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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Florist at Boot & Saddle, Baby and Shylow at Kung Fu Necktie, Philly Loves Animals at World Cafe Live

Florist | photo via florist.bandcamp.com

Synth-folk outfit Florist released their soft and beautiful LP If Blue Could Be Happiness last month, and its intricate and gentle songs are the perfect soundtrack for a cozy fall night at Boot & Saddle. With Philly locals Hello Shark and Yowler (who are playing their first-ever full band set) opening the show, it’s a full lineup of introspective and contemplative sounds. Listen to the delicate “Blue Mountain Road” below, and find tickets and more information on the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Listen to an early stream of Florist’s If Blue Could Be Happiness ahead of their Boot & Saddle show

Florist | photo via florist.bandcamp.com

Florist‘s soft synth-folk has a distinct air of rural familiarity and loneliness that sounds like it could only come from a picturesque mountain locale. The project of songwriter Emily Sprague and friends, Florist first crossed the airwaves from the Catskill Mountains with 2013 EP Living Alone, and they’ve woven themselves deeply into our hearts ever since. If Blue Could Be Happiness, the band’s second full-length, releases Friday via Double Double Whammy, but an early stream is available for us to listen to right now. Florist, currently on the road in the midst of an extensive US tour, will make a stop at Boot & Saddle on Oct. 25 with Hello Shark. Continue reading →

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Get emotionally sucker-punched by Florist’s new track, “What I Wanted To Hold,” see them at Boot and Saddle

Florist | photo via florist.bandcamp.com

You know those songs that just kind of sucker punch you with all of the feels? Indie folk / soft synth outfit Florist’s song “What I Wanted to Hold” is one of them. The NY band just shared the heartbreaking single in anticipation of their upcoming sophomore album If Blue Could Be Happiness, which is out on September 29th.

Opening with floaty acoustic strums and the sounds of a life in rewind, the song immediately conjures an intense nostalgia that rivals the likes of Bon Iver’s “Re: Stacks” or “Towers.” Its gentle, sweet chords grab your heart — piercing it with an ache that was nonexistent just moments ago.

And this is all before frontwoman Emily Sprague even opens her mouth. Continue reading →

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XPN Fest Recap: Nilüfer Yanya opens the River Stage with an effortlessly laid-back vibe

Nilüfer Yanya | photo by Ashley Gellman for WXPN

As the afternoon sun heated up the waterfront, Nilüfer Yanya brought her refreshing blend of musical influences to kick off the day’s River Stage lineup. Though Yanya is a classically-trained pianist, for her solo project the London-based singer-songwriter has assembled a backing band of keys, sax and drums. She leads her pop and indie rock influenced songs on guitar, an instrument she taught herself, with an effortlessly laid-back vibe. Continue reading →

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The Skeleton Key: October is haunted with thrift store discos, horror flicks in cemeteries, and gigs from Swearin’ to Sun Ra Arkestra

Sun Ra Arkestra | photo by Koof Ibi Umoren for WXPN

“This year Halloween fell on a weekend and me and the Geto Boys were …” Wait a minute! Halloween isn’t on a weekend this year! But even when it falls on a Wednesday I’m still more excited for Halloween than just about any other day out of the year. It’s not just the special, yearly concerts – Dead Milkmen, Sun Ra Arkestra, all the cover shows happening around town – though that’s a huge part of it. Halloween is this huge celebration of the weird and the wonderful, an excuse to dress up and have fun and get real obsessed with ghosts. And there’s really no better city for Halloween than Philadelphia, which embraces the holiday the second the clock turns midnight on October 1st.

Welcome to the Skeleton Key, your monthly DIY calendar and column here in The Key. Let’s get spooky! Continue reading →

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The Week Ahead: Ani Di Franco, Marian Hill, Bartees and the Strange Fruit, The Feelies and more

Ani DiFranco | photo by GMD Three | courtesy of the artist
Ani DiFranco | photo by GMD Three | courtesy of the artist

Got plans this week? Because, wow, have we got plans for you. It’s a jam-packed seven days ahead of us, with no fewer than 22 concerts at your fingertips in the Philadelphia region (most within city limits, some a short drive away). Get out. See live music. And we’ll catch up with you on the other side. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Megan Cooper’s top ten train tracks (a commute playlist for 2017)

Chastity Belt | photo via chastity-belt.bandcamp.com

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. Today, Megan Cooper shares the soundtrack that kept her sane on SEPTA.

This past year, I’ve spent a quite a bit of time on public transport. Not having a car, while splitting my life between the ‘burbs as I finished up school (woo I’m done!) and the city as I worked and went to many a gig, you could say the R5 Regional Rail line was —  for better or for worse — sort of like a second home to me.

Because although SEPTA often left me shaking my fists towards the sky at impossibly excessive delays, my feelings of seething hatred would immediately melt into warmth and contentment as soon as I’d slump into my window seat — eager for the twenty or so minutes of peace to come. Devoid of road rage and panic that parking spot quests bring, train commutes are a unique kind of solitary experience where the world seems to slow down and stand still as it ironically whirs right past you. So unless you’re on your way to some event you need to get mega hyped for, abrasive and loud tracks don’t really have a place here — at least for me. Though I love me a good ole punk jam, this quiet setting is reserved for reflective mindfulness where chill, soft and introspective songs reign supreme.

So, in no particular order, here’s a list of ten songs that served as my trusty train companions this year. Ranging from laid-back and soothing, to somber and melancholic, to atmospheric and poppy, these songs will get you in your head, make you feel many a feeling, and maybe even give your brain a comforting little hug of solidarity. Continue reading →

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20 albums you shouldn’t overlook in 2017

20 albums you shouldn’t overlook in 2017

The more of your life you spend consuming music, the more you realize an essential truth: the records deemed “the best” in any sort of ranking system — whether it be year-end lists or the Grammys — are not necessarily the ones you should be listening to.

Or not the only ones, rather. An as I said last year, the stuff everyone agrees on is a mere starting point. So while we brought you The Key’s top 15 albums of 2017 earlier this month, today we encourage you to dig deeper and further explore the spectrum of compelling music that was released this year. For this list, we highlight critics’ favorites from The Key’s staff of contributors; albums that topped individual lists but did not crack our overall top 15.

From the life-affirming punk rock of Amanda X to the eviscerating metal of Converge, the defiant electro rock of Fever Ray to the compellingly personal rap of Ruby Ibarra, our writers and photographers make their case for those albums: why they moved them, why they impressed them, why they loved them and why they’re important for you to listen to in 2017. Read (and listen) on for The Key’s roundup of 20 albums you should not overlook in 2017. –John Vettese
Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Drake at Wells Fargo Center, Emily Yacina at PhilaMOCA, Ween at Festival Pier

Drake | via facebook.com/Drake

Back in July, Toronto rapper Drake set off on his Summer Sixteen tour in support of his fourth album Views, released in late April of this year, and tonight he heads to the Wells Fargo Center tonight for one of two Philadelphia performances on the four month long tour (the next will be his penultimate stop before two final nights in Newark). Grab tickets and more info on this show by heading over to the XPN Concert Calendar. Watch the music video for Views’ track “Hotline Bling” below. Continue reading →