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The Key Studio Sessions: The Vernes

One of the best moments in The Vernes‘ Key Studio Session this week — one that encapsulates them as a band, I think — happens at about a minute and 54 seconds into their performance of “H. Roark.”

It’s a midtempo, sorta breezy jangle-pop number, the kind The Vernes have done so well since moving to Philly from the Bay Area (following a NYC pitstop). After a buildup from gentle arpeggios to buoyant lead licks from guitarist Fabian Mera — who sways back and forth when he plays in a way that reminds me of Dr. Dog in the early days — we see singer-guitarist Matthew Gragg taking a solo when, while hitting a chord fervently, he gets the his guitar tangled in his headphone cord.

He keeps playing, the headphones get more tangled, and ultimately they topple forward, hanging off his neck until the end of the verse. We’re back in breezy midtempo territory at that point, but not really, since this sort of immersive playing from The Vernes can make even the quietest song electrifying.

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Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
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PHOTOS: Bully at the First Unitarian Church

Bully | photo by Tom Beck for WXPN

Backed by a custom cardboard poster rendering their name in Jello shots (thanks, Paul Vile), Nashville four-piece Bully — the rock and roll trio fronted by singer-guitarist Alicia Bognanno — played the First Unitarian Church basement on Tuesday night. The band is on tour in support of Losing, its second LP and first for Sub Pop. See photos from the show below, and check their U.S. tour dates — which take them all around the country straight through to March.  Continue reading →

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PHOTOS: Slowdive and Cherry Glazerr at Union Transfer

Slowdive | photo by Natalie Piserchio for WXPN | nataliepiserchio.com

Dreampop icons Slowdive performed to a packed house at Union Transfer last night, in support of their outstanding 2017 self-titled record — the band’s first in 22 years. The record glides along to a delicate wash of guitar tone, sound loops, and divine vocal harmonies from band leaders Rachel Goswell and Neal Halstead — last night, the new songs like “Slomo” sat beautifully alongside tracks like “Avalyn” from 1993’s Souvlaki. LA indie rockers Cherry Glazerr opened the show, and you can see photos from it below.

Slowdive wraps up it’s U.S. tour with a few more dates, including an appearance at the Et Cultura Festival in Florida this weekend. From there it heads to Japan in December, then Australia in January and February. Full tour dates can also be found below. Continue reading →

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Listen to Chill Moody on The Oh Word?! Podcast

Chill Moody | Photo by: ellencm.com | ellencm.com
Chill Moody | Photo by: ellencm.com | ellencm.com

After returning to Philly from a short East Coast tour, local hip-hop master Chill Moody made a stop on the most recent episode of Joe Manno’s Oh Word?! podcast. Introduced as “rapper, activist, man of mystery,” the West Philly native delves deep into his music career in the hour-long conversation with Manno, talking candidly about everything from his career milestones to social media to the NBA. Continue reading →

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Vern Matz’s debut, “Trampolines,” portrays personal introspection via changing sonic soundscapes

Vern Matz | photo by Noah Silvestry | courtesy of artist

Philly, meet Vern Matz — a fairly new three-piece hailing from Yale University (which also includes The Key’s own Noah Silvestry, on drums.) Described as “the lovechild of a philosophy major, an investment banker, and a boy with a David Foster Wallace tattoo,” these boys recently recorded their self-titled debut EP at Fishtown’s Miner Street Recordings, which will be released this January. Before then, you can listen to their first single from the EP, “Trampolines,” below. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Downtown Boys at Underground Arts, Grandchildren youth music benefit at Boot & Saddle, Bishop Briggs at The Fillmore, and more

downtown boys
Downtown Boys | photo courtesy of the band

 

Led by feminist activist and vocalist Emma Goldman, Downtown Boys is a hard-hitting punk-rock group hailing from Providence, Rhode Island. The group controls the stage tonight at Underground Arts for the next stop on tour in support of its 2017 record Cost of Living, released this summer on Sub Pop. Listen to it below and check out the show by picking up tickets here. Continue reading →

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PREMIERE: Curtis Cooper’s Messy is a visceral work of compelling catharsis

Curtis Cooper | photo by Abigail Townsend Photography | courtesy of the artist

“I feel like all my closest friends are damaged,” says Philly’s Curtis Cooper. “And I don’t mean damaged in a bad way. I mean they have been beat down in one way or another and they’ve come back, and now they know the difference between having a good life and having a bad life, and they really appreciate what’s going on in their lives now. Those are the kind of people I want to spend time with.”

We’re talking one evening last week over falafel at Mama’s Vegetarian in Center City; “I love coming here,” Cooper comments, “there’s always somebody behind the counter wearing a Clique shirt.” And indeed, we’re handed our pita sandwiches from somebody wearing a jet black LIZARED tee. We grab a table and proceed to talking about Cooper’s personal and creative journey – through drugs, depression, and breakdowns – to their new album Messy, released this week. Continue reading →

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Desoto Jones to play anniversary benefit show at Underground Arts

Desoto Jones | courtesy of the artist
Desoto Jones | courtesy of the artist

Philly modern rock group Desoto Jones returns to Underground Arts on December 10th to celebrate ten years of their Deep Elm Records album, Aurora. All proceeds from the night will go to drummer Adam Francois and his wife Tracy as they continue to fight Adam’s battle with cancer. The show will feature an amalgam of cross-over acts to open, featuring past members of bands like A Life Once Lost and June Spirit as they embark on their current projects, Perilune and Keeper. Continue reading →

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The Suffers show off their instrumental chops and groove hard on new single “I Think I Love You”

The Suffers | photo courtesy of the artist
The Suffers | photo courtesy of the artist

With a big band mentality and a passion for extending into a huge range of genres, The Suffers are back with a contagious new jam “I Think I Love You.” The single is the ten-piece Houston multi-instrumentalist collective’s first release since their impressive self titled debut in 2016. There are very few groups today that boast such a large spectrum of instruments while still being able to adequately cover genres all the way from reggae to trap, and The Suffers nail it across the board. Continue reading →