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AllegrA will celebrate their new EP yet, not enough with a World Cafe Live show and spring tour

AllegrA | photo by CJ Simavi | courtesy of the artist

Our cold Philly winter just got a little brighter thanks to new music from local scene favorite AllegrA. Singer-songwriter Allegra Eidinger just announced that their new EP yet, not enough will be out March 12 via Citrus City Records, and its lead single “Spoon Or Fork” is out now. AllegrA will be touring as a four-piece band this spring, with a record release show with Beach Bod and Boosegumps upstairs at World Cafe Live on March 23. Continue reading →

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Chronic Anxiety takes down 9-to-5 power dynamics in “Cat Piss Wars”

Chronic Anxiety | photo by Quinton Maldonado

After releasing their debut LP last year, noise rock trio Chronic Anxiety are back with a split with scenemates Dialer. We recently heard a single from Dialer off the new release, which’ll be out March 8 on Bunny Cat Records and SRA Records, and now Chronic Anxiety has shared the first of their five tracks on the split, “Cat Piss Wars.” Continue reading →

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The Essential Love Songs of Philadelphia: “Lucy Stone” by Katie Ellen

katie ellen
Katie Ellen | photo courtesy of the artist

Every day leading up to Valentine’s Day this year, The Key is recapping 14 songs that scream “love” just as strongly as they scream “Philly.” The Essential Love Songs of Philadelphia continues with “Lucy Stone” from Katie Ellen’s 2017 album Cowgirl Blues.

Though she was born 200 years ago, it’s still possible to find heaps of inspiration in a historical figure like Lucy Stone. The 19th century activist was among the early feminists, fighting first for the abolition of slavery and later for women’s rights and suffrage. She was also one of the first high-profile women to keep her last name when she married — a bold move in 1855. In Lucy Stone’s story, Katie Ellen found the name for a song, and it’s the modern day feminist anthem we didn’t know we needed.

With “Lucy Stone,” songwriter Anika Pyle digs into the sexist social expectations that have stuck around even as times have changed. Even with a society that’s moved further toward equality, there’s a gray area when it comes to personal relationships — plenty of people are happy to conform to patriarchal social norms without question, but what are the folks who view marriage as a “social economic prison” to do? As Katie Ellen reveals, traditional parameters are not so easily shed. Continue reading →

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Charly Bliss’ heist adventure in the Michelle Zauner-directed “Capacity” video is a cautionary tale about being a people-pleaser

Charly Bliss | still from video

In between releases with her Japanese Breakfast project, the multi-talented Michelle Zauner has become indie music’s most sought-after video director. Zauner first made the leap behind the camera to direct some of her own music videos, and she’s since branched out into creating visuals for other artists — and now she’s back with a new one for “Capacity” by power-pop faves Charly Bliss.

“Capacity” is the lead single off the Brooklyn band’s just-announced new album Young Enough, which will be out May 10. The 70s-styled video follows the aftermath of a not-so-well-thought-out bank heist, of which Charly Bliss frontwoman Eva Hendricks finds herself an unwilling participant who reaps the benefits nonetheless. While Hendricks tosses hundred dollar bills like confetti, Zauner makes a cameo as a wacky news broadcaster named Shelly Breakfast. Continue reading →

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Lizzo takes “Juice” to late night with Tonight Show performance

Lizzo | still from video

Remember when Lizzo released her single “Juice” with a video that shows the singer/rapper as a guest on a talk  showwhile she sings “I’m out here makin’ news”? Turns out that wasn’t too far from the truth. Just a week after announcing her forthcoming album Cuz I Love You, Lizzo has already performed the hit single on both daytime and late night TV. Continue reading →

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Kurt Vile is characteristically laid back in his first solo Tiny Desk Concert

Kurt Vile | photo by Cameron Pollack for NPR

Kurt Vile‘s familiar chilled-out tunes sound great in any setting, but his laid back vibe makes him an outlier at NPR’s Tiny Desk, where most artists experience some degree of nervousness. Vile recently visited NPR headquarters to record his first solo Tiny Desk Concert; he previously appeared behind the desk with Courtney Barnett while promoting their 2017 Lotta Sea Lice collaboration. Continue reading →

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Travis Scott shuts out the noise of the outside world in “Can’t Say” video

Travis Scott | still from video

I’ve never ridden a motorcycle myself, but I’ve been around enough of them to know one thing for certain: they’re loud. A dozen-strong clique on motorcycles? Crazy loud.

