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Psychic Teens rage for tweens in the “Everything” video

Psychic Teens | photo by Danielle DeCarolis

I don’t know about you, but I wish my birthday parties as a kid had been this awesome. Badass live band, fog machines, Rodney Anonymous of The Dead Milkmen serving cake to me and my gothed-up sugared-up friends.

The video for “Everything” from Psychic Teens‘ new LP Nerve depicts the coolest kids’ party ever (at least in a punk rock kind of way) – and in order to do that, the band basically threw the coolest kids’ party ever, inviting their longtime friends who’d reached child-rearing age to bring their families to PhilaMOCA for an afternoon shoot.  Continue reading →

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UNLOCKED: Go back to school with Thin Lips in “I Wonder”

Thin Lips
Thin Lips | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN

So we’ve talked a bunch these past couple days about Philly four-piece Thin Lips, and the serious undertones of their seriously catchy punk rock. The way they find release from personal struggles in loud riffs and fast drums.

But there’s another way the band finds release: by making sure fun is a conscious a part of their personas. We certainly saw that in the video for “Never Again,” where the band plays itself, a rival band and various audience members in attendance at a musical face-off at Kung Fu Necktie. Chrissy Tashjian told Noisey that it was “our homosexual Blink 182 video” and that about sums up the goofy party vibe they chose to visualize their hard luck anthem.

Today, there’s a new video for another Thin Lips song. And yes, it’s also got a total party atmosphere. Continue reading →

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Lunacy channels the best of spectral 80s industrial on “Crypt Ring”

Lunacy | photo courtesy of the artist
Lunacy | photo courtesy of the artist

Digging deep into the unearthly tones and nervy vibes of Cocteau Twins and Dead Can Dance, of Cranes and Bauhaus, is the new Philly project Lunacy. It’s a solo outing by Nick Kulp from Far-Out Fangtooth and Creepoid, and it releases its debut five-song EP on Brooklyn cassette label Time Castle Tapes this Friday, May 20th.

With the release looming, Lunacy released a new music video for the song “Crypt Ring,” directed by Vince Alvare, Kulp’s longtime bandmate from Fangtooth. With layers of psychedelic colors and abstract projections co-mingling, it looks like something that might have been heavily circulated on homemade VHS comps picked up at South Street goth haven Digital Underground circa 1996. It looks like it would have shown in a Berlin art gallery circa 1990. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: The Snails

It’s like that Bob Marley song goes: roots, rock, reggae.

Central Pennsylvania rooted Philly rockers The Snails got their start playing reggae as high schoolers, but quickly expanded their sonic palette. A big influence, undeniably, was punk rock and The Clash, who dipped their feet in all manner of sonic waters in a decade-long career. But also The Specials, Bob Dylan…even the gruff soul of Dr. Dog, who you can hear undeniable traces of on “Sedated,” which opens The Snails’ Key Studio Session.

At the front of the band is songwriter-guitarist Todd Fausnacht, whose timeless vocals bounce and cavort across tracks that move energetically from one to the next. The swaying breeze of “Liberty Street Lights” glides directly into the swaggering garage rock dance of “Press Play,” into the confrontational anthem of “Basement,” an ode to authenticity and artistic integrity.  Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
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UNLOCKED: The Key’s review of Riff Hard by Thin Lips

Thin Lips' Riff Hard
Thin Lips’ Riff Hard | courtesy of the artist

In the third act of Riff Hard, the fierce new long-player from Philly punk four-piece Thin Lips, frontwoman Chrissy Tashjian crafts a particularly striking image.

“Smoking out my window,” she sings. “Learning to let go.” Eight words, eleven syllables, five seconds. Yet so perfect. The song is “I Wonder,” a sprinting rager with twinkling hammer-on guitar leads and a chrunching, crushing rhythm. It’s invigorating in sound, boasting serious flail-around-the-room / go-for-a-hard-run / bike-from-West-Philly-to-Fishtown-in-the-rain kind of energy. But more affecting is the lyrical content, where Tashjian opens herself up as vulnerably as possible.

What is she learning to go of? A friend, a lover, a companion. Or more to the point, a connection in her life that she desires but knows is not working. “I still want you / but I don’t want to.” She sings. She knows that the person on the other end deserves something she’s unable to provide. It’s the moment of that tragic realization that something you dearly want is not something you’re able to have.

With any kind of tragedy, as we discussed in our introduction to Thin Lips’ new record, there are two ways of responding. You can huddle down, go inward, wallow in self-pity – an approach that, with the above situation, might result in a song like “Something I Can Never Have.” Or you boldly challenge the setback and circumstance through joyous melodies, through top-of-your-lungs shoutalongs with your friends. You make fast and loud and upbeat noise with your instruments. You riff hard.
Continue reading →

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Stream Little Strike’s enchanting new single “Come Out Alright”

little strike
Little Strike | photo courtesy of the artist

Little Strike doesn’t have a lot of recorded music online. Aside from 2014’s debut Forever Always Leaving EP, it’s just a Supergrass cover and a single released last year. That’s probably due to the fact that Tamar Dart is often on the road, gathering inspiration and playing shows, which makes the release of “Come Out Alright” pretty special.

Continue reading →

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Japanese Breakfast flips the script on pain in the new “In Heaven” video

Japanese Breakfast
Japanese Breakfast | photo by Morgan Smith | phobymo.com | courtesy of the artist

With the release of Psychopomp this spring, songwriter / guitarist / singer Michelle Zauner of Japanese Breakfast has received a heaping of well-deserved critical acclaim. Which is no surprise; we’ve been fans since she lived in Philly and fronted the badass rock four-piece Little Big League. This record, though, is truly some next-level stuff.

Majestic, impeccably orchestrated songs with a stunning emotional center channeling Zauner’s grief in the wake of her mother’s passing…and incredibly catchy, uplifting pop songs at that. There’s a hazy, dream-like lacquer to them, but the music itself trades in the inspiring melodies Zauner has honed over a decade and change of songwriting. Continue reading →

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UNLOCKED: Thin Lips wax poetic about compassion on “No Obituary”

Thin Lips
Thin Lips | photo courtesy of the artist

“What defines you as a person,” muses Chris Diehm, “is how you deal with tragedy.”

It’s a rainy Monday evening and the guitarist of Philly punk four-piece Thin Lips has been getting deepy contemplative with his bandmates over beers as we gather in a side studio at Big Mama’s Warehouse. The room has a markedly different vibe from the rest of the long-standing Fishtown arts community – instead of expansive floor-to-ceiling bright pageantry and reckless, paint-spattered abandon, this space is all about toned-down, quiet focus. Which carried over to our conversation.

Diehm, along with bassist Kyle Pulley, drummer Mikey Tashjian and singer-guitarist-songwriter Chrissy Tashjian, just wrapped up a long run of production on Riff Hard – Thin Lips’ debut LP, out this week on Lame-O Records. Recorded by Pulley at Headroom Studios, it’s a total blast: amplified, high-octane punk rock guitar jammers that are complex, catchy, fun — and most importantly, cathartic. Continue reading →

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In the dungeon, Homeboy Sandman’s “God” is as dope as ever

Homeboy Sandman | Photo by Gavin Thomas via Stones Throw
Homeboy Sandman | Photo by Gavin Thomas via Stones Throw

Dungeon is a dark word, but that’s the name Stones Throw Records gave their studio sessions series. Homeboy Sandman, the Queens-based rapper with ties to Philly (he went to school here), is signed to the venerable hip-hop label, and with his new record out now and a tour on the way, he filmed a Dungeon Session version of his song “God,” which you can watch below. Continue reading →