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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Julie Miller’s Top 5 live sessions of 2013

Sam Cook-Parrott of Radiator Hospital
Sam Cook-Parrott of Radiator Hospital

Year End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2013 awesome. In this installment, Key contributor Julie Miller shares her favorite video sessions of the year.

Live session videos are great because they give the musician a chance to experiment with their music and perform it in an unusual setting or surprising way.  From Out of Town Films to La Blogotechque’s Take Away Shows, there are more and more series popping up each year that put unique spins on the music video art-form.  These are five of my favorite live session videos of 2013:

1. Radiator Hospital – “Our Song” Piss Couch Session, filmed by Maggot House Records.  This is one of the most honest break-up songs since Bob Dylan’s demo recording of “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright” and the guys over at Maggot House got an incredibly intimate and vulnerable recording of it.  Sam Cook-Parrott released a studio version of the song on his Something Wild LP a few months after the filming but this version is still my favorite.

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Watch a live video of Waxahatchee covering Guided by Voices’ “Game of Pricks” (playing First Unitarian Church 1/26)

Photo by Rachel Del Sordo
Waxahatchee | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo

Yesterday the crew over at Philebrity dug up a video of Waxahatchee (Katie Crutchfield) performing an acoustic rendition of Guided by Voices‘ “Game of Pricks” at a high school in Pomona, CA last year. Crutchfield’s ability to sing confessional music in an off-the-cuff manner sounds just as honest and stripped down with an acoustic guitar as it does with her three-piece power trio band. She brings the emotional charge of emo and the sound of indie pop in a way similar to that of Frances Quinlan from Hop Along.

With the GBV cover, Crutchfield handily transforms their snappy minute and a half power pop jammer from the 1995 album Alien Lanes into her own thing; watch the video below, and compare  it against the original. Waxahatchee’s 2013 album Cerulean Salt is available here; she plays the First Unitarian Church on January 26th with All DogsCayetana, and Heavy Bangs. Tickets and information can be found here.

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Why Fest? A Philly perspective on Gainesville’s main music attraction, and photos of locals who made the trek

Hop Along | photo by Allison Newbold | allynewbold.com
Hop Along | photos by Allison Newbold | allynewbold.com

Going twelve years strong, The Fest is an annual gathering in Gainesville, Florida, that brings together a cross-section of players in the national DIY scene for four days of action. Though it began firmly rooted in punk and hardcore, it’s expanded over time to include a broader range of sounds and styles, from singer-songwriter (Tim Kasher) to metal (Torche) and indie pop (Slingshot Dakota). Think of it as an anti-corporate response to the music festival circuit.

Every year, an impressive swatch of Philly bands make the trek down to Gainesville for the festival, whether as a tour stop or as a single destination. Photographer Allison Newbold made the trip this year, and caught up with several of them: below, check out images of Daylight, The Menzingers, Slingshot Dakota and more. She also collected thoughts from some of the artists on how Fest 12 was treating them and why they Fest in general. Check them out below.

Mark Quinlan from Hop Along
“Fest always treats me in a way that’s far better than I deserve. There are friends on every corner. Once a year, Gainesville is my punk rock home away from home”

Jacob Ewald from Modern Baseball
“My first Fest was perfect. I got to hang out with all the friends we made across the country this summer and I got to see all my favorite rock and roll bands. Woo!”

Ben Pierce from Restorations
“Of the multiple fests I’ve been to, this one was the most relaxing. I saw about 4 bands out of 400 which is fine because I was about to see about 400 friends. Nice weather, nice beverages and great conversations with friends. Fest.”

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Interview: Blurring the punk rock lines with Ohio pop songsmiths The Sidekicks (playing The First Unitarian Church tonight)

the sidekicks smallerHad I heard last years Awkward Breeds LP without knowing anything about the people who created it, I would not have guessed that Columbus, Ohio four-piece The Sidekicks had such strong ties to the punk / hardcore world. The DIY group plays basements and house shows, releases split 7″ singles with bands like Tiger’s Jaw, makes the annual pilgrimage to Gainesville, Florida for Fest, and are generally scuzzy and raw performers. The album, on the other hand – polished production, total hooks, very poppy and infectious, connecting the dots between Weezer, The Replacements and Elvis Costello. (That split actually has a fantastic cover of the latter’s “Angel’s Wanna Wear My Red Shoes.”)

The band is currently on a late summer tour with Philly’s Hop Along – the two were also tourmates this spring on a run of European dates. Tonight they make their way through Philly to play the First Unitarian Church, and I swapped emails with singer-guitarist Steve Ciolek about Columbus, new music and The Sidekicks’ place in the punk rock world.

The Key: Tell me about the Columbus scene. The only other current band I know from there is the folk-ish group Saintseneca, which is also very DIY but with a totally different sound. Is there much cross-pollination between the different DIY players? Does OSU wind up being a hub?