So that speaks to the transformative nature of Travis Scott and his music — a large portion of his new video for “Can’t Stay” from last year’s Astroworld follows the lauded Houston rapper bathed in the dreamlike purple glow of the deep late night hours as he leads a group of stunt riders through empty streets and plumes of smoke. Continue reading →

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Watch Mark Lanky’s retro rooftop video for “Slowly Fading Away,” see him at his February Ortlieb’s residency

Mark Lanky | still from video

If the name Mark Lanky sparks any kind of association for you, dear Key-reading Philadelphia music scenester, it is probably with the historic North 3rd Street music venue Ortlieb’s, formerly a jazz house, now a home for indie artists of all sorts. Lanky seems to always pop up as an opener on its various bills — and if he’s not opening, he might be checking your ID and taking your cash at the door.

This month, Lanky is wholly embracing his home-away-from-home with a Thursday night residency at Ortlieb’s, beginning tomorrow. All of it circles around the release of Another Night, the album Lanky recorded with Jamie Mahon and Mike Kiker of fellow Northern Liberties stalwarts St. James and the Apostles, at their Green Rock Studio.

To tease the album release, Lanky this week released a stylishly retro video for “Slowly Fading Away,” shot in the autumnal twilight on a NoLibs rooftop by Kurt Fowles and Sirius Cinema. As a suit-clad Lanky sings a 50s-style croon into a vintage ribbon mic and strums an acoustic guitar, the sun dips gradually below the western skyline. (Unless I have my geography all mixed up, in which case it was actually shot in the breathtaking pre-dawn as the sun slowly ascends from the east…but I’m pretty sure we’re looking west.)  Continue reading →

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The Essential Love Songs of Philadelphia: “Easier to Love” by Kississippi

Kississippi | photo by Megan Thompson | courtesy of the artist

Every day leading up to Valentine’s Day this year, The Key is recapping 14 songs that scream “love” just as strongly as they scream “Philly.” The Essential Love Songs of Philadelphia continues with “Easier to Love” from Kississippi’s 2018 album Sunset Blush.

Kississippi cycles through almost countless emotions over the course of the stark and vulnerable “Easier to Love.” Coated in a synthy sheen, the song takes a careful look emotionally draining aspects of a not-quite-right relationship as the narrator reflects on what happens when you change yourself to make things easier for someone else, and how trying to “exist better for two” can make you forget who you are. Continue reading →

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The Essential Love Songs of Philadelphia: “Naima” by John Coltrane

John Coltrane on the cover of Giant Steps | photo by Lee Friedlander

Every day leading up to Valentine’s Day this year, The Key is recapping 14 songs that scream “love” just as strongly as they scream “Philly.” The Essential Love Songs of Philadelphia continues with “Naima” from John Coltrane’s 1960 album Giant Steps.

Music comes in when words fail, and nobody knew that better than John Coltrane. The iconic saxophonist burned bright across a turbulent life where he struggled with addiction, relationships, spirituality, and the tension between artistic vision and the cold demands of a capitalistic society — all topics that leave those ensnared speechless. Fittingly, two of his most enduring works unpack the complexities of love to the sound of saxophones melodies sweet, somber, and spectral.

John Scheinfeld’s 2016 documentary Chasing Trane places the musician’s creative and personal zenith at the January, 1965 release of A Love Supreme, a euphoric, exaltational song cycle about Coltrane’s relationship with God and, by extension, the spiritual life of humankind writ large. At the point of its recording and release (which happened, amazingly, within one month of one another), Coltrane had been living sober and wholly dedicated to his music for eight years, and was wrapped up in a love affair with his pianist Alice McLeod, who would later become his second wife.

By contrast, the song “Naima” from his 1960 Atlantic Records debut Giant Steps — arguably Coltrane’s first great love song — captures a much more difficult time in his life and the love that emanated from it; a sort of love that’s sad, delicate, fraught with trouble, but no less profound. Continue reading →