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Watch Half Waif’s soaring, serene Tiny Desk Concert

Half Waif | photo by Cameron Pollack for NPR

Possibly this is the first upright piano we’ve seen in one of NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concerts. Definitely it’s the most keyboards we’ve seen in front of the familiar bookshelf backdrop, since not only does Half Waif‘s Nandi Rose Plunkett alternate between a synth and an upright, her bandmate Adan Carlo joins on bass synth, and Zubin Hensler on a second synth. The lineup is completed by Zack Levine on drums, and Robin Baytas on auxiliary percussion, sampler, and possibly another synth. Continue reading →

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Now Hear This: New songs from Cat Power, Elvis Costello, Matthew Dear, Half Waif, Richard Swift, Spiritualized and more

Half Waif | photo by Tonje Thilesen | courtesy of the artist
Half Waif | photo by Tonje Thilesen | courtesy of the artist

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

This past Saturday was my 36th birthday, and, as it happens, this is my 36th Now Hear This column.  (I’ve been secretly keeping track: the first fifteen installments ran weekly over at Philly Voice during the fall of 2016; the monthly columns for The Key started in February 2017).  Thirty-six feels like a significant year – more so than 35 in many ways (especially considering what’s been happening to the institution of the presidency).  It’s divisible by more numbers, even if five isn’t one of them.  As one friend pointed out, it means I’m now old enough to vote twice! And, more notably, it means that I’ve been a quote-unquote “adult” for fully half of my life; that the time since I left my parents’ house now equals the time that I lived there.

So it’s afforded a nice opportunity to reflect back on the time around my 18th year – an age perhaps less overtly mythologized in song than sixteen or seventeen, but probably even more transformative in real (contemporary) life – which in my case was also the era of Y2K.  I’d reckon that nobody felt the cultural and historical shift from the 20th to the 21st century, from the 1990s to the still-nameless-after-all-these-years 2000s, more acutely than those of us for whom it paralleled the end of high school and the start of what-comes-next; i.e. me and my fellow circa-1982 babies: the oldest, truest millennials.  Conveniently, just two days before my birthday, September Now Hear This boy-toy Troye Sivan joined up with plasticwave popgenius (and certified ‘90s bitchCharli XCX to drop a video memorializing and celebrating the pop culture of that period – specifically 1999, although the references span roughly 1997-2000 – when, as many have mentioned, its creators were still in single digits, if not diapers.  It represents exactly, and in exquisitely realized detail, the “borrowed nostalgia for the unremembered (late) ‘90s” that I have been ambivalently anticipating for quite some time now.

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Watch Half Waif create with compassion in the making of “Every Animal” on Shaking Through

Half Waif | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

In the latest episode of music documentary series Shaking Through, Half Waif records a new song called “Every Animal.” The song is accompanied with a making-of doc that reveals the collaborative process that goes into recording a single. Frontwoman Nandi Rose Plunkett is joined in the studio by Aidan Carlo on bass and guitar, and Robin Baytas on drums.

Plunkett’s voice is resilient, a stone pillar supporting a temple roof–without her, the song would crumble. Her hair-raising vocals create an ethereal mood, hanging afloat over a grounded bed of synths and bass. The song combines both electronic and acoustic instrumentation, a mixture that seemed to be a source of frustration in the recording process as the band experimented to find a perfect balance. The result is a seamlessly blended track, a luminescent moonrise on a clear night. Continue reading →

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Just Announced: Julien Baker to perform at Union Transfer with Half Waif in October

julien baker
Julien Baker | photo by Jake Cunningham | courtesy of the artist

The first time I heard Julien Baker was just about a year ago, and by a happy chance it was at the perfect combination of a live show in a small venue when she toured with British dark folk trio Daughter last summer – I’ve been a fan ever since. The Memphis singer-songwriter brings her voice and guitar on stage and leaves her entire soul, baring all and sparing nothing throughout the set that is both so wrenchingly personal and relatable at the same time. Continue reading →

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Required Reading: Half Waif’s Nandi Rose Plunkett on being “the girl in the band”

Nandi Plunkett | photo by Tonje Thilesen via https://www.facebook.com/HalfWaif/

If you haven’t noticed by now, we at The Key are big fans of Pinegrove and Half Waif, two New Jersey bands that share a common denominator in Nandi Rose Plunkett. Both groups find Plunkett as the sole woman, one in a keyboards-backing vocals situation and the other as the founding, writing, and recording frontwoman. In other words, she is a musical force to be reckoned with.

