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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Badbadnotgood at MilkBoy, Zilla Roca and Curly Castro at The Fire

Photo via facebook.com/badbadnotgood
Photo via facebook.com/badbadnotgood

Canadian jazz trio Badbadnotgood return to play at MilkBoy tonight. Their innovative approach to jazz incorporates elements of hip-hop, EDM and punk. Over the years, the band has released covers of various artists including Kanye West, James Blake and My Bloody Valentine. The band released their third album, aptly titled III in May. They also collaborated with Ghostface Killah and Danny Brown on the track “Six Degrees.” Listen to their cover of James Blake’s “Limit to Your Love” below, read their interview with The Key’s Shaun Brady here and get more information about the show at the XPN Concert Calender. 

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Elegant Animals at MilkBoy, Zilla Rocca and Curly Castro at The Fire, Onelinedrawing at First Unitarian Church and more

Elegant Animals | Photo by John Vettese
Elegant Animals | Photo by John Vettese

They’re the kind of band you can’t quite categorize. Philly’s own Elegant Animals has a bit of every genre rolled into a singular style. Just a few weeks ago, they showcased that unconventional sound during their Key Studio Session. Check them out tonight with Kate Faust and Minka at MilkBoy. The show starts at 8:30 p.m. and the $8 tickets can be purchased here.

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Curly Castro’s latest EP spits out rhymes with heart

Photo courtesy of facebook.com/curlycastro
Photo courtesy of facebook.com/curlycastro

If you want a clear depiction of what modern hip-hop sounds like, take one listen to Curly Castro‘s EP Brody.

Castro’s got an incredible talent of espousing socially-conscious ideas while spitting out rhymes with impeccable energy. Throughout the EP, guitar samples and movie dialogue overlap powerful lyrics, making it irresistible to listen to all six head-bobbing songs.

You can catch Castro with his producer (and fellow MC in the Wrecking Crew) collective, Zilla Rocca, Saturday April 19 at The Fire. The show starts at 9 p.m. and the $10 tickets to the 21+ can be purchased here. If you want more of Castro, check out his The Key Studio Session this past September, at or his solo show a bit away on June 14 (also at The Fire).

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Download The Key Studio Sessions Vol. 9 (feat. Amanda X, Balance and Composure, Mean Lady and more)

The Key Studio Sessions Volume 9
Album cover photo by Tiffany Yoon | tiffanyyoon.com

Today we bring you our latest Key Studio Sessions compilation, pulling together the best of what we’ve recorded in the final four months of 2013. I’m always psyched about these comps, but The Key Studio Sessions Vol. 9 in particular presents a tremendous variety of musicians from around the Philadelphia region that I’m excited to showcase for you. Bucks County has a healthy showing, from the acoustic alt-punk swagger of Balance and Composure and the retro-grunge of Daylight to the booming Americana of Levee Drivers and the flower child folk stylings of Lily Mae. We trip away into a spacious, 12-minute jam by Chris Forsyth and his Solar Motel Band, rock out to Amanda X and get chillingly meditative with ambient musician and filmmaker Michael James Murray. A Christmas selection from Jersey’s The Classic Brown makes the cut, sultry new jammers from Delaware’s Mean Lady and Central Pa.’s Kate Faust, a fierce bass-backed rap by Curly Castro, an Afro-Cuban jazz rocker from Toy Soldiers, and more. Special thanks to guest engineers Steve Poponi and Mike Kennedy, to Tom Volpicelli at Mastering House for his post-production help, and to production assistants Dan Hutton and Dan Malloy as well as photographers Rachel Del Sordo, Megan Kelly, Laura Lynn, Caitlin McCann, Ally Newbold, Kellie O’Heron, Tony Oppenheim, Matthew Shaver, Mike Trutt and Tiffany Yoon, and videographers Bands in the Backyard and Bob Sweeney for sharing their work this fall. Listen to the 17-song set and get a free download below.

Want more? Get a roundup of our previous free-downloadable Key Studio Sessions compilations after the jump. Continue reading →

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The Week’s Best Free MP3s, incl. Curly Castro, The Head and The Heart, Josh Jones

 

Curly Castro | Photo by Laura Lynn | www.facebook.com/llwphotography
Curly Castro | Photo by Laura Lynn | www.facebook.com/llwphotography

This week’s Key Studio Session brought local MC Curly Castro into the studio.  The exceptionally expansive session of six tracks and six banter breaks bridges the duality of modern day hip hop: Castro has the rare ability to be both hype man and activist, alternating between the two.  He was joined by fellow Philly producer Zilla Rocca, who Castro worked with on last year’s Wu Tang Pulp tribute project.  Stream and download “West Indian Rum” below and check out the full session here.

Following his debut single “Away,” new Philly rapper JustXSudan has shared another new track called “A Couple Wishes.”  Where “Away” served to introduce himself to his new audience, “A Couple Wishes” takes JustXSudan’s listeners into the reality of his everyday environment.  Stream and download the song below and keep an ear out for Sudan’s debut record.

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The Key Studio Sessions: Curly Castro

All photos by Laura Lynn | www.facebook.com/llwphotography

We’ve long been fans of Philadelphia MC Curly Castro, and with good reason. He’s got the rabble-rousing fire of an activist and a strong social consciousness, but he also boasts a hype man’s energy and willingness to bring the party. He’s both Chuck D and Flavor Flav in one human being. And his tracks have range – dancefloor bangers (“West Indian Rum”), fierce Wu Tang-esque cut-ups (“Now they Call Me Castro”), satirical jingles (“Colored Water Fountain”). Earlier this year, Castro dropped his second full-length, Fidel, and many of the tracks performed in the Key Session come from it, but he skips all around his catalog – even to the heralded Wu Tang Pulp project of last year for set closer “Monty Hall Expo.” Joining him in the studio are sidekick Zilla Rocca – and the banter between these two dudes was so hysterical and priceless that it’s all available as downloads below as well – bassist Rah “The Sun God” Sungee and DJ Shane Six-Ten. Listen, download, and get a taste of what’s in store when this crew takes the stage at The Legendary Dobb’s this Sunday, September 22nd.