Steve Ciolek: Columbus is great, there’s really a lot of different little scenes depending on what you’re into. But yeah, we definitely have existed more in the house-show DIY scene there until more recently when we’ve been playing a couple clubs and stuff. I’ve been playing with Saintseneca for the past couple years (as have a lot of other Columbus folks intermittently), so you’d be right about the cross-pollination. Our band has also had various players in the underground scene fill in at shows for us (including Saintseneca members actually). It’s pretty awesome how many different bands include members of other bands too. Ryan (Starinsky, bassist) plays in a band called Nasty Habit with the drummer of Tin Armor, and there’s lots of bands that offshoot from the pop punk band Delay, intermingling with all sorts of folks. OSU keeps things fresh and keeps the punk scene from being too samey and jaded. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Hop Along / The Sidekicks at The First Unitarian Church, Future Islands at World Café Live Wilm

hop alongIndie rock outfits Hop Along (from Philly) and The Sidekicks (from Columbus, Ohio) play a double header show at The First Unitarian Church tonight. Don’t miss it because Hop Along has two new songs they plan to debut on this tour. Check out show details and get tickets here. Watch The Sidekicks perform “Grace” in their Vegas Stripped Down Session and Hop Along’s video for “Sister Cities” below.

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The Week So Far: 10 must-read stories on The Key (incl. David Wax Museum, Pill Friends, At Fest)

DWM

This week’s show announcements include The Last Bison and David Wax Museum at World Cafe Live, Hop Along and The Sidekicks at The First Unitarian Church, Man Man at Union Transfer [linklink and link]

Stream and download Laura Stevenson‘s Folkadelphia Session [link]

You gotta hear “Find a Way” by Elastic Bond this week [link]

Get a free download of Wild Ones‘ bubbly “Curse Over Me” from their debut LP [link]

Local dream-poppers Lockets share b-side “Girl” from their upcoming single release [link]

Steady Hands release new video, free download for “I Swear Like a Sailor” [link]

Get inside the studio with Jesse Baker Band in the video for “We’re Gonna Make It” [link]

Stream two new tracks from Pill Friends‘ new LP Blessed Suffering [link]

The Trocadero will screen the world premiere of Philadelphia Folk Festival documentary At Fest on 8/7 [link]

Explore Alex Savoth’s new direction with The New Black [link]

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Just Announced: Hop Along and Ohio’s The Sidekicks playing The First Unitarian Church on 9/3

Pretty awesome news from the Guild Shows crew: Philly’s Hop Along and Columbus four-piece The Sidekicks – who toured Europe together this spring – will reconvene here in Philly to headline the basement of the First Unitarian Church on September 3rd. Tickets for the all-ages show are $10 in advance, $12 at the door and go on sale this Friday the 19th at noon via R5 Productions, and more information can be found at the show’s Facebook event page. Below, listen to tracks from each of the bands and watch an interview with Hop Along frontwoman Frances Quinlan filmed on the European tour.

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Watch Hop Along perform “Kids on the Boardwalk” at House of Vans

HopAlongHop Along, the Philly art-punk three-piece who recently recorded an outstanding Shaking Through Session, played at House of Vans free concert series this past weekend in New York.  As first of three acts, Hop Along warmed up the crowd for Title Fight and Fucked Up, showing some real energy in summer heat of New York City.  Below, check out a video of the band performing
“Kids on the Boardwalk” at the show; you can also see Title Fight playing “Shed / 27″ here.

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A conversation with Hop Along’s Frances Quinlan about creating “Sister Cities” in a day for Shaking Through

FrancesEarlier today, the folks at Weathervane Music debuted the latest installment in their Shaking Through series – a gritty, poppy number from Philly’s Hop Along called “Sister Cities.” The song is loosely based on Günter Grass’ book The Tin Drum, it was written this winter and recorded over the course of 24 hours at Fishtown’s Miner Street Studios. This is something of a change of pace for Hop Along – frontwoman Frances Quinlan is an admitted perfectionist, and their excellent 2012 LP Get Disowned was the result of two years of hard work at Headroom Studios. What was it like going into a situation where they had to finish the song in a day? How did “Sister Cities” grow from its solo beginnings we heard at Quinlan’s PhilaMOCA show in January to the rager we hear today? And will this experience change how Hop Along works in the studio? I caught up with Quinlan at Johnny Brenda’s last week to find the answers to these questions and more.

The Key: How would you say songs, this one in particular, change between when you first write and when you have a finished / recorded project?

Frances Quinlan: This was really different from songs I’ve worked out in the past; it’s been a while since I’ve really felt like I had to beat the shit out of a song. I remember reading this interview with Tom Waits and he was talking about how some songs come to you in a dream and some songs are like a dance. And some songs you have to drag kicking and screaming and, like, fight with them. I really felt like this song was a fight. I remember we were jamming it a while back and everyone was like, “yeah, you know, this is cool.” But we really did not have strong feelings about it until we got in the studio and hashed it out. The structure was the same, but the feeling of it changed in the studio.

TK: So when you say, “when we got in the studio” do you mean you got to Miner Street and didn’t know that was song you were going to record?

FQ: No, we knew. We had no other song that I really felt confident enough to say, “oh sure we could make this work in a day”. This one started out as a very straight song. I thought it was mellow! To me it was like a uniform feeling all the way through, but it was steady and I was like, “that’s what we have, this is what we can work with, we can do something and it won’t be terrible”…you know? But no, we got in there and it was like 75 percent, 80 percent done. It needed some character to it. But that’s why you take that shit to a studio and figure it out! [laughs]

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