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The Key’s Year-End Mania: John Vettese’s 12 favorite Key Studio Session performances

Philly Bloco's Key Studio Session | Photo by John Vettese
Philly Bloco’s Key Studio Session | Photo by John Vettese

Year-End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2014 awesome. In this installment, editor John Vettese shares his favorite performances recorded in our studio.

There’s no question: the best part about running The Key is producing our weekly Key Studio Sessions series and getting a different Philly-area band to play live for us each week. 2014 was a remarkable year in that regard: we covered more genres than ever before, from hip-hop to Brazilian dance to country and jazz, along with a strong showing from our indie rock, punk and Americana communities. And the performances were all knockouts in their own way, so much so that narrowing it down to merely a top five would have been impossible. So I didn’t. Here are a dozen awesome moments from the Key Studio Sessions this year, presented in chronological order. Continue reading →

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Meet Chelsea Rivers: A rising R&B artist from the Philly scene

Chelsea Rivers | photo via chelseariversmusic.com
Chelsea Rivers | photo via chelseariversmusic.com

Whether it’s because of their voice, their songwriting abilities or the way they perform, Philadelphia’s singers tend to show the most potential of making it with their music. Take for instance newcomer Chelsea Rivers and her single “Coming or Going.” It’s great that the Philly vocalist displays that she has an exceptional voice, but it’s even better that she also shows a talent for crafting a solid song. Continue reading →

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Robert Drake’s Christmas Countdown: Dar Williams performs “The Christians and The Pagans” live

Dar Williams

It’s just 3 days ‘til The Night Before on XPN … and to help get us prepared for 24 hours of yours truly, I present to you a unique holiday song each day!

Another highly-requested song each year comes from an XPN-fave, Dar Williams. By now many of you already know the song “The Christians And The Pagans” – but what you might not know is how close to home that song is to Dar and her family. Here, in a 2011 recording, she explains the creation of this holiday staple before performing the song live.

Be sure to join me for my 22nd annual edition of The Night Before on XPN; 24 hours of me and my eclectic collection of seasonal sounds – midnight to midnight on the 24th day of December … only on WXPN.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Lemuria at Boot and Saddle, HighKick at World Cafe Live, Liz Longley at Ardmore Music Hall and more

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

Buffalo-bred indie pop trio Lemuria return to Philly tonight for a headlining gig at Boot and Saddle. The band has been touring pretty hard in support of its 2013 outing The Distance is So Big, released on Bridge 9 records, so they’re likely due for a follow-up in 2015. Maybe they’ll introduce some new songs in their set tonight. In the meantime, listen to “Oahu, Hawaii” below and get tickets and information on the show at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Mike Bell and the Movies release “American Christmas, Idiot!”

Mike Bell and the Movies at the backstage door | Photo by Peter Murray | petermurrayphotography.com
Mike Bell and the Movies at the backstage door | Photo by Peter Murray | petermurrayphotography.com

Philadelphia power-pop group Mike Bell and the Movies released an original punk Christmas song this week called”American Christmas, Idiot!” The band, which features members from Algernon Cadwallader, Dogs on Acid, and The Weaks is donating all proceeds of sales from the song will go to local music education nonprofit Rock to the Future. The program works with over 300 Philadelphia students each year through after school and in-school programs, and summer camps. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Bruce Warren’s favorite reissues of 2014

The Allman Brothers | Photo by Jim Marshall
The Allman Brothers | Photo by Jim Marshall

Year-End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2014 awesome. In this installment, XPN Program Director Bruce Warren shares his favorite reissues of the year.

Some of the best “new” music I heard this year was old music. Led Zeppelin, The Velvet Underground, Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Tears For Fears all got the reissue/remaster/bonus track treatment in 2014. Dylan released The Basement Tapes Complete, and Miles Davis completists must put their hands on every second of his 1970 Fillmore concerts. Personally I think 2014 was better in the reissue department than the new music department. Here’s a list of some of the best reissues of 2014. Continue reading →

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Slip into After Party Collection by QQQ

QQQ
QQQ | photo via Facebook

Hot off of a music video airing on Rage TV in Australia, Philly’s QQQ have released a new EP called After Party Collection. The four-song record expands on the beat-oriented electronic music of previous video “The Ebullient” (which is included on the EP) and stitches warped synths with found sounds and textured samples.

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Philly hip-hop vet Spade-O talks about the history of the scene with DJ Circuitbreaka

Spade-O | Photo by D. McDowell | via Philly 360
Spade-O | Photo by D. McDowell | via Philly 360

This past week on MyRadioPhilly, DJ Circuitbreaka brought scene veteran Spade-O of Major Figgas on the show to talk about his journey as one of Philadelphia most respected hip hop artists. During the interview Spade-O touched on a plethora of topics: reminiscing about the epic cyphers between Philly his crew and Beanie Sigel’s State Proterty, calling their battles historic and based more in respect than serious rivalry. Continue reading →

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The Week’s Best Free MP3s, incl. Thin Lips, Sympathy and the Lion and more

Thin Lips
Thin Lips | Photo by Yowei Shaw

Thin Lips made their Key Studio Session debut this week. A spin-off of former Philly outfit Dangerous Ponies, Thin Lips refocuses the latter’s carnivalesque energy into high-octane punk. For this session they recorded two tracks from a 7″ called Gemini Moon. Catch the band playing new material at Johnny Brenda’s on New Year’s Eve with Hop Along and check out the title track to the 7″ below.

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