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Does cover art make the album? (plus 10 great album covers from the Philly scene in 2012)

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Hideaway Music in Chestnut Hill uses album art as wall art

We can all agree (I hope) that the old “can’t judge a book by its cover” adage applies just as easily to albums. From Magical Mystery Tour to Rumours, The Talking Heads to The Smashing Pumpkins, and even this year’s standout Cat Power LP Sun, there’s a rich history of great music hiding behind heinous artwork. So does album art matter?

I think no and yes. “No” in that it’s about the music, not the packaging. In a world of digital listening, we interact with the songs themselves more immediately than ever before – there’s not that barrier of a bizarro / ugly sleeve to “get over,” in the event you find the sleeve bizarro and / or ugly. But also, “yes” in that cover art is still a way an musician represents themselves and their work. It may no longer be a first impression, but it is an impression, and you can almost look at it as an indicator of how much care they put into their overall project. And even on a more practical end, sure, physical releases no longer drive sales, but they are prized by collectors – the 180 gram vinyl editions and so forth are the sort of thing where people use the download card, then frame the LP cover and hang it on their wall. Would you really want to have Grimes’ frantic scribbled acid freakout hanging in your living room? (Okay, maybe you do.)

This week, UK music and culture blog The 405 listed their worst and best album covers of the year – lively reads, always – and it got me thinking about the role album art plays in 2012. Do you ignore it? Do you (like me) get antsy when your iTunes doesn’t have artwork for all its mp3s? What was the worst decade for album covers? (Hint: the 90s.) Which album covers blew you away this year? Which made you wretch? Discuss in the comments section, and check out some standout Philadelphia album covers from 2012 after the jump. Continue reading →

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Photo Recap: mewithoutYou, Kevin Devine and Buried Beds at The TLA

Last night, mewithoutYou wrapped up its summer tour with a homecoming show at The TLA featuring openers Kevin Devine and Buried Beds. Check out a photo gallery of the night above.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Young Statues, Bill Mallonee, Juston Stens & The Get Real Gang, Lockets, and mewithoutYou

Young Statues are a five-piece band from Philly who makes acoustic sounding beats that sound like early pop punk rounded off with a softer, gentler side. Their self-titled debut album came out in late 2011, hefty with sweet rock vibes honing in their truthful and simplistic lyrics. They venture to The Barbary tonight for an all ages performance along with Turnover and PJ Bond. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased here. The night starts out early at 6:30 p.m. Below you can listen to an acoustic EP they released in February.

Starting out as the frontman for the  alt-country rock band Vigilantes of Love, and continuing as a solo artist after their disbandment, Bill Mallonee has always enjoyed writing and singing. The band has since reconvened but Bill still continues to write and record his own music. He will be playing the early show tonight at 7:30 at the Tin Angel. The 21+ show is $12, snag your tickets here.

The non-profit art and culture space, Little Berlin hosts a music series entitled ‘Dream Oven’ and the series continues tonight with a performs from Juston Stens & The get Real Gang. Juston, former drummer of Dr. Dog, always had a head full of songs, and he was finally able to extract them with the creation of his band The Get Real Gang. Their debut album Trash or Treasure was released in March of this year, an eclectic combination of rock genre similar to dreamy 60′s rock bands like Zeppelin or Jefferson Airplane. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. and there is a $5-7 donation.

The dream pop duo, Lockets will be performing a 21+ show this evening at Kung Fu Necktie. Although Lockets is a duo they do live performances as a full band featuring drums, bass, synthesizer, and guitar. You can catch them along with Attia Dancers and Language Problems at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are only $10.

Last but not least, XPN welcomes the Philadelphia-based ensemble mewithoutYou back home for the last stop on their tour at the TLA. They released their fifth studio album, Ten Stories this past May. They have been touring along with Kevin Devine and Buried Beds, you can buy tickets to the 7:30 p.m. show here.

