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Philly’s Dear Friend will celebrate their new album at Ortlieb’s on Saturday

Dear Friend | via Bandcamp

Saturday night in Northern Liberties, Philly indie four-piece Dear Friend celebrates its album release at Ortlieb’s. The self-titled album is the band’s first record since 2014, and in the time since, the band has been an active part of the Philly music scene, playing gigs at Philly venues like Boot and Saddle, MilkBoy and Bourbon and Branch. Music from the new album hasn’t made its way online yet, but in the meantime, check out the audio from the band’s 2014 release (also self-titled). Saturday’s show is 21+, tickets start at $10 and can be found here. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Dear Friend at Boot and Saddle, Weezer at BB&T Pavillion, Valley Exit at Kung Fu Necktie

Dear Friend | via Bandcamp

Fuzzed-out Philly riff rockers Dear Friend are at Boot and Saddle tonight, opening the show for Straw Hats and Prism Tatts. The project of singer-guitarist Kenny Luu (and featuring Julia Rainer, a great singer-songwriter in her own right) released its self-titled LP in 2014, and it’s the perfect soundtrack for a long summer weekend. Having just come off a long weekend, we think this will still sound pretty right-on tonight. Listen below and get tickets and more information at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Old Crow Medicine Show paint a picture of friendship and loss in “Dearly Departed Friend”

Photo by Andrea Behrends
Photo by Andrea Behrends

Old Crow Medicine Show frontman Ketch Secor copes with friendship and loss in “Dearly Departed Friend,” a song from the band’s new album Remedy, on July 1st. A chorus of “21 guns for 21 years and American flags in the wind,” paints the picture that the friend lost his life in war, and the tender, mid-tempo country song illustrates the narrator’s grave-site reminiscences at the funeral and his attempts to deal with his friend’s death. Remedy, Old Crow’s fourth album, was recorded at Sound Emporoum studios in Nashville. The band is playing the Philadelphia Folk Festival on August 15th; tickets and information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.

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Now Hear This: New songs from Ry Cooder, Neko Case, Wajatta, Bernice, Dear Nora, Stephen Malkmus and more

Neko Case
Neko Case | photo courtesy of the artist

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

Happy summer, is it?  I guess I got all the pop out of my system last month, cuz it’s about to get pretty indie in here.  You like indy music, right?  Good, cause I’ve got nothing major planned for this month.  After all, independence day is coming up soon.  In this June installment of Now Hear This, at the halfway point of an already-pretty-excellent year for all kindsa music, we’ll take some stock of the wide, white, anglophone (though in this case, hardly at all male) world of probably the least useful genre descriptor there is.  Then, eventually, we’ll get to some other places – Holland, Africa, outer space, Takoma Park.  We’ll meet some bands named after names, check in with some artists who’ve been around for fifty years, or seventy years, and some who went away for a while and have come back to us.  First, though, let’s hear a heavy hit from one of the least-categorizable heavy-hitters out there… Continue reading →

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Martha My Dear: Martha Stuckey goes her own red way with Due To The Sensitive Nature at SEI Innovation Studios

Martha Stuckey | photo by Travis Chantar | courtesy of the artist

Away from her glittering and theatrically driven disco-funk-Philly outfit Red 40 & the Last Groovement, singer-actress-lyricist Martha Stuckey is no less dramatic. It’s just that the characters in Stuckey’s solo sights are more isolated and quite frankly boiled down in number to a noirish, ritualized and sexualized few. And that’s where Due To The Sensitive Nature comes in.

The performance runs from April 12 to 14 at SEI Innovation Studios, and finds Stuckey accompanied by steel guitar and gurgling 80s-ish synths, discovering a hole in her heart and her past that runs along the sweat-filled lines of a modern day James Cain or Erica Jong…an unnerving sensualist place where easy escape seems unlikely. The Key and Martha chatted about leaving homes of all sorts in the midst of a bitter chill. Continue reading →

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Need a friend for the night? Go to a Dead & Company show.

Dead and Company | photo by John Bartol for WXPN

Dead & Company played Wells Fargo Center Thursday night, and after watching this show, I’ve decided that this is a band everybody needs to see at least once. Watching original Grateful Dead members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, and Bill Kreutzmann jam on and on and on with the most notable new member John Mayer is entrancing. It’s hard to look away, even as their jams approach the fifteen minute mark. They’re not just repeating the chorus over and over; they’re following the song’s basic rhythm and structure while also exploring new melodies and ideas on the spot. That’s where the appeal comes from: like the Grateful Dead before them, and the generations of bands they inspired, Dead & Company could play the same setlist throughout their tour and each night would still sound different. Last night, they opened the first set with “Dancing in the Street,” a Martha Reeves and The Vandellas cover, which then seamlessly transitioned into Grateful Dead’s “Ramble on Rose.”

I’ve been to plenty of concerts, but this was the first time that I noticed nearly everybody was off their phone and just watching and present. I’ve never seen that before, ever, especially at a venue as big as the Wells Fargo Center. Everybody was just happy to be there, and listening to these truly timeless songs makes you feel like there could never be anything wrong. When you’re in Dead & Company’s presence, the rest of the world doesn’t exist. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Dear Nora at Johnny Brenda’s, Public Service Broadcasting at The Foundry, The Afghan Whigs at Union Transfer

Dear Nora | photo via katydavidsonandfriends.com

Katy Davidson has been making music and touring under the name Dear Nora since 2000, and the project makes a stop at Johnny Brenda’s in support of the newly-reissued Mountain Rock LP (listen below). After a several-year hiatus, some of which Davidson spent playing as Key Losers, she recently revived Dear Nora to the thrill of her loyal fanbase (the likes of which include former Philadelphians Girlpool, whose song “Dear Nora” is a tribute to the band). Nicholas Krgovich and Hello Shark will open the 21+ show. Continue reading →

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Birdie Busch celebrates life and friendship on new Thunder Bridge LP

Birdie Busch
Birdie Busch | photo courtesy of the artist

If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Birdie Busch over the years, it’s that she cherishes friendships and community and actively works to turn one into the other, often through music. From curating her annual Philly Opry showcase to writing an ode for a close friend who passed away to being involved in neighborhood meetings, the West Philly-turned-Germantown musician has an uncanny ability of bringing people together – so it’s no surprise that her newest album was inspired by a friend as well.

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Ain’t No Party Like a Hemming Party: Watch the new “Some of my Friends” video

From Hemming's "Some of my Friends" video
Candice Martello ducks to avoid a living room crowd surfer in Hemming’s “Some of my Friends” video

We’re super psyched for the release of Hemming‘s self-titled debut here at The Key – it’s in stores both digital and physical this Friday – and we’re doubly psyched to find that the Philly rock project fronted by Candice Martello just released an incredibly fun music video for the best song on the album.  Continue reading →

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RX Bandits, The Dear Hunter and From Indian Lakes put on killer triple bill at Union Transfer

Photo by Cameron Pollock
Photo by Cameron Pollock

Part of why I sought out a position as a writer and photographer at XPN is so I could constantly be exposed to new artists and new musical directions. I’ve found so far that my favorite method of discovery since hopping onboard XPN’s contributor list is by discovering bands at concerts. I’ve learned of myriad artists in this manner, including Strand of Oaks, Parquet Courts, and The 1975. On a warm summer night at Union Transfer, I had the pleasure of discovering and subsequently falling in love with three mind-blowingly fantastic acts: From Indian Lakes, The Dear Hunter, and Rx Bandits.

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