The Key’s Year-End Mania: Joel Tannenbaum’s top music news headlines of 2012

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, Plow United bassist, Ex-Friends singer-guitarist and occasional Key contributor Joel Tannenbaum shares his top music news headlines* of 2012.

5. Julio Iglesias releases Saludos desde Asbury Park, NJ, a song-by-song rebuttal to Bruce Springsteen’s Greetings from Asbury Park, NJ. 

4. Joey Sweeney releases digital-only retrospective spanning his 80+ year career.
Early vaudeville material largely ignored.

3. The Spin Doctors’ “Two Princes” certified top-selling mini-disc single of 2012.

2. Ben Nichols of Lucero cast as Eddie in Ang Lee’s Eddie and the Cruisers remake.
Other members of Lucero not cast as Cruisers.

1. Chris Christie realizes lifelong dream of meeting Glenn Danzig.
Meeting facilitated by President Obama during Hurricane Sandy aftermath.

*entirely fabricated

Thanks to Justin Agnew and Tom Kretchmar.


It’s the return of Plow United: Stream “Human 2000″ from the new record

Plow United turned in their punk rock digs for conventional life in 1998, taking up normal jobs and watching their records go out of print.  But after filling a slot at the 2011 Riot Fest East in Philadelphia, the Wilmington-born trio seemingly picked up right where they left off.  Ok, maybe not right where they left off – a considerable following built around the enigma of the band after its break-up, elevating Plow United to a popularity they hadn’t experienced since their heyday in the mid-Atlantic punk scene of the nineties.

About a year ago, Plow United stopped by the XPN studios for a Key Studio Session where bassist Joel Tannenbaum (an occasional contributor to The Key) and guitarist Brian McGee talked about working on a new album.  That new album has now been titled Marching Band will be released in April 2013 on vinyl, CD and digitally through Jump Start Records, fifteen years after the band’s last offering.  Stream the first single, “Human 2000,” below and check out a full track-listing on Jump Start Records’ Bandcamp page.


Guest VJs Kyle Costill and Dave Kain preview Bands In The Backyard’s Tuesday Tune-out Lineup (kicks off at PhilaMOCA tonight)

It’s the last month of 2012, meaning one final round of Tuesday Tune-Out showcases at PhilaMOCA. This month’s curators are the venerable Bands In The Backyard crew, who bring some adventurous pairings of music and film for the next three Tuesdays.

I knew that I dug what these guys were up to as soon as I saw their video of Ages playing in the back of Johnny Brenda’s. In the year and a half since then, they’ve faithfully documented the Philly scene in videos that range from lo-fi immediacy to multi-camera productions, showcasing the town’s up-and-coming acts as well as buzzing national bands that make their way through. I’m happy to welcome them to this space to talk about what they have in store for the December Tune-Out. All events are at PhilaMOCA (531 N. 12th Street), start at 7:30 p.m. Continue reading →


Tonight’s Concert Picks: The English Beat at World Cafe Live, The Temper Trap at Union Transfer, Ex Friends at North Star Bar, Former Belle at The Balcony

British ska revival group The English Beat will be performing this evening with The Paul Collins Beat at World Café Live. The English Beat, spearheaded by Dave Wakeling, recorded three albums together between 1980 and 1982. The all-ages show tonight will start at 8; more ticket information can be found here. Below, watch The English Beat perform “Save It For Later” from their 1982 record, Special Beat Service.

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Get pumped for Plow United’s New Year’s Eve show with its first demos in 13 years

Who would have guessed twelve months ago that Plow United would be back together and ringing in 2012 at West Chester’s The Note? The reunion of the cult favorite power trio from the late-’90s Delaware Valley punk scene was one of the most unanticipated headlines in Philly music news this year. To watch the guys pull it off with such gusto after 13 years, from their introspective Key Studio Sessions set to an explosive performance at Riot Fest East, has been all the more of a treat.

