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Downtown Boys have a few questions to ask you, loudly.

Downtown Boys | photo by Josh Pelta Heller for WXPN

It’s been almost five decades now since Jefferson Airplane asked for volunteers to get out in the street. Where at one point American popular music could be relied on for a soundtrack that catalyzed the grassroots groundswell decrying racial segregation and our unpopular wars, overtly political rock ‘n roll seems to have become unfashionable. Zack de la Rocha and Tom Morello raged for eight years against the Clinton machine, but turned off their amps through the invasion of Iraq. In 2005, Pearl Jam hardly played a full set without impaling a rubber mask of President Bush on a mic stand, but since Trump took office it seems that Eddie Vedder’s been talking about nothing but his hometown’s World Champs, the Chicago Cubs (even if it’s sorta hard to blame him). Anecdotally, at least, it feels sometimes like the days of abundant rock and hip hop that expressed our collective frustration with our dysfunctional institutions, unaccountable abuses of power, unjust policy systemic socioeconomic disease seem to have waned. Hashtags have replaced hands in the air, and if our revolution will not be televised, well at least we can always binge-watch Season 6 of House Of Cards instead.

About that, the Downtown Boys have a few questions to ask you, loudly. The Providence punks brought their kinetic choral rock and roll to Underground Arts on Thursday night with all the energy and swagger of the Dead Kennedys, and the tasteful touch of brass that would make the late Poly Styrene proud. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Downtown Boys at Underground Arts, Grandchildren youth music benefit at Boot & Saddle, Bishop Briggs at The Fillmore, and more

downtown boys
Downtown Boys | photo courtesy of the band

 

Led by feminist activist and vocalist Emma Goldman, Downtown Boys is a hard-hitting punk-rock group hailing from Providence, Rhode Island. The group controls the stage tonight at Underground Arts for the next stop on tour in support of its 2017 record Cost of Living, released this summer on Sub Pop. Listen to it below and check out the show by picking up tickets here. Continue reading →

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Break Prep: New Broncho, Downtown Boys & Shilpa Ray on the Indie Rock Hit Parade

Broncho | Photo by Pooneh Ghana, courtesy of the artist

This week’s Indie Rock Hit Parade will be the last one for a little bit, but believe me I have a very good excuse. Listen at 11pm ET on XPN (right after a week-early edition of Land of the Lost with Robert Drake) for a full two-hour show that’ll hopefully tide you over until our post-XPNFest return. In the spirit of next weekend’s bonanza, we’ll hear from a few IRHP favorites who’ll be joining us at the festival, like Sweet Spirit, Strand of Oaks and Hop Along. We’ll also sample new releases from bands who won’t be at the festival (not this year, anyway). Listen for new singles from Providence political punks Downtown Boys, NYC’s preeminent ‘door girl’ Shilpa Ray, and a roadtrip-ready track from Oklahoma’s Broncho. Preview some of those new tracks below…
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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Downtown Boys at Everybody Hits, Laura Stevenson at Boot and Saddle, Strange Parts at Bourbon and Branch and more

downtown boys
Downtown Boys | photo courtesy of the band

Providence revolutionary rockers Downtown Boys have been making a lot of noise on the underground level the past few years, and with a new deal on Sub Pop Records, this punk five-piece is poised to fight the good fight at a much bigger level. The band just released its latest single, “Somos Chulas (No Somos Pendejas)” — which it told NPR was “a declaration of one’s ability to decolonize one’s mind, and the importance of fearlessly unlearning the ways white supremacy conditions people to think and exist.” Listen below, wait with baited breath (like us) to get word on Downtown Boys’ upcoming Sub Pop LP (no details are available yet), and check the XPN Concert Calendar for tickets and information on the band’s headlining show tonight at Everybody Hits.
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Downtown Boys sound fiercer than ever on “Somos Chulas (No Somos Pendejas)”

downtown boys
Downtown Boys | photo courtesy of the band

Last month, Rhode Island’s Downtown Boys signed to Sub Pop Records with promise of major label debut later this year. It was also promised that Fugazi’s Guy Picciotto would oversee the sessions for that album, but if that sounded too good to be true, the proof is finally here. Their new single “Somos Chulas (No Somos Pendejas),” which translates to “We’re Elegant/Intelligent (We’re not Dumb),” is available for streaming below. Continue reading →

