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The Key’s Year-End Mania: John Vettese’s top five Philly music discoveries of 2012

With just two weeks remaining in 2012, it’s come time to look back at the year that’s just passed us by, look ahead at the year just ahead of us, and generally reflect on stuff that got us excited – in music, and in general.

But if you’re like me, you find best-of lists a little boring. I mean, they’re kind of a necessary evil, in terms of the cultural community putting the past 12 months into context. That said, after the fifty-billionth iteration they can almost become a chore to read and to put together. So for The Key’s year-in-review, we asked our trusted sources – our writers and photographers, XPN’s on-air staff, fellow bloggers in the Philly scene and even a few musicians – to send us their Top Five Whatevers. Could be the traditional music route – albums, songs, concerts of the year – or it could be only loosely connected.

We’ll be sharing these recaps every day through to the end of the year. Today, I’ll get things started with my top five Philly music discoveries of 2012. Coming across an exciting emerging musician I’ve never heard before is easily a highlight of my job, and there was no shortage of that this year. (See the incomplete honorable mention section.) With this list, though, I tried to focus on the less-discussed acts, the ones you won’t find on a show every weekend. Some artists hit the ground running this year, and that’s great – these artists are ones that are worth your time to seek out. Continue reading →

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Never say die with this Goonies-centric music video from Citizen Xavier

In the late 90s I was one of those kids with part time job in a suburban video store; my nights and weekends were spent going backwards through the hit movies and cult faves of the previous two decades. So, pretty much, I’m the target audience for this new video from Philly rapper Citizen Xavier. “Reel Characters” makes musical and visual nods to The Goonies, Karate Kid, Reservoir Dogs and a bunch of other high-circulating VHS rentals. Thankfully, it’s not all referential gimmickry – DJ Shift’s cuts and M.I.D.A.S’ production are tight, Xavier’s flow is pointed and he’s got a mad confident charisma. Grab some popcorn and nerd out to the video below.  Continue reading →

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Happy record release day to Citizen Xavier; listen to Redeemable Qualities in its entirety

Philly rapper Citizen Xavier impressed us a few weeks back with his knack for rocking a catchy flow over a Teddy Pendergrass sample. As impressive as “Left + Right” was, his new record Redeemable Qualities ups the game significantly, moving toward futuristic electronic textures and a midtempo bump, but also drawing from a more classic hiphop sound bank. The clips from 70s pop records throughout are a lot of fun; stream the album below and see if you can spot the warped interpolation of Billy Joel’s “Movin’ Out.” Redeemable Qualities is out today, and if you like what you hear, you can cop a free download at Xavier’s website.

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Watch Philly rapper Citizen Xavier flow over a Teddy Pendergrass hook in “Left + Right”

From the opening beat, this new video from Philly Rapper Citizen Xavier hooks you in. The music in “Left + Right” strikes a smooth tone not unlike late 80s / early 90s faves Erik B & Rakim and The Pharcyde, and then rides it as the video gives a tour of the sights of Philadelphia – from backyard barbeques and graffiti-covered school buildings to the Art Museum steps. You can probably attribute some of that smoothness to the prominent sample of Teddy Pendergrass’ “Come Go With Me.” Compare Xavier’s song with its source material in the videos below, and download a free mp3 of “Left + Right” here.