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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Noah and the Whale at the TLA, Birdie Busch at Ortlieb’s, Islands at Johnny Brenda’s and more

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English rockers Noah and the Whale will rock the TLA stage tonight. The band released its fourth album, Heart of Nowhere, last month via Caroline Records (it came out in the UK back in May). Their melodic alt-rock anthems are memorable and easy to enjoy. Get a taste of what to expect at tonight’s show below and get tickets here.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Lantern at Kung Fu Necktie, Here We Go Magic at Underground Arts, Carsie Blanton at MilkBoy and more

Photo by Kyle Costill
Photo by Kyle Costill

Local rock n’ roll trio Lantern will bring the noise to Kung Fu Necktie tonight. The amount of music the band has is immense, with nine releases available on their Bandcamp; the latest, Dream Mine, was released in May 2012. The band delves into both the psychedelic realm of rock, as well as its ripping and visceral nature with their heavy feedback and raw vocals. Dream Mine even goes as far as exploring the depth and haunting nature of ambient noise, and the crowd will surely be bobbing their heads furiously, as well as discovering a side of rock they may not have heard before. Tickets and information with Adult Content and Split Red can be found here. Below, check out the song “Out Of Our Heads” from Dream Mine.

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Check out the most-played tracks from our Key Studio Sessions Vol. 5 Compilation

As we near that time of year when everyone gets into “Best Of…” mode, let’s ease into the list-making with a look at the most-played tracks from Volume 5 of our Key Studio Session compilations.  From quirky indie pop to big-band funk, these tracks have been racking up play counts and, hopefully, inspiring you to become fans of some great local musicians.  Take a look at the list below (with play counts at time of publication) to see if your favorite artist featured in Volume 5 made it, and then listen to the full compilation here.  Check out all of the Key Studio Sessions here. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Port St. Willow at Union Transfer, Los Lobos at The Keswick Theatre, Carsie Blanton at Psalm Salon

Bi-coastal outfit Port St. Willow sails into Union Transfer tonight for a show with The Antlers.  Excelling in ethereal, ambient music, Port St. Willow’s Nick Principe has recorded two albums – 2010’s Even//Wasteland and 2011’s full-length Holiday.  Each record traces Principe’s memories of childhood and cloaks them in a heavy fog of white noise and dreamy vocals.  Port St. Willow performs ahead of The Antlers at tonight’s all ages show.  Doors are at 8:00 p.m. and tickets are $17 here.  Below, watch Port St. Willow’s Shaking Through episode, recorded in 2011 (and then download the song for free here).

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My Morning Download: “Smoke Alarm” by Carsie Blanton (from The Key Studio Sessions Vol. 5)

Photo by Eric Ashleigh

Today’s My Morning Download comes from Carsie Blanton, a Philadelphia-based singer-songwriter with her sights set on New Orleans. Her latest album, Idiot Heart, was inspired by the soul and spirit of the Big Easy, and this version of her poppy song “Smoke Alarm” was recorded with her peppy jazz-trio band for The Key Studio Sessions. It can be found on The Key Studio Sessions Vol. 5, our latest compilation of performances from Philadelphia-area artists we’ve showcased here at The Key. You can download the album for free here. (And if you’re looking for more, volumes 1 through 4 can be found here.) For more Carsie, XPN welcomes her to the Steel City Coffeehouse in Phoenixville on October 7.

Support for My Morning Download, from Flying Fish Brewing Company
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Download The Key Studio Sessions Vol. 5 (feat. The Spinto Band, Turning Violet Violet, Heyward Howkins + more)


The latest edition of our Key Studio Sessions compilations is out today – now streamable and downloadable from Soundcloud! Dig into the best of what we’ve been doing since May with The Key Studio Sessions Vol. 5, including some sprightly indie pop from The Spinto Band, driving country-folk from Carsie Blanton, funk jams by Swift Technique and hip-hop from Ground Up. Special thanks to guest engineer Jeff White and production assistants Fred Knittel, Madeleine Lesperance, and Dan Malloy as well as photographers Kate Bracaglia, Eric Ashleigh, David Kain, Michael Passanante, Kevin Kennedy, Rachel Barrish and Bryan Shreck for sharing their work.

