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Red Bull Sound Select: See Who’s Playing

Sugar Tongue Slim | Photo by John Vettese
Sugar Tongue Slim | Photo by John Vettese

The Red Bull Sound Select is an live music series sponsored by the wing-dispensing energy drink company it’s named for, in an effort to promote new music and artists in emerging genres and styles. The concert series happens all over the United States and presents lineups consisting of up-and-coming artists alongside national names. This Saturday, September 27th, the Sound Select series, curated for this show by Jump Magazine, brings a varied group of artists, each known for their own unique “spin” on hip-hop, to Underground Arts. The lineup consists of instrumental hip-hop producing and djing icon RJD2, slick-lipped Philly boy  and “GOLD”-affiliated rapper Sugar Tongue Slim, and the Philly minimal electro-funk/soul/jazz/hip-hop/so-many-other-things duo known as Marian Hall. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Sugar Tongue Slim

It’s very fitting that the words “Poet Laureate” are tattooed on Sugar Tongue Slim‘s neck. The charismatic Philly rapper has a way with words, a gift of gab, and it plays tremendously into his music and his persona. Continue reading →

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Preaching to the Choir: The Hold Steady rock Underground Arts

Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/
Photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | http://jeremy-zim.com/

Craig Finn was at a solid 8 out of 10 by the time he hit the stage. If anyone knows a thing or two about Killer Parties, it’s Finn and the rest of The Hold Steady. The atmosphere in the dingy basement bar that is Underground Arts was intense, and many of the loyal fans packed into the space had followed Craig’s lead to join in the Monday-funday. Continue reading →

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: The Hold Steady at Underground Arts, Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 at Union Transfer

The Hold Steady photo courtesy of the artist
The Hold Steady | via facebook.com/TheHoldSteady

Following up on their XPoNential Music Festival set this summer, XPN favorites The Hold Steady will headline a 21+ show tonight at Underground Arts. The Brooklyn-based band most recently released its sixth studio album, Teeth Dreams, back in March and will be showcasing the new music -  check out this performance of “I Hope This Whole Thing Didn’t Frighten You” from their appearance on Conan in July – as well as old favorites like “Your Little Hoodrat Friend” and “Stuck Between Stations.” Tonight is sure to be a fantastic show. Tickets are $20 and can be found via the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →

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Watch TJ Kong and the Atomic Bomb’s irreverent new video for “Don’t Come Home Pretty Woman”

TJ Kong and the Atomic Bomb | Photo by Caitlin McCann | demdogdays.tumblr.com
Photo by Caitlin McCann | demdogdays.tumblr.com

A wedding ceremony goes irreverently awry in the latest video from Philly’s TJ Kong and the Atomic Bomb. The tragicomic short was filmed at Gloria Dei / Old Swede’s Church in Fishtown by Caitlin McCann – whose work has previously been featured on The Key in a music video by Pine Barons and photos of Katie Frank and the Pheromones – and stars a few names from the Philly theater scene. Continue reading →

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Parquet Courts, White Fence (playing UA 10/21), & Speedy Ortiz (playing OK Fest 8/2) releasing benefit singles

LAMC vh1 save the music artwork

Since 2012, the Famous Class LAMC series has been releasing 7″ splits from “under-recognized artists” to contribute to the Ariel Panero Memorial Fund at VH1 Save The Music. LAMC’s announced their next three hand-picked artists, which include White Fence, Parquet Courts and Speedy Ortiz.

On each split, the selected artist contributes an unreleased track and then handpicks another artist to appear on the B-side. So far, White Fence is first to put out a track, “Nero (Has A Lot To Think About),” which features LA’s Jack Name on the B-side with “Belly Full of Blood.” This split is due out September 2nd.

The second split, out September 16th, has a track from Parquet Courts called “This Is Happening Now,” and the Brooklyn boys have chosen fellow Brooklynites Future Punx to grace the B-side with “Spike Train.”

And last but not least, Speedy Ortiz will release a track called “Doomsday” for their split, which is coming out October 7th. The B-side single, “I Took it Off a Record,” comes from VT singer-songwriter Chris Weisman.

You can see White Fence performing at Underground Arts on October 21st with King Grizzard & The Lizard Wizard (information is on our concert calendar here), and Speedy Ortiz will be performing on Day 2 of OK Fest at Golden Tea House on August 2nd. Go here for the full OK Fest line-up. All the LAMC singles will be available to download on Famous Class’s Bandcamp page here upon release. Below, you can listen to the tracks from the White Fence/Jack Name split.

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BANKS brings her addictive material and incredible stage presence to Underground Arts

Banks | Photo by Cameron Pollack
Banks | Photo by Cameron Pollack

Hot off an expansive USA & UK tour with The Weeknd, and anticipating the release of her debut album Goddess this September, LA Alt-R&B songwriter BANKS stopped by Underground Arts this past Saturday. BANKS first hit my radar last October, when she stopped in Philly with The Weeknd and Anna Lunoe at the Susquehanna Bank Center. I bought her London EP, and marveled at the instrumentation, songwriting, and sheer expansiveness of her sound, despite the fact that she hadn’t even put out a full-length album. I have admired BANKS from that point forward, and her music has stayed on my rotation since.

When I discovered I was able to cover her Underground Arts show, I was under the impression that I would receive the same BANKS that I had been listening to for the past nine months: unique, intricate R&B songwriting and excellent Erykah Badu-esque vocals. While I certainly got both of these things this past Saturday, what I received in addendum was an incredible display of stage presence, especially from an R&B singer, powerhouse vocals during every chorus, and a two-piece backing band doing the job of at least 4 band members. Highlights from the evening included the chorus of “Brain,” in which BANKS belted her heart out to the crowd and the crowd belted right back, her refreshing cover of Aaliyah’s 1998 hit “Are You That Somebody?,” and her amped up version of “Drowning,” a a track off her upcoming September debut.

At the end of the night, I left Underground Arts certainly impressed, but also hopeful for BANKS’ future; if she continues on the trajectory she’s currently on, she is extremely well-poised to take her place among the ranks of songwriters such as Lana Del Rey, Sky Ferreira, and Lorde, and potentially surpass them, both in songwriting and vocal talent. Having been nominated both for BBC’s Sound of 2014 and for MTV’s Brand New award prior to dropping a full-length album, I certainly think we’ll be seeing a good deal more of BANKS in the future.

Joining BANKS was seapunk producer/curator Jerome LOL, who treated early birds to an ethereal set of indie electronica laced with equal parts deep house, syncopated 808 percussion, and expansive vocoder synthesizer.