Download The Key Studio Sessions Vol. 6 (feat. Reef the Lost Cauze, Kingsfoil, Bad Braids + more)

The latest edition of our Key Studio Sessions compilations is out today – now streamable and downloadable from Soundcloud! Check out highlights from fall of 2012 with The Key Studio Sessions Vol. 6, including some hard-hitting hip-hop from Ethel Cee and Reef the Lost Cauze, expressive Americana from The Districts, bright pop-rock from Kingsfoil, dense shoegaze from Nothing and more. Special thanks to guest engineer Chris Williams and production assistants Beth Ann Downey, Fred Knittel, Madeleine Lesperance, and Dan Malloy as well as photographers Laura Jane Brubaker, Kyle Costill, Shamus McGroggan, Marley McNamara, and Julie Miller for sharing their work. Continue reading →


The Week So Far: 14 must-read stories on The Key

Photo by Eric Ashleigh |

Interview: Talking wood nymphs and a show at Ortlieb’s with Brooklyn’s Savoir Adore. [link]

Hear a new song from Nothing, sign up to be in their Key Studio Sessions audience. [link]

Interview: Craig Hendrix of Philly’s Auctioneer on songwriting and Shaking Through. [link]

Lehigh Valley jazz-psych duo XVSK stop by to record a Key Studio Session. [link]

Photos of a spellbinding night at Union Transfer with Beach House. [link]

Breaking down the numbers of WXPN’s 885 Songs that Rock countdown. [link]

Watch a jangling new music video from Low Cut Connie, filmed at the North Star Bar. [link]

Get a taste of the new record from Freeway with his Freedom of Speech mixtape. [link]

Listen to The Dead Milkmen recorded live on WXPN…25 years ago. [link]

Download a free mixtape from Black Dub’s Trixie Whitley. [link]

Watch Rap City, the WHYY documentary on Philly’s hip-hop scene circa 1988. [link]

Couldn’t make it to Austin City Limits? Neil Young and Crazy Horse‘s entire set is streaming. [link]

Also in Austin, Philly sons The War on Drugs played a killer “Arms Like Boulders.” [link]

Jack White dances and beatboxes in his music video for “I’m Shakin’.” [link]


The Key Studio Sessions: XVSK

Photo by John Vettese
Impressionistic Lehigh Valley duo XVSK is about to go into a state of hibernation. When the cello-and-drums project of Trevor Exter and John Morgan Kimock was in town a few weeks back to improvise a live score to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind at PhiaMOCA, they told us it would be their last Philly show for a while – the fall and winter would be spent in studio, recording a followup to their 2011 debut EP xtrvskmk. Thankfully the guys made time to swing by WXPN and record a Key Studio Session, which we present to you today. The music is jazzy and surreal, which probably comes with the pedigree – Kimock is the son of noted psych guitarist Steve Kimock, and the duo actually formed when they were the rhythm section on his Crazy Engine tour in 2009 and 2010. John’s beats are sharp and precise, Trevor’s smooth baritone croons stories about drifters and introverts; his character studies are a little bit Leonard Cohen, a little bit Morphine. Dig in to their session tracks below – two of the songs, “Straight Shooter” and “Know-How”, will be on the next release, and we’ll bring you more details on that once we have them.


Beta Hi-Fi Part Two: The Districts, XVSK take top honors at The Queen

The annual Beta Hi-Fi emerging band competition continued last night with its first-ever installment in the vintage moviehouse grandeur of The Copeland Theater at Wilmington’s World Cafe Live at The Queen. Some random fun facts about this impressive space learned while taking my seat at the judge’s table: before opening in 2011, the Queen sat shuttered and unused on Market Street for over half a century. A reel of the last film shown there, 1959’s House on Haunted Hill, was still lodged in one of the projectors when renovation began. Spooky.

In addition to the notably different vibe of the setting, the lineup at The Queen’s Beta Hi-Fi finals was something else altogether from its northerly equivalent. While competing bands in Philly were chosen solely by audience vote, The Queen determined its last round through a mix of audience vote and panels of judges throughout the week – meaning some acts vying for top honors were unconventional and experimental, rather than purely being crowd-pleasers. Continue reading →