Thursday, April 24, 2014

First/Last-Highland Brothers Band

"It all started in a small shed in January 2009 as 4 guys jamming together 2 times a week. The idea was brought about to form an original,acoustic guitar driven, good ole fashion rock band. We strived to be different...unique....honing our sound,while writing blue collar words for the everyday working stiff, such as ourselves! Added Vit DeBacco in June 2012 to bring that extra something that we felt was missing and haven't looked back since."

Check out the band on Facebook, Twitter and ReverbNation. The band has just released their latest, "A Peasant's Creed" which will be available this Saturday as they support my buds in The Hawkeyes and Highway 4 at the Hard Rock Cafe. I want to thank Justin Highland (Rhythm Guitar/Lead Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Collective Soul, "Hints Allegations and Things Left

Your last album bought?
The Hawkeyes “Goodbye Americana”.

Favorite album of all time?
Anything that moves my soul... “Led Zeppelin”.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Anything Justin Bieber.

First concert attended?
Dr. Hook… (I had to work while I was there but
loved it).

Last concert?
Mumford and Sons.

Favorite concert ever?
Aerosmith and Kid Rock.... got wicked drunk and
ended up in West Virginia.

Least favorite concert?
X Fest, 2001.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
As a band from the sticks of Butler county there is never one time that Pittsburgh has ever let us down… the people are real and the scene is great. Everyone we meet along the way are friends by way of a handshake... just as it should be... so it is in the ‘burgh... God
Bless Pittsburgh!!

Thanks, Justin. Congrats on the new CD and have fun Saturday.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

First/Last-Sontag Shogun

"Somewhere between a lullaby and a dirge, Sontag Shogun takes their lullanoise and tries to find the strange, eery moments that exist within beauty."

Check out the band at their official Website, Facebook, BandCamp and SoundCloud. The Brooklyn 'ambient, electronic piano trio's' first full-length "tale" will be released May 6th and the band heads to Pittsburgh Thursday the 24th to preview the album at Modern Formations with support from Aaron Martin, Dream Weapon and Vox Robotica. I want to thank Jesse Perlstein (Laptop/Field Recordings/Korean Radio/Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.
The first album you ever bought?
I ever bought myself? Smashing Pumpkins "Mellon Collie & the Infinite Sadness".

Your last album bought?
My friends' new album "Rocks or Cakes" by Cloud Becomes Your Hand.

Favorite album of all time?
Tough call... maybe, Sigur Ros “( )”.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
The new Pixies albums. All of them.

First concert attended?
Our Lady Peace at Irving Plaza in NYC.

Last concert?
Cloud Becomes Your Hand & Gorilla Toss at Roulette in Brooklyn.

Favorite concert ever?
Sigur Ros & The Album Leaf & Amiina at Radio City Music Hall.

Least favorite concert?
Neil Young & Crazy Horse at Barclays Center.
Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
I've never been to Pittsburgh but we're open to post-gig suggestions and a good greasy spoon to eat breakfast!

Thanks, Jesse. Can't go wrong with Pamela's to grease. Then again, you wanna scratch Ritter's off your bucket list. You will thank me later.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


"The humble beginnings of what woul become GRAIN began at a books & music store, in Pittsburgh, PA., as Wayne Smith (guitars) and Carla Simmons (vocals, words) perfected the art of avoiding customers and hiding from management, all the while working on plans to start a rock and roll band. The mutual experience of growing up on 70's rock along with an appreciation for country music, disco, punk rock, and the 8-track tape would help shape the vision for straight ahead, guitar driven songs with lush arrangements and a raw sensibility. Grain has been rocking the steel city, as well as taking their act on the road. Come on, grab your Terrible Towel and check out the band Amplifier Magazine calls, " of the most exciting bands to watch."

Check out the band at their official Website, BandCamp and Facebook. The Pittsburgh rock duo's third release is called "Echoes in the Air" from 2012 via Orange World Records. Much thanks to Wayne Smith (Guitar) and Carla Simmons (Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Wayne Smith: “KISS ALIVE II”.
Carla Simmons: Carol King “Tapestry”.

Your last album bought?
Wayne: “Glenn Gray & the Casa Loma Orchestra”.
Carla: Amy Gore and Her Valentines “In Love”.

Favorite album of all time?
Wayne: too many... “Frampton Come Alive”, Ornette Coleman “The Shape of Jazz to Come”, the first six KISS albums...
Carla: This is REALLY hard. I had to pick records that changed my thinking or in some way changed my direction in life so... “Ziggy Stardust” (Bowie), “Los Angeles” (X), “Frampton Comes Alive”, pretty much any Led Zeppelin record... the list goes on.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Wayne: Robert Plant “Maniac Nirvana”.
Carla: Couldn't answer this one.

