The Key Studio Sessions Double-Header: Secret Nudist Friends and Blushed

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Secret Nudist Friends (left) and Blushed | photos by Emily DeHart for WXPN

In a way, doing this week’s feature as two separate sessions wasn’t an option for us. As much as they are stylistically distinct, South Philly DIY faves Secret Nudist Friends and Blushed are very much inseparable, even when they’re each off doing their own thing.

A brief accounting of spaces where they overlap: Matty Klauser sings and plays guitar in SNF, while Missy Pidgeon plays keys; in Blushed, Pidgeon sings and plays guitar, while Klauser drums. Both bands are on the roster of the local Good How Are You label / collective, a group of artists (also including Trash Boy, Kelsey Cork and the Swigs, and Canine 10) that throws regular shows and one annual festival at the Vonnegut-referencing Newbold house venue Tralfamadore. And both artists upped their profile with So Cool, the Headroom-recorded split EP they released last year. 

Starting off the session this week is Secret Nudist Friends, which is rounded out by Deb Gilmore on bass and Brian Hullihen on drums. Their sound is distinctly more wrapped in garage-psychedelia, as we hear in the spacey new “Swing” which opens the set with fuzzed-out chords and raga-inspired licks. “I Can’t Love Anyone” is a selection from So Cool that contemplates fears and insecurities surrounding intimacy and attachment, while the heavy closer “The Mirror” is a raw and cathartic description of gender dysphoria, made incredibly palpable by Klauser and Gilmore’s screams. Even if you’ve never felt it yourself, you’ll know what they’re singing about.

On Blushed’s side of the set, we hear different sounds — racing surf licks, upbeat indiepop harmonies, shorter run times — but a similar guiding principal around themes. The music is incredibly pop-oriented, while the words tend to fall on the heavier side of things. “Sometimes” unpacks crippling, don’t-want-to-leave-the-house levels of depression and anxiety. The swift “Finally Enjoying My Life” tackles the opposite side of that scenario, though with a biting edge that reminds us that happiness and comfort is fleeting, and the human emotional experience is by nature dynamic. (TL;DR — it’s okay to feel not okay.) In addition to Klauser’s drumming, Blushed is rounded out by bassist Alyssa Milman and guitarist Dan Leinweber, and they are in the process of recording their debut album this week.

In addition to recording, both bands have a lot going on in the coming month. On August 16th, Secret Nudist Friends play Everybody Hits with Trash Boy, a kickoff to their late summer tour that’s taking them across the country. Before that, Blushed has a Boot and Saddle gig this Tuesday, August 6th, with Jeffrey Lewis & Los Bolts, and Kelsey Cork and the Swigs. In addition, Gilmore’s Busy Bee Project plays its final show tonight at Tralfamadore.

Listen to full-set archives of Secret Nudist Friends and Blushed’s respective Key Studio Sessions below, watch videos from each above, and check out a photo gallery of both artists in action at WXPN care of photographer Emily DeHart.

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