Slingshot Dakota to Everybody Hits: “Listen to more Fugazi”

Slingshot Dakota | Photo by Sydney Schaefer for WXPN |

Just last week, Bethlehem sweethearts Carly Commando and Tom Patterson of Slingshot Dakota set out on a month long tour with Philly indie pop outfit and XPN Fest alums Kississippi. On Sunday night, this stellar lineup made its way to Philly, where both bands played Girard Avenue’s Everybody Hits: batting cage by day, music venue by night. Continue reading →


Watch Fugazi rage at a WKDU band bash circa 1991

Flyer for Fugazi's March 2, 1991 Philly show
Flyer for Fugazi’s March 2, 1991 Philly show

Here’s an incredible bit of Throwback Thursday action for you: iconic DC post-hardcore outfit Fugazi played a show at the Creese Student Center on Drexel’s campus in March of 1991, and thanks to a tweet from WKDU this morning, I’ve stumbled across a treasure trove of YouTube videos from the show – as well as a recording of it over at the Dischord Records website. Continue reading →


The spirit of Fugazi is alive in Philly’s Cassavetes and Split Red

Cassavetes | Photo via

Sure, it’s possible that Philly punk four-piece Cassavetes picked its name as a tip of the hat to the American actor-director who starred in Rosemary’s Baby and directed Faces, A Woman Under the Influence and a host of others. It’s equally possible – and, listening to the music, maybe more probable – that the band is making a nod to “Cassavetes” the song, which appeared on In on the Kill Taker, the killer 1993 album from DC DIY icons Fugazi.

The members of Cassavetes have been kicking around the scene for a while now. Continue reading →


Stream “Transmission” by Deathfix, a new project from Fugazi’s Brendan Canty (playing Johnny Brenda’s on 3/15)

Deathfix2WebDeathfix, a collaboration between industry veterans Brendan Canty (Fugazi) and Richard Morel (Morel, Blowoff) released their debut self-titled LP last month on Dischord Records.  Rising out of the deeply rooted DC punk scene, Deathfix has abandoned its primary members’ backgrounds in the hard-hitting arena of Canty’s past bands and the label’s history, opting for a more new-wavey, polished sound on the full-length’s seven tracks.  There are still moments of punk though, like the heavy guitars on lead track “Better Than Bad” or the raw percussion on “Mind Control,” but the edges have been tempered by catchy pop melodies and jaunts into funk (“Dali’s House”) and prog (“Transmission”).  Deathfix plays Johnny Brenda’s on March 15th alongside Dubpixel with Robin Bell and Wigwams.  Tickets and information for the 21+ show can be found here.  Stream “Transmission” below.


Now Hear This: New songs by Kacey Musgraves, Alexis Taylor, Gwenno, Baloji, Young Fathers, Mount Eerie and more.

Young Fathers
Young Fathers | photo by Julia Noni | courtesy of the artist

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

Last month I was seeing double; this month I’m going solo.

I spent a probably unreasonable amount of time in the last couple weeks compiling a list of my personal top 25 albums of the past 25 years – a time period which happens to correspond, more or less, with my lifespan as an active, conscious listener to contemporary music – and then discussing/dissecting said list in detail via Facebook comments, which turned out to be a surprisingly emotional process.  (The whole undertaking was inspired by a prompt commemorating the 25th anniversary of Philly-based staple Magnet Magazine, wherein the list will eventually be published.)

One thing that struck me along the way was how astonishingly many acts from this time-frame – even the earliest years of it – remain (or have again become) relatively musically active.  Now, maybe it’s just a factor of my age, but I don’t really remember the musical landscape of the ‘90s, for instance, being quite so well populated by artists who’d been around since the ’70s.  Of the twenty-five artists who made my list, all but four are either still at it or at it again: two have died (Elliott Smith and Aaliyah; three if you count Stereolab’s Mary Hansen), but only two – Rachel Stevens and Aberfeldy – have, to my knowledge, simply stopped making music.   Continue reading →


Introducing The Skeleton Key: Our new DIY scene gossip column covering Bowie donuts to a Dead Moon tribute this month


Philadelphia is a really huge city. Like, absolutely massive. Next time you have the chance to fly into or out of PHL, take a good long look out the window: it really is the sixth largest city in the country, and that’s not even counting what’s referred to as the Greater Philadelphia Area AKA the ‘burbs and South Jersey. For most people, the city is limited geographically to where you live, where you work or go to school, and maybe some other landmarks around town. There are plenty of people who rarely find themselves in Center City and others who have never stepped foot in the suburbs.

