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The Key Studio Sessions: Mannequin Pussy

It’s certainly not inaccurate to call Philly’s Mannequin Pussy a punk band. We’ve described them that way quite a bit, and given the revved up guitars, vocal howls and minute-and-a-half songs that make this year’s Romantic such a gripping listen, it’s not entirely inaccurate. But sometimes “punk” can be a limiting bit of jargon, especially when used in the more puritanical sense — the definition that eschews ambitious production, or nuanced songwriting, or any kind of artistic complexity.

And complexity, no doubt, is compelling. It can be the dynamic tide of the album’s title track, or the interspersing of acoustic arrangements amid the fray. It can be frontwoman Marisa Dabice’s bold vocals that are as much of an emotional gut-punch on the tender melodies as they are on the visceral snarls. So in that regard, I would say that Mannequin Pussy are absolutely not punk, and all the better for it. Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
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New Year’s Eve is a month away. What concert are you going to?

Kurt Vile at #XPNFest | photo by Noah Silvestry for WXPN

We’re drawing to the close of 2016, and as always, we here at The Key recommend you give 2016 the boot with live music. Spending that special moment that brings us into our annual chance for a new start at a concert with hundreds or even thousands of people who are all on the same page as you — for those few hours, the feeling is exhilarating and even a little magical. Compare this to the cycle of looking at your phone, standing in circles trying to connect with people that you know primarily through Facebook and most times drinking way too much in your quest to achieve that perfect New Year’s Eve moment that movies like When Harry Met Sally have elevated just out of reality’s reach.

Given, I’ve been going the latter route for the majority of my adult life and some of my fondest memories are searching for lost phones or helping my friend figure out the name of the cute guy with the green hat the morning after. BUT I knew that after happening upon a house show on New Year’s Eve a few years back, no party could ever fill me with the same ecstasy as the music and all the people in that basement did in 2013. So, if you’re looking to try something new, check out your Philly-area options for musical New Year’s celebrations. Continue reading →

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PREMIERE: MINKA shatters illusions in the surreal “My Room” video

Minka | photo courtesy of the artist
Minka | photo by Matt Kelly | instagram.com/kaiyotephoto | courtesy of the artist

Last year, Philly dance-rock outfit MINKA released the glammed-up pop jam “My Room,” a song we praised at the time for its healthy embrace of all things Bowie. Today, as the band prepares to cap 2016 with a pair of shows, we bring you the immersive video for the song, directed by Ian Ross and Tyler Pakstis and starring Chad Fisher, Caroline Cummings, and Laura Schott. Continue reading →

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Watch Summer Fiction play “Perfume Paper” live in the Divine Lorraine

Summer Fiction | photo courtesy of the artist
Summer Fiction | photo courtesy of the artist

Philly / NYC pop five-piece Summer Fiction returns to South Philly tomorrow night to headline Boot and Saddle. The band’s lovely sophomore record Himalaya came out in June of 2015, and a newly-released video finds Bill Ricchini and his mates performing its single “Perfume Paper” live in the desolate, graffiti-tagged interior of the Divine Lorraine Hotel on North Broad Street.

It’s the final installment in a series of videos Summer Fiction created for the album, and likewise, it might just be one of the final documents of the Divine Lorraine’s beautiful decay that Philly’s urb-ex community has flocked over the years. Renovations at the towering building been under way for the better part of the year, and Ricchini is looking ahead to his next collection of Summer Fiction songs. For now, bide your time with painted walls and “Perfume Paper” and get tickets and more information on the show at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Something is afoot in Strand of Oaks-land

Strand of Oak
Strand of Oak| Photo by Dusdin Condren

For the most part, Strand of Oaks has laid low for 2016. There were a few festival gigs, including Shaky Knees, and of course his year-end sold-out Winter Classic run at Boot and Saddle this weekend — with an Arden Gild Hall performance the night before (tix still available for that). But after a mammoth two years of promoting 2014’s breakout LP HEAL, it’s totally understandable that Oaks main man Tim Showalter would need to step back and recharge. We’ve heard he spent a lot of time in the past several months hiking the Wissahickon trails. It’s seems, though, that the hibernation period is over and something new from Oaks is on the way very shortly.

Yesterday, a teaser video went up on the Strand of Oaks Facebook page — 30 moody and mysterious seconds of Showalter putting on his rings and black tanktop, his necklace and shades, his trademark denim jacket celebrating Sleep’s Dopesmoker. In the background, a haunting ambient guitar and pensive vocals from what sounds like a new Oaks song play. “He ran away,” Showalter sings. “He went searching. He came back, tired of looking.” Continue reading →

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Dylan Jane shares electrified video for “What It Seems” off of new EP

dylan jane
Dylan Jane | photo courtesy of the artist

Our first taste of Dylan Jane‘s latest EP was “What It Seems,” a track we premiered for the Bloomsburg, PA native back in the beginning of October. Two months later Deceiving Yourself and Everyone Else has been released and Dylan, who expanded her acoustic folk sound to encompass a more dynamic range of feelings on the record, has a new video for the single.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: MH The Verb at Silk City, Diana at Boot and Saddle and A.M. Mills at Ortlieb’s

MH The Verb | Photo courtesy of the artist
MH The Verb | Photo courtesy of the artist

Philadelphia jazz-inspired hip-hop artist MH The Verb plays tonight at Silk City. The rapper recently released a video for his song “Last Dance” commemorating the 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut in collaboration with his production collective ArtHouse95. Check out the video for “Last Dance” below and click here for more information and tickets. Continue reading →

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Bilal strikes a synth-soul pose with new video for “Pleasure Toy”

bilal
Bilal | Photo by Kawai Matthews

Philadelphia native Bilal is back with a video for “Pleasure Toy,” a track taken from last year’s In Another Life LP that teams up the soul singer with rapper Big K.R.I.T. The clip follows up a trio of songs Bilal recorded with Common for the latter’s upcoming album that tackled mass incarceration, the existence of God, and the Civil Rights movement.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Lizzo at The Foundry and Fruit Bats at Underground Arts

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

Minneapolis artist Lizzo is bringing her spunky style of alternative hip-hop to the Foundry at the Fillmore tonight. She is currently touring in support of her first release with Atlantic Records, Coconut Oil. Tickets and more information can be found on the WXPN Concert Calendar; watch the video for “Phone” below. Continue reading →