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The Key’s Year-End Mania: 2017’s ten best Philly artist portraits

Cayetana | photos by Mary Ferrigno | courtesy of the artist

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. Today, Sarah Hojsak takes a look at some of the best artist portraits of 2017.

During last year’s end-of-the-year rush, The Key took a brief step away from music itself and instead started digging through the images surrounding it. The result was 2016’s ten best Philly artist portraits — a collection of some of the most visually stunning, ridiculously outlandish or otherwise eye-catching promotional photos from our beloved local musicians.

As you well know, we have no shortage of great music happening here in Philly, and lucky for us so, so many of our favorite artists released new music this year. With those new tunes came a whole new batch of images to take in — they range from the standard artsy but professional press photo to the quirky personality pic and everything in between, and they come from some of music’s best photographers. The best ones, regardless of the forms they take or the themes they use, caught our attention and didn’t let go. Here’s a far from thorough but nonetheless delightful selection of some of 2017’s standouts. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Daedelus at Johnny Brenda’s, Aphra DJ set at Da Vinci Art Alliance, Cam’ron at Voltage Lounge

Daedelus | photo by Shubostar | via the artist’s Facebook page

Daedelus, the prolific Los Angeles-based project of Alfred Darlington, brings his Antidote Tour to Johnny Brenda’s tonight. The experimental electronic project has a few dozen releases from over the years, the most recent being this year’s Wears House. Mono/Poly and Free The Robots will also play tonight’s show, and DJ Phonographiq will be spinning tunes throughout the night. Find tickets and more information on the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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PREMIERE: Aphra navigates the complexities of grief in the new video for “Honey”

Aphra
Aphra’s Honey | still from video

Rebecca Waychunas, the woman behind Philadelphia emotive etherial pop outfit Aphra, has had a heavy year. On the one end, she released her moving debut, Sadness is a Gesture, on west coast label Inherent Sounds back in February. On the other end, she faced a series of personal tragedies these past twelve months, including the passing of her mother, Annunziata (Nancy) Geraldine D’Orazio. “She was an internationally well known progressive house DJ in the late 80s to early 2000s,” Waychunas remembers over email. “She was a good mom.”

But the grieving process is never a straightforward thing, and Aphra’s new music video for “Honey” — a song we first heard in her Key Studio Session a year ago — navigates its tensions and complexities, its feelings of anger and resentment, as we see Waychunas performing a gripping modern dance in a dimly lit room, where two characters reach various points of personal conflict. The video was choreographed by Megan Matuzak and filmed by Ella Miller and Tim O’Donnell at Underground Arts.

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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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The Key Studio Sessions: Aphra

Philly’s Rebecca Way is a multifaceted artist with a lot of ambition. Over the past several years, she’s dabbled in various avenues of songwriting, from humble beginnings as a folk-leaning solo artist to a long run in art-rock ensemble Tutlie. Lately, her attention has been focused on Aphra, an alluring electronic pop project bringing all aspects of her work under a single umbrella.

Its sound is very much in line with modern pop visionaries – James Blake, Banks, Lorde, Youth Lagoon – though Way’s songwriting has a distinctly broad reach. Take “Would You,” a yearning romantic ballad recorded for this week’s Key Studio Session: its structure is very traditionally rooted in folk, in sort of the way that Conor Oberst does folk, but the delivery is pure R&B, hitting some serious Lady Gaga highs. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Slingshot Dakota at Everybody Hits, Aphra at Bourbon and Branch, The Smith Street Band at Boot and Saddle, and more…

Slingshot Dakota | Photo by Hope Helmuth for WXPN | hopehelmuth.com
Slingshot Dakota | Photo by Hope Helmuth for WXPN | hopehelmuth.com

Bethlehem indie-punk duo Slingshot Dakota released their new album Break earlier this month via Topshelf Records, and they will be throwing their Philly record release at Everybody Hits tonight. The bill will also include Petal, Hurry, and Mercury Girls. We also premiered the band’s Key Studio Session on Thursday. Tickets and more information can be found via the XPN Concert Calender. Continue reading →

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Give Me TV, Give Me Something: The melancholic intensity of Aphra’s Rebecca Way

Aphra
Aphra | photo by Megan Matuzak | courtesy of the artist

It’s 10 p.m. and Rebecca Way is crouched in fetal position in the middle of a frigid, musky Philadelphia warehouse. The spacious room is filled with an eclectic assortment of objects befitting a garage sale – an antique dinner table, a dusty sofa, a potted cactus, a stack of books, an old Epson scanner. The building releases a deep rumble every few minutes as the nearby Market-Frankford El passes by. Suddenly, Way, clad in an all-black outfit that matches the color of her hair, pops up and begins to nimbly roll her way around the cold concrete floor. She’s in the middle of rehearsing her music video for “Geranimo,” the first single from Sadness Is a Gesture – the debut EP from her one-woman project Aphra, set to be released this spring.

Way barks commands to her backup dancers, a group of three hip twenty-somethings: “Pump! Pump! Frankenstein! Frankenstein! Body roll!” But in between run-throughs she also casually ruminates on twerking with one of the dancers, asking, “Don’t you have to be able to like, vibrate?” They share a laugh, and the rehearsal continues.
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PREMIERE: Watch the new video for “Geranimo” from Aphra

Rebecca Way of Aphra | Photo by Megan Matuzak
Rebecca Way of Aphra | Photo by Megan Matuzak

The new music video for “Geranimo,” released today by Aphra, is a like a prism. If you shine light on it at the right angle, it produces a rainbow. But if you’re at the wrong angle, you just have plain white light. Much in the same way, the video begins with a mutating spectrum of colors — yellow morphs to purple then to pink — as the eerie sound of a children’s music box comes to life. Suddenly, the color dissipates, the perfect angle lost.

Throughout the rest of the video — some of which is shot in black and white — color is in short supply. Even when the camera technically is shooting in “color,” there’s little to be seen in the backdrop that consists of a brick wall coated in white paint and tables covered with white cloth. Every once in a while, though, a touch of color darts in front of the camera, a brief moment of warmth in what feels like an otherwise desolate place. Continue reading →