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New journeys with Hoots and Hellmouth

Hoots and Hellmouth | photo via facebook.com/hootsandhellmouth

Philly roots scene favorites Hoots and Hellmouth emerged from a stretch of semi-hibernation earlier this fall with In The Trees Where I Can See The Forest. It’s the band’s fourth, and finest album — a true evolution of its sound into something spacious and spectral, atmospheric and engaging. The acoustic bootstomp folk rock that they built their name around has given way to sensitive electric jams, with the stunning “Diction” acting as a centerpiece. On the one hand, it’s the same Hoots and Hellmouth you’ve always known, but on the other hand, they’re more grown up than ever.

The band — which features Sean Hoots on guitar and vocals, Rob Berliner on mandolin and vocals, Todd Erk on bass and Mike Reilly on drums –went on a U.S. tour this fall. It was their first run in a few years, and wasn’t without its challenges: a van break-in after a St. Louis gig left them with gear and personal items stolen, while shows in markets they never played before were on the underwhelming side.

When I caught up with Hoots via phone this week, he admitted that it took the band a minute to find their footing on this run, but it had its transcendant moments as well (including a performance for the OpenAir sessions at Colorado Public Radio), and he remains optimistic about the next leg of the journey. Tonight, Hoots and Hellmouth brings it home at Ardmore Music Hall; get tickets and more information on the show at the XPN Concert Calendar, and read my interview with Hoots below. Continue reading →

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Rosali preps December residency at Ortileb’s with rotating cast of openers

Rosali | photo by Ben Cortese | via her Facebook page
Rosali | photo by Ben Cortese | via her Facebook page

Philly folk singer Rosali‘s latest EP, Out of Love was released over a year ago, but this December, she’ll be performing a weekly residency at Ortileb’s. The shows will take place each Wednesday–December 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th, and she’s brought along her friends to help out. Show one will feature support from Birdie Busch, show two from Oldermost, show three from Kiel Everett of Tin Horses, and show four from The Writhing Squares. Music begins at 8:00 p.m. each week, so come down, grab a beer, and get your folk on. Continue reading →

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Allison Crutchfield & The Fizz will celebrate their record release with stacked First Unitarian Church bill

Allison Crutchfield | courtesy of the artist
Allison Crutchfield | courtesy of the artist

Tourist in This Town, the latest from Philadelphia’s Allison Crutchfield, is out this January 27th via Merge Records. She and her backing band The Fizz will celebrate its release on February 10th at First Unitarian Church with support from Radiator Hospital, Pinkwash, Try The Pie, and Empath. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Mannequin Pussy

It’s certainly not inaccurate to call Philly’s Mannequin Pussy a punk band. We’ve described them that way quite a bit, and given the revved up guitars, vocal howls and minute-and-a-half songs that make this year’s Romantic such a gripping listen, it’s not entirely inaccurate. But sometimes “punk” can be a limiting bit of jargon, especially when used in the more puritanical sense — the definition that eschews ambitious production, or nuanced songwriting, or any kind of artistic complexity.

And complexity, no doubt, is compelling. It can be the dynamic tide of the album’s title track, or the interspersing of acoustic arrangements amid the fray. It can be frontwoman Marisa Dabice’s bold vocals that are as much of an emotional gut-punch on the tender melodies as they are on the visceral snarls. So in that regard, I would say that Mannequin Pussy are absolutely not punk, and all the better for it. Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
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New Year’s Eve is a month away. What concert are you going to?

Kurt Vile at #XPNFest | photo by Noah Silvestry for WXPN

We’re drawing to the close of 2016, and as always, we here at The Key recommend you give 2016 the boot with live music. Spending that special moment that brings us into our annual chance for a new start at a concert with hundreds or even thousands of people who are all on the same page as you — for those few hours, the feeling is exhilarating and even a little magical. Compare this to the cycle of looking at your phone, standing in circles trying to connect with people that you know primarily through Facebook and most times drinking way too much in your quest to achieve that perfect New Year’s Eve moment that movies like When Harry Met Sally have elevated just out of reality’s reach.

Given, I’ve been going the latter route for the majority of my adult life and some of my fondest memories are searching for lost phones or helping my friend figure out the name of the cute guy with the green hat the morning after. BUT I knew that after happening upon a house show on New Year’s Eve a few years back, no party could ever fill me with the same ecstasy as the music and all the people in that basement did in 2013. So, if you’re looking to try something new, check out your Philly-area options for musical New Year’s celebrations. Continue reading →

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Lame-O Records announces second annual ‘Rock Residency’ for charity at Boot & Saddle

Dominic | photo by C.J. Harvey | courtesy of the artist
Dominic | photo by C.J. Harvey | courtesy of the artist

Philly’s Lame-O Records has announced its second annual “Rock Residency”, a series of benefit shows taking place at Boot & Saddle this January. Every Thursday of the month, members of the Lame-O roster and more will perform for various organizations in need. Check out the flyer below.

Night one, which takes place on January 5th, will benefit Planned Parenthood and feature performances from Lame-O’s Hurry, Dominic, and new signers Cherry. Then, on January 12th, Slaughter Beach, Dog, Loose Tooth, and No Thank You will play in support of Juntos, Night three, the 19th, will feature Thin Lips, The Superweaks, and The Obsessives for The Attic Youth Center, and night four, the 26th, will feature Three Man Cannon, Katie Ellen, and The Afterglows for Philly ACLU. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Mothers at Johnny Brenda’s, Strand of Oaks at Arden Gild Hall, Dominic at Ortlieb’s and more

mothers
Mothers | Photo by Kristin Karch | courtesy of the artist

Athens, Georgia rock four-piece Mothers had a break out year in 2016 with the release of When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired. The band teeters between emotive melodies and explosive dissonance, and in concert that contrast is heightened. Tonight they return to the stage at Johnny Brenda’s; tickets and more information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Philly Jazz Guide: Top picks for live jazz in December

jazz
Mark Kramer and Eddie Gomez | photo courtesy of the artists

I’m not going to make things easy on you this month. Maybe it’s because the latter part of the month is swallowed by the holidays, or maybe it’s just sheer coincidence, but most of this month’s jazz highlights are crammed into a single weekend right at the outset. It’s possible to make several of these with some careful planning, but a couple of them may come down to coin tosses – but it’s worth catching as many as possible.

Continue reading →