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Listen to mewithoutYou’s new album, Ten Stories, on Spotify

Photo by the Ely Brothers

The members of mewithoutYou have made their upcoming album, Ten Stories, available in its entirety on Spotify. The preview comes a week before the album’s official release date of May 15th (on the band’s own label, Pine Street). You can listen to the stream here. From the band:

This premiere comes on the heels of the album pre-order launch which caused such a frenzy that additional pressings of the deluxe edition had to be added after fans quickly burned through the initial allotment. Pre-orders for the digital download, CD, 150-gram colored vinyl LP and the Collector’s Box Set, is still underway – please visit www.mewithoutYou.com for details. Every pre-sale order will come with an automatic free download of album track “Fox’s Dream of the Log Flume,” to which Paramore’s Haley Williams contributed backing vocals.

The band has also announced the second leg of their North American tour, beginning July 13th in Cleveland and wrapping August 19th in the band’s hometown of Philadelphia. Kevin Devine and Buried Beds will open. The first leg of the tour kicks off in Washington, DC on May 17th, with Buried Beds and Imaginary Cities opening on all dates.

You can get more information from mewithoutYou’s website. Full tour dates below. And, in case you missed it, check out our Key Studio VIDEO Session with the band here.

Continue reading →

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Listen to “The Neighboring Sea,” the latest single from Geology

You might recognize the above Star Wars-reading fellow as Greg Jehenian, the convivial bassist we met in two of our Key Studio VIDEO Sessions: mewithoutYou‘s and Buried Beds‘. When he’s not busy with either of those acts, Jehenian also makes thoughtful, home-spun indie rock under the name Geology, and just last week released his latest EP, The Neighboring Sea. You can stream the percussive title track below, download the entire thing at Bandcamp, and keep tabs on Geology’s Facebook page for news of one of Jehenian’s irregularly scheduled live appearances.

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mewithoutYou announces tour dates in support of its new album, Ten Stories (due May 15th)

Photo by the Ely Brothers

The members of mewithoutYou–who are set to release the band’s fifth full length album, Ten Stories, on May 15th (via their own Pine Street label)–have just announced a month-long U.S. tour in support of the upcoming album. The tour will kick off in Washington, DC, on May 17th and wrap up in Asbury Park, NJ, on June 16th. (The tour does not include a show in Philadelphia.) Philly’s own Buried Beds and Winnipeg’s Imaginary Cities are the opening acts on the tour.

From the band:

With 10 years as a band under their belt, it is only fitting that mewithoutYou has managed to make their most expansive and dynamic album to date. Ten Stories marks the return of their signature raucous vocals and hard-hitting instrumentation while the band’s more recent ventures into folk and lush orchestration are also present. Paramore’s Hayley Williams contributes backing vocals to two songs on the album, including “Fox’s Dream of the Log Flume” and “All Circles.” Ten Stories toys with the band’s favorite themes of romantic disaster and quasi-mystical speculation, offering up a collection of allegorical songs about a circus train crash in 19th century Montana. Through the fable-like interactions of fictitious animals, the songs offer up deep ponderings about human character flaws and the circle of life. It is these ruminations on life, love, loss and spirituality for which mewithoutYou has become so well-loved. Ten Stories is yet another gem for their catalogue.

You can get more information from mewithoutYou’s website. Full tour dates below. And, in case you missed it, check out our Key Studio VIDEO Session with the band here.

5/17 – Washington, DC @ Black Cat
5/18 – Charlotte, NC @ Amos’ Southend
5/19 – Columbia, SC @ New Brookland Tavern
5/21 – Birmingham, AL @ WorkPlay Theatre
5/22 – Nashville, TN @ Rocketown
5/24 – Oklahoma City, OK @ ACM@UCO
5/25 – San Antonio, TX @ White Rabbit
5/26 – Dallas, TX @ The Door
5/28 – Little Rock, AR @ Downtown Music Hall
5/29 – Springfield, MO @ Outland Ballroom
5/30 – Omaha, NE @ The Waiting Room
6/1 – Columbia, MO @ Blue Note
6/2 – Iowa City, IA @ Blue Moose Tap House
6/4 – Minneapolis, MN @ Triple Rock
6/5 – Milwaukee, WI @ Turner Hall Ballroom
6/6 – Indianapolis, IN @ Deluxe at Old National Centre
6/7 – Cincinnati, OH @ 20th Century Theatre
6/8 – Lansing, MI @ The Loft at Harem Urban Lounge
6/9 – Toronto, ON @ The Mod Club
6/11 – Rochester, NY @ Water Street Music Hall
6/12 – So. Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground
6/13 – Northampton, MA @ Pearl Street
6/14 – Pawtucket, RI @ The Met
6/15 – Hoboken, NJ @ Maxwell’s
6/16 – Asbury Park, NJ @ The Stone Pony