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Downtown Boys sign to Sub Pop, announce show at Everybody Hits

downtown boys
Downtown Boys | photo courtesy of the band

Providence, RI outfit Downtown Boys have become familiar faces in the Philadelphia DIY scene lately, building a grassroots movement around their multi-faceted punk music (think grit, political resistance, and horns) for the last half decade that led to the 2015 release of Full Communism on Don Giovanni Records. Well, the quintet is continuing to move up with this week’s announcement that revered Seattle label Sub Pop has signed them on for a new LP, with Fugazi’s Guy Picciotto joining Communism‘s Greg Norman in the engineering seat.

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Items Tagged Philadelphia: Stop and take a look around

Hell To Pay | via helltopay.bandcamp.com

Here at The Key, we spend a lot of time digging through every new release from Philadelphia that shows up on Bandcamp. Periodically, we’ll check in to present you with the most interesting, most unusual and overall best of the bunch: this is Items Tagged Philadelphia.

Getting out of the space you’re used to, day-in-day-out, is important — whether that be a geographical space or a headspace. It’s a big country, a big world, and most of us occupy one small corner of a slightly larger corner of it. I don’t necessarily consider Philadelphia part of “the bubble“; yeah, we might have a higher concentration of vegan restaurants and locally-sourced grocery co-ops and a more robust creative community than other places around the state, but we are also not lacking in the proudly traditional opposite end of the spectrum. Often those segments of the Philly population disagree, sometimes those disagreements escalate to toxic hostility, and sometimes an event (like, I don’t know, a Super Bowl victory) will bring practically everyone together in celebration and harmony regardless of how different they are as people the rest of the year.

Even with the range of views and voices under the Philly umbrella, it still gives me pause when I find myself in another city or state — or hear stories from musicians who tour through other cities or states — and am reminded of how drastically different America can be from one region to the next. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: PINKWASH at Everybody Hits, Cherry at Boot & Saddle, Bryant Eugene Vazquez at Johnny Brenda’s, and more

Pinkwash
Pinkwash | Photo by John Vettese

West Philly punk rock duo PINKWASH are making some of the loudest, most rage-worthy tunes in the city right now, and they’ll bring their energetic and heavy sound to Everybody Hits tonight for a show with WAND, who are touring support of their recently-released new album Plum, and Darto. PINKWASH’s last release was their debut LP Collective Sigh in 2016, and they recorded a Key Studio Session earlier this year, which you can listen to below. Since guitarist / vocalist Joey Doubek has been busy on tour drumming for Downtown Boys and drummer Ashley Arnwine has been doing the same with Waxahatchee, getting the two bandmates in the same place at once has been rare this year — so don’t miss it. Find more information on tonight’s show here. Continue reading →

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Kill, Jay-Z: HOVA reigns supreme at Made In America day two with Meek Mill, Japanese Breakfast, Kelela and more

Jay-Z and Meek Mill | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Two-plus decades into the game, hip-hop icon Jay-Z is still full of surprises. First there was the lowkey release earlier this summer of 4:44, a terrific back-to-basics collection that easily sits along his canonical records Reasonable DoubtThe Blueprint and The Black Album. Then there was yesterday’s closing set at the Made in America Festival.

After a wide ranging, 90-minute performance touching on everything from “Heart of the City” to “H.O.V.A. (Izzo)” to “Hard Knock Life,” Jay swiftly exited the Rocky Stage after dedicating “Numb / Encore” to the late Chester Bennington of Linkin Park. The lights around Logan Circle came up, the crowd looked around and, perplexed, shrugged to one another, figuring the show had just come to an abrupt conclusion. As the exodus began, stage lights flickered on over at the festival’s Liberty Stage a little ways down the Parkway. Continue reading →