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Unsung Folkadelphia #1: Jason Molina and Songs: Ohia’s Didn’t It Rain

Jason Molina, courtesy of Secretly Canadian.
Jason Molina, courtesy of Secretly Canadian.
From the 'Didn't It Rain' session, Jennie Bedford's lyric work sheet to "Steve Albini's Blues"
From the ‘Didn’t It Rain’ session, Jennie Bedford’s lyric work sheet to “Steve Albini’s Blues”

Welcome to the first chapter of Folkadelphia’s new project that we’ve gotten in the habit of calling Unsung.

In the history of music, there are many unsung artists and albums that we firmly clutch close to our hearts. These artists create the kind of music that we wish other people knew more about or cared more deeply for. We wish that we could share with others our exact feelings about how we’ve been touched and affected by some musicians. We want to show them the light. We want to sing these musicians’ unsung song for everyone to hear.

With this series, we hope we can provide a way for people to connect with music that has been influential beyond its commercial impact and, perhaps, appeal. It’s never too late to find a new favorite band and honor their legacy and discography.

For this first part, we focused on what has become one of my favorite albums: Songs: Ohia’s Didn’t It Rain, which was recorded in Philadelphia in 2002. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Top 15 Albums of 2014

top 15 albums of 2014
This is the music that moved us this year.

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 →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: GoGo Morrow at The TLA, Restorations at Melodies Cafe, Kate Faust at Ortlieb’s and more

GoGoMorrow | Photo via facebook.com/GoGoMorrow
GoGoMorrow | Photo via facebook.com/GoGoMorrow
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 →

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Restorations throw a wild hometown party for the release of LP3

Restorations | photo by Rachel Del Sordo
Restorations | photo by Rachel Del Sordo

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 →

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Review: Restortions forges its sound on anthemic LP3

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Restorations’ LP3, out today on SideOneDummy

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 →

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The Ultimate Basement Show: Why Gainesville’s FEST is so important to the Philly DIY scene

Philly's Restorations is headed to Gainesville's FEST for the fifth time, and timed it's new album release around it | photo via restorations.tumblr.com
Philly’s Restorations is headed to Gainesville’s FEST for the fifth time, and timed it’s new album release around it | photo via restorations.tumblr.com

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 →

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Listen to “Misprint,” another song from Restorations’ LP3

Restorations | Photo by Andy Johnson
Restorations | Photo by Andy Johnson

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 →

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Restorations will celebrate the release of LP3 at the Church on 11/15

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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 →

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Go inside the studio as Restorations makes the most important album of its career

Restorations Jon Loudon records vocals at Miner Street | Photo by Mitchell Wojcik | mitchellwojcik.com
Restorations’ Jon Loudon records vocals at Miner Street | Photo by Mitchell Wojcik | mitchellwojcik.com

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 →

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Holy smokes this 37-second clip of Restorations in the studio with Jon Low has us psyched for their new record

Restorations | Photo by John Vettese
Restorations | Photo by John Vettese

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 →