Items Tagged Philadelphia: A good week for rock and roll - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
Thee Minks | via

Here at The Key, we spend a lot of time each week digging through every new release from Philadelphia that shows up on Bandcamp. At the end of each week, we present you with the most interesting, most unusual and overall best of the bunch: this is Items Tagged Philadelphia.

It’s been a busy several days. A Latin rock show on Wednesday, a solid lineup of DIY scene singer-songwriters on Thursday, a queer punk rager on Friday, a revered rapper from Chicago tonight. It’s been one of those weeks where I barely get to catch my breath, where I barely get to pause and look around — and reflection-time is important.

But with music like I found this week on Bandcamp, though, being propelled restlessly ahead makes total sense. Two of the best rock releases I’ve uncovered since starting this project lead us off, followed by a delightfully body-moving dancefloor set. The second half of this week’s roundup, though, is that pause that I need right about now, whether though textured electro-ambient tones, cello abstractions or honest, straightahead lady-and-guitar intonations.

No need to ramble on and on with the introductions today; just dive in and listen.


Timeless rock and roll riffs, melodies and energy fill out this short / sweet set from Philly garage trio Thee Minks. Channeling Iggy and The Stooges as much as The Runaways, the All Minks Up EP finds guitarist Hope Diamond, bassist Liz Lixx ad drummer Veronica Beats pogoing around the room to stories of back-alley hookups, Jack Daniels and chumps that don’t deserve their attention. The fuzz pedals boom and the rhythms rush, making this an ideal set when you’re looking for the speakers to be loud and the energy to be high.


Similar in style is the Buzzcocks-y fire of Slomo Sapiens, another guitar-bass-drums trio from Philly. They’re less biker bar and more psychedelic nightclub; they prefer “sludge pop” to “garage rock.” But like Thee Minks, they’re rooted in classic sounds, tones and even fashions what with the paisley shirts and fur coats. Not keen on the fur thing myself, but I will admit that it looks rad in black and white photos. I guess what I’m saying here is between All Minks Out and Fishtown Tapes, I’m sensing potential for a a solid double-bill.


Local label Hot Lager Tapes has been blowing up Bandcamp this month with its entire catalog, and it runs the gamut from awkward indiepop punk to punishing and abrasive noiserock. Their releases don’t all hit the mark, of course — not by any stretch — but I totally respect the dedication and productivity and willing to take chances on stuff that’s left-of-center while also offering up crowd pleasing jams. Synthpop outfit Wet Work, of course, being an example of a crowd pleaser. Falling somewhere between Kraftwerk, OMD and Daft Punk, this project’s Cruisin’ EP distills about 40 years of electronic dance into one delightful four-song set. Its median sound is solidly 1986, but you can sense the stylistic roots that led to that point in time, and you hear nods to the revivalists that brought it back for the Making Time era.


If Wet Work is the main floor at midnight, Michael Wayne is the chilled-out comedown at 3 a.m. This Philadelphian fashions brisk beats and somnolent synthesizer tones in a dynamic start-and-stop structure on the Doves EP, folding in a dose of trancey piano to keep the head-nods going as you’re starting to nod out.


Rooted in Brunswick, Maine and residing in Philadelphia, Hannah Judd does some pretty remarkable stuff with her cello and voice. The songs to sing alone to yourself collection was recorded at Kelly Writers House’s Wexler Studio, and it’s quite magical — a bubbling soundscape of loops, drones and rhythmic plucks is reined in by Judd’s beguiling voice and poetic musings. The easy surface comparison here is Joanna Newsom, and though there’s doubtless a lot more that Judd looks to for sonic and lyrical inspiration, if The Milk-Eyed Mender is your bag, you’d probably enjoy listening to this.


This emerging indie folk artist from Central Pennsylvania takes my favorite approach to the genre: a delicate vocal, a minimal sense of instrumentation, songs rooted in honesty and emotion and a sense of the unending journey we’re all on. There’s no flash or gimmick to Kerin Maguire’s self-titled record, just a collection of songs that will get you in the feels.

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