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The Key Studio Sessions: Thin Lips

Before Thin Lips, there was Dangerous Ponies. Frontwoman and songwriter Chrissy Tashjian, her brother Mikey on the drums and bassist Kyle Pulley were all part of Philly’s premiere indie rock carnival from 2008 till about 2013. That band was a total blast and a spectacle; glitter, brightly colored costumes, singalong hooks, big arrangements. When that crew split, Tashjian refocused her energy into a more simplified, straightforward punk rock direction. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: HighKick

Philly rock and roll four-piece HighKick had a solid 2014. In June, the guys released Normal View, their latest EP and a big step forward in terms of hooks and production. They toured this summer into the fall, and are wrapping up the year the way they have for the past six years: with the annual HighKixMas variety show at World Cafe Live on December 21st. Though it’s seasonally themed on the one hand – and they do have a double-time version of “Rudolph” with some killer guitar work – the band also has a good assortment of non-holiday jams that we hope fall in the mix as well. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Tinmouth

Fittingly, I first had a conversation with Tinmouth‘s Timothy Tebordo at a house show. It was the first night of OK Fest at Golden Tea House this summer, and Tebordo wound up standing near my wife and I; he recognized us from having been at a couple of his own concerts, and we killed time between sets talking about music.

His band has a very distinct, vintage DIY sound; it draws from influential artists that would have been playing the Golden Tea Houses of the early 80s. In their Key Studio Session, you’ll hear a sharp Mission of Burma and Gang of Four edge (“Same Noise”), a catchy Yo La Tengo-style sense of pop (“Prevent Defense”), and a bit of R.E.M. contemplation (“What More Can I Say?,” which nods lyrically to “Pretty Persuasion” and on which Tebordo’s voice sounds positively Michael Stipe-ian). Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Ill Fated Natives

We don’t know a tremendous amount about Philly’s Ill Fated Natives – they’re very new to the Philly music scene – but we can tell you with no uncertainty that they rock, and they rock hard. The local power trio is made up of drummer “Joey Stix” Pointer, singer-guitarist O. Thompson and bassist Bets Charmelus. They first caught our ear in April with their debut single, a bluesy slow-burn called “That Don’t Mean I Don’t Love You.” Our Katrina Murray described the single as “tough love at its finest.” Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Dark Blue

While setting up for his Key Studio Session, John Sharkey III of Dark Blue remarked that he’d just revisited some of his old Psychedelic Furs records. “People keep comparing my voice to Richard Butler, so I figured I should listen,” he said. “Man. They wrote some fantastic songs.” While it might be a stretch to call Dark Blue a direct descendent of the Furs – or any post punk band specific, despite what your Joy Division meter might be telling you – one commonality they share is placing mood and ambiance at an equal level of importance as tight songwriting. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: You Do You

As I was saying yesterday, funky Philly five-piece You Do You are true party rockers. I don’t necessarily mean that in the LMFAO sense, but it’s not too far off, in that these eclectic music heads from Pennsport take a wide assortment of sounds and styles – from disco to jam rock – mix them in the proverbial blender set to puree and cut the results with a healthy dose of Sly Fox. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: No Stranger

I first caught Jonathan Cooney onstage in the basement of the First Unitarian Church in the spring, performing a set as No Stranger at one of music / education nonprofit The Quarterly’s fundraising showcases. It seemed, in a peculiar way, like I’d been transported to a Church show some ten or fifteen years earlier. Cooney’s style – intricate, acrobatic guitar playing with soaring and emotive vocals – is firmly rooted in the emo / acoustic era of the early thousands, stuff like Jonah Matranga, The Weakerthans, Elliott Smith, Bright Eyes and so on. It’s bittersweet, sensitive, contemplative and totally engaging. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Mumblr

There’s a distinct feeling of raw energy on Full of Snakes, the debut LP from Philly fuzz-punk four-piece Mumblr. That’s the sound of a band that doesn’t overthink things when it’s recording, that doesn’t get lost in assembling its songs from pieces of pristine takes; it’s the sound of a band that kicks ass live first, makes great records second. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Son Little

One of the first things you’re likely to hear about Philly’s Son Little is its pedigree. The trio is primarily the songwriting project of singer-guitarist Aaron Livingston, who in the past has collaborated with The Roots and RJD2. Musical adventurers both, for certain, but those names as a point of reference doesn’t really clue you in to how expressive and eclectic his own songwriting is. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Dirty Dollhouse

I was hungover the first time I saw Dirty Dollhouse, but thankfully, so were they. It was a Saturday afternoon this spring, I had been out late at a show the night before. Sluggish and disoriented, I made my way to Bucks County’s East Coast Recording with my buddy Dan McGurk from Root Down in the Shadow to watch singer-songwriters Chelsea Mitchell, Amber Twait and Vanessa Winters perform during the studio’s short-lived afternoon concert series; one of the first things Mitchell did was apologize if they sounded off, as the band was also reeling from a whiskey and beer-fueled photo shoot, and were fending off colds to boot. Nonsense: they sounded remarkable, and their resounding Nashville-style harmonies worked wonders on my throbbing head. It was one of those rare perfect musical afternoons, and as the setlist wound into a country-folk spin on Wheatus’ “Teenage Dirtbag,” I found myself an instantly-converted fan. Continue reading →