I almost always talk about our comps of tracks recorded for The Key Studio Sessions as snapshots, and this current installment definitely feels like it captures the essence of summer 2015 – fun and lively, varied, expansive, explosive. Being a music enthusiast and living in Philly totally ruled this summer, and I feel like that’s part of the reason I went with an image of DJ Sonny James flipping the faders during The Bul Bey‘s remarkable Key Session in choosing the cover art of The Key Studio Sessions Volume 13. Yes, sticklers, there could stand to be a lot more DJ-based music on this installment, and as I’m always looking to improve on our curation, I’ll keep that in mind for the fall and beyond. But like Bey’s party-centric sensibilities go hand-in-hand-in-hand with a thoughtful worldview and tireless grind (he played our Key Fest, our Waterfront Sessions, threw down regularly at The Fire and Ortlieb’s, and hosted his monthly Friends and Fam party with the Illvibe crew at Kung Fu Necktie), this comp collects artists who work hard, play hard and put a lot of thought into their space in the scene and the universe.
Bey turned in an outstanding version of his deep cut “All I Need” for our current compilation. We also have longtime hiphop scene fixture Kuf Knotz and his incredibly tight band jamming out on “Fluorescent High” from this year’s A Positive Light, paired with pop singer-songwriter Patrick Donovan‘s “Clouds” – both recorded in our first-ever collaborative Key Session with RECPhilly, a group on the grind in its own right.
The comp has some definite star power: acclaimed indie rocker Alex G and his band performed the buoyant, Ben Kweller-esque “Rules” while R&B innovator Bilal stripped down his normally intense performance (you should have seen the dude at our Red Bull Sound Select show) to an acoustic folk-soul performance for “I Really Don’t Mind.” We ventured up to New Brunswick, NJ for the amazing Screaming Females to riff out in our studio on “Criminal Image” from their new Rose Mountain.
But just as significant are the up-and-comers you may be hearing here for the first time: RFA, a garage rock band from Philly that gave us an infectious and Strokes-y tune called “What’s Your Name.” Little Strike is the art-pop electronic project of Tamar Dart, a Philly musician (and former XPN intern), and her new song “Come Out, Allright” has an intricate and infectious rhythm. Rock and rollers Church Girls and Madalean Gauze contributed electrifying performances of “Dead” and “Accumulations of Life” respectively. And Lou, the new project of singer-songwriter Tess Emma, has a rollicking and reeling song called “Grains.”
I’m also a fan of how many heartfelt epics are in the mix – bands I brought in the studio did that really well this summer, particularly West Chester punk trio Spraynard‘s existential meditation “Out of Body” and Nathan Earl and Rachel Joy‘s moving “Dance Around My Mind.” Add in some funkiness (Nik Greeley, who has an undeniable vocal similarity to Anthony Kiedes) and quirkiness (the kezmer-punk of Mercury Radio Theater) and more, and it’s totally got something for everybody.
Stream The Key Studio Sessions Volume 14 below, or grab a free download now at Soundcloud. And as always, mega big thanks to production assistants Dan Malloy, Rachel Del Sordo and Drea Rose, as well as photographers Rachel Del Sordo, Brant Fuller, Meg Lynch, Cameron Pollack, and videographers Jeremy Quattlebaum and Will Toms for sharing their work.
And of course, the biggest thanks go to all the musicians for being awesome, and for making the Philadelphia music scene an incredible place.
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