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Tonight’s Concert Picks: The Interest Group at Johnny Brenda’s, Donovan Wolfington at The Fire and Kansas Bible Company at MilkBoy

philadelphia_magazine_interest_group_band
The Interest Group via Philadelphia Magazine

The Interest Group will bring their melodic, psych-pop vibes to Johnny Brenda’s tonight to open for Beat Culture and Blackbird Blackbird.  The foursome is returning to the stage after debuting some new tracks over a month ago at Underground Arts.  If you are looking for a relaxing evening zoning out to some chill ambient pop tunes, then definitely stop by.  Doors open at 8 pm for the 21+ show.  Find tickets for $10 here.

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Tonight’s concert picks: HAIM at Tower Theater, Hoots and Hellmouth at Boot & Saddle, The Interest Group at Underground Arts and more

Photo by John Vettese
Photo by John Vettese
Sister rock trio HAIM (a former XPN artist to watch) are putting a big year behind them. After their debut album, Days Are Gone, was released this past September, they’ve gotten a deal with Target to have their song “Forever” appear in the store’s commercials, and have planned out their first nationwide and European tour. Tonight, they’ll stop by Tower Theater. The show will start at 8 p.m. and the $32 tickets can be purchased here.

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Download The Key Studio Sessions Volume 10 (feat. Modern Baseball, Elegant Animals, Marah and more)

TheKeyStudioSessionsVol10Summing up an entire region’s music scene in an hour-ish long compilation is pretty much impossible. But dangit, we try our best. I’m very psyched for the roster of artists we’ve lined up on The Key Studio Sessions Volume 10, out today as a free download you can grab below. Pop-punk wave makers Modern Baseball did a version of “The Weekend” from their 2012 debut LP Sports, and the mini XPN shoutout they deliver at the end of the first chorus might be my favorite moment of the set. The song as a whole is insanely fun and on point, and MoBo’s basement-scene brethren W.C. Lindsay (more synthpop leaning) and The Hundred Acre Woods (more folk-leaning) also make solid appearances. There are several acts on the comp who you’ll see this summer at the XPoNential Music Festival: Ginger Coyle, Commonwealth Choir, Marah and Marian Hill. I love using our studio to allow more experimental-leaning artists to blaze new paths, whether its Trophy Wife‘s expansive rager “Neil Young” (very reminiscent of the Dead Man score for sure), Tutlie‘s elegant dreamscape “Kaito” or Bleeding Rainbow‘s noise-punk jam “Time or Place.” Suave downbeat crooners Elegant Animals knock a track from their back catalogue out of the park, and though the comp is admittedly short on hip-hop, eclectic electronica soundscaper Ganou spits a fierce verse on “Detainment.” (We’ll have a lot more Philly hip-hop on volume 11 in August, don’t worry.) A summation of an entire scene? Of course not. I think of this more of an incomplete but nonetheless awesome snapshot of Philadelphia-area music circa spring 2014, one we’ll continue building on. Major thanks go to production assistants Dan Hatton and Dan Malloy; photographers Rachel Del Sordo, Megan Kelly, Allison Newbold, Dominique Montgomery and Ian Lewis; videographers Bob Sweeney, James PowersRyan Chowansky and Bands in the Backyard; and guest engineers Mattias Nilsson and Adam Staniszewski. Listen to the comp and download it for free below.

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The Week’s Best Free MP3s, incl. The Interest Group, Ataloft, Psalmships and more

Local outfit The Interest Group brought a handful of new songs in for this week’s Key Studio Session to play alongside February’s “Locked On.”  The psych-pop outfit has been moving quickly since releasing a 1960s cover song that got picked up by Pitchfork a couple of years ago, and they’ll be playing more new songs at Underground Arts on May 14th.  Download “Sharing You” below and get the full set here.

Scranton, PA’s Coal Town Rounders stopped by for a Folkadelphia Session in January, which premiered this week on WXPN and online.  The stripped-down bluegrass quartet takes its music backs to the roots in a don’t-fix-what-isn’t-broken fashion.  Stream and download the session below.

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The Key Studio Sessions: The Interest Group

Philly psych-pop outfit The Interest Group made a splash before they were even really a band. On the heels of his involvement with local projects Blackhawks and Bananas Symphony, Yohsuke Araki teamed up with fellow singer-guitarist Marissa Lesnick to record a cover of the late 60s nugget “The Boys and The Girls” by The Network. The song was so infectious that, before The Interest Group had a full lineup or had even played its first show, it got a Pitchfork writeup. This set the bar relatively high for the fledgling band, and while it didn’t follow up immediately, it followed up admirably – with last summer’s Passenger 7″, a winning set at Little Berlin’s Fairgrounds Block Party, with another new EP in February, and even more new songs recorded this week for The Key Studio Sessions. The band is fleshed out with bassist Kyle Garvey and drummer Steven Urgo, and the songs they recorded are pure modern pop gold. Rooted in snapy sounds and jangling melodies reminiscent of The Left Banke, 13th Floor Elevators and The Zombies, the band adds nice contemporary experimental florishes – backwards loops, white noise, dissonant breakdowns – making the saccharine more gritty. Listen to their set and grab free downloads below; “Locked On” can be found on EP1, released in February, and the rest of the tracks are brand new. To hear more, mark your calendar for May 14th, when The Interest Group plays the Underground Arts black box with King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard.

