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Stream Ruby The Hatchet’s expansive Planetary Space Child LP, see them Saturday at Johnny Brenda’s

Ruby the Hatchet | photo by Mike Petzinger | via facebook.com/rubythehatchet

New Jersey heavy rock five-piece Ruby The Hatchet have captivated us since we first heard the raw riffage of their 2012 LP OUROBOROS — not to mention their plans to donate proceeds from the record to post Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. Sure, the band could roar like Black Sabbath and Queens of the Stone Age, could cast spectral guitar spells like Explosions in the Sky, and frontwoman Jillian Taylor might be a commanding force of nature, part Alison Mosshart and part Iggy Pop…but they’re not abrasive nihilists, or gloom-and-doomy disaffects. They’re people who care about their community and their world, and five years later, they’re still supporting worthy causes and making asskicking music. Continue reading →

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Who is Harmony Woods? Getting to know the most exciting new artist in Philly DIY

Harmony Woods | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Harmony Woods | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

If you ask Sofia Verbilla, she’ll tell you she’s no good at onstage banter.

It gives her a not super comfortable feeling, a sentiment shared by just about any honest musician you’ll talk to. Her nerves are already frazzled enough getting up there with her guitar and performing; add in expectations for public speaking that’s witty, chill and conversational but also profesh enough to keep the show moving and remind you that, oh by the way, there’s merch in the back…it’s just daunting. Awkward. Verbilla is not the sort to toss around the word “hate,” so let’s just say the closest form of active dislike you can get.

I would argue that the frontwoman of Philadelphia basement scene favorites Harmony Woods is fantastic at banter, and here’s an illustration. It’s March, her band is playing Underground Arts for an International Women’s Day benefit; a tuning break is needed, and the slight silence that descended during the last song lingers. (Verbilla has that effect on crowds.) As bartenders dump ice buckets in the wings, she asks, “So, does anybody have any jokes?” A pause. “I know one. THE PATRIARCHY.” She blows a raspberry into the mic and gives a thumbs-down; the audience gathered round the stage laughs, and the band launches into another song.

Really, everything about it was perfect. The right thing to say for this crowd, at this event. (Or, let’s face it, in general.) The timing was spot-on. It was funny. And it got the gig from point A to point B. When it comes to banter, as with most things music-related, Verbilla is a natural. Continue reading →

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On Tonight’s New Music Show: Mark Lanegan Band, Shout Out Louds & more!

Courtesy of artist

We’re fresh off a Record Store Day Weekend, and that means we’ve got some exclusive tunes to spin on our New Music Show tonight.  In the mix we’ll feature a new song from Philly’s own The War on Drugs, that doubles as our “Gotta Hear Song of the Week”.  And Jason Isbell contributed a live EP to the weekend festivities, we’ll play you something from that too.  Also, tonight we’ll hear more from Australian sensation Tash Sultana and another track from the forthcoming Afghan Whigs album.  Make sure your radio is set to WXPN at 8PM, we’ve got all that and more.

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Speak Into My Good Eye announce special Wilco cover project I’ll Be There with Jackson Pines’ version of “Red Eyed and Blue”

Jackson Pines | via jacksonpines.bandcamp.com
Jackson Pines | via jacksonpines.bandcamp.com

Brooklyn/Asbury Park music source Speak Into My Good Eye announced I’ll Be Around, a special Wilco-tribute cover record in support of The Project Matters, a nonprofit that provides resources to emerging young musicians.

Set to be released on May 5th, SIMGE released Jackson Pines‘ wonderfully stripped-down piano-teasing version of the band’s “Red Eyed and Blue” track from 1996’s Being There. This marks the group’s second foray into charity records with their release of a Queens of the Stone Age cover album back in 2014.

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16 albums you shouldn’t overlook in 2016

DONTOVERLOOK2016The thing about year-end lists, though. Stuff gets left out. Incredible records are forgotten, or simply don’t make the cut when ranking around consensus. Sure, consensus can be a powerful tool in uncovering the things that your trusted sources can agree upon, framing these things as, definitively, “the best.”

But the idea of hierarchy is in itself exclusionary. “Best” does not equal “only.” We brought you our 15 best albums of the year earlier today, but by no means are these the sole albums that are impressive or important or worthy of your ears in 2016. They’re more of a starting point.

