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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Bastille at Liacouras Center, Kat Edmonson at World Cafe Live, and King Tuff at First Unitarian Church

Bastille | Photo by John Vettese
Bastille | Photo by John Vettese

Bastille will be performing this evening at the Liacouras Center. The London-based pop-rock collective have had a huge rise to fame over the past year led by the immense success of their hit song “Pompeii”, which reached number 2 in the UK and 5 in the US. The group’s frontman Dan Smith explained in an interview with The Telegraph that they had never imagined becoming so big:

Led by me, we’ve always been a group of pessimists…Our expectations have been incredibly low. I never, ever imagined leaving Great Britain…We’ve been pleasantly surprised.
The humble four-piece outfit is sure to bring down the house at tonight’s performance. Visit the XPN Concert Calendar for more information and check out their latest music video for “Flaws” below. Continue reading →
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Listen to The Bad Doctors’ catchy dystopia on Burning City

The Bad Doctors
Photo via facebook.com/thebaddoctors

Following up last year’s Re-Animate EP, Philly synth punk trio The Bad Doctors released its sophomore LP Burning City last month, and the album is distinctly ominous, yet totally catchy. The Key Studio Session veterans and and alums of our Philly Freshman Class of 2011 released the record on vinyl through the locally-based label FDH Records. Continue reading →

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The Bad Doctors release Re-Animate EP, full length coming Spring 2014

Philadelphia synthpop punk trio The Bad Doctors recently put out a four song EP  Re-Animate with FDH Records. Released as a teaser for their forthcoming full-length Burning City, this EP comes on pretty strong.

Most of the songs point to The Smiths as a major influence; listen to the “The Reanimator” for vocals that are almost spot on Morrissey. With the initial electronic shriek, we realize the electronics and synths are going to play as big a role as the guitar, bass, and drums. The opening song might start off like classic pop punk, but it ends in a mess of blipping electronics. “Prism, Mirror, Lens” begins with an keyboard line that quickly is accompanied by a guitar riff, matching it in intensity and speed for the rest of the song.

Some of the lyrics even match the grandiose romanticism of old pop punk, with lines like “When we touch, I hear the oceans collide” that are immediately followed by a breakdown of samples fused with quirky bass and guitar lines. “AC” may be the best track on the album, because if I didn’t know any better I would say they are a long-lost 80′s band after listening to it. The four-minute track engulfs the punk riffs along the synthpop sound almost perfectly, melting together under the morose vocals, creating something that you can simply get lost in. With the lyrics “It’s alright and it’s alright and it’s alright if you run away,” The Bad Doctors create a space for your mind to wander, while keeping you grounded by the thumping rhythm.

The Re-Animate EP has impressive moments that show that electronic music and pop punk can coexist, but the most exciting part is probably that The Bad Doctors have a full length coming out next year.

Pick up the EP on bandcamp or stream it below.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: The Bad Doctors at The Trocadero, Cappadonna at The Blockley

DocsPhilly post-punk trio The Bad Doctors play The Trocadero balcony tonight.  With new-wave vocals augmented by relentless, driving arrangements the band’s handful of releases, including 2011′s ear catching EP Distractions, are a small but impressive sampling of what these guys are capable of.  Dig into their Key Studio Session from November 2011 here and take note of stand-out tracks “The Big Bang” and “The Ugliest Man.”  Tickets and information for tonight’s all-ages show with FIGO and The Killing Floor can be found here.  Stream and download “The Big Bang” below.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Andrew Gray, The Bad Doctors, World Cafe Live Jazz Jam

When Andrew Gray played with West Philly bootstomp folk revivalists Hoots and Hellmouth, he was known for his wild, unhinged stage presence and distinctive howl. But he also provided the band with its initial sensitive side, singing sentimental songs in warm tones with fingerpicked acoustic guitar patterns. He exited the band in 2010 to focus on his teaching career, but couldn’t stay away from music for too long – last summer he put out an EP of meditative, introspective songwriting in the vein of Tim Hardin, Jackson Browne and Red House Painters. And earlier this year, he began performing shows in support of it, quietly opening for Baltimore trio We’re About Nine at the Lansdowne Folk Club, appearing at the Kennett Flash in Kennett Square and playing at World Cafe Live at the Queen. Tonight is – we believe – his first appearance in Philadelphia proper as a solo artist; Gray will be performing the North Star Bar’s Victorian Dining Room concert series, a recurring free show in the Fairmount venue’s rarely-seen upstairs eating and drinking (and singing) space. Joining him will be Vice Royal; the 21+ show starts at 8 p.m. Listen to Gray’s Three Songs EP below.

Another free show is happening across town at Kung Fu Necktie of the more angular, voluminous, post-punk variety. Philly noisemakers The Bad Doctors are opening up for scuzzy San Francisco disco-beat distortion pedal dudes Rank / Xerox and Rat Columns; the 21+ show starts at 8, and get there early, since the Docs go on first. Download “Sisyphus and the Gate” from their Key Studio Session below.

Looking for something else entirely? World Cafe Live’s weekly Jazz Jam, hosted by Jeff Torchon (of Conjunto Philly), is always a place to catch emerging talent and unexpected collaborations – especially the weeks when Tom Moon and his saxophone turn up. The jam is free and begins at 5:30 p.m.

