Want to hear more? Click here to listen to the full sessions by all 17 local acts. You can also download the previous edition The Key Studio Sessions Compilation, Volume 1, in its entirety as a .zip file here.
FRIDAY, MAY 13
The Loom simply plays folk music—or, at its most complex, chamber-folk music. The six-piece Brooklyn-based act has horns, ukulele, piano, and some (primarily undistorted) guitars; they don’t add reverb or loops or lo-fi or beats. But the distinctly folk sound is only one way in which The Loom serves as a reminder of the past. Sure, the band’s increasing popularity has pushed it into the blog realm—but, for an indie band, a surprising amount of its acclaim comes from old media. The New York Times called it “the next big thing” in folk music, The New Yorker used the word “beloved,” and The Loom’s music has been used on Good Morning America. In interviews, the band members talk about the meanings behind their songs, and about the joy music brings them. They possess a sincerity that is rare in the ironic, apathetic, or deliberately ambiguous demeanor of today’s musicians. The Loom performs with Christopher Paul Stelling, Psalmships, Annachristie of Sisters3, Former Belle at 9 p.m. at Danger Danger Gallery; tickets to the all-ages show are $5-$10. —Dave Simpson
Also playing: Adele + The Civil Wars at Electric Factory (8:30 p.m., SOLD OUT); Mason Jennings + Birdie Busch at World Cafe Live (8 p.m., $25-$42); Dutch at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (5 p.m., all ages, $8); Simone Felice at First Unitarian Church (8 p.m., all ages, $15); The Armchairs (last show) + Dinosaur Feathers, The Circadian Rhythms, Orbit to Leslie at Johnny Brenda’s (9 p.m., 21+, $10); WXPN Welcomes Danielia Cotton + Peter Bradley Adams at Tin Angel (7:30 p.m., 21+, $15); Hezekiah Leaves & The Spinning Joneses + The Extraordinaires, Nic Esposito, Joshua Park at Bookspace (8 p.m., all ages, $12); Reverend Horton Heat + The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band at Theatre Of Living Arts (9 p.m., $31.25)
SATURDAY, MAY 14
Fake Problems is about keeping the drama to a minimum, and getting the work done. The Naples, Fla. natives know what hard work feels like, having been consistently touring since 2006, and enduring a long growth process from a one-man DIY beginning to a thriving four piece outfit. Since Fake Problems’ rough beginnings, its sound has developed organically—never making a drastic shift or sharply redefining itself, but rather drifting from alt-country pop rock (with a touch of banjo) to an indie sound that reflects its sleepy, beach-front home town. Front man Chris Farren says their newest album, Real Ghosts Caught On Tape, has touches that show how the band’s constant state of development has diversified its influences in the past few years. You can hear some Look Mexico, Phil Spector, M. Ward, Prince, and even some Kanye-inspired lyrics, all held together by a jangly, beach vibe. Although the band is founded on a “no problem” mentality (hence the name), Real Ghost’s second track “5678” openly tackles the self-indulgent dilemma of, as Farren describes, a Kanye-esque dichotomy of “I hate myself” and “I’m awesome” mentalities. Fake Problems performs with Pomegranates, Laura Stevenson and Into It Over It at 3 p.m. at North Star Bar; tickets to the all-ages show are $20. —Danielle Wayda
Perhaps, Saturday night at Kung Fu Necktie, the members of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. will take off their NASCAR jumpsuits, remove all of their faux-patriotic stage clutter (red, white, and blue streamers, a light-up American flag), shave their mustaches, and change their band name to something meaningful. Until then, audiences will have to skip past the overbearing irony and focus on the duo’s mature, meaningful music. For a band that shies from seriousness, its music hits hard: both band members play lightly-fuzzed electric guitars, deriving rhythm from drum beats and solid bassy guitar riffs. Some songs are soulful falsettos, others are synthy and electronic; the lyrics, meanwhile, are creative and thoughtful, with only the occasional gimmick. They sing well-crafted melodies, playing off the other’s harmonies, like an electronic Simon And Garfunkel…in NASCAR jumpsuits. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. performs with Generationals at 7 p.m. at Kung Fu Necktie; tickets to the 21+ show are $10. —Dave Simpson
Also playing: XPN Welcomes Southern Culture On The Skids at Sellersville Theater (6 & 9:30 p.m., $25); XPN Welcomes Warren Haynes at Tower Theatre (8 p.m., $63); Buried Beds + Ape School, In One Wind at Johnny Brenda’s (9 p.m., 21+, $10)
SUNDAY, MAY 15
Party Photographers + Dikes Of Holland, Dangerbird at Danger Danger Gallery (9 p.m., all ages, $5-$10); Blue October + The Soldier Thread (8 p.m., SOLD OUT)
Picture their record release show, except on a much grander scale. When Dutch—the collaboration of DJ Kevin “Stoupe” Baldwin of Jedi Mind Tricks and singer-songwriter Liz Fullerton—released its debut full-length A Bright Cold Day just about a year ago, the party at Kung Fu Necktie included a performance of the album, the premier of Vespertina (another Stoupe project, this time with vocalist/pianist Lorrie Doriza) and no fewer than three DJ sets from the man behind the curtain. This Friday, an XPN Welcomes appearance at the Philadelphia Museum Of Art gives the band two full hours to fill in the Great Stair Hall—so once again, a variety show is in the cards. When Dutch visited us last month to record its Key Studio Session, Stoupe and Fullerton explained they planned to play from Bright Cold, interweave guest work from Doriza, give Stoupe solo time behind the decks, and possibly maybe debut some new songs. They weren’t quite ready to do that for their session, but they did showcase what a crack group of musicians make up this ensemble – guitarist Ish Quintero was lively and charismatic, darting around the room and delivering accents and ambiance, while drummer Jono Ori and bassist Aaron Blouin lock together with the tightness (like any good rhythm section should). My favorite bit: the part at the end of “Pearls” where Stoupe fades down the mixer and we hear just the band slamming out the sound as convincingly as any slice of wax. Dutch performs at 5 p.m. Friday, May 13, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art; tickets to the all-ages show are $8 (includes museum admission).
