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The Key’s Top 15 Albums of 2015

The albums that moved us in 2015
This is the music that moved us in 2015

It was a year of powerful records. Of loud guitars and brazen beats, of electronic tapestries and vocal abandon. It was a year of personal introspection and rallying cries for social change. It was a year when music felt inextricably tied to the world around us. When it felt more important than it had in a long time. Like we’ve said before, to narrow 12 months of incredible music down to a “top 15 albums of 2015” list is to exclude dozens of other worthy releases. This year, we had 26 writers and photographers cite a collective 82 albums as their favorites – you can view everybody’s top fives here, and I know fully well that had I asked The Key crew to give me top tens, I’d be easily looking at quadruple the titles. But we’ll go deep when our annual Year-End Mania roundup launches tomorrow. Today we take the long view and explore what rose to the surface of consensus in 2015, from the expressive moments of Kamasi Washington, Joanna Newsom and Jamie xx, to the pop permutations of Carly Rae Jepsen and Grimes , rock and/or roll from Courtney Barnett and Alabama Shakes, Philly representation from The Districts, Waxahatchee and of course, Hop Along‘s incredible breakout LP Painted Shut, which alongside the great Kendrick Lamar rose right to the top of our voting. Let’s recap the year. 
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Hop Along covering Rage Against The Machine’s “Bombtrack” is everything

Hop Along on now at Bowery Ballroom #hopalong #boweryballroom

A photo posted by Brooklyn Vegan (@brooklynvegan) on

Hop Along wrapped up a massive 2015 this weekend with a gig at The Bowery Ballroom alongside fellow Philadelphians Radiator Hospital and North Carolian punk faves Des Ark; Brooklyn Vegan has a report on the show, and it includes frontwoman Frances Quinlan spitting some fire on this rager of a cover of “Bombtrack” by Rage Against the Machine; watch it below. Continue reading →

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The Week’s Best Free MP3s, incl. Plainview, Hop Along and more…

plainview
Plainview | Photo by Emily Dubin | thedubyscoop.com

Drexel University band Plainview stopped by for this week’s Key Studio Session. They brought some new music with them, a second batch of material following up last springs I’ve Seen This Before debut that sees the four-piece evolving in complexity and style. Listen to “Undertones” below and download the full set here.

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Embracing Things as They Are: Craig Scheihing takes a universal approach to filmmaking

 

Craig Scheihing | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo
Craig Scheihing | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo

Craig Scheihing is a visual artist, filmmaker, and photographer who is an integral part of the Philadelphia DIY music scene. About three years ago, Craig began working out of a personal studio at Big Mama’s, an art space in Philly that is absolutely bursting with young talent.

After a year of working in the space, Craig created Big Mama’s Cinematheque, which he says “grew out of a desire to create an accessible DIY space for film and video artists to share their work, help cultivate a new generation of filmmakers through a workshop initiative, and share the tools and resources I’d amassed through my own work.”

With his obviously gifted eye, a DIY mentality, and a connection to many young bands, Craig has produced music videos, album artwork, and, most recently, adapted films to project alongside bands as they perform live. Continue reading →

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Watch a stripped-down performance of Hop Along’s “I Saw My Twin”

Hop Along | Photo by Shervin Lainez
Hop Along | Photo by Shervin Lainez

Few Philadelphia bands gained as much national attention this year as Hop Along, who just this summer played both the XPoNential Music Festival and Made In America – not to mention went on two headlining tours, plus a run supporting The War on Drugs in the spring. Now, the indie rock darlings are heading out on tour with none other than Modest Mouse, and just today released a video featuring an intimate performance of their song, “I Saw My Twin”— which you can check out below. Continue reading →

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Beyonce, Death Cab for Cutie, Hop Along and more light up Made In America day one

Beyonce | Photo by John Vettese
Beyonce | Photo by John Vettese

The fourth installment of Jay-Z’s Made in America festival kicked off yesterday with a full day of sun and sounds, from hard rock to hip-hop, capped by a knockout performance by pop idol Beyonce. When she played MIA back in 2013, Bey was just ahead of dropping her surprise self-titled release – the record that might just have gone on to be the biggest of her career. Continue reading →

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Watch Hop Along cover Beyonce circa 2009, pray for a Bey x Hop Along collab at Made In America

Hop Along at Titan House | by Jackie Nevin
Hop Along at Titan House | by Jackie Nevin

If you’ve been following Hop Along for a while, you know that frontwoman Frances Quinlan is an unironic, unapologetic fan of pop music. We’ve seen her cover La Roux at solo gigs in the past, and we know the when she talks about being excited for sharing a bill with Beyonce at Made in America, she’s actually legitimately excited. Continue reading →

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We’re reasonably sure Hop Along is reissuing its coveted debut Freshman Year on vinyl

Hop Along's Freshman Year
Hop Along’s Freshman Year

Ten years ago, Frances Quinlan of Hop Along was getting ready to head back for her second year at Maryland Institute College of Art and scrambling to finish her summer recording project: Freshman Year, the first release by her band Hop Along (then called Hop Along Queen Ansleis).

Twelve hours ago, Hop Along posted a video on their Instagram: a vinyl record spinning with the sound of “Sirens” – the opening song on the album – piping through speakers. An acoustic guitar strums, a xylophone chimes and the caption reads “Coming soon……….” Continue reading →

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Watch Hop Along’s Frances Quinlan perform this stripped down version of “Buddy in the Parade”

Frances Quinlan of Hop Along | Photo courtesy of the artist
Frances Quinlan of Hop Along | Photo courtesy of Noisey

A few months after the release of sophomore LP Painted Shut, Hop Along‘s Frances Quinlan visited with Noisey to record an acoustic version “Buddy in the Parade” from this year’s Painted Shut. The session takes place in the warehouse of a mural company, buckets of paint creating a backdrop for Quinlan and her guitar. And in typical fashion for the musician, her performance has just as much, if not more dynamism than the album. Watch the session below, and see Quinlan with the rest of the band at Made in America on September 5th. Continue reading →