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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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The Week Ahead: Queen of Jeans, The Diplomats, Drive-By Truckers, Lorde and more

Queen of Jeans | photo by Jessica Lim | courtesy of the artist
Queen of Jeans | photo by Jessica Lim | courtesy of the artist

Your choices are many; your excuses are few. Here are 25 concerts you could see in Philadelphia this week; enough for you to catch one per day, or for the more enterprising of you Key readers, several per day. Starting with folksinger Sam Amidon, and going up to arena pop rocker Lorde, here are our picks for the week ahead. Continue reading →

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Control Top sees right through your power trip on “Type A”

Control Top | photo by Vince Guglielmo | courtesy of the artist

Post-punk trio Control Top creates music with the goal of resisting conformity. And it works — their songs sound totally unlike most others. Over the last few years in the Philly DIY scene, the band has evolved into its own distinct sound while going through shifts in lineup before arriving at its currently tight configuration. Currently, Control Top is led by Ali Carter on vocals and bass, along with guitarist Al Creedon and drummer Alex Licktenhour — Ali, Al, and Alex, conveniently — and the band recently has been hard at work on its first full-length album, Covert Contracts.

While details on the release are still forthcoming, Control Top has shared a new single, “Type A.” Its energy is as urgent as the band’s driven punk sound calls for, and its lyrics are scathing in the best possible way: “I see right through your power trip / One loose screw and you will slip,” Carter sings with determination, “Who gave you the right to decide what’s right / Your false authority is dreadfully boring me.”

Continue reading →

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The Skeleton Key: A Blizzard of gigs for March including Creten lutes, London postpunks, and a Bugg

Palm | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Palm performs at the First Unitarian Church on March 26th | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

You heard that story about Barbara Streisand getting her dog cloned, twice? I’ve been thinking about getting the same thing done to myself, just so I maybe can go to all the awesome shows happening this month. Unfortunately I went to school for journalism and not biomedical engineering so instead of having a mad scientist lair full of half-baked clones walking into walls while screaming, “I can’t wait for Superchunk and Swearin’ next month!” … I’m writing this column saying the same.

Welcome to the March edition of the Skeleton Key, your friendly neighborhood gossip column. As I sit here working on this, the weather report is calling for nonstop rain and possibly even snow for the next 24 hours. But just because it’s gross out doesn’t mean you should stay inside! It doesn’t keep bands home and so it shouldn’t keep you home. So bundle up and get to the gig. Continue reading →

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Introducing The Skeleton Key: Our new DIY scene gossip column covering Bowie donuts to a Dead Moon tribute this month

via dischord.com

Philadelphia is a really huge city. Like, absolutely massive. Next time you have the chance to fly into or out of PHL, take a good long look out the window: it really is the sixth largest city in the country, and that’s not even counting what’s referred to as the Greater Philadelphia Area AKA the ‘burbs and South Jersey. For most people, the city is limited geographically to where you live, where you work or go to school, and maybe some other landmarks around town. There are plenty of people who rarely find themselves in Center City and others who have never stepped foot in the suburbs.

As the place for Philadelphia music news, The Key strives to reach all citizens of our great city, no matter where they live. To that end, we present our newest column, The Skeleton Key. Our aim with this is not just to supply all of you with the latest news and rumors about everything going on in the city but also to better promote some of the bands that might be a bit more under the radar.

Before I move on to this month’s edition, a quick bit of housekeeping: I want to make sure that it’s quite clear that the idea for this is very much in homage to – that’s the nice way of saying ripping off, right? – the great work my fellow Key contributor A.D. Amorosi did for more than two decades at The City Paper, specifically the regular column he wrote called The Icepack. Also, a quick bit about me! I am a music journalist and photographer, a college radio DJ at WKDU 91.7FM, and someone who has been going to shows for way too long. I’ve also started booking bands over the past few years, which is both wonderfully rewarding and the biggest pain in the ass known to man.

Here are some of the topics this column will cover: upcoming shows, news about bands going into the studio or putting out albums, promotion of other bits of music journalism you might have missed, talk about old bands, rumors about new ones, and everything in between. If you want to send in some HOT TIPS or COOL RUMORS – I know you do! – you can reach me via e-mail or find me on Twitter at @talkofthetizzy. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Yoni Kroll’s favorites from the Philly DIY scene

S-21 | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. Today, Key contributing writer Yoni Kroll highlights the best of the Philly DIY underground.

You know what really grinds my gears? Those people who go on and on about how, “There’s no good music being made anymore.” You know who they are: all they want to do is tell you about how music ended in the 60s or the 70s or the 80s or … well, I can’t imagine anyone would say that about the 90s. But it’s a possibility. Anyway, they’re wrong. They’re quite wrong. And you know how I know that? Cause here’s a list of some of the best DIY music to come out in Philadelphia alone just in 2017.

So read it, check out all the bands listed, and the next time somebody tells you that there’s no good music anymore, show them this list and laugh in their face. Continue reading →

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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 →

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Evolution, Not Throwback: Mace Canister Recordings’ Chuck Meehan is a punk scene vet living in the now

Chuck Meehan | photo by Karen Kirchhoff
Chuck Meehan | photo by Karen Kirchhoff for Loud! Fast! Philly! | loudfastphilly.com

Kevin Seconds of the band 7 Seconds might still sing about how he’s “going to stay young until I die,” but he’s in his late 50s at this point, and not getting any younger. That same attitude, this idea of youth as an ideal, has always been one of the pillars of punk. But what if you don’t live fast and die young? You can be like Seconds and still sing those same songs to the same group of nostalgia-seekers looking to regain their past glory or at the very least try and plug in to something that existed well before they were born. Or you can be like Philadelphia’s own Chuck Meehan – same age as Seconds, give or take a few months – and spend your time trying to make the current punk scene better than anything that has ever existed before.

Meehan played bass in hardcore legends YDi in the early 80s, but if you ask anyone who knows him now, that will be way down at the bottom of the list of things they bring up. “Chuck just gets it,” according to Amy Opsasnick, who plays guitar in Ramones-core band Dark Thoughts. “He doesn’t have to rely on living in the past because he is in the present, but can use his past in a positive way — in sharing wild ass stories, pointing out cycles, parallels, and tired trends. He’s more excited about what’s up now.”

When he’s not at his job as a coordinator at an international shipping company, Meehan’s free time is almost completely engulfed by music. He’s a fixture at punk shows across the city. While he sometimes ends up at a more established – read: legal – venue, his heart and soul firmly reside in the chaotic basements and warehouses of DIY punk, spots he jokingly refers to as geographically NOYFB (None of Your Freakin’ Business, in more polite conversation). Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Pick: Lost Balloons at PhilaMOCA

Lost Balloons | photo by Paige Young | via NPR Music

Jaunty indie rock two-piece Lost Balloons pairs Brooklyn-via-Tokyo songwriter Yusuke Okada with Jeff Burke of Denton, TX band Marked Men. Their Hey Summer LP, released back in June, is a collection of upbeat psych pop with a copious helping of DIY fuzz. Tonight, they headline PhilaMOCA with Radiator Hospital and Dark Thoughts. Tickets and more information on the all-ages show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar, listen to Hey Summer below.   Continue reading →