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The Key Studio Sessions: Nik Greeley

We’ve had our eyes on Philadelphia’s Nik Greeley for a little while now, and it’s always been clear that he is one driven and charismatic dude. His old band Black Stars gave him a solid start – the four-piece fused classic and modern rock, showing a heavy reverence for two of his favorites, Red Hot Chili Peppers and The Rolling Stones. Even though that group’s recorded output never quite managed to equal the polish and precision of its live show, it got Greeley established in navigating the Philadelphia music scene.  Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Alex G

It takes a moment to wrap your brain around the sheer volume of music on Alex G‘s Bandcamp page. Five full-lengths, three EPs and four standalone singles, all released in the past five years – most released in the past two – but recorded in fits and starts in various apartment bedrooms and suburban houses, ever since the man behind the project, Alex Giannascoli, was a teenager.

But he’s not just prolific for prolific’s sake; there seems to be a definite method to Alex’s madness, whether you’re talking about his DIY discography or his on-point live band. Instruments are arranged in a minimal but alluring manner – the interplay of chiming guitar lead with the chugging rhythm strums on “Black Hair” is intoxicating; the thumping floor toms on “Soaker” are moving and emotive. Then there are his lyrics, which are just as specific and descriptive as they are loose and mysterious – like “Wicked Boys,” and its mantra-like opening “real men walk / on the outside / and they take it for the team.” Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Spraynard

West Chester power trio Spraynard is having their second go as a band, and it sounds phenomenal. Regional punk scene vets Pat Graham (guitars / vocals) and Pat “Dos” Ware (drums / vocals) formed the band in the aughts and had a pair of cult fave LPs with 2010′s Cut and Paste and 2011′s Funtitled. Their cathartic, shout-along-at-the-top-of-your-lungs brand of introspective / extroverted punk made their shows feel like a community, and it teetered on the point where the band was beginning to look looking like it could be their full-time gig. But then some internal second-guessing and self-questioning put the breaks on that when they wrapped a three-month tour in 2012. (Graham opened up about that experience in this Q&A with Noisey last year.)

After a couple years in side-projects like NONA and Martin, the Pats decided to test the waters with a pair of reunion shows: one at Grand Slam USA in Malvern, for their superhometown crowd, and one in Philly in the basement of the First Unitarian Church. Both shows were a rousing success (check out our Megan Kelly’s photo-documentation of them) and with new bassist Jake Guralnik in tow, Spraynard set to work recording Mable, their excellent new record out on Jade Tree this month. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Little Strike

Born in the Middle East, schooled in Miami, inspired in East Asia and settled in Philadelphia, Tamar Dart is nothing if not well-traveled. You can hear that worldliness reflected in her electronic pop project Little Strike. After a nomadic year spent exploring and producing video work in China, Nepal and Thailand, Dart began channeling her creativity into music. The resulting Forever Always Leaving EP not only has a title that could be a mission statement of the universal wanderer, it sounds like Dart pulled rhythms and melodies from different corners of the world and fused them into something altogether new. Soweto guitar stylings, bhangra rhythms, a dubstep sense of bass versus beats. Those references may be entirely different from what Dart is going for, mind you – it’s totally my read on a very nuanced and exciting blend. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Hemming

If you’ve been paying attention to the Philly music scene for a few years, the voice behind emerging local act Hemming will sound rather familiar to you. Candice Martello is the expressive singer and songwriter at the helm here, and she caught our ear in the DIY punk duo Omar back in 2010. Last year, Omar landed on VH1′s Make or Break: The Linda Perry Project, but it was Martello’s more personal, introspective solo songwriting that caught the host’s ear and landed her a record contract with Perry’s label, Custard Records. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Kuf Knotz and Patrick Donovan

Kuf Knotz | Photo by Will Toms
Kuf Knotz | Photo by Will Toms

Collaboration is the name of the game in this week’s Key Studio Session. For starters, it was our first collaboration with RECPhilly, the music community outreach arm of the emergent Recollective Records and the evolution of local promoters Broad Street Music Group. They were in the middle of their 30 for 30 free concert series during the month of April, and approached us about hosting a studio concert.

The stars aligned that Philly rapper Kuf Knotz, who just released his second solo LP A Positive Light, was slated to come in to record that month, and he is no stranger to playing to an audience of fans in our studio. With Kufie’s blessing, we opened his set up to a small crowd and paired him up with Patrick Donovan, a local dude with a soulful voice and a bunch of great pop songs in his back pocket. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Nathan Earl and Rachel Joy

When he stepped into our studio to record this week’s Key Session, Nathan Allebach of Nathan Earl and Rachel Joy was wearing a City and Colour shirt. It was sort of a way of presaging what we were about to hear; delicate melodies and emotive vocals blending with a range of arrangements. Mellow and rootsy folk one moment gave way to to gutsy explosive rock the next, in the best imaginable way. Continue reading →

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Tigers Jaw and Will Yip talk new label and new live acoustic album

Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/
Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/

It’s been a little over two years since three founding members of Tigers Jaw departed. But the remaining dynamic duo of Brianna Collins and Ben Walsh has soldiered on, touring extensively to support their 2014 record CharmerThere was a point when Walsh, guitarist and vocalist, and Collins, keyboardist and vocalist, weren’t sure about the future of the Scranton indie / emo outfit. But they’ve regained serious momentum, especially with news of a new release set for late June.

The release is a live collaborative acoustic album, Tigers Jaw Acoustic: Live at Studio 4. It was recorded and produced by Will Yip, who has made quite a name for himself in recent years producing luminaries of the pop-punk world like Circa Survive, Title Fight, Superheaven and the The Wonder Years.

The album was actually recorded in September of 2013, when Tigers Jaw and Anthony Green of Circa Survive played an intimate acoustic show at Studio 4. The show was one of the first acoustic shows Ben and Brianna did as Tigers Jaw mark two. It was also the first time an acoustic gig was performed at Studio 4.

“I’ve always wanted to do it, just because the room’s so cool to have a sit-down show in,” Yip says. “And at that point, it was to help generate some press and awareness of what was going on at Studio 4.” Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Grandchildren

When The Key launched just about five years ago, we had our sights pretty strongly locked on the West Philly avant-pop six-piece Grandchildren. They were the fearless sonic adventurers of Baltimore Avenue, a band that blended the audio collage sensibilities of Animal Collective with the live intensity of a really tight punk band. We’ve checked in several times in the years since, at shows, at SXSW and when they followed up their debut LP Everlasting with an excellent EP called The Golden Age.

But things have been a little quiet over in camp Grandchildren for a little while now, so we’re extremely psyched to have them breaking the silence this week with a Key Studio Sessions performance of two brand new songs, along with the first news about their third record and a show where you can hear the entire thing live. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: The Burgeoning

The Burgeoning | Photo by Brant Fuller
The Burgeoning | Photo by Brant Fuller

Philly four-piece The Burgeoning has one leg firmly planted in the indie-dance nightclubs of the Making Time set, while the other one reaches ambitiously for the poppy world of arena rock. The band caught our ear last year with their debut single “Lighthouse” and a solid sonic recipe: tight playing, unique arrangements and big, big hooks. Quick points of reference would be Real Estate and Bastille. Since releasing their Love Alchemy, Life Algorithm EP, the band has been going hard on the Philly live music circuit, honing their craft, sharpening their form and whipping up an on-point cover of “Message In a Bottle” by The Police.

The cover appears in the band’s Key Studio Session, and as you’ll hear, it’s practically custom designed for frontman Logan Thierjung’s elastic voice. Continue reading →