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The Key Studio Sessions: Left and Right

Power pop punks Left and Right got their start in Charlottesville, Virginia a few years back, then moved to Philly and set up shop locally with a few cassette releases. We premiered their single “Low Expectations” back in August, and it immediately struck a chord with a sound spanning Weezer, Archers of Loaf and Mudhoney. Since then the band has alternated between short tour runs and stints working at coffee shops back home and playing DIY-minded spots like The Pharmacy in South Philly. Continue reading →

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Watch South Jersey’s Ju-Taun cover London Grammar’s “Strong”

Ju-Taun | Photo by Stan Golden | Via Facebook.com/jutaun
Ju-Taun | Photo by Stan Golden | Via Facebook.com/jutaun

South Jersey “band of brothers” Ju-Taun rocked SXSW in Austin last week, and their latest offering is a cover of London Grammar’s “Strong.”

British electro-pop trio London Grammar wowed Philly back in January at the Electric Factory, which marked their third time joining us in the past two years, so you may be well-acquainted with their sound.

Ju-Taun’s take on “Strong” is as ethereal as London Grammar’s, with just enough members to harmonize and bring a bluesy/folksy ambiance to the track. Continue reading →

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Hop Along makes a powerful statement with “Powerful Man”

Hop Along in the studio | photo by Jonathan Minto
Hop Along in the studio | photo by Jonathan Minto

Last week Hop Along premiered “Waitress,” the first single from their upcoming album Painted Shut, and it was an immediate favorite within the Philly scene and beyond. With open arms and honest lyricism comes the second single from Painted Shut, that delves into some darker subject matter.

In “Powerful Man,” singer / guitarist Frances Quinlan relates the personal struggle of witnessing a child being abused by his father and freezing up in the moment to take a stand. ”He said ‘she’s not gonna help you,’” Quinlan sings on the refrain. Continue reading →

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Listen to Courtney Barnett’s set at the Public Radio Rocks SXSW showcase, watch “Dead Fox”

Courtney Barnett | Photo by John Vettese
Courtney Barnett | Photo by John Vettese

It was her eighth and final set of a whirlwind SXSW, but Courtney Barnett showed no signs of exhaustion. When she and her band took the stage at the Public Radio Rocks showcase, it was the same loud and lively power trio we saw at the NPR Music Showcase on opening night.

The seven-song set played to a packed Convention Center ballroom was split between Barnett’s acclaimed Sea of Split Peas double EP (which came out in 2013), and the forthcoming Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit (out Tuesday on Mom + Pop). Standouts were “Avant Gardener,” “History Eraser,” “Pedestrian at Best” and “Dead Foxes,” which you can watch a video of below. Continue reading →

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Listen to Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear’s set at the Public Radio Rocks SXSW showcase, watch “Daisy Jane”

Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear | Photo by John Vettese
Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear | Photo by John Vettese

Easily the biggest surprise of the Public Radio Rocks showcase at SXSW was Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear. The mother-son duo based in Kansas City writes acoustic folk songs with a classic sound, infused with touches of blues and gospel. Their voices blend effortlessly, and their warmth is clear and genuine.

The Wards opened with “Silent Movies,” the first single from their new LP Skeleton Crew, due out later this year via Glassnote Records, and played a punchy five-song set. Though many watching the showcase had not heard of them before, they left converted fans. Continue reading →

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Listen to Best Coast’s set at the Public Radio Rocks SXSW showcase, watch “California Nights”

Best Coast | Photo by John Vettese
Best Coast | Photo by John Vettese

As long as Best Coast is made up of songwriting duo Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno, you can be certain that they’ll be kicking out sunshiney pop nuggets like “When I’m With You” and “The Only Place.” The Best Coast that took the stage at the Public Radio Rocks SXSW showcase on Friday took it to another level, filling out the band to a six-piece and filling out the sound with robust arrangements of keyboards and guitar. Continue reading →

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Listen to Ryan Bingham’s set at the Public Radio Rocks SXSW showcase, watch “Radio”

Ryan Bingham | Photo by John Vettese
Ryan Bingham | Photo by John Vettese

Ryan Bingham is one of the rare singers whose can make his voice approximate Dylan – that’s new Dylan, not classic Dylan – and completely pull it off. If that sounds like an insult, it’s not: Bingham has a compelling, rough-round-the-edges delivery of classic country melodies, bolstered by his ace live band.

At the Public Radio Rocks SXSW showcase, the Los Angeles-based Bingham showcased a selection of songs from his acclaimed 2015 record Fear and Saturday Night, released in January on his own Axster Bingham Records. Continue reading →