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The Best of Philly Music 2013

Photo by Abi Reimold
Photo by Abi Reimold

In September 2010, we started The Key because we wanted to offer the local music scene another platform to reach more audiences. We also started it because starting in the early aughts we noticed something happening here creatively amongst the local music scene that was hadn’t felt in a while – it was growing creatively and the buzz about how good the local scene was becoming more significant.

More new bands were starting than ever before, more music was becoming available for fans and more musicians were looking for ways to connect to fans. To me, the last five years of “the scene” reminds me a lot of the Philly music scene in the mid-Eighties to early Nineties when bands like Electric Love Muffin, Three Times Dope, The Wishniaks, Nixon’s Head, the Goats, the Dead Milkmen, Schoolly D, The Low Road, The Hooters, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, and Tommy Conwell all represented for Philly on both local and international stages. We thought Philly 2012 was a banner year for the local music scene. Guess what? 2013 was even better. Here are some of the best things about the Philly music scene in 2013.

Dr. Dog made their best album yet, B-Room.

Man Man made their best record yet, On Oni Pond.

The Districts signed with Fat Possum. Look for an EP with a couple of old songs and new tunes on January 26th.
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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Man Man at Underground Arts, Cold Fronts at Hard Rock Cafe, Everyone Orchestra at the Blockley and more

man man
Photo via facebook.com/wearemanman

Experimental rock outfit Man Man will take the stage at Underground Arts tonight. The band released its most recent album On Oni Pond back in September, mixing quirky yet intelligent lyricism with huge hooks and a wide range of instrumentation. Find tickets and more information on tonight’s show here. Watch the video for “Born Tight” below.

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Just Announced: Man Man bringing it back home for pre-New Year’s gig at Underground Arts

Man Man | Photo by Rachel Barrish | rachelbarrish.com
Man Man | Photo by Rachel Barrish | rachelbarrish.com

After its two-night stand at Union Transfer this Halloween, Philadelphia’s Man Man announced today that it would return home at year’s end for a headlining gig at Underground Arts on the 29th of December. Tickets for the 21+ show go on sale tomorrow at noon via Ticketfly. Below, watch a video of the band playing “End Boss” last time they were in town.

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What was he thinking? Driving through the city, Honus Honus of Man Man performs “Hold On” in the back of a flatbed truck

Screen Shot 2013-11-05 at 1.00.02 PM We’ve seen performance videos of musicians in cabs, hotel rooms, stairways, empty swimming pools, bowling alleys, tanning beds, and various rooftops, but we’ve rarely seen songs performed on flatbed trucks as they’re driving through the city streets. We honestly don’t know how Honus Honus from Man Man kept his composure for the making of this video. Below, watch him perform “Hold On” on the back of a flatbed truck for Soul Pancake.

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Photos from night one of Man Man’s double-header at Union Transfer

Man Man | Photo by Rachel Barrish | rachelbarrish.com All photos by Rachel Barrish | rachelbarrish.com

Philadelphia’s Man Man kicked off their two-night stand at Union Transfer last night, and even though it was technically not yet Halloween, the guys were costumed-out in skull shirts and alien masks. ‘Cause when you’re Man Man, every day is Halloween. Check out photos of their nicely illuminated performance and its various costume changes in the gallery below, along with some shots of opener Grandchildren. The party continues tonight at Union Transfer with a sold-out bill of Man Man, King Kahn and the Shrines, Melt Banana and Hell Shovel. See you there?

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: TJ Kong at Underground Arts, Mercury Radio Theater at Johnny Brendas and more

Screen shot 2013-10-31 at 10.14.00 AMThe fourth annual TJ Kong and The Atomic Bomb Halloween Spectacular will be raging at Underground Arts tonight. Referred to as a “Costume Ball Rock n’ Roll Murdershow” on the Facebook event page, this is sure to be an interesting event. With TJ Kong’s folk garage rock as the headliner, its going to get raucous and fun. They will be joined by Philadelphia up and comers Cold Fronts, so get there early!