First concert attended?
Wayne: Not sure... my parents took me to many when I was very young, but the first without an adult was Van Halen “1984” tour, Civic Arena.
Carla: Eric Clapton, Civic Arena (“Slow Hand” tour).

Last concert?
Wayne: Jake E Lee at the Dead Horse Cantina. Last week.
Carla: Heart, just last week at Carnegie Music Hall!

Favorite concert ever?
Carla: The Clash, Stanley Theater, 1982 (amazing show!). Talking Heads, again at the Stanley Theater. Black Crowes with Jimmy Page, First Niagara Pavilion, would have been even better in a smaller venue.

Least favorite concert?
Wayne: The Band at Metropol. Awful.
Carla: George Jones at the Pepsi Roadhouse. I know he's a legend and I shouldn't complain, but he basically did a medley and walked off the stage. Also, although I’m not a fan, I had to stand through Alice in Chains, at Metropol. They opened for Iggy Pop (sometime in the 90's).  Iggy was great. Alice in Chains, awful.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Carla: Pittsburgh has so much going on in terms of the arts, particularly music. However, we always need more people interested in going out and supporting local music. It keeps the community thriving and having fun! Now, if Pittsburgh could just get all that road construction under control…

Thanks, guys. Yeah, Wayne, that Band show at Metropol is LEGENDARY for being so damned horrible.

Monday, April 21, 2014

First/Last-The Feel Bad Hit of the Winter

"The Feel Bad Hit Of The Winter is a three piece band from Kansas City, Missouri who formed in early 2014, by the looks of things.  The Feel Bad Hit Of The Winter play an impossibly catchy and hard to ignore style of music that draws inspiration from several subgenres of independent music, which includes indie rock, grunge, lo-fi, and post punk.  The Feel Bad Hit Of The Winter features exceptional guitarwork paired with lo-fi grunge, which is tied together with a killer post punk rhythm that ties the band's sound together in a nice little package.  Musically, The Feel Bad Hit Of The Winter can be loosely compared to bands such as Parquet Courts, The Men, Typewriter, and other like minded indie rock bands.  Vocals tend to be on the introspective side of things, which also adds a dreamy atmospheric vibe to the band's sound.  Overall, this is a killer EP that is not to be missed.  Highly recommended!  Enjoy!" - Manic Compression

Check out the band on BandCamp. The band's self-titled debut is out now on Russian Winter Records. I want to thank Ryan Leip (Guitar/Vocals), Richard Stone (Bass) and Freddy Aguirre (Drums) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Ryan Leip: Nine Inch Nails “And All That Could Have Been.”
Richard Stone: “Americana” by The Offspring is what I tell everyone, but it's secretly “Tubthumper” by Chumbawumba. I was 12 and I have no other excuses.
Freddy Aguirre: It was a Tupac album.

Your last album bought?
Ryan: The new self-titled album from “osoosooso”.
Stone: “Houston: We Have A Drinking Problem" by Bad Astronaut. Anything Joey Cape has a hand in is alright by me.
Freddy: I just bought the new Sidewise album.

Favorite album of all time?
Ryan: That’s a tough one. Right now I'd go with The Beatles "Abbey Road", “The Life and Times "Tragic Boogie", and Blink 182's Self-Titled album. But that list will probably look different tomorrow.
Stone: Ugh. It changes on the daily, it feels like. “My Shame Is True” by Alkaline Trio is what I'm going with, but I know I'm missing out on tons of others.
Freddy: Blink 182 "Take Off Your Pants And Jacket", the yellow album.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Ryan: “Chinese Democracy” is the cool answer, right? I don't know, I usually don't like to talk about how much I don't like an album...
Stone: “Anarchy, My Dear” by Say Anything. It was just kind of a letdown after “...Is A Real Boy”, “In Defense of the Genre”, and their Self-Titled album.
Freddy: “The William Hung Christmas Album”. For some reason I thought that would be really funny to buy.

First concert attended?
Ryan: Nine Inch Nails on the tour for “With Teeth”. Still one of the best shows I've been to.
Stone: Alkaline Trio during their tour for “Crimson” in 2005. I was a real late bloomer.
Freddy: Oscar DeLeon in Kansas City.

