Listen to Bilal’s A Love Surreal on NPR: First Listen

Philadelphia native Bilal will release his new album A Love Surreal on February 26th but you don’t have to wait that long to listen to the record in full – NPR is currently streaming the funky R&B effort in their First Listen feature.  Bilal, who quickly fell into the Soulquarians scene with The Roots, Erykah Badu and D’Angelo in New York City after graduating from Philadelphia’s High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, smooths his funky style with bright, psychedelic overtones on this latest effort while the lyrics explore the many facets of love.  Stream “West Side Girl” below and stream the full record here.


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Psychic Ills at Johnny Brenda’s, Bilal at World Cafe Live, XPN Welcomes Northern Liberties Music Fest with Ruby the Hatchet and more to The Fire

New York experimental rock band Psychic Ills headline Johnny Brenda’s tonight.  The psychedelic-infused outfit recalls the distorted and distressed, laidback sound of early Kurt Vile with lo-fi vocals and hypnotic arrangements that seem on the verge of exploding.  Psychic Ills will be releasing One Track Mind on February 19th via Sacred Bones Records, following up 2011’s Hazed Dream.  Tickets and information for tonight’s 21+ show with Nothing and Mike Bruno & The Black Magic Family Band can be found here.  Stream “Might Take A While” from the upcoming record below.

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Stream a new song by Bilal, “West Side Girl” (playing World Cafe Live on Wednesday, February 13)

Over the course of his excellent career, musician, producer and songwriter Bilal has taken elements of R&B, funk, and hip-hop and mixed them together with fantastic results. His soon to be released new album, A Love Surreal (out on February 26th), continues to build on his career. Bilal has his record release party at World Cafe Live on Wednesday, February 13th. Go here for tickets and more information about the show. Below, listen to the ridiculously funky “West Side Girl.”


Unlocked: Aaron Brown of Aaron and the Spell shares his video playlist of influences

Listening to Aaron and the Spell‘s new full-length Sing, you can tell that songwriter Aaron Brown pulls from a large pool of influences. The primary sound is soul, for sure, but there’s a lot more going on than just that. We asked Aaron put together a video playlist of artists that have shaped him as a songwriter. Here are his picks.

Wilco “Side With the Seeds”

“I am a huge fan of Wilco and was so excited to see them at the XPoNential Music Festival. They definitely seep into my music (especially this song).”

Nina Simone “I Love You Porgy”

“Maybe my favorite musician ever. This is the tune that first broke Nina to a wider audience and it happened in Philadelphia! I believe she used to live in West Philly for a time. I’m always walking Philadelphia hoping to bump into one of her relatives still living here.” Continue reading →


Watch The Roots perform songs from undun on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

Yesterday The Roots released their new album undun. It’s not every day that bands need to work their “day jobs” when they release a new album, however last night The Roots performed songs from the album on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon. Below, watch “The Other Side,” and “Tip The Scale.” That’s Bilal singing with the band and on “Tip The Scale” they were also joined The Metropolis Ensemble and pianist D.D. Jackson, who performed with ?uestlove during the Philly Paris Lockdown. On this performance of “The Other Side,” the band expand on the studio version with an energetic back and forth between Bilal and guitarist “Captain Kirk” Douglas that you don’t want to miss.


Watch new videos from The Roots and Kindred The Family Soul (via Okayplayer)

The Roots premiered the first of a series of new videos for songs from their forthcoming album undun on Okayplayer yesterday. The album is being released on December 6th. From Okayplayer:

Here is the first of four videos from The Roots undun, the next three to be released at 12:06pm the next three Tuesdays leading up to release on 12/06. Watch the clip for “Make My” above and stay tuned for “Stomp” next week.

Okayplayer also premiered a new video from the husband-wife soul music duo Kindred The Family Soul. The video is the song “Take A Look Around” from their album Love Has No Recession. The video features Philly’s Bilal and BJ The Chicago Kid. Watch the video below.


Flying Lotus makes directorial debut and remixes Bilal’s “Levels”

Philly soul singer Bilal has a new video and an EP for the song “Levels” from his 2010 release Airtight’s Revenge. It includes the original song, an instrumental, and remixes by Sonnymoon and acclaimed producer Flying Lotus (whose real name is Steve Ellison). Ellison also makes his directorial debut which features appearances by Erykah Badu, Thundercat, and Shafiq Husayn (who produced the song). Check out audio track for the tune below; you can watch the video here.

Levels (Flying Lotus Re-Edit) by


Bilal Oliver Picks The Top Ten Albums Discovered In 2010

Bilal Oliver’s 2010 release Airtight’s Revenge is one of our very favorite albums of the year. One of the songs from the album, “Little One” was nominated for Best Urban/Alternative Performance in this year’s upcoming Grammy Awards. It’s a gorgeous song that he wrote for his sons, one of whom has Autism, the other sickle cell. In addition to touring for the release of the album, Bilal made a stop by the WXPN studios for an upcoming session on World Cafe with David Dye. He also recently shared with Wax Poetics the Top 10 albums he discovered in 2010 and they include:

1. Janelle Monae The ArchAndroid (Bad Boy/Wondaland Arts Society)
2. Jay-Z The Blueprint 3 (Atlantic/Roc Nation)
3. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti Before Today (4AD)
4. Erykah Badu New Amerykah: Part Two (Return of the Ankh) (Universal Motown)
5. The Roots How I Got Over (Def Jam)
6. Diddy Dirty Money Last Train to Paris (Bad Boy Records)
7. Kanye West My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Def Jam/Roc-A-Fella)
8. Kid Cudi Man on the Moon 2: The Legend of Mr. Rager (G.O.O.D.)
9. Flying Lotus Pattern+Grid World (Warp)
10. Little Dragon Machine Dreams (Peacefrog)


The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Best Local Albums of 2010

Philly Inquirer music critic Dan DeLuca dropped his 2010 Best of Music lists today including best albums, songs, live concerts and best local albums of the year. His best live show of the year was Sufjan Stevens at the Academy of Music. His best songs of the year list (which you can listen to here) has “Tightrope” by Janelle Monae featuring Big Boi at number one. DeLuca’s Best Local Albums of 2010 showcases why there is no doubt Philly’s local music scene is at a high point with a diverse group of excellent releases. The list includes:
1 – Dr. Dog – Shame, Shame
2 – Free Energy – Free Energy
3 – Jazmine Sullivan – Love Me Back
4 – Chiddy Bang – The Preview
5 -Drink Up Buttercup – Born and Thrown
6 – Summer Fiction – Summer Fiction
7 – Sun Airway – Nocturne of Exploded
8 – Notekillers – We’re Here To Help
9 – Bilal – Airtight’s Revenge
10 – North Lawrence Midnight Singers
You can read Dan’s comments on these local albums here. Check out a couple videos from Jazmine Sullivan and Free Energy below.

And speaking of the best of musical things local, The Key wants you to submit your favorites for the year for local bands, albums and up-and-coming acts for our first annual Best of Local Music year in review. You can submit your votes here.