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 →


Watch this Kid Rock cover (yes, really) by Little Big League and The Hotelier from the Space Jam Sessions

Michelle Zauner of Little Big League and Christian Holden of The Hotelier
Michelle Zauner of Little Big League and Christian Holden of The Hotelier

“So who’s doing the favor?” asks Michelle Zauner. “Sheryl Crow is doing Kid Rock the favor. She’s also playing all the cool guitar licks and Kid Rock’s just like G-C-D.” The frontwoman for Little Big League is hypothesizing with her performing partner Christian Holden of The Hotelier about a song that a lot of the music intelligentsia doesn’t take particularly seriously, the sentimental single “Picture” from Rock’s 2001 album Cocky. Continue reading →


Philly needs an all-ages show space. TWOB Fest wants to make that happen.

The Hotelier | photo by Rachel Del Sordo
The Hotelier plays an all-ages show at The Fire. They headline TWOB Fest this weekend | photo by Rachel Del Sordo

DIY punk’s openness, accessibility and ability to survive (and thrive) hinges upon the existence of the right mix of venues. For the most part, Philadelphia has just that. The scene here is so nurturing that just about anyone can start a band, write a few songs, practice them and eventually, play a show. That conduciveness can almost seem passé sometimes just because we’re so acclimated to it, but the reality is that it’s just not like that in most cities. It takes a lot of hard work, some clever maneuvering, and the right mix of personalities to save a subculture from stagnation. In Philadelphia, that means a plethora of non-traditional, not-exactly-legal venues. Pennsylvania’s draconian alcohol laws, along with operating costs that are almost universally prohibitive for broke punks, mean that the vast majority of all-ages punk shows here are happening off the grid in musty basements, dirty kitchens and cavernous lofts, which makes for a uniquely wonderful, but perhaps unsustainable experience.

Daniel Anderson wants to create something sustainable. Since 2011, he and his roommate Ruben Polo have run local label Kat Kat Records, while booking shows both in their own West Philadelphia basement and at others across the city. They’ve also booked festivals of their own, beginning with Kat Kat Phest and culminating with the inaugural TWOB Fest this weekend, which will see local favorites like Kite Party, Marietta and By Surprise performing alongside out-of-town acts like Laura Stevenson, Sundials and The Hotelier to raise money for an all-ages, DIY show space in Philadelphia to hopefully open in the fall. Continue reading →


The Hotelier / Foxing co headlining tour brings the heat to The Fire

Foxing | photo by Rachel Del Sordo
Foxing | photo by Rachel Del Sordo |

A co-headlining tour featuring Saint Louis’ Foxing and Worcester, Massachusetts’ The Hotelier brought an incredible lineup of bands to The Fire Sunday night. Two popular regional acts played alongside the touring artists, both of whom boast well-received new releases, making for a night of punk so exciting that it was sold out well in advance.

First at bat was local favorites Little Big League. The band flawlessly mixed hooky riffs with a powerful vocal performance from frontwoman Michelle Zauner. Their set was impressive and it came as no surprise when they announced they were the newest member of the Run For Cover Records family the next morning. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: La Luz at MilkBoy, 2nd Street Festival in Northern Liberties, Matisyahu at Mann Center

Photo via
Photo via

Seattle Surf rock / doo wop quartet La Luz headlines MilkBoy tonight. The band formed in 2012 with Shana Cleaveland on guitar (who’s also a part of the Curious Monkeys), Marian Li Pino on drums, Alice Sandahl on keyboard and Lena Simon on Bass. Two years ago, it released a spectacularly catchy album Dump Face. Last year, they followed it up with another more rock-oriented album, It’s Alive. Listen to the sultry pop ballad “Call me in the Day” below. Get more details about the show at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →


Modern Baseball will kick off its summer tour at The Barbary in June

Modern Baseball | Photo by Allison Newbold |

Modern Baseball may have just wrapped up a tour with The Wonder Years, but that doesn’t mean they’re slowing down any time soon. The never-wavering Philly based pop-punk band has announced a stacked summer tour with the likes of post-harcore band Tiny Moving Parts, emo/rock band The Hotelier and pop-punk outfit Sorority Noise. And to top it off, the tour kicks off right here in Philly.

Coming off of the release of their highly acclaimed album You’re Gonna Miss it All, MoBo played a sold out show with The Wonder Years at the E Factory April 13, and if you missed it, the Barbary show on June 1 should be at the top of your list. Tickets go on sale tomorrow via TicketWeb. Get tickets when they become available here, and see the full list of tour stops via MoBo’s facebook page. Check out the studio session Modern Baseball did with The Key here.

“Your Graduation” by Modern Baseball: The Key Studio Sessions from WXPN FM on Vimeo.