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The Key Studio Sessions: Ode To Omni

“The only thing that helped me was Jesus,” says drummer Marcus Meyers as he introduces the song “Anchors.” “And I know when you bring that name up, it can kind of get weird today. Maybe it’s the perception or the lens that we’re looking at him with.”

While spirituality is an undeniable undercurrent of his genre-spanning ensemble Ode to Omni, which returns to the stage at World Cafe Live tonight, Meyers is admittedly not self-righteous about his faith — acknowledging through that description that, perhaps, the idea of confrontational Christianity (which is a thing that definitely exists in the world of 2018) is part of that aforementioned lens.

But that’s not what he is all about; Meyers is more apt to use his songs meditate on mental health and self-care, acknowledging our weaknesses and finding sources of strength where we are able. His beliefs inform his life, his life informs his music, and as they perform pieces about self-improvement and empowerment for The Key Studio Sessions, he and his collaborators proved to be anything but one-dimensional. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Ode to Omni Roots Tribute at World Cafe Live, Quilt at The Foundry, Digable Planets at Ardmore Music Hall and more…

Ode to Omni
Ode to Omni | photo courtesy of the artist

Local ensemble Ode to Omni is putting on a Roots tribute show at World Cafe Live tonight. The show is kicking off the group’s new Homegrown Series, which will spotlight local artists in a live setting. Omni’s Marcus Myers exchanged emails with The Key’s John Vettese just last week to explain the genesis of the tribute show, his vision for the Homegrown Series and how the group connected with emcee Mic Stew, who will be joining the band tonight. Read that interview here and pick up tickets for the all-ages show here. Watch The Roots’ video for 1996 track “What They Do” below.

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Why are Ode to Omni and Mic Stew covering The Roots at World Cafe Live?

Ode to Omni
Ode to Omni | photo courtesy of the artist

Boundary-pushing Philly nine-piece ensemble Ode to Omni blurs the lines between rock, funk, big band brass and soul, and next week the crew pays tribute to one of its very similar-minded Philly influences: The Roots. The band sets up shop at World Cafe Live on Friday, July 29th for their new Homegrown Series paying tribute to Black Thought, Questlove and crew. They’ll be joined by locally-rooted MC Mic Stew, who’s in town from Texas for the show. I swapped emails with Ode to Omni drummer Marcus Myers to get a vibe on the show, the series and what it is that they love about The Roots. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Dice Raw at Silk City, Ode to Omni’s Stevie Wonder Tribute at World Cafe Live, Seinabo Sey at Underground Arts

Dice Raw | via diceraw.net

As a sort of warm-up to this weekend’s Roots Picnic, Roots crew affiliate Dice Raw plays a set tonight at Silk City. If you’ve never seen him live, Dice cuts a charismatic figure and we can expect to hear songs from his records Jimmy’s Back and The Greatest Rapper Never, some of his Roots tracks and other collabs. Tickets and more information on the show can be found here. Continue reading →

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Download a live set from Modern Inventors via NYCTaper (playing Steel City Coffeehouse on 12/07, Johnny Brenda’s on 12/28)

Philly rock outfit Modern Inventors traveled up 95 in October to participate in Brooklyn’s Backyard Brunch Sessions.  With a format similar to Philly’s own Bands in the Backyard, BBS host Dave Chaitt invites bands into his backyard for an afternoon of music and home-cooked food (though this particular session appears to have occurred inside).  Several Philadelphia area bands have been featured in past sessions, including XVSK, Family Band and The Spinning Leaves.

Modern Inventors, preparing for the release of their debut album Trains and Aeroplanes, played a mix of old and new songs at the final BBS session of the season.  Omnipresent New York concert archivists NYCTaper were on the scene with their professional recording equipment, which means you can now download Modern Inventors’ entire session for free here.  View the setlist below and stream the live version of the rock band’s new single “Hello”; they a have a few dates coming up including a show with Suzie Brown and Scot Sax at Steel City Coffeehouse on December 7th and a headlining gig at Johnny Brenda’s on December 28th.  Tickets and information can be found here.

