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Mixtape Master: Get to know Philly’s F. Woods before he opens for Dead Milkmen at Laurel Hill

F. Woods | photo courtesy of the artist
F. Woods | photo courtesy of the artist

Make sure you arrive early to the sold-out Dead Milkmen show at Laurel Hill Cemetery this Friday night, because you’ll see a mixtape master at work. F. Woods is known around the Philly scene for being a founding member of Mercury Radio Theater, the zany and subversive troupe informed by eastern European folk sounds and early 20th century radio plays.

Woods also played in Farquar Muckenfuss, a comical and surf-rooted band that made the rounds in in the late 90s Philly punk scene.

As Woods said when I caught up with him by phone earlier this month, it’s pretty simple – he likes a lot of music, and he wants to play it all. His first-ever solo album, Found On Road Dead, came out via Bandcamp last November, and it’s a varied and eclectic set. There’s a bit of surf, a bit of math rock complexity, some tunes reminiscent of the airy pop production of the pre-rock-and-roll 40s and 50s.

It’s basically a collection of stuff that together feels very unified, even though the songs are individually distinct. In that sense, it reminds me a lot of a Tarantino soundtrack, or a really good compilation. Below, read my interview with Woods about his musical origins and outlook. Continue reading →

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Interview: Bleeding out with Jenny Hval

Jenny Hval | photo by Jenny Berger Myhre | courtesy of the artist
Jenny Hval | photo by Jenny Berger Myhre | courtesy of the artist

Jenny Hval is smart as hell. The kind of smart that makes you want to know everything she knows about art and life. Over her recent run of records, she’s explored issues of gender politics and sexuality in a manner that’s as playful as it is provocative. Her latest and maybe greatest effort, Blood Bitch, continues to investigate both through what is arguably one of their most primal and oddly taboo sources: menstrual blood. While some might be unfortunately quick to turn away from such subject matter, Hval expands on it to explore ideas of identity and eternity, all in the form of some of her more accessible yet challenging songs yet. See? Smart.

She’ll be showing off those smarts live at PhilaMOCA this week. I had the privilege of chatting her up beforehand, discussing her influences for the record, getting awesome film and book recommendations, and reflecting on how she brings her ideas to life on stage. Continue reading →

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King Britt announces Sylk 130 greatest hits LP, plays Johnny Brenda’s this week

king britt
King Britt | Photo by John Vettese

After putting together a 20th year reunion show at The TLA earlier this month, King Britt has announced the release of a Sylk 130 greatest hits album called What Happened Was…The LP is a collection of unreleased recordings of songs from the Sylk 130 catalog, featuring the legendary Philadelphia musician / DJ / producer’s many collaborators like Ursula Rucker and the late Grover Washington Jr.

Continue reading →

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The Key Presents: Pinegrove

Pinegrove| photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com
Pinegrove | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

“I’m a happy guy that makes sad music,” jokes Evan Stephens Hall with a smile. Spending time with someone as effervescent as Hall in person, you might never even realize the fact that the songs he writes for Pinegrove bring together packed rooms of yelling, sometimes tearful people. But over the past year, Pinegrove catapulted from their hometown of Montclair, NJ to the big time — signing to Run For Cover Records, selling out almost every date of a massive summer tour of the US and appearing at festivals like Lollapalooza. The reception speaks volumes to the relatability and maturity that Evan brings to the project. These aren’t just sad songs for sad people, or an attempt to jump on the “emo revival” bandwagon. These songs are holistically approached pieces of work, that touch on every emotion under the sun — good and bad. 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: Brooklyn indie darlings LVL UP on making their most fully realized album, Return to Love

LVL UP | photo by Shawn Brackbill
LVL UP | photo by Shawn Brackbill

I’ll refrain from making the obvious joke here, and just say this: LVL UP‘s new album Return to Love sounds massive.

After five years and a couple of releases circling the grittier home-recorded periphery of the indie rock universe, the band goes full in on it’s third long player, released today on Sub Pop Records. Fuzzed out punk gives way to pristine pop, and you’ll hear hints of Neutral Milk Hotel and Pavement as much as you will Nada Surf and Fountains of Wayne. In short, it’s their most fully realized album on the sonic front, and talking to singer-guitarists Mike Caridi and Dave Benton, the guys are remarkably level-headed (ugggggggh, #dadjokes) and earnest about their craft.

I caught up with them via phone from Benton’s apartment in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn. It was a hot August day and the band was laying low; they didn’t have anything on the calendar until a music video shoot the following week and a gig at Hopscotch fest in early September. Below, read our conversation about recording, running a label, and how their band and business lives intersect. Continue reading →