The Key’s Year-End Mania: Eric Schuman’s Top Five Philadelphia Phoenixes of 2012

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For The Key’s year-in-review, we asked our trusted sources – our writers and photographers, XPN’s on-air staff, fellow bloggers in the Philly scene and even a few musicians – to send us their Top Five Whatevers. Could be the traditional music route – albums, songs, concerts of the year – or it could be only loosely connected. We’ll be sharing these recaps every day through to the end of the year. Today, WXPN host Eric Schuman explores his favorite “Philadelphia Phoenixes.” And no, that’s not a sports team.

I started working at XPN in the spring of 2006. I was quickly exposed to some of Philadelphia’s brightest up-and-comers, many of whom still rock/pop/hop to this day. Some bands didn’t last, but an uncanny thing happened in 2012: members of several of those beloved bands reemerged with new names and newer sounds. Here are five of my favorite second acts in Philadelphia in 2012.

1. Sun Airway

Shifting away from the guitar crunch of The A-Sides, Jon Barthmus and Patrick Marsceill now craft sweeping, synth-driven masterpieces. Their latest, Soft Fall, is a romantic triumph. As a full band, Sun Airway has joined XPN for a Free at Noon Concert and an XPoNential Music Festival slot.

2. White Birds

After releasing one of my favorite Philly albums, Born And Thrown On A Hook, Bucks County’s Drink Up Buttercup disbanded. My hearbreak wouldn’t last long, though, as three of the band’s four members reconvened as White Birds. Furthering this trend, members of White Birds also moonlight as the noir-ish Night Panther.


3. Purples

Shambling and endearing, The Teeth fit snugly on the roster of the Philly-via-New Orleans label Park The Van (early home to Dr. Dog). After calling it quits with The Teeth, bassist Peter MoDavis took a few of his bandmates to form Purples, who recorded a Key Studio Session in May 2012.

[BITBY BKSTG] PURPLES at XPN’s THE KEY STUDIO SESSIONS from BITBY on Vimeo.

4. Bleeding Rainbow

Here’s where things get tricky. Strictly speaking, Reading Rainbow, the poppy/punky/noisy duo of Sarah Everton and Rob Garcia, never broke up. In fact, the band gradually doubled in size. But along with the name change to Bleeding Rainbow came a major shift in sound for the Shaking Through alums. Look for 2013 to be a big year for these guys, as their Kanine Records debut, Yeah Right, comes out in January.

5. Brian Dwyer

Finally, I get to talk about one of my favorite departed Philly bands: Papertrigger. With rousing choruses and menacing production, Papertrigger’s lone album, Snake Sale, is a must-listen. And while the band remains unfortunately dormant, you might have bumped into drummer Brian Dwyer at his Kensington pizzeria/odditorium, Pizza Brain. It might not be a musical venture, but you can’t help but be impressed by his Guinness Record-netting collection of pizza knick-knacks.

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  • G-Parents

    Good Job Eric. Proud of you.