The Key's Year-End Mania: Bruce Warren's Best of Philly Music 2014
Amanda X: Tiff Yoon, Cat Park, Kat Bean | Photo by Peter Murray |

Year-End Mania is the Key’s survey of the things below the surface that made 2014 awesome. In this installment, XPN Program Director Bruce Warren weighs in on the 2014 Philly music scene.

We thought 2013 was a fantastic year for the Philly music scene, however 2014 proved to be even better.

2014 was clearly owned by The War On Drugs.

Nothing released the tremendously rocking Guilty of Everything, spent the good part of their year on tour, and melted thousands of faces along the way.

Hop Along, fronted by the soon to be rock star Francis Quinlan, signed to Saddle Creek. Bonus points for singing with Weezer in October at Weezer’s Troc show.

Tim Showalter, better known as Strand of Oaks, released the best album of his career, HEAL. On it he traded in his acoustic guitars and indie-folkism for anthemic classic rock sounds, soaring guitar solos, and a more personal and confessional approach to his songwriting. Tim did an awesome guest DJ session for us, recorded a stunning cover of Ryan Adams’ “Wrecking Ball,” and blew some minds at this past summer’s XPoNential Music Festival.

Amanda X: With a Stereogum premiere to their credit, and a Rolling Stone magazine Artist To Watch mention in September, a whole bunch of music fans are finally discovering the greatness of the punk rock women we’ve been talking about for at least the last two years. Check out their Key Studio Session from November, 2013 here.

Electronica duo Marian Hill – lead singer and songwriter Samantha Gongol and producer / songwriter Jeremy Lloyd – had a stellar year. With loads of love on Hype Machine, a soulful, sundown set at last summer’s XPoNential Music Festival, calls from labels and remixes (of their songs and songs they’ve remixed), Marian Hill, the band’s career shows no signs of slowing down. Check out the band’s Key Studio Session from last March here, and listen to the set they did at this past summer’s XPoNential Music Festival here.

Dirty Dollhouse are a breath of fresh folksy air in the local acoustic community. Fronted by singer-songwriter Chelsea Mitchell and including vocalists Vanessa Winters (of The Lawsuits) and Amber Twait, these ladies bring a dash of the blues into their exquisite harmonies and celestial songs. Their debut EP, 25 Shades is a knockout.

R&B singer Brielle released her incredibly captivating and lush debut, The Rough Break-Up. This is sound of the new Quiet Storm, folks. Don’t miss this one.

The return of the WKDU’s Electronic Music Marathon: Hats off to the juice crew at Drexel’s radio station WKDU for bringing back the Electronic Music Marathon. They nabbed some big names including Making Time RADio’s Dave P., King Britt, Matthew Law, Les Professionels and others, and you can listen to all the sets below.

Cayetana: Because the other best all-women punk rock trio are number one.

MVP’s: Jeff Zeigler, Phil D’Agostino, Chill Moody, Ali Wadsworth, Philly Tapes Philly, Dom Angelella, Work Drugs, Dave P and the Making Time crew, Marley, Ron, & The Districts, Schoolly D.

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