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Getting to work with Philly punks Dark Thoughts

Dark Thoughts
Dark Thoughts | photo by Yoni Kroll for WXPN

While not all jobs are bad, we’ve all had bad jobs. Maybe it’s a boss who expects you to do twice the work for half the pay. Maybe it’s a coworker who seriously just won’t shut up. Maybe it’s the customers or the owner or the commute or the hours or literally anything. We’ve all been there and it sucks to know that day in and day out nothing will change until you finally get fed up and quit. Work is a necessary and generally positive aspect of life but sometimes it can be such a drag.

At Work, the new album by West Philly punkers Dark Thoughts– Jim Shomo on guitar and lead vocals, Amy Opsasnick on bass, and Daniel Cox on drums – definitely tackles all the important topics: mental health, punk, and coffee. Oh, and work, of course. This isn’t some anthemic diatribe about factory life; it’s a lot more fun than that. Clocking in at just over 20 minutes, the twelve songs on the album hit that perfect sweet spot of poppy, catchy music and introspective, intelligent lyrics that you can still very much sing along to.

The record was digitally released on June 15th, physical copies are available this week, and the band plays a release show at the Church on August 24th. We recently sat down with Jim Shomo to talk about some of the bad jobs he’s had – including stints as a toy train conductor and way too much time spent serving coffee – and if you can turn a BFA in sculpture into riches. For the answer to that age-old question, read on! Continue reading →

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Dark Thoughts channel punk’s roots on At Work

Dark Thoughts | via WKDU.org

The first word any writer reaches for when talking about Philly punk trio Dark Thoughts is “Ramones.” From the moment singer-guitarist Jim Shomo shouts “Gimmie soda! Gimmie soda! Gimmie something I can drink!” on the opening track, it’s clear that in their delivery, musicianship, and aesthetics, Dark Thoughts are deeply indebted to punk’s royal family.

But their blistering new LP At Work is no mere retread. Like their forefathers, Dark Thoughts know how to walk the line between economy and monotony—delivering a unified and repetitive musical assault with just the right amount of variation in tempo, dynamics, and chord changes to keep the energy at soaring levels. Continue reading →

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Dark Thoughts releases new tape recorded at WKDU

Dark Thoughts | via WKDU.org

Philly punk trio Dark Thoughts released a teaser of new music this week in the form of a live EP, recorded at Drexel University’s radio station, WKDU. Titled Dark Thoughts Live! on WKDU and recorded by Key contributor and WKDU host Yoni Kroll, the live EP contains four tracks split over the two sides. The live tracks are previews of Dark Thought’s upcoming sophomore album, Dark Thoughts at Work.  Continue reading →

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Just Announced: Swearin’ returns to Philly for an Everybody Hits gig

Swearin
Swearin’ | photo by Ali Donahue | courtesy of the artist

A quick note about Swearin’, the revived indie rock four-piece fronted by songwriters Allison Crutchfield and Kyle Gilbride. Firstly, their show in the basement of the First Unitarian Church last night smoked. Sarah Hojsak will have a full report on the proceedings tomorrow, so I won’t steal her thunder, but I will add that if you missed the gig — fear not! Swearin’ just announced a return to their hometown on Saturday, December 8th, when they’ll headline everybody hits, alongside Skeleton Key fave Dark Thoughts. Tickets go on sale tomorrow at noon, more information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.
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The Week Ahead: Jupiter & Okwess, Stef Chura, Nothing, Soul Glo and more

Soul Glo | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Soul Glo | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Can we collectively agree to retire the aughties hipster cliche “Rocktober”? Not because the tenth month of the year is no longer jam-packed with live music — it absolutely is, moreso than ever, as any casual glance at the calendar will tell you — but because there are many more offerings at your disposal this month than mere rock.

This week alone, there is Nigerian-tinged R&B, homegrown hip-hop, jazzy folk, folky punk, and so much more. Here are 27 concerts you can see in Philadelphia in the next seven days, with a whopping eight options on Saturday night. Heck, even Monday has four shows you can choose from — Monday! GTTG, Philly.

Continue reading →

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Listen to Get Better Records talk running a DIY label on the Razorcake Podcast

Ally Einbinder and Alex Licktenhour of Get Better Records | photo via razorcake.org

Alex Licktenhour and Ally Einbinder of Philly / San Francisco punk label Get Better Records showed up on the latest episode of the Razorcake Podcast to play some tracks, and between sets, discuss the operations of their label and the bands they work with. Get Better Records works to represent Philly’s queer arts community, primarily focusing on punk, hardcore, and experimental music in the DIY scene. Some of the artists they have worked with include Sheer Mag, HIRS, Thin Lips, Among Giants, and Cayetana, among others. Listen to the full podcast below. Continue reading →

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The Skeleton Key: Dancehall reggae from Jamaica, psych noise from Italy, post-punk from England…September has you covered!

Hurry Up! | photo via R5 Productions

It’s unreal just how much is happening in Philly this month. I know, I know: I say that every column. But it’s true! Never forget how lucky we are to be living in this great city that has so much going on every single night. Welcome to the September edition of the Skeleton Key. From space rock at PhilaMOCA to Mexican Independence Day at Penn’s Landing to all kinds of punk: we’ve got you covered. Continue reading →

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The Skeleton Key: Pilam is dead, long live Pilam

A flyer for Pi Lam’s notorious Human BBQ, circa 1987

Starting off August’s edition of the Skeleton Key with some breaking news, which for the record is a strange thing when it comes to a column that comes out once a month. Pilam, the venerated “freak frat” at the University of Pennsylvania, is closed, at least temporarily. After more than four decades of being a space for DIY music in Philadelphia, the organization has lost its home. Details are still emerging as to what’s going on but for the time being I’d much rather just focus on the positive. Which, to repeat what I just said, is more than four decades of serving as a home for music in our city. That’s just incredible.

If you were to compile a list of every band that ever played Pilam we’d be here for a very long time. Hell, just looking at the listings of who performed at Human BBQ, the annual all-day concert at the house, is wildly impressive in both quality and quantity. This past year was the 40th BBQ with bands including Old Maybe, Norwegian Arms, Slingshot Dakota, and EDO. Screaming Females and Sadie from Speedy Ortiz played last year, along with a ton of other great bands. Two years ago it was Moor Mother, HIRS, and Japanese Breakfast. We could seriously go on like this forever.

The first time I specifically remember being at the festival was way back in 2001 to see An Albatross, Stinking Lizaveta, and … EDO. Some things never change. Also, I somehow missed Wesley Willis. Maybe I was getting pizza? Continue reading →

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The Week Ahead: Erykah Badu, Rico Nasty, Restorations, Anthony Green and more

Rico Nasty | via facebook.com/officialriconasty

Can it be? A week with fewer than ten concert options? Are we slowing down as the summer wears on? Nah — it’s just a breather, and you should enjoy it, Philly. Here are eight concerts you can see in the next seven days, beginning Thursday with a queen of neo-soul at the Dell and going though Saturday and an acoustic modern rock bill at Lancaster’s Chameleon Club. Continue reading →