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Ahead Of Their Time: The 40-year journey of inspiring Detroit rockers Death

Death | photo by Samdarko Eltosam | via facebook.com/deathworldwide

As an Afropunk, interviewing an all-Black punk band called Death might be the most existential thing I could possibly do on a Tuesday afternoon in 2019, but five minutes into the discussion, this writer also realized another thing was true: it was one of the most revealing.

Death’s start began in 1971, when three Detroit brothers — guitarist David, bassist Bobby, and drummer Dannis Hackney — turned on their instruments in a room in their parents’ modest home and got to channeling the raucous sounds of The MC5, the grandiose rock of local upstart Bob Seger, and The Who, much to the chagrin of their slightly more buttoned up neighbors. Despite their reverence to the most obvious, looming musical influence of the city at the time, Motown, and in a move especially treacherous for Black musicians, the brothers instead decided to play music that wasn’t going to get them booked at any R&B studio sessions: rock n roll. Continue reading →

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Cayetana will play its final shows this August in Boston, New York, and Philly

Cayetana | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

Things have been extremely quiet in the world of Philadelphia power trio Cayetana since they wrapped a European tour with The Menzingers over a year ago. Singer-guitarist Augusta Koch founded Gladie, bassist Allegra Anka went back to school, drummer Kelly Olsen co-launched Zimmerman’s Deli with Dan Zimmerman of Restorations. And today, the band re-emerged to share with fans that it would be officially closing the book on this part of their lives. Continue reading →

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Two To Tango: &More’s Donn T and Chill Moody

&More | photo by Dejanaya Spicer | courtesy of the artist

Two members of Philly hip hop royalty such as songstress Donn T and rapper Chill Moody would usually be found headlining their own shows and making their own records. Yet, for 2018 and 2019 — and beyond, in accordance with their wishes in this interview — the regal twosome will be known as  &More. The pair’s poignant, passionate debut is Ethel Bobcat, and that release’s celebration / live reveal is April 26 at Johnny Brenda’s. Continue reading →

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Resistance and Resilience: Taina Asili on merging music and activism

Taina Asili and band | photo by Kiki Vassilakis Photography | kikivassilakis.com | via facebook.com/tainaasilimusic

Tonight, Philly welcomes back Taina Asili, a musician, activist, and documentarian whose group will be rocking the Rotunda with their highly spiritual, amalgamated blend of merengue, cumbia, reggae and DIY punk.

It’s an amazing mix of styles fully realized on the new album they’ll be celebrating, Resiliencia. Support for the band will be provided by the equally eclectic Afro-latin future fusion band Interminable. We sat down and chatted with Asili about power of music, culture and spirit. Continue reading →

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Stinking Lizaveta, Pissed Jeans, Alright Junior, Lisa Christ Superstar and more to play The Troc’s last local show

Stinking Lizaveta | photo by John Vettese for WXPN // Pissed Jeans | photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN // Alright Junior | photo by Tiana Timmerberg for WXPN // Lisa Christ Superstar | photo by John Vettese for WXPN

When word got out that iconic Philadelphia venue The Trocadero was closing its doors for good this spring, owner Joanna Pang promised “We’re going to go out with a bang, in grand Troc style,” with a series of final concerts.

One of those is a an all-local showcase, curated by Lisa Flynn, who was a promoter at the venue in the late 90s and early thousands, and packed the Balcony bar and big room alike with Philly rock favorites like her power trio Lisa Christ Superstar. That band is back together for the May 19 main stage show, along with aughties psych mindbenders Three-4-Tens, and alternative-era faves Dandelion, who released two LPs during the major label boom of the 90s. Continue reading →

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Watch Lili Añel cover Jef Lee Johnson’s “Traffic Jam In A One Horse Town” on WRTI

Lili Anel and Jef Lee Johnson | photo courtesy of the artist

When Lili Añel joined Philly jazz and classical station WRTI for a live session last year, she brought along a cover of the late guitarist Jef Lee Johnson’s classic song, “Traffic Jam In A One Horse Town.” A video of the stunning performance is now available to stream via VuHaus. Continue reading →

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Five artists to see at the Exit Zero Jazz Festival

Preservation Hall Jazz Band | photo by Jeremy Zimmerman | jeremy-zim.com

The Exit Zero Jazz Festival has been setting up shop in Cape May, New Jersey every spring since 2013, bringing a vibrant mix of jazz and jazz-adjacent sounds to the Jersey shore for some springtime revelry. The festival kicks off tonight, and runs through Sunday, and has a stacked lineup of players, many of whom will be quite familiar to XPNFest regulars. Here are five artists to see at this year’s edition of Exit Zero Jazz Fest. Continue reading →

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The Key Studio Sessions: Full Bush

There are various reasons we’ve been losing our minds over Philly rock four-piece Full Bush these past couple years, but honestly, the biggest one might be how real they are.

Sure, they’ve got awesome moments of cheeky and clever commentary. They deservedly take down busted dudes in “Ill Tempered,” with indomitable vocalist Kate Breish hysterically running down a litany of shortcomings (“your mom still pays for your phone, you’re a virgin, and you can’t drive”) over wiry punk arrangements from guitarist Jayne Rutter, bassist Cassie O’Leary, and drummer Adesola Ogunleye. Meanwhile, the amazing garage rocker “Ray’s” looks to the famed South Philly dive for cathartic release from work-life ennui and toxic people in a gang-vocal shoutalong: “I! JUST! WANNA! GET! FUCKED UP!”

It’s catchy, it’s fun, it’s funny. But Full Bush are so much more than a funny band. Continue reading →

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Jazz-tinged singer-songwriter Taylor Kelly embraces messy breakups on “JWYTK”

Taylor Kelly | photo by Brian Bruno | courtesy of the artist

Philadelphia singer-songwriter Taylor Kelly has returned a stunning new single, “JWTYK,” that speaks to the pain and possibility of breakup. Kelly was highlighted by The Key in 2017 in “Items Tagged Philadelphia,” a series in which we shout out the best Bandcamp new releases that are tagged #philadelphia. Her new single is as strong (or stronger) than her previous releases and establishes Kelly as a brassy, mystical, soulful force to be reckoned with in the Philly music scene.

Kelly is originally from Rochester, NY but her sound is rooted in glamorous jazz club scene of New York City, Chicago, or Philadelphia. “JWTYK” — or “Just Want You To Know,” if you’re not into the whole brevity thing — tells the story of a relationship that has reached its end. Without shying away from the pain of a romantic ending, Kelly spins a tune that is both honest and optimistic about the process of moving from one chapter of life to another. Her voice echoes that of Eryn Allen Kane, Lianne La Havas, or the indomitable Cecile McLorin Salvant, while her songwriting is all her own. Continue reading →