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Members of Creepoid, Fight Amp and Ecstatic Vision team up for new punk trio Plaque Marks

Plaque Marks | photo by Adam Wallacavage | via plaquemarks.bandcamp.com

Creepoid, Fight Amp and Ecstatic Vision are all Philly bands that rock in their own right, so you would think a combination of the three would have to rock as well. You’d be correct, and proven so by Plaque Marks, a new hardcore trio formed by Patrick Troxell of Creepoid, Mike McGinnis of Fight Amp and Doug Sabolik of Ecstatic Vision. The band released a two-song single earlier this month and it sure is heavy. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Ecstatic Vision at the First Unitarian Church, Resilient at Tralfamadore

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Ecstatic Vision | photo via facebook.com/ecstaticvision

Ecstatic Vision, riding high after the release of their latest Raw Rock Fury LP, play the First Unitarian Church tonight. The local psych-rock outfit spoke with The Key’s Brian Wilensky about their “blistering” new effort earlier this week, highlighting the songs’ party rock vibes that are carried over from the live shows. Tickets and information for the all-ages show can be found here. Listen to Raw Rock Fury single “You Got It (Or You Don’t)” below.

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Philly’s Ecstatic Vision on making the blistering psychedelic get down of Raw Rock Fury

Ecstatic Vision | via facebook.com/ecstaticvision

Boxes of new t-shirts have arrived, and each member of Ecstatic Vision is checking them out for the first time. They’re unpacking them while Spacemen 3’s “Walkin’ with Jesus” is sound checked from the stage just opposite the room at Underground Arts last month. There are two versions of the shirts, each features the band in a fiery red silhouette, emblazoned with “Raw Rock Fury” to go along with their new album of the same name. And the hard-hitting four-piece would bring exactly that to the stage later that night.

Raw Rock Fury is a scorcher that burns hot and leaves a nothing in its path. It’s undeniably deliberate and a product of the way Ecstatic Vision evolved from their 2015 album, Sonic Praise, which was written predominantly by guitarist and singer, Doug Sabolik, prior to the band’s current lineup being fully formed. Sabolik says he was listening to a lot of African music at the time that inspired the album’s expansive space and looping rhythms underneath his heavy and whirling psych riffs. After saxophonist / guitarist Kevin Nickles sat in with Sabolik, drummer Jordan Crouse and bassist Michael Field Connor enough times following the release of Sonic Praise, they realized their lineup had been solidified and Nickles became a permanent member.

As the band continued writing more material they gradually steered away from the looping rhythms of their origins and veered into what Crouse describes as party rock. However, he and Sabolik assure there’s a bit of a concept to the album that begs a specific question: What is raw rock fury?

“The first [album] had all this tribal stuff and we kind of changed after that,” Sabolik says while venue staff hurry about preparing the bars and floor space before show time. “And then this whole idea of ‘raw rock fury’ came. What is that? So, then we kind of tailored the material around what we thought that would be at the time.” Continue reading →

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Get hyped for Ecstatic Vision’s Underground Arts show with the immersive “Electric Step”

Ecstatic Vision | courtesy of the artist | photo by Michael Connor
Ecstatic Vision | courtesy of the artist | photo by Michael Connor

Ecstatic Vision is #MakingPhillyPsychAgain one tune at a time, releasing the second track from their newest record Raw Rock Fury, “Electric Step.”

The 9-plus minutes gives us more lo-fi psych-jam goodness, as the band’s classic growling vocals overtake the growing anxiety of each six-string swipe, cumulating into a final tremolo face-melter that is only made better by the out-of-nowhere saxophone. It’s everything a psych track needs (and more).

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Fleetwood Mac begins an ecstatic new chapter at Wells Fargo Center

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Fleetwood Mac | Photo by Rachel Barrish | rachelbarrish.com

Fleetwood Mac is a band that continues to grow through the good and bad times,” Lindsey Buckingham told the sold-out Wells Fargo Center crowd on Wednesday night. “Especially in the moment when Christine returned. I can say we have begun a beautiful, poetic and profound chapter.”

