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Ill Fated Natives, Jelani Sei, Kilamanzego will play the next House Key Showcase

Ill Fated Natives | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN // Jelani Sei | photo courtesy of the artist // Kilamanzego | photo by Manny Arocho | courtesy of the artist

Following a spectacular gig this past Saturday night with Lizdelise, Strawberry Runners, and Snake Boy Gang, the House Key Showcase returns to announce its next installment: a concert on Friday, May 31st at Underground Arts with psychedelic blues rippers Ill Fated Natives, experimental indie rockers Jelani Sei, and electronic soundscaper Kilamanzego.  Continue reading →

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Lizdelise celebrated a stellar new album at the House Key Showcase with Strawberry Runners and Snake Boy Gang

Lizdelise at the House Key Showcase | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | racheldelsordophotography.com

Last month, experimental pop Philly trio Lizdelise released their third album, Holy Matrimony, and this past Saturday they celebrated the new record (as well as the end of a two-week tour) with a packed homecoming show at Underground Arts for the second House Key Showcase.

The band’s set was a mix of pop hooks and fierce playing from guitarist and singer Elizabeth De Lise (that’s Lizard King to you), drummer Taylor Cullen, and bassist / keyboardist Mark Watter. Not to mention effusively thankful and contagiously happy banter from De Lise. Continue reading →

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Lizdelize will celebrate their album release with Strawberry Runners and Snake Boy Gang at the next House Key Philly music showcase at Underground Arts

photo by Max Kulicke | flyer by Matt Poirier

After an incredibly fun inaugural gig in November, the HOUSE KEY SHOWCASE returns to Underground Arts on March 23rd for another night of spotlighting Philadelphia musicians and artists. Curated by House Cat Presents along with The Key, and sponsored by Founders Brewing, the gig will be headlined by Lizdelise, the boundary-pushing Philly rock trio fronted by songwriter and guitarist Elizabeth De Lise. They just released their third LP, Holy Matrimony, and it’s their first written and recorded as a collective. Continue reading →

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Ellen Siberian Tiger, Hemming and Camp Candle will play the House Key Philly music showcase at Underground Arts

flyer by design by Jodi Bosin for House Cat Presents

Experimental Philly indie rock outfit Ellen Siberian Tiger teams up with emotive rocker Hemming and electropop duo Camp Candle at the end of this month for the House Key Showcase, a night of Philly music at Underground Arts.

The 21+ gig is co-curated by local promoter House Cat Presents and The Key, sponsored by Yards Brewing Company, and takes place on Friday, November 30th. Continue reading →

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Philadelphia house singer Lady Alma returns with Twilight, her first studio album in ten years

Lady Alma at Kindred Presents | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Lady Alma, Philadelphia’s First Lady of House Music, put out Twilight on Friday morning, a collaboration with producer Mark de Clive-Lowe and her first full-length release in ten years. The album is packed with punchy vocal performances and colorful, buoyant instrumentals, amounting to some of her most memorable recent work. Continue reading →

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Watch a breathtaking performance by Philly instrumental ensemble Hour for Folkadelphia and The Key Studio Sessions

The seven members of Philadelphia instrumental ensemble Hour are intricately aligned, the pieces they play fitting together perfectly like a puzzle. In a recent visit to WXPN studios, the band showcased music from each of its two albums, last year’s moving Anemone Red — whose compositions are gradual bloomers, but deeply affecting, approximating the haunting film score for a naturalistic drama — and 2017’s Tiny Houses — an exercise in minimalism, and crafting sonic spaces marked by absence more than presence. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: The Warhawks

Maybe it’s their working-class roots in Gloucester City, New Jersey, but the work ethic exhibited by rock and roll four-piece The Warhawks is tough to match.

We first met them at WXPN care of the Jake Rabid-hosted Local Show on our XPN2 webstream, and they were just-out-of-high-school teenagers who had already spent years hustling their music at shows around the Delaware Valley and online. They impressed us with a revved-up proto-Key Sessions set featuring serious Kings of Leon vibes; five knockout songs, blazed through on a Sunday afternoon. A couple years later, I ran into them on the streets of Austin, Texas and saw that work ethic in action again when they literally showed up to an unofficial SXSW showcase I was watching and talked their way onto the bill. Chatting to them afterward, that was pretty much their plan — pile in their van, drive to Austin, get their music of the hands of anyone who would listen, play every street corner that would take them.

