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The Key’s Year-End Mania: The Django Pages – A.D. Amorosi’s greyhound rates the hits, disses the misses of the year gone by

Django Amorosi | photo by Reese Amorosi | courtesy of the artist

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. Today, Key contributor A.D. Amorosi turns to his trusty greyhound Django for some musical feedback.

Your best friend does not always like the music that you like. That’s what friends are for. At least this is the case of Django, our greyhound, with whom my wife and I share a loving bond and living/listening space on a daily basis. It’s his house, he just lets us live there.

If I am reviewing a Migos single with Pharrell Williams, he is reviewing it too.  Same with a Johnny Cash box set, a Sheer Mag download, an Archie Shepp YouTube moment, or what-have-you.  If I am laughing at Love & Hip Hop: New York and watching the dilemma between Remy Ma and her husband/manager Papoose, chances are Django is observing this behavior – and my reaction – with his ears pricked high. Does he enjoy everything on Love & Hip Hop? No. Can I tell the difference? Yes. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Aleana at Breedlove Poetry Night, Coping Skills at Lava Space, Vince Tampio at World Cafe Live

Aleana | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Aleana | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Singer and songwriter Aleana checks in with the good folks at Pecola Breedlove and The Freedom Party tonight at APoetArtGallery on West Girard Avenue. After releasing her XXI EP a couple years back, Aleana re-emerged this past year with an alluring single called “S.O.S.,” as well as gigs singing backup in Mars Parker’s band and opening for Hardwork Movement at Underground Arts. Get tickets and more information on tonight’s apperance at Breedlove Poetry Night here. Continue reading →

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Now Hear This – Ambient Edition: New music by Bitchin Bajas, Marcus Fischer, Gyða Valtysdottir, Tom Rogerson with Brian Eno, Gas, The Caretaker, and more

Gyða Valtýsdottir | via gyda.bandcamp.com

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

Last year, in my final installment of Now Hear This over at PhillyVoice, I inaugurated what I’ll now establish as an annual tradition: a column dedicated to the wide, unobtrusive world of ambient music. Ambient is always around us, but the winter is an especially good time for it. No other genre better evokes (or soundtracks) the placid, frosty stillness and/or the glowing, contented, indoorsy warmth that represent the season’s great duality.

Accordingly, there’s been a bumper crop of worthy ambient-leaning releases in the past month or so. Just to name a few, in addition to those I’ll feature below: an intriguing, formally innovative modular drone experiment by the always worthwhile Eluvium; a pair of reissues from indie favorites The Album Leaf; a gorgeous new set of swirling, marimba-heavy instrumental chamber-pop from Thor and Friends; an enjoyable record of ambient-adjacent electronic burblings from Coupler, a.k.a. Lambchop’s Ryan Norris, and a massively acclaimed left-turn into stark ambient purism by the habitually eclectic producer Bibio – whose work I typically enjoy, but which in this instance leaves me persistently, inscrutably cold. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Eleanor Friedberger at Johnny Brenda’s, Control Top at The Galleries at Moore, Ronnie Vega at LAVA Space

Eleanor Friedberger| Photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN | hellerhound.com
Eleanor Friedberger| Photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN | hellerhound.com

Singer-songwriter Eleanor Friedberger makes a solo stop at Johnny Brenda’s tonight, on the road sans band after releasing her latest album New View last year. Local solo artist Jesse Hale Moore opens, so it’ll be a night full of raw and stripped-down tunes. Read The Key’s interview with Friedberger here, watch the video for “He Didn’t Mention His Mother” below, and find tickets and more information on the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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New Orleans born trumpeter Christian Scott reaches out from the birthplace of jazz to embrace its Diaspora of sound

Christian Scott | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

“We have all of this music that has grown out of jazz music over the course of the last 100 years,” says Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah. “What this generation is doing is trying to re-acculturate all of this music and collapse all of it back into a cohesive sound. We’re stretching jazz to fit all of the conventions of the things that have grown out of it”.

