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The Key Studio Sessions: Thee, Idea Men

Call ‘em blues, garage or modern, Philly’s Thee, Idea Men are a tight and infectious rock four-piece. Emerging in 2012 from the Drexel University scene that also gave us Lucy Stone and W.C. Lindsay, the band’s rumbling Stratocaster overdrive (guided by frontman Matt Jurasek and lead guitarist Matt Raspanti) was in top form on their 2012 release New Level Shoes. Recorded with Tommy Joyner at MilkBoy and released in May, the album sits nicely alongside festival scene favorites J Roddy Walston & The Business and The Weeks, reviving a classic American music style in a contemporary setting. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Sëla

Ten years ago a group of talented young musicians with a common goal to push the boundaries of hip-hop met as students at the University of the Arts. Emcee Mike King, emcee/producer David Little and pianist/vocalist/producer Margel ‘theSophant’ Overton are the driving force behind Sëla, and their style has always been forward-looking. Their self-titled debut EP, released digitally in 2009 after years of performing and learning studio craft, was instantly infectious, particularly the ultra-modern beats on “Pedal To The Side” and the anthemic “Pump Ya Fist.” Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Sugar Tongue Slim

It’s very fitting that the words “Poet Laureate” are tattooed on Sugar Tongue Slim‘s neck. The charismatic Philly rapper has a way with words, a gift of gab, and it plays tremendously into his music and his persona. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Kalob Griffin Band

Yesterday, we came across a YouTube video of a Philadelphia television newscast circa 1979, profiling The Grateful Dead and their fans during a performance at The Spectrum, and there seemed to be a common refrain. This was music that made its audiences feel good. These were songs that tugged at your heartstrings, had bittersweet moments, but ultimately uplifted listeners into a positive space. I don’t bring this up to reductively infer that the Dead and this week’s Key Studio Session featured artist, Kalob Griffin Band, necessarily sound alike – though there is an undeniably 60s influence on their very “I Shall Be Released”-esque ballad “A Song For You” that closes the set. Instead, I mention it because of the effect each band has on its audience. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Vita and the Woolf

Photos by Chris Sikich | countfeed.tumblr.com

Philly art-pop trio Vita and the Woolf is going to knock you out. The band is about to release it’s vibrant, eclectic debut EP Fang Song, and it’s super-impressive for a first release, a sophisticated collection of songs that can be anthemic and expressive (the winning “Mary”) in the same breath that it’s quiet and withdrawn (“Song For Pedro”). But what’s most exciting is the way the band’s best work is clearly ahead of it. Continue reading →

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Download The Key Studio Sessions Volume 11 (feat. Roof Doctor, Verbatum Jones, PhillyBloco and more)

The Key Studio Sessions Volume 11
The Key Studio Sessions Volume 11

The cover art to this latest installment of The Key Studio Sessions free download comps is brought to you by the velvety guitar case of Maitland‘s Josh Hines. He has an outstanding live band and has been performing on the regular with them this year, but his set for us this summer was recorded completely solo, just himself and an acoustic guitar, and it was a knockout. In some ways, this was indicative of the approach I took to finding artists for this current batch of recordings, and the way they were recorded. While our traditional band-playing-live-in-our-performance-space approach continued – and had tremendous results with Roof Doctor, The Sixties, Heat Thunder, The GTVs and more – we also pushed and questioned the boundaries of what our Studio Sessions could be. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Cheerleader

Photos by Rachel Del Sordo | racheldelsordo.tumblr.com

Philly electronic indie rock outfit Cheerleader has had a swift rise to prominence this year, and it’s easy to understand why. The project of longtime songwriting partners Chris Duran and Joe Haller got its start as two teenagers making music in their parents’ basement in Hartford, CT. A few years of collaboration and a move to Philly later, and the band is dishing out a steady string of hooky, infectious singles. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Mike Bell and the Movies vs. Hurry

Photos by Peter Murray Photography | petermurrayphotography.com

In a strange, roundabout kind of way, this session you see before you today only exists because of Twitter. Two Philly DIY scene players, the fuzz-poppy Hurry and the punk poppy Mike Bell and The Movies, had been social media beef-ing -  or faux-beefing, perhaps, as they seem like friendly and amiable dudes all around – discussing who would win in a “power pop battle.” At one point, Bell called on The Key’s Twitter to “settle this once and for all” – and equally jokingly, I replied “what are we talking, a DJ-off or, like, a boxing match? Or a dueling studio session?” Evidently the latter was actually a viable option, all parties were into it, and ground rules for our first-ever competitive Key Studio Session were established. Each artist got three songs: one of their own songs, one of the other band’s songs and one cover of their choosing. We would record both bands live in the studio on the same day. And the reults wound up being so efficient and fun, I’m thinking about recording artists in battle format more often. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Verbatum Jones

VerbatumJones
Photo by John Vettese

As you can see in the above photo, Verbatum Jones performed his Key Studio Session seated. This rarely happens for us, at least with non-pianists – musicians are used to standing onstage when they perform, and that carries over to recording as well. But Verb smiled, shrugged, and said “hey, this is a radio thing, I want to get the full radio experience.” He’s a lively and outgoing dude, and by the end of our hour together, I felt like I really got to know him. But that’s exactly what makes him connect so much as a rapper – he knows how to connect as a person. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Needle Points

I know, I know, it’s a lot to take in. The shaggy hair, the flowing technicolor robes, the dreamcatchers and medallions. Just go with it. Philly psychedelic five-piece Needle Points might come across as bizarre folks of questionable seriousness – the sort who create a paisley alter with candles and empty beercans in the center of the studio – but when it comes to their music, they rock hard and don’t mess around. Continue reading →