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Documenting A Live Music Scene: A conversation with the man behind Philataper

photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | Jeremy-Zim.com
Strand of Oaks at Union Transfer, one of the shows documented by PhilaTaper | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | Jeremy-Zim.com

You probably didn’t know it, but at the last concert you attended you may have been standing next to a taper. Just ask Kris, a.k.a. Philataper, who has been documenting live gigs for over 20 years. Just a quick perusal of his Soundcloud page shows a treasure trove of local happenings: Strand of Oaks at Union Transfer, Hiss Golden Messenger at Johnny Brenda’s, Doug Paisley at Boot and Saddle.

Recording shows isn’t contained to only the jam band scene, where tapers have been found in designated areas at shows for decades with portable recorders, preamps and microphones on tall stands. True, it’s the only scene that often openly allows taping. In fact, that’s where it all started for Kris (who asks that his last name remain anonymous because of the nature of his hobby). Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Bruce Warren’s Best of Philly Music 2014

Amanda X: Tiff Yoon, Cat Park, Kat Bean | Photo by Peter Murray | petermurrayphotography.com
Amanda X: Tiff Yoon, Cat Park, Kat Bean | Photo by Peter Murray | petermurrayphotography.com

Year-End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2014 awesome. In this installment, XPN Program Director Bruce Warren weighs in on the 2014 Philly music scene.

We thought 2013 was a fantastic year for the Philly music scene, however 2014 proved to be even better. 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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Stay up late with the Indie Rock Hit Parade at its new time!

Stars | Photo by Shervin Lainez, Courtesy of ATO Records
Stars | Photo by Shervin Lainez, Courtesy of ATO Records

The Indie Rock Hit Parade has always been proud to be a nighttime show on XPN, but do we dare go even LATER? Join host Eric Schuman (that’s me) each and every Friday night for a full two-hour show, now and forevermore at the new time of 11pm! This week, starting at 11pm, we’ll conclude our survey of the best indie releases of 2014. Also on this week’s show, starting at 11pm, we’ll have an all-new Indie Rock Hit Parade Live Session with the multimedia supergroup TEEN MEN (featuring members of The Spinto Band & Strand Of Oaks)! Don’t miss these tracks and more on the Indie Rock Hit Parade, tonight at 11pm:

Continue reading →

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Hometown Heroes: Strand of Oaks hug it out, HEAL it up at Union Transfer

photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | Jeremy-Zim.com
photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | Jeremy-Zim.com

“You know, I’ve been doing this for a long, long time,” frontman-of-Oaks Tim Showalter said, “and for a while I was playing to like three people at shows—like you three… But now? All you people, in this place… incredible.” Showalter was clearly moved to see the massive turnout for their largest hometown set and largest headlining set to date.

After releasing one of 2014’s most quietly celebrated albums, Philly’s loneristic folk-rockers Strand of Oaks arrived back at home on Wednesday night after six solid months of touring. But that was all “just practice” for the main event. Hitting the stage to the sound of the Boss’ “Born in the USA,” it’s impossible to miss how important having a strong community presence is to them. Showalter’s unbridled giddiness to be playing the show belied the sheer unchecked slay of the evening—Oaks doesn’t fuck around when it comes to their music. Continue reading →

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Listen to Strand Of Oaks cover The Replacements’ “Alex Chilton”

@strandofoaks is home and killing it at Union Transfer #concert #strandofoaks

A photo posted by Noah Silvestry (@silvestography) on

Hot on the heels of Tim Showalter’s incredible cover of Ryan Adams’ “My Wrecking Ball” for WXPN’s Philly local cover song project, Strand Of Oaks turned their attention one of The Replacements’ most loved songs, “Alex Chilton,” during their show last night at Union Transfer. You can listen to the performance, recorded live at the show by PhilaTaper, after the jump. Keep an eye out for Jeremy Zimmerman’s review of the show later today. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Communion Night with Fly Golden Eagle at Milkboy, Strand of Oaks at Union Transfer, Generationals at Johnny Brenda’s and more…

fly golden eagle
Fly Golden Eagle | Photo courtesy of the band.
Nashville’s Fly Golden Eagle return for Communion club night at Milkboy. The October XPN Artist to Watch released an epic 26-track sophomore effort called Quartz in the fall, drawing inspiration from the 1973 Mexican / American film The Holy Mountain.  Download “Medicine Hat” from the record below and get tickets for the show with DRGN King and Big Terrible here.
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Cosmic Folk: Listen back to Strand of Oaks’ Guest DJ set on WXPN

Tim Showalter of Strand of Oaks, as seen in the "Goshen 97" video
Tim Showalter of Strand of Oaks, as seen in the “Goshen 97″ video

On the eve of his biggest headlining show to date, Strand of Oaks frontman Tim Showalter took to the WXPN airwaves for an hour-long guest DJ set themed loosely around what he described as “cosmic folk.” In the mix we heard Big Star’s Chris Bell, Sam Amidon covering R. Kelly, a newer track from Hiss Golden Messenger’s Lateness of Dancers, an older track from Sharon Van Etten’s Tramp, and the most beautiful unreleased Jeff Buckley song I’ve ever heard (recorded with Elizabeth Fraser of Cocteau Twins). Continue reading →

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Strand of Oaks takes over the airwaves on tomorrow’s WXPN Philly Local show with a “cosmic folk” DJ set

Strand of Oaks
Tim Showalter behind the WXPN mic | photo by Eric Schuman

This week’s WXPN Philly Local show will feature special guest Tim Showalter of Strand of Oaks spinning his own carefully-curated mix of “cosmic folk” jams. “It’s so funny that I put out a rock record this year, but my mind has listened to the opposite,” Showalter says. “I just love listening to spacey folk. I don’t think I’ll make a folk record anytime soon, but it’s so good to listen to.” Continue reading →

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Listen to Strand Of Oaks cover Ryan Adams’ “My Wrecking Ball”

Photo by Noah Silvestry | http://silvestography.tumblr.com/
Photo by Noah Silvestry | http://silvestography.tumblr.com/

It’s been an extraordinary year for Philly’s Strand Of Oaks. Fronted by singer, songwriter and guitarist Tim Showalter, the band released their phenomenal album HEAL to critical acclaim and lifted the band to their most far reaching, and well deserved success to date. From the first song to the last, including stand out tracks like “Goshen ’97,” “Shut In,” and “JM,” Showalter wrote a powerful and introspective rock record. Continue reading →