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Eric Bazilian’s “One Of Us” to be featured on tonight’s episode of Glee

GleeIf God were one of us, would He/She watch Glee? Probably not. But only because, as the Supreme Being—and Seer Of All Things That Have Ever Happened, Are Happening, And Will Happen—it’s not as if God has to tune in to Fox on Tuesday nights in order to find out what crisis the kids in New Directions are dealing with at William McKinley High School each week. (And—if His Holy Holiness is too busy watching mankind commit various atrocities against each other in His name to plop His Omnipresent Butt down on His couch and watch a little television—He can probably afford to get a DVR from Comcast.) Either way, we’re definitely looking forward to the cast of Glee performing Joan Osborne‘s 1995 hit single, which The Hooters founding member Eric Bazilian wrote for her album Relish.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KSllQ02kg_o&feature=related

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Undead, Undead: Bauhaus celebrates 40 years of sound, vision and vibe

Bauhaus | photo by Graham Trott | courtesy of the artist

For all of what “Goth” would become, and has become, in its mass-mediation — everything from an inspiration to the monsters of Columbine to creating all-in-black characters in South Park — its roots were humbler and less violent (if no less theatrical), with its flashpoint occurring after its first focus had splintered: Bauhaus.

Though the British quartet assembled right after post-punk fellowmen The Cure, Magazine, Siouxsie & the Banshees and Joy Division had, Peter Murphy, Kevin Haskins, David J and Daniel Ash were on their own, loners stuck out in Northampton, England with their German art movement magazine images, stuffily serious bat wing impressionism and their T. Rex records before forming Bauhaus. Frankly, the four members of Bauhaus seemed like a gang of one without connection or camaraderie from other acts, coming into the end of the 70s. Continue reading →

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Revisiting the road to Tomorrow with Sharon Van Etten

Sharon Van Etten | photo courtesy of the artist

Sharon Van Etten makes me feel like I don’t do anything.

In the five years since her 2014 opus Are We There alone, it would be hard to find something she hasn’t done. In addition to touring behind that album, she performed and collaborated with countless other artists. She started scoring films. She branched out into acting and appeared on some of the buzziest cult television shows of the era. She even started pursuing her degree in Psychology. On top of all of that, she settled into a long-term relationship and became a parent. Oh yeah, and she wrote and recorded her latest masterpiece, the soaring, sobering Remind Me Tomorrow. Just typing all of that out makes me want to go back to bed, but Van Etten sounds as energized and dynamic as ever. While this album’s songs aren’t about these life events and achievements, specifically, they do accurately convey the emotions and perspective shifts that came with them. It’s a meditation on what it’s like to be happy during unhappy times, and how important and challenging it is to stay happy.

Ahead of next week’s performance at Union Transfer, Sharon was gracious enough to have a long chat with me about everything that’s been going on in the years leading up to Tomorrow, the work and influences that went into it, and how she stays grounded and positive through everything going on around us. Continue reading →

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One-Two, One-Two, Keep It On: Listen to the January 2019 edition of What’s The Frequency?! on WXPN

Listen to the ish because we kick it ’til dawn

On the second Friday of every month, WXPN’s John Vettese hosts WHAT’S THE FREQUENCY?!?!!, a four-hour, request driven showcase of 90s and 90s-adjacent music. If you can’t tune in live, we’ve got archives of each episode for you here on The Key.

It’s funny how some classics experience a new life. In the January 11 edition of #WTFXPN, we started the show off with a cut from Bay Area hip-hop faves Luniz, “I Got 5 On It,” that is seeing a new life thanks to its inclusion in the trailer for Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us. The day after the trailer dropped, Genius.com reported a huge spike in searches for the song.

On the either side of that, there are the classic-then-classic-now sorts of 90s cuts (Green Day’s “She”) and the firmly-remaining-in-the-underground cuts (“The Boatman” by Brighton anarcho-folk punks Levellers), and we heard the whole gamut on this month’s show, along with a Jon Spencer Blues Explosion jam for the folks headed to see him at Johnny Brenda’s, the amazing Beastie Boys’ fan fave jammer “Get It Together” (featuring incredible bars from Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest), and a small celebration of to the 20th birthday of Britney Spears’ debut album Baby One More Time. Listen back to the show and peruse the playlist below.  Continue reading →