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The Key’s Top 15 Albums of 2015

The albums that moved us in 2015
This is the music that moved us in 2015

It was a year of powerful records. Of loud guitars and brazen beats, of electronic tapestries and vocal abandon. It was a year of personal introspection and rallying cries for social change. It was a year when music felt inextricably tied to the world around us. When it felt more important than it had in a long time. Like we’ve said before, to narrow 12 months of incredible music down to a “top 15 albums of 2015” list is to exclude dozens of other worthy releases. This year, we had 26 writers and photographers cite a collective 82 albums as their favorites – you can view everybody’s top fives here, and I know fully well that had I asked The Key crew to give me top tens, I’d be easily looking at quadruple the titles. But we’ll go deep when our annual Year-End Mania roundup launches tomorrow. Today we take the long view and explore what rose to the surface of consensus in 2015, from the expressive moments of Kamasi Washington, Joanna Newsom and Jamie xx, to the pop permutations of Carly Rae Jepsen and Grimes , rock and/or roll from Courtney Barnett and Alabama Shakes, Philly representation from The Districts, Waxahatchee and of course, Hop Along‘s incredible breakout LP Painted Shut, which alongside the great Kendrick Lamar rose right to the top of our voting. Let’s recap the year. 
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Brother Sport: Sun Club & The not-Districts hit the end of the line

Sun Club | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/
Sun Club | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/

It can’t be just a coincidence that  the first time I wrote about Sun Club over a year ago, I said that “I can’t help but project them as a Maryland version of our own hometown boys, The Districts.”

Since then, we’ve seen their paths cross again, seemingly at random in a North Philly basement. And of course, if you saw The Districts at any show on their most recent headlining tour (except the Electric Factory), then you know something stuck: Sun Club were the primary support for just over 30 of the biggest shows yet for both bands. On Saturday night, the roles were reversed, as Sun Club celebrated an album release show for their new LP The Dongo Durango at Kung Fu Necktie, and had the not-Districts join them as support. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: The Districts at Electric Factory, Beirut at the Tower, Cold Fronts at Johnny Brenda’s and more

The Districts | Photo by Ryan Farber | via http://www.villagevoice.com/music/fucked-up-and-dirty-the-districts-look-back-on-their-big-league-year-7861965
The Districts | Photo by Ryan Farber | via http://www.villagevoice.com/music/fucked-up-and-dirty-the-districts-look-back-on-their-big-league-year-7861965

We have been big fans of Philly indie rockers The Districts for some time now. Since their formation in 2009 the band has quickly ascended the ranks of Philly indie rock, rapidly becoming the unequivocal “band to watch”. Recently we here The Key got a chance to talk to the band about this journey, which continues with what is arguably their biggest Philly show to date tonight at the Electric Factory with Lady Lamb and fellow Philadelphians Purples. You can click here to get more information on tonight’s show. Continue reading →

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A Brief History of The Districts

The Districts | Photo via facebook.com/thedistrictsband
The Districts | Photo via facebook.com/thedistrictsband

Inexplicably wearing a surgeon’s mask and light blue nurse’s scrubs, The Districts frontman Rob Grote is relentless as he sits behind a drum set in the smokey basement of a North Philadelphia row home. As he brutally beats the crap out of the instruments as if he was the unhinged percussive offspring of Marky Ramone and Keith Moon, Grote finds himself in an unfamiliar spot; he’s typically anchored at center stage behind a microphone with a guitar dangling from his left shoulder. But this time fellow District Braden Lawrence is the one playing guitar and singing into a microphone, which in this case is hooked up to a cheap PA system being entirely drowned out by the thundering monsoon that is Grote’s abominable drumming.

A crowd full of college-aged kids are delusionally moshing and dancing to the music being performed, creating a ruckus (and surely a fire hazard) to the fast-paced, punk rock sounds coming out of the instruments of Lawrence, Grote and their roommate Breshon Martzall, the third member of the trio, who plays bass and sings. It’s very loud, and nearly impossible to tell one song from another. It’s the sound of Grote and Lawrence’s side project. It’s called Straw Hats.  Continue reading →

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20 must see shows in November

Jim James | My Morning Jacket | XPoNential Music Festival 2015 | Photo by Rachel DelSordo | http://www.racheldelsordophotography.com/
Jim James | My Morning Jacket | XPoNential Music Festival 2015 | Photo by Rachel DelSordo | http://www.racheldelsordophotography.com/

As we enter November, there’s a month filled with excellent shows coming into Philly. Here’s 20 must see shows that we suggest you choose from to put on your social calendar. Continue reading →

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Listen to Purples’ easy, breezy new single, “Saving One For You”

via facebook.com/purplesmusic
via facebook.com/purplesmusic

Philly’s Purples have been particularly prolific as of late, and today they released what amounts to their seventh single since May, and the quality has only increased with each new output.

“Saving One For You” is the newest single from the psychedelic rockers and it takes a slower and more bare approach than last month’s “Get Hurt”, with singer Peter MoDavis giving off a lazy Sunday vibe with every stray observation. Continue reading →

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Listen back to The Districts’ guest DJ set on WXPN

The Districts | Photo by Geon Tillinghast | via facebook.com/thedistrictsband
The Districts | Photo by Geon Tillinghast | via facebook.com/thedistrictsband

Philly rockers The Districts have been touring hard in support of their 2015 LP A Flourish and a Spoil and will headline their biggest hometown show to date at The Electric Factory on Friday, November 6th. Leading up to the show, The Districts appeared on the air on WXPN’s Philly Local Show last Tuesday, Octobeer 13th, to guest DJ, perform and chat.

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Listen to a haunting new demo from The Districts’ Rob Grote

The Districts | Photo via soundcloud.com/the-districts
The Districts | Photo via soundcloud.com/the-districts

It hasn’t been that long since Philly / Lititz rockers The Districts dropped their barn-burning debut A Flourish and a Spoil, and they’ve had a heck of a year supporting it – selling out Union Transfer, playing the megafestivals of Europe, booking their biggest Philly headlining gig to date at the Electric Factory – but they’re not ones to sit on their laurels. Earlier today, they tweeted “We wanted to give you a sneak peek at a rough demo Robby’s been working on.” The linked song, “Fat Kiddo,” is haunting and sparse in the same way that “Suburban Smell” and “6AM” give Flourish  an inward, introspective edge. It’s not clear yet if the band plans to flesh this out for LP3, but honestly, it’s pretty awesome as it is. Continue reading →