Tonight’s Concert Pick: Preen at Everybody Hits

Preen | via

Start your week out with some crushing garage rock from Philly badasses Preen. The four-piece band has a jagged Fidlar / Screamales attitude with bountiful low-end sounds and minor key riffage, and they open the show tonight for Cincy’s Ovlov at Everybody Hits. Listen to the new song “Cereus” below and get tickets and more information on the show hereContinue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Joseph Arthur at Sellersville Theater, Preen at Kung Fu Necktie, The Bul Bey at Boot & Saddle

Joseph Arthur | photo courtesy of the artist
Joseph Arthur | photo by Josephine Bono | courtesy of the artist

Prolific singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur headlines the Sellersville Theater for a perfect midweek pick-me-up. With 14 full-lenths and eleven EPs in his repertoire, Arthur is taking a look back into his long and storied career to celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of Redemption’s Son, his third album that was released in 2002. He is currently on a limited tour to perform Redemption’s Son in its entirety. Available June 23rd, the album will also be rereleased with nine previously unheard bonus tracks. For tickets and show information, check out the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →


Meet Cat Park’s newest music project, the low-key angst-pop duo, tact

tact | photo by Cat Park | courtesy of the artist
tact | photo by Cat Park | courtesy of the artist

It seems that instead of releasing a succession of albums from one singular band — as most musicians do — Philadelphia’s Cat Park simply joins or creates a whole new band every time there’s new songs to share.

Creatively speaking, this separation of sounds and themes makes perfect sense, as this method allows for whatever different, new ideas that come to mind immediately be put to fruition — with the added bonus of not throwing off your bandmates and fanbase.

Continuing in this pattern, Park is now etching in her new duo, tact, to the already-long repertoire of musical projects — which boast the likes of Amanda XEight, All Bad and Preen.

Composed of Park on vocals, guitar, and bass, and Jarret Nathan on drums, tact evokes 90s riot grrl rock as much as 70s punk icon Patti Smith in this brief six-track release. Continue reading →


Festival celebrating DIY publishing in Philadelphia returns to the Rotunda today

A 1982 edition of Savage Pink | via Fanzine Addiction

The Philly Zine Fest has been going strong for 15 years now, an annual gathering of zine makers, zine readers, and just all around zine nerds. They come to The Rotunda every year to share in a community that’s based around a shared love of DIY attitude and ethics and being able to express whatever it is you need to express in printed form. That can range from poetry and art to personal stories to zines about specific topics, like cooking or bike maintenance or politics.

In many ways, the zine, in its most pure photocopied and stapled form, is like a song or album created and recorded by a DIY band. There’s the initial idea that is tweaked and shaped – and tweaked and shaped some more – until a final form is achieved. It’s then ultimately written down or typed out and copied and distributed. Sometimes, if it’s that kind of piece, it can be shared with others in a live setting. Sometimes it’s just between the writer and the reader, a conversation in the hushed tones of mutual experiences and emotions. Seem familiar? Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Harmony Woods at Everybody Hits, Curtis Harding at World Cafe Live, Aster More at Boot & Saddle

Harmony Woods | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN |

If you missed Harmony Woods on the big stage opening for Modern Baseball a few weeks ago, you can still catch them tonight at Everybody Hits. The project of Philadelphia’s Sofia Verbilla, Harmony Woods has been making strides this year following the release of Nothing Special. Verbilla and band joined us for a Folkadelphia + Key Studio session a few months ago, listen below and read The Key’s feature on Harmony Woods hereSave Face, Secret Stuff and Brackish also play tonight; find more information on the Home Outgrown Presents gig here. Continue reading →


Items Tagged Philadelphia: Weather changes moods

Hannah Frances | 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.

I will never not tell you to go see live music in some way or another. It’s part of my role here at The Key — shining a light on the artists that dwell in Philadelphia, as well as the spaces where their art comes to life. It’s just that, often, there’s so much of both of those things.

Friday night, I had a ridiculous amount of gigs to choose between. Two record release parties were on the calendar — one for Radiator Hospital, who headlined the church in support of the awesome and uplifting Play The Songs You Like, and one for Hound, who played Space 1026 to celebrate the asskicking Born Under 76. Technically, there were three, if you consider that The Lame-Os’ opening slot on the Preen / Pears gig at Everybody Hits was in celebration of their new self-titled jawn; and on the non-yay-new-album front, Vita and the Woolf headlined Johnny Brenda’s and The Overcoats played Arden. (To say nothing of huger shows like Ben Folds at The Fillmore, Brand New at the Tower, etc.)

