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The Key Studio Sessions: Chelsea Sue Allen

Chelsea Sue Allen is a leading light in the Philadelphia folk scene, but then again, she’s something more. The West Chester singer-songwriter crafts intensely emotional songs that transcend the coffeehouse world, much as she’s a favorite over at Burlap and Bean. On last year’s Lonely Ages, she detailed the tug-of-war between aspiration and self-doubt – “I’ve got daydreams pressing against siren walls / will I become something better if I let them out” – as well as the crash of colossal letdowns – “you’re not the one I’m bankin’ on anymore, anymore?” – and does so over a bed of pattering electronics (“Creaks and Moans,” “Bankin’ On”) and full band swiftness (“Tall Dreams”).

Live, the flourishes are brushed away – Allen goes minimal and meditative, and the songs remain every bit as powerful. Continue reading →

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The Week’s Best Free MP3s, incl. Ben Arnold, The Dans and more…

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Ben Arnold | Photo by Alyssa Dempsey for WXPN

This week’s Key Studio Session featured local musician Ben Arnold, who brought his band with him to preview songs from their new record. Lost Keys will be released next week and they’ll be back at XPN for a Free at Noon performance. Sign up for that here, stream “Detroit People” below and get the full session here.

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The Key Studio Sessions: Ben Arnold

Veteran Philly singer-songwriter / rock-n-roller Ben Arnold has covered a lot of ground in the two decades he’s been making music. In the mid-90s, he was signed to Ruffhouse / Columbia and released the slacker-pop nugget Almost Speechless - which is a tiny bit ironic since the man is the total opposite of a slacker.

By the early aughties, he had grown into a more nuanced singer-songwriter and received a lot of attention from WXPN for In Case I’m Gone Tomorrow, as well as his acclaimed 4-Way Street supergroup with Jim Boggia, Scott Bricklin and Joseph Parsons. Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
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The Key Studio Sessions: Queen of Jeans

They got their name by putting a feminist spin on an uber-masculine piece of South Philly signage. They write pointed fuzz-rock songs punctuated by hooky melodies and retro-pop harmonies, washed in a dreamy soundscape. They’re Queen of Jeans, and they’re a band that needs to be on your radar. Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
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The Week’s Best Free MP3s, incl. Residuels, Lac La Belle

residuels
Residuels | video still by Kyle Garvey for WXPN

Local rockers Residuels stopped by for this week’s Key Studio Session. The band will release its debut LP shortly and treated us to some previews of tracks like “Enough” (below), as well as a cover of 13th Floor Elevators’ “You’re Gonna Miss Me.” Check out the full session here, along with a 16mm video of “Enough.”

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The Key Studio Sessions: Residuels

There’s a smoky, blues-from-a-gun furor to Philadelphia trio Residuels. The band, fronted by singer-guitarist Justin Pittney, caught our ear in the past with the heavy, heady Jesus and Mary Chain guitar jams it’s tapped into over various self-released singles. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Bryant Eugene Vazquez

You’ll doubtless hear nods to the masters in the songwriting of Bryant Eugene Vazquez: Lou Reed, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan. But this local rock and roll dude – who moved to Philadelphia in 2013 after growing up in Flagstaff, Arizona – has a strong and singular voice at the center of it all. It’s husky yet melodic, poppy yet vicious, the sound of celebration and desperation.  Continue reading →

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Download The Key Studio Sessions Volume 15 (featuring Legs Like Tree Trunks, Joie Kathos, Hezekiah Jones and more)

The Key Studio Sessions Volume 15 | cover photo by Liz Waldie | lizwaldie.com
The Key Studio Sessions Volume 15 | cover photo by Liz Waldie | lizwaldie.com

A little later on today, we’ll bring you our first Key Studio Session of 2016, and it’s an exciting one – but before we get there, let’s pause and recap an awesome fall season with the release of The Key Studio Sessions Volume 15, our latest free compilation of live performances from regional bands recorded at WXPN studio. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: The Innocence Mission

Lancaster folk trio The Innocence Mission had been hard at work for a decade by the time they broke through to mainstream recognition with “Bright As Yellow” from their 1995 album Glow. While it remains their best-known song on a certain level, the band’s best work was truly ahead of them. Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head