The Key Studio Sessions Compilation Volume 2—which you can download for free here—features one exclusive track recorded at the WXPN studios by 17 local acts, including Arc In Round, Dutch, The National Rifle, Denison Witmer, Hop Along, Matt Duke, Catnaps, Penrose, Arches, Lantern, Nicos Gun, Restorations, Ages, Sisters 3, The War On Drugs, Sonni Shine And The Underwater Sounds, and Work Drugs.
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)