Download The Key Studio Sessions Compilation Vol. 4 (feat. City Rain, Pink Skull, Lushlife, Chill Moody, + more)

Photo by Arrah Fisher

Special thanks to all of the bands for coming to our studio, and to John Vettese for recording them. We’d also like to thank volunteer production assistants Fred Knittel, Madeleine Lesperance, and Dan Malloy as well as photographers Kate Bracaglia, Corey Cohen, Sarah Fry, Shamus McGroggan, Noah Gabriel Merenda, Sylvia Ramirez, and Heidi Schlenzig for sharing their work.

Click here to download the 18-track compilation in its entirety as a .zip file. Want to hear more? Click here to listen to the full sessions by all 18 local acts; you can also download The Key Studio Sessions Compilation Volume IVolume 2, and Volume 3.

Zakee “Spotlight”
City Rain “Real Good”
Pink Skull “Oh, Monorail”
Mason Porter “Back To Where We Started From”
Univox “What’s More”
Arrah and the Ferns “Waterproof Gold Watch”
Acid Kicks “Take My Soul Away”
The Menzingers “Mexican Guitars”
Music For Headphones “Why”
Lushlife “Gymnopiede 1.2″
Griz “The Secret In The Garden”
New Sweden “Saint, Don’t You Lie”
Sunny Ali and the Kid “Stop the Haiti”
Peasant “Girls”
Chill Moody “Cotton”
Little Big League “St. John’s”


The Key Studio Sessions: Acid Kicks

Sean Hamilton recalls the origins of his dreamy prog-punk band Acid Kicks: “Basically, I was trying to figure out ‘How do I play bass to this bass?’” Such are the dilemmas of a guitar-free act – the Kicks bill themselves as “three bassists, one drummer and the search for the punk rock American dream,” one of the finest taglines I’ve heard in forever. Given their self-imposed limitations, the Philly-based act has built a remarkably dense, dynamic sound for themselves. Recording their Key Studio Session last week, I was able to dissect the interplay: Hamilton plays rhythm bass chords in a sharp, punchy, aggressive manner; Ben Contois plays lead bass licks that run the gamut from guitar solos an octave down to eerie organ-sounding arpeggios; and Marshall James Kavanaugh plays bass-bass, all washed out and rumbly as he delivers a robust Ian Curtis-esque vocal. (Holding the beat down is Joseph Idell, a drummer well-versed in krautrock-style syncopation.) Give a listen to the half-dozen tracks they recorded for us below, check out their excellent Life Dreams 7″ here, tune in to the Key Studio Sessions hour on XPN2 tomorrow at 7 p.m. to hear the band discuss their love of the low end, and catch them in concert at Pi Lam’s annual Human BBQ on April 7.


Tonight’s Concert Pick: Phonographic Arts presents Acid Kicks at Silk City, Little Big League at The Level Room

Acid Kicks

Two separate Phonographic Arts shows going on tonight. First Acid Kicks performs with Harsh Vibes and Wild Child at Silk City Diner (9 p.m., 21+, $6). Meanwhile, over at Phonographic Arts’ new home, The Level Room, Little Big League performs with Cozy Galaxies and Porches (9 p.m., 21+, $7). You can listen to tracks by Acid Kicks and Little Big League below.


Philly Local Philes: Acid Kicks’ “Life Dreams”

Some bands – garage-rock duos, indie-punk trios – decide not to enlist a bassist. Philly experimentalists Acid Kicks prefer several. Outdoing 90s underground juggernaut Girls Against Boys in their embracement of the low end, these guys self-describe as “three bass players, one drummer, and the search for the punk rock American dream.” I call them a group of exciting players with an abundance of texture and imagination. Check out the title track to their new 7″, Life Dreams, below; the single is being released this Saturday in a party at Kensignton art space Little Berlin.


Philadelphia Bandcamp Hunter: Acid Kicks

Acid Kicks are three bassists (Ben Contois, Sean Hamilton, and Marshall James Kavanaugh) and one drummer, Alex Zillinski. They’ve got a new 7″ single that you can stream/download here. This is some pretty heavy, thick stuff with exploding, rumbling rhythms and brooding punk-rock energy Below, stream the song “Pyramidic Valley,” and check out a video of the band from the Highwire Music Festival this past May. The band’s first demo release full length is available for free here.


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Zola Jesus at Johnny Brenda’s + Low, Norwegian Arms, Grass Widow

As far as breakout years go, Zola Jesus (Nika Roza Danilova) had a pretty good 2010. The six-song Stridulum EP (released on Brooklyn’s Sacred Bones Records in March) was extended into a nine-song full length, Stridulum II, and released on the German label Souterrain Transmissions in August; a second EP, Valusia (also on Sacred Bones), was then released in October. (And, between all of that, Danilova found the time to record a split EP with LA Vampires, released by Not Not Fun.) All three of the lo-fi goth chanteuse’s 2010 records managed to garner a respectable amount of accolades, delivering on the promise of her previous work—which began with a couple of singles in 2008 and a full length, The Spoils, in 2009. It might not be the opera career Danilova originally envisioned for herself when she first became enamored with singing at the age of 7 (while growing up on a bleak, isolated, 100-acre stretch of wilderness in Madison, WI). But it’s certainly an impressive emergence for the experimental goth-pop artist, and one that has us looking forward to tonight’s show (as well as her next release). Zola Jesus performs with Naked On The Vague at 9 p.m. at Johnny Brenda’s; tickets to the 21+ show are $10-$12.

And, if you missed John Vettese’s Philly Local Phile from last Friday—which featured the new three-song Norwegian Arms EP, Trimming Of Hides, in its entirety—you can give it a listen here prior to tonight’s opening performance at Kung Fu Necktie. Norwegian Arms performs with Oh No Oh My, Arrah And The Ferns, and Cow Pals at 8 p.m. at Kung Fu Necktie; tickets to the 21+ show are $8.

Also playing: Low (touring in support of its recently released full-length album, C’Mon—which we mentioned here) + Stick And A Stone at First Unitarian Church (8 p.m., all ages, $15); Philadelphia’s Reading Rainbow headlines a lineup that also features Grass Widow (Kill Rock Stars) + Broken Water, Acid Kicks at Danger Danger Gallery (8:30 p.m., all ages, $5-$10)


Tonight’s Concert Pick: Birth Noise + Acid Kicks at Kung Fu Necktie

Acid Kicks
Acid Kicks

Philly’s Birth Noise might have come into the world kicking, but it certainly didn’t do any screaming. In fact, the young band has yet to even utter its first word. But don’t hold your breath: the noisy trio—reportedly featuring former members of Mass Movement of the Moth, Ingrid, Sick Weapons and Des Ark—deals in dense instrumentals. Birth Noise has also yet to make a peep on the Internet, with one YouTube clip and a few mentions of previous shows the only proof of the band’s existence. Three-bass-guitars-plus-drums quartet Acid Kicks, meanwhile, has a slightly higher profile, including a handful of photos and a trio of barely audible songs available on the band’s Facebook and MySpace pages. Perhaps both bands’ relative anonymity is why tonight’s show at Kung Fu Necktie is free of charge? But the city of Philadelphia loves some noise-rock, and you can probably expect to see both bands’ name in headlines sometime next year—which is all the more reason to see them tonight. Birth Noise performs with Acid Kicks, DJ Jane Pain, and DJ Laura Lawless at 9 p.m. at Kung Fu Necktie; tickets to the 21+ show are free.