By

The Key Studio Sessions: Vince Tampio Quintet

Philly trumpeter Vince Tampio made a funny observation while we were setting up for his Quintet’s Key session: he’s recorded at WXPN studios so many times that his phone automatically connects to our wifi.

It’s true. In recent years alone, Tampio has sat in on sessions with Johnny Showcase, You Do You, Heyward Howkins and York Street Hustle. Outside of our walls, Tampio has performed onstage or on record with Allison Polans, OhBree, Impressionist, Red 40 and the Last Groovement and John Byrne Band. Basically he’s the go-to cross-genre horn-blowing utility man of the Philly scene, but this year he’s been revisiting his jazz roots.

In January, Tampio released a new album with his Quintet, Live at PAFA — an improvised concert recorded in October of 2016 in the rotunda of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. The resonant walls of the room gave the performance an atmospheric tinge as sounds and styles collided from the jazz world and beyond. I was so impressed by the record, I invited Tampio and the group in our studio to record. Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
By

The Key Studio Sessions: Stinking Lizaveta

Twenty-two years, eight albums, an unquantifiable number of nimble guitar leads and drum fills, and Philadelphia instrumental metal trio Stinking Lizaveta is going strong as ever. Comprised of Yanni Papadopoulos on lead guitar, Alexi Papadopoulos on bass and Cheshire Agusta on drums, the band releases its latest outing, Journey to the Underworld, this week via Translation Loss Records. Tonight, they headline Johnny Brenda’s to celebrate.
Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
By

The Key Studio Sessions: Pinkwash

While we were setting up microphones and amplifiers in the XPN studio, I chatted with Pinkwash singer-guitarist Joey Doubek about shooting video of the band’s performance. “Oh, that’d be great!” he said. “Because y’know, I think our uncompromising live show is where we really shine.” We laughed — his statement was certainly tongue-in-cheek, a bit of fun poked at some music writing phraseology that gets applied to the heavy Philly duo again and again.

But there’s repetition for a reason. D.C. natives and longtime friends Doubek and drummer Ashley Arnwine are indeed a force when they perform at shows. The power of complex rhythms and intricate riffs, performed at a racing sprint at the nexus of prog and punk; Doubek yelling into the mic in a Robert Plant falsetto before switching gears into headbanging, Arwine franticly darting her head in every which direction depending on which part of the kit she’s laying into…between all of that, it’s virtually impossible to watch Pinkwash play and feel unmoved.
Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
By

The Key Studio Sessions: Resilient

Philly rock outfit Resilient hit The Key’s radar this winter with a powerful and superfun music video about problematic creeper dudebos, and it was definitely a moment of realization. A moment, more bluntly, of “Good lord, how the heck have I slept on this band??” So apologies to Erin Fox on vocals and guitar, Katie Fox on drums and Alicia Dickerson on bass for being late to the party. That said, the part of me that grew up on rugged minor key riffs and distortion pedal rock of Jane’s Addiction and Babes in Toyland is super pumped that I made the discovery all the same.
Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
By

The Key Studio Sessions: Ill Doots

Philly collective ILL DOOTS has got to be one of the most creative forces at work on the local hip-hop scene right now.

Picture, if you will, a meeting ground between Hardwork Movement’s expansive big band arrangements (ten multi-instrumental members!) and non-stop hustle (ILL DOOTS’ Fourth Fridays at their Tasker House home base are always poppin’) with the ambitious, interdisciplinary performing arts outlook of musicians like Kate Faust (the band notably soundtracked a production of An Octoroon at the Wilma Theater last year) and you’re well on your way there. It’s no coincidence, in that sense, that ILL DOOTS were featured alongside both those artists on the sold-out opening lineup of Key Fest 2016, and we’re psyched to bring their vibes in the studio today.
Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
By

The Key Studio Sessions: Jesse Hale Moore

The thing about the retro R&B aesthetic that’s surfaced in the indie rock universe over the past five or so years: so many people do it at a merely superficial level. They do it out of irony, they do it to look cool, they do it for funsies. I won’t name names, but if you know what I mean, you probably know who I mean. And you know that Philadelphia’s Jesse Hale Moore is not one of those people.

This singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has a deep appreciation of not only the smooth and suave style of late 80s / early 90s pop, but also the songcraft that lies beneath. Whether your reference points are Sade and Luther Vandross or the more contemporary James Blake, Moore genuinely loves this music, and it shows in Green End, the record he’ll release on April 7th.
Continue reading →

By

The Key Studio Sessions: Maitland

Last time we caught up with Central Pennsylvania’s Josh Hines, he was deep in the minimalist folk era of his ongoing songwriting outlet Maitland. The project has always existed in two forms, as I noted at the time: the multi-instrumental configuration Hines records with and brings out for shows on occasion, and the solo SoHo-inspired folkie that was making the rounds much more frequently in 2014.

As I wrote of the latter approach, which recorded Maitland’s first Key Studio Session: “It’s music that, in this most minimal of arrangements, sounds complete, but at the same time you’ll hear how Maitland the band might build on this foundation.”

Flash forward two and a half years, and the band does just that in Maitland’s return to the Key Studio Sessions.
Continue reading →

Support for The Key Studio Sessions, from Dogfish Head
By

The Key Studio Sessions: Weller

Philly DIY scene dudes Weller are a wealth of knowledge, musical and otherwise. When the band — Alex Held on drums, Evan Clark Moorehead on bass and Harrison Nantz on guitar and vocals — came by to record their Key Studio Session last month, their soundcheck jams gave way to impromptu performances of Boston’s “More Than A Feeling” and Kansas’ “Carry On My Wayward Son.” Very unexpected, very fun.

Similarly, when I caught them live at Everybody Hits back back in the fall, Moorehead rolled out a banter shtick he used on Weller’s election season tour; he proclaimed that he could shit talk any president in U.S. history, and asked if anybody in the crowd could stump him. Someone screamed “TAFT!” — where the obvious slag would be “so large he got stuck in a White House bathtub” — but instead Moorehead didn’t take the low-hanging fruit and dove into a more nuanced dig at the 27th president’s economic policy and other spates of bad luck and irony from early 20th century. Again, not what I was expecting, and kind of hysterical in the context of a rock show.

So in short, Weller are a bunch of characters, and great guys to be around. But they’re also a tight band, the latest in a community of tight bands to rise out of the Philly basement scene.
Continue reading →

By

The Key Studio Sessions: Eight

Has there ever been a scientific study on levels of happiness, productivity and general life-fulfillment in multiple-band musicians versus single-band musicians? My hypothesis is the more outlets an artist has, the merrier, and I’d offer Philly’s Eight as a case study.

The indie rock power trio is led by the immediately recognizable voice of guitarist Mimi Gallagher, who just came off a couple super fun years with Year of Glad and NONA. On bass and backing vocals is Cat Park, who also devotes a lot of waking hours to co-fronting Amanda X. Possibly the busiest of the bunch is Pat Brier on drums, who concurrently keeps the beat in Three Man Cannon and writes the songs in Queen Jesus. They’re mad busy people, but they were an absolute joy to work with for their Key Studio Session. Continue reading →

By

The Key Studio Sessions: Creepoid

After eight years, two moves, three lineup reconfigurations and incalculable miles logged on their various tour vans — an incalculable number of tour vans, perhaps — Philadelphia psychedelic punks Creepoid have come full circle.

The four childhood friends who founded the band in the winter of 2009 are the same four adults who rage in the band today. On bass and vocals, Anna Troxell; on guitar and vocals, Sean Miller; on lead guitar, PeteJoe Urban; on drums, Pat Troxell. Their sound has gone from tense-but-subdued (2010’s Yellow Life Giver) to loud (2011’s Horse Heaven, 2014’s Creepoid) to very very loud (2015’s Cemetery Highrise Slum) and back to a dynamic state that embraces moments decidedly subdued — something we hear in this week’s Key Studio Session.

Yes, the amplifiers are cranked — crushingly so, and used brilliantly to sculpt sound in breathtaking ways. “I’m Only,” the first of two new tracks the band debuted in their performance this week, is one of their hardest-hitting songs to date — it hammers right out the gate as syncopated beats, staccato chords and howling string bends pummel their way into a languid and drifting verse. Next to Bardo Pond, Creepoid probably possesses the best understanding of volume and vibe out of anybody we’ve recorded in this series. Continue reading →