Last concert?
Stone and Ryan: There's this really awesome band local to Kansas City called The Sexy Accident.
Freddy: I went to a random reggae show last weekend.

Favorite concert ever?
Ryan: I'd probably have to go with Alkaline Trio and The Smoking Popes. The show ended with a drunken Matt Skiba passing out into the crowd with his guitar still on and feeding back while his security and the crowd played tug of war with him. It was one of the most rock and roll things I've ever seen.
Stone: Alkaline Trio and Smoking Popes at The Metro in Chicago for New Years Eve ‘06/New Years Day ‘07. First time seeing Smoking Popes and Alk3 played “From Here to Infirmary” in full.
Freddy: Hands down Blink 182.

Least favorite concert?
Ryan: Probably Warped Tour, whenever the last time I went was, 2010 I think. It was oppressively hot, and full of bands I had no interest in. I only managed to catch two sets. Granted there were only about four or five I wanted to see. But yeah, that one left a lot to be desired.
Stone: Warped Tour. I know it's getting to be a cliche to trash Warped Tour but I just can't deal with the heat, the crowds, and the people to see 4 out of 20 bands on a bill.
Freddy: Can't remember.

Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Ryan: Unfortunately, I've never been to Pittsburgh, but it seems like a cool place. Hopefully we can find our way out there before too long.
Stone: I grew up just down I-70 from Pittsburgh in Baltimore. I'm sorry about any Ravens fans that act a fool.
Freddy: I've never been to Pittsburgh, but I would love to play out there and go to a Steelers game sometime soon.

Thanks, fellas. No apologies needed for Ravens fans behavior, Stone. I have witnessed some over-the-top shenanigans from Black and Gold fans myself. Well, maybe I take that back... the Ravens suck.

Friday, April 18, 2014


"Thrift is an innovative indie-rock duo consisting of Anna Carmela and Mark Malagise. The Pittsburgh, PA based “dirty disco” band recently released their debut concept EP in early 2014 to critical acclaim, and their songs “Mockingbird”, “Warning Signs”, and “Dead & Buried” have already gained popularity in both the United States and the U.K. Legendary Billboard editor and music journalist, Chuck Taylor, comments: “Thrift’s debut EP offers a sonic inferno opus packed with passion, as electrifying as a key jammed in a socket—and ultimately, an adept rock’n’roll paean.”

Check out the band at their official Website, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter. The Pittsburgh based 'Indie-Rock/Dirty-Disco' duo have recently released their debut self-titled EP. You can catch them live when they play The Smiling Moose on Tuesday opening for Shilpa Ray. Much thanks to Anna Carmela (Bass/Vocals) and Mark Malagise (Guitar) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Anna Carmela: I think it was “Metallica”…
Mark Malagise: “Led Zeppelin II”.

Your last album bought?
Anna: Imaginary Future’s “Fire Escape".
Mark: Harrison Hudson’s “Curious".

Favorite album of all time?
Anna: “Nevermind” by Nirvana. I know that sounds pretty typical, but I have a lot of memories associated with that album.
Mark: Crosby Stills & Nash.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Anna: Pretty much all the “one hit wonders’” albums that came out all last year (i.e.- Lorde, Imagine Dragons, etc.). They all had one or two decent radio-friendly songs, but the rest of their album was usually pretty crappy.
Mark: “In My Mind” by Pharrell because for someone who can rattle off hit after hit, this album failed to include one memorable.

First concert attended?
Anna: Warped Tour. It was such a cool experience.
Mark: Spin Doctors in Pittsburgh.

Last concert?
Anna: Dropkick Murphy’s.
Mark: Citizen Cope.

Favorite concert ever?
Anna: I saw Enter Shikari, an English post-hardcore, electronica band, in L.A. a couple years ago, and it was so insane.
Mark: My favorite concert was when I went to see Buddy Guy in 2005. He was almost 70 years old and had more energy than any performer I had ever seen.

Least favorite concert?
Anna: Hmm… I can’t really say. I have found enjoyment in every concert I’ve been to.
Mark: The Police, only because I attended with my soon-to-be ex-fiancé.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Anna: It’s definitely a lot colder here than where I’m from (L.A.) - this winter wasn’t very welcoming - but I do like it here. People are very spirited and proud of their city, and I fell absolutely in love with pierogies during my time here.
Mark: Spending time with my family. WDVE.

Thanks, guys. Love that tag 'Dirty-Disco'. Sorry about that Police gig, Mark. Any show attended with a soon-to-be 'ex-fiancé' would definitely suck.