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A UK production duo, an Atlanta experimental band and two Philly rappers make “Machina”

machina-v3-003-1_0

Today, we’ve got a very interesting release from none60 records. As The Deli reported earlier, UK duo Silent Dust worked Atlanta with experimental rock group Cloudeater to produce this chilled-out electronic track.  The song features vocals from Cloudeater as well as back-and-forth rapping from Philly MCs Zilla Rocca and Curly Castro.  This patchwork group makes for some dark electronic tones full of ancient historic references in this good-girl-gone-bad track.  How this crew came together is a mystery, but here’s hoping they do more collaborations in the future.  Check out the single “Machina” below.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Tin Bird Choir at Steel City, Cody ChesnuTT at World Cafe Live, Curly Castro / Dice Raw / Truck North at The Fire

Tin Bird Choir

Locals Tin Bird Choir bring their soulful folk sound to Steel City Coffeehouse in Phoenixville tonight. It’s a CD release show for the self-proclaimed “barn rock” outfit, whose new record is titled Homesteady. Check them out performing at 30th Street Station a few weeks ago for XPN’s Lunchtime Buskers series. You can find tickets and information here.

Tin Bird Choir busking at The Porch at 30th Street Station from WXPN FM on Vimeo.

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Unlocked: Dig into the world of Curly Castro deep cuts and rarities

castro-snapkrackerOkay, maybe “rarities” isn’t the correct word in the digital music world, where even the deepest track is readily accessibly if you’ve got the Bandcamp URL. That said, while we’ve spent all week focusing on Curly Castro‘s excellent current album, Fidel, in Unlocked, The Key’s regular spotlight on new and significant releases from Philadelphia-area artists. We’ve also made some mention of his previous LP, Winston’s Appeal. But we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the assortment of fantastic singles, remixes, and collaborative one-offs available as free downloads online. To close out this week of Unlocked, we present five great Castro moments not to overlook, from “TeenAger” – with its nods to SEGA and A Tribe Called Quest – to “Playing With Fire” – which extrapolates a Stephen King-esque tale from the Stones song. Listen and download below, get your hands on Fidel here, and keep checking back for more Unlocked features on The Key.

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Unlocked: A conversation with Curly Castro, your friendly neighborhood rebel

Castro

Curly Castro is one of my favorite people to interview. We can be chatting about his music and then wind up on a long tangent about Cold War history, or the character dynamics of Wu-Tang Clan, or mass media consolidation. He’s a super insightful character, in addition to being a thought provoking Philadelphia rapper. His new album Fidel is out this week on Man Bites Dog Records, and he celebrates with a show tonight in his native Brooklyn at The Legion. Last week, we sat down talked about the progression the new record took from Castro’s 2011 debut Winston’s Appeal, a certain storied laundromat at 6th and Girard and how his outlook parallels both Marilyn Manson and Johnny Cash. Read more below.

The Key: One thing I like a lot about Fidel is the move from a first person narrative to more satirical, theatrical elements. Like “Starch” and “Colored Water Fountain” – they feel like sketches set to music, with an underlying message. How did this element come to be?

Curly Castro: Well, most of the songs especially on this one were dictated by the beat. I don’t know if its an epiphany or anything but certain things come to mind when I’m listening to a beat. So with “Colored Water Fountain,” that came about because I wanted to sing on my record. I don’t write many songs, I mostly write raps, but I wanted to try it. And so I don’t know what came about, but I started doing the Louis Armstrong voice – that’s me doing that! And once I started doing that voice, the words came for the song. I said allright, what’s the most, like you said, satirical way to get my point across? To symbolize how there are some white extremeists that have very staunch racial views, but they love black culture somehow. So it’s like, okay, come on down to my restaurant, you can have all the black food you want, you can dive in all you want, and then at the end I pull the rug out.

TK: “You’ve all been poisoned…”

CC: Yeah. The song made me think of a juke joint, the song made me think of the Cotton Club. And the dichotomy of the Cotton Club is that some of us were the main performers, but we had to come in through the back door. You could talk to people, they could be fans and come see you on stage, but if they want to see you after, you got to leave out the back and they leave out the front. So I was also thinking of a restaurant like that, but turning Jim Crow and segregation in its tail – making it the Colored Water Fountain. Like Tavern on the Green, there’s the opulunce to it.

TK: And what about “Starch”?

CC: Well, there’s this infamous laundromat at 6th and Girard. It seems like its open all the time, there’s this weird light emanating, there’s not many attendants after 10:00, and there’s all types of seedy activity that goes on there. They sell DVDs there, behind the glass. So I thought what if I was at laundromat one night, what could happen. But then I thought I want it to be a story, I want it to be circular. So I got Boogie Mandela on there, who’s doing really nice things in the city these days. And I got the legendary Has-Lo on there. When people hear it, hopefully they get its not too deep. But I think that those stories would be told best in that vein. And also, there’s the underlying issues – even with “Starch,” it’s about gentrification, enablers being all jacked up. And people in personal space. And people with germophobia. Continue reading →