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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Chris Zak’s 5 Tracks that Induced Synesthesia in 2014

Frank Bowling's FIshes
Frank Bowling’s FIshes

Year-End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2014 awesome. In this installment, Key contributor Chris Zakorchemny shares five colorful songs he heard this year.

These five electronic tracks are less about the pulse of a beat, and more how electronic music would look if it was a Frank Bowling painting.

Synesthesia is a medical term describing the activation of one sense coming from the activation of another sense. That could mean looking at a photo and perceiving an audible element to it, or the inverse. Some musicians who have synesthesia describe being able to visually organize the music they create, or distinguish the colors of melodies. Wassily Kandinsky famously created paintings that were representations of music.

My initial thought for this list was to try to describe these five artists as sound collagists, but once I googled the phrase, I realized it was already a thing. Motherboard and the multi-talented Samantha Urbani (of various great bands) came up with it first. The following tracks are about the big picture coming from the smallest details. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Bruce Warren’s Best of Philly Music 2014

Amanda X: Tiff Yoon, Cat Park, Kat Bean | Photo by Peter Murray | petermurrayphotography.com
Amanda X: Tiff Yoon, Cat Park, Kat Bean | Photo by Peter Murray | petermurrayphotography.com

Year-End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2014 awesome. In this installment, XPN Program Director Bruce Warren weighs in on the 2014 Philly music scene.

We thought 2013 was a fantastic year for the Philly music scene, however 2014 proved to be even better. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Dotun Akintoye’s 50 best songs of 2014

Young Thug appears five times in various forms on Dotun's list | photo via facebook.com/youngthugmusic
Young Thug appears five times in various forms on Dotun’s list | photo via facebook.com/youngthugmusic

Year-End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2014 awesome. In this installment, Key contributor Dotun Akintoye shares his 50 best songs of 2014.

There was more pleasurable music than any sane person could consume this year, so when something caught my attention, I made a little note. I’ve narrowed those notes down to these 50 tracks. Some unwittingly fulfill my post hoc arbitrary categories; sharpest top 40 hit (“Girls Chase Boys”) street/cyberspace surprise of the year (“Hot N*gga”), some I regard as the standouts from much heralded albums (“Huey Newton,” “Suffering”), some are standouts from neglected albums (“The Brink,” “Anthem”), others are relatively obscure one-offs (“Timbuktu”), all are songs I thought or argued about, tried to foist on others with varying levels of success, danced to or sang/rapped with, and played repeatedly in a year when that meant missing the latest jam du jour. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Maura Filoromo’s Five Favorite Philly Releases of 2014

Tutlie | Photo by Debbie Zak Cohen | dkzak.com
Tutlie | Photo by Debbie Zak Cohen | dkzak.com

Year-End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2014 awesome. In this installment, Key contributor Maura Filoromo shares her favorite Philly records of the year.

This has been a great year in Philly music and for so many genres! Bad Canoes and Allison Crutchfield’s solo album are among the best Philly debut releases this year. It’s amazing how much the scene has grown. So much music was cranked out locally in this year alone and Philly is showing the country what we’ve always been: a major hub of talented bands and artists. While the scene doesn’t get the national notoriety of say New York or Austin, we’re getting there. Just like our bud SEPTA! These are my Top 5 Philly releases of 2014 that are poised to get the attention of the nation’s ear. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Helen Leicht’s Favorite Albums of 2014

via Rubyworks Records
via Rubyworks Records

Year-End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2014 awesome. In this installment, XPN’midday host Helen Leicht shares her favorite records of the year.

How can I possibly pick only five favorite albums of 2014?? But I must, so if you or your friends are looking to explore some new music from this past year, here is what I would suggest…. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Julian Booker’s Standout Singer-Songwriter albums of 2014

Album Art for Dawn Landes' Bluebird
Album Art for Dawn Landes’ Bluebird

Year-End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2014 awesome. In this installment, XPN’s Sleepy Hollow host Julian Booker shares singer-songwriter records that impressed him this year.

5. Diane Cluck – Boneset (Important Records)

Anti-folk, freak-folk..these terms seem to come up constantly when discussing the work of Diane Cluck, finding comparisons with the early work of fellow singer/songwriters like Joanna Newsom and Alela Diane. But in a year that saw excellent new releases from folk-tinged pioneers Linda Perhacs and Vashti Bunyan, it is best to consider Cluck in company with this class of artists who can’t be categorized–a solitary songwriter completely in control of her artistic destiny. Don’t miss her “Why Feel Alone?” Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Rachel Barrish’s Favorite Crowd Shots of 2014

Pissed Jeans | Photo by Rachel Barrish | rachelbarrish.com
Pissed Jeans | Photo by Rachel Barrish | rachelbarrish.com

Year-End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2014 awesome. In this installment, contributing photographer Rachel Barrish shares her favorite crowd shots of the year.

So, before I decided I wanted to work in music, I wanted to study people. Their quirks, their wants and desires, why they do the things they do and where those actions come from. Psychology, ya know? Photographing a concert is way more than just getting the perfect angle of the vocalist at the mic, it’s also about the crowd. Concert-goers and festival attendees are what make these events so memorable. How people react to a certain band is super interesting, whether it’s a pop punk band and people are screaming their lungs out, crowd surfing and stage diving, or a favorite singer/songwriter belting out those meaningful, soothing lyrics, feeling like you’re “one with the music” is part of the experience. People are priceless, fans are priceless. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Chris Sikich’s Top Live Experiences Outside of Philadelphia

Jack White | Photo by Chris SIkich | countfeed.tumblr.com
Jack White | Photo by Chris SIkich | countfeed.tumblr.com

Year-End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2014 awesome. In this installment, contributing photographer Chris Sikich shares five outstanding concerts he saw out of town.

I love seeing shows in Philly, but many opportunities are taken to see music outside of the city. Below are five of my top live experiences outside of the confines of Philadelphia. Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Michaela Majoun’s Women’s Music Hour favorites of 2014

Marian Hill | Photo by Michelle Montgomery | michellemontgomeryphotography.com
Marian Hill | Photo by Michelle Montgomery | michellemontgomeryphotography.com

Year-End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2014 awesome. In this installment, XPN Morning Show Host Michaela Majoun shares songs that stood out on her Women’s Music Hour.

Terrific Australian songwriters with spot on delivery:

Allo Darlin’ (Elizabeth Morris) “Heartbeat” Continue reading →

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The Key’s Year-End Mania: Bruce Warren’s 5 favorite albums of the year

Field Report | Photo by Brittany Salerno
Field Report | Photo by Brittany Salerno

Year-End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2014 awesome. In this installment, XPN program director Bruce Warren shares his favorite albums of the year.

There’s always this internal debate I have with myself about year-end lists, and it’s always this battle between whether I should go with “best” or “favorite.” “Best” is usually saved for the “critics;” which is not to say I am one or not. I’ll leave it to the Pitchforks, the New York Times and the Robert Christgaus of the world to attach some higher level of artistic and cultural significance and importance to records.

But in so many ways, I am a critic. I just don’t use big words. Music is “best” when it has singular appeal to anyone who wants to say “this is the best album of the year,” or “this album is one of the top five albums of the year.” You see, everyone’s right and everyone’s wrong when it comes to what “the best” is. When it comes to my albums of the year, I typically list the records that are my favorite. Are they the best? Sure they are; to me anyway. And if for some reason some of my favorites hit the critics year end polls as “the best” (in a music critic kind of way) then I guess I get bonus points. So here they are: My favorite five albums that entered into my musical universe in 2014. Continue reading →