It certainly was a nostalgic evening as the legendary rock outfit – reunited with Christine McVie for the first time in 16 years – ripped through hits from their top-selling albums including Fleetwood Mac (1975), Rumours (1977) Tusk (1979) and more. Continue reading →

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Marsha Ambrosius continues her ecstatic personal exploration on Friends & Lovers

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Album art for Friends & Lovers

If an artist’s credentials are supposed to speak for themselves, then few musicians working today have a louder imprint than Marsha Ambrosius. The British-born, Philadelphia-based singer-songwriter is probably best known for her deeply sensual and evocative work as one half of Floetry, the duo whose early-2000s blend of RnB- and hip-hop/spoken word aesthetics made them (and this city) synonymous with neo-soul’s golden age. For those who chose to pay attention, however, the 36-year-old chanteuse has continued to supersede expectations and quietly architect some of the best pop and soul music of the past 15 years; her virtuoso vocals and keen ear for soundscapes and hooks are featured on superstar tracks like Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River” and Michael Jackson’s “Butterflies”, as well as deeper cuts from Alicia Keys, Kelis, and Jazmine Sullivan.

To be sure, “those in the know” are a pretty big group – her 2011 solo debut, Late Nights and Early Mornings, opened at number 2 on the Billboard 200 and sold almost 100,000 copies in its first week. Propelled by big-name production and co-writing from folks as varied as Keys, Just Blaze, and the ever-enigmatic Lauryn Hill, Late Nights mined the depths of Ambrosius’s fiery passion on songs that quietly overtook the RnB charts.

On Friends & Lovers (RCA), which drops today after prolonged record label troubles, Ambrosius builds off of the first album’s themes to deliver something laced with both continuity and explosive uniqueness. This may be Ambrosius’s finest work since her Floetry days, as well as the most complete manifestation of this pop veteran’s creative mission yet.

Ambrosius’s musical genius is based in a mix of her immense talent and lyrical frankness. Seeds planted while she was in Floetry have come to fruition on her solo records, both of whose titles point towards the kinds of experiences that have influenced most of her work. But whereas Late Nights was a bit scattered, a compendium of amazing songs that worked best in isolation, Friends & Lovers is conceptual and inextricable from its whole. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Slowdive at Union Transfer, Arkells at Underground Arts, Plaque Marks at Kung Fu Necktie, and more

Slowdive | photo by Ingrid Pop | courtesy of the artist
Slowdive | photo by Ingrid Pop | courtesy of the artist

Slowdive, a perenniel 90s shoegaze favorite, is back on tour after releasing their first album in 22 years. The band hits the Union Transfer stage to show off their spaced out dreampop sound, which is still solid after their long hiatus. Listen to the self-titled new record below and get tickets and more information on the show at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Items Tagged Philadelphia: See you at a place

Gibbous Moon | via gibbousmoonphilly.bandcamp.com

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

If my Google calendar and Facebook invites are any indicator, this spring is about to get seriously busy. This week, Harmony Woods celebrates their album release at JJ’s Diner on Tuesday, and then it’s XPN’s NonCOMMvention wall-to-wall through Friday. If I have energy Saturday, Trenton Ave Arts Fest and Making Time are possibilities. The following week, Pixies, Macy Gray and Break Free Fest on the radar. The following following week, Roots Picnic.

This has been a mostly chill Mothers’ Day Weekend, a calm before the storm, and besides brunching with my mom at Fishtown’s seriously tasty Front Street Cafe, I’ve spent a lot of time at home, playing catch-up with my Bandcamp listening. It’s been a crazy week in the world, lots or stories involving power and abuse of such — accusations of reprehensible behavior by an artist who was seemingly so right-on, acts of blatant political aggression by leaders (well, one in particular) who makes no attempt to hide who they are.

I thought I’d spend a lot of time in my Items Tagged Philadelphia processing my thoughts around these issues, as I’m wont to do. But then I found a lot of music that perfectly channeled those feelings, so I’ll just dive in to that.

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