Here at The Key, we’ve gone through four year-end best-of seasons since launching in August of 2010 without weighing in on top albums. Why did we change that this year? Simply put: music in 2014 was outstanding. On the local front, on the national front, from pop to rock to experimental and hip-hop, there was a tremendous offering of front-to-back solid records. Annie Clark got mind-bendy on St. Vincent; Tim Showalter got emotional on HEAL; Sylvan Esso caught us by surprise on their self-titled debut; Cayetana blew up in a big way on their debut Nervous Like Me, voted the best record of the year by our staff of contributors. To narrow it down to the top 15 albums of 2014 is to exclude hundreds of other worthy inclusion, so you can read our contributors’ individual top fives here. Then again, there is power in consensus, and these are the albums we collectively agreed were the best. Continue reading →
Philly pop artist GoGo Morrow has had a busy 2014, touring, recording, working as a music community ambassador on the PHL Live project, and this fall dropping her latest single, “Replay.” Tonight she headlines the TLA on South Street, the site of a high-energy set she played last year. Watch that show in its entirety below and get tickets and more information on tonight’s GoGo experience at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →
On Saturday night, hard-hitting Philadelphia rock band Restorations throw an enormous party at the First Unitarian Church to celebrate the release of their third full-length album, appropriately titled LP3. Friends, family and local fans poured into the Church to share in the celebration. Restorations also brought with them some fellow Philadelphia bands to share the stage with them. Continue reading →
Somewhere deep in the recesses of Jon Loudon’s subconscious, in his wildest dream, or worst nightmare, he is picturing himself as the raw-throated, growling lead vocalist of one of the world’s biggest arena rock bands. He comes to in the middle of a break at practice, the reverie having left him with the chills, and one of his bandmates calls over, “how do you wanna do this take?” Loudon walks back to his guitar, picks it up and answers, “louder.”
And on LP3 (SideOneDummyRecords) Restorations are loud and fast and even soft and tender (they have plenty of that in them too) when they want to be, but mostly they rock, compulsively and beautifully. It seems so familiar and simple (Then why can’t more bands do it this well?): tempo, noise, and tunes, guitars on guitars on guitars. It’s a near miracle when you find a band that has somehow managed to imbue this kind of music with a sense of discovery, as if they’ve managed to rehear it as something new. Continue reading →
Some musicians route their tours around it. Others plan major releases to coincide with it. Others still will travel thousands of miles to play a one-off show at it, turn right around and head home.
The annual FEST in Gainesville, Florida, has become something of a DIY scene mecca over its 13-year existence. A series of punk concerts housed in a handful of venues over the course of a weekend where, as legend has it, the University of Florida’s football team is always out on an away game, THE FEST – usually written in all-caps, but not for any particular reason – is a huge draw, especially for artists from the Philadelphia region. Continue reading →
Restorations has continued to pump out new material this past month, including a music video and a new single called “Separate Songs,” all leading up to the eagerly-anticipated October release of LP3. The Philly-based punk outfit last week teased a second song from the album; this one is called “Misprint,” and it’s a winner. Continue reading →
We normally prefer photographs to show flyers around these parts, but wow, that’s a pretty wicked show flyer. Great show too – Philly’s Restorations, who are about to unleash their epic new LP3 via SideOneDummy Records on October 28th, will celebrate the album with Cayetana (who just threw their own excellent album release party at Golden Tea House), Three Man Cannon and Hurry on the 15th of November. Continue reading →
When a young music fan hears stories about their favorite bands recording new music, they often invent grandiose visions of the studio and its space. There’s a certain mystique inherent for those who haven’t stepped foot in one; like most unlived experiences it’s portrayed in our heads as distant, unattainable, a place where all-time art is created. A place where “regular people” don’t ever go. Of course, that’s not really true. Studios come in all shapes, sizes and budgets, from cavernous state-of-the-art compounds where million-dollar records are made, to dirt-floor basements walled with smoke-stained eggshell padding.
Philadelphia’s Miner Street Recordings, which has gone through several locations in its two decades of existence (and is no longer located on Miner Street, for the record – the name comes from its original location in West Chester), lies somewhere in between the two extremes of the studio spectrum. Situated at a central crossroads in Fishtown, it’s a nondescript, vaguely abandoned-looking building in a city full of them. Off-white and faded blue paint peels from the exterior walls, exposing bricks underneath. The only visual confirmation that it’s the right place is a small piece of black tape on the front door with the words “this is Miner Street” written on it.
Before spotting the “sign” though, there’s an aural confirmation; standing on the sidewalk outside, the sound of muffled, droned, noteless guitar strumming breaks through the walls. We’re here to observe Restorations as they record their third full-length and second for SideOneDummy Records, and even those distant, cacophonous non-notes are immediately identifiable with the band’s growing reputation for weaponizing sharp, bright melodies by weaving them into heavy, distorted riffs, an unassumingly thunderous rhythm section and the occasional organ, all of it anchored by the throaty vocals of Jon Loudon. Continue reading →
Philly anthemic punks Restorations have kept sort of on the quiet side this year, short of a sold-out February headlining show at Boot and Saddle and a run across Europe. But they’ve got good reason for being reclusive – they’ve been putting the finishing touches on their third LP with producer Jon Low at Miner Street Recording. Continue reading →
Last month, Jersey-bred punk five-piece The Early November celebrated the ten-year anniversary of their debut LP The Room’s Too Cold with a string of shows, including one locally at Union Transfer on December 21st. Joining them on the bill were local melodic punk favorites Restorations and indie rock four-piece Little Big League.
Early November guitarist Joseph Marro told photographer Ally Newbold that celebrating the anniversary of the album – and seeing the fan response – was a special thing for the band.
“When we were making that record we really just wanted to make something we thought was cool and that made a statement for us and maybe one day people would like it as much as I liked some of my favorite records,” Marro said. “To see all those people there and to hear their voices singing along was really incredible. I’ve met a lot of people who said that that record is special to them. In my mind, even though we’re not a very big band, that means were successful.”
Ben Pierce of Restorations says it was one of his favorite shows, and describes it as “something between a high school reunion and my music career coming full circle.”
“My old bands played shows with early versions of The Early November through our high school years,” Pierce said. “So it was great to share a stage with them a decade later surrounded by the same South Jersey / Philly friends and family.”
Michelle Zauner of Little Big League said that even though “I was pretty freaked out” playing to a sold-out Union Transfer crowd, the camaraderie between bands and between the Union Transfer crew made it feel like an intimate show for friends. “We had a blast,” Zauner said, “and it’s always inspiring to see a band still doing what they love 10-plus years later.”