R&D Vinyl looks to build community, left-of-center style, in new South Philly digs

R&D Vinyl | photo by David Milstein

Just over a year ago, Queen Village locals started peaking their heads in R&D Vinyl’s original Fourth Street location. At first the curious window shoppers were coming into the store out of earnest friendliness and interest. But quickly things changed, influencing R&D to take their experimental-focused and cassette tape-heavy inventory to a better-suited block of South Philly’s Dickinson Narrows neighborhood.

Now situated only a couple doors off Dickinson Street’s southwest corner at Sixth Street, R&D, which is short for Research and Development, is feeling at home. As a matter of fact, co-owner David Milstein calls that block of Sixth Street home, too. One day he passed the storefront, noticing a “For Rent,” sign on the door, automatically imagining having the store on the same block in which he lives being “kind of like a fantasy.” At the time, he and other co-owner John Mariano, had been considering moving the store for multiple reasons. One of which was the pushback they got from Queen Village residents throughout R&D’s inaugural year in business. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Joe Jack Talcum at Boot and Saddle, Ross Bellenoit at Ortlieb’s

The Dead Milkmen
The Dead Milkmen | Photo by Morgan Smith for WXPN |

Philly rock scene vet Joe Jack Talcum – guitarist and singer for The Dead Milkmen – wraps up a short spring tour with F. Woods tonight at Boot & Saddle. From acoustic solo cassettes in the 80s and 90s to side projects like Butterfly Fairweather and The Cheesies, and splits with Mischief Brew and Ratboy, Joe is a busy songwriter. Philly’s F. Woods, formerly of Mercury Radio Theater, is working on a followup to his 2015 solo debut Found On Road Dead — read an interview with him about his wildly eclectic project here. Opening the show is a solo set from T.J. Kong, aka grizzleld storytelling songwriter Dan Bruscewicz, who is due for a new release of his own. Tickets and more information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert CalendarContinue reading →


Break Free Fest Spotlight: Minority Threat

Minority Threat | via

“For years punk and hardcore have been deemed white genres of music,” write the organizers of Philly’s Break Free Fest, “pushing aside and ignoring people of color who have been shaping it for years.” The festival, which takes place on Saturday, May 27th at The Rotunda in West Philadelphia, seeks to bring those marginalized artists together and to the front. All week long leading up to the event, we’re highlighting some of the performers on the bill.

Minority Threat / Columbus, Ohio

1. Who is in the band, how long have you been around for, and how would you describe what you’re doing to someone who might not be familiar?

Minority Threat is Jordan (vocals), Antonio (drums), Winston (bass) and Darrell (guitar). We’ve been doing the band for about two years. We all grew up in punk/hardcore in different cities all over Ohio, and none of us had bands around that spoke on issues from a person of color’s perspective. Once we all met, we decided to make the band we always wanted to see.

2. What are you most excited about when it comes to Break Free Fest?

Every other band that’s playing. The lineup is unreal. Continue reading →


Cloud Nothings lead a four-band bill of gritty indie rock at Chameleon Club

Cloud Nothings | photo by Lauren Rosier for WXPN

Cleveland indie rock band Cloud Nothings played a killer, high-energy set to close out a four-band bill at Lancaster’s Chameleon Club on Sunday night. Blending the grittiness and raw power of garage rock with the high energy of pop punk, the band went in heavy and unrelenting; throughout the set, lead vocalist and guitarist Dylan Baldi was one of the hardest playing guitarists I’ve seen live.

The quartet performed songs from their latest release, Life Without Sound, as well as tracks from older releases including “I’m Not Part of Me” from Here And Nowhere Else. They had great energy in their musicianship, but the stage presence could’ve been a little more enthusiastic. The crowd nonetheless showed their enthusiasm for Cloud Nothings’ music through singing along and much head bopping. I wasn’t so keen on the muddy layering of instruments and vocals; I’ve seen countless bands in my life and it’s always bothered me when the instruments and vocals aren’t balanced. On the other hand, I’m wondering if it’s part of the band’s live sound. Continue reading →


Spruce Street Harbor Park’s summer concert series includes Donn T, Louie Louie, Cruisr, Derrick Hodge and so many more

roots picnic
Donn T | Photo by John Vettese

Free concerts at the Delaware Waterfront’s Spruce Street Harbor Park have become a highlight of every summer over the past four years, and this year brings one of the strongest lineups yet.

