The Key Studio Sessions: Spill

For the members of Lancaster indie rock crew Spill, this is their second go as a band, but very much informed by their first. The four-piece is made up of members of howling punk rock outfits Placeholder and We Were Skeletons, both of which went hard on the DIY touring circuit, landing on house shows and festivals, in some ways becoming better known in other corners of the country than they were back home. But life as a musician is easy for nobody, and when Placeholder’s set at FEST 13 – one of their final shows – pretty much consisted of frontman Brandon Gepfer playing acoustic in a courtyard, it seemed that a turning of the tide was in motion.

Enter Spill, which emerged in March with an incredible track called “Sucks Either Way.” It took a more melodic, fuzz-rock direction in the vein of Pavement, Nirvana and Weezer. Thanks to strong support from the Brooklyn Vegan crew right out the gate, the new band got their name out there in a big way, following it up with a lively music video. Lyrically, though, the song explores the flipside of creative life versus nine-to-five live in grim detail. Continue reading →


The Key Studio Sessions: Plainview

The latest band to emerge from the fertile grounds surrounding Drexel University’s Music Industry program is Plainview, and it has had a productive 2015. Fronted the enthusiastic Jeremy Berkin on vocals and guitar, the uber-catchy pop punk outfit also features drummer Dan Siper, lead guitarist Josh Leib and Lauren Altman (a Key intern) on bass. Their well-received debut I’ve Seen This Before was recorded in the winter and released in the spring, along with an infectious music video for “Ten Feet Tall.” The band undertook a spring tour with fellow Philadelphians Mike Pays Heat and is hunkering down again this winter to record its full length record, but not before stopping by WXPN to preview new music for The Key Studio Sessions. Continue reading →


The Key Studio Sessions: Hezekiah Jones

Raphael Cutrufello has been making music under the Hezekiah Jones banner for the better part of a decade, mixing compelling narrative songwriting with dynamic roots-rock arrangements. At its quietest, Raph would be a dead ringer for Jackson Browne or Tim Buckley; at its most propulsive, he reaches for Sixteen Horsepower and Neil Young heights. And if he ever gets burnt out on the whole music grind, I could see Cutrufello finding a second career as a Faulknerian novelist. Continue reading →


The Key Studio Sessions: The Rentiers

The Rentiers | Photo by John Vettese
The Rentiers | Photo by John Vettese
I kept getting titles and lyrics wrong when The Rentiers recorded a Key Session with me this month, so much that frontman Joel Tannenbaum felt the need to apologize. “Everything winds up being word games with me,” he said.

On the contrary, his way with words are exactly what make The Rentiers a band to hear. Continue reading →


The Key Studio Sessions: Worldtown Soundsystem

Worldtown Soundsystem in  the WXPN Studio | Photo courtesy of the artist
Worldtown Soundsystem in the WXPN Studio | Photo courtesy of the artist

We’ve recorded hundreds of Philly musicians for The Key Studio sessions over the past five years. A span of genres. Bands made up of old friends and family members as readily as bands who met online. Nevertheless, with everything under our belt, Philly’s Worldtown Soundsystem – which has been operating out of Fishtown’s Boom Room Studios for a few years now – managed to nab two firsts in their appearance this week. Continue reading →


The Key Studio Sessions: RoseMary Fiki

Philly singer and songwriter RoseMary Fiki defies easy categorization. Her songs dynamically blend dancefloor-ready funk, groove-oriented soul, and a lot of in-your-face rock and roll. You’ll hear aching romantic ballads alongside fierce punk blasts with rapped breakdowns. A charisma machine, Fiki embodies all these styles, and has been working crowds from various Philly stages for the past three years.

This April, Fiki put out The Great Unknown, her latest EP and most refined effort to date. It pushes the flashy production of earlier tracks to the side to bring focus onto her songwriting, and with her three-piece backing band - Naeemah Maddox on guitar, Lucien Dowdell on bass and Adam Brooks on drums -  these songs come to life both on record and in the studio for this week’s Key Session.  Continue reading →


The Key Studio Sessions: Myrrias

Psychedelic rock powerhouse Myrrias is a Philadelphia indie scene supergroup of sorts. Mikele Edwards of Arc in Round (and, going further back, Relay) fronts the band with hypnotic vocals and immersive keyboard lines. On guitar, April Harkanson of The Downtown Club explores atmospheric spaces and gripping leads; on bass, Emily Robb of Louie Louie (and Lantern) adds a rhythmic low end; both add entrancing vocal harmonies to the mix, driven forth by primal drumbeats from Casey Bell of Break it Up.

Their resumes are an undeniable part of the story; were it not for their respective places in the Philadelphia scene, these four musicians may have never connected. But that’s only part of the story, since the music they make together far transcends the whole “featuring members of” thing. Continue reading →


The Key Studio Sessions: Rosu Lup

Philly’s Rosu Lup has existed in a few different forms over the past three years. There’s the haunting, minimal trio that caught our ear with the Currents EP in the spring of 2013, and there’s the orchestra-backed band that recorded a Folkadelphia session that fall. There’s the explosive chamber-pop outfit that delivered moving existential ruminations from regional stages, and there’s the current configuration that recorded this week’s Key Studio Session. The Rosu Lup of today is a tightly-practiced five-piece with an affinity for spectral synthesizer lines and a bit of Springsteeny-ness by way of The War on Drugs. Continue reading →


The Key Studio Sessions: Darla

The more musicians there are in a band, the more unwieldy it can get. Such is conventional wisdom, anyway; I’ve often heard the leaders of sextet-and-up acts describe organizing gigs and practice sessions with the “herding cats” trope. That’s not the case with Darla, though – quite the opposite. The seven-piece has its game remarkably together, bucking the trend and making a noticeable impression on the local live music scene over the past year and change with fierce tracks and tireless gigs.

Formed in the music community surrounding Drexel University, Darla is an ultimate party band: an instantly likeable combination of funk, jazz and expansive jams. Continue reading →


The Key Studio Sessions: Joie Kathos and Armani White

Joie Kathos and DJ Bear One | Photo by John Vettese

Like I said the other day: one thing Philly music industry startup RECphilly is amazing at is inspiring artists to collaborate. We saw that happen the first time we worked with them on a live audience Key Studio Session this summer; we saw it happen in a bigger way the second time around, which we present to you today.

Featuring an intimate crowd of about 50 fans and two rising stars of the Philly hip-hop scene, Joie Kathos and Armani White (plus a set from Milton and his band, which we’ll release a little later this fall), it was a hugely positive night of charismatic performance and impressive skill. And that’s before the improv cypher even began. Continue reading →