When they appeared on XPN2 back in September, guitarist Brian McGee and bassist Joel Tannenbaum announced their reunion would continue with more shows (an appearance last night at The Bouncing Souls’ Home for the Holidays show, and tonight’s gig at The Note), as well as a new album for 2012. Yesterday, the band shared its first two demos for that album. True to Plow form, each clocks in at well under two minutes, moving at pointed breakneck pace:

The World is a Slum by plowunited

The War is Over and Our Side Won by plowunited

After posting the demos, Tannenbaum tweeted:

If anybody cares, “The War is Over and Our Side Won” contains shout-outs to Anonymous, outlaw biker gangs, the Arab Spring…

…and whoever in West Philly made those TOFU HOAGIES MAKE ME GAY bumper stickers.

Keep an eye on the band’s Soundcloud page for more. In the meantime, tickets are still available for New Year’s Eve at The Note with The Crash, Third Year Freshmen and Jake and The Stiffs, and Plow United.


Download The Key Studio Sessions Compilation Vol. 3 (feat. mewithoutYou, Psychic Teens, White Birds, + more)


The Key Studio Sessions Compilation Volume 3—which you can download for free here—features one exclusive track recorded at the WXPN studios by 18 local acts, including DRGN King, Blayer Point Du Jour, Plow United, Weston, Surgeon, Break It Up, Black Landlord, Crills Wilson, Psychic Teens, The Bad Doctors, Ben Smith, The Tressels, Saturn Never Sleeps, White Birds, Andrew Lipke, Ports Of Call, mewithoutYou, and Young Statues.

Special thanks to all of the bands for coming to our studio, and to John Vettese for recording them. We’d also like to thank volunteer production assistants Zachary Deveraux Fairbrother, Jake “Rabid” Nisenfeld
Jeremy Quattlebaum, Joshua Pannepacker, and Maureen Walsh, as well as photographers Eric Ashleigh, Michael “Kraus Phade” Béon, Kate Bracaglia, Michelle Holshue, Mattias Nilsson, Eric Schuman, and Rachelle Lee Smith for sharing their work.

Click here the download the 18-track compilation in its entirety as a .zip file. Want to hear more? Click here to listen to the full sessions by all 18 local acts; you can also download The Key Studio Sessions Compilation Volume I and Volume 2.

Track listing:

DRGN King, “Holy Ghost”
Blayer Point Du Jour, “Mansion Party”
Plow United, “Martin”
Weston, “Love And Rockets”
Surgeon, “Greed”
Break It Up, “Subterranian”
Black Landlord, “Last Night”
Crills Wilson, “Grifter”
Psychic Teens, “Red”
The Bad Doctors, “Sisyphus And The Gate”
Ben Smith, “Love Potion No. 10″
The Tressels, “Cold Blue Eyes”
Saturn Never Sleeps, “Hearts On Fire”
White Birds, “Floating Hands”
Andrew Lipke, “Sleep Like A Child”
Ports Of Call, Ballinora
mewithoutYou, “Tie Me Up! Untie Me!”
Young Statues , “Athens”


Plow United reunion contines with more shows, new album

Plow United at Riot Fest East

This weekend, cult favorites of the late-’90s Wilmington/Philly punk scene Plow United played its first show in 13 years at Riot Fest East. (Check back on The Key later this morning for a full photo recap by Maddie Lesperance.) If you missed the festival, you did not completely miss out, as the Plow reunion is proving to be more than a one-off thing.

When they appeared on The Key Studio Sessions hour on XPN2 last Thursday, singer-guitarist Brian McGee and bassist Joel Tannenbaum told us about a year-end engagement the power trio has on its calendar. On Dec. 31, Plow will ring in 2012 at The Note in West Chester; tickets for this show went on sale yesterday. For scene heads, the lineup is a treat: also playing are Wilmington’s The Crash and Pike Creek’s Jake And The Stiffs (both reuniting for the occasion), along with West Chester studio head and occasional acoustic provocateur Tom Martin performing as Two Days Ago I Turned Punk Rock.