Kicking off on June 1st with Straw Hats and The Retinas, the series runs every Thursday night through August 31st, when it wraps with two sets by West Philadelphia Orchestra. In between, Philly artists like singer-songwriter Donn T, retro rock four-piece Louie Louie, indie pop outfit Cruisr, jazz bassist Derrick Hodge, rapper Chill Moody, rockers Oldermost and more will perform. The shows are all free and open to the public. Continue reading →


Just Announced: The Spirit of the Beehive and Abi Reimold will open for The Districts at Union Transfer

The Spirit Of The Beehive | photo by Emily Burtner | courtesy of the artist
The Spirit Of The Beehive | photo by Emily Burtner | courtesy of the artist

We’re very excited for The Districts‘ forthcoming third LP Popular Manipulations around here at Key HQ, especially after watching them slay five new songs from the record at NonCOMM last week. To make their August 11th album release party at Union Transfer even more of an event, the band just announced the openers for the show, and it’s turned into a tremendous all-Philly bill. Continue reading →


Check out Camp Candle’s dreamy new electropop EP Light

Camp Candle | photo via

We can’t get enough of Philly-based indie-electro-hip-hop duo Camp Candle over here at The Key. And neither should you, because these two cool cats make some extremely sick tunes.

Following the success of last year’s ERE, Camp Candle recently dropped their new EP titled, Light — blessing us with three new tracks to be swept away in. Previewing the release a few months back, first single “Fogged Glass” had us feeling the XX and Blood Orange vibes, while dreamily-whispered “Forever Light” slows it down a notch with bits of purposeful percussion, and “Before the Night” closes out Light with hazy 80’s synth fusions. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Marian Hill at TLA, Pixies at Electric Factory

Marian Hill | photo by Ben Wong for WXPN |
Marian Hill | photo by Ben Wong for WXPN |

Philly-founded electro duo Marian Hill returns hope with a performance at the TLA tonight. Mixing lead singer, Samantha Gongol’s jazzy stylings with Jeremy Lloyd’s cool, hypnotic beats, the group is a perfect balance of old-school swing and fresh production. Find info on the show at the XPN Concert Calendar, and watch the video for their addicting song, “Down,” below. Continue reading →


Items Tagged Philadelphia: The evolution of the arm

Trash Knife | via

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.

Sometimes you don’t realize how much you need something until you’re immersed in it.

Like a lot of people my age, I fell powerfully into the work of filmmaker David Lynch some twenty years ago; the spark for me was Lost Highway, the cerebral/abstract noir-erotica mystery scored by Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor. I was moderately obsessed with that band in my younger days; Reznor could have scored a Raisin Bran commercial and I would have been freaking the heck out. Thankfully, Lost Highway was a bit more rewarding as a cinematic work, and through it I worked my way backwards through Lynch’s filmography. First to Twin Peaks, his surrealist serial TV show that confounded audiences for two seasons in the early 90s — for most, this was probably their entry point — and further back still to Eraserhead and (god help me) Dune.

I’m a fan of Lynch’s work to this day. I love that I live in a city where a prominent music venue and art space celebrates him once per annum, and I was thrilled that I got to see Lynch speak at the Prince Theater upon the occasion of his painting exhibition opening at PAFA in 2015. But short of a Twin Peaks re-watch leading up to that art show, I don’t think about Lynch as often as I used to in my twenties, when I practically made a pasttime out of, say, popping on a VHS of Blue Velvet and watching it with the lights turned low and not getting a heck of a lot of sleep that night as my brain tried to pick apart what just had rattled it. I used to believe that there were clues to meaning all over his work, and by watching it enough, I’d solve the puzzle. Continue reading →


Soul Saving: How one man’s obsession with old 45s gave birth to Philly’s Brewerytown Beats

Brewerytown Beats | photo by Ben Wong for WXPN |

When Maxwell Ochester’s neighbor asked the then Mt. Airy teen’s parents if he could borrow him one weekend to work Brooklyn’s Roosevelt Record Swap, he probably didn’t know that he was changing a very small life. But he was. At the time, Max was hooked on records of the standard classic rock fare—Guns n’ Roses and Poison, for example. Hip hop, soul and funk were still a bit foreign to him. Foreigner was less so. But when Max got situated behind the booth at his first NYC swap, he found himself face-to-face with some of hip-hop’s biggest artists of that era.

“It just so happened that one of the first shows we did was this now super famous record show in New York where all the hip-hop artists from the early 90s were getting their samples from. So A Tribe Called Quest and Pete Rock & CL Smooth would all buy albums to sample for their records. So that’s how I got into it but I also got hooked right then. I was like, Oh my god, Q-tip is buying a record from me,” he remembers.

Today, that kid is 39 and he owns Brewerytown Beats, arguably the best record shop in the city of Philadelphia. And he wouldn’t have what he has, which includes approximately 20,0000 records and a coveted role as A&R and co-distributor for Jamie/Guyden Records, if it wasn’t for his experience at the swaps. “Watching Q-tip and Pete Rock and all these guys that I looked up to and the stuff that they would buy, I would really pay attention,” he says. “I used to watch what they would buy and then I’d listen to their music and try to dissect and find what kind of samples they were using for their music—and that’s how I got into it.” Continue reading →