEY DON’T tattooed on his wrists – or seen the wildly popular SuperDeluxe video about his immense vintage t-shirt collection, 1400 and counting.

He is the very definition of a man about town, though these days that town isn’t just Philly: Shall has been doing much of the art and design work for Nashville-based label Easy Eye Sound, run by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys. Don’t worry, he’s not leaving us for the Music City. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who loves this city as much as Perry does and I suspect he’ll never live anywhere else. Continue reading →