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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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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 →

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The Skeleton Key: Moor Mother exhibition, Bowerbird series, Two Piece Fest XI, and more new music than you can shake a greased pole at.

Slutever plays Two Piece Fest in 2013 | Photo by Kate McCann | katemccannphotography.com

While the post-Superbowl riot might be the DIY event of the season, there’s a lot more going on this month than just a bunch of greased poles on Broad Street

Hi! Welcome to the second edition of The Skeleton Key, your friendly neighborhood gossip column just fighting the good fight against mediocrity and boredom. While we might (still) be in the middle of winter, warm weather –  and with it, touring season –  is on the horizon. I promise!

There was no better reminder of that than the recent announcement by R5 that Lighting Bolt and Moor Mother would be playing the First Unitarian Church at the end of March. While Lighting Bolt could sell out the Church all on their own, the fact that the good people at R5 are having Moor Mother open makes for a truly amazing and electric night. Which is to say: I really hope you got tickets because it sold out almost immediately. Continue reading →

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Introducing The Skeleton Key: Our new DIY scene gossip column covering Bowie donuts to a Dead Moon tribute this month

via dischord.com

Philadelphia is a really huge city. Like, absolutely massive. Next time you have the chance to fly into or out of PHL, take a good long look out the window: it really is the sixth largest city in the country, and that’s not even counting what’s referred to as the Greater Philadelphia Area AKA the ‘burbs and South Jersey. For most people, the city is limited geographically to where you live, where you work or go to school, and maybe some other landmarks around town. There are plenty of people who rarely find themselves in Center City and others who have never stepped foot in the suburbs.

As the place for Philadelphia music news, The Key strives to reach all citizens of our great city, no matter where they live. To that end, we present our newest column, The Skeleton Key. Our aim with this is not just to supply all of you with the latest news and rumors about everything going on in the city but also to better promote some of the bands that might be a bit more under the radar.

Before I move on to this month’s edition, a quick bit of housekeeping: I want to make sure that it’s quite clear that the idea for this is very much in homage to – that’s the nice way of saying ripping off, right? – the great work my fellow Key contributor A.D. Amorosi did for more than two decades at The City Paper, specifically the regular column he wrote called The Icepack. Also, a quick bit about me! I am a music journalist and photographer, a college radio DJ at WKDU 91.7FM, and someone who has been going to shows for way too long. I’ve also started booking bands over the past few years, which is both wonderfully rewarding and the biggest pain in the ass known to man.

Here are some of the topics this column will cover: upcoming shows, news about bands going into the studio or putting out albums, promotion of other bits of music journalism you might have missed, talk about old bands, rumors about new ones, and everything in between. If you want to send in some HOT TIPS or COOL RUMORS – I know you do! – you can reach me via e-mail or find me on Twitter at @talkofthetizzy. Continue reading →

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Philly noisemakers Taiwan Housing Project talk balancing pop and chaos for Veblen Death Mask

Taiwan Housing Project | photo by Donald Bruno | courtesy of the artist
Taiwan Housing Project | photo by Donald Bruno | courtesy of the artist

Back in 2013, Kilynn Lunsford and Mark Feehan collaborated for the first time, sitting on his couch with instruments and a computer and piecing together abstract sonic ideas and vivid vocals into their first, self-released LP as Taiwan Housing Project. Both had previous band experience under their belts — Lunsford in the Portland garage rock outfit Little Claw, which was active across the aughties, and Feehan in the 90s noiserockers Harry Pussy, which released a couple records on local imprint Siltbreeze.

Based in Philly, the two experimented in fusing extremely fun, infectious rock and roll with nihilistic sonic textures on a run of digital singles and EPs, and today its label debut Veblen Death Mask is out on venerable Portland label Kill Rock Stars. It boasts a ferocity that echoes no wave adjacent artists like Sonic Youth and Lydia Lunch — particularly on the dissonant breakdown of “What’s It All About” and the sinister tone of “Eat or Be Eat” — but the album is also profoundly catchy, a trait noticeable in the Cramps v B-52s face-off of “Authentic Alien Perfume.”

Lunsford and Feehan have an impressive roster of collaborators in the Taiwan Housing Project family, drawing members from Tyvek and Writhing Squares on Veblen. They have an advocate in punk icon Ian Svenonius (his new project ESCAPE-ISM opens for their album release party at Johnny Brenda’s tomorrow). I caught up with them via phone last week (Lunsford in Drexel Hill, Feehan in South Philly) to discuss the project’s attraction to compelling sound, its ever-evolving creative process process and why Svenonius doesn’t ever want to take the stage after them. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Sunwatchers at PhilaMOCA, Agnes Obel at Union Transfer, Jesse Hale Moore at Bourbon and Branch and more

Sunwatchers | Photo by Breanna Keohane for WXPN
Sunwatchers | Photo by Breanna Keohane for WXPN

New York progressive collective Sunwatchers head to PhilaMOCA for the night with opening sets by Skull Practitioners and Writhing Squares. These free jazz and krautrock inspired musicians define their own genre through jams of epic proportions, making anyone squeezed into Philly’s favorite arthouse freaking lucky. The show is all ages, and more information can be found on the XPN Concert Calendar. Also, check out the band’s Studio Sessions when they stopped by last May. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Rosali

Philadelphia’s Rosali Middleman debuted this year with an excellent collection of earnest, roots-tinged songwriting and contemporary folk. Released simply under her first name via local imprint Siltbreeze Records, Rosali‘s Out of Love hearkens back to the 70s singer-songwriter era of Joan Baez and Neil Young as much as it recalls more recent parallels — Lucinda Williams, or R.E.M. circa Out of Time. At the core of the music is Rosali’s engaging voice: confident, sublime, delivering observational stories of the fast-paced world around her and going inward for self-reflection. Continue reading →