Lineup for West Philly’s OK FEST announced featuring Amanda X, Swearin’, Speedy Ortiz, Worriers and more in August

Photo by Pete Murray |
Photo by Pete Murray |
Punk rock rules! This year’s OK FEST will be held on August 1st and 2nd at Golden Tea House and Nacho House.  There’s a seriously strong lineup including Cayetana, who were recently featured on NPR, The AmbularsHound, Amanda X, Swearin’, and more. Brooklyn punk rockers, Worriers play on Friday, and Massachusetts indie-rockers Speedy Ortiz will play on Saturday. Speedy Ortiz recently played Bonnaroo and released an EP, Real Hair, back in February.

Go here for more details on the festival.

Below, listen to “Guatemala” by Amanda X.

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Listen to a new song by Amanda X, “Guatemala”

Photo courtesy of the band
Photo by Pete Murray |

Amanda X have premiered a new song, “Guatemala,” that premiered at Noisey. The trio – Cat Park on guitar, Tiff Yoon on drums and Kat Bean on bass – are releasing their debut album, Amnesia, on Siltbreeze on July 28th. Noisey calls the song a “super-contagious post-punk jangly/jagged riffer,” which gets no arguments from us. Back in November, 2013, Amanda X recorded a Key Studio Session during which they recorded a version of “Guatemala.”

Listen to the new studio version of the song below, and download the Key Studio Session version of the song while you’re at it. Amanda X are playing the Philly Summer Fest at PhilaMOCA on August 9th. Go here for more information on the show.



Tonight’s Concert Picks: PAWS at Boot and Saddle, Jose James at World Cafe Live, Protomartyr with Amanda X at Kung Fu Necktie

Paws | Photo by Martin Barker
Paws | Photo by Martin Barker

Glasgow-based power trio PAWS are wasting no time in following up their debut LP with the new Youth Culture Forever, out via FatCat Records on May 6th. The band is built on very 90s walls of sound (think Yo La Tengo, Sonic Youth, Superchunk) but cut with a very personal lyrical perspective that shines through at their rare quiet moments. Below, get an acoustic taste of “Tongues” from the new album, and find tickets and information about tonight’s tour kickoff show at Boot and Saddle with We Are Scientists here.

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“A mix of sleaziness and professionalism”: Philly artists weigh in on their SXSW experience

The Districts | Photo by John Vettese
The Districts at Buffalo Billiards | Photo by John Vettese

The rickety van piloted by Philly psych-thrash outfit Ruby the Hatchet rolled into Austin just a few hours before its first South By Southwest gig last week. Cutting it close, for sure, but the band was just happy to arrive.

“We broke down,” guitarist John Scarperia explained as he set up for the End Records showcase at LIT Lounge. “We were stuck in Tennessee for two days.”

Ruby the Hatchet | Photo by John Vettese
Ruby the Hatchet at LIT Lounge | Photo by John Vettese

Talk about a setback. I ask if they missed any tour shows on the trip down. Scarperia laughs, then says “We didn’t play any. But it was fun, all part of the adventure, right?

The band dished a raucous set of its heady, heavy rock to a modest but appreciative crowd – which included singer-songwriter Nicole Atkins, a longtime friend of Hatchet frontwoman Jillian Taylor. The next day, it rocked Thrasher Mag’s unofficial Deathmatch showcase, and spent the rest of the weekend mingling with the music-devouring masses. Overall, it was a positive experience, and even culminated in Taylor getting a new tattoo (a hatchet, of course).

Ruby the Hatchet was one of dozens of locals that made the trek to Austin this year. Musicians of all styles and degrees of renown represented Philly at SXSW. There were known names like rapper Spank Rock, who played an energized set to a buck wild crowd at the Boyz Noize showcase at The Majestic on Thursday, and alt-bluesman G. Love who played the 18th Floor of the Hilton Garden Inn the same night. There were emerging artists, like folk singer Vikesh Kapoor and punk power trio Amanda X, or SXSW vets like rapper Lushlife, heavy psych heads Creepoid, and dream punks Nothing, who played a 2 a.m. set on a pedestrian footbridge.

Chill Moody | Photo by John Vettese
Chill Moody onstage at Amped Austin | Photo by John Vettese

“I feel like SXSW serves as a hub for discovery,” says Philly rapper Chill Moody, who I caught during his showcase at the Amped Austin lounge on Saturday afternoon. “I met a bunch of musicians and professionals in the music industry in just one week. Built some strong connections that will hopefully help me with the next steps in my career.”

For Moody, who is used to feeding off the love of the hometown fan base he’s cultivated over the past few years – he headlines venues like The TLA and Union Transfer locally – it was an opportunity to perform to complete strangers in smaller rooms, and win them over. The Amped show featured his right hand man Beano, a charismatic and occasionally comedic R&B singer, hopping offstage and dancing in the midst of the crowd, to the delight of many Instagram-snappers.

“It was a good chance to show a different audience exactly what you can do,” said Moody.

Downstairs at the same venue, electronic rock duo City Rain debuted songs from their new Songs From a High School Dance LP, due out in late April. Again, the crowd was (with the exception of myself) strangers, but people fed off singer / songwriter Ben Runyuan’s relentless energy, particularly on the driving anthem “Waiting on a Dream.”

