Tonight’s Concert Picks: Pile at First Unitarian Church, Chelsea Sue Allen at Ortlieb’s, and The Felice Brothers at Chameleon Club


Pile | Photo by Rachel Del Sordo for WXPN |

Boston indie rockers Pile make a headlining stop back at First Unitarian Church with +HIRS+, Gnarwahl, and Palberta. The band’s recent record A Hairshirt of Purpose records stripped-down dreams with simple sounds, creating that DIY aesthetic perfect for the sweaty underground of the Church. The show is all ages, and more information can be found on the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →


Watch Chelsea Sue Allen and friends cover Beck at Burlap and Bean; playing Fiona Fest in June

Chelsea Sue Allen
Chelsea Sue Allen | Photo by Breanna Keohane for WXPN

West Chester folkie and The Key favorite Chelsea Sue Allen performed at Burlap and Bean last week, and she brought up some friends, Brad Almond & Chelsea Julian, to cover Beck’s version of The Korgis’ “Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime.”

The 1980 song was originally covered by Beck for the classic Kate Winslet & Jim Carrey film Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind. Each of the performers take turns on lead vocals and harmonies, and the simple instrumentation of just keyboards and acoustic guitar presents a faithful yet sweet take on the original. Continue reading →


The Key Studio Sessions: Chelsea Sue Allen

Chelsea Sue Allen is a leading light in the Philadelphia folk scene, but then again, she’s something more. The West Chester singer-songwriter crafts intensely emotional songs that transcend the coffeehouse world, much as she’s a favorite over at Burlap and Bean. On last year’s Lonely Ages, she detailed the tug-of-war between aspiration and self-doubt – “I’ve got daydreams pressing against siren walls / will I become something better if I let them out” – as well as the crash of colossal letdowns – “you’re not the one I’m bankin’ on anymore, anymore?” – and does so over a bed of pattering electronics (“Creaks and Moans,” “Bankin’ On”) and full band swiftness (“Tall Dreams”).

Live, the flourishes are brushed away – Allen goes minimal and meditative, and the songs remain every bit as powerful. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Harrowgrove at Bourbon and Branch, Escort at Underground Arts, Shark Tape at Boot & Saddle and more…


Harrowgrove | photo courtesy of the artist
Harrowgrove | photo courtesy of the artist

Harrowgrove is the project of alternative R&B artist C.J. Davis and was one of John Vettese’s Top 5 music discoveries of 2015. Originally a guitar-based band, Davis slowly transformed Harrowgrove into music with intense soundscapes and trap influences with his release last September, Holy Broken Free Spirit. Davis will be bringing the music of Harrowgrove to Bourbon and Branch tonight with Starwood, Kim Jong Ill, and Revolution, I Love You. The show is $10 at the door and is 21+. Information can be found here.

Continue reading →


The Key’s Year-End Mania: Bruce Warren’s Best of Philly Music 2015

Queen of Jeans
Queen of Jeans | photo by Kelly Kurteson

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2015 incredible. Today, WXPN program director Bruce Warren shares five musicians she found on Spotify in 2015.

This past Thanksgiving The Key’s John Vettese wrote about the 15 Philly songs we’re thankful for. The songs were just a small snapshot of by Philly’s vibrant music scene, represented by the likes of Hop Along, Jazmine Sullivan, Kurt Vile, Agudos Clef, Hemming, Hezekiah Jones, Lithuania, Lushlife, Jill Scott, and others. What stood out to me in Vettese’s article then, and what’s stood out to all of us at The Key for the last several years is how wonderfully diverse, and prolific, the music scene in Philly continues to be. Continue reading →


The Key’s Year-End Mania: John Vettese’s Top 5 Philly music discoveries of 2015

Chelsea Sue Allen | via
Chelsea Sue Allen | photo by Jason Stewart | photo courtesy of the artist

Year-End Mania is the Key’s annual survey of the things below the surface that made 2015 incredible. To kick off the series, Key editor John Vettese recaps five of his favorite Philadelphia music discoveries from the past 12 months.

