Ghost Gum are back with a new rager called “Edible Complex”

Ghost Gum
Ghost Gum | photo by Ariel Lynn | courtesy of the artist

Their only recording is a demo EP from 2014, and it ruled – so we’re super happy to see some signs of (current) life in the Ghost Gum camp. The band – which features Carolyn Haynes, formerly of Catnaps, along with Arik Dayan, Travis Gaston and Colins Regisford – teased that they were still around back in a February vaguebook post. In actuality they’d been in Headroom Studios, working on new recordings with Kyle Pulley, Evan Bernard and Chris Baglivo, and last week the first of those songs saw the light of day via Bandcamp. Continue reading →


Listen to “Teton Range (ft. Carolyn Haynes)” from By Surprise’s new split with Aspiga

By Surprise | Photo by Maggie Shannon | | courtesy of the artist
By Surprise | Photo by Maggie Shannon | | courtesy of the artist

There’s a reason they call themselves By Surprise, I suppose. The Philly / South Jersey indie rock four-piece tends to release music on their own terms, not on some industry-mandated clock, and when a new jam crops up, it’s an awesome feeling like “oh, hey, a new By Surprise song!” Continue reading →


Mercury Girls: A new retro-C86 project featuring Kevin Attics of Literature and Adrianne Gold

Adrienne Gold (photo by Chris Sikich) and Kevin Attics (photo by John Vettese) of Mercury Girls
Adrienne Gold (photo by Chris Sikich) and Kevin Attics (photo by John Vettese) of Mercury Girls

Philly power poppers Literature picked up some serious steam in 2014 with the release of their jangle-pop LP Chorus. They’re in the process of recording a new records, but in the meantime you can check out guitarist Kevin Attics’ throwback project Mercury Girls, featuring Adrianne Gold (formerly of Catnaps and Tender Vision).
Continue reading →


The Flatmates, Literature and more showcase past and present indiepop styles at Connie’s Ric Rac

The Flatmates | Photo by Chris Sikich |
The Flatmates | Photo by Chris Sikich |

On Thursday, Connie’s Ric Rac played host to a quartet of time-traveling indie pop acts. Bringing the past to the present was the recently resurrected 1980s U.K. band The Flatmates. Playing music inspired by the sound fashions of the time, whether it be the dreamy (Tender Vision), jangle-pop (Expert Alterations) or a toned-down Cure (Literature), the rest of the lineup were appropriate complements.

With two original members in tow — Martin Whitehead on guitar and Rocker on keyboards — The Flatmates played classics like “Shimmer” alongside songs from an upcoming release and a cover of Prince’s “When You Were Mine.” With new vocalist Lisa Bouvier leading the charge, the songs were quite infectious and had the compact crowd shaking their hips. Despite playing the second-to-last set of the night, they were certainly the highlight.

But each of the other bands had their shining moments, with Philly bands Tender Vision and Literature bookending the night. The reliably elusive Adrianne Gold, formerly of Catnaps, fronted Tender Vision with her catchy hooks. The six-piece may not always have been tight, but their potential was palpable. Baltimore-based Expert Alterations rocked well, while Literature turned the lights down and got the crowd to dance into early Friday morning.


Rediscover 90s Philly indie popsters The Skywriters via a new Jigsaw Records compilation

Skywriters | photo by
Photo originally published in City Paper via

Late-nineties indie pop outfit The Skywriters are the subject of a new compilation from Jigsaw Records.

Taking tracks from the short-lived but memorable local quintet’s discography, Skywriter Blue pulls material from the band’s self-titled debut CD, a 7″ single and handful of other singles (along with bonus live material).  All together, the fourteen songs are a study in the early Philadelphia twee-pop scene that may have had a hand in influencing more recent standouts like Catnaps (now also defunct).

With most members of Skywriters going on to form The Snow Fairies and even more recently Ex-Friends, the new release is a welcome time capsule to the bandmembers’ earlier endeavors.  Download “Cherry Lips” and “My Friends Say,” and take a listen to the entire record below.


Miss The Pixies? Try Philly’s Tender Vision

Screen shot 2014-01-13 at 9.24.57 AMIt’s funny to hear a band sing about missing The Pixies when they’re headlining the Electric Factory in Philadelphia next week. But I get it – local fuzz-pop duo Tender Vision misses more the idea of The Pixies, the creative spark and chemistry that existed in the first run of the band in the late 80s / early 90s. So they’re doing their best to capture it in their own music.

The very new band is made up of Adrianne Gold, former singer/guitarist in Catnaps and bassist William Sallee along with a handful of live collaborators, and in the past week the duo has released two songs. Most recently was the silly and straightforward rocker “I Hate Change,” which came out in a playful video on YouTube yesterday. With a deadpan delivery, Gold sings “Kim, why did you leave me and The Pixies? / Kim, why did you leave me? I miss The Pixies.”

That’s about the entirety of the song’s lyrics, though some sweet “Gigantic”-referencing “ooohs” come in the mix on the bridge. And while it’s kind of an overt nod to Deal, Black, Santiago and Lovering more than a full-fledged song unto itself, it’s nonetheless fun to watch Sallee and Gold bounce around a room to the beat, waving sparklers at the camera and swapping costumes.

