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Unlocked: Dig into a gallery of archival photos and show flyers from Informed Sources

All week we’ve peered into the 1980s Philadelphia music scene through the Unlocked spotlight on Informed Sources new retrospective Fun Under the Sun. To wrap it up, we offer a collection of images from the era, thanks to the band’s lead guitarist (and de facto historian) Frank Blank Moriarty. Check out the gallery above to see a mix of photographs and show flyers from Informed Sources’ run between 1981 and 1983, and head to Moriarty’s website for more. Tune in to 88.5 FM or XPN.org tonight to hear Moriarty join DJ Robert Drake on the air for the Land of the Lost. And get psyched for Informed Sources one-night-only reunion gig at The Legendary Dobbs on October 6.

Fun Under The Sun is the featured album in this edition of Unlocked; hear the spotlighted single “Imagined Fears” in Monday’s post, read Tuesday’s album review; watch the “Queen Mary II” video in Wednesday’s post, read my interview with the band from yesterday. And stay tuned to The Key for future album spotlights on Unlocked.

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Unlocked: Informed Sources’ Frank Blank Moriarty on bridging Philadelphia punk past and present

As soon as I saw the CD come across DJ Robert Drake’s desk here at WXPN – a three-track teaser, its cover art a photo of an old punk rock demo tape – I instantly wanted to know more. That was the first wave of appeal in Informed SourcesFun Under the Sun retrospective, released in full this week and celebrating with a one-night-only reunion at The Legendary Dobbs next week: it’s a time capsule of sorts, a window into an earlier era of Philadelphia music that I wasn’t able to experience first-hand. As I dug into the record, I discovered how much the music holds up and sounds relevant some thirty-plus years down the pike. And swapping e-mails with founding band member and lead guitarist Frank Blank Moriarty, I was also pleasantly surprised to learn how he too was fascinated and inspired by an earlier era of rock.

The Key: Listening to Fun Under the Sun and looking at the collection of archival images on your website, show flyers and the like, it feels like Informed Sources had a relatively impactful presence in its short time together. What drove you guys to do so much in such a short span?

Frank Blank Moriarty: When I was a teenager, I was lucky enough to find myself in an wildly creative era of rock. I saw Jimi Hendrix when I was 13, which was an incredible event to me. That opened me up to the possibilities of rock music. Having seen bands like The Who go from Who’s Next right into Quadrophenia and Led Zeppelin release Physical Graffiti on the heels of Houses of the Holy was inspirational. When I got my own opportunity to play in a band, I’d developed a real work ethic from seeing these other bands building such great creative careers. I knew we needed to have everything from graphic carryovers to stage introductory music to make an impact. After having watched and heard so much incredible music before I got to try my own hand in it, I just wanted to make the absolute most of chances presented by Informed Sources. Did we get anywhere near “superstar” status? No, but that’s not the point – you’ve got to go for it the best you can, take it seriously and ride forward motion.

TK: Can you give us a quick overview of what direction things went with the band after its last gig in October ’83?

FBM: That night we were on a bill with the great experimental band Bunnydrums, who were not only one of my favorite bands but also good friends. I played guitar with them on their encore – playing a cover of Link Wray’s “Switchblade” – and within a few weeks they’d asked me to join, paired with their original lead guitarist, Frank Marr. And our Informed Sources drummer in 1983, Sky Kishlo, went on to play with Strapping Fieldhands, as well as the Heathens, a very cool project with Beth Lejman from The Stick Men. Our original drummer, Doug Mosko, returned to Philadelphia and has played with me in several projects, including the heavy metal band Third Stone Invasion. We were signed to Jay Barbieri’s J-Bird Records, labelmates with The Who’s John Entwistle, Billy Squier, Andrew Gold, and more.

TK: What sparked the reunion and retrospective? I love how it’s seemingly random; not tied to a milestone anniversary or anything of that sort.