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Check out a video for “Blood,” the new song from Philly’s Cold Fronts

Swaggery Philly rock fivesome Cold Fronts is having a good winter. The band is about to go out on tour with Key Video Sessions stars mewithoutYou, and on Friday, its brand new video for the song “Blood” was highlighted on Spinner.com. The video was shot on location in and around West Philadelphia, culminating with a giant house-party concert at their Drexel campus homebase, The Rathaus, and you can watch it below. Cold Fronts’ next Philadelphia date is April 13 at MilkBoy.

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Download The Key Studio Sessions Compilation Vol. 3 (feat. mewithoutYou, Psychic Teens, White Birds, + more)

DRGN King

The Key Studio Sessions Compilation Volume 3—which you can download for free here—features one exclusive track recorded at the WXPN studios by 18 local acts, including DRGN King, Blayer Point Du Jour, Plow United, Weston, Surgeon, Break It Up, Black Landlord, Crills Wilson, Psychic Teens, The Bad Doctors, Ben Smith, The Tressels, Saturn Never Sleeps, White Birds, Andrew Lipke, Ports Of Call, mewithoutYou, and Young Statues.

Special thanks to all of the bands for coming to our studio, and to John Vettese for recording them. We’d also like to thank volunteer production assistants Zachary Deveraux Fairbrother, Jake “Rabid” Nisenfeld
Jeremy Quattlebaum, Joshua Pannepacker, and Maureen Walsh, as well as photographers Eric Ashleigh, Michael “Kraus Phade” Béon, Kate Bracaglia, Michelle Holshue, Mattias Nilsson, Eric Schuman, and Rachelle Lee Smith for sharing their work.

Click here the download the 18-track compilation in its entirety as a .zip file. Want to hear more? Click here to listen to the full sessions by all 18 local acts; you can also download The Key Studio Sessions Compilation Volume I and Volume 2.

Track listing:

DRGN King, “Holy Ghost”
Blayer Point Du Jour, “Mansion Party”
Plow United, “Martin”
Weston, “Love And Rockets”
Surgeon, “Greed”
Break It Up, “Subterranian”
Black Landlord, “Last Night”
Crills Wilson, “Grifter”
Psychic Teens, “Red”
The Bad Doctors, “Sisyphus And The Gate”
Ben Smith, “Love Potion No. 10″
The Tressels, “Cold Blue Eyes”
Saturn Never Sleeps, “Hearts On Fire”
White Birds, “Floating Hands”
Andrew Lipke, “Sleep Like A Child”
Ports Of Call, Ballinora
mewithoutYou, “Tie Me Up! Untie Me!”
Young Statues , “Athens”

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The Key Studio VIDEO Sessions: A decade of mewithoutYou

For this month’s Key Studio Video Session, we profiled mewithoutYou, the Upper Darby-bred experimental five-piece that bridges the divide between raw, introspective punk rock and lush, Neutral Milk Hotel-esque indie symphonies. This year, they celebrated ten years as a band, and in the spring they plan to release their as-yet untitled fifth album, recorded over the summer with Daniel Smith of Danielson – it’s their first since 2009′s It’s All Crazy! It’s All False! It’s All A Dream! It’s Allright. In our session, the bandmates reflect on their first decade together, discuss the forthcoming album and preview three new songs from it. They also played two favorites from Brother, Sister and Catch For Us the Foxes, which you can stream or download below. Catch the band on Friday Dec. 30 when they play the Theater of Living Arts for a pre-New Years’ co-headlining show with Thursday.

Key Studio Video Session #5 – Me Without You from WXPN FM on Vimeo.

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