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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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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Cayetana at WXVU’s Fall Gig, Dreamswell at Underground Arts, Rickie Lee Jones at World Cafe Live

Cayetana | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

If you missed out on getting tickets to Japanese Breakfast’s sold-out headlining show in the basement of the First Unitarian Church tonight, fear not — there’s plenty of live and local music to take in tonight. A short SEPTA ride in to the west of the city will land you at WXVU’s Fall Gig at Villanova University, and it’s a stacked show. We are, of course, biased in saying this — Key staffer Megan Cooper organized the gig, and picked some of our fave Philadelphians to play — but, I mean, look at that lineup! Punk rock awesome ladies Cayetana in the headlining slot, alongside pysch-blues ripper dudes Ill Fated Natives, rapper Ivy Sole, electropop visionary Aphra and basement scene faves Soft Idiot. The gig is free, information can be found here and you can get ready to sing along to Cayetana’s “Mesa” below.
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Cayetana, Ivy Sole and more to play a free fall gig at Villanova’s WXVU

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

There’s a gig happening at Villanova later this month that’s well worth a Thursday night trek out to the suburbs. The folks at the university’s radio station, WXVU, along with the Campus Activities Team, have put together a college show cooler than most college shows with a super-stacked lineup of Philly favorites.

The free gig features a real variety of Philly artists, from DIY four-piece Soft Idiot to psych-blues power trio Ill Fated Natives, singer / songwriter-meets-electropop outfit Aphra to rapper Ivy Sole. Stepping into the headlining slot are punk faves Cayetana, who self-released their incredible sophomore album New Kind of Normal earlier this year and recently tore up the stage at Philly Music Fest. Continue reading →

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Make Music Philly Day returns tomorrow with Sonni Shine, Lazy Eye and more

sonni shine
Sonni Shine | Photo by Josh Pelta-Heller | koalafoto.com

June 21st, the longest day of the year makes for a great opportunity to open your porches, sidewalks, storefronts and yards for local musicians to perform in on and around them. Founded in France back in 1982, the fête is an opportunity to put on free shows by both seasoned and new artists testing their craft. If you’re into checking out what Philly has to offer but don’t know where to start, read through the neighborhood offerings below. And don’t be that guy running around screaming “Freebird” at every musician you see, please. Let’s keep it classy.

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Watch Harmony Woods perform Nothing Special tracks at WTSR Underground Live Session

Harmony Woods | photo by Emily Dubin | thedubyscoop.com | via harmonywoods.bandcamp.com

We’ve been pretty fairly hyped about Harmony Woods recently released debut album, Nothing Special, over here at The Key. We profiled the band early this week and we’ll be there at their album release party at JJ’s Diner. So it’s no surprise we’re also pretty fairly hyped about the band’s recent stop at WTSR Studios. 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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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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