A better choice – and more genuinely infused with The Pixies spirit – is “Just Kill Me,” the single Tender Vision released on Bandcamp last week. It’s got airy fuzz guitar lines and a generous helping of JAMC vocal reverb, plus some delightful call and response. There’s a melancholy tone to the lyrics (“Do you still dream that you’re drowning? / Do you dream at all?”) but an uplifting melody and toe-tapping beat carries across a quick minute and 43 seconds.

Listen to “Just Kill Me” and watch the video for “I Hate Change” below, and find out more about Tender Vision at the band’s Facebook page.


Should bands combine their album release and farewell shows? The Quelle Source (and others) are doing it.

quellesourceI’m going to go on record and say this recent trend of the combination album release party / farewell show is bumming me out. And not just because bands I enjoy are parting ways.

To recap some incidences from the past month, just in Philly’s indie rock sphere – Arrah and the Ferns played their “indefinite hiatus” show on May 24th while simultaneously rolling out their latest LP Make Your Mind. Catnaps said goodbye on June 19th, just a few days after their Forget About It EP showed up on Bandcamp. And now The Quelle Source – who we know from last summer’s very fun music video for “The French Rapture” and eight or so years of gigs and recordings – announced their album release show for the new Send Out the Creatures (August 2nd at MilkBoy) with the caveat that it doubles as their final show.

On the one hand, I can absolutely understand why artists do this. Making a record is a long, labor-intensive (and, depending on what studio you’re using, potentially expensive) process. A lot can change from beginning to end, and sometimes along the way, a band realizes for a variety of reasons that it is no longer able to continue being a band. So what does it do with the music it just invested all this time, money and energy in making: let it disappear unheard into the ether, or make a final push to get it out in the world? So on that level, the trend makes sense. But it also feels alarmingly defeatist. Continue reading →


The Week So Far: 12 must-read stories on The Key (incl. Big Footprints Project, Make Music Philly, Light Heat)


Photo by Nina Sabatino
Photo by Nina Sabatino

The Dead Milkmen continue their sudden streak of new recordings with Welcome to Undertown [link]

Light Heat recorded a psych-rock Key Studio Session with some help from members of The Walkmen and Fleet Foxes [link]

Local musicians give back to the community with Modern Baseball-frontman Brendan Lukens’ new label Big Footprints Project [link]

Balto and Holly Williams turn in a pair of great live sessions for Folkadelphia [link and link]

Get to know Sylvia Platypus, Vikesh Kapoor and more in our Make Music Philly Spotlight [link]

Stream Rosu Lup‘s new Currents EP ahead of their record release show at The Fire on July 13th [link]

Scottish rockers Frightened Rabbit announced a fall show at the Electric Factory on October 27th [link]

The Key highlights the Firefly Festival undercard with The Key’s week-long Firefly Under the Radar feature [link]

Third Thursdays Live and Local kicks off tomorrow night at Race Street Pier with Dice Raw, Lushlife and more [link]

Stephen Marley remixes his father’s “Three Little Birds” for a new collaborative release in the latest installment of XPN’s Gotta Hear Song of the Week [link]

Check out recaps and reviews of this week’s live concerts, including The Postal Service and Junip [link]

Catnaps say goodbye with a new EP called Forget About It [link]


Tonight’s Concert Picks: The Bats at Johnny Brenda’s, Tomahawk at Union Transfer

batsNew Zealand indie pop cult faves The Bats play Johnny Brenda’s tonight. Going strong for over 30 years, the band is making a somewhat rare Philly appearance tonight to showcase songs from its most recent release, 2011’s Free All The Monsters, the band’s eighth LP. Opening are Philly indie troopers Royal Shoals; the 21+ begins at 8 p.m., tickets and information can be found here. Also be on the lookout for a free afterparty at R.U.B.A. featuring live appearances from Catnaps, Rugburn and DJ sets from members of Literature and A Sunny Day in Glasgow. Below, watch the music video for “Simpletons” from The Bats’ Free All the Monsters.

Continue reading →


The Week So Far: 9 must-read stories on The Key (incl. Kurt Vile, Grandchildren, Khari Mateen and Dave Hartley’s Top of The Key)


Grandchildren‘s Golden Age is featured in this week’s Unlocked series [link]

It’s been a big week for show announcements, with The Monkees [link], Patty Griffin [link], Pet Shop Boys [link] and The Olms [link] unveiling Philly dates

Joe Pug played a show at Johnny Brenda’s this week – check out a free download of five tracks from the Chicago singer-songwriter [link]

Khari Mateen will kick-off Brewerytown’s summer jazz concert series on May 15th [link]

Take a listen back to this year’s Key Studio Sessions with Volume 7, featuring Waxahatchee, Pissed Jeans and Ruby the Hatchet [link]

Kurt Vile shares a new video for “Never Run Away” – he’ll be at Union Transfer on May 18th [link]

Dave Hartley presents an overview of the NBA playoffs in a new edition of Top of Key [link]

Mount Moriah highlighted their sophomore album Miracle Temple during this week’s Folkadelphia session [link]

Download a compilation of music from local bands including Cheers Elephant, Roof Doctor and Norwegian Arms c/o Beat the Indie Drum [link]