“This is basically a show at The Barn Door in 1996, transposed across state lines, and space and time, to The Note in 2011,” said Tannenbaum.

McGee and Tannenbaum also talked about plans to head into the studio next year for the first time since 1997 to record a new album. “We’ve been writing seperately, but that was always the tradition,” said Tannenbaum. “We’d each come into practice with songs that were 80 percent finished, and the rest of us would polish them off.”

“It’s almost like recording a first album,” Tannenbaum continued. “Because, you know what? We’ve had almost a decade to work on it. It better be good.”

Listen to “The World According To Me” from Plow United’s recent Key Studio Session below.


The Key Studio Sessions’ Riot Fest preview with Plow United and Weston

Joel Tannenbaum (left) and Brian McGee of Plow United

With a hard-hitting lineup split between two stages at the Festival Pier, there’s no doubt that this weekend’s punk rock extravaganza, Riot Fest East, is going to be an exciting, exhausting, exuberant day. For fans of the Philadelphia/Lehigh Valley Scene circa 1996, it will be especially so, since cult favorites Plow United and Weston reformed to play the big show. Both groups stopped by WXPN this month for semi-acoustic Key Studio Sessions; Plow took a rockabilly/folk approach with theirs, moving in step with singer-guitarist Brian McGee‘s impressive body of work as a solo artist, while Weston’s performance wound up floating in a dreampop reverie (they even play an unreleased new cut called “Love And Rockets”). Neither group sounds like you’d expect them to when your point of reference is loud amps and pounding drums, and that’s exactly what I love about these recordings. Tune in to XPN2 tomorrow at 7 p.m. for an extended Key Studio Sessions Hour; you’ll hear both band’s full sets (which included covers of Sam Cooke and The Pixies), Jake Rabid’s interview with Weston, and my interview with Plow—wherein they make a big announcement or three. (More tracks by Plow United, Weston, and Brian McGee after the jump.)

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Plow United to release 34-song retrospective, perform at Riot Fest East on Sept. 24th

Photo by Shawn Scallen

The folks at Paper + Plastick Records have just announced that the label will release a Plow United retrospective in October. The Wilmington/Philadelphia-based pop-punk trio—which originally formed in 1992 and released two full-length albums before breaking up in 1997—is currently scheduled to perform at Riot Fest East this weekend. (Full lineup and ticket information available here.) According to Paper + Plastick, the collection, titled Sleepwalk: A Retrospective, will be available as a limited edition six-panel CD at Riot Fest, and as a double record with gatefold cover this October.

Here’s the word from the label:

After a five-year run that came to an end in 1997, rumors of reunion shows and a new album circulated in the punk community, but were quickly dispelled by the band, who disbanded on friendly terms. The three band members last shared the stage in 1998, though there were many offers to play shows over the past thirteen years. Plow United bassist Joel Tannenbaum notes a few factors that lead to the band’s decision to reunite at Riot Fest East this weekend. “Everything fell into place – the show itself, the timing, [vocalist/guitarist] Brian [McGee] moving back to the mid-Atlantic and his solo career starting to take off, just everything,” he says, adding “And who in their right mind would say no to sharing a stage in Philly with the Descendants and X?”

The four-sided vinyl features the band’s three full-length releases, the self-titled debut (Creep, 1995), Goodnight Sellout (Creep, 1996), and the posthumous Narcolepsy (Creep, 1998). The D-side of the retrospective features songs from various compilations or singles the band released, including the unreleased instrumental “Monte.” Though rumors have swirled about for over a decade regarding new material, the band can finally confirm they are working on new music. “There will be another album,” admits Tannenbaum. “It’s about half written. I think that’s actually what the three of us are more psyched about than anything. Writing songs was always our favorite thing in the whole world.”

If you can’t wait until this weekend to hear the recently reunited Plow United, check back in with us tomorrow for our Key Studio Session with the band.