Looking for more? Visit WXPN’s Soundcloud page to download The Key Studio Sessions Vol. 1 through Vol. 4.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Carsie Blanton at MilkBoy, Dead Can Dance at the Kimmel Center, Mischief Brew at the Barbary and Beta Hi-Fi Finals at World Cafe Live

XPN welcomes local singer-songwriter Carsie Blanton to MilkBoy Philly tonight with South Carolina band Shovels & Rope. Doors open at 7 p.m. and show show starts at 8. Tickets for the 21+ show are available here for $15. You can watch her Key Session below.

London-based world music/fusion duo Dead Can Dance gained world-wide success when their 1996 album Spiritchaser reached number one on the Billboard Top World Music Albums Chart. After calling it quits in 1998 and a short reunion in 2005, the band recently re-formed and released their eighth studio album Anastasis earlier this month. The pair will be bringing their ambient vibes to Philly tonight for a show at the Kimmel Center as part of their reunion world tour. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are available here for $44.50. Download the title track from Dead Can Dance’s new album for free below.

Local DIY punk band Mischief Brew will be rocking the Barbary tonight with fellow Philly punk rock bands The Adults and Dead People Screaming. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 6:30. Tickets are available here for $10. Listen to Mischief Brew’s song “Drinking Song for the Home Stretch” below.

And finally, after a week full of free shows from emerging local artists, the Philadelphia Beta Hi-Fi Emerging Music Festival concludes upstairs at World Café Live tonight. The top bands of the week will be performing starting at 7 p.m. and at the end of the night the winners of the festival will be announced. Stop by to see free performances by the best-of-the best of the festival’s artists and say “hi” to The Key editor John Vettese who will be on the judging panel.

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Photo Recap: Saturday at Philadelphia Folk Festival with Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, Philly Local Showcase and more


Saturday was a huge day at the 51st Annual Philadelphia Folk Festival, kicking off with a WXPN Philly Local Showcase, continuing through a Steve Earle / Lucinda Williams collaboration and peaking with a rousing set by Little Feat. Check out a photo recap in the gallery above.

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XPN Philly Local at the Philly Folk Fest: Helen Leicht on her camp stage picks

Aaron Brown of Aaron and the Spell

Every year, the Saturday concerts at Philadelphia Folk Fest get moving with Helen Leicht’s Philly Local Showcase on the festival’s Camp Stage. This year’s lineup spans styles from soul to chamber rock, kicking off with Aaron and the Spell at 11:00, continuing with Carsie Blanton at 11:45, Harper Blynn at 12:30 and Andrew Lipke at 1:15. Today, Helen gives us a look at the homegrown talent she has in store.

Aaron and the Spell is the impressive acoustic soul project of Harrisburg’s Aaron Brown, an emerging songwriter who in the past has dabbled in punk rock and (in high school) jazz music. His songs are neither punk nor jazz and that’s totally fine, since his singing voice is warm and welcoming, styled after Otis Redding and Sam Cooke. “As soon as I heard him sing, I said ‘wow!’” says Helen. “At our Philly Local showcase, I try to feature different styles of music, and he’s a great representation of soul music, the soul sound of Philly. Plus, his cover of ‘Purple Rain’ blew me away. When I heard him do it, I said ‘seriously, this guy is for real.’” Aaron and the Spell will be featured in tomorrow’s Key Studio Session, and you’ll be able to hear the tracks debut on tonight on the Philly Local Hour on 88.5 FM. Below, check out a recording of Brown singing “God Bless America” at Citizens’ Bank Park for a Phillies game.


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The Key Studio VIDEO Sessions: Carsie Blanton on showing some backbone

Photo by Eric Ashleigh

This month’s Key Studio VIDEO Session spotlights Carsie Blanton, a free-spirited singer-songwriter who for the past six years has called Philadelphia home. This year she self-released her third album, Idiot Heart, and in our interview, Carsie talks about the album’s central ideas of bravery and passion, tells us about working with nationally-renowned producers The Wood Brothers, and recalls an exciting string of gigs opening for Paul Simon. We also see Carsie and her band performing three songs from the album in our studio. Watch the video and download the session below, and catch Carsie and her band in concert at Phoenixville’s Steel City Coffee House on May 25.


Video by Bob Giardini | bobg-media.com