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It Takes Two: Philly jazz punks Writhing Squares up their game on Out of the Ether, share their favorite duos

Writhing Squares | photo by Peter Kerlin | via facebook.com/thewrithingsquares

Two piece rock bands are kind of the redheaded stepchildren of the scene. They’re treated as an anomaly and a freakish one at that. It’s part of the reason why events like Two Piece Fest, which is coming up at the end of the month, have thrived. There’s a community there, a familiarity and solidarity even among bands that have seemingly nothing in common but their number of members.

Some two-piece bands are formed out of a sense of desperation – they can’t find a third member or somebody quits and they decide to just make a go at it – and others from a drive towards innovation. The word ‘experimental’ gets bandied about a lot when talking about duos, even when they’re playing utterly straightforward music. Still, there’s something to be said for the power of pushing the boundaries of what just two people can create.

If you want to see a prime example of that look no further than Philly two piece Writhing Squares and their sound that’s at the midpoint between prog, pysch, jazz, and punk. Their latest album Out of the Ether was just released on Trouble In Mind Records and they’re playing a record release show tonight at Kung Fu Necktie with Sparrow Steeple and Headroom.

The fact that neither Kevin Nickles or his bandmate Daniel Provenzano play drums wasn’t a deterrent when they decided to start Writhing Squares more than five years ago. Continue reading →

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Purling Hiss is back with the new Interstellar Blue EP, out in July

Purling Hiss | photo by Mike Polizze | courtesy of the artist

This week, Purling Hiss announced the upcoming release of a new EP Interstellar Blues and released a grim new track entitled “Useful Information.” The local outfit, led by songwriter/guitarist Mike Polizze, most recently released the LP High Bias in 2016, which mixed pop punk and heavy alt rock with psychedelic production and a twisted sense of humor. Continue reading →

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The Skeleton Key: From Harrisburg synth punk history to West Philly porch pics to jazz gigs and more, we’ve got you covered this June.

Clark Park Fest Flyer | art by Justin Duerr

Say what you will about the thrill of the hunt but the fact that I can listen to just about any music out there whenever I want is a great feeling. Case in point: the other day I was reading about an old Harrisburg punk who had recently passed away, Mike Rage from the band Late Teens, and went down the rabbit hole of early 80s central Pennsylvania punk and hardcore. What a treasure trove of bands! It’s truly remarkable stuff.

Of the bunch the one that really, really stood out was Billy Synth & The Turn Ups, a synth punk act that existed in various iterations from the late 70s to the mid-80s. I’m going to swing back around to talk about them but first you should put on the Billy Synth album Disorderly Conduct – originally released in 1983 on the band’s own Tragik Records and with some tracks appearing on a compilation called “We Have Got To Make It On Our Own” that Mind Cure put out a few years ago – that some nerd was kind enough to upload to YouTube. Continue reading →

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Richie Records has a cure for the common Monday with free punk series at Ortlieb’s in June

Writhing Squares | photo via facebook.com/thewrithingsquares

Mondays just got a lot more exciting. Starting tonight and going for the rest of the month, local independent label Richie Records is presenting a free series at Ortlieb’s of some of the most exciting and fun bands in Philadelphia. We sat down with head honcho Richie Charles to talk about the shows, what the label has been up to, and his undying love for industrial punk freaks Men’s Recovery Project and their co-founder Neil Burke, who will be playing the series as part of a duo with Bill Nace on the 17th. Continue reading →

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The Week Ahead: Peter Bjorn & John, Girlpool, Center City Jazz Fest, Joan Osborne, and more

Jeff Bradshaw performs at Center City Jazz Fest 2018 | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

The annual Center City Jazz Fest is always one of our favorite days of the year, and if that’s all Philly had going on this week, we’d still be over the moon excited. But there are, as always, a variety of options, from heartfelt singer-songwriters to the Detroit band that arguably invented punk in the U.S. Here are 15 concerts to see in the next seven days all around Philadelphia.
Continue reading →

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The Skeleton Key: April is for Balkan big bands, hanging guitars, cult movies, so much jazz, and Sheer Mag

Sheer Mag | photo by Yoni Kroll

Wake up, Philadelphia! I know last month was a long one but here we are in April and I have a full plate of shows for you. So full, in fact, that it’s rare there’s a day without two or three can’t miss events. How wild is that? Even if you never even wanted to leave the house once this month – I don’t know, maybe you just broke your leg or something terrible like that – there’s enough new music from Philly bands to keep you occupied for a long time. Don’t worry, we’ll get to that too. Continue reading →

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The Skeleton Key: From a J Dilla tribute to rock n’ rollers galore to so much jazz, we’re looking for love in all the right places this month

Writhing Squares | photo via facebook.com/thewrithingsquares

January might be the traditional time to make resolutions and talk about how we can go about bettering ourselves or whatever it is you’re trying to do with your life but let’s be honest: February is when stuff starts to get real. I can’t help you stop smoking or go to the gym more often, but if you’re resolved to go to more shows I’ve definitely got you covered.

This month is incredibly jam-packed with all manner of events, from avant garde jazz to wild metal to a stacked J Dilla tribute. And that’s all just in the next week! Have you ever just contemplated how lucky we are to be living in one of the best cities in the world? I have. That’s why I do this column. So let’s get started! Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: DIY Crystal Ball — Yoni Kroll’s most anticipated Philly music happenings of 2019

photo by Farrah Skeiky via facebook.com/breakfreefest

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2018 incredible. Today, Key writer Yoni Kroll takes a look at what’s ahead in the local DIY scene.

When I was at Drexel I took this class on “Sociology of the Future” where a big chunk of what we did was learn how to make accurate predictions of what’s to come based on analysis of the past and present. Pretty cool, right? I’d like to say that I learned a lot about prognostication and general soothsaying in this class but considering my, uhh, educational fortitude back then it’s doubtful I showed up half the time.

Still, I don’t need a crystal ball to tell all of you about some of the amazing things we have to look forward to in 2019. So put away those tea leaves and save those complicated star charts for another time and let’s take a look at everything in store for us over the next twelve months. Continue reading →

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The Skeleton Key: The end of the year, called and counted, filled with reggae, klezmer, punk, film screenings, and more

Pinkwash | photo by Yoni Kroll | courtesy of the artist

Everybody is out here with their 2018 top ten list and I’m still completely obsessed with one of last year’s favorites, the self-titled debut from jazz quintet Irreversible Entanglements. It’s not just the music or the lyrics or the delivery, all of which are, for the record, incredible. Really it’s the fact that I still haven’t had the chance to see them play despite them being from here. Somebody please book this band a show in Philadelphia! Continue reading →

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The Skeleton Key: Dancehall reggae from Jamaica, psych noise from Italy, post-punk from England…September has you covered!

Hurry Up! | photo via R5 Productions

It’s unreal just how much is happening in Philly this month. I know, I know: I say that every column. But it’s true! Never forget how lucky we are to be living in this great city that has so much going on every single night. Welcome to the September edition of the Skeleton Key. From space rock at PhilaMOCA to Mexican Independence Day at Penn’s Landing to all kinds of punk: we’ve got you covered. Continue reading →