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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Julie Miller’s Top 5 ICYMI Philly records

Abi Reimold
Abi Reimold | photo via www.facebook.com/AbiReimold

Year-End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2014 awesome. In this installment, The Key’s editorial assistant Julie Miller shares five local records you might have missed the first time around.

Philadelphia dominated music this year. The War on Drugs and Strand of Oaks grew exponentially with records that topped almost every year-end list published so far; Modern Baseball led a crew of Philly bands down to Florida for a FEST takeover; and Cayetana’s Nervous Like Me debut sits at the top of our own best-of list, beating out national acts St. Vincent, Ryan Adams and the previously mentioned Drugs and Oaks (among others).

But sitting behind this list of ever-growing big names from Philadelphia is a vibrant and dense scene of musicians, bands, artists, performers…. pretty much every style of music you can think of has strong representation here in Philly. So to celebrate just a small portion of what the rest of Philly did this year, I’ve compiled five records by local musicians you might have missed in the glow of the big names. Go ahead and give these albums a second (or first!) listen.

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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. Continue reading →

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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.

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
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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.