The Key Studio Sessions: Grandchildren

When The Key launched just about five years ago, we had our sights pretty strongly locked on the West Philly avant-pop six-piece Grandchildren. They were the fearless sonic adventurers of Baltimore Avenue, a band that blended the audio collage sensibilities of Animal Collective with the live intensity of a really tight punk band. We’ve checked in several times in the years since, at shows, at SXSW and when they followed up their debut LP Everlasting with an excellent EP called The Golden Age.

But things have been a little quiet over in camp Grandchildren for a little while now, so we’re extremely psyched to have them breaking the silence this week with a Key Studio Sessions performance of two brand new songs, along with the first news about their third record and a show where you can hear the entire thing live. Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head

Grandchildren, West Philadelphia Orchestra and Gliss to perform at End-of-Beer-Week free music fest

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Grandchildren | photo courtesy of the artist

Beer Week is coming to an end, but its not over yet. The week will close out with the Dock Street 6th Annual End-of-Beer-Week Free Music Fest and Scavenger Run. This year, the fest lineup includes Philly artists Grandchildren, West Philadelphia Orchestra and Gliss. The three performers bring an array of musical genres to the festival stage. Orchestral pop band Grandchildren will craft soundscapes with tons of synth, while West Philadelphia Orchestra is rooted in Eastern European folk and brings the traditions to life. Rapper Gliss rounds out the bill, bringing the heart and soul of hip-hop in his music. Catch the three performers this Sunday, June 8 outside Dock Street Brewery. The music fest is free and open to the public. For more information, visit the Philly Beer Week website. Listen to all three of the artists’ music below.

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Night Panther and Grandchildren playing a NYE weekend show at Boot & Saddle on 12/28

Night Panther | photo via
Night Panther | photo via

Night Panther and Grandchildren are kicking off the pre-New Years Eve weekend together at Boot & Saddle.  The disco / dream pop folks in Night Panther released a single off of their recent debiut LP last week via yvynyl called “Pleasure To Meet You,” available for a limited time as a free download below.  Grandchildren also released an LP this year called Golden Age.  The orchestral pop outfit was featured in The Key’s Unlocked series back in April, where we dug into the new record and all the work that went into recording it.  Check out the feature here and download “End Times” from Golden Age here.  Tickets and information for the bands’ December 28th show at Boot & Saddle can be found here.


Photo recap: Grandchildren played Johnny Brenda’s

Photo by Rachel Barrish |
Photo by Rachel Barrish |
Grandchildren played Johnny Brenda’s on Saturday night. The band recently released the excellent Golden Age. Photo recap below by Rachel Barrish |


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Grandchildren at Johnny Brenda’s, Black Landlord at MilkBoy, Light Heat at Race Street Pier

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Philly orchestral pop outfit Grandchildren are returning to Johnny Brenda’s tonight. The band released their folksy, acoustic-yet-electrified album, Golden Age, in May – a unique sound both classic and very modernized. Grandchildren will also be playing with The Eastern Sea and Ton-Taun. Check out Golden Age below, and find tickets here.

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Grandchildren release “Endtimes”” music video (playing The TLA on 6/25)

Grandchildren_4331web (2)Orchestral pop band Grandchildren recently released a crazy music video for their song “Endtimes” a single off of their latest album, Golden Age, which came out in May. The group is set to play at The TLA on June 25th with Caravan Palace, but hopefully this video can satisfy us until that time.  It features a bunch of strange and colorful creatures, plus a skeleton who can’t seem to figure out his true identity.  It’s a very strange video, but it pairs beautifully with the song.


The Week’s Best MP3 Downloads, incl. The Postal Service, Grandchildren, Joseph Arthur, Mount Moriah, and more

photos by Myriam Santos
Photo by Myriam Santos
XPN’s Gotta Hear Song of the Week featured Joseph Arthur and his new song “Saint of Impossible Causes.” The track comes from Arthur’s upcoming album The Ballad of Boogie Christ. Stream and download the song below, and learn more about Ballad here.

Wednesday’s My Morning Download featured a quartet from Nashville called The Features and their song “The Disorder.”  The band is a musical chameleon, drawing their quirky sound from classic rock, indie rock, southern soul and more with ease.  They’ll be at MilkBoy Philly on Wednesday, May 8th; go here for info.

Mount Moriah delivered a stirring performance for this week’s Folkadelphia session.  The North Carolina band performed songs from their recent Miracle Temple LP – download the full set on Folkadelphia’s Bandcamp here, and listen to “White Sands” below.

