Meet Fine Motor: A mysterious pop project from Philadelphia

Fine Motor | Photo by Daniel Morse

There’s a bit of mystique to Fine Motor, a new Philadelphia duo playing its debut show Boot and Saddle tomorrow night. The only existing photo of the band is the blurred window reflection you see above; their only music released to date is a haunting cover of “In Heaven,” aka the radiator lady song from David Lynch’s Eraserhead, which you can watch a video of below. While it might be fun to chase this elusiveness further into a rabbit hole of “nobody has seen their faces by the light of day” / “they record on guitars strung with the hair of ex-lovers” tall-tale band mythology, in reality Fine Motor is made up of two everyday, well-adjusted musicians from the Philly scene.  Continue reading →


Stream “Transmission” by Deathfix, a new project from Fugazi’s Brendan Canty (playing Johnny Brenda’s on 3/15)

Deathfix2WebDeathfix, a collaboration between industry veterans Brendan Canty (Fugazi) and Richard Morel (Morel, Blowoff) released their debut self-titled LP last month on Dischord Records.  Rising out of the deeply rooted DC punk scene, Deathfix has abandoned its primary members’ backgrounds in the hard-hitting arena of Canty’s past bands and the label’s history, opting for a more new-wavey, polished sound on the full-length’s seven tracks.  There are still moments of punk though, like the heavy guitars on lead track “Better Than Bad” or the raw percussion on “Mind Control,” but the edges have been tempered by catchy pop melodies and jaunts into funk (“Dali’s House”) and prog (“Transmission”).  Deathfix plays Johnny Brenda’s on March 15th alongside Dubpixel with Robin Bell and Wigwams.  Tickets and information for the 21+ show can be found here.  Stream “Transmission” below.


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Turning Violet Violet, Greg Laswell, Childish Gambino w/ Danny Brown & Wigwams

Tonight we celebrate the variety of music that is being held in Philadelphia, both by genre and locale. The Fishtown indie / chamber fivesome, Turning Violet Violet released their record Double Cure in May and we were lucky enough to do a Key Studio Session with them around the same time. The album was recorded, produced, engineered and mixed by Jon Low and Brian McTear at Miner Street Recording. John Vettese, writing about the record, said: “The album’s thundering percussion and thrilling crescendos create a immediate sense of urgency, heightened by lyrics that long for simpler times in the face of an uncertain future. Meanwhile, the playing and arrangements sound like exactly what they are: the work of five skilled and studied musicians who are just as epic performing live as they are on record.” They play tonight with The Deer Tracks and Nouela at 9:15 PM at Johnny Brenda’s, tickets are $10 and the show is 21+.

Also playing:
Singer-songwriter Greg Laswell plays with Elizabeth & The Catapult at World Cafe Live Upstairs at 8PM. His new compilation of songs is entitled LandlineGo here to purchase tickets to the all ages show. Below, listen to the song “Landline” that he did with Ingrid Michaelson for the album

Childish Gambino, better known as Donald Glover from the hit NBC comedy, “Community”, performs tonight with Danny Brown at River Stage at Great Plaza-Penn’s Landing. Show starts at 7:30PM, tickets are $35 plus processing fees.

Our final pick for tonight is the indie rock band Wigwams at Kung Fu Necktie. Opening are Mmoths, Tressors and Gull. Showtime is 7PM; tickets to the 21+ show are $10.00


TOMORROW: A dueling DJ set from Wigwams and Tresors on XPN2 (playing Kungfu Necktie on Friday)

Adrien Kanter (left) of Trésors and Dan Morse of Wigwams

Call it the Philly-Paris connection. This weekend, the French indie rock band Trésors plays Kungfu Necktie, opening for local four-piece Wigwams. The friendship between both groups of musicians goes a ways back, though, all the way to a European tour in 2005, and tomorrow night they’ll bring it to the airwaves to guest DJ on XPN2 from 5 to 7 p.m. Dan Morse of Wigwams (who you also saw shredding on the North Star stage in our Break it Up photo recap) joined up with Adrien Kanter and Adrien Durand of Trésors to put together a summer music playlist for the 90-whatever degree heat this week. We’ll hear classic jams from Procal Harum and Black Flag, new music from Liars and Arc in Round, and a couple tracks from our guest DJs own bands to get you psyched for the show on Friday night. Listen in tomorrow night, June 21, at 88.5 HD-2 or beginning at 5 p.m.


Support the Little Berlin/BITBY Kickstarter


Little Berlin is a non-profit arts and community organization founded in 2007. A gallery located in the heart of Kensington, it features local artists curated monthly by a different Little Berlin member. This past year, they received a $10,000 grant from the Knight Foundation to fund the Little Berlin Fairgrounds project, transforming a vacant lot across from the gallery into an open community art space and sculpture garden. The fairgrounds will be designed around featuring live performances, film screenings, children’s workshops, musical events, and more.

