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Steve Gunn contributes to Our First 100 Days with track, “Shrunken Heads”

steve gunn
Steve Gunn | photo by Constance Mensh | courtesy of Matador Records

We’re almost at the 100th day Donald Trump’s presidency, but there are still a few artists making their voice heard before the Our First 100 Days project is complete. Rounding out the remaining contributions includes Lansdowne native, Steve Gunn, who is slotted as number ninety-one in the lineup for this Secretly Group-produced compilation. Continue reading →

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Find calming clarity in Tentative Plans’ sophomore EP debut, still

Tentative Plans | via tentativeplans.bandcamp.com

Local indie dream-pop duo, Tentative Plans, were brought together through the fateful forces of Craigslist to become a band and debut an EP last summer. Now, the angelic outfit, comprised of Cait Kellagher and Chris Caulder, have released their sophomore EP titled, still.

When I say that this EP is angelic, I’m not kidding or using that term lightly. Kellagher’s clear, bright vocals are so dang calming and ethereal, it’s unreal. Everything about this six track release is clean and precise, from the vocals to production quality, to the thoughtful and purposeful use of instrumentation. Continue reading →

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Watch Shannen Moser perform “Alex (282)” for Folkadelphia and The Key; preorder her vinyl reissue via Lame-O

Shannen Moser | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

After a few years making a name for herself in the Philly house show scene, singer-songwriter Shannen Moser released the very impressive Oh, My Heart tape this winter, and it was an arrival. Building on the promise of her low-fi 2015 debut, you shouldn’t be doing that, the LP showcased haunting, heartrending songs embracing Moser’s roots in folk and country music with stunning arrangements made in collaboration with guitarist Eric Muth.

Folk has always been in Moser’s blood; she grew up in Berks County, she remembers hearing her dad play Townes Van Zandt’s “Be Here In the Morning” in his truck, and to this day sacred harp singing is one of her favorite forms of music. She says it makes her feel most at peace, and Oh, My Heart opens with a 28-second sample of “I’m Going Home” from a Sacred Harp concert at UCLA’s Royce Hall.

This confluence of factors is certainly why I gravitated to it, and my enthusiasm was shared by the team at Folkadelphia radio. This winter, we teamed up for a collaboration between Folkadelphia and The Key Studio Sessions to record Moser and her band. Today, we’re excited to bring you a video from that session, as well as some news — Moser’s Oh, My Heart will receive a vinyl reissue via Lame-O Records this spring. Continue reading →

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Listen to Sad13’s cover of Carole King’s “It’s Too Late” for GRLMIC comp

Sad13 | Photo by Noah Silvestry for WXPN | silvestography.com

What happens when you take heckin good artists, have them cover other heckin good artists, and then donate the heckin good cover profits to worthy organizations? A beauty of a benefit comp. And new foundation, GRLMIC, has done just this through their recent Bandcamp release of GRLMIC Vol. 1.

Sad13‘s Sadie Dupuis opens the compilation with a cover of Carole King’s classic song, “It’s Too Late,” by throwing a glittery-pop, futuristic spin on the classic tune. Where Carole King’s keys and sultry, sweeping vocals take center stage, Sad13’s version emphasizes electro beats, swirls of sparkly synth, and warped guitar solos that perfectly encapsulate Sad13’s sugar-pop garage aesthetic. Continue reading →

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The Districts get weird upstairs at Fergies’ in “Ordinary Day” video from their new Popular Manipulations LP

The Districts | photo by Pooneh Ghana | via Noisey

We’ve had the latest single Lititz sons The Districts, “Ordinary Day,” in super heavy rotation over here at XPN HQ, and for a band that boasted a standout cut called “Bold” on their last album, 2015’s A Flourish and A Spoil, this jam lives up to that name.

Their trademark build-to-catharsis effect is more emphatic than ever, and lead vocalist Robby Grote is unabashed, not holding back at all in his delivery — he lets his mellifluous voice rip in a way we haven’t heard previously. All signs are indicating that their forthcoming third album Popular Manipulations is moving in step.
Continue reading →

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Items Tagged Philadelphia: The shearing of spring lawns and hissing of stray cats

Veev | via veev.bandcamp.com

Here at The Key, we spend a lot of time each week digging through every new release from Philadelphia that shows up on Bandcamp. At the end of each week, we present you with the most interesting, most unusual and overall best of the bunch: this is Items Tagged Philadelphia.

Greetings from a front porch in the Mt. Airy section of Northwest Philadelphia. This week’s edition of Items Tagged Philadelphia is the first that I’ve written out of doors, and it’s a lovely experience, I tell you what. I gave my matchbox-size front yard a long overdue cleaning prior to breaking out my laptop; a stray tabby from the neighborhood just skulked around the perimeter of the porch, giving me an uncertain but endearing death stare on the way to pillage the remnants of a cookout next door; there’s a cool breeze keeping things comfortable.

Yesterday was not as agreeable, climate-wise, much to the chagrin of the Record Store Day hopping set. I kept my outing focused on Main Street Music in Manayunk, where Philly son Ron Gallo played a rip-roaring Stooges-covering instore set to a packed room escaping from the rain. Ronny was great — his new record Heavy Meta smokes — and I picked up RSD singles from The Districts and Big Thief, in addition to a live double LP from The Roots dating back to 1992 that may or may not be an official release, and The Spinners’ 1975 album Pick of the Litter, recorded right here in Philly at Chinatown’s Sigma Sound, a historic site now being converted to luxury condos because capitalism can be so very evil. Continue reading →