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Unlocked: Download “The End Is Nearer Than We Know” by Ataloft

Ataloft | Photo via Facebook
Ataloft | Photo via Facebook

For almost 17 years, Darren Schlappich and Mike Lavdanski have performed in the Reading-rooted Americana outfit Frog Holler, a band that has developed a loyal following regionally and beyond through engaging live shows and expressive albums that crystalized the the five-piece’s energy as performers into a handy plastic disc.

For these musicians, the new Ataloft came about kind of in reverse. A casual recording project with Bruce Siekmann of Amoeba Audio in Reading clicked in ways the players didn’t expect, and what everybody thought was a one-off collaboration spawned a full album, and a new band.

Though Schlappich regards the two groups as “first cousins,” by working outside of the Frog Holler label, he was able to explore sounds and sonic territories he might never have before. The resulting self-titled album is at once reminiscent of Brian Wilson and John Brion in its lush arrangements, ethereal orchestrations and big sounds – but tips the cap to the roots of these musicians with little florishes, like the banjo we hear on the moving album opener “The End Is Nearer Than We Know.”

We’re exploring the album all week long on Unlocked, The Key’s regular spotlight on new and significant releases from Philadelphia-area artists. Tomorrow we’ll bring you a record review, we’ll spotlight a video on Wednesday, sit down with Schlappich on Thursday, and more. To start things off, download “The End Is Nearer Than We Know” below, and just imagine how haunting it will sound when the band performs it at their Philly album release party May 3rd at Ardmore Music Hall.

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Up The Chain perfects a cover of The Lawsuits’ “You Won’t Love Me If You Don’t”

Up The Chain | Photo by Bob Sweeney
Up The Chain | Photo by Bob Sweeney

Up The Chain (aka Reed Kendall) channeled his inner balladeer in a sweet and simple rendition of The Lawsuits’ “You Won’t Love Me If You Don’t” recorded for Root Down in the Shadow‘s Cover Club series. This is just one of many forms the song has taken. Originally a solo tune written and recorded by frontman Brian Dale Strouse, it became a full band affair and was featured on the Lawsuits’ album Cool Cool Cool with Vanessa Winters on vocals. Kendall’s version resonates in a quietly somber way that’s just enough to draw you in and keep you listening. Check it out below and get tickets to Up The Chain’s April 26th show at Ardmore Music Hall here.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: OhBree at Kung Fu Necktie, The Stray Birds at World Café Live, Daley at Union Transfer and more

OhBree | Photo by Jake Beadenkopf
OhBree | Photo by Jake Beadenkopf

Yesterday, we premiered their new single “Sweater” and tonight Philly’s OhBree brings their brand of oddball pop to the Kung Fu Necktie stage. There’s much to celebrate as the band’s new LP Death by Broomstick comes out in just a few weeks on April 15th via Lillian Records. Tickets are available at the door before showtime at 8:00pm.

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The Key Studio Sessions: Up The Chain

Reed Kendall is one of those songwriters who can do just about anything. It’s easy to latch on to the breezy Americana vibes and DMB-ness of his Up the Chain – originally a solo recording project, now a full fledged band – and he does that style remarkably well. But looking at Kendall’s music through just that lens would miss the whole picture. Last year’s Seeds and Thorns had a standout late-night soul cut called “For to Give Away” that blew my mind; Up the Chain’s Key Studio session hits on raucous rockabilly ( the new “Sidecar”) as readily as sharp Randy Newman-esque pop (“Seasick Sailors”) and slinky vaudevillian jazz (“Here I Haven Meet”). The current crop of players are a knockout – recording with us in this session was Anam Owili-Eger on keys and vocals, Kevin Killen on drums, Matt Wong on bass, and Avery Coffey on guitar. They performed a total of three new songs – the others being “Hand & Gasoline” and “The Hardest Stone,” both drawing a very promising picture of the next UTC release. Listen and download below, and check out a video of “The Horse’s Course” by Bob Sweeney. Want more? You can catch Up The Chain live at Ardmore Music Hall on Saturday, April 26th, when they open for the similarly eclectic-minded David Wax Museum. Tickets and info on the show can be found here.

Up The Chain “The Horse’s Course” from Bob Sweeney on Vimeo.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: The A’s at Ardmore Music Hall, Winter Doldrums Music Festival at World Cafe Live, Jonathan Wilson at Underground Arts and more

The As_LP_inside_bandReunited Philly new wave-era rockers The A’s cross over county lines tonight to play a show tonight at Ardmore Music Hall. The five-piece force behind pop hits “A Woman’s Got The Power” and “After Last Night” staged a successful comeback last January at Underground Arts, where they reportedly played almost every single song in their catalog in a show they billed “Last Dance.” After a extremely positive fan response, The A’s decided to make the Last Dance a regular thing. Tickets and information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Watch a video from the Underground Arts show below.

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Watch The Fleeting Ends’ stick-figured “Elaine” frolic in the band’s new video

Photo via www.thefleetingends.com
Photo via www.thefleetingends.com
Philly’s The Fleeting Ends wasted no time on elaborate animation in their new video for “Elaine (Until Now)”. Featured on their 2013 album Our Eyes Are Peeled and most recently on Showtime’s new primetime series Shameless, the simple stick-figure action amongst magazine cut-outs is simple and sweet in doing justice to the catchy pop tune. Check it out below and get tickets to their show at Ardmore Music Hall on March 7th here.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Mason Porter at Ardmore Music Hall, Endor Endor at Johnny Brenda’s, Andrea Tomasi at Random Tea Room and more

Photo courtesy of the artist
Photo courtesy of the artist

XPN and The Key welcome Mason Porter to the Ardmore Music Hall tonight.  The West Chester folk band has been the subject of this week’s Unlocked feature for their new record Home for the Harvest, and they will be celebrating the LP’s release at tonight’s show.  The record is close-knit and intimate, with the trio and their contributing percussionists creating an escape from hectic, technology-focused city life and you can be sure the live performance will be the same.  Tickets and information for the show with Sean Hoots can be found here.

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