To help raise the matching money they need for the Knight Foundation grant, BITBY, Bands in the Backyard, is creating a 12″ vinyl, featuring all of the artists from the monthly series over the past year. Some of the proceeds funded by the vinyl will go towards the fairgrounds project. The acts on the album include: Break it Up, Wigwams, Heyward Howkins, Pet Milk, Oh! Pears, Arc in Round, Faux Slang, Psychic Teens, Ports of Call, Summer Fiction, Blayer Pointdujour, and Streetwalkers.

The kickstarter will run until Monday, July 23rd to raise their goal of $5,000. Watch the video for the kickstarter here. Below, you can watch BITBY videos from: Ports of Call and Oh! Pears


Wigwams’ International EP now available for free download, EP-release show (with Battles) tonight at TLA

Clearly, Wigwams guitarist Brian Sullivan can’t wait for tonight’s show with Battles

Earlier this month, we mentioned that the members of Wigwams had made a pair of songs off their new five-song EP, International, available for download via Bandcamp. Today, the band has just announced that the full EP will be available for free download for the next month. You can listen to and download it for free below.

Wigwams performs with Battles, Nisennenmondai, and Strawberry Mansion DJs at 7 p.m. at Theatre Of Living Arts; tickets to the all-ages show are $27.


Listen to two new songs off Wigwams’ upcoming International EP

Wigwams has just released a pair of songs from its upcoming EP, International, via Bandcamp. The quartet—which recently performed at The Philly F/M Festival BBQ Concert—features Daniel Morse (also of Break It Up) and Brian Sullivan on guitars/vocals, Jason Strohl on bass, and Phil Sutton on drums. The five-song EP was recorded by Morse at Uniform Recording, Viking Mills, and his home; former guitarist Andy Schulz’s parts were recorded by Dan Johnstone at 22 Studios Bellefonte. The band will celebrate the EP’s official release on October 31st when it opens for Battles at TLA. (Thanks to Dan for sending this our way.)


Interview: Jen Sperling, Casey Bell, and Dan Morse of Break It Up

Break It Up has yet to play its first official show as a band, but it’s already one our favorite new local acts. Just last week, the trio—which features Jen Sperling (ex-Conversations With Enemies) and Dan Morse (current Wigwams) on guitar and vocals, and Casey Bell bell on drums—released its debut song via Bandcamp. The song, titled “Excavate,” is a guitar-driven, hook-laden throwback to some of the band’s ’90s indie/riot-grrrl influences—and it’s been on steady rotation here in the office since we first heard it. Prior to Break It Up’s inaugural performance (this Sunday night at Kung Fu Necktie with Sub Pop’s Male Bonding), The Key spoke with the members of the band about the their musical roots, getting out of one’s own comfort zone, and the importance of a having a good editor.

The Key: So, Jen—before forming Break It Up, you and Casey played together in the band Creatures Of Prey, correct?

Jen Sperling: You dug up Creatures Of Prey, did you?

TK: You mentioned it in an email.

JS: Oh, did I? [Laughs.]

TK: Specifically, you said that Break It Up “actually started as an all-female five-piece super-group that played under the name Creatures Of Prey.”

Casey Bell: I had put an ad on Craigslist looking for other female musicians with the goal of starting an all-female band. Jen was one of the first people who responded, and we hit it off immediately. We had a musical chemistry, and both of us had wanted to start an all-girl band. With Creatures Of Prey…we were playing music with our friends and it was a lot of fun, but we hadn’t found the direction that either of us wanted.

JS: Individually everyone in Creatures Of Prey was incredibly talented, but as a group our creative process was always to keep adding things on. So when we recorded, we specifically asked Dan to come in with fresh ears and help us focus that tendency. It was definitely a turning point for us to have someone taking on that critical role of “editor,” but it was more that he proved to have a gift for removing extraneous bits and moving things around…We lost some members around the time we were recording with Dan, and he had such great ideas, we asked him to join.

TK: What were some of Dan’s “great ideas” in the studio?

CB: [Laughs] Dan’s just a really great songwriter. Songwriting, simplifying, and getting to the point in a really interesting way. I feel like we kind of have a tendency to meander.

JS: One of Dan’s strengths, from my perspective, is as an arranger. When he was recording Creatures Of Prey, he was acting more in a producer role. The one song that carried over to this band is a song called “Architect,” which Casey actually wrote on guitar. It was more of a folk song almost. It was a lot slower, and it kind of meandered a little bit. And Dan had some ideas to turn it more into of a, uh, rock anthem. [Laughs.] Well, maybe not a “rock anthem.” It’s a rock song, but it’s definitely one of the more ballad-y songs that we play. And it’s always a lot of fun for us to play it for that reason. I don’t know. What were your great ideas, Dan?

Dan Morse: Um… [Laughs.]

TK: Complete silence.

JS: We all have talents in this band. With Creatures Of Prey, we really wanted everyone’s great ideas in every part all the time. And I think that there’s a lot more editing now that it’s just the three of us. It’s a smaller group. There are fewer opinions, and more decision making…And by working together we discovered that we liked and respected each other’s talents and could help each other grow as musicians and songwriters. So at a certain point our all-girl aspirations just became irrelevant, because we were writing music that we felt excited about and compelled by—which is why we had started Creatures Of Prey to begin with. The open, collaborative environment we value has been maintained; we’re just writing much more concise songs.

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