FBM: Yes, there is no rhyme or reason behind it – I just had all the material, we’d talked several times about getting it done, I had an opening in my time from writing books and other musical projects – so we made it happen! Continue reading →

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Unlocked: Look inside Informed Sources’ 2012 practice space, speculate what might be on those CD shelves

With the release of their new retrospective CD, Fun Under the Sun, Informed Sources are emerging from the vaults of punk rock Philadelphia and reminding present-day music heads what the scene was like back in the day. Three founding band members, joined by guest vocalist Matt Mulhall (standing in for the late Joe Stack), are performing a one-night-only reunion at The Legendary Dobbs on October 6 – and they’ve spent the past couple months warming up. Guitarist Frank Blank Moriarty shared this video from Informed Sources 2012 practice space, which reveals not only a bunch of dudes who still like to play fast and loud, but and impressively packed CD shelf along the back wall. Totally makes me about the stuff it might contain. Vintage punk? Experimental free jazz? Movie soundtracks? Check out this performance of “Condition Red” below, and get more information on the band’s “When the Punx Go Marching In” show here.



Fun Under the Sun is the featured album in this edition of Unlocked; hear the spotlighted track “Imagined Fears” in Monday’s post, read yesterday’s album review; and check back tomorrow for an interview with Moriarty
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Unlocked: The Key’s review of Fun Under the Sun by Informed Sources

Really, you have to think about it in the context of the time. When vocalist Joe Stack screams “Look who’s coming to visit / it’s 1984!” at the opening of Informed Sources‘ new retrospective Fun Under the Sun, the year in question was not some speck in the strange and distant past. Nor was it far off into the future, some vaguely scary time that science fiction writers were spinning dystopian cautionary tales about. “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” was recorded in 1982, just a couple years shy of the era in which George Orwell had set his scary totalitarian prophecies. Social and political turmoil was spread all around the globe, there was civil unrest at home and abroad and people legitimately began to worry that, wait a minute, dang, what if Orwell was right? “Guess who’s coming to dinner? A man who’s calling you sinner / with hate in his face and a gun in his hand, look what happened to your free land!”

Times of tension are wonderful breeding grounds for musical and artistic responses, and here in Philadelphia, Informed Sources raged and roared for three fruitful years between 1981 and 1984. They reacted with with volume, power chords and amplifiers, fuzzy blasts of hardcore informed by the D.C. torchbearers in Black Flag but also borrowing healthily from the nihilism and high drama of UK post-punk acolytes The Damned and Joy Division. This new retrospective is not only an essential piece of Philadelphia history, but an essential snapshot of the era. Continue reading →

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Unlocked: Download Informed Sources’ “Imagined Fears”

The Philadelphia music scene of the 1980s was a weird, wild wonderful place. In the midst of its goulash of button-pushing, boundary-breaking culture – visual artists, new wave dabblers, raucous punks – was a four-piece guitar-rock act known as Informed Sources. On the surface a righteous hardcore group in the vein of Black Flag and The Dead Kennedys, the Sources quickly broadened their approach over an impactful two-year run, taking cues from national trendsetters and helping shape regional scene in ways that resonated long after its LPs and 7″‘s disappeared from shelves. Lead guitarist Frank Blank Moriarty went on to write for Philadelphia City Paper for the next several decades, championing the city’s underground heritage as well as it’s present. Along with WXPN’s Robert Drake, he remains remains an authority on the Philadelphia of the 1980s, and Friday night will appear on the September edition of Drake’s Land of the Lost. The occasion? A new and comprehensive retrospective of Informed Sources’ recorded output, from its early EPs to archival appearances on WXPN with famed DJ Lee Paris, all the way up to brand new recordings. We’re featuring Fun Under The Sun in this edition of UNLOCKED, The Key’s recurring spotlight on significant new releases from Philadelphia-based artists. Tomorrow, I’ll review the record – a time capsule that feels wholly timeless – and later in the week we’ll talk to Frank about the band’s past and future (including a one night only reunion at The Legendary Dobbs on October 6). Today, it’s a free download of “Imagined Fears,” a rip-roaring duet between Informed Sources’ late vocalist Joe Stack and Jade Starling of the band Pretty Poison. Their verse-swapping chemistry undeniably recalls X, but its dramatic tower of sound reaches to different heights entirely. Help yourself below, and check back for more throughout the week.

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