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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Jens Lekman at Union Transfer, Sheena & Thee Nosebleeds at Kung Fu Necktie, Octave Cat at Johnny Brenda’s, and more…

Jens Lekman | photo by Ellika Henrikson
Jens Lekman | photo by Ellika Henrikson | courtesy of the artist

Swedish songwriter Jens Lekman will bring his idiosyncratic pop stylings to Union Transfer tonight in support of his latest album, Life Will See You Now. It features the infectious lead single “What’s That Perfume That You Wear?”, probably the most romantic song about smells I’ve heard. Stream the video for the track below. Then, head over to XPN’s Concert Calendar for tickets and more info on the show. Continue reading →

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PREMIERE: Members of Lotus and Dopapod team up for new Octave Cat project, share “Fever Subsides” single

octave cat
Octave Cat | photo by Mike Ryan | courtesy of the artist

Octave Cat is an experiment that went right.

The funky new collaboration from Jesse Miller (Lotus), Eli Winderman (Dopapod), and Charlie Patierno, (Kate Faust, Kuf Knotz), was supposed to just be a day spent messing around with some vintage synths. But the tapes were rolling as Miller and Winderman twisted knobs and pressed keys on The Cat, a rare synth made by Octave in the 70s (see what they did there), and on playback the pair heard something more than just experiments. That session turned into a full-fledged project that will release its debut self-titled album this year, and today we have the premiere of new single “Fever Subsides.”

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The Week Ahead: The Posies, Strand of Oaks, King Britt, Inara George and more

XPoNential Music Festival | photo by Joe Del Tufo | deltufophotography.com

Let’s send out January in a big way, friends. The weather is unseasonably warm and we’ve got 24 concerts over the next week for you to choose between, centered in Philadelphia with a couple day trips to locales like Bethlehem and Ardmore. Dig in below, and happy concertgoing. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Ben Wong’s favorite artist portraits of 2017

You Do You | photo by Ben Wong | brotherlylost.com

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. Today, Key photographer Ben Wong revisits some of his favorite artist portraits from the past 12 months.

The artist portrait is an interesting process for both the photographer and the musician(s). It’s one of the few times that there are literally no rules. In many cases the more imperfect the better. It requires trust and creativity for both parties to conceive a vision and tell a story by showing. Philadelphia especially, while rich with talented musicians, is also home to some of the most talented visual artists. We help contribute to the artist’ brand as much as they help build ours. This year I was fortunate enough to work with a variety of different artists and explore my love for portraiture with musicians from all corners of the Philadelphia scene. Continue reading →

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Faces of Philadelphia (Musicians) portrait series opens at Brewerytown Beats tonight

anna mraz
Portrait of Raj Haldar by Anna Mraz | photo via Philebrity

Local artist Anna Mraz is celebrating the diverse spirit of the Philly music scene with her Faces of Philadelphia (Musicians) exhibit, opening tonight at Brewerytown Beats. We want to give several hat tips to Philebrity, who spotted the First Friday event and gave us a sneak peak into the watercolor-on-plexiglass portraits that will be lining the walls of the Brewerytown record store.

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Trouble Every Day: 25 years since his passing, Frank Zappa is all over Philadelphia in April

Frank Zappa’s Philly ’76 LP cover | via Amazon

There are so many Frank Zappas to consider that it’s often a struggle to focus on which one to pinpoint. Is he the man who lovingly crafted intricate and tender guitar solos from “Black Napkins” to “Inca Roads”?

Or the silly ribald humorist of “Titties and Beer” or “Bwana Dik”?

Or the high-minded composer behind “Lumpy Gravy” or “Orchestral Favorites”?

Or the psychedelic rocker and jazz-bo of “Freak Out” and “Hot Rats”?

What one can focus on, twenty five years after his death, is that innovative guitarist / composer / socio-political satirist / free expression activist Zappa is more crucial than ever (especially when you consider that the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Famer will soon get his own hologram treatment) and by, all accounts is having a busy spring by Philadelphia standards. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Alright Junior

A case study in less-is-more, Philly rockers Alright Junior keep things contained to the time-honored rock and roll elements — guitar, bass, drums, voice — and in the process, they sound massive.

Maybe it’s the way the stringed instruments interact, with ample space carved out in arrangement and tone for each to howl. Maybe it’s the way drums are methodically paced, coming in at just the right moment with just the right amount of force to elevate the fray. The band’s emotive, heavy rock hits any number of touchstones, from Queens of the Stone Age and Soundgarden, to less-remembered artists of the modern rock era like Our Lady Peace and Remy Zero. Performed live in WXPN studios recently, it sounds particularly badass.
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Jake Ewald grows up on Slaughter Beach, Dog’s eclectic debut

Slaughter Beach, Dog | photo by Jess Flynn | courtesy of the artist
Slaughter Beach, Dog | photo by Jess Flynn | courtesy of the artist

When an established musician starts a new band, it’s hard to avoid drawing comparisons. There’s almost bound to be some overlap, especially when that musician is a primary songwriter for both projects. While this is definitely the case on Welcome, the debut record from Jake Ewald’s Slaughter Beach, Dog, the Modern Baseball guitarist manages to take his songwriting in a new direction. In fact, he takes it in several, and it’s those deviations that make the album so successful. Continue reading →

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I saw Ween three times in one week. Here’s what happened.

#ween and their happy colored marbles #lockn

A photo posted by julie miller (@clamcostume) on

It wasn’t supposed to happen this way.

Two kids from New Hope shouldn’t have been able to get as famous as they did by performing original tunes about regional breakfast meat sandwiches and “The Refrigerator That Wouldn’t Close” (an actual early song title). It doesn’t make sense that anyone would have paid attention to two high school kids playing guitar and singing over a pre-recorded drum and bass track from a DAT tape. It’s nothing short of miraculous that at age 22, they would release a major label debut with song titles like “Flies On My Dick” and “Poop Ship Destroyer”, let alone that it would produce a charting single.

They shouldn’t have risen to festival-headlining status. They shouldn’t have been able to cultivate a ravenous, age-spanning fan base with a culture and mythology all their own. It defies logic that 28 years after these two best friends started their band, that they would suddenly split up, leaving their fans confused, outraged, and devastated.

Ween’s very existence is mysterious. Their rise and fall is as unlikely as their genre-bending catalogue of music is vast. Quite possibly the only thing that makes sense about Ween is their triumphant reunion, currently 13 shows deep. Their music, however, is still just as impossible to pin down as it ever was. They play festivals with jam-band-heavy lineups, but who would call Ween a jam band? They don’t exactly “jam”, although in their prime, versions of their funk odyssey “Let Me Lick Your Pussy” were known to cross the half-hour mark. They’re musical character actors, not just channeling the vibe of an 80’s hair-metal anthem or a drunken sea shanty, but fully committing and embodying the spirits of these songs. They can be 12 different bands across the span of a record, which is precisely why I jumped at the opportunity to see them play three times in a single week.

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