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The Key Studio Sessions: Cabana Wear

There’s something of a common thread in all the bands we’ve seen South Jersey’s Brian Mietz play in over the course of the past decade.

Whether you’re talking the mathy pop of It’s A King Thing, or the poppy introspection of The Not Fur Longs, Mietz has a penchant for irresistible hooks and inviting melody, for nerdish wordplay and 90s style fuzz-tones, and for a sensitive outlook that’s presented in a somewhat self-deprecating way.

We see all of that at play in his new outfit, Cabana Wear, which is the summertime alt-rock project of singer-guitarist Mietz, teamed up with Haddon Heights, NJ scene peers: bassist Dan Saraceni (of By Surprise) guitarist Alec McVey (of Aspiga) and drummer Eric McConathey (of Brackish). Drop the needle on the tidal pool blue vinyl of their self-titled debut LP and you’re greeted with crunchy guitars and bright riffs paying homage to their power pop inspirations from Big Star to Nada Surf to Weezer and beyond.  Continue reading →

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Cabana Wear dusts off their shoulders in the dreamy rock of “Always Loose”

Cabana Wear | photo by Gianna Vadino | courtesy of the artist

New Jersey indie rock four-piece Cabana Wear is comprised of four scene regulars with a serious soft spot for the sparkling, soaring power pop of the late 90s and early aughts. Think Nada Surf, Harvey Danger, and early Weezer — introverted and emotional but still expressive and fun.

The band features singer-guitarist Brian Mietz (The Not Fur Longs, It’s A King Thing), guitarist Alec McVey (Aspiga), bassist Dan Saraceni (By Surprise, The Only Ghost In Town), and drummer Eric McConathey (Brackish). Their chemistry and camaraderie was evident from the get-go, as McVey told The Alternative in a recent interview.

“We didn’t have to go through any weird growing pains of learning to write and play music with each other,” he said. “I’ve never had a band that I was in feel this natural right off the bar before. It’s always gotten there eventually, but it felt like the four of us were all on the same page right from the first practice.”

Cabana Wear’s self-titled debut is out this Friday, March 15th, on Sludge People, and ahead of its release, we’re happy to give you a first listen to one more song from the record. We’ve heard the quirky crunch of “Scaredy Horse” and the determined drive of “Bother You“; today, we bring you the dreamy rocker “Always Loose,” a song that takes down toxic friendships with an ever-increasing fuzz pedal attack. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: The Warhawks

Maybe it’s their working-class roots in Gloucester City, New Jersey, but the work ethic exhibited by rock and roll four-piece The Warhawks is tough to match.

We first met them at WXPN care of the Jake Rabid-hosted Local Show on our XPN2 webstream, and they were just-out-of-high-school teenagers who had already spent years hustling their music at shows around the Delaware Valley and online. They impressed us with a revved-up proto-Key Sessions set featuring serious Kings of Leon vibes; five knockout songs, blazed through on a Sunday afternoon. A couple years later, I ran into them on the streets of Austin, Texas and saw that work ethic in action again when they literally showed up to an unofficial SXSW showcase I was watching and talked their way onto the bill. Chatting to them afterward, that was pretty much their plan — pile in their van, drive to Austin, get their music of the hands of anyone who would listen, play every street corner that would take them.

They’ve kept me in the know about every piece of music they’ve put out since then — brash garage rock bruisers collected on like 2011’s Thief, or 2012’s Ordinary Time. And after a while, I admittedly almost began to take The Warhawks for granted as part of our local music fabric: four dudes who kicked out reliably asskicking projects now and again.

And then this year’s Never Felt So Good happened. And it was that level-up that we’d all been waiting for.

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The Week Ahead: Ariana Grade, Gary Clark Jr., RFA, Noura Mint Seymali, and more

Gary Clark Jr. at Made In America | Photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN
Gary Clark Jr. at Made In America | Photo by Cameron Pollack for WXPN

At the top of the week, it’s Ariana Grande and a set of music to raise your spirits; at the tail end, its Stephen Brodsky of metalcore titans Cave-In with music to haunt your dreams. In between, a massive spectrum of shows that includes acclaimed guitarist Gary Clark Jr., Philly rockers RFA, Mauritanian singer-songwriter Noura Mint Seymali, and much more. Here are 15 concerts to see in the next 7 days all around Philadelphia.
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The Week Ahead: Sidney Gish, Patti LaBelle, Rosali, Espers, and more

Rosali
Rosali | photo by Constance Mensh | courtesy of the artist

The week starts with blues rock ripper Selwyn Birchwood out in the burbs and wraps up in South Philly with the contemplative singer-songwriting of The Afterglows. In between: classic soul, immersive psych, punk rock and more. Here are 17 concerts to see in and around Philadelphia this week.
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