With his latest album Diaspora (the second installment of an ambitious trilogy of works he’s releasing this year), the New Orleans born trumpeter / composer seeks to illuminate the underlying harmony of the seemingly disparate musical cultures of the world. The music of Diaspora is a highly thoughtful melding of sophisticated jazz harmony and melody (“Our Lady of New Orleans”) with trap and NOLA Bounce Beats (“IDK” and the title track, respectively). The record is a masterwork which finds Scott and his ensemble reverse-engineering the past ten decades of American popular music, connecting it all back to the roots of the tree, jazz and the blues.

We spoke with him ahead of his September 10, 2017 performance at World Cafe Live. Continue reading →

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Watch DJ Jazzy Jeff build a beat from the ground up using three random vinyl LPs

DJ Jazzy Jeff | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
DJ Jazzy Jeff | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Crafting a good beat is an art — particularly if you’re taking the old school sampledelic approach. Digging up the right records, identifying the right spots of those records and recontextualizing them alongside other records that create something new and wholly engaging…it’s a mix of genius and happenstance. And Philly’s DJ Jazzy Jeff is a master of that balance.

For an illustration, check out this spotlight on the Philly icon that Mass Appeal’s Rhythm Roulette feature put together. In it, producer and record collector Gene Brown pulls his van up to Jeff’s Delaware home — previously seen during his PLAYlist Retreat project — and let him choose three LPs from rows of crates, while blindfolded. He walks away with nuggets from Al Johnson, Reuben Howell and Les Dudek, and sets to focused listening, brainstorming and assembling, and the process is magic to watch. Continue reading →

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Make Music Philly Day returns tomorrow with Sonni Shine, Lazy Eye and more

sonni shine
Sonni Shine | Photo by Josh Pelta-Heller | koalafoto.com

June 21st, the longest day of the year makes for a great opportunity to open your porches, sidewalks, storefronts and yards for local musicians to perform in on and around them. Founded in France back in 1982, the fête is an opportunity to put on free shows by both seasoned and new artists testing their craft. If you’re into checking out what Philly has to offer but don’t know where to start, read through the neighborhood offerings below. And don’t be that guy running around screaming “Freebird” at every musician you see, please. Let’s keep it classy.

Continue reading →

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Chaos, Unity and Rock n’ Roll: In deep with Low Cut Connie

Low Cut Connie | courtesy of the artist
Low Cut Connie | courtesy of the artist

Sitting across from me at an uncomfortable metal table outside of Anthony’s Italian Coffee House in the Italian Market, Low Cut Connie’s flamboyant front man Adam Weiner swipes through cheeky black and white pictures of scantily-clad, partying people on his phone. He holds his phone towards me so I can see the pictures too. Pretty closely. In perfect detail. Maybe too much detail.

As he flips through the pictures, he cracks an impish smile and lets off a nostalgic sigh, as if he’d been describing his first kiss or senior year prom date. In front of him sits a large disposable cup of coffee he bought for $3 and change at Anthony’s, which is surely empty by now. It’s approaching 6 p.m. as Weiner and I near the end of a long two-hour interview, which has had its ups and downs. You could say it’s ending on a high note.

“You look at these pictures and you say, what a fucking great mix of people, you know? It’s all just a few hours with Low Cut Connie,” he emotes as the mid-November wind tussles with his stark black wavy hair. Continue reading →

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Stream a new single from Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, see him at South next month

christian scott
Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah | photo via Bandcamp

When we last checked in on Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, he was blowing minds with his interactive LP/app Stretch Music. It was the latest instance of the New Orleans trumpeter’s left-of-center approach to music, which has evolved over the last decade to honor the jazz, hip hop, and African traditions that filter through his hometown. The melting pot of his music is potently amplified on “The Coronation of X aTunde Adjuah,” a single from his newest album Rebel Ruler. Out now on Ropeadope, the record is the first part of an LP series called The Centennial Trilogy that challenges the politcal status quo.

Continue reading →