By

The Key Presents: Half Waif

Half Waif | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

The weather’s bad, but it holds. Between setting up and short takes while the rain isn’t too hard, Nandi Plunkett throws an industrial trash bag over her keyboard as a makeshift cover, but even the intermittent April showers can’t get her spirits down too much. Resiliency is a big theme of Half Waif‘s music, and in Plunkett’s life, as well. Between passing clouds, Nandi and guitarist Adan Carlo play completely new arrangements of two Half Waif tracks from the recently released form/a EP. In the secluded side yard of the MAAS Building, the intimate strength of Half Waif springs to resounding life. This is The Key Presents: Half Waif. Continue reading →

By

The Key Presents: Cayetana

Cayetana | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

Cayetana are done messing around. Not like they ever were from the very start, but with tracks titled things like “Serious Things Are Stupid” and “Hot Dad Calendar,” it might be easy to lose sight of the depth that the band packs into every ounce of songwriting. With this week’s release of sophomore record New Kind of Normal, things are coming into sharper focus for the band members. But it’s not only due to the the release of a new album– the band also had to dig deep and launch a new record label. They’re all carrying a lot of weight, and wearing it well.

With the new record wrapped up and all but out the door, you’d think they’d all want to take a hard-earned vacation before having to gear up for album promotion and the touring circuit. When we met with them a couple weeks ago for a Facebook Live stream, they seemed totally calm, cool and collected, casually enjoying a nice morning on their South Philly roof deck. It’s a good reminder that they’re taking everything in stride — really living the dream. Working hard, but having fun too, when it comes. This is The Key Presents: Cayetana. Continue reading →

By

The Key Presents: You Blew It!

 

You Blew It! | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo racheldelsordophotography.com

No matter which way you slice it, You Blew It! are anything but a simple band. What appears at first glance to be fairly stock-standard twinkly post-emo fare transcends the sum of its parts, both sonically and particularly in the lyrical department. On their latest effort Abendroit — released in November on Triple Crown — the band cashes in its cred with the pop punk crowd and looks towards softer pastures and more still waters. Continue reading →

By

The Key Presents: Big Thief

 

Big Thief | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com
Big Thief | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

It’s been quite the year for Big Thief. Between getting picked up by Saddle Creek in Feburary, putting out the stunning debut LP Masterpiece in May, and filling the rest of the year with tour dates both headlining and alongside folks such as M. Ward and Frankie Cosmos, they’ve been quite busy. The Brookyln-based band has also racked up accolades in everywhere from Pitchfork to NPR Music. (They’ll even appear on World Cafe next week.)

And with good reason. With sensible, classic Western-Americana-influenced songwriting, the band rips ballads while also making a hard left each time you think they’re about to play right into a classic alt-country troupe. Sitting on the southern borderline of “indie,” Big Thief avoids falling into those all-too-familiar patterns, as well. Adrianne Lenker’s fragile, yet tempered songwriting carries the band down a winding road, that allows her to exert great strength both in quietus and with actual sonic force. Continue reading →

By

The Key Presents: David Bazan

David Bazan| photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com
David Bazan | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

David Bazan isn’t exactly a household name. It’s both a blessing and a curse for Bazan, who actually prefers to keep things intimate with his fans. Even if you’re not particularly familiar with either his solo work or one the many projects that he’s had his hands in down through the past two decades, it’s almost certain that one of your favorite bands is. When he played at Johnny Brenda’s in July, the audience was a veritable who’s who of the Philadelphia scene. Members of Modern Baseball, mewithoutYou, Hop Along, Tiger’s Jaw and more filled the room, standing in awe of a one man powerhouse. Continue reading →

By

The Key Presents: Joseph

Joseph | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com
Joseph | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

Joseph is the band you can’t forget. Whether you saw them first on Jimmy Fallon or during our own NonCOMM this past spring, it’s likely that the haunting harmonies created by the Closner sisters are stuck in your mind for good. And they’re just getting started. With this year’s sophomore release I’m Alone, No You’re Not out on ATO Records, the Oregonians are taking hold of hearts and minds across the country — and with good reason. Catchy folk licks and haunting harmonies aren’t the only thing that Joseph brings to the table. With an ear for striking songwriting, the band doesn’t back down. Continue reading →

By

The Key Presents: Backstage with Brandi Carlile

Brandi
Brandi Carlile | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

It was the 11th hour at the 2016 XPoNential Music Festival, and as Old Crow Medicine Show kicked into “Wagon Wheel,” we headed backstage at the BB&T to meet up with the star of the night — Brandi Carlile. Just before she hit the big stage, she and the Twins (that’s Phil and Tim Hanseroth) sat down for an intimate and jaw-dropping performance of “The Eye.”

It’s a song that Carlile says was a long time coming for her and the Hanseroths, who got together in Seattle “in a time when grunge was at its peak, and it was very uncool to say that you were into three part harmonies.” As Carlile later told her fans at XPNFest, “this song is about how there is no lead singer, there’s only somebody who insists that she is.” Continue reading →

By

The Key Presents: Esme Patterson

Esmé Patterson | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com
Esmé Patterson | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

On a sunny Friday afternoon in May, we found Esme Patterson and her band reclined under the towering railroad trestle that cuts across the 31st Street side of WXPN. They’d driven up from a gig the previous night in D.C., were scheduled to play NonCOMM in a few short hours, and decided to take advantage of the agreeable weather to get some R&R on a blanket of green grass under the expanse of rust-orange steel, a curious intersection of post-industrial urbanism and the more verdant natural world.

Patterson’s music functions in a similar way. Continue reading →

By

The Key Presents: The Districts

The Districts | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com
The Districts | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

“It’s a long way down from the top to the bottom,” laments Rob Grote in 2014’s “Young Blood.” Perhaps he’s warding against some sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. Weaving humility into the very fibres of his songwriting, he finds a great strength in weakness. But it’s not as simple as just putting pen to page. Being kind is something that comes second nature to The Districts. Even after releasing a record that garnered praise everywhere from tiny blogs to Rolling Stone, and sharing stages with legends like The (actual) Rolling Stones, they still remain the same sweaty, smiling boys I saw absolutely crushing basement shows, a couple of years back. Continue reading →

By

The Key Presents: Saintseneca

Saintseneca's Zac Little | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/
Saintseneca’s Zac Little | Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/

“I write all the songs that I want to write,” says Saintseneca‘s Zac Little as we’re walking around on the Reading Viaduct, “so why would I need another band?” While many of his bandmates moonlight in other projects — All Dogs, Yowler, The Sidekicks, to name a few, these are not unknown bands in the slightest — Zac feels fulfilled in one sphere. One whole cloth.

It’s a philosophy that Zac takes into his songwriting, as well. Anything can be profound, everything is valuable in the right light. A question like “How Many Blankets Are In The World?” might seem inane, but in Little’s hands it finds meaning beyond measure. Continue reading →