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The Key’s Year End Mania: Kate Bracaglia’s Top 5 tunes by local artists

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Photo by Laura Jane Brubaker
Year End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2013 awesome. In this installment, our trusted reporter Kate Bracaglia talks Philly tunes.

Living in Philadelphia, I’m always blown away by how many amazing artists there are right in our back yard, crafting tunes capable of filling many, many carefully curated playlists. 2013 was no exception. There were so many great songs released this year that picking just five was really tough. And so—in support of all the unsigned and DIY bands out there—I limited myself to tunes that were self-released or on small indie labels (sorry Kurt Vile/Man Man/Purling Hiss). These are bands you might not have heard of yet, but who are very capable of becoming new faves. Happy 2013!

 5. Laser Background, “Disappearing Ink”

The first tune off Laser Background’s first full-length, Super Future Montage, teems with lush vocal layers, wiggly guitar lines, and Andy Molholt’s nasally vocals. Molholt tells John Vettese the record was inspired by childhood, Roald Dahl books, and imagination, a combo that apparently yields breezy, summertime pop.

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Buried Beds get animated in “Children of the Sea” video

BuriedBedsPhiladelphia natives Buried Beds extend the fairy tale concept behind their latest EP, In Spirit, in their new video for “Children of the Sea”. The video draws on themes of childhood curiosity, mythical creatures, and powers of the sea. Ultimately, Buried Beds prove that dream-pop and animation are a match made in fantasy heaven.

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The Week’s Best Free MP3s, incl. Amos Lee, Vikesh Kapoor, Mean Lady

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Buried Beds offered up a free download of “Oh Lonely Fortress!” this week for their Unlocked profile.  The song comes from the local band’s new LP In Spirit, an album that “was inspired by both fairy tales and fantastical real-life events.”  Download the track below and dig into the new album with a review, interview, new video and more here.

Mean Lady, an electro-pop band that draws from a potpourri of influences, recorded this week’s Key Studio Session.  The duo comes from Newark, DE and released their debut LP Love Now on Fat Possum earlier this year.  stream and download “One Big Family” below and check out the rest of the set, including some new songs, here.

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Unlocked: Buried Beds share their recipe for Slammin Apple Muffinz

BakingWithBBWhile chatting with Buried Beds about their influences and inspiration the other week (see Thursday’s interview, here), Brandon and Eliza let slip a very interesting secret. It turns out that the band harbors secret baking aspirations…and has even dreamed of one day hosting their owning cooking show! These aspirations, at one point, led the band to film their own cooking segment, an experience the band describes as universally disastrous.

It all went down several years ago, in the era of flip cameras (“I had this flip camera and I was like, ‘I can totally be a film maker!’” explains Beaver), and was derailed once the band started drinking partway through. Beaver describes the harrowing events with glee. “We even had a performance in the middle of it,” he continues. “We were like, ‘Buried Beds will now perform!’ It was one of the most embarrassing things I’ve ever seen. At one point I pick up a trumpet and start playing trumpet—I’m like, what am I doing? Terrible.”

The footage from that night will never see the light of day again…but to satiate curious minds, Beaver and Jones put together a new cooking segment, featuring Jones’s favorite recipe for Slammin Apple Muffinz. Just look at how they nourish a hungry Beaver!

Baking with Buried Beds from Buried Beds on Vimeo.

This concludes our Unlocked series on Buried Beds In Spirit, out this week. Revisit the past week’s worth of posts, including Monday’s song download, Tuesday’s record review, Wednesday’s music video premiere, and Thursday’s interview and stay tuned for more Unlocked—our monthly spotlight of new and notable releases from local artists—here. 

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Unlocked: Buried Beds talk songwriting, community, and what they’ve gleaned from other local bands

Buried Beds is (from left to right): Eliza Jones, Brandon Beaver, Dave Hartley, Tom Bendel and Hallie Sianni

Philly rockers Buried Beds might write tunes about lonely fortresses (see our song download, Monday)—but when it comes to their real relationships with the city and the scene, a lonely fortress is about the furthest thing from their experiences.

“The musical part of this city is so great, and so supportive,” says singer-guitarist Brendon Beaver over coffee. “I think that has so much to do with why, after all these years, we’re still a band.”

His co-founder and songwriting partner, Eliza Jones, nods in agreement. “We’ve built our homes here, and that community around us is pretty amazing,” she adds.