You know it’s been a solid year of Philly music when squeezing it into a list of five feels like an injustice. True, I review the scene every year at the start of our #YearEndMania series, and yes, it’s almost always an “incomplete” list. But this year in particular, it could have handily been fifteen or twenty discoveries instead of merely five, and reeling the number in today was totally a challenge.

Some general observations: Philadelphia had a higher-profile musical year than ever before. A slate of solid releases emerged from the 215, from the amazing Painted Shut from Hop Along, which topped our critics’ poll yesterday, to Kurt Vile’s dreamy latest b’lieve i’m goin’ down; heavy rock and roll by The Districts and an ace live album from Dr. Dog; a hotly anticipated return from Meek Mill (hopefully that Drake beef didn’t do too much damage to his rep); timeless offerings from Jazmine Sullivan and Jill Scott; and so much more. Then there was the amount of attention Philly recieved from the outside world, including Stereogum’s scene report in June – it got a mixed reception in musician circles, but it was nonetheless cool to see those guys watching us from afar. We also saw increased coverage of Philly musicians in Impose, Noisey and Brooklyn Vegan, all the way up to Rolling Stone (which freakin’ loves them some Alex G.).

It’s all exciting stuff, but those artists I mentioned are doubtless very familiar to our regular readers at this point. With this in mind, I set my sights back to January to remember the names and faces that were pretty much new to me over the course of the year, or new-ish but making a big impression. Looking over the five, my listening habits were clearly eclectic but notably on the downbeat side. But don’t cast this crop of emerging musicians as mellowed-out, maaan – they may be quiet on the surface, but each works on a very nuanced level, delivering intoxicating tones and intricate textures that teeter on the verge of exploding. In many cases, that’s what they ultimately do, in a sonic sense, and next year I’m hoping to see some of these artists explode in that other cool kinda musical way: their profile. Let’s dig in. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: Chelsea Sue Allen at Boot and Saddle, Shamir at First Unitarian Church, Son Little at Johnny Brenda’s and more

Photo by John Galla via
Photo by John Galla via

Earlier this week, Chelsea Sue Allen released her latest record, Lonely Ages, and we streamed it here. On the record, Allen croons lovely narratives accompanied by haunting instrumentation. Catch Chelsea Sue Allen tonight at Boot and Saddle; get ticket and show info at the XPN Concert Calendar, and listen to Lonely Ages after the jump. Continue reading →


Listen to Chelsea Sue Allen’s brooding new single, “Creeks and Moans”

Photo by John Galla via
Photo by John Galla via

Chelsea Sue Allen has described her music as that which, “resides in the bones” and it is hard to argue with that description after hearing “Creeks and Moans”, the newest single from her upcoming album.

“Creeks and Moans” — which you can check out below (h/t The Deli Philly) — is an unassuming, slow building indie-folk track that is reminiscent of some of Brandi Carlile’s more reserved work. It is a song that gives the distinct feeling of falling leaves and rapidly cooling temperatures, making its timing all but perfect. Continue reading →


Philadelphia is blowing up NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert Contest and it’s amazing

Levee Drivers' Tiny Desk submission | photo by Bob Sweeney
Levee Drivers’ Tiny Desk submission | photo by Bob Sweeney

For those of you who don’t know about NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts, you may want to head over to their site and root through their enormous and equally impressive archive. Their 15-minute videos feature live performances from artists of all genres held in the quaint offices of NPR at All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen’s desk.

Ranging from big names like Adele and Alt-J to up-and-coming artists such as Angel Olsen and Rubblebucket, viewers are able to watch the artists perform in the intimate setting, giving the performances a stripped-down, no B.S. vibe. While these videos are ultra fun to watch (perhaps continuously, one after another…), NPR kept things interesting this winter by kicking off a contest to feature a new artist in their series.

Based entirely off of video submissions from all over the United States, an artist will be chosen to perform a Tiny Desk Concert at NPR headquarters in Washington D.C. as well as snag a slot in the big Lagunitas Couchtrippin’ showcase in Austin, Texas. Philadelphia, brimming with the amazing musical talent that it is, seems to have jumped at this opportunity. Continue reading →