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Hear two tracks from Soft Idiot’s forthcoming In the Long Light of the Failing Sun

Soft Idiot | courtesy of the artist

Soft Idiot has a new album out next week, but ahead of the big release they have two tracks to share with us now. The project of Philly musician Justin Roth, Soft Idiot’s latest effort is In the Long Light of the Failing Sun, which the musician describes as “a record about change.” The album will be released on Bandcamp on January 18, with a cassette release to follow in February. But first, you can hear its lead single “Constant Death,” and another track called “Concession, Pt. 3 / The World’s Yawn,” which has a video to go along with it. Continue reading →

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PREMIERE: Soft Idiot’s new Rain Wins Another Year! LP contains deep, quiet multitudes

Soft Idiot | photo courtesy of the artist
Soft Idiot | photo by Steph Sottolano | courtesy of the artist

Prolific Philadelphia musician Justin Roth makes music under the name Soft Idiot, and his latest release is one of the project’s most ambitious yet. Rain Wins Another Year! is the new full-length from Soft Idiot, and you can hear it first right here. The new album follows stillborn, released in March, as well as a recent split with Lonely Ghost. Continue reading →

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DIY locals Soft Idiot and Lonely Ghost team up for a split

Soft Idiot | photo by Anaje Brinkley | via facebook.com/softidiot1

It’s a great thing when two lo-fi DIY artists bring their solo projects together for a collaborative release. Philly bedroom pop outfits Soft Idiot and Lonely Ghost recently teamed up to release a 4-song split EP, available now on Bandcamp. We last heard from Soft Idiot, the project of Justin Roth, with the release of stillborn in March; and this marks Lonely Ghost’s first release since Funereal in May 2016. Continue reading →

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Watch Soft Idiot perform tiny-desk-esque show at Temple News office

Soft Idiot | photo by Anaje Brinkley | via the band’s Facebook page

I absolutely love NPR’s Tiny Desk concerts. There’s something about the intimate, stripped-down, super out-of-place setup that never fails to bring about the best performances from artists. The staff at The Temple News takes cues from this type of gig by hosting a web series that showcases local bands performing in their student news office. The recent feature of local indie-outfit, Soft Idiot, reaffirms this belief that packing musicians into a tiny office and making them play tunes is a vital necessity in life. Continue reading →

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Jam to Soft Idiot’s genre-mashing track, “Love Like”

Soft Idiot | via softidiot.bandcamp.com

Philly four-piece Soft Idiot released a teaser for their new album, stillborn, and let me tell ya, I’m hooked. The impeccably-named band’s teaser includes two tracks, including “Brother Part I” and “Love Like.”

The latter is the newest release from the album, and is an amalgamation of all kinds of awesome.  I love when songs surprise me, and oh boy did this song surprise me. The track begins in folk punk, singer-songwriter fashion, but then quickly builds into a wopping smorgasbord of different genres. A sweet banjo riff incites a bluegrass feel, only then to be matched by the addition of some psych synth. Then, about half-way through, searing amps and layers of guttural shouts take over, which abruptly fade into a spooky 80s synth send off.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking: that’s a lot of different things going on right there. But trust me, all of this actually works together so well. It makes you question why punk-folk-screamo-Americana-synth isn’t already an established genre.  By the end of the song, you’ll be left blinking “what kind of strange beauty did I just stumble upon?” And you will never see the world the same again. Continue reading →

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Hello and Goodbye, Sagar Bumsweat: Philly basement show rapper closes up shop with Greater Fool Radio

Sagar Bumsweat | photo courtesy of the artist
Sagar Bumsweat | photo courtesy of the artist

Sagar Vasishtha’s weird and wonderful digital rap tapes first landed on our radar just over a year ago, in a late-2017 edition of the dormant Items Tagged Philadelphia project. Following up on the earlier release PROPERMEDITATION, Vasishtha’s home-recorded hip-hop project Bumsweat released an instrumental EP called BOOGSLOOPS1000, purporting that it was inspired by a legendary series of underground beat tapes that inspired him as a budding producer. Taking in by the mystique and taking him at his word for such, I praised the project’s “totally transportive Theviery Corporation / Faithless / Massive Attack vibrations” while acknowledging the obscure origins of its influence. Turns out the Boog’s Loops tapes were more obscure than I realized: as I learned in this interview, they were Vasishtha’s own projects, released as a teenager learning to navigate the world of DIY production. He’s been at this game for longer than we realized.

So what exactly brings us to this interview? For one thing, Sagar Bumsweat (as the project has gone for its last couple releases) has a new collection of music out today called Greater Fool Radio. It’s another set of dream-like synthesizer tapestries, fierce beats, and matter-of-fact flow that wouldn’t sound out of place alongside Anticon-era Why? or Stones Throw Records luminary Peanut Butter Wolf. But enough with the reference points; the other reason we’re talking to Vasishtha is because after two years and change, he’s closing the book on Sagar Bumsweat as he prepares to leave Philadelphia. Continue reading →

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Sagar Bumsweat writes meditative raps on PROPERMEDITATION II

Sagar Bumsweat | via bumsweat.bandcamp.com

PROPERMEDITATION II is the second instillation is rapper/producer Sagar Bumsweat‘s PROPERMEDITATION series, the follow up to October 2017’s initial project. This project continues in the alternative rap realm Sagar casts throughout his previous work, building on preexisting themes both sonically and lyrically.

The multidisciplinary artist raps, produces, and mixes everything on PROPERMEDITATION II — impressive, considering that project mastermind Sagar Vasishtha also plays keys in Soft Idiot. Bandmate Mike Whalen of Soft Idiot contributes live guitar and bass parts throughout this tape. Other contributions to the album come in the form of features from rappers Black Costanza (from Shippensburg, PA) and Pink Navel (from Maine).

Lyrically, the tape includes reflections on youth, the transition to adulthood, and religious themes. Themes of youth come in all shapes and sizes on this project, from shredding on ripsticks on the second track to tape closer “6FACES, Ode to Cube,” a love letter to Nintendo’s GameCube. Continue reading →

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Items Tagged Philadelphia: I turned the pages solemnly, and then

Bumsweat | via bumsweat.bandcamp.com

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

Looking back, I totally would have done a few things differently. I would not have set an arbitrary “weekly” benchmark to report back to you on the weird, wild and wonderfully ear-catching Philly artists I find in my Bandcamp digging. My weeks are unpredictable at WXPN HQ; the only constant is an already high volume of listening, reading, writing, recording and editing, before this project even comes into play. I also would have made a more valiant effort to keep up with these artists I uncovered throughout the year; some were easy to follow (shoutouts Sea-Offs, MHYSA, S-21, Erica Gibson) and some I haven’t checked in on since initially spotlighting them.

I might have tried to be more discerning, choosing fewer releases each week so I’d have space and time to reflect and write more about the ones I was highlighting. I would have found better things to say to introduce each column; I should have STFU about the weather, which seems to be a de facto entry point to many of them. Get it together, man.

But for something that started as a New Years’ Resolution whim twelve months ago — ie. give a listen to every single release posted to Bandcamp with a Philadelphia tag in 2017, report back on the good stuff — I’m decently pleased with how it played out. Continue reading →