Community is an important tenet for Buried Beds, influencing almost every aspect of their process—from songwriting, to live performances, to videos and touring. And while the band at its core is just Beaver and Jones—their vision is spurred a host of friends and other musicians. I caught up with the pair to parse out some of these influences—and to talk songwriting, evolution, and what’s coming up next for Buried Beds.

The past ten years have been quite the journey for Beaver and Jones, who grew up together and started making music collaboratively after moving in together post-college. “I think we both feel like we have two stages as band,” says Jones, explaining their storied history. Their first stage began in 2003 with their formation, and continued through the release of their debut record Empty Rooms in 2005—a stirring and lugubrious collection of tunes that helped the group make a name for themselves, but ultimately, felt misaligned with their musical goals.

“Eventually, the kind of music we were playing [back then] sort of lost its allure,” explains Jones. “It was very melancholic, and very beautiful—but that sort of melancholic aspect—we’re just not those kind of people.” She smiles, as if proving her own point. “And so it was hard to gear ourselves up for those performances, and to get excited about making a record.” She pauses. “And so I think…after a long period of that…we just decided to start making the kind of music we wanted to make.”

The kind of music they wanted to make was decidedly more rock-oriented, and since the switch, the band’s released three records of increasingly impressive compositions, including the brand new In Spirit. Continue reading →

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Unlocked: Watch the video for “Future Ghost,” off Buried Beds’ In Spirit

Jones, filming "Future Ghosts" (image via Facebook)
Jones, filming “Future Ghosts” (image via Facebook)

“Of all the men I loved, you were never one,” croons Eliza Jones, self-assured, in the opening lines of “Future Ghost,” smoke ensconcing her face. “All the roots that held, that never see the sun.” On the surface, this is a song about unrealized potential—clouds covering sun, bells that never rung. “The life you chose is not the one you’ve become,” she continues, her voice ringing out resonantly. Yet it’s also a song about possibilities, and controlling one’s own destiny. As each instrument joins in, the video shifts, and we’re presented with a new vision of Jones—sitting on a couch, looking classy; sprawled out on the grass, sun illuminating her face; hula-hooping in an empty lot.

This video was directed by Nate Johnson, who also directed their 30-minute short video, Small Stories (which you can check out here.) It was shot all in one day, with several costume changes and haircuts, in West Chester, PA. Jones notes that all the locations were within a 5 mile radius of each other.

As for our favorite Jones persona? I’m personally fond of the laying-in-a-field Jones, whose flow-y hair and serene expression matches the song’s lush, flow-y feel. With Buried Beds as your creator, you can rest assured your future is lovely.

In Spirit is the featured album in this week’s edition of Unlocked. Download the single “Oh Lonely Fortress” in Monday’s post, read yesterday’s album review, and check back later this week for an interview and a special surprise on Friday.

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Unlocked: The Key’s review of In Spirit by Buried Beds

Screen-Shot-2013-08-19-at-11.40.56-AMBuried Beds’ In Spirit—out today—is a record about stories. This is somewhat deliberate—the band tells me they set out to write a “sort of concept album,” inspired by fairy tales and “sort of” fairy tales.

“We started out with this idea of fairy tales and as we continued, we thought ‘what is a fairy tale?’” explains one-half founding duo, Eliza Jones. “And we started to include things like stories that had been told to us, and these scientific theories that feel—at least to me—like fairy tales.”

The fairy tales themselves were gleaned from both classic stories and a collection of Pantheon regional fairy tales that the duo stumbled upon and found particularly inspiring. Some tracks are straight-forward re-tellings—“there’s one song that is chapter by chapter taken from a Russian fairy tale,” explains the other half of founding duo, Brendon Beaver—while others are just loosely inspired. The result is a record that feels magical and sweeping, and ends up being the band’s strongest release to date.

The record kicks off with “Children of the Sea,” a lush, dreamy exploration brimming with floaty vocals and big orchestral swirls, that grow larger and more immediate as the chorus insists, “All you children of the sea, one single heart does beat, your chains will fall away.” Suddenly we’re swept up into a world of excitement and freedom, where each moment feels lively and ecstatic. Yet—the band is quick to remind us—there’s no such thing as pure liberation. “Darkness grows when you’re alone,” continues the chorus, introducing a major theme: that even in this beautiful world, darker elements swell below. Continue reading →