They’ve kept me in the know about every piece of music they’ve put out since then — brash garage rock bruisers collected on like 2011’s Thief, or 2012’s Ordinary Time. And after a while, I admittedly almost began to take The Warhawks for granted as part of our local music fabric: four dudes who kicked out reliably asskicking projects now and again.

And then this year’s Never Felt So Good happened. And it was that level-up that we’d all been waiting for.

Continue reading →

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The Skeleton Key: From Amanda X, Break Free Fest, and Eugene Chadbourne to Nina Simone, Sun Ra, The Trocadero, and Yarrow, we’ve got you covered this May

Break Free Fest | flyer by @goodestboylili

A friend of mine who has been playing in bands for more than two decades recently asked me, only half-joking, where I find the energy to go to as many shows as I do. While I wanted to protest or at the very least get humorously defensive — “I don’t go to that many shows! Whatever!” — I realized it was a good question because, well, I do end up at a lot of shows every month. I mean, duh, I was asked to do this column for a reason.

Truth be told, I didn’t have a great answer for her. I found a home in music when I was 18 and moved to Philadelphia after spending five long, boring, and lonely years in South Florida. My first proper show was a couple weeks after getting here in September of 1997 — Helmet, The Melvins, Today Is The Day, and Hovercraft at The Trocadero — and I haven’t looked back since. It’s just what I do, for better or worse.

But while I didn’t have a good or even clever response to her question, I did have the realization that part of the reason I spend so much time watching live music is because there’s so much going on. Jazz, punk, hip hop, klezmer, chamber music. Eastern European choral bands. Indian classical. Harsh noise, catchy indie rock, techno DJs spinning all night long. If you wanted to, you could see a different type of music just about every night in our city and I think that’s amazing. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Lizdelise

In the near-decade that we’ve been recording The Key Studio Sessions, Philly’s Lizdelise may be the first artist to make their debut performance as a solo performer and return as a band. But singer / songwriter and guitarist Elizabeth De Lise has made a serious evolution over several years on our radar; from the storytelling jazz / pop of 2014’s To & Fro, to the headier loop-driven nature of 2016’s self-titled sophomore record. De Lise’s first appearance in WXPN studios with bassist and collaborator Mark Watter was otherworldly, yet grounded and accessible: as I described at the time, “the set swallows you in sound, with layers of vocal rounds floating alongside askew lead guitar.”

De Lise’s career path in the time since has taken off on an yet more exciting path, branching out into other artistic disciplines — particularly theater and dance. She performed as a guitarist and vocalist in La Medea by writer and composer Yara Travieso, and also worked on scoring in David Dorfman Dance and Liz Charky Dance. Continue reading →

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Lily & Madeleine showcase the mature new sound of Canterbury Girls at World Cafe Live

Lily & Madeleine | photo by Emily De Hart for WXPN | dehartvisuals.com

The legacy of family bands in American folk music dates back as far as the genre itself. The story goes something like this: two (or more) siblings sing together around the house. It’s cute and maybe even in tune. Flash forward, and the family band secures a recording and releases it into the world. This is the basic origin story for folk-turned-pop due Lily & Madeleine. The Indiana-born singers recorded themselves singing cover songs in high school on YouTube and quickly caught the attention of producer, Paul Mahern. Their EP, Lily & Madeleine, was released in 2013 on Sufjan Stevens’ Asthmatic Kitty records, and they sold out their first live shows in their hometown of Indianapolis.

Zoom forward six years, and Lily & Madeleine have just released their forth album, Canterbury Girls, on New West Records with the help of co-producers Ian Fitchuck and Daniel Tashian who worked Kacey Musgrave’s Grammy-award winning album, Golden Hour. The sisters, now 21 and 23 years old, have crafted a poignant new record that reflects on life’s hard lessons and beautiful but fleeting moments. They weave narratives about falling in and out of love, leaving their hometown and feeling lost across the world, and how sadness is a reality of an empathetic life. Their career has pushed on the trope of the family folk band and has now raised the question: what happens when the family band grows up?

Lily & Madeleine performed at the World Cafe Live this past Friday, along with opening act Brother Bird. After taking the stage, Madeleine remarked that this they have performed at the World Cafe Live during every album cycle of the career. Continue reading →