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PREMIERE: American Trappist evokes sunny so-Cal, collabs with Hemming on new retro ballad “Soot”

American Trappist | photo by Brian L. Tice, Jr. | courtesy of artist

After River City Extension disbanded a couple years back, Joe Michelini started creating tunes under the name of American Trappist. With his self-titled debut last year, Michelini took listeners on a bluesy, folky, gritty sonic journey trekking from suburbia to crossing dusty Western plains and atmospheric desert landscapes.

Now, with a new track in hand, American Trappist seems to be continuing his westward U.S. excursion with a stop in sunny so-Cal. Although the song is titled “Soot,” its sound differs drastically from the smudgy darkness that the name suggests — instead, it jams along to a beat of retro garage rock goodness.

In addition to breezy guitar riffs, this shift in sound is aided by the grandiose, earnest vocals of the 60’s-esque duet between Michelini and Hemming’s Candice Martell. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Pick: Jesse Hale Moore at Johnny Brenda’s

Jesse Hale Moore | photo courtesy of the artist
Jesse Hale Moore | photo courtesy of the artist

Local singer-songwriter Jesse Hale Moore returns to Johnny Brenda’s tonight in support of his recent debut LP Green End. The R&B-influenced musician is known for his captivating solo sets, and the chill vibes of JB’s should provide the perfect setting to take in the magic. Dark Rooms and Strange Parts open the show. Watch “Leave You Lonely,” from Moore’s recent World Cafe session, below. Find more information on the show over at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Listen to Joey Sweeney & the Neon Grease’s mellow new track “Digital Light”

Joey Sweeney & The Neon Grease | photo courtesy of the artist

Native Philadelphian Joey Sweeney has been writing songs and playing music since the 80s. Though he has gone through many iterations (including The Barnabys, The Trouble With Sweeney, and Arctic Splash, as well as solo work), his brand-new project Joey Sweeney & the Neon Grease is already making quite the impact. Neon Grease first appeared on our radar earlier this summer with debut single “Baptized In Vibe,” a song about Sweeney’s upbringing in 1970s Fishtown, followed last month by retro jam “Black Ice.” Continue reading →

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Items Tagged Philadelphia: The last good day of the year

via robndelaine.bandcamp.com

Here at The Key, we spend a lot of time each week digging through every new release from Philadelphia that shows up on Bandcamp. At the end of each week, we present you with the most interesting, most unusual and overall best of the bunch: this is Items Tagged Philadelphia.

It’s the final weekend of summer, and folks all around me are taking full advantage. WXPN HQ was pretty much a ghost town by 4:00 on Friday afternoon, with most of my coworkers peacing out for long weekends at the shore or in the Poconos or wherever they may roam. Once I exited for the day, I spotted courtyard dining in full effect from Fishtown to NoLibs to Callowhill. Later on, I caught a sweaty, late-night, high-octane set from Philly hip-hop crew Hardwork Movement at Underground Arts, and it was a thing of beauty; as often as music that extols the virtues of party rocking can get blunted down to a businesslike live set, this gig actually felt like a literal party, and the packed house responded in kind. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Arcade Fire at Wells Fargo Center, Willie Nelson at BB&T Pavilion, Annachristie Sapphire at Bourbon and Branch

Arcade Fire | Photo by Michelle Montgomery | www.michellemontgomeryphotography.com

Following the release of Arcade Fire‘s highly anticipated new album Everything Now, the widely-loved indie-rockers-turned-mega-superstars return to play the Wells Fargo Center. Arcade Fire last played the Wells Fargo a little over three years ago — it was their first arena show in Philly and the band’s ambition has only grown since. Read The Key’s review of that show here, arrive early to see XPN Fest alums Preservation Hall Jazz Band open tonight’s show, and get ready for what’s sure to be a memorable experience. Continue reading →

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Ellen Siberian Tiger distills frustration into dance for the “Grinding My Teeth” video

Ellen Siberian Tiger | photo by Emma Silverstone for WXPNPhilly trio Ellen Siberian Tiger ended their week by releasing a music video for “Grinding My Teeth.” The self-proclaimed feminist indie rock group began as Ellen Tiberio-Shultz’s solo project in 2009, evolving through various configurations and ultimately landing on the three-piece it is today. The band prides itself on its use of punk and orchestral influences, and when combined with Tiberio-Shultz’s breathy yet powerful vocals, their overall sound becomes instantly enticing.