Why, then, in 2017 – especially in an industry that theoretically draws the creatives, the open minds, the dreamers – do we find Plunkett responding to slews of misogynist aggressions against her being simply because that being is female? After originally posting last month on Twitter in response to comments on her part in Pinegrove, Nandi Plunkett has penned an extraordinarily eloquent, insightful, and sharp long-form piece published by Esquire on what it means to be “the girl in the band,” what it feels like to be a woman constantly silenced and disregarded and dismissed as a girl, as a girlfriend, as a pretty face but nothing more. Continue reading →

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The Key Presents: Half Waif

Half Waif | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

The weather’s bad, but it holds. Between setting up and short takes while the rain isn’t too hard, Nandi Plunkett throws an industrial trash bag over her keyboard as a makeshift cover, but even the intermittent April showers can’t get her spirits down too much. Resiliency is a big theme of Half Waif‘s music, and in Plunkett’s life, as well. Between passing clouds, Nandi and guitarist Adan Carlo play completely new arrangements of two Half Waif tracks from the recently released form/a EP. In the secluded side yard of the MAAS Building, the intimate strength of Half Waif springs to resounding life. This is The Key Presents: Half Waif. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Half Waif at Everybody Hits, Kneebody at Johnny Brenda’s, John Mayer at Wells Fargo Center and more…

half waif
Half Waif | photo by Phil Randall | via artist’s Facebook page

Nandi Rose Plunkett brings her Half Waif project to Everybody Hits tonight. Doing double duty as keyboardist in Pinegrove, Plunkett’s solo project hones in on an electronic pop that was beautifully and intimately displayed on this year’s form/a EP. Stream “Severed Logic” below and pick up tickets for the all-ages show with Shannen Moser and Russel the Leaf here.

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Half Waif stands at a crossroads on “Frost Burn”

Half Waif | photo by Landon Speers | via the artist's Facebook page
Half Waif | photo by Landon Speers | via the artist’s Facebook page

Recently, a lot of us got to know Nandi Rose Plunkett as the keyboardist for  alt-country rockers Pinegrove, but she’s been recording and performing as Half Waif for years. Her new EP form/a drops later this month, so if keyboard-driven indie pop is your thing, keep your eyes (ears?) peeled. We already got a sense of what it might sound like in danceable first single “Severed Logic”, and now, we’re getting a second preview with “Frost Burn,” which you can stream below. Continue reading →

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(Sandy) Alex G brings it back to the basement in a First Unitarian Church doubleheader

(Sandy) Alex G | photo by Rachel Barrish for WXPN

Philly’s (Sandy) Alex G spent Friday night performing the first of two sold out shows at First Unitarian Church along with support from Brooklyn’s Half Waif. Alex G has been touring off his 2017 album Rocket, one of my personal favorites of last year, and brought it to his hometown for a much more intimate performance than his Union Transfer headliner last summer. Continue reading →

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The Week Ahead: Letters to Cleo, Caroline Rose, Keyon Harrold, (Sandy) Alex G and more

Keyon Harrold
Keyon Harrold | photo by Deneka Peniston | courtesy of the artist

It’s starting to get cold out, friends. And before you find yourself faced with the prospect of bundling up in heavy winter attire to get groceries, much less to get to the gig, we recommend you fit in many shows this week as possible this moth. Here are 25 concerts to see in the next seven days all around Philadelphia: free shows, jazz gigs, folk and funk, and one of the most jam-packed Fridays we’ve seen in a while.    Continue reading →