“This is our last showcase,” Runyan said. “So I’m just throwing everything I got into this.” Continue reading →

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Unlocked: Take a road trip to Baltimore with Philly’s Creepoid

IMG_20140222_175835It’s Saturday night and Creepoid guitarist PeteJoe Urban IV wants his bandmate Anna Troxell to bring a bigger purse to their show in Baltimore. She’s been roped into trafficking pint glasses from bars the band stops at on the road.

“I’m not bringing a bigger purse than this one,” Troxell says. “I always have to be the one carrying glasses around. I’m not doing it this time.”

Urban looks at me, shrugs his shoulders and gives a look that says, “Well, I tried.”

Creepoid is on a lineup with Amanda X, Crimson Wave and Dinged Up at The Gold Bar. It’s a little less than a two hour ride from their West Philly home. Before hitting the road, drummer Pat Troxell is getting text messages from their friend, Noel Conrad, a novelty toy maker, photographer and owner of Novelty Haus, in Baltimore. Conrad is inviting the band to his studio when they get to Baltimore for an impromptu photoshoot. The band agrees without any hesitation. They later find out that Conrad also wants to bring them in on a progressive packaging idea, pairing their music with his toys.

But there’s still plenty to do here before leaving: the van needs to be packed. That’s Urban’s job. He does it efficiently and clearly has a routine of how and where everything get placed in the back of their Ford Windstar. He knows exactly what goes in first, grabbing Pat Troxell’s bass drum. Everything fits in perfectly without any slack to spare or extra space,.

“I often consider trying different ways to load the van,” he says. “But I always end up going back to the same way every time. You just figure out a way that works best.”

Creepoid has their upcoming album on their mind when they start driving, asking each other if they’d heard anything from No Idea Records, the label releasing the record, about how many preorders they’ve had.

“I don’t know, but people keeping hitting me up to set copies aside,” Anna Toxell says. “If you want a pink one, go online and preorder one. If you want a white one, go online and order one. Don’t ask me to set one aside, I know what that means.”

VinylThere’s a grumble and Pat Troxell, Anna’s husband, says he’s been getting the same thing from other people. Specific names of their friends are dropped and it sounds like the band will try to take care of them. But no one is getting a hand-out. The self-titled new record will be pressed to yellow, pink and white vinyl, matching the color scheme of the pictures on the back of the record sleeve. But the colored records are limited to only two-hundred copies each.

Guitarist and singer Sean Miller, is driving the van with Urban sitting shotgun. They’re asking Pat Troxell about highway changes as we’re getting out of the city. He tells them what direction to take without looking up from his cell phone for more than a second, knowing the route like a father that’s taken his family to the same vacation spot every summer for years. It may have something to do with the fact that Pat Troxell has been going on tours with bands since he was fourteen years old. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Toy at Kung Fu Necktie, Rebirth Brass Band at Underground Arts, Against Me! at Chameleon Club, and more

TOY | photo by Danny Mitchell
TOY | photo by Danny Mitchell

Coming from London, psych rock band Toy makes a stop Kung Fu Necktie tonight, on tour in support of their second album Join The Dots. Drawing influence from early electronic music, and some rock from the eighties and early nineties, Toy makes sonic walls of raw guitar, clashing drums, and some straight up noisy electronics. Check out the music video for “Join The Dots” below to see how they can go from laid back to in your face so easily. Toy will be joined by Spires, Far Out Fangtooth, and The Black Hollies. This 21+ show is only $10, get tickets here.

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Download The Key Studio Sessions Vol. 9 (feat. Amanda X, Balance and Composure, Mean Lady and more)

The Key Studio Sessions Volume 9
Album cover photo by Tiffany Yoon |

Today we bring you our latest Key Studio Sessions compilation, pulling together the best of what we’ve recorded in the final four months of 2013. I’m always psyched about these comps, but The Key Studio Sessions Vol. 9 in particular presents a tremendous variety of musicians from around the Philadelphia region that I’m excited to showcase for you. Bucks County has a healthy showing, from the acoustic alt-punk swagger of Balance and Composure and the retro-grunge of Daylight to the booming Americana of Levee Drivers and the flower child folk stylings of Lily Mae. We trip away into a spacious, 12-minute jam by Chris Forsyth and his Solar Motel Band, rock out to Amanda X and get chillingly meditative with ambient musician and filmmaker Michael James Murray. A Christmas selection from Jersey’s The Classic Brown makes the cut, sultry new jammers from Delaware’s Mean Lady and Central Pa.’s Kate Faust, a fierce bass-backed rap by Curly Castro, an Afro-Cuban jazz rocker from Toy Soldiers, and more. Special thanks to guest engineers Steve Poponi and Mike Kennedy, to Tom Volpicelli at Mastering House for his post-production help, and to production assistants Dan Hutton and Dan Malloy as well as photographers Rachel Del Sordo, Megan Kelly, Laura Lynn, Caitlin McCann, Ally Newbold, Kellie O’Heron, Tony Oppenheim, Matthew Shaver, Mike Trutt and Tiffany Yoon, and videographers Bands in the Backyard and Bob Sweeney for sharing their work this fall. Listen to the 17-song set and get a free download below.

Want more? Get a roundup of our previous free-downloadable Key Studio Sessions compilations after the jump. Continue reading →

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