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The Return of The Tough Shits: Hear a new song, catch them at Repo Records this Saturday

The Tough Shits | Photo by Nikki Volpicelli
The Tough Shits | Photo by Grey Haas | courtesy of the artist

The Tough Shits recently played a show at Beautiful World Syndicate, a record shop just down the street from the bar we’re meeting at. It wasn’t was very publicized, and lots of their longtime fans could’ve missed it if they didn’t catch the Facebook note the group posted eight hours before showtime. There was no setlist because they never make setlists, and there were mistakes because they admittedly always make mistakes.

That show has helped the Philly band – who are quietly emerging from the several-year hiatus that immediately following the release of their self-titled debut – devise a plan for this weekend’s Record Store Day showcase at Repo.

“This time John will realize what’s wrong with his guitar after the first song instead of six songs in. I will remember all of the words…” singer/guitarist Mark Banfill begins. Continue reading →

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Seeking Valor brings awareness to depression through their 7 of Diamonds LP

Seeking Valor | photo via facebook.com/SeekingValor
Seeking Valor | photo via facebook.com/SeekingValor

After losing their friend Gary to a battle with depression, Philadelphia rock six-piece Seeking Valor decided to write an album in his memory. More than just that, though, they wanted to write an album that could possibly save someone else’s life.  According to guitarist Frank Gannon, he resulting record – particularly the “So Far Gone” single, released back in October – is a testament to their friend Gary but also the band’s journey as a whole; 7 of Diamonds has not only been two years in the making, it has been two years of reflecting and processing.  I caught up with the group to ask them their album, the foundation that comes with it, and the upcoming release show at The Trocadero on May 2nd. Continue reading →

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Honesty and Integrity: Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield on music, Philly and Ivy Tripp

Waxahatchee | photo by Michael Rubenstein | via facebook.com/waxahatchee
Waxahatchee | photo by Michael Rubenstein | via facebook.com/waxahatchee

Next week, returning Philly resident Katie Crutchfield, aka Waxahatchee, will grace Union Transfer with a performance of songs from her highly anticipated third album Ivy Tripp, also arriving next week on Merge Records. In preparation for her sort-of homecoming, I gave Katie a ring to chat about the new album as well as her love for Philly, Jenny Lewis, and living with confidence and integrity as an artist. Continue reading →

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The Center-Stage Side Project: Eric Slick and Dom Angelella will bring a long-awaited Lithuania LP to Lame-O

Lithuania | Photo by Megan Kelly | keganmellyphotography.tumblr.com
Lithuania | Photo by Megan Kelly | keganmellyphotography.tumblr.com

You probably know Eric Slick and Dom Angelella from the bands they play in full-time. But there’s another act that the two Philly musicians have been associated with for way longer than the former has drummed for Dr. Dog, or the latter has performed in DRGN King.

Lithuania has been active for going on ten years, but is often spoken about as a “side project” or a “duo project.” That’s not how the guys see it, and year the band takes the spotlight to release its long-in-the-works full-length debut. Hardcore Friends comes out this summer on Lame-O Records, and it’s the culmination of a collaboration Slick and Angelella began as UArts freshmen in 2005.

Continue reading →

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Writing, Touring, Art and Life: A conversation with Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett | Photo by John Vettese
Courtney Barnett | Photo by John Vettese

Last week, Courtney Barnett took the South By Southwest festival by storm, playing a whirlwind eight shows in three days. Lest anybody miss the reason why, it was because she had a record immediately on the way, and she wanted to stamp those songs in the consciousness of the music industry folks making the rounds in Austin.

Luckily, we didn’t need a ton of convincing. Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit is out today on Mom and Pop Music, and it sounds tremendous. It’s technically her debut LP; even though many look at 2013’s The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas as a full-length in its own right – and it certainly had the impact of one – that album combined two previously-released EPs, I’ve got a friend called Emily Ferris (2012) and How to Carve a Carrot Into a Rose (2013). It also has a breezier, homespun vibe, even on the rock-out moments like “Lance Jr.” and “History Eraser.”

By comparison, Sometimes I Sit is a freaking arrival, a big rock record with catchy hooks and fierce playing from Barnett and her bandmates – Dan Luscombe on guitar, Bones Sloane on bass, and Dave Mudie on drums.

