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Listen to Buddie’s social anxiety anthem “Sink”

Buddie | courtesy of the artist

It’s been some time since we’ve heard from Philly punk rock 4-piece Buddie. After their debut in 2016, the band was put on hold as frontperson Daniel Forrest left to work as a conservation biologist in Bioko, Central Africa. Now, reunited with a new lineup, the band is gearing up to release a new EP via Super Wimpy Punch. Continue reading →

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Listen to Entitled, the debut album from Philly fuzz-punks Buddie

Buddie | photo via Bandcamp

The meaning of “alternative” music is not one easily attained. To some, it’s an umbrella term used to describe a multitude of sub-genres. Or, it’s a prefix often applied to anything that deviates from the typical sound of a song’s genre. But when the term “alternative” was first applied to music, it was just as much about the music’s message as it was its sound. And while that meaning has certainly been diluted, it hasn’t been erased. For proof, just look at Philly fuzz-punks Buddie and their new LP Entitled, which the band tagged on Bandcamp as “alternative.” Continue reading →

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Spelling Reform confronts toxic masculinity on “(I’m Believing) The Same Thing”

Spelling Reform | photo by Bob Sweeney | courtesy of the artist

Philly four-piece Spelling Reform is stretching out on its latest record, Stay Inside, beginning with the spirited indie rock we’ve come to know them and building it out into more expansive, contemplative jams in the vein of The Pernice Brothers and late-era Wilco. Recorded with Kyle Pulley at The Headroom Studio, the album will be released via Black Rd. Records on April 5th.

Today, the band released the opening track of Stay Inside, “(I’m Believing) The Same Thing,” an bright power pop dreamscape lifted up by synthesizer textures from new keyboardist Jim Gannon. Lyrically, singer and songwriter Dan Wisniewski uses the song to look at not only toxic masculinity, but the indifferent way other men react when confronted with it.

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Undead, Undead: Bauhaus celebrates 40 years of sound, vision and vibe

Bauhaus | photo by Graham Trott | courtesy of the artist

For all of what “Goth” would become, and has become, in its mass-mediation — everything from an inspiration to the monsters of Columbine to creating all-in-black characters in South Park — its roots were humbler and less violent (if no less theatrical), with its flashpoint occurring after its first focus had splintered: Bauhaus.

Though the British quartet assembled right after post-punk fellowmen The Cure, Magazine, Siouxsie & the Banshees and Joy Division had, Peter Murphy, Kevin Haskins, David J and Daniel Ash were on their own, loners stuck out in Northampton, England with their German art movement magazine images, stuffily serious bat wing impressionism and their T. Rex records before forming Bauhaus. Frankly, the four members of Bauhaus seemed like a gang of one without connection or camaraderie from other acts, coming into the end of the 70s. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Mariah Hall’s Top 7 TV Soundtracks of 2018

The cast of GLOW season 2 | via YouTube

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2018 incredible. Today, Key contributor Mariah Hall recaps seven of her favorite television soundtracks from 2018.

I don’t watch movies anymore. I can’t remember the last time I went to a movie theater, and there’s something about a two hour running time that makes me want to scroll past— maybe it’s an underlying fear of commitment, or the fact that my iPhone has destroyed my attention span. TV shows are so much easier to invest in, and Netflix has made them abundantly accessible. Click on a promising pilot and six hours later you’ve finished an entire season and all of the munchies in your kitchen cabinet. The only way to escape that nagging hole in your chest is to start the next show, and one session of binge watching has turned into a full-blown addiction. Welcome to the Golden Age of Television. Here is my roundup of best binge-worthy shows with killer soundtracks of 2018. Continue reading →

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Now Hear This: New songs from Andy Jenkins, Gang Gang Dance, Gorillaz, Arp, LUMP, Wilder Maker, and more

Orquesta Akokán | via orquestaakokan.bandcamp.com

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

Aw yeah, summer. The entropy, the lethargy, the visceral extremes.  Now, summer makes all sorts of things weird anyway, but I feel like summertime in music-land has gotten especially wonky in recent years. Basically, my take is that the focus on large-scale music festivals which has ballooned over the past decade or so has taken a palpable bite out of non-festival-centric touring itineraries, and thus summer concert calendars, and even, indirectly, album release schedules. (Aside from the overwhelming hype cavalcade of Drake, Jay-Zeyonce and Kanye and Co. all dropping within a matter of weeks, the last few weeks have felt a bit thin for noteworthy new releases, and the rest of July and August, peering ahead, are looking even sparser.) Maybe I’d be less sore about all this if I felt closer to the target audience for either Firefly or Made in America, but as it stands those festivals’ biggest impact on me, personally, has been (presumably) shutting Philly out of proper local headline dates for the makers of some of my favorite music of the year: Janelle Monáe, for instance, and Amen Dunes.

Still, there’s plenty that’s worth seeing, concert-wise, in the coming weeks – it just feels like (even) more of an unpredictable hodge-podge than usual. Some of it is coming in the form of smaller, locally-targeted festivals: there’s XPN’s own XPoNential Festival, of course, and the decidedly weirder and more DIY All Mutable Summer Jam which is running the same weekend (July 27th-28th); I’m also pretty hyped about the free, Latin Roots-affiliated Nuevofest which is coming up this Sunday (read on for more about that.)

Anyhow, this being summertime, what do you say we all take a trip? Just a little musical vacation around the globe and beyond, to points both familiar and strange; real, imaginary and somewhere in between. I can’t say that it will all be straightforward or entirely uncomplicated – what is nowadays, after all – but I do promise we’ll have some fun along the way. And it’ll feel oh so nice to arrive back home at the end.

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Eternal Summers talks owning your weaknesses in the new single “Contenders”

Eternal Summers
Eternal Summers | photo by Tom Daly | courtesy of the artist

How does a band return to indie pop when the world is crumbling around them? How does a lyricist who previously related their thoughts in abstract, poetic observations turn to addressing urgent issues and emotions that are impossible to cloud in mystery?

That was the challenge for Roanoke, Virginia power trio Eternal Summers when working on their new album, Every Day It Feels Like I’m Dying…, which comes out May 4th on Nevado Music. The band’s new single, “Contenders” — which we’re thrilled to give you a first listen to today — addresses feelings of power versus powerlessness through searing guitar tones and urgent rhythms, with frontwoman Nicole Yun crafting lyrical images of competitions and precipices that leave no doubt where the anxiety is coming from.

In a wide-ranging conversation, Yun delves into the importance of embracing your vulnerabilities; shares the outside-the-box influences seeping into Eternal Summers’ music as she approaches her second decade working with bandmates Daniel Cundiff (drums) and Jonathan Woods (bass); ponders the role music should play in confronting societal troubles; and discusses the solo album she hopes to release later this year.

Read on for more, and give a listen to “Contenders” while you’re at it.
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