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The Key’s Year-End Mania: 2017’s ten best Philly artist portraits

Cayetana | photos by Mary Ferrigno | courtesy of the artist

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2017 incredible. Today, Sarah Hojsak takes a look at some of the best artist portraits of 2017.

During last year’s end-of-the-year rush, The Key took a brief step away from music itself and instead started digging through the images surrounding it. The result was 2016’s ten best Philly artist portraits — a collection of some of the most visually stunning, ridiculously outlandish or otherwise eye-catching promotional photos from our beloved local musicians.

As you well know, we have no shortage of great music happening here in Philly, and lucky for us so, so many of our favorite artists released new music this year. With those new tunes came a whole new batch of images to take in — they range from the standard artsy but professional press photo to the quirky personality pic and everything in between, and they come from some of music’s best photographers. The best ones, regardless of the forms they take or the themes they use, caught our attention and didn’t let go. Here’s a far from thorough but nonetheless delightful selection of some of 2017’s standouts. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Shamir at the First Unitarian Church, Work Drugs at Boot & Saddle, Leif Vollebekk at World Cafe Live, and many, many more

Shamir | photo by Rachel Del Sordo

Recent Philly-via-Vegas transplant Shamir closes out a busy year of touring with a hometown show at the Church tonight, following the release of their new album Revelations last month. Shamir’s vibrant and introspective pop songs touch on everything from queer identity to being a millennial, all with a blunt and witty honesty. Read The Key’s interview with Shamir here, watch the video for “90’s Kids” below and find more information on tonight’s show on the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Shamir Shamone: Upping the pureness with Philly’s Shamir

Shamir
Shamir | photo by Jason MacDonald | courtesy of the artist

There are a hundred reasons to write about Shamir Bailey – known professionally as simply Shamir – beyond a recent relocation to Philadelphia. With a piercing contralto/tenor falsetto, Shamir demonstrates a musical curiosity ranging from 90s house, soul, country (all on 2015’s Rachet album), and now, lo-fi rock and fizzy pop (2017’s Hope and its follow-up, Revelations).

The-Vegas-to-NYC-to-Philly transplant has a singular voice, making any song identifiably theirs – be it silly (“90’s Kid”) or heartbreaking (“Like a Bird”) or angrily disgusted (“I Fucking Hate You”) in its lyricism. With Revelations out this Friday, November 3rd on Father / Daughter Records, and a First Unitarian Church gig on the horizon, I got Shamir on the phone to talk about their process, influences and aspirations.   Continue reading →

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Shamir’s Revelations showcases vibrant, multi-faceted personality

Shamir | photo by Jason MacDonald | courtesy of the artist

Shamir’s newest album Revelations will be available everywhere on November 3rd via Father/Daughter Records, but NPR Music’s got the plug right here and now for you; you can stream the album in full here.

Having already heard the gems, “90s Kids” and “Straight Boy,” we’re now treated to seven new tracks from the Philly dweller. And as the two early releases had hinted, the rest of Revelations effectively strips away the avant-garde art-pop costume from 2014’s Ratchet; instead baring a closer resemblance to Shamir’s independent Bandcamp drop of last year’s Hope EP. Continue reading →

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Shamir confronts appropriation of queer identity in the softly anthemic ballad, “Straight Boy”

Shamir | photo by Jason MacDonald | courtesy of artist

Shamir is not one for subtlety. Whether it be through his avant garde disco-pop introduction via 2015’s Ratchet, or the more subdued lo-fi tracks from his upcoming album, Revelations, Shamir remains as refreshingly blunt and expressive as ever.

While flashing a sarcastic, cheeky grin toward older generations in the floaty, dial-up nostalgia of “90’s Kids,” Shamir’s latest track, “Straight Boy,” is even more direct as it strips away any traces of an ironic veneer. Continue reading →

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Shamir becomes every meme imaginable in video for the millennial battle-cry, “90’s Kids”

Shamir | photo by Jason MacDonald | courtesy of artist

I’m a millennial / 90’s kid. Before I was decorating my AIM profile to perfection with stupid song lyrics, I was playing CD-rom Detective Barbie games on my family’s huge dial-up computer.

Fast forward to now, where there’s memes and irony and debt and avocado toast. It’s a heckin weird world, and Shamir somehow manages to mash up this strange generation of feelings into his song and video for the new, aptly titled “90’s Kids.” Continue reading →

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Esperanza Spalding, Shamir, and Good Old War lined up for SoFAR Philly’s Amnesty International fundraiser

Esperanza Spalding | photo by Holly Andres | via facebook.com/EsperanzaSpalding

Remember that super secret, super cool Sofar Sounds Philly show in partnership with Amnesty International we let you know about a few weeks back? You know, the one with the winning recipe of: a heaping of community, a splash of mystery, and a million cups of good tunes. Well, friends, the lineup has been revealed, and it’s pretty dang tasty. Continue reading →

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Star Stuff: Chaz Bundick Meets The Mattson 2 LIVE on the Indie Rock Hit Parade!

Chaz Bundick Meets The Mattson 2 | Photo by Lucky Banks Kenny, courtesy of the artist

You’re in for a real doozy of an Indie Rock Hit Parade tonight, friends! Listen at 11pm ET on WXPN, not too long after Making Time RADio with Dave P, for a full two-hour show that has special things galore. First up is a new IRHP Live Studio Session, as Chaz Bundick (Toro Y Moi) and the Mattson 2 perform selections from their new collaboration, Star Stuff. The album is a mind-expanding collection of psychedelic rock, electronica, jazz and just about everything else the trio can throw together. Don’t miss these three virtuosos battling it out in our studio!

In the midnight hour, we’ll preview a few Record Store Day releases, including reissues of classic albums by Luna and The Sundays, plus an epic new track from The War On Drugs. Preview some of the new things you’ll hear in the mix below…

Continue reading →

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Vagabon blasts off with Infinite Worlds release show at PhilaMOCA

Vagabon | photo by Rachel Del Sordo

“You’re a big fish now, though!” someone shouted from sidestage, just before Vagabon launched into “The Embers,” the final song of a stunning record release show at PhilaMOCA on Saturday night. Vagabon — the stage name of one Laetitia Tamko — was riding high on the release of Infinite Worlds, out the 24th on Father/Daughter Records. “The Embers,” a song exploring a more solipsistic landscape, repeats in its refrain that “I’m just a small fish.” While inside, Tamko may feel like a small fish in a big pond, the acclaimed release of Infinite Worlds and it’s two sold-out release shows (Friday night she appeared in Brooklyn with Mal Devisa and Jelani Sai) are ripples indicating that something big is emerging from beneath the surface. Continue reading →