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Rounding up the best and brightest of Governors Ball 2015

Governors' Ball | Photo by Rachel Barrish
Governors Ball | Photo by Rachel Barrish

The annual Governors Ball festival is held at Randall’s Island in New York, wedged in between Upper Manhattan and Queens. The rain trickled down on Friday but that didn’t stop the ticket holders from trekking through to make it over for their favorite acts, most especially Philly’s The Districts who started off the fest Friday afternoon at 12:15. A bit too early for most, one would think, but they ripped through their set with a medium sized but lively crowd cheering along to the words of “Young Blood.” 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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MusicNotes from the XPN Morning Show: Paul McCartney’s unreleased recording with John Bonham, St. Vincent to debut 2 new songs on “Record Store Day” and Coldplay to release “Ghost Stories Live” DVD, Album

via consequenceofsound.net
via consequenceofsound.net

Two, classic Wings’ albums will be reissued next month: Venus and Mars and At The Speed Of Sound, and the bonus material will include a song that Paul McCartney recorded with late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham. Continue reading →

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Download a live Free At Noon version of “Prince Johnny” by St. Vincent

Photo by Rachel Del Sordo
Photo by Rachel Del Sordo

Singer, songwriter and guitarist Annie Clark, best known as St. Vincent, came through town on Friday, February 28th and performed a radiant, imaginative show at Union Transfer. Clark is currently on tour in support of her stunning new self-titled album. Earlier in the day, she played a sold out Free At Noon and did a World Cafe session with David Dye. You can listen to the entire session here, and below, download a live version of “Prince Johnny,” from her recent album, St. Vincent.

Support for My Morning Download, from Flying Fish Brewing Company
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The radiant St. Vincent stages an imaginative preformance at Union Transfer

St. Vincent | photo by Rachel Del Sordo
St. Vincent | photo by Rachel Del Sordo

Attending a St. Vincent concert is different than an average night out seeing your favorite band. A performance from this artist is just that, a performance. Last night’s sold-out show at Union Transfer was a mix of music, interpretative dance, and wordplay. The brilliant and divine Annie Clark put together a stunning array of entertainment, delving into a 20-song set list and giving the audience a taste of her creative and gleaming magnetism.

Her fourth studio album, the self titled St. Vincent, released on Loma Vista and Republic Records, “does not sound like it was recorded here on Earth” says Pitchfork. Her baroque pop and art rock styles were brought to the immediate surface with this album, touching the playful and intriguing style of her music and singular personality on display during her performance last night.

St. Vincent | photo by Rachel Del Sordo
St. Vincent | photo by Rachel Del Sordo

The eager crowd cheered and bounced when Annie Clark came out onto the stage, radiating mysterious beauty with her David Bowie inspired white / purple hair, wearing a white gown with a blood-red smear front. Her pale complexion and dark blue eye shadow just seem to work. Seeing her standing in front of you almost feels like staring at a piece of artwork, or watching an animated character. She opened the show with the first song off the new album, “Rattlesnake” which she has said was inspired by a nude stroll in the woods where she was nearly bit by a rattlesnake. The upbeat techno backing matched Clark’s robotic dance moves perfectly. She shook her shoulders and opened her eyes wide, moving each of her limbs one by one and shuffling her feet across the stage.

She moved into “Digital Witness”, the first single from  the new album. The song talks about the changes in a modern digital age: “people turn the TV on / it looks just like a window.” The song encapsulates the way people look at the world today through such a digital lens, which she discussed when she appeared on the Colbert Report earlier this past week. Continue reading →

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Watch Philly’s Ben O’Neill cover St. Vincent’s “Cheerleader”

Ben O'Neill | Photo courtesy of the artist
Ben O’Neill | Photo courtesy of the artist

St. Vincent is performing this Friday for our weekly Free at Noon concert series.  The show is sold out.  Ben O’Neill is a Philly artist and is also a fan of St Vincent.  Recently he recorded a really great cover of one of her songs, “Cheerleader” (one of my favorites).  I asked him why he decided to record this song AND do a video, and here’s what he said.

I find St. Vincent to be a compelling, unique and unapologetic artist.  Her music combines pop and avant-garde in a way I find truly inspiring.  She highlights this combination in “Cheerleader” which uses relatable lyrics in a pop song format in conjunction with chromatic melodies and otherworldly guitar and synth textures.  The song has shocking contrast between the subtle, atmospheric verses and massive, hard-hitting choruses which demanded my attention right from the first listen.  She’s an artist that marches to the beat of her own drummer and her individuality inspires me to keep creating my own music.

My team and I put the effort into creating this cover and video because we felt that our version was exciting and wanted to add a compelling visual element.  My cover is similar enough to show our deep respect for St. Vincent’s creative vision and different enough to stand on its own.  Director Steven Jon was looking for a new project and was generous enough to lend his talents to pull the video together.

I have yet to see St. Vincent in person but am thankful that will change on Friday! And remember to tune in to WXPN Monday through Friday in the 1:00 hour to hear my Philly Local Pick of the day.