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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 →

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Philly’s Dear Friend will celebrate their new album at Ortlieb’s on Saturday

Dear Friend | via Bandcamp

Saturday night in Northern Liberties, Philly indie four-piece Dear Friend celebrates its album release at Ortlieb’s. The self-titled album is the band’s first record since 2014, and in the time since, the band has been an active part of the Philly music scene, playing gigs at Philly venues like Boot and Saddle, MilkBoy and Bourbon and Branch. Music from the new album hasn’t made its way online yet, but in the meantime, check out the audio from the band’s 2014 release (also self-titled). Saturday’s show is 21+, tickets start at $10 and can be found here. Continue reading →

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Late Rock & Roll Legend Bill Graham to be Honored in an Exhibit at Philly’s Museum of Jewish History

Bill Graham | Courtesy of the National Museum of Jewish American History

Calling all Rock ‘n’ Roll enthusiasts, historians, museum hoppers of Philadelphia, and more. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, most everybody will be able to identify with the traveling exhibit, organized by the Los Angeles based Skirball Cultural Center, that is currently being hosted by The National Museum of American Jewish History.

Bill Graham and the Rock & Roll Revolution, which opened in Philadelphia on September 15, is an exhibit devoted to honoring the life and career of legendary concert promoter, the late Bill Graham. NMAJH is one of three venues who are hosting this retrospective of Graham’s life which is scheduled to remain in Philly through January 16, 2017. Graham played key roles in the careers of Rock legends like the Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Santana, Fleetwood Mac, the Who, the Doors, and the Rolling stones just to name a few. Continue reading →

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Get a glimpse of Vita and the Woolf’s tour life in this photo diary

vita and the woolf
Jennifer Pague of Vita and the Woolf | photo by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordophotography.com

Getting out of town, even if it’s still technically for work, can be good for the creative process. Earlier this month local electro-pop outfit Vita and the Woolf took a weeklong break from putting the finishing touches on their forthcoming Tunnels LP, hitting the road for the second time this summer. Joining Jennifer Pague & co was photographer and Key contributor Rachel Del Sordo, who just posted a great photo tour diary on her website.

Continue reading →

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Camp Candle: Instinctive electropop for the people

Camp Candle | Photo by Joe Del Tufo | courtesy of the artist
Camp Candle | Photo by Joe Del Tufo | courtesy of the artist

“And I feel it….I’m still shaking…..The weapons are drawn against me…I can’t take it.”

“Weapons,” the opening track from Philly-based Electro­Pop duo Camp Candle’s debut ERE, delivers these words on top of a bed of sweet, dreamy synth chords. Heavy programmed beats, handclaps and tambourine bring the song into the realm of traditional black sacred music, a 21st century gospel spiritual of survival and self­-awareness.

Dynamically shifting between loud and quiet sections, the brief, two-minute piece alternately flirts with light and darkness, capturing tense and fearful but resolute spirit of the day. Singer / guitarist Hetepsa describes the song as the hymn of a heart and mind heavy with disappointing revelations about our world. “’Weapons’ represents an awakening to the lies we are surrounded by and fed. The song sounds so happy because although the truth can be hard, it’s still beautiful to be in the know,” Hetespa says. Continue reading →

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In Conversation with Garbage’s Butch Vig

Garbage
Garbage | photo courtesy of the artist

Garbage have had a lot of ups and downs over their twenty-plus years together. Through it all, however, they’ve consistently managed to produce pristine, propulsive pop-rock hybrids that sounds as thrilling and just ahead of the curve now as they did on their self-titled introduction to the world back in 1995.

Their current album, Strange Little Birds, is already being heralded in many circles as their best album since then, and not without good reason. Over its eleven tracks, the band’s signature sound stretches and sprawls with a playfulness and precision they haven’t shown in over a decade. We’ll get to see how it stretches out live too when they play The Fillmore this Saturday night.

Alas, drummer and co-founder Butch Vig will not be in attendance. Grounded from flight on doctor’s orders after a bout of sinusitis, this freed him up for a chat about the new album, how the band fits into the musical landscape of today, and what’s kept them band together all of these years… Continue reading →

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XPN Fest Preview: Meet Rosemary FiKi, the force of nature kicking off the show on Friday

Rosemary FiKi
Rosemary FiKi | photo by John Vettese

Need a compelling argument to get to XPNFest early this year? Two words: Rosemary Fiki.

The Philadelphia singer / songwriter / rock and roller / entertainer caught our ear this past year based on an eclectic assortment of streaming songs on her Soundcloud page. One moment, it was a vibrant nightclub bump with soaring diva vocals, another moment there was an acoustic guitar strumming and FiKi’s plaintive vocals doing a sensitive Feist / Laura Nyro kind of thing.

These days, she’s straddling both of those worlds; as we saw when FiKi recorded a Key Studio Session last fall, she’s currently backed by a high-energy three-piece band, freeing her to dance at the mic, shake her tambourine and work the crowd with relentless energy. That’s on prominent display in the fired-up “Come To Me,” which you can watch a video of below, and the endlessly catchy “Ooh” — but FiKi and the band also delve into a more nuanced side of things with ballads like “The Great Unknown,” and the groovy askew rhythms of “Pro.” Chatting with her over email, it sounds like her music is about to explore another direction still after XPoNential.

For now, read on below to get to know Rosemary FiKi — and make sure you arrive at Wiggins Park tomorrow in plenty of time to catch her 4 p.m. set. Continue reading →

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XPN Fest Preview: Veteran sidewoman Eliza Hardy Jones takes center stage

Eliza Hardy Jones
Eliza Hardy Jones | Photo by Ryan Collerd | ryancollerd.com | courtesy of the artist

Eliza Hardy Jones is a seasoned side-woman. She plays keys and sings in the Grace Potter band, Strand Of Oaks and Nightlands, she’s one-half of the founding partnership in Buried Beds. She excels in maintaining a stage presence that adds to live experience, begs the audience to turn their glances to her.

“Part of your job as a side person is to be a part of the performance,” she says. “You can’t stand there like a sad lump, like you’re bored. You have to be engaged to the music because that helps other people be engaged with the music.”

Hardy Jones has performed twice at XPoNential Music Festival before – once with Grace Potter and the other with Strand Of Oaks. This year she’ll perform, on the River Stage at Wiggins Park at at noon on Sunday, July 24, for the first time as herself. As a frontwoman. Continue reading →