Tonight’s Concert Picks: Samantha Crain at The Fire, Des Ark at Johnny Brenda’s, The Districts at World Cafe Live, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion at Chameleon Club

Photo by Harry Taylor
Photo by Harry Taylor

Whether it’s with a band, as a guest musician or simply flying solo, Samantha Crain makes great music anyway possible. The folk singer has been around for a few years and just released her third studio album, Kid Face in February.  Her music varies from haunting to sweet folk ballads and all of it is pretty good.  Tonight, she’s playing at The Fire.  Check out some of her music below and click here for ticket information.

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Listen to Young Robots’ Philadelphia Maneto comp ft. Pink Skull, Instamatic and more (release party at Race Street Pier on 7/18)

InstamaticIn the last few weeks, we got a sneak preview at Young Robots‘ new compilation album Philadelphia Maneto, which features dance remixes of some of Phillies’ best dance / rock artists – we heard a track from The Downtown Club plus a remix of Nicos Gun. Today, the entire comp is streaming via Soundcloud, and the full artist list features Instamatic (pictured), Pink Skull, Superprince and more. Mostly remixed by DJ Apt One, this compilation reworks songs by local artists into all out jams that are sure to get you out of your seat and dancing.  And it gets better: not only is the album free to download, but on July 18th at Race Street Pier, there will be a concert and after party in celebration of the release featuring artists from the compilation.  Stream the album below and get groovin’.


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


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.


RJD2 Releasing New LP (Playing Two Shows at Morgan’s Pier)


RJD2 has been on the music scene for a while, producing rap and dance tracks as well as making some infectious electronic music on his own.  And if you don’t know him from his albums, you might recognize him from this.

This October, RJD2 will release his fifth full length LP, More Is Than Isn’t, featuring a wide variety of genres as well as a few guest appearances from artists such as Phonte Coleman and Blueprint.  While the album isn’t out until October 8th on his label RJ’s Electrical Connections, you can catch the Philly artist at Morgan’s Pier this Thursday as well as Thursday August 1st.  Click here for ticket info for this week’s show and check out one of his track “Ghostwriter” below.


Download The Downtown Club’s “Dance” from the forthcoming Philadelphia Maneto compilation

This summer, the local Young Robots label is bringing remixes of some of your favorite Philly bands as part of a compilation called Philadelphia Maneto.  Each track will be remixed mainly by electronic artist DJ Apt One (along with help from a few other artists) and released as a single for digital-download and on vinyl, all culminating in a July 18th Philadelphia Race Street Pier Concert.  Artists include Nicos Gun, The Downtown Club and Pink Skull.  Today we’ve got a free download from The Downtown Club, a dark dance triowho recently recorded a Key Studio Session.  The track, “Dance,” is full of dramatic synths, echoing guitars and smooth vocals, and the remix is a rager – but you’ll have to wait to hear that one.  For now, get a free download of the original version of the song below and check out the music video here.  You can also check out the band at Ortlieb‘s July 4th, and stay tuned for more on Philadelphia Maneto in the coming weeks.


Learn the words to Washed Out’s new “Don’t Give Up” (playing Union Transfer on 9/19)

Washed Out 5 (2011)A few weeks ago, Washed Out released the lyrics video for “It All Feels Right,” off his upcoming album, Paracosm.  This week, Greene released yet another song from the album called “Don’t Give Up.”  On this new track, Washed Out sounds a lot more upbeat than usual, with a fast-paced melody and an tropical rhythm section, this could almost be a dance number.  Check out the lyric video below and be sure to catch Washed Out at Union Transfer September 19th.


Watch Disclosure’s new “F For You” video (playing Union Transfer 10/29)

disclosure_6413Disclosure, the buzzing UK electronic duo, recenly released a video for their song “F For You” of their debut album Settle.  Until now, all of the duo’s videos have featured odd scenes and scenarios with little to no appearances of the men behind the music.  But “F For You” features Disclosure exclusively, each member stationed at his set of pads, computers and drum kits.  The video looks like the ultimate 90s rave show, with sparkling lights cascading down a screen behind the group with rainbow colors flashing left and right.  The group plays Union Transfer October 29th.  Get tickets here and check out the new video below.


