By

The Key Studio Sessions: Free Cake for Every Creature

Music writers love to romanticize DIY home studios — the hiss and static of the tape machine, the in-the-moment spirit of the performances, the images of bedroom walls lined with egg carton soundproofing and floors covered in piles of tangled cable.

The musicians themselves — they’re not always as sentimental about it. As Katie Bennett of Philadelphia’s Free Cake For Every Creature tweeted earlier this week, “[I’m] slowly realizing that, while my 100+ year-old apartment on a main street in a big city may be charming, it’s not the ideal place to record.” She continued: “listen for my neighbor’s trombone exercises and a minute-long trolly honk in every new song.”

While that definitely reads like Bennett’s West Philadelphia environs seeping into her recorded output, it also goes the other way around: the sound of Free Cake for Every Creature is the sound of Bennett and her musical collaborators reacting to their surroundings and turning their workarounds into strengths. Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
By

The Key Studio Sessions: Bethlehem and Sad Patrick

If you’re in search of evidence that the Philly open mic scene is very much thriving, look no further than Bethlehem and Sad Patrick.

The local duo blends the focused minimalism and poetic lyrics of folk tradition with simmering, freewheeling jazz and blues — slick guitars, soaring vocals, nuanced melodies. And it all came together by chance.

A few years back, Patrick Arkins was running an open mic at what is now Malelani Cafe in Germantown, when Bethlehem Roberson stopped by one night to sing with her family. Arkins was blown away, and when he saw her returning to the series on the regular to perform, he approached her with the idea of singing one of his songs.

This led to her singing more of his songs, which led to Bethlehem and Sad Patrick’s first home-recorded EP release in 2012. Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
By

The Key Studio Sessions: Curtis Cooper

Philadelphia’s Curtis Cooper laughs when asked about his the next shows he’s playing in town. He quickly rattles off some playful names of places that sound semi-familiar — All Night Diner, Overlook Hotel — then clarifies: “they’re all basements. All house shows.”

It’s true: Cooper has hit the DIY scene hard lately, particularly since the March release of his debut LP Laughing In Line. And it suits him well, between his explosive energy as a performer, his fuzzed-out guitar tones and his skateboarder’s demeanor, mellowed out and amped up all at the same time.

He’s a punk rock dude at heart, make no mistake. But there’s more to him than punk. His songwriting betrays a fondness for The Beatles and their descendants (Elliott Smith in particular) and if you see him with an acoustic guitar and no other accompaniment (check his Random Tea Session), he’s directly in singer-songwriter / busker / Avett Brothers territory. Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
By

Tonight’s Concert Picks: Grayling at The Fire, The Faint at The Trocadero, Crystal Castles at TLA and more

grayling
Grayling | photo by Kim Woodcock | courtesy of the artist

Tonight, The Fire in Northern Liberties hosts emo-pop outfit Grayling. What started out as the independent project of frontwoman Lexi Campion has now turned into a four-person full time band. Grayling’s recent debut EP, Everything That Burns, dropped back in April. Tonight they play with Honeytiger, Zack Daniel, The Disgruntled Sherpa Project, and Foxster. If your music taste lies anywhere along the super versatile spectrum of indie/alternative music then be sure to get a ticket for this 21+ show that will have something for everyone. Check out Grayling’s studio session with The Key from earlier this week here. Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
By

The Key Studio Sessions: Grayling

While Philly alt-punk upstarts Grayling packed up after its Key Studio Session this week, frontwoman Lexi Campion told us a story about an old drum teacher.

It was back when she was ten years old, early on in her percussive education. She went in for a lesson, and to her dismay at the time, her teacher said they were going to spend a day learning how to take the drumkit apart and put it back together, to screw and unscrew all its miscellaneous hardware components, to tune and retune the snare and toms. “You need to know how to do this stuff,” she was told.

To reiterate: Campion was ten. And getting such a diligent education early on shaped who she is as a musician today, it instilled a work ethic that carried into her two bands — the math-pop outfit Edelweiss (where she spent a year and change killing it on drums) and the more recently formed Grayling, where she runs the show. Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
By

The Key Studio Sessions: New Sound Brass

In more ways than one, Philly’s New Sound Brass is a band of leaders.

