The Key’s Year-End Mania: Chris Sikich’s Top 5 Photos of Under-The-Radar Bands

Bosnian Rainbows at the First Unitarian Church | Photo by Chris Sikich |
Bosnian Rainbows at the First Unitarian Church | Photo by Chris Sikich |

Year End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2013 awesome. In this installment, contributing photographer Chris Sikich recaps the year’s best under-the-radar bands as seen through his lens.

Bosnian Rainbows, First Unitarian Church, Feb. 19

The cramped and barely lit First Unitarian Church was the perfect place for this band fronted by two rock geniuses — Omar Rodriguez-Lopez (The Mars Volta, At the Drive-In) and Teri Gender Bender (Le Butcherettes) — to make their Philly debut back in February. Though Bosnian Rainbows stands as the most well-known group of this list (this show sold out and their return in the summer to Underground Arts was very well attended), their self-titled debut was not easily found at record shops and is missing from year-end lists, despite being one my top five records of the year. Continue reading →


The Key’s Year-End Mania: Eric Schuman’s Top 5 Musical Visionaries of 2013

Photo by Michael Boyd | via

Year End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2013 awesome. In this installment, XPN nights and weekends host (and Indie Rock Hit Parade curator) Eric Schuman talks about musicians and producers who saw the bigger picture.

When great musical minds come together, the results can be magical. This year saw many fruitful (and sometimes unlikely) collaborations form across countless genres. But there were a few masterful albums whose contents convey the singular vision of a lone individual. These are my picks for the Top 5 Musical Visionaries of 2013, in no particular order:

Dent May
The Mississippi-based musician made an abrupt about-face on his second album, 2012’s Do Things. Jumping from the charming acoustics of The Good Feeling Music of Dent May & His Magnificent Ukulele to pocket-sized electronic disco jams, May fused Prince-ly grooves with melodies reminiscent of Brian Wilson’s best. His 2013 release, Warm Blanket, expands on that shift, bringing beats to the forefront of an irrepressibly lively album.

Continue reading →


Review: Lady Lamb the Beekeeper plays to a reverential World Cafe Live crowd

If there is an entry point into the multitudes of lovelorn folk poetry that is Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, “Bird Balloons” – the most rocking track off of its debut album Ripely Pine - might not seem to be it at first. But lead singer Aly Spaltro strummed forth this Afghan Whigs-esque tale to open Lady Lamb’s tight, intimate 10-song set on Sunday night at World Café Live Upstairs to a crowd of 50 reverential listeners. They hung on her every syllable about lions, vultures and Eros. High points abounded, including her solo banjo-plucked “Regarding Ascending the Stairs” and the finale, “Crane Your Neck,” with the refrain of “You’ve gotta be starving; you’ve gotta be starving for it.” Starving at first, perhaps, but by the end of the show, the crowd was thoroughly sated.


Lady Lamb the Beekeeper shares new video for “The Nothing Part II” (playing World Cafe Live on 5/12)

LadyLambIf you’ve visited the Facebook page or website of Portland, ME singer-songwriter Lady Lamb the Beekeeper recently, you may have a sneaking suspicion that Aly Spaltro likes pie.  The validity of that suspicion can be confirmed with Spaltro’s latest music video for “The Nothing Part II,” taken from her debut full-length Ripley Pine.  The video, shot in Spaltro’s newly adopted home of Brooklyn, features a masked trouble-maker collecting people from parks, kitchens and sofas for a forced pie-eating contest that turns into a ritualistic food fight of sorts.  Lady Lamb the Beekeeper has announced a rescheduled Philly date for May 12th at World Cafe Live upstairs; tickets and information can be found here.  Watch the new video for “The Nothing Part II” below.


Lady Lamb the Beekeeper premiers “Bird Balloons” (playing Johnny Brenda’s on 2/9)

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper is from Portland, Maine, but could easily be from Portland, Oregon. The music of 23-year-old Aly Spaltro is rugged and defiant with a cool, experimental quality that calls to mind Blitzen Trapper or Chromatics—Portland-based artists committed to the craft of genre-defying. There’s a dark, St. Vincent-esque quality to Spaltro’s compositions, and, in fact, the two have toured together. Spaltro is on her own now, though, touring to promote her debut album, Ripely Pine. This week she released the album’s first single, called “Bird Balloons” and will be playing a show at Johnny Brenda’s on February 9th. Tickets and information for the 21+ show are available here. Below, stream “Bird Balloons.”