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Debauchery and Determination: The long road to Creepoid’s swan song

Creepoid | photo by Megan Matuzak for WXPN

On a faded yellow bridgewater style couch, Sean Miller and Anna Troxell make room as Pat Troxell, sporting a classic Stone Roses lemon t-shirt, settles in. Pete Urban is in arm’s reach, with only his beer-stocked cooler separating him and the rest of Creepoid. It’s uncomfortably warm for mid-January, but the band is practically on top of one another.

Over past nine years, Anna, Pat, Sean and Pete have survived numerous calamities: party-centric producers, broken down vans, various Sean injuries, countless tours and the struggles of the DIY scene. They’ve also survived one other.

Creepoid’s most recent release in 2016, Burner, is a three-track sonic hellstorm of raw energy and the band’s most accurate studio portrayal of what it’s like to see them live. Much like 2014’s Wet, the EP was self-recorded, but in the studio, rather than in the cozy basement of the Troxells’ Tulip Street basement. Little did the band know, it would be their last release. Following their March 30th show at Now That’s Class in Cleveland, Ohio in 2017 at the tail end of a cross-country tour, Creepoid decided to call it quits.

“I would like to be remembered as a band that worked really hard,” Anna, bassist and vocalist, says. “A band that worked hard and took it seriously.” Continue reading →

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From North Wales, PA to Arkansas to the Hoagie Nation: An interview with John Oates

John Oates
John Oates | photo by Greg Vorobiov | courtesy of the artist

Anyone who knows the platinum-plated duo of Daryl Hall and John Oates gets that they are two men separate yet equal and as far apart from each other as sausage and silk. It is when the famed twosome come together in soul-filled harmony that they ever-so-gloriously unified and of one mind.

Currently living in Nashville, and making solo music far apart from the R&B-based rock, it is Oates that seems farthest from where he started; North Wales, PA to North Philly’s Temple University campus, where he met Hall. For all of the soul-pop the duo is renowned for, Oates’ recent solo career – or at least his last four studio efforts 1000 Miles of Life (2008), Mississippi Mile (2011), Good Road to Follow (2013), and now, the newly-released Arkansas – is ingrained in the coffee house folk that he loved as a young troubadour.

On his way to an Arkansas-based live showcase at World Café Live this Tuesday, February 6, Oates rapped about his new music, his still new autobiography Change of Seasons, and – of course – the just-announced second iteration of Hoagie Nation, Hall & Oates’ showcase of locally-curated bands and meat products, which returns to Festival Pier on Saturday, May 26, this year featuring their new summer tour partners, Train. Continue reading →

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Musical Collage: Little Strike soaks up influence in the sounds of her surroundings

Little Strike | photo by Natalie Piserchio | <a href="http://nataliepiserchio.com" target="_blank">nataliepiserchio.com</a>
Little Strike | photo by Natalie Piserchio for WXPN | nataliepiserchio.com

When you’re first presented with the idea of electronic world folk music, it may be an odd concept to wrap your head around. But once you hear the music of Middle Eastern born, Philly-based singer and songwriter Little Strike, the genre makes a lot more sense.

Tamar Dart, the force behind Little Strike, has been popping up on concert bills over the past few years – last year included a performance Pub Webb and a set at Apiary Magazine Issue 9 launch party. Her sound mixes charming, unhurried guitar melodies, beats made from found sounds, and cutting, introspective lyrics that relate to themes of travel, and world strife.

“I sort of approach that (music) kind of how I approach my visual art – it is a collage,” said Dart. “The collage will change depending on what’s around.” Continue reading →

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Feel the Magic from Sunnie

Sunnie | photo courtesy of artist

There’s something magical about the vibes on certain songs. The crazy combination of melodies, lyrics, and production allows tunes to put the listeners into a mental state, whether the choice is funky, mellow, vibrant, or serious..

That type of magic has always been a desire of emerging singer and songwriter Sunnie. Recently I sat down with the Willingboro, New Jersey native to talk about her beginnings as an aspiring artist to her gowith into a soulful songbird with enchanting music — such as her latest album Magic and her latest single “Talk to Me Baby.” Continue reading →

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Vega on Vega: Exploring profound truths in punk and rap with West Philly’s Ronnie Vega

Ronnie Vega | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Ronnie Vega | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

A light in an otherwise bleak universe, the star set to go nova that is Ronnie Vega traipses up and down Lancaster Avenue in west Philadelphia, his trademark white t-shirt reflecting the dull light of passing cars down the cantankerous two-lane. Spotting him out of the 10 trolley window, one couldn’t simply assume what his daily exploits were aligned with, as his gait, temperament and “in-the-cut” persona barely shifts; Vega is an enigma, at least as much as an outwardly sincere and introspective artist can be.