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Download The Key Studio Sessions Compilation Vol. 3 (feat. mewithoutYou, Psychic Teens, White Birds, + more)

DRGN King

The Key Studio Sessions Compilation Volume 3—which you can download for free here—features one exclusive track recorded at the WXPN studios by 18 local acts, including DRGN King, Blayer Point Du Jour, Plow United, Weston, Surgeon, Break It Up, Black Landlord, Crills Wilson, Psychic Teens, The Bad Doctors, Ben Smith, The Tressels, Saturn Never Sleeps, White Birds, Andrew Lipke, Ports Of Call, mewithoutYou, and Young Statues.

Special thanks to all of the bands for coming to our studio, and to John Vettese for recording them. We’d also like to thank volunteer production assistants Zachary Deveraux Fairbrother, Jake “Rabid” Nisenfeld
Jeremy Quattlebaum, Joshua Pannepacker, and Maureen Walsh, as well as photographers Eric Ashleigh, Michael “Kraus Phade” Béon, Kate Bracaglia, Michelle Holshue, Mattias Nilsson, Eric Schuman, and Rachelle Lee Smith for sharing their work.

Click here the download the 18-track compilation in its entirety as a .zip file. Want to hear more? Click here to listen to the full sessions by all 18 local acts; you can also download The Key Studio Sessions Compilation Volume I and Volume 2.

Track listing:

DRGN King, “Holy Ghost”
Blayer Point Du Jour, “Mansion Party”
Plow United, “Martin”
Weston, “Love And Rockets”
Surgeon, “Greed”
Break It Up, “Subterranian”
Black Landlord, “Last Night”
Crills Wilson, “Grifter”
Psychic Teens, “Red”
The Bad Doctors, “Sisyphus And The Gate”
Ben Smith, “Love Potion No. 10″
The Tressels, “Cold Blue Eyes”
Saturn Never Sleeps, “Hearts On Fire”
White Birds, “Floating Hands”
Andrew Lipke, “Sleep Like A Child”
Ports Of Call, Ballinora
mewithoutYou, “Tie Me Up! Untie Me!”
Young Statues , “Athens”

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The Key Studio Sessions: The Bad Doctors

Photos by Mattias Nilsson

It seemed like The Bad Doctors burst out of nowhere this summer. The power trio’s impressive set opening for JEFF The Brotherhood in August sent me scurrying after their Distractions EP, but as I noted when profiling them in The Key’s Freshman Class of 2011 roundup, the Docs have been kicking around West Philly for almost three years. Watching them record a high-energy Key Studio Session last month, it was obvious how locked-in these three dudes were. Their revved-up post-punk drumbeats, tricky over-layering parts, dramatic slow burners, and spitfire Ramones rockers that work up a sweat; all were pulled off like only a band that’s been around the block can (even if that block is somewhere around Clark Park). Equally evident is their fondness for new wave, from the Peter Hook bass stylings of “The Big Bang” to the ultra-Devo “The Ugliest Man.” Tune in to The Key Studio Sessions Hour on XPN2 tomorrow night at 7 p.m. when the band will discuss its fondness for literary references and old philosophers; share tips for finding the ever-elusive Bloodstains Across Philadelphia comp; and reflect on its growth from The Millcreek Tavern to points east. Then, when the show is done, proceed to Kungfu Necktie, where The Bad Doctors are on a solid bill with Hot Guts and Catholic Workers. (8 p.m. doors, $8 tickets, 21+)

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Philly’s Freshman Class of 2011: The Bad Doctors

With the 2011-2012 school year officially underway (or, depending on which college you’re attending, about to get started), the Philadelphia area is looking at its annual influx of bright-eyed freshmen who will attempt to find their place in a new environment. However, September is always an active time for the music scene as well, with a variety of unknown and well-established bands coming out of their summer hibernation to announce fall tours and upcoming albums. Throughout the week, The Key will be profiling a handful of brand-new (or previously undiscovered) local acts that are just starting to make a name for themselves in Philadelphia’s music scene. Hopefully, by this time next year, each of these bands will be one of the next big names in town. 

Fritzy power trio The Bad Doctors has been kicking around the West Philly scene since mid-2009, but this summer made an impressive push to get its music heard beyond 40th and Baltimore. Composed of singer-guitarist Matt McDermott, bassist/synth player Luke Nally, and drummer Brian Bullock, the group released a solid string of music to Bandcamp: digital singles “Sisyphus And The Gate” in May and “Gunpowder” in June, followed in short order by its powder keg of a debut full length, Distractions. Then, just a couple of weeks ago, the band practically stole the show during JEFF The Brotherhood’s Bookspace appearance. This was my first time catching the Docs, and the high-energy performance—coupled with McDermott’s emphatic, melodic vocals—reminded me of watching The Thermals back in its early days. The members of the band don’t see boundaries between stage and audience; instead, they slam into amplifiers, fans, and one another while feeding off of each chord change and drum hit in a crazy spastic dance. The record is even more of a catalyst for body-moving—with warm analog synth tones and herky-jerkey rhythms, it’s where their fondness for “Uncontrollable Urge”-era Devo shines through. Philly engineer Josh Pannepacker worked with the band on the “Gunpowder” single, and he tells me they’re already putting together a followup release. Even though I only found out about The Bad Doctors this summer, I’m already antsy to hear what it does next. Stream the track “Gunpowder (Nicaraguan Feeling)” below, and for those so inclined, see the band in person when it plays Kung Fu Necktie on Wed. Sept. 7.