In a lot of ways, I’m more excited about this list: 16 albums that you should not overlook in 2016. These are releases that didn’t appear on more than a single list turned in by The Key’s contributing staff – most of them aren’t ranking on year-end lists elsewhere – but they were obviously striking enough to that person that they made their personal cut. So we asked them why.

These are all excellent records. Many of them are very important records, in the same way that Chance and Solange and Tribe and Beyonce are important. And they’re not getting talked about enough, by any stretch. Start listening, start talking. – John Vettese
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Interview: Philadelphia Drum & Percussion brings gear and beats to Fishtown

The Cymbal Room of Philadelphia Drum and Percussion | via facebook.com/philadelphiadrum

The days of driving out to Sam Ash or waiting for Amazon deliveries are almost over for drummers in Philadelphia.

Friday, November 4th marks the grand opening of Philadelphia Drum & Percussion, the city’s first dedicated gear shop of its kind. Owner Brandon Pfundt has spent the last couple of months stocking the Fishtown storefront with everyday necessities (Remo drumheads and D’Addario sticks) and special boutique items (Low Boy beaters and A&F shells), so it’s ready for its big debut later this week.

We caught up with Pfundt ahead of the opening to get his thoughts on the benefits of independent shops, his favorite item in the store, and his own drumming background. In addition to the opening day highlights mentioned below, the store has partnered with Philly Drum Project to host a Beats, Brews, and Banter event featuring The War on Drugs’ Charlie Hall.
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Alright Junior deliver an alt-rock throwback on Inhibition

Alright Junior | photo courtesy of the artist
Alright Junior | photo by John Biddle | courtesy of the artist

If you’re one of the 90s kids on my Facebook feed mourning the death of the golden era of rock music, you’re just not looking in the right places. Red-blooded alt-rock is alive and well, and Philadelphia’s Alright Junior is a prime example of that. Inhibition is the extended play follow-up to long player Amusia, and for fans of the genre, it’s pure, uninhibited ear-candy. Continue reading →

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Nearly every band ever is playing Liberty Music Fest this weekend

It’s sad to say it, but summer is coming up on its final few weeks. For many, school is right around the corner. Thankfully, the folks at the Liberty Music Fest are doing their best to cram as much live music into our lives as possible. The party’s going down from August 18th to August 21st at the Grape Room on Grape Street in Manayunk. During the course of the four days, more than 80 bands from 25 states will perform. Though Liberty has in the past focused strongly on the hard rock scene, plenty of genres will be represented, from punk to hip-hop to singer-songwriters. It should be a great opportunity to branch out to discover some music that you otherwise might not ever listen to.

There are way too many acts to give you a preview of them all, but we’ve dropped a few down below. Plus, the festival did put together this preview podcast. For more information and a full lineup of bands, check out the image above and head on over to the fest’s Facebook page. They’ve got plenty more previews and links to help you figure out which bands to check out once you’re there. Continue reading →

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Here’s what was happening at The Khyber 24 years ago this month

Pavement
Pavement in front of the Khyber Pass | photo from the Spiral Stairs archives | courtesy of the artist

Before it was a delicious and cozy Old City gastropub, The Khyber Pass was a dingy and vaguely frightening Philly rock dive. Actually, no: it was the dingy and vaguely frightening Philly rock dive.

In the early aughties, when I started covering the music scene, The Khyber was an essential hang for indie rock heads and live music lovers in general. Many drunken nights were had there, green Yeungling empties lining up on the tables and stomped-out cigarette butts collecting on the ground. Oh, the cigarette butts. When Philadelphia banned smoking in bars and restaurants in 2008, and I left a gig for the first time not reeking like an ashtry, with no musty coat to contend with the next day, my mind was effectively blown. We used to live like this? I wondered. We used to go hoarse from smoke and liquor and screaming? But of course we did. Because music. Continue reading →

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Blast The Loud Company’s Amateur Science, catch them at Ortlieb’s this Friday

The Loud Company | image via Facebook

Big surprise here: The Loud Company‘s latest album Amateur Science, released May 13th of this year, is loud. It’s meant to be played loud and a good chunk of its lyrics are intended to be shouted, not sung. Nearly everything about this metal/punk band seems to be high volume, and by the time you read through the next few paragraphs you’ll probably have read the word “loud” so many times that it doesn’t seem like word — if that’s not the case already. Continue reading →