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Stream a Magic Death Sounds mixtape for the label’s block party, featuring Banned Books, Tygerstrype and more (happening in Kensington on 8/10)

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Magic Death Sounds, local purveyors of cassettes and vinyl for bands like Cold Fronts, Banned Books and Rexedog, are throwing the first Magic Death Sounds Block Party this Saturday, August 10th.  The celebration of music, food and art will feature two stages showcasing the MDS roster with performances by the bands just mentioned as well as Meghan’s TV, Phonographiq, Dream Safari and more.  Admission gets you free BBQ and beer, and local craft vendors will be set up on Randolph St. between Cecil B. Moore Ave and Montgomery Ave behind The Sewing Factory in Kensington – visit the Facebook event page for more information.  Stream the block party mixtape below.

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Recap: The Front Bottoms threw a crazy party at World Cafe Live

The Front Bottoms | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo
The Front Bottoms | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo

To my knowledge, last night was the first time a wacky waving inflatable arm-flaling tube man was set off on the World Cafe Live. Leave it to Jersey dudes The Front Bottoms to take showmanship to a whole other level of goofy fun. One minute the crowd was bopping around the floor as the band kicked off their raucous tune “The Beers,” a second later a button onstage was hit and the tube man was raising the roof.

The Front Bottoms’ hour and fifteen minute set tore across selections from their awesome new Talon of the Hawk LP – “Au Revoir (Adios)” sounded fantastic, as did “I Swear to God The Devil Made Me Do It” and the single “Twin Sized Mattress” – and they dug nicely into their self-titled debut. Meanwhile, a sweaty, sold-out all ages crowd slam-danced around the World Cafe Live floor, and threw beach balls and glow bracelets around the room. It’s a rare that a show this amped up hits World Cafe Live, and it’s a treat every time.

Opening the night was Pogues-y Atlanta band The Wild, whose set was entertaining, if a tad bit samey. Singers Dianna Settles and Witt Wisebram put their priority on energy over vocals, meaning they were off-key a lot. But the band was loud enough that it covered it up most of the time.

Philly’s Cold Fronts kicked off the show, and had some technical difficulties to contend with – singer / guitarist Craig Almquist’s amp cut out repeatedly at the beginning of the set – but the tight crew of drummer Al Smith, guitarist Chris Baglivo and DRGN King’s Dominic Angelella sitting in on bass soldiered through some Neu 75-style jams while Almquist fixed his gear, keeping everyone engaged and entertained. And when stuff was back in working order and the band launched into a jam like “Sum Girls” or “Strange Architecture,” the crowd roared with approval. Check out photos from the show below.

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Watch Cold Fronts signing to Warner Brothers / Sire Records via Vine

Screen shot 2013-05-21 at 4.59.24 PMWe’ve heard whisperings of this news for a few months now, so we’re glad that it’s finally official. Philly’s Cold Fronts aren’t just a great pop-rock band, Key Sessions alums, impressive users of social media; they’re also the latest signees to Warner Brothers / Sire Records. The band made the announcement today via Twitter:

We are pleased to announce we just signed to Warner/Sire records. Big day for Cold Fronts.

Check out the band inking the deal in the Vine player after the jump. Congrats guys! Continue reading →

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Download Philamixington II, featuring Norwegian Arms, Radiator Hospital, Catnaps and more

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Matt Marchinowski of Big School Records is moving out of Philadelphia.  To celebrate his time here, Marchinowski has pieced together a snapshot of the local music scene with a 27-track mixtape called Philamixington II, available as a free download via his Tumblr.  The second installment in the local music mixtape series, this collection samples various genres, circles and side projects with tracks from radio favorites like Cheers Elephant (pictured), basement staples Roof Doctor and The Hundred Acre Woods and new-projects-from-old-buddies like Avery Rosewater.  From Marchinowski:

Although April will see my moving out of Philadelphia for the peaceful confines of the sticks I will still consider its scene ‘home’. It wasn’t easy narrowing this collection down to 27 jawns but I can assure you it won’t be the last notch in the Philamixington series.

Download the full mixtape for free on Beat the Indie Drum here and stream a sampling of the tracks below.  The first Philamixington set can be downloaded here.

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Human BBQ XXXV in photos ft. Delicate Steve, Norwegian Arms, Ghost Light and more

West Philly’s long-standing punk rock frat Pi Lam threw its annual Human BBQ celebration (35 years strong!) this weekend with a stacked lineup of Philadelphia favorites like Cold Fronts, Norwegian Arms and Ghost Light as well as out-of-town artists like Delicate Steve. Check out scenes from the day-long musical endurance test in the gallery above.