As the place for Philadelphia music news, The Key strives to reach all citizens of our great city, no matter where they live. To that end, we present our newest column, The Skeleton Key. Our aim with this is not just to supply all of you with the latest news and rumors about everything going on in the city but also to better promote some of the bands that might be a bit more under the radar.

Before I move on to this month’s edition, a quick bit of housekeeping: I want to make sure that it’s quite clear that the idea for this is very much in homage to – that’s the nice way of saying ripping off, right? – the great work my fellow Key contributor A.D. Amorosi did for more than two decades at The City Paper, specifically the regular column he wrote called The Icepack. Also, a quick bit about me! I am a music journalist and photographer, a college radio DJ at WKDU 91.7FM, and someone who has been going to shows for way too long. I’ve also started booking bands over the past few years, which is both wonderfully rewarding and the biggest pain in the ass known to man.

Here are some of the topics this column will cover: upcoming shows, news about bands going into the studio or putting out albums, promotion of other bits of music journalism you might have missed, talk about old bands, rumors about new ones, and everything in between. If you want to send in some HOT TIPS or COOL RUMORS – I know you do! – you can reach me via e-mail or find me on Twitter at @talkofthetizzy. Continue reading →


The Key’s Year-End Mania: John Vettese’s Top Six Philly Music Discoveries of 2017

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

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. To kick off the series, Key editor John Vettese recaps six of his favorite Philadelphia music discoveries from the past 12 months.

Earlier today, I was listening to a conversation with Johnny Brenda’s talent buyer Chris Ward on the 25 O’Clock podcast, and he made a very interesting point. The bumper crop of musical talent in Philadelphia, or what is often perceived as such, is no sudden phenomenon. It’s not as though, pre-2006, the city was in some dire straits or a lesser creative state, and has subsequently grown and evolved to the present-day bursting of the proverbial seams.

The truth is that amazing music — rap music, rock music, pop music, soul music — has always existed in the 215; in many cases (the Gamble & Huff era), it’s downright thrived. But as Ward pointed out, a more recent confluence of factors and persons and places and institutions over the past decade (like him and JBs, I might add, or like our friends at The Deli and Jump, or like countless others) have helped amplify the scene tremendously.

Every year around this time, as we launch into The Key’s annual year-in-review extravaganza, I begin by sitting down and reflecting on the new artists and new-to-me artists who, over the past twelve months, have knocked me sideways. There have always been artists like this in Philly, whether or not the outside world is paying attention. And there always will be; even if, at some point, the zeitgeist declares Philly to be “over,” if you look and listen, you’ll find them continually creating, somehow, somewhere.

Continue reading →


Seven bands from the Philly DIY underground you need to hear right now

Ursula | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Philly is one of those cities (the only city?!) that’s able to contain, harness, and release the unbridled energy of hardcore punk and strange outsider indie rock in the form of four impactful spring festivals and still have enough left to keep the summer righteously shredded.

We came together for Electrifest (queer POC experimental music fest centering LGBT health concerns), Get Better Fest (queerpunk fest put on by the folks at Get Better Records), Break Free Fest (an event centering black and brown hardcore acts) and of course, Philly Shreds (a showcase of punk bands from all over with a heavy Philly edge), but we are still rocking, still falling into our amps in damp, sweltering basements and rolling around in the free dumpstered bagel piles at our local community centers, screaming our hearts out, shouting down The Man.

This article seeks to chronicle the continued mayhem of the Philadelphia punk rock scene, seeking out both the upstart and lesser known bands and the tried and true favorites breathing new life into their sets, as well as highlighting how truly diverse our loud rock scene is. It is exhilarating to think that our community features women, queer / LGBT folks, and people of color playing prominent roles. Sit back and let the pretzel-flavored chaos reign. Continue reading →


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 →


Listening to a Dementor: Spirit of the Beehive on channeling the emotional spectrum for Pleasure Suck

Spirit of the Beehive | photo courtesy of the artist
Spirit of the Beehive | photo by Emily Burtner | courtesy of the artist

Pat Conaboy, drummer of Spirit of the Beehive, stands his bed, which is just a mattress, up against the wall of his bedroom so that the rest of the band can fit their amps, a synth and other gear for practices. The room is densely filled — stepping on cables strewn about the floor is unavoidable. Upon entering, each member of the band is laughing as if they’re old friends just hanging out, beers already in hand. But not long before that cymbals stopped ringing and the amps are now being turned off as practice is being wrapped up. Continue reading →