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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Maitland at Johnny Brenda’s, Veev at The Pharmacy, 8Static Festival at Icebox Project Space

Maitland | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | racheldelsordophotography.com
Maitland | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN | racheldelsordophotography.com

Atmospheric rock locals Maitland headline at Johnny Brenda’s tonight, their biggest local gig since the June release of the Glimpse LP. That record fused Josh Hines’ pensive, empathetic songwriting with propulsive rock care of his bandmates Alex Hines on Bass, Adam Shumski on drums and Evan Moffatt on lead guitar. Tonight, the band is joined by equally emotive Philly artist Abi Reimold, who released the impressive Wrigglingthe XPN Concert Calendar LP in 2016, as well as atmospheric rock instrumentalists Square Peg Round Hole. Tickets and more information on the show can be found at ; watch the band play “Sycamore” in their Key Studio Session below.
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Absurdist fridgepunk masters Kings of Freon return with Fridge Over Troubled Water

Kings of Freon | photo via kingsoffreon.bandcamp.com

Philadelphia’s Kings of Freon are icons of sorts in the very niche novelty indie rock world. Specifically, “fridgepunk” — that’s the genre descriptor the band uses and we can assume they likely coined the term themselves. The band was featured in a May edition of The Key’s Items Tagged Philadelphia after they appeared on Bandcamp with their relentlessly thematic tunes. After releasing an EP of surprisingly solid songs earlier this year — which are undeniably raw and catchy despite technically being about refrigerator repair –the fridgepunk masters (masters by default, I guess, since they may just be the only fridgepunkers out there) are back with Fridge Over Troubled Water. Continue reading →

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For our 20,000th post, here are the 20 most popular Key stories of all time

The Troc Calendar from October 1994

With this post, we cross another milestone — 20,000 stories posted since The Key began covering the Philadelphia music scene on August 18, 2010.

Benchmarks like these are always a wonderful occasion for taking pause and looking back — as we did in 2014, upon hitting 10k posts — and I am pleased to say that our top twenty biggest stories, per Google Analytics, remain a perfect cross-section of what The Key is all about. Stories that are important Philadelphia music community; major happenings from the WXPN airwaves; and an appreciation of local and national music history, with an eye to the music of tomorrow.

Thank you for everybody who continues along this journey with us, and please enjoy this survey of the stories you’ve been most excited, inspired, and moved by along the way.
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SAD Marquise drops the sweeping and soulful SEAWORLD project

SAD Marquise | photo via facebook.com/sadmarquise

Philly singer / songwriter / producer SAD Marquise has been rapid-fire with his releases this year. After catching our ear this summer in with the iPhone Pop project, the Philly artist just this weekend put out another EP on Bandcamp, SEAWORLD. 

The five-song set boasts what we’ve come to know as that that typical SAD sound – wavy, melodic beats, and clever, realistic lyrics. He’s a multifaceted artist with an amalgam of tools at his disposal that he uses to create his patchwork of pop, dance, indie soul, and jazz fusion songs. Continue reading →

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Items Tagged Philadelphia: Weather changes moods

Hannah Frances | via hannahfrances.bandcamp.com

Here at The Key, we spend a lot of time each week digging through every new release from Philadelphia that shows up on Bandcamp. At the end of each week, we present you with the most interesting, most unusual and overall best of the bunch: this is Items Tagged Philadelphia.

I will never not tell you to go see live music in some way or another. It’s part of my role here at The Key — shining a light on the artists that dwell in Philadelphia, as well as the spaces where their art comes to life. It’s just that, often, there’s so much of both of those things.

Friday night, I had a ridiculous amount of gigs to choose between. Two record release parties were on the calendar — one for Radiator Hospital, who headlined the church in support of the awesome and uplifting Play The Songs You Like, and one for Hound, who played Space 1026 to celebrate the asskicking Born Under 76. Technically, there were three, if you consider that The Lame-Os’ opening slot on the Preen / Pears gig at Everybody Hits was in celebration of their new self-titled jawn; and on the non-yay-new-album front, Vita and the Woolf headlined Johnny Brenda’s and The Overcoats played Arden. (To say nothing of huger shows like Ben Folds at The Fillmore, Brand New at the Tower, etc.)

Sometimes we have an embarrassment of riches. Sometimes it’s fine (and necessary) to step away from it all and collect your head. I ultimately chose the Vita show on Friday night — and I’m totally glad I did, it was a thrill to see a band I’d first seen perform to maybe a dozen people at Ortlieb’s a few years back galvanize a sold-out crowd at one of Philly’s most popular venues — but I also haven’t left my house since, pretty much.

And it’s been wonderful. I’ve gotten a lot of reading done, I’ve watched a couple movies, and I’ve listened to a lot of music — stuff that’s been accumulating in my New Music playlist on iTunes as well as new finds on the Philadelphia Bandcamp tag. We are now solidly, seriously in the autumn weather zone, and I’m all-around loving it: the temperature stability after all the seasonal elongation and upheaval we experienced earlier this year, the emergence of playfully macabre decor ahead of Halloween, and the way the turning of the leaves and the cooling of the air guides artists inward to a more reflective headspace.