They lead by introducing regional audiences to the long-standing New Orleans tradition of the second line. They lead in that they’re adding their own spin second line, giving it a bit of bravado and emphasizing that it’s a celebration. They lead by showing Philly audiences that brass music doesn’t have to be limited to dudes in feathered attire and face paint, sauntering up Broad Street on New Year’s Day.

And in the biggest way, the folks of New Sound Brass are leaders in quite a literal sense — you might have seen them at the XPoNential Music Festival in 2014, marching the crowd from Wiggins Park to the BB&T Pavilion. They did the same thing this summer at Firefly, beginning at the campground and waking up the weary audience with a lively Pied Piper strut into the festival grounds. Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
By

The Key Studio Sessions: Bel Heir

It may be the first day of autumn, but Philly modern rock four-piece Bel Heir are firm subscribers to Brian Wilson’s “endless summer” school of thought. In other words, today’s Key Studio Session does not shy away from sunny vocal hooks, energized riffs and rhythms and breezy hints of reggae, and it’s all the awesomer for it.

The regional band first caught our ear in 2013 when brothers Paul and Patrick Mencel began dabbling in a new studio recordings after the dissolve of their previous band Find Vienna. Where that crew aimed for Kings of Leon-style arena rock stratospheres, Bel Heir takes a more contemplative and laid-back route — “beachy,” as the kids like to say, and very much in step with the globally-informed electronic pop tones of Vacationer and Vampire Weekend. Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
By

The Key Studio Sessions: Voss

Philly rapper Voss has been rocking a pretty funny hashtag of late: #notthewater. While it’s handy as far as name recognition that he’s got a popular aqueous doppelgänger — no sponsorship to speak of yet, though — he’d be making waves even if his last name and stage name were, like, Smith.

Which is to say: Voss is a confident and cunning MC who raps over a choice selection of beats from producers Rob Devious, Ron Swerdon, Architekt & Fearmongerz. Earlier this year, he dropped his debut album Insatiable, and its tone ranges from menacing club bangers matched with bold lyrical swagger (“CSN”) to soulful slow jams (“Respect My Mind”) and pop euphoria (“Oasis,” a flip of the brit rock icons’ “Champagne Supernova”).

His focus as an MC is bold declarations of personal ambition as well as intellectual and spiritual reflections — the closing song he performed during his Key Studio Session, “Found,” pairs him up with vocalist the means on the hook for a study of faith and religion, dissecting its role in modern life. Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
By

Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session: P.S. Eliot

p.s. eliot | Photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN
p.s. eliot | Photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN

Our latest Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session is a very, very special one. Formed in 2007 by sisters Katie and Allison Crutchfield, p.s. eliot released several albums, EPs and singles before disbanding a few short years later. Katie went on to record as Waxahatchee and Allison formed numerous bands of her own, including Swearin‘ (and she’s about to launch her solo career with backing band The Fizz). Reuniting for a string of tour dates (including two sold out stops at PhilaMOCA), p.s. eliot stopped by our studios to play songs from their career-spanning archival release 2007-2011. Joining to Crutchfield twins are guitarist Will Granger and bassist Katherine Simonetti.

Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
By

The Key Studio Sessions: Field Mouse

Rachel Browne and her sister Zoë have called Philadelphia home for the past few years, and in a way, their asskicking indie rock crew Field Mouse has come with them.

Rachel founded the group in Brooklyn back in 2010, and three of her musical companions — guitarist Andrew Futral, bassist Saysha Heinzman and drummer Tim McCoy — still live there. It’s a band of two cities, and as Rachel told Bandcamp Daily earlier this year, both of those cities are equally important to her. Brooklyn is where everything started, it’s got deep nostalgic significance, and it’s also where a lot of her oldest friends reside. But Philly’s DIY music community has opened doors for Field Mouse in a way that they hadn’t previously experienced. Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head