Sometimes we have an embarrassment of riches. Sometimes it’s fine (and necessary) to step away from it all and collect your head. I ultimately chose the Vita show on Friday night — and I’m totally glad I did, it was a thrill to see a band I’d first seen perform to maybe a dozen people at Ortlieb’s a few years back galvanize a sold-out crowd at one of Philly’s most popular venues — but I also haven’t left my house since, pretty much.

And it’s been wonderful. I’ve gotten a lot of reading done, I’ve watched a couple movies, and I’ve listened to a lot of music — stuff that’s been accumulating in my New Music playlist on iTunes as well as new finds on the Philadelphia Bandcamp tag. We are now solidly, seriously in the autumn weather zone, and I’m all-around loving it: the temperature stability after all the seasonal elongation and upheaval we experienced earlier this year, the emergence of playfully macabre decor ahead of Halloween, and the way the turning of the leaves and the cooling of the air guides artists inward to a more reflective headspace.

If that’s the place you’re in as well, you’ll probably find a thing or two to love in the fifteen releases below.

Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Vita and the Woolf at Johnny Brenda’s, Radiator Hospital at the First Unitarian Church, HOUND at Space 1026, and more

Vita and the Woolf | photo by Ebru Yildiz | courtesy of the artist
Vita and the Woolf | photo by Ebru Yildiz | courtesy of the artist

Philly’s own Vita and the Woolf return to town for the final show of their fall tour tonight. The Johnny Brenda’s gig also includes fellow locals Ellen Siberian Tiger and Baltimore’s Soul Cannon. Vita and the Woolf released their excellent debut LP TUNNELS back in June, and they’ve followed it up with a series of stunning music videos — watch the haunting video for “Sun Drop” below. Find tickets and more information on tonight’s show over at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →


The Lame-O’s make their recorded debut, and it’s a ton of fun

The Lame-O’s | photo via

Philly label Lame-O Records has become a local fixture since it was founded in 2012, and now there’s a band that shares its name. The Lame-O’s are a local supergroup of sorts — its members include Modern Baseball‘s Ian Farmer, Lame-O founder Eric Osman who also plays in Cherry, and Evan Bernard of The Superweaks. As if these three guys weren’t busy enough with their main gigs, they somehow found time to write and record a 5-track EP under the new moniker, and the self-titled release is out now on Bandcamp. Continue reading →


Now Hear This: New songs by Torres, Alvvays, Lucky Soul, EMA, Partner, Dent May and more

Alvvays | Photo by Shervin Lainez, courtesy of the artist

Every month, noted song expert K. Ross Hoffman presents Now Hear This, a sampling of fresh specimens for your consideration.

It’s prime time. As summer winds to a close, we’ve arrived emphatically at the part of the year where seemingly every week brings a fresh trove of high-profile new releases. The last few weeks have seen records from what feels like a who’s-who of top-tier “prestige” indie rock acts: The National, Grizzly Bear, Iron and Wine, LCD Soundsystem and, of course, Philly’s entry in the conversation, The War on Drugs. And there’s more right around the corner from Beck, St. Vincent, Destroyer, Wolf Parade and, of course, Philly’s entry in the next phase of the conversation, Kurt Vile (in collaboration with Courtney Barnett.) As always, it’ll be interesting to see which of these albums manage to live up to the anticipation, and how many wind up largely forgotten in a few months time.

But it’s a great time of year for all sorts of music; not just the big names and known entities. There’s so much stuff coming out it’s hard to even keep track of it all, and the influx of well-established acts means higher-than-usual potential for worthy smaller records to slip through the cracks. But I’ll do my best to help – read on for a smattering of relatively under-the-radar releases from the past month or so. No deliberate themes or through-lines this time, but there are a few trends that stick out. Notably, we are now sufficiently far enough removed from last November’s election – and the many varieties of devastating fallout that ensued – that an increasing number of new releases are referencing or responding to the national (and global) political situation at least on some level – and there are several examples below. Also, for no particular reason except that it just happened that way, all of these songs were made by women – well, with one or two exceptions right at the end, but at least those are sung in falsetto. Enjoy! Continue reading →