If that’s the place you’re in as well, you’ll probably find a thing or two to love in the fifteen releases below.

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Listen to new Faxed EP from Philly punks Chronic Anxiety

Chronic Anxiety | art by Clint Takeda | via chronicanxiety.bandcamp.com

Chronic Anxiety — what a band name. The tension it evokes is evident in the loud urgency of their songs, but in a way that makes listening more cathartic than anxiety-inducing. The Philly punk trio appeared on our radar a few months ago when they appeared on Bandcamp with debut EP Little Girls — read about it in The Key’s Items Tagged Philadelphia series. And though the group still remains pretty elusive, they’re now back with another EP, called Faxed. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Cult Objects at LAVA Space, Broken Social Scene at The Fillmore

Cult Objects | photo via cultobjectsss.bandcamp.com

Cult Objects leapt onto the scene recently with a couple of demos on Bandcamp. The energetic punk four-piece played their first show just a few months ago and have been floating  around town ever since; they’ll be at LAVA Space tonight for a gig with Telepathic, Clasp and Weeping Icon. The Key recently dug up Cult Objects from the depths of Bandcamp for the Items Tagged Philadelphia series, and if you’re into finding new bands right as they’re just getting started, this is the show for you. Listen below, and find more information on tonight’s show here. Continue reading →

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Items Tagged Philadelphia: The last good day of the year

via robndelaine.bandcamp.com

Here at The Key, we spend a lot of time each week digging through every new release from Philadelphia that shows up on Bandcamp. At the end of each week, we present you with the most interesting, most unusual and overall best of the bunch: this is Items Tagged Philadelphia.

It’s the final weekend of summer, and folks all around me are taking full advantage. WXPN HQ was pretty much a ghost town by 4:00 on Friday afternoon, with most of my coworkers peacing out for long weekends at the shore or in the Poconos or wherever they may roam. Once I exited for the day, I spotted courtyard dining in full effect from Fishtown to NoLibs to Callowhill. Later on, I caught a sweaty, late-night, high-octane set from Philly hip-hop crew Hardwork Movement at Underground Arts, and it was a thing of beauty; as often as music that extols the virtues of party rocking can get blunted down to a businesslike live set, this gig actually felt like a literal party, and the packed house responded in kind. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Sea Offs

Need a solid argument for turning up early to a long day of music? Two words: Sea Offs.

The dream-pop four-piece is one of the opening acts on the Saturday lineup of next weekend’s Philly Music Fest at World Cafe Live — they play 3:10 p.m. on the upstairs stage — and their lucid, moving arrangements of intertwining electric guitars and emphatic drums are an invigorating entry point into the event’s eclectic bill of regional artists.

Sea Offs hail from Central Pennsylvania, in the most literal sense — songwriters and guitarists Olivia Price and Rashmit Arora met at State College, in the dead center of the state, and began writing and recording music in 2015 around the PSU / Happy Valley region. It’s a good place for creative companionship as well as creative isolation — the people who are indifferent about Nittany Lions football tend to stick together, but are nevertheless mutually distant from bigger creative hubs like Buffalo, NYC or Philly. Sea Offs’ debut single, “Colliding,” was a drifting and folky piece in the Nick Drake / Innocence Mission zone, a sound that bloomed into last year’s Sea the Blind EP, where ambient atmospheres were gradually worked into their palette.

And then, there was this year’s rhetorically-titled What’s The Point?, an immersive record and one of my favorites to catch my ear during the year-long Items Tagged Philadelphia project. Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
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Items Tagged Philadelphia: It’s always something

Downtrodder | via facebook.com/downtrodder

Here at The Key, we spend a lot of time each week digging through every new release from Philadelphia that shows up on Bandcamp. At the end of each week, we present you with the most interesting, most unusual and overall best of the bunch: this is Items Tagged Philadelphia.

Question: do you ever feel like you’re caught up on the great to-do list that is life? Follow up question: how? I finally finished watching Twin Peaks: The Return today — no spoilers, just WOW — but I’ve still got a seemingly endless litany of things to cross off.

Some examples: Mix and edit audio, cut video of my backlog of Key Studio Sessions (even though new ones keep being recorded). Wrap up the massive undertaking of combing through and trimming down fifteen years worth of digital concert photos (even though I keep shooting more all the time). Buy ingredients to make cauliflower tikki masala for dinner (now I’m just procrastinating). Make art (“Get outta town, I didn’t know you did anything creative!”).

A big one: finish articulating my unfinished thoughts about the recent New York Times‘ Arts & Leisure section last week namechecking 25 women and non-binary artists making some of the best music out there today, as well as the NPR Music’s Turning the Tables series of 100 great albums made by women (quick takes: great to see so many bands with Philly ties in the mix, yes it feels antiquated to have “Women In Music” spotlights in 2017, possibly a bit pageview-grabby exploitative as well, but as evidenced by big fall tour announcements like Joyce Manor / Wavves / whatever-other-all-male-all-white-band, it is still a necessary conversation, and the result is two pieces of music journalism you should totally read, so read them y’all).

Oh, and listen to new music for Items Tagged Philadelphia.
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