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Listen to Small Circle’s debut Cyclical, see them tonight at PhilaMOCA

Small Circle | photo via Upset Magazine

Earlier this year, we introduced you to Small Circle, the collaboration of singer and songwriter Marissa D’ella and members of the emo band Sorority Noise. Their music is hushed and haunting, but also expansive — as we heard in their performance for The Key Studio Sessions.

Today, the band’s album is streaming in its entirety, care of a premiere on DIY Magazine that also includes an illuminating interview with D’Ella where she talked about the origins of the collaboration. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions Doubleheader: Small Circle / Sorority Noise

Really, it’s all rooted in friendship. When Hartford, CT founded emo four-piece Sorority Noise began touring on the regular a few years back, they connected with new people in each city they hit; it’s something all touring bands do to some extent, it builds out out a support network of familiar faces in the crowd and couches to crash on after the gig. As singer-guitarist Cameron Boucher tells it, Marissa D’Elia was “our Philly friend” from early on — watching from the front row, chatting them up at merch as the show was letting out.

Flash forward a few years, when Boucher and a couple of his bandmates relocated to Philly — he and D’Elia would get together when he wasn’t on the road and casually collaborate, fleshing out some of the first songs she’d ever written. By 2016, enough music was amassed that the for-fun project was now a band called Small Circle.
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Small Circle shares soaring and sporadic single, “Spinning;” announces September LP release

Small Circle | via twitter.com/smallcirclephl

Philly outfit Small Circle is the awesome indie result you get when combining songwriter and frontwoman Marissa D’elia’s dreamy vocals and melodies with members of emo-punk faves Sorority Noise. After releasing their debut EP melatonin in the spring, the four-piece have now shared a new single and announced an upcoming album, Cyclical, which will be out on September 8th via Flower Girl Records. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Resilient at MilkBoy, Small Circle at The Balcony, Mark McGuire at PhilaMOCA and more

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

Philly hard rockers Resilient hit the MilkBoy stage tonight alongside Honeytiger and The Vernes for The Key’s Philly music showcase. It’s been just about a year since their last EP, Imagining Things, and the band is readying a new collection of songs for release this summer. Meanwhile, Honeytiger just recorded an ace Key Studio Session and The Vernes continue to dish out dreamy summertime indie pop. Tickets and more information on the show can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar; watch Resilient rock “Medication” in the XPN Studio below, via VuHaus.
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Small Circle announces remastered edition of melatonin out on Flower Girl Records

Small Circle | via twitter.com/smallcirclephl

Chill Philadelphia four-piece Small Circle (populated by vocalist Marissa D’Elia along with Sorority Noise’s Cam Boucher and Adam Ackerman, Rozwell Kid’s Sean Hallock) released a reissued version of their 2016 EP melatonin on Boucher’s new label Flower Girl Records. Mastered by Boucher as well, the four-track EP includes new track “sameness”, along with crisper versions of past relaxed tunes.

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Chris Porterfield comes full circle with Field Report (playing World Cafe Live on 11/9)

Standing out among this year’s breakout acts is Field Report, the new folk project from Minnesota native Chris Porterfield. Formerly a member of the Eau Claire band DeYarmond Edison (which also featured Justin Vernon of Bon Iver and members of Megafaun), Porterfield relocated to Milwaukee where he rekindled his love for music . When its eponymous debut was released in September, critics hailed Field Report as an artist to watch for its rich, poetic lyrics and quiet-yet-powerful sound. Adam Duritz of Counting Crows, who Field Report supported on tour this summer, said “There’s such a perfection in the songs that I wonder how long Chris spent.” This week we caught up with Porterfield over the phone about his experience working with a new group of musicians, his surprise at the success of album, and the band’s resolve to remain true to their Wisconsin roots. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: AllegrA

An old friend once made an observation about Ani Di Franco’s classic live album Living In Clip that’s stuck with me for 20-odd years: you can hear it in Ani’s voice when she’s smiling.

Even when the songs are devastatingly tragic, or fuming with rage, listening to the record (or, honestly, Ani’s entire catalogue) is a total joy, because at the end of it all, there’s this warm beacon of hope staring down an uncompassionate world, this realistic optimist standing at the microphone and singing words they wrote that, for that moment anyway, have the ability to make them happy…and by extension, make others happy.

I don’t bring that up to necessarily align Philly’s Allegra Eidinger to Di Franco in a musical sense; yes, both are masters of the fretboard-tapping guitar licks like you hear in folkies Tim Reynolds and Kaki King (or twinkle emo bands like Cap’n Jazz and Marietta). But beyond that stylistic affect, AllegrA the band has a sound all its own; bits of classic 70s singer-songwriter music in a Janis Ian sort of way, an effervescent energy straight out of the basement show scene, and a singing voice more mellifluous and honest than many of the band’s peers.

That idea of hearing a smile, though. That’s something that Eidinger carries forward into their work, whether intentionally or subconsciously.  Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: John Vettese’s Top Six Philly Music Discoveries of 2017

Aleana | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Aleana | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. To kick off the series, Key editor John Vettese recaps six of his favorite Philadelphia music discoveries from the past 12 months.

Earlier today, I was listening to a conversation with Johnny Brenda’s talent buyer Chris Ward on the 25 O’Clock podcast, and he made a very interesting point. The bumper crop of musical talent in Philadelphia, or what is often perceived as such, is no sudden phenomenon. It’s not as though, pre-2006, the city was in some dire straits or a lesser creative state, and has subsequently grown and evolved to the present-day bursting of the proverbial seams.

The truth is that amazing music — rap music, rock music, pop music, soul music — has always existed in the 215; in many cases (the Gamble & Huff era), it’s downright thrived. But as Ward pointed out, a more recent confluence of factors and persons and places and institutions over the past decade (like him and JBs, I might add, or like our friends at The Deli and Jump, or like countless others) have helped amplify the scene tremendously.

Every year around this time, as we launch into The Key’s annual year-in-review extravaganza, I begin by sitting down and reflecting on the new artists and new-to-me artists who, over the past twelve months, have knocked me sideways. There have always been artists like this in Philly, whether or not the outside world is paying attention. And there always will be; even if, at some point, the zeitgeist declares Philly to be “over,” if you look and listen, you’ll find them continually creating, somehow, somewhere.

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