As frontman for West Chester-based rock band Terrible Things, Fred Mascherino doesn’t always write from his own experience.
His band’s self-titled 2010 debut was a concept album about the string of arson events which had taken place in Coatesville. It was something Mascherino observed affecting his neighboring community, but didn’t directly impact his life.
In the case of Terrible Things’ latest EP, an abstract idea for a set of songs did become a reality for Mascherino.
He dreamed up a storyline following a husband whose wife was in the hospital battling a terminal illness. Mascherino thought about the differing viewpoints each song could address, from the doctors and the nurses to the physical struggle of the wife and the husband’s emotional one.
He had fully written “Hospital,” the final track on what became the band’s Pre-Trasmission EP when this musical concept Mascherino had created hit home. Continue reading →
Whether they’re singing round the campfire or singing around the microphone in our studio, West Chester folk ensemble Mason Porter conveys a sense of warmth. Its CSN-esque harmonies ring out, its songs (and interpretations of others’ songs) carry strongly performed as a full band as much as an acoustic trio – which is how we got to record MP for its Key Studio Session. Singer-mandolinist-guitarist Joe D’Amico took the lead on four of the selections: the combo’s new rendition of “Alberta,” a traditional folk number popularized by Bob Dylan; “Hard Luck and Trouble,” a staple from the band’s Thunder in the Valley LP ; and two brand new songs. Upright bassist Tim Celfo sang out on a sprightly new number as well (“Can’t See”), and singer-guitarist Paul Wilkinson blended in brilliantly on both ends, giving a good taste of what to expect from the new record Mason Porter plans to release later this year. The musicians had a busy 2011, between the various re-releasings of their excellent 2010 covers album Story of the Rifle, extensive touring and D’Amico’s own solo offering, Asleep in my Shoes. Their focus at the start of this year is light and local, with shows at Lancaster Dispensing Co. (Jan. 28) and The Note (Feb. 2). But stay tuned, since the new recordings are set to be harvested once summertime rolls.
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:
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.”
When singer-guitarist Sonni Shine and bassist Kenny Shumski sat down for an interview following their Key Studio Session this summer, they wondered why more reggae bands weren’t open to experimenting with sounds and styles. Perhaps they can lead by example. Their eclectic roots foursome Sonni Shine And The Underwater Sounds made a splash on the Philly scene this past year, blending reggae with snappy funk, exploratory prog, and bright, bold pop on their self-titled debut (which Key Readers voted the number-one debut album of 2010). We see that cross-section reflected in the band’s Key Studio Session: “What You Waiting For” has a vibrant bounce from drummer Sean Youngman, “Warrior” wanders across time-signatures with Billy Campion’s fierce Santana-esque lead guitar, and the radiant “Black And Blue” could be a crossover hit. All these songs will appear on the new album the Underwater Sounds plan to release toward the end of this year. Download them below to tide you over in the meantime; listen to Shine and Shumski’s interview tomorrow night on XPN2 during the Key Studio Sessions Hour at 7 p.m.; and check out the band’s website to keep up on its slate of live appearances (including a show this Friday, Aug. 26, at West Chester club The Note).
“What am I now/ if I don’t have you?,” asks Toy Soldiers’ vocalist Ron Gallo in “When I Tripped Into You” (from the band’s debut, Whisper Down The Lane). Why would you ever ask such a thing, Ron? Don’t you already know by now that you’re the ringleader of our favorite foot-stomping, hand-clapping, banjo-strumming roots-rock band to come out of South Philly in recent years? And who said you don’t have us in the first place? I mean, we invited you over to our studio for a recording session and everything. Doesn’t that mean anything to you? In fact, the real question is, what are we if we don’t have you? We do still have you, don’t we Ron? Answer us! Don’t make us pull the jealous-lover routine and storm onto the stage tonight at The Note during your XPN Welcomes show with Laura Veirs, The Watson Twins, and Sisters 3 to ask you in person. You know we’ll do it!
Every weekday at 1 p.m., Helen Leicht highlights a new song by a local artist during her XPN Middays program (Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.–2 p.m.). Tune in (or listen online) to hear today’s pick of the day, as well as plenty of other songs from the many musicians Philadelphia has to offer.