“Grinding My Teeth,” found on last year’s Red Blooded Woman EP, is a song of not feeling enough, of that forceful letting go, which is a persistent theme throughout this EP. Just the name of the song itself — “Grinding My Teeth” – evokes frustration, the lyrics are counteracted by a beautiful acoustic guitar and strings. The contrast makes the song a little more settling than if the music behind the lyrics was also intense. Continue reading →

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Philly duo The Phosphenes do good-time basement rock right with Phive

The Phosphenes | photo via facebook.com/thephosphenesband

Local indie outfit The Phosphenes have “Basement Show” written all over them. They’re fun. Their newest album, Phive — their first full release since December of 2014 — is fun, and it’s the first one we’ve seen from them in a while, so there’s definitely been some growth from their older releases.

But that’s what I love the most about these underground Philly bands, they’re all about a good time. They’re so carefree in their sound because really, it’s just for them and whoever happens to stumble upon their Bandcamp, because making music is just what they do. Sure, everyone wants to get something out of it someday, but for today, the point is to just make music, and The Phosphenes do it right. Continue reading →

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PREMIERE: Soraia reflects on the late Jeff Buckley in “Wandering Star”

Soraia | photo by Mark Weiss | courtesy of the artist
Soraia | photo by Mark Weiss | courtesy of the artist

Philly hard rock force of nature Soraia is readying its latest project, Dead Reckoning, due out October 13th on Little Steven Van Zandt’s label Wicked Cool Records.

The band’s past releases have focused on high-octane garage rock — overdriven guitars dishing speedy riffage, racing to keep pace with frontwoman ZouZou Mansour’s dynamic vocals — and this record has no shortage of that, right from the opening punch of “Quicksand.” But Soraia also takes advantage of the vinyl LP format to stretch out into the realm of different sounds and styles like glossy 80s pop (“Why?”), arena-ready slow burn anthems (“Come Down, Angel”) and glimmering retro rock, best exemplified in the song we’re premiering for you today, “Wandering Star.”

The penultimate song of the record incorporates classic 50s guitar arpeggios and a tremolo effect in the vein of Santo & Johnny’s “Sleep Walk,” and when the lyrics kick in, Mansour reflects on love and mortality as it relates to one wandering star in particular. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Big Thief at Electric Factory, Sheila E. in Cedar Park, Superfive at World Cafe Live, plus more

Big Thief | Photo: Shervin Lainez
Big Thief | photo by Shervin Lainez | courtesy of the artist

It’s been a minute since Big Thief have been to Philly. The Brooklyn folk-rockers-who-can-totally-shred have since followed up their 2016 debut album Masterpiece with the comparatively downbeat and emotional Capacity, and now they’re bringing all your favorite tunes to the Electric Factory as part of the Project Pabst festival. Though it’s definitely worth heading over to the festival just to see Big Thief, other standout performers on the lineup include Speedy Ortiz, Thin Lips, and The Menzingers. More information can be found on Project Pabst’s website. Watch Big Thief perform “Paul” for The Key below. Continue reading →

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Celebrate a spooktacular Halloween with Hurry and friends

Hurry | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

Last year, our friends in Hurry brought us their inaugural Halloween Spectacular — a spooky scary costume-filled show stacked with an amazing Philly lineup — and lucky for us, they’re making it an annual thing. Hurry’s 2nd Annual Halloween Spooktacular will bring some ghoulishly good Halloween magic to Everybody Hits on Oct. 28, and whether you’re a fan of the holiday or not, it’s sure to be a show you won’t want to miss. Continue reading →