Earlier this winter, I caught up with Barnett by phone while she was still back in Millbourne. She had just finished a run of dates at the multi-city Laneway Festival in New Zealand and Australia, and we talked about touring, writing, the new album and art. Continue reading →

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Interpreting Elliott Smith with Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield

Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield | photo via sethandjessicasing.com
Seth Avett and Jessica Lea Mayfield | photo via sethandjessicasing.com

Jessica Lea Mayfield’s introduction to Elliott Smith was the song “Clementine” – some dude with a Weezer tattoo played it for her after a gig in Ohio, hoping to impress her, and she was pleasantly surprised.

Seth Avett’s gateway song was “Say Yes” – a friend wanted to learn it, and asked the singer-guitarist of The Avett Brothers to teach him.

This winter, the two musicians – both big players in the American roots / rock scene – are releasing a tribute album to the iconic singer-songwriter, who died tragically in 2003 at age 34. Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliot Smith is out on Tuesday, March 17th, and it’s an outstanding record (listen to it in its entirety via NPR Music’s First Listen to hear for yourself).

Over the course of twelve songs, Avett and Mayfield mix up well-known numbers with deep-cut fan favorites; some arrangements stay relatively faithful to the original recordings, others take thrilling liberties. And all around, they channel the raw emotion that lives at the music’s core. Continue reading →

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Listen to Marcus Mumford talk about the new sound, playing live and Gentlemen of the Road with WXPN’s Mike Vasilikos

Mumford and Sons | Photo  courtesy of the artist
Mumford and Sons | Photo courtesy of the artist

With a new song making the rounds, a new album in the pipeline and a big festival tour bringing them to Seaside Heights this summer, Mumford and Sons are poised to have a pretty excellent 2015. This morning, frontman Marcus Mumford called in to the XPN Morning Show to talk with Mike Vasilikos about how they spent their year off in 2014, what it was like playing first gigs in a while, the upcoming Gentlemen of the Road tour and the hotly-debated evolution of their sound. Continue reading →

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When Worlds Collide: Comcast SportsNet reporters Reuben Frank and Sarah Baicker talk about new music and Free at Noon

Reuben Frank and Sarah Baicker in the CSN Studio | Photo courtesy of  Sarah Baicker
Reuben Frank and Sarah Baicker in the CSN Studio | Photo courtesy of Sarah Baicker

XPN’s Free at Noon series has become a hot commodity since its inception ten years ago, and in that time, the free weekly music series has developed many regulars – two of whom you might already be familiar with if your TV is regularly tuned to the Eagles and Flyers on Comcast SportsNet.

Philadelphia Eagles beat writer Reuben Frank and Philadelphia Flyers Beat Writer Sarah Baicker are frequently in the house at World Cafe Live, catching each week’s performance and sharing their reaction – positive and negative – on social media. They sat down to talk with The Key about the music they’ve been listening to lately, who has the best and worst music taste in the Comcast SportsNet Newsroom and their all-time favorite Free at Noons. Continue reading →

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How a lake in Hungary and a cabin in the Poconos inspired Laser Background’s new EP

via facebook.com/laserbackground
via facebook.com/laserbackground

In the summer of 2013, Andy Molholt of Laser Background traveled to Hungary on vacation. He soaked up the scenery around his family’s ancestral home, visited Lake Balaton – the largest freshwater lake in central Europe – and drew sketches of his traveling companion.

A year later, he returned to Lake Balaton and began writing what would be his band’s latest release. Continue reading →

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Catching up with G Love before his March shows at the TLA

via facebook.com/glovespecialsauce
via facebook.com/glovespecialsauce

G Love has been a staple of the Philadelphia music scene for what seems like forever, with his first album, G. Love and Special Sauce, coming out nearly 21 years ago. But G. (born Garrett Dutton) never stopped making music and is back to the old touring grind this March with an extensive U.S. tour, which includes two stops in Philly at South Street’s Theater of the Living Arts, to promote his newest album, Sugar.

But this year’s Sugar Blues Tour is just the latest in G. Love’s storied music career; he’s basically toured nonstop over the course of the past 20 years, and doesn’t plan on stopping any time soon. In this interview for The Key, G. talks about his band hitting the drinking age, the return of original bassist James “Jimi Jazz” Prescott, and the grind that’s necessary to stay relevant in the music business. Continue reading →