FRIDAY, JANUARY 7
Prior to forming the local duo Dutch, Jedi Mind Tricks‘ Stoupe The Enemy Of Mankind and singer-songwriter Liz Fullerton had collaborated on a pair of JMT songs—”Razorblade Salvation” from 2006′s Servants In Heaven, Kings In Hell and “Death Messiah” from 2008′s A History of Violence. But, with Dutch’s debut LP, A Bright Cold Day (released last year on Enemy Soil), the two part-time collaborators made the official jump to prime time. (Well, prime-time side-project status, at least.) Fullerton’s voice makes for an excellent complement to Stoupe’s trip-hop production; comparisons to Portishead are inevitable (and not undeserved), but only serve as a starting point for the tracks found on A Bright Cold Day. Dutch performs with Kuf Knotz at 9 p.m. at World Cafe Live; tickets to the show are $9.
Also playing: Anamanaguchi + Slingshot Dakota, Good Luck, The X-Hunters at The Ox (8 p.m.); The Ghost of A Saber Tooth Tiger + Chris Forsyth at Johnny Brenda’s (9 p.m., 21+, $14)
SATURDAY, JANUARY 8
As John Vettese noted earlier this week his The Key Studio Sessions post, Cheers Elephant is known for putting on an energetic live performance. Look for that to be doubly so tonight, when the local rock quartet celebrates the release of its second full-length, Man Is Nature. Make sure to check out the band’s recent recording session at XPN to catch a preview of what to expect on stage tonight. Cheers Elephant performs with Nico’s Gun, The New Connection, and The Fleeting Ends at 8:30 p.m. at World Cafe Live; tickets to the show are $13-$16.
Also playing: Val De Val’s (record-release show) + The Atomic Square, Restorations at Johnny Brenda’s (9 p.m., 21+, $10)
SUNDAY, JANUARY 9
Metroplex + Enter the Rooms, Conversations With Enemies at Kung Fu Necktie (8 p.m., 21+, $8)
Photo courtesy of DHDesign
Dr. Dog – “Shadow People” Video (Stereogum Premiere) “Shadow People” is the second song on shaggy Philadelphia crew Dr. Dog’s sixth album, Shame, Shame. If you haven’t spent enough time with the collection, it’s currently streaming at the band’s Facebook page…Before all of that, here’s the appropriately shadowy-to-celebratory Ted Passon-directed video for the laid-back easy-rocker ‘Shadow People’: The guys go down to the Holiday Skating Center and mix it up with a cast of regulars, adding another ‘sexy senior citizen’ clip to the indie-rock canon.” (Stereogum)
The Deli’s Featured Artist(s) of the Month: Ground Up “Ground Up are emcees Malakai and Azar and producer Bij Lincoln (a.k.a. Malcolm McDowell, Alex Azar, and Bijan Houshiarnejad). Young, hungry and armed with the help from friends, these guys are dedicated to taking on the ailing rap game one mixtape at a time. If you ain’t heard, then you can download all their mixtapes as well as unreleased music for FREE here. We’d also like to introduce you to some more words from Ground Up.” (The Deli)
Exit Interview: Scott Sullivan of WKDU’s Music For Your Methlab “After four years and 196 shows, WKDU’s best show, the fantastically named Music For Your Methlab, is getting the boot from Drexel’s airwaves. Scott Sullivan has been the man in the kitchen cooking the chemicals over those years—stiff cocktails of bands like the Homosexuals, the Ramones and Danzig…We sat down with Sullivan and asked him to sell out old friends and colleagues by answering these hard-as-fuck exit interview questions. He didn’t let us down.” (Philly Weekly)
Spike Lee To Direct Roots/John Legend Concert Webcast Next Week “Yesterday we mentioned that you can listen to Wake Up! — the forthcoming collaboration LP from the Roots and John Legend —in its entirety over at NPR. Next Thursday, September 23rd, the Roots and John Legend will team up for a concert at New York City’s Terminal 5, which will be streamed live, for free, via YouTube right here at 9 p.m. as part of American Express’s new ‘Unstaged’ online concert series.” (Make Major Moves)
Review: Lady Gaga at Wells Fargo Center “Pity the poor giant animatronic Angler Fish / Octopus that tangled with Lady Gaga during ‘Paparazzi,’ the penultimate production number during her two-hour Monster Ball show at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday. It never stood a chance.” (Philly.com)
Dutch Interview “Philadelphia based band Dutch will debut with their record A Bright Cold Day on Tuesday, May 8th. The band is made up of singer Liz Frontino, a former waitress, and producer Stoupe, of the violent underground rap group Jedi Mind Tricks. Stoupe’s complex arrangements work with the husky-voiced Frontino to deliver plaintive, ominous songs. We talked to Stoupe about his creative process and life beyond music.” (TwoOneFive Nagazine)