When he’s fronting his self-titled band, his vocals easily moving through the dense, foggy backbeat the band provides, Vega is fully immersed in his element. Despite the band’s heavy, tumbling swaths of moody, cinematic noise — drenched in the residual riffs of Black Flag’s “My War” all tied together with the leylines of a lost early period Public Enemy record — Vega insists on regaling listeners with tales both west-Philly-centric and universal. Vega doesn’t mince words: dodging the po-po, hood drama, and dealing with depression are all themes that find a home on the band’s two albums (The Lost Vega. Vol 1 and Demos2015). As well, the topics and perspectives that Ronnie, a brotha raised in the Philly streets, brings to light rarely find a home at the typical, DIY punk shows that Ronnie Vega often blesses.

Despite his aggressive, sometimes polarizing lyrics, Vega is a real chill dude. His laidback aura allows him to be an observer in a hostile environment that demands he be more of a participant. For Vega, it’s about balance, choosing when to rage, when to tear at the machines. We sat down with the rapper and discussed channeling that rage, that confusion, in an increasingly politicized world. Continue reading →

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Kimbra’s Primal Heart wins out

Kimbra at The Roots Picnic | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

It’s hard not to embrace an interview subject who enters the conversation laughing before the first question is lobbed. That’s Kimbra: the New Zealand soul singer whose albums before 2018 (The Golden Echo, Vows) were cheerfully cluttered, genre-mixing experiences marinated in the meaty juices of dance-pop.

Her newest album following her recent move to NYC, Primal Heart, is due in April, and takes a different tact in that the whole of the album is a windier, more minimalist experience, which allows her emotional lyrical perspective to shine through to a greater extent than in previous sonic settings. Before she appears at Union Transfer on January 31, Kimbra chatted about golden echoes, gods and Gotye. Continue reading →

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Experiencing the lows and highs of Philly’s Noél Scales in her Beautiful Bad project

Noel Scales | photo by Phil Meyer | courtesy of the artist
Noel Scales | photo by Phil Meyer | courtesy of the artist

Being an artist sometimes means being open and vulnerable about yourself, which may explain why a plethora of them, like Erykah Badu, are sensitive about their shit. But having the courage to open up to the public allows the world to see their perspectives and truths, whether you share them or not — and Philadelphia’s own Noél Scales is no different.

Since the age of 10, the young singer has been exposed to music from the late icon Prince, well respected art programs in the city such as Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement and Girard Academic Music Program, all of it preparing her to open the doors to the public so they can enter her world. I recently had the chance to sit down with Noel to talk about her humble beginnings, her debut EP Beautiful Bad and what she has in store for 2018. Continue reading →

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If Something Is On Fire, Maybe It Needs To Be: Philly saxophonist Keir Neuringer on distilling a troubled world into turbulent jazz

Keir Neuringer
Keir Neuringer | photo by Peter Gannushkin | courtesy of the artist

The moment you hear Keir Neuringer‘s alto-saxophone vibrating through an art museum — the warm tones bouncing off of avant garde sculptures — and watch those tones solidify into zoetropic color and immerse themselves into Muhal Richard Abrams collages, the only thing that seems to make sense, in the moment, is that you’re watching a reinterpretation of jazz.

It’s with his decidedly experimental (and experiential) band Irreversible Entanglements (featuring Camae Ayewa, aka Moor Mother, on poetic vocals) and his crashy, noise ‘n blues and equally experimental/experiential outfit Neuringer/Dulberger/Masri that Keir is able to accomplish this feat. With the release of Irreversible’s self titled debut on Don Giovanni Records, and the N/D/M trio’s Dromedaries on Already Dead Tapes, Keir has stepped into the same spaces where the conversation on jazz is being informed by artists like Matana Roberts, Tyshawn Sorey and, of course, Kamasi Washington. His rustic, granola-outdoorsmans meets suburban punk dad visage aside, Neuringer channels the spirit of this young jazz movement, often moving beyond the genres confines, yet remaining steadfastly reverential to its roots, expressions, and most importantly to him, the genre’s intrinsic radical politics.

The Key sat down with this eclectic, inspiring musician and discussed what it’s like to transmit waves of change in a world that doesn’t seem to want to. Continue reading →

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Music, Modern Art and More: Get to know Philly’s hip-hop renaissance man Ronniere Spacely

photo via twitter.com/brucespacelee

In a world of multihyphenates, Philly based MC / producer / multi-instrumentalist / visual artist, Ronniere Spacely effectively straddles disparate worlds of music, film and modern art. A native of Norfolk, Virginia, and a dedicated acolyte of Virginia production duo The Neptunes (Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo), Spacely absorbed the heavy-hitting, melodic and harmonically rich aesthetic of his hometown heroes into his own music.

He poured these influences into his recent self-released Uncle Lahk Jaw mixtape and his self-shot and produced short film Yo Bro, a lo-fi, experimental musing on love, infatuation and music. A striking work complete with oddball editing, vintage visual effects and a colorful musical score that bridges the gaps between hip-hop, pop and soul, Yo Bro made its debut this summer at the Black Star Film Festival. We linked up with him (via Facebook chat) to talk music, art and the spirit of inspiration.  Continue reading →