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Tonight’s concert picks: Spirit Family Reunion at Johnny Brenda’s, Just Blaze at Soundgarden Hall, Man Man at Union Transfer and more

spirit family reunion
Photo by Abi Reimold | www.abireimoldphoto.com

Self-proclaimed “open-door gospel” and Americana band Spirit Family Reunion will bring their strings and spirit to Johnny Brenda’s tonight. Although the Brooklyn-born band rejects the label of “blue-grass”, the heavy fiddle and banjo presence makes for some good ol’ boot stompin’ dancin’ music. Tickets for the show are available here.

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Pow Pow and Honus Honus from Man Man present 12 of their favorite Halloween jams

manman Our pals Man Man are playing two hometown shows at Union Transfer this week – including one on Halloween. While spooky music is always an interweb favorite around this time of year, we couldn’t think of any better band to pull together a list of Halloween favorites than Honus Honus and Pow Pow. They’ve made some terrific choices here including music from Sun Ra, The Misfits, the Italian prog-rock band Goblin, the soundtrack to Friday the 13th (Part 3!), the Sixties television show Dark Shadows, and they even manage to fit in a classic from Little Shop of Horrors with Steve Martin. Check out their playlist below, and find tickets and info on their October 30 and 31 shows at Union Transfer at the XPN Concert Calendar.

“Halloween In Harlem” by Sun Ra

“Friday the 13th Part 3 theme”
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Album Review: Man Man’s On Oni Pond (XPN Welcomes to Union Transfer on 10/30 and 10/31)

manman Philly’s Man Man release their new album, On Oni Pond (Anti- Records) this week. Last Friday, September 6th the band gave us a taste of some of the songs from the album when they played Free At Noon. You can listen to that show here. Below, read our review of the new album written by XPN’s Mike Vasilikos.

For fans of the Philadelphia band Man Man, On Oni Pond, the band’s fifth studio album capitalizes on so much of what you love. The band’s energy is contagious, the songs brilliantly bizarre, and despite a love for experimentation this collection is easily the band’s most accessible to date. Yes, On Oni Pond is more focused but it’s no less fun and certainly no less interesting. In fact, it’s arguably the band’s most intriguing album.

One can only imagine that for a band like Man Man the ideas are always overflowing. Given the tremendous energy and dense musical landscape of their songs, the challenge of tightening things up seemed to be just that, a challenge. But for On Oni Pond, the guys headed into the studio with producer Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, Monsters of Folk), who apparently did his best to harness that energy and focus it into an infectious batch of tunes. From the wonderfully weird “Pink Wonton” that threatens to “waterboard me with call me maybe” to the futuristic sounding “Paul’s Grotesque” Man Man hit high marks.

The band served up some early indicators that their sound was evolving on album standouts like “Head On”, an immediate radio hit. And yet, their willingness to experiment and push boundaries isn’t compromised. On Oni Pond is a perfect balancing act, it walks a line of energized determination and frantic fun. It’s one of the year’s great surprises.

Don’t miss Man Man playing a double-header show at Union Transfer on October 30th and 31st. Find tickets and more information here.

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Recap: Man Man rocks the crowd from the The Porch at 30th Street Station Free At Noon

Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko
Photos by Elizabeth Mazenko
Live from The Porch at 30th Street Station, Philadelphia’s Man Man played a 50 minutes set Free At Noon on Friday, September 6th. Known for their fearless, unconventional music execution, front man Honus Honus (Ryan Kattner) pushed the envelope by changing his costume three times from the uniform black and red dress. The band release its fifth full-length album On Oni Pond on September 10th. Your next chance to see them again is in October as WXPN Welcomes Man Man to Union Transfer on October 30th and 31st. Go here for tickets to those shows.

Check out the photo gallery below and listen to Man Man’s 50-minute Free At Noon performance here.