Watch the sun rise with Ben Seretan and Katie Von Schleicher


Ben Seretan | photo by Laura Jane Brubaker
Ben Seretan | photo by Laura Jane Brubaker

Brooklyn experimental musician Ben Seretan joined his keyboardist bandmate Katie Von Schleicher in a dark apartment one early April morning to welcome the rising sun with improvised and composed music.

The sunrise accompaniment begins with a tonal, delicately droning improvisation lead by Von Schleicher, a sort of dawn-of-the-ages soundscape that wouldn’t be out of place in 2001: A Space Odyssey or a planetarium.  As the light grows on the wall behind Von Schleicher, she moves from the knobs to the keys and plays an original track before Seretan takes over with a version of traditional country song “Can the Circle Be Unbroken.”

You can catch Seretan and his Philly based guitarist Alex Lewis at Ortlieb’s this Friday.  Tickets and information for the show with Psalmships and the Bones of J.R. Jones can be found here.  Check out this second installment of The Sunrise Series below, and revisit Seretan’s 2013 Folkadelphia Session here.


The Key’s Year-End Mania: Laura Jane Brubaker’s Top 5 Essential Mixtape Songs

Image via So I Made You A Mixtape |

Year End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2013 awesome. In this installment, contributor Laura Jane Brubaker shares some essential mixtape tracks.

2k13 has come and [almost] gone, and if there’s one thing I can say I really nailed this year it would be the art of the mixtape. “But LJ,” you may say, “your 2k13 proved overwhelmingly to be a laundry list of failed romantic endeavors.” And right you may be, but rest assured that not a smidge of that was the fault of my meticulously crafted, amatoriously motivated mixtapes – of which there were two For Tom’s (different Toms), one for a crush who promptly came out as gay, and a Mixtape for Horoscope Fulfillment which, needless to say, didn’t fulfill squat. But there were also plenty of platonically-minded mixes and I still have friends, so ha.

Through all this I came up with a few good rules for crafting an excellent mixtape. First: don’t awkward yourself out of a good song. 89% of music alludes to love in some way so if you’re trying to avoid anything that mentions feelings because you’re wicked anxious about creeping someone out, you’re gonna have a crap mixtape. Second: be original, but don’t be afraid to recycle yourself. I got really good at trolling through my expansive Google Play library, which has served as theft/water-proof repository for all my musical holdings since 2010 and is a treasure trove of songs I don’t remember downloading or even hearing ever. New songs make for more interesting listening, I think, and some of my favorite musical discoveries have come while digging for mix material. Keep in mind, it’s also cool to use the same song a bunch if you think it works and you’re making lots of mixtapes anyway for some reason. Heck, that’s how I came up with this list. Finally: if you can pull it off, use a cassette. It’s old school, it’s unique, and while it may prove to be tricky for the recipient to play, the effort that goes in to a legitimate mixtape (versus a CD) makes the whole thing a lot more meaningful for everybody.

Here are the tunes I hold in the highest esteem for mix-craft. You can thank me when you’re married.

1) “One True Love” by Ben Seretan

This one comes out of the box first because, despite what I already said, using a song with the words “true love” in the title may be TOO bold a move depending on your situation. Nevertheless, Ben’s song is a lush and spacious landscape of a track, perhaps abstract enough in its construction to help you get away with the directness of the title. But if that’s what you’re going for then hey, don’t let me stop you. Continue reading →


The Week’s Best Free MP3s, incl. Lantern, The Downtown Club, Vacationer


Unlocked explored Lantern‘s new album Rock ‘N’ Roll Rorschach this week.  “Evil Eye,” taken from the LP, boasts a killer baritone sax part and dance-worthy percussion.  Check out the full Unlocked feature here and download “Evil Eye” below.

Local singer-songwriter Emmett Drueding and producer Grave Goods have merged to become Emmett Drueding & the Cowboy Killa.  The first product of this collaboration is “Area 51,” a raw and twangy track accented with a strong and upfront beat.  Stream and download the song below.

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Folkadelphia Session: Ben Seretan featuring Alex Lewis


There’s nothing like the upcoming celebration of USA Independence Day to reflect on what’s truly important in American music – guitars. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of other stringed instruments — give me a good dulcimer, a skillful lute, even the often (and recently) unfairly maligned banjo, but heck, nothing beats an electric guitar cranked to 11 run through a freaking stack of Marshall amps high enough to reach Valhalla. But this is Folkadelphia and we don’t really do that I guess. We just opt for something slightly to the left of that. Folk music I guess.

Let’s introduce our subject, Ben Seretan, a Brooklyn based experimental singer-songwriter and guitar noisemaker. He was joined by current Philadelphian and recent WXPN/World Cafe producer Alex Lewis (who sometimes goes by the Early) on guitar. Two guys noodling on guitars, singing Liz Phair — I seriously cannot think of anything more American. Okay, maybe if they had brought a BBQ grill into the mix, then we could shoot off fireworks in applause. Joking and the stellar cover song aside, Seretan displays his flexibility and ingenuity as a musician all over the session. He easily comes across as an adept axe-handler, incorporating equal portions of shred, drone, and weirdness into the mix, but it’s his ability to drizzle in elusive pop elements and hook-laden sections that keeps me coming back for more. He can go from spirtual revelation, like during his “Improvisation” with Alex, to throbbing tenderness, like during “Blues for Ian M. Colletti.”

If you have a hankering for six strings and the unusual, then you may have stumbled on the next bit of America to be patriotic about.

Ben Seretan and Alex Lewis joined us at the XPN Performance Studio on April 8th before a show at Kung Fu Necktie the following evening.


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Frances Quinlan at PhilaMOCA for Tuesday Tune-Out, Palma Violets at Kung Fu Necktie, Chris Forsyth at Johnny Brenda’s, Purity Ring at Union Transfer

For The Key’s final Tuesday Tune-Out at PhilaMOCA tonight, Hop Along frontwoman Frances Quinlan will perform a rare solo set of brand-new songs.  Her local pop / punk band released the impressive and intricate Get Disowned in 2012, pairing pop hooks with punk arrangements and Quinlan’s honest vocals.  Following the set, Quinlan will screen a 1950s Fellini film that gave an early Hop Along song its name.  Admission is a suggested $5 donation for this all-ages show.  For more information, visit the Facebook event page here.  Below, stream “Tibetan Pop Stars” from Get Disowned.

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