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Hitting the road, indie-style: Cold Fronts’ Craig Almquist on tacos, van life, and the three steps every band should follow before setting out on tour

ColdFrontsThere are plenty of reasons for a band to head out on tour: the lure of the open road, the promise of new fans in new cities, the release that comes from jumping on stage and rocking out, after spending all day crammed into a van. And then of course, there are the pitfalls: constantly lugging around heavy gear and equipment, sleeping in the van or on strangers’ floors, getting lost or breaking down in strange cities with poor cell phone reception.

When it comes to both highlights and headaches, Philly’s Cold Fronts have experienced it all. The fun-loving foursome might still be up-and-comers on the local scene, but when it comes to hitting the road, they’re quickly becoming masters, having just completed their second, epic, month-long tour (with a stop at SXSW in mid-March), and already looking to book another. So how does an unsigned band with no manager, no PR firm, and no booking agent, manage to make it work?  I caught up with front man Craig Almquist to divulge his secrets—and share some of his most (and least!) fun moments of tour. Continue reading →

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Watch Delicate Steve perform “Afria Talks To You” for Out Of Town Films (playing Pi Lam on 4/6)

Delicate SteveNew Jersey experimental / instrumental outfit Delicate Steve put on a hypnotic and absolutely transcendent performance at PhilaMOCA last time they were in Philly, and local live session crew Out Of Town Films were on hand to record the sound check.  The Luaka Bop artists are continuing to tour in support of 2012′s phenomenal Positive Force LP and will join Norwegian Arms, Cold Fronts, Total Slacker, Banned Books and more at Pi Lam’s Human BBQ XXXV on Saturday, April 6th.  Tickets and information for the event can be found here.  Watch Out Of Town Films’ recording of “Afria Talks to You” from Positive Force below and dig into Delicate Steve’s approach to both their music and their image with Nikki Volpicelli’s interview for The Key here.

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Watch Cold Fronts perform an acoustic version of “Heart Attack” (playing Pi Lam on 4/6 and PIFA on 4/25)

ColdFrontsLocal pop / rock band Cold Fronts recently recorded this acoustic version of “Heart Attack” for aLIVE Sessions in Pittsburgh.  The song comes from their 2012 record Pretty American.  For more live recordings of the band check out their Key Studio Session from December here.  Cold Fronts play Pi Lam‘s Human BBQ XXXV festival on Saturday April 6th with Delicate Steve, Norwegian Arms, Laser Background and more (information here).  They will also play a free show for the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts at The Kimmel Center on Thursday, April 25th (information here).  Watch the new acoustic video below and get a free download of Pretty American on Cold Fronts’ Bandcamp.

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Travel through time with the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (kicking off this Thursday, 3/28)

PIFAThe Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts gets underway this Thursday, March 28th and will run through April 27th.  With homebase returning to The Kimmel Center and a new theme of time travel this year, the month-long event will use performances, lectures and exihibitions to explore past moments in history including the discovery of America, the lunar landing and the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Below, check out a few musical highlights that you won’t want to miss, including a selection of free concerts happening in the Kimmel Center’s “Time Travel Plaza” (where you will also find a spiraling time machine).

Last Call at the Downbeat (4/5-4/13, Red Room at the Society Hill Playhouse):  Learn about Philadelphia’s jazz scene in the forties with this staged retrospective of trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie.  Watch a short video about the play from show producers Jazz Bridge below.

Prima! Rufus! Judy! (4/21, Verizon Hall): Rufus Wainwright reprises Judy Garland’s return to the stage with selections from her 1961 Carnegie Hall performance.  The evening will begin with excerpts from Wainwright’s own opera Prima Donna.  Watch Wainwright perform “Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart” below.

Continue reading →

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Download The Key Studio Sessions’ SXSW PHL sampler featuring Cold Fronts, Lushlife, DRGN King and more

Bleeding Rainbow at SXSW 2012 | Photo by John Vettese
Bleeding Rainbow at SXSW 2012 | Photo by John Vettese

The music portion of the Austin’s annual South by Southwest festival kicks off today, and many of our city’s finest up-and-coming bands have been spent the last week crammed in hatchbacks or vans with amps and instruments, making their trek to Texas. Several have, over the past couple years, recorded Key Sessions in our studio, and today we present you with a downloadable sampler of artists who are repping Philly in in Austin this week.

Beginning with a snappy performance of “Jackie” by Philly pop-rockers Cold Fronts, who won a JanSport competition to be a SXSW featured artist, all the way to the doom-y “Downward Years to Come” from Nothing, it showcases some of the rock (Cheers Elephant), hip-hop (Lushlife) and punk (Lantern) Philly bands on the various bills across Austin. Listen to the set below, download at Soundcloud. And check out some bonus video after the Jump – West Philly’s Waxahatchee performs a ton of shows this week, including an NPR Music showcase with Nick Cave tomorrow, while Bleeding Rainbow is making the rounds as well. See videos of the former playing “Dark Moon” in our studio and the latter tearing up “Get Lost” at Johnny Brenda’s.

Continue reading →