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Listen to Caught Dead, the heavy-hitting new album by Philly punk trio Plot

Plot | via facebook.com/plotphilly

Philly is no stranger to punk and metal music, but what happens when the two combine? You get Plot, a punk band that loves to mix in elements of sludge metal and industrial-noise. The new EP, Caught Dead, has been released on Suicide Bong Records. Fusing many different styles together, it is a great taste of the range of sound that can come out from the Philly heavy music scene. Continue reading →

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TIOGA bring dark 80s influences into the fold on new single “Suffer”

 

TIOGA | photo by Carol Simpson | courtesy of the artist

Philly rockers TIOGA are back with a new single, “Suffer.” The band describes the song’s sound as “dark neon,” which takes them into a new sonic territory. TIOGA enlisted Joe Parella of Deal Casino to produce the track, and cite influences like Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, and The Cure to that inspired them to take on the 80’s-meets-modern sound. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Arnetta Johnson and SUNNY

Camden, New Jersey trumpeter Arnetta Johnson doesn’t like being put in a box — not herself, nor anybody else.

On a recent Sunday night as we were setting up for a Key Studio Session, Johnson and the members of her band SUNNY got in a spirited debate over gospel music versus jazz music. First it was about which style was the originator — yes, we all know that the distinctly midcentury format of gospel was the launching point into soul, and then rock and roll, and jazz’s roots in the early 20th century predate all of that. But aren’t hymns and spirituals early iterations of gospel? And so if you consider them, isn’t gospel a precursor to jazz, and not vice versa? This went on for a while, and then the discussion shifted to which style yielded better musicians — was it jazz, whose players boast technical prowess and excel at innovation, or gospel, whose brightest stars connect in a massive way?

By the time we were ready to soundcheck, Johnson put a swift end to the back-and-forth with some on-point, on-brand wisdom. “Why do we have to think of ourselves as jazz musicians or gospel musicians?” she asked. “That’s putting a limit on what you do and how you sound. Why can’t we just be ‘musicians’?” Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Spelling Reform

Philadelphia indie rock four-piece Spelling Reform is a band that proudly wears its influences on its sleeve — but with influences this good, can we really complain?

As you listen to the band’s Key Studio Session, it’s impossible not to hear a little bit of 80s R.E.M. in the way singer-songwriter and guitarist Dan Wisniewski shares harmonies and trades counterpoint lines with bassist Tom Howley on the buoyant opener “The Second Coming.” Or the way the expansive closer “Merriweather Lewis on the Divide” begins on fervent Feelies-esque strumming, and then launches into a Weakerthans thump care of drummer Mark Rybaltowski. The chords and textures from new keyboardist Jim Gannon add a Pernice Brothers feel to the proceedings, and there are more than trace levels of The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle in Wisniewski’s upper-register delivery (giving way to their self-depricating self-description, “nasal indie rock”).

Okay, then, we get it — Spelling Reform sounds like a lot of acclaimed, bookish-cool indie rock bands from the past 20 years. But they bring their own perspective to the table care of Wisniewski’s clever turns of phrase and cogent lyrical vignettes. Continue reading →

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Philly Hawaiian-jazz group Slowey and the Boats releases second LP, Beneath an Amber Moon

Slowey and the Boats | photo by Tom MeLee | via sloweyandtheboats.com

Hawaiian-style jazz quintet Slowey and the Boats was formed by steel guitarist Isaac Stanford several years ago with a mission to play fun and sophisticated music throughout Philadelphia. The group released their debut album Set Sail in 2017 and, in the same year, stopped by World Cafe Live for a Free at Noon session. Now, they’ve just released their second record entitled Beneath an Amber Moon via Hi-Tide Records. Continue reading →

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Indie vets Hammered Hulls share “Written Words” from self-titled debut

Hammered Hulls | via Ticketfly

Hammered Hulls, a new supergroup of sorts, debuted quietly last year. The Washington, DC-based band is led by the core duo Mary Timony of Helium and Ex Hex and Alec MacKaye of Warmers and Faith, and rounded out by Philly’s Chris Wilson (Ted Leo, Titus Andronicus) on drums and Mark Cisneros (Des Demonas, Kid Congo) on guitar. The four-piece just announced their first recorded material, a self-titled three-song single that will be released on August 9. Continue reading →

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Signals Midwest announce new album Pin and tour dates, including Everybody Hits gig

Signals Midwest | via facebook.com/signalsmidwest

Earlier this week, Signals Midwest, the indie rock outfit fronted by Philadelphia’s Max Stern, announced that their new album Pin will come out August 2nd on Tiny Engines. The band originally formed in Cleveland, and they have now been recording music together for more than ten years; their first Bandcamp release was Burn the Blueprints in 2009, and their most recent was At This Age in 2016. Continue reading →

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Chastity Belt are living their best life in the video for “Ann’s Jam”

Chastity Belt | still from video

Usually when a band goes on hiatus it signals that something bad is on the horizon. Luckily, that wasn’t the case for Chastity Belt. The Seattle quartet took a bit of a break from each other in 2018, worked on some different projects, but then got back together. Upon reuniting, the band got right back to work. Produced alongside indie pop phenom, Jay SomChastity Belt is due September 20 via Hardly Art.

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Coping Skills, Big Nothing, and Queen of Jeans featured on compilation to support The Yellowhammer Fund

via bandcamp

The Bummer Presents… benefit series has produced musical compilations that support a number of organizations working to fight injustice. In the wake of Alabama legislators voting to effectively ban abortion in the state, the latest compilation in the series will benefit Alabama charity The Yellowhammer Fund. The 19-track compilation features contributions from Philly bands Coping Skills, Big Nothing, and Queen of Jeans, who each lent an original song to the cause. Continue reading →