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Pi Lam announces line-up for Human BBQ XXXVI, including Slingshot Dakota, Laser Background, Alex G and more

Slingshot Dakota | photo by Ryan Russell | www.ryanrussell.net
Slingshot Dakota | photo by Ryan Russell | www.ryanrussell.net

West Philly’s punk frat house Pi Lam has announced the line-up for its 36th annual Human BBQ, taking place Saturday, April 5th.  The 18-band, day-long festival will feature performers from across the genre spectrum, including Haverford fan favorites Alex G, psych-Americana outfit Heat Thunder and “rotten fuzz punk” four-piece Mumblr.  Heading up the meat and music event are upbeat pop punkers Slingshot Dakota, post-hardcore emo outfit Secret Plot to Destroy the Entire Universe and indie rockers Cold Fronts.  The mostly-local bill is filled out by Laser Background, Roof Doctor, ScooterJinx, Told Slant, Is and of The, No Stranger, Memorial Gore, The Interest Group, David Phosphor Walrus and Teenage Bigfoot.  More information can be found on the Facebook event page here.  Check out music from some of the acts below.

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Explore new soundscacpes on The Interest Group’s EP 1

The Interest Group | Photo by Max R. Holland
The Interest Group | Photo by Max R. Holland

Local indie psych band The Interest Group has released a new effort called EP 1.  The five-song collection comes after the four-piece’s 2013 debut 7″ “Passenger” / “Vagabond Dreamer.”

Songwriting partners Marissa Lesnick and Yohsuke Araki, along with bassist Kyle Garvey and drummer Steven Urgo, have developed a singular mood and sound over the last couple years, first manifested as their own with a cover of The Network’s “The Boys and The Girls.”  With EP 1, the 60s psych ripples out to encompass overtones from a variety of musical corners.  For example, though the Jefferson Airplane-esque snare rolls are present on “Locked On,” Lesnick’s vocal agility pulls more from a world music direction.  And lead track “Fear” opens with a soundscape reminiscent of Urgo’s atmospheric experimental / pop solo recordings from 2010 / 2011 before building into a mega-jam with crunchy guitars and Araki’s deep new wave vocals.

Stream the full EP below and check out their debut single here.

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Beyond Smoke and Mirrors: Mutual Benefit’s Jordan Lee on honest songwriting and unexpected success

Photo by Jessica Lehrman | via facebook.com/mutualbenefit
Photo by Jessica Lehrman | via facebook.com/mutualbenefit

Jordan Lee hopes Philadelphians aren’t big fans of fog machines.

The subject comes up almost immediately on the phone with the indie folk artist behind breakout band Mutual Benefit as he travels to St. Paul from Chicago, where he had just played a show at Lincoln Hall.

“There was a fog machine that was just going the whole time. That was a new experience for us, I think,” he says of the set, not letting on at first whether that new experience was good or bad. “Visually, it was pretty cool. I felt like a wizard of some sort. But also, it’s kind of poisonous, I think. It made my throat hurt by the end.”

Lee and the band of musicians he assembled to fill out Mutual Benefit’s live show will play a hopefully fog-less set at 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Boot & Saddle with local acts Lewis & Clarke and The Interest Group. Just like his aversion to gimmicks like this on stage, Lee’s brand of soulful, whimsical electro-tinged pop folk is also straightforward, without smoke and mirrors. It’s helped bring him acclaim for the band’s first LP, Love’s Crushing Diamond, which came out this past October.

Speaking to The Key from the tour van, Lee brings up a record review published in London that describes him as “an understated king of folk music.” New to such widespread praise for his music, he views quotes like this as more of an embarrassment than a compliment.

“It’s definitely not bad to hear that kind of stuff,” Lee says. “But I guess, if you get wrapped up too much in what you think about a thing that you made and how it’s received, then you’re kind of giving that same power to people to make you feel bad about something you made.”

Lee didn’t create Love’s Crushing Diamond with the idea that this many people would hear it. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Swearin’ at Golden Tea House, The Interest Group at Boot & Saddle, Vikesh Kapoor at Kung Fu Necktie, and more

Swearin’ | Photo by Jesse Riggins

Swearin’ is throwing its record release show for their new album Surfing Strange. Gaining popularity in the underground scene, the punk four piece is known for shout-along lyrics, multiple vocalists, and raging guitar hooks – something you also hear on its 2012 self-titled release. With the excitement building around their new album, which received a 7.6/10 on Pitchfork, Golden Tea House is hosting Philly’s punk show of the night. Pick up Surfing Strange here and get more information on the show here.

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