We got a double dose of Key Studio Sessions this week.  Liz & the Lost Boys turned in a preview of their upcoming LP on Wednesday, with jazzy harp-playing and theatrical vocals.  Thursday saw the release of the Key Studio Sessions Vol. 7, featuring tracks from Waxahatchee, Pissed Jeans and more.  Download the compilation here, grab the full Liz & the Lost Boys appearance here and stream their song “I’ll Stay” below.

In advance of its release on May 7th, Grandchildren‘s Golden Age was the topic of this week’s Unlocked series.  The in-depth look at the local band’s new album kicked-off with a download of “End Times.”  Revisit the full feature here and download “End Times” here.

Finally, The Postal Service are celebrating the 10th anniversary release of its album, Give Up. From it, download one of the two new songs from re-release, “A Tattered Line Of String.”


Unlocked: The Key’s Review of Grandchildren’s Golden Age


Much like a track runner, Granchildren see the benefit of getting off the block with the burst of energy that will maintain you through the finish line.  Momentum is key to Golden Age, the new album by Grandchildren, out May 7th on Ernest Jenning. The album is big in scope and big in sound, though not maximalist. The album explores quite a few variations of their orchestral pop, while being a more cohesive compared to the band’s debut album Everlasting . For example, the percussion is brought to the forefront on the album and is constantly apparent – though never overwhelming – and never close to being redundant.

Awaking the album is the pulsing and humming “Sunrise,” with it’s tribal percussion, distant keys and ascending vibraphone. From the start you can hear the complexity of the arrangements, which flow into each other like bodies of water meeting and growing as an ocean. Without slowing down much the album progresses to the dreamy title track “Golden Age” and then into one of the standout tracks, “End Times.”

As you reach the middle of the album it opens up into a different kind of album where, instead of combining all the ‘essential’ parts of Grandchildren, like they did to begin the album, they explore the various directions their arrangements can go. This begins with the jumpy, precautionary track “No Way Out” which is highlighted by an idiosyncratic clapping part, otherworldly falsetto and wandering horns.  The atmosphere completely shifts for the next song to a gentle, calming surrounding, with something magical in the air. The light strumming, distant drums and lead singer Aleks Martray’s soft, and comforting voice all compliment each other in the beautiful song. Rounding out the middle of the album is the cinematic “Into Gold” which blooms in front of you, and does so elegantly.

The back of the album is less easier to define musically. “You Never Know” is one of the most restrained moments of the album. It shows the band’s musical chops, but does so in a different light.  On this album there are various moments where the songs can go in different directions, either going big or pulling back on the reins.  This album succeeds because, despite their large size and ability to go bigger, they choose to restrain compositions as a way to let them breathe.  The band, on their previous album, were working on defining their sound. Equally important to a band having a sound, though, is having a “voice” and a “vision.” On Golden Era, Grandchildren continue to evolve and mature their sound, while finding focus in their songwriting, arrangements, and studio performances.

Grandchildren celebrate their record release tonight at Johnny Brenda’s with support from The Lawsuits, Laser Background, DJ POW POW (Man Man’s Chris Powell).


The Week So Far: 9 must-read stories on The Key (incl. Kurt Vile, Grandchildren, Khari Mateen and Dave Hartley’s Top of The Key)


Grandchildren‘s Golden Age is featured in this week’s Unlocked series [link]

It’s been a big week for show announcements, with The Monkees [link], Patty Griffin [link], Pet Shop Boys [link] and The Olms [link] unveiling Philly dates

Joe Pug played a show at Johnny Brenda’s this week – check out a free download of five tracks from the Chicago singer-songwriter [link]

Khari Mateen will kick-off Brewerytown’s summer jazz concert series on May 15th [link]

Take a listen back to this year’s Key Studio Sessions with Volume 7, featuring Waxahatchee, Pissed Jeans and Ruby the Hatchet [link]

Kurt Vile shares a new video for “Never Run Away” – he’ll be at Union Transfer on May 18th [link]

Dave Hartley presents an overview of the NBA playoffs in a new edition of Top of Key [link]

Mount Moriah highlighted their sophomore album Miracle Temple during this week’s Folkadelphia session [link]

Download a compilation of music from local bands including Cheers Elephant, Roof Doctor and Norwegian Arms c/o Beat the Indie Drum [link]