Although the Philadelphia Folk Fest is a couple months away, they’ve still got some artists to announce. Thankfully, our good friend Helen Leicht is in on the action, announcing her XPNLocal showcase for August 19th from noon to 2 p.m. The showcase (hosted by Leicht) features some of the best up-and-coming locals in the scene, including blues rocker Greg Sover, smooth singer-songwriter Jesse Hale Moore, and electro-rock trio Vita and The Woolf.
Every year, I round up a group of my favorite Philadelphia-area musicians and go to East Norriton’s Morning Star Studios to record the XPN Local Home for the Holidays special. This year’s show was the 8th annual edition, and was broadcast on XPN this past Tuesday, December 20th. Continue reading →
Singer/songwriter Joy Ike will play World Cafe Live at the Queen tonight. Last month, she performed an intimate set at Burlap and Bean, and now, she’ll support Angela Burns at her CD release show. Check out a live performance of “Nomad” from last year’s Escape To The Lake Festival below. Then, head over to XPN’s Concert Calendar for tickets and more information on the show. Continue reading →
For the past decade-plus, rapper / producer / DJ Raj Haldar has built up a catalog of music unlike any in of hip-hop. Working under the stage name Lushlife, Haldar has carved out a very particular sonic space in the pop cultural landscape. On full-length projects like Cassette City, Plateau Vision and 2016’s Ritualize, Lushlife has explored the seemingly improbable fusion of the flossy, stream-of-consciousness approach you hear from rap outsiders like Camp Lo and Wu-Tang’s Ghostface Killah with electronic beats and dense, ornate baroque-pop arrangements reminiscent of Beach Boys’ auteur Brian Wilson.
His latest, No Dead Languages, is a unique detour back into the artist’s musical history. Compiled of recordings made at the turn of the millennium, the EP is a suite of dense, sample-heavy instrumental hip-hop and electronica of the sort that ruled the late 90s / early 2000s.
Speaking from the road in the midst of a tour with underground rap pioneers Blackalicious, we spoke with Haldar about sample / crate-digging culture, his creative process and his formative years spent bent over a drum machine, trying to find a way to fuse the disparate sonic locus points into a whole and natural musical cosmos. We’re also stoked to bring you the premiere of the title track to No Dead Languages, which you can listen to below. Continue reading →
“High Key” is a series of profiles conceived with the intent to tell the story of Philly’s diverse musical legacy by spotlighting individual artists in portrait photography, as well as with an interview focusing on the artist’s experience living, creating, and performing in this city. “High Key” will be featured in biweekly installments, as the series seeks to spotlight artists both individually and within the context of his or her respective group or artistic collective.
For fans of Philly’s local music scene, it hurts a little to have to use the word “former” to describe Meg Baird’s residential whereabouts. The singer uprooted from her longtime home here about four years ago and settled into San Francisco, a transition she reviewed briefly with The Key for an interview last August, in advance of a show at Johnny Brenda’s where she shared a stage with friend and frequent collaborator, Philly-based harpist Mary Lattimore.
Luckily for Baird’s fans, whatever coast she’s living on, she has been as prolific as ever. Last year saw the release of her third solo album, Don’t Weigh Down The Light, where she was accompanied throughout by Charlie Saufley for a return more toward the fuller sound of records made with her Philly-based band, Espers. Baird premiered a music video for the title track from that record on NPR last December.
Lattimore is celebrating the release of new music of her own as well. Her new record At The Dam hit stores on March 4th – it’s an album of experimental harp music that she improvised as a document of recent trips in California and Texas. Having recently garnered a Pew Fellowship, Lattimore is looking forward to an upcoming tour playing a number of European dates. Though she’d played throughout Europe before — as a duo along with multi-instrumentalist Jeff Zeigler, opening for Steve Gunn, or as part of Thurston Moore’s band — Lattimore looks forward to the autonomy and accolade of this tour as her first international venture as a solo headlining artist. Continue reading →
The best Philadelphia music festival you haven’t checked out yet, Center City Jazz Festival took over the Sansom Street corridor on Saturday afternoon with 20 performers stationed at five different venues. In terms of bang for your buck, it’s an incredible deal: a $15 ticket lets you bounce from space to space, maximizing the music you take in.
If you know nothing about jazz, it’s a robust introduction to the scene – ultra-modern originals mixed with traditional standards and crossover covers of Sigur Ros, Aphex Twin and Nirvana. If you’re more versed in the jazz world, CCJF shines a light on the variety our community has to offer. Continue reading →
Here at The Key, we’ve gone through four year-end best-of seasons since launching in August of 2010 without weighing in on top albums. Why did we change that this year? Simply put: music in 2014 was outstanding. On the local front, on the national front, from pop to rock to experimental and hip-hop, there was a tremendous offering of front-to-back solid records. Annie Clark got mind-bendy on St. Vincent; Tim Showalter got emotional on HEAL; Sylvan Esso caught us by surprise on their self-titled debut; Cayetana blew up in a big way on their debut Nervous Like Me, voted the best record of the year by our staff of contributors. To narrow it down to the top 15 albums of 2014 is to exclude hundreds of other worthy inclusion, so you can read our contributors’ individual top fives here. Then again, there is power in consensus, and these are the albums we collectively agreed were the best. Continue reading →
Central Pa.-based singer and songwriter Daughn Gibson caught the ears of a lot of unexpected folks, from Pitchfork to Sub Pop, on his 2012 release All Hell. The record was an alluring collection of home-made sonic tapestries; electronic beats, glitchy synthesizer cut-ups, a freewheeling attitude and a subtle accent. The recordings – which the former drummer with prog-metal kingpins Pearls and Brass made simply for kicks – were so impressive that Pissed Jeans frontman Matt Korvette (Gibson’s longtime friend) issued them on his own White Denim label. People tried to make sense of the music in the context of what was happening musically in 2011 / 2012 – James Blake was a frequent comparison point alongside Johnny Cash – but it was generally and enthusiastically embraced, and Gibson subsequently inked a deal to release his next album on Sub Pop Records.
Now the Carlisle-based songwriter means business. Unlike that last record – which, even with its mysterious textures and evocative tones, felt like an informal outing – the new Me Moan was recorded with a sense of purpose, and it sounds like it. It opens in a dust bowl stampede with the kick drum pulse and spaghetti western guitar of “The Sound of Law.” From there, it follows a cinematic arc, bringing things downtempo on “The Pisgee Nest,” grooving like a David Lynch set piece with an eerie sound of running water in the backdrop. It dips even further into the ominous on “You Don’t Fade,” mixing in a rattling guitar and an unearthy blend of vocal samples.
Gibson’s own vocals also feel more consciously twangy. This is an odd thing to say – on All Hell, you can hear during spoken interludes and other points that a country drawl is a natural-ish part of his voice. But the singing on that album is more akin to the vocals play out in arty ensembles like Lambchop, Tindersticks and Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds; it was hushed and restrained, almost as if Gibson was trying to repress an accent. On Me Moan, not only does he embrace the accent, he pushes it almost to the point of caricature. Continue reading →