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The Key Studio Sessions: The Hoppin John Orchestra

Philly-area jazz ensemble The Hoppin John Orchestra has been doing its thing for nearly 20 years now, and it has a songbook to prove it. With over 200 selections in its repertoire – amassed by band leader Michael Hood since founding the ten-piece in 1996 – the HJO touches on vintage standards and original compositions in the spirit of Southern ragtime and New Orleans brass band music. Which means this time of year is the band’s busy season. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Bardo Pond

The longer they’re at it, the louder they get. Philadelphia psychedelic mainstays Bardo Pond have been a band for more than two decades at this point. Following an early handful of limited run 7″ singles, their proper debut Bufo Alvarius Amen 29:15 was released in 1995. Those numbers at the end of the album title? That was the running time of the closing track, and it was an epic game-changer. By the end of that year, the band had signed to Matador Records and were opening for Sonic Youth at the Electric Factory.

Over the ensuing years, Bardo Pond released immersive, gripping records at a steady clip. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: OCD: Moosh & Twist

It wasn’t all that long ago that DeQuincy “Moosh” Coleman McRae and Oliver “Twist” Feighan were Haverford High School kids matching up beats with their rhymes and envisioning one day when they’d be rocking massive crowds with their party-positive jams. In just about five years, OCD: Moosh & Twist has grown from being an after school hobby of two dudes who have been friends since sixth grade to becoming their legit careers. They’ve put out a string of well-received mixtapes - The Welcome Mat in 2011, The Vestibule in 2012, and Back to the Basement in 2013 – and last year dropped their first official album, Living Out Loud. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Suburban Living

When he was living in Virginia Beach back in 2011, Wesley Bunch spent a lot of his free time writing and recording songs for a bedroom pop project he dubbed Suburban Living.  It yielded a couple releases: the Twin Peaks-referencing Cooper’s Dream EP in 2012 and the Always Eyes 7″ in 2013. And though some light touring and appearances at CMJ resulted, Bunch wanted more. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Kicking Down Doors

In many ways, Philly-area country folk combo Kicking Down Doors got together by accident. Singer / lyricist Autumn Walden came across singer-guitarist Ernie Tokay at his Little Spiders Have Big Dreams Studio in Chester County; before they’d even known each other for a day, they’d already written a song together. The two musicians clicked so readily and had such a productive streak of writing music together that the project quickly became a functioning band; first a trio with bassist Michelle Lynn, and later a five-piece with Josh Steingard on drums and Stacy Weathers on banjo. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Dylan Jane

In a way, Northeast Pennsylvania native Dylan Jane is making her second go as a songwriter. She grew up playing guitar and listening to records from a range of eras: Bright Eyes all the way back to Carole King. But then schooling led her to teaching, and her songwriting was temporarily put on the shelf until about 2012. “My guitar was getting dusty,” she explains. And she didn’t like that. First came her debut LP: Paint, Clay and other Mediums, recorded in Dupont, Pennsylvania (a small town between Wilkes-Barre and Scranton). She followed it up in fall of 2013 with Songbook Chapter One. As her music began to make its way out of NEPA and Dylan began performing in both Philadelphia and New York, she released her most polished outing to date, last year’s From an Island. With a captivating voice that’s soft and soulful, and a pen that writes story-songs exploring all realms of the human experience – love, betrayal, death, and more – her music instantly hooks you in. This Key Studio Session she recorded with us in early January will do the same. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Paper Hearts

Philly singer-songwriter Angel Ocana met Tiffany Foster in the center city confines of their 9 to 5 day job. Walking around the office one day, he heard her singing to herself, and was struck by her voice. He asked her if she’d be interested in joining his band – which didn’t exist at the time. He was not yet playing drums in Northern Arms, and he only ever performed out solo. By “join my band,” Ocana meant “sing on these songs I’ve written.”

Foster checked out his ideas for songs, and was immediately excited to try it out. “That was two years ago now,” Foster recalls. “I’m so grateful that I said yes, it’s one of the best decision I’ve ever made.” Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Tin Bird Choir

Eight years ago, Eric and Heather Hurlock set up a four-track in their Coventryville living room and committed a handful of Christmas songs to tape. Though they had been home recording since the mid-90s, their band Tin Bird Choir did not properly exist yet. They were just making these compilations to share with friends for the holidays. But those friends liked what they heard, and encouraged them to pursue their music more seriously. Because of those musical holiday favors, their friend Todd Bartolo of the band Youngers asked them to open a up for a show at Chaplin’s coffee shop in Spring City, and the band was born. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Thin Lips

Before Thin Lips, there was Dangerous Ponies. Frontwoman and songwriter Chrissy Tashjian, her brother Mikey on the drums and bassist Kyle Pulley were all part of Philly’s premiere indie rock carnival from 2008 till about 2013. That band was a total blast and a spectacle; glitter, brightly colored costumes, singalong hooks, big arrangements. When that crew split, Tashjian refocused her energy into a more simplified, straightforward punk rock direction. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: HighKick

Philly rock and roll four-piece HighKick had a solid 2014. In June, the guys released Normal View, their latest EP and a big step forward in terms of hooks and production. They toured this summer into the fall, and are wrapping up the year the way they have for the past six years: with the annual HighKixMas variety show at World Cafe Live on December 21st. Though it’s seasonally themed on the one hand – and they do have a double-time version of “Rudolph” with some killer guitar work – the band also has a good assortment of non-holiday jams that we hope fall in the mix as well. Continue reading →