Marian Hill: Philly R&B with a twist

Screen shot 2013-06-25 at 4.17.59 PMMarian Hill follow in the footsteps of many artists of late, taking a classic R&B sound, stripping it of everything but a vocal melody and then putting the pieces back together in a new and interesting way.  The group’s first single, “Whiskey” is a great example, featuring the sultry voice of singer Samantha Gongol over the minimal hip-hop beats of producer Jeremy Lloyd.  Below, you can check out the dark debut single and download it here.


Watch AlunaGeorge’s video for “You Know You Like It” (playing Made in America Festival)

AlunaGeorge+PNGAlthough they’ve only released a handful of tracks to date, “future-pop” duo AlunaGeorge are already creating a huge stir in the music world.  They’re already booking huge venues, including Philly’s Made in America Festival at the end of August.  In the meantime, AlunaGeorge just released a new video for their single, “You Know You Like It.”  The music video features the duo in an empty pool with a gang of strangely dressed dancers.  While the song is reminiscent of 90s R&B pop, it features minimal electronic instrumentation more like dupstep and modern house.  Check out the video below and look for their debut album Body Music in July.


Interview: Gemini Wolf’s Michael McDermott on his opera, Pangea (at The Rotunda Nov. 11th)

Never one to shy away from ambitous musical projects, Michael McDermott – stage name: Mikronesia, one half of Gemini Wolf, founder of earSnake records – can now add “opera composer” to his curriculum vitae. This Friday, Nov. 11, his imaginative work Pangaea: When The Continents Were One premiers at The Rotunda for one night only. The multimedia fable blends an eclectic score, anthropological visuals and a 15-piece ensemble to look not just at the idyllic beginnings of mankind, but the point at which conflict between cultures began. The Key recently caught up with McDermott to talk about the work and its genesis.

The Key: I thought it’d be fun to being our interview with some free association if you’re game.

Michael McDermott: Sure!

TK: OK, then. Complete these sentences. “The most difficult thing about putting an opera together front-to-back is…”

MMcD: I guess coordinating lots of people’s different schedules. I mean, you could write an opera and record it all by yourself in the studio. But I just collaborated with so many different people. Just getting everyone to come to the studio at a certain time and record, that was the most difficult thing for me. I could have used an assistant manager or something. [laughs]

TK: “The easiest part about putting together an opera is…”

MMcD: Getting people to work on it with me. Everyone I asked said yes, which I was surprised about. I thought some people would be like “What, an opera? No that’s stupid, that’s prog-rock.”

TK: “The thing about Pangaea that will totally come as a surprise to the people hearing it is…”

MMcD: That they will still sit through and listen to an 80 minute piece of music front to back in the era of shuffle on your iPod or watching to a quick YouTube video.

TK: “My one regret about the project is…”

MMcD: Underestimating. I’ve already have people say “I want to come to it but I can’t make it that night, when’s the next one?” And I have to be like “I don’t know.” I wish I would have booked the premier to have several shows, or a long run. It seems like the work I’m putting into the premier is more work than I’ve ever done for one show. It would have been cool to perform it for an entire week. But I think down the road we’re going to do something like that.

TK: Awesome. Now to jump into broader questions, how did you come to decide “For my next project, I would like to write an 80-minute opera about Pangaea?”

MMcD: [laughs] Well, the idea of Pangaea is really kind of old. Even in High School I had this idea of writing an opera. Back then I probably thought of it more like a musical, and it became kind of opera of Pangaea…and slowly it morphed into this idea of making it about the ecology, war. And as the sound of the music I was interested in changed, it became more neo-tribal, integrating different kind of world musics together into this mulch of sound that really had no boundaries as far as what cultures they referenced. Which is also I think a comment on modern culture a little bit.

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