Friday, July 31, 2015

First/Last-River Rat

"River Rat started as a blank piece of paper in December of 2013. By the end of the month, there were many pieces of paper scribbled with hardly legible ideas, melodies and arrangements. They were formed from life experiences, good & bad, light & dark, but either way from a place of honesty. A little time went by and the ideas began to become somewhat recognizable. Hours and hours were spent alone with these ideas until they had become strong enough to stand on their own, but still sparse and existing in a black and white state."

River Rat is a brand new 'band' formed by former Coronado drummer Marc Martinka. With the help of a who's who of Pittsburgh musical all-stars, Marc just released his fantastic self-titled debut. There's a lot going on here with tinges of psychedelia, country, rock and blues combined to form one of the most exciting local debuts I have heard. Let's hope this is just the beginning and possibly expect some live shows? As I patiently wait, I want to thank Marc (Drums/Percussion/Piano/Backing Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
The first three I remember getting at the same time, The Stray Cats debut album, The Clash “London Calling” and “Face Value” by Phil Collins. I was four or five and had these on LP's.

Your last album bought?
“Brothers And Sisters Of The Eternal Son” by Damian Jurado and “I Love You Honeybear” by Father John Misty both on the advice from mi amigo Paul Luc. Both great albums.

Favorite album of all time?
“The White Album” and “Exile On Main Street”. Can't pick between the two. I have a thing for double albums. I think both of those albums are just so perfect. “The White Album” had The Beatles stripped back down a bit coming out of “Sgt. Pepper” and “Magical Mystery Tour” so it has a raw edge to it that I love. “Exile” I think is the Stones at their peak. The Country-Blues and Gospel influenced stuff on there seem so effortless and natural. Maybe the best pure rock n roll album ever made in my book.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
MGMT's last album. I loved the first two major label releases but the self-titled third is just absolutely awful in my opinion. I just didn't get it.

First concert attended?
Lollapalooza '93 at Star Lake was the first real big concert I attended. Fishbone was the absolute highlight.

Last concert?
The Stones at Heinz Field, the sound wasn't that great but they were on and to hear ‘Moonlight Mile’ live was an special experience for me as that song is one of my favorites from them and wasn't ever expecting to hear it live.

Favorite concert ever?
Pink Floyd '94 at Three Rivers Stadium. Me and a few friends skipped out of school to go and I haven't been the same since. A life changer. I walked in 15 years old and walked out with the wisdom of someone who has been around for awhile.

Least favorite concert?
I remember being at a particularly bad Bob Dylan show but I can't remember what year it was. Thankfully, it was redeemed by two great back to back Dylan shows at the Civic Arena and State College in '99.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
The music scene is incredible and filled with so much talent right now. I sat in with Coronado for the Deutschtown Music Festival and it was just an amazing day seeing so many people throughout the North Side showing up to support Pittsburgh Music. There are so many bands and artists that I absolutely love. I also love how we are such a big sports town. You can walk into a bar and see people from all walks of life throwing around high-fives after a score that normally may not have acknowledged each other. Sports brings our city together more than I have seen elsewhere which to me is really cool.

Thanks, Marc. Such a nice surprise with this album, man. As I questioned earlier, any plans on playing this material out live? I can only hope so.

Thursday, July 30, 2015


S.L.I.P. is the moniker for Pittsburgh-based DIY musician David Rosenstraus' hard core punk project. Little is known of the band except they have a release from last year called "Songs of Peace and Love" and may be churning out new music in the future. I want to thank David for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
I bought a Soundgarden “Superunknown” CD when I was 12.

Your last album bought?
Not sure, I don't collect records these days. The last car part I bought was a turbo for an 02 Golf TDI.

Favorite album of all time?
COC “Animosity”, though I think “Ready to Die” is a close contender.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Any band's sophomore effort.

First concert attended?
I saw the Beach Boys when I was 11.

Last concert?
Ultimate Warriors record release show.

Least favorite concert?
Most things that are coming to mind are shows that are show bad by standard metrics but are actually awesome. I think shows with bad vibes are the worst. Attendance, temperature, the annoying drunk guy; all go by the wayside if the show has good vibes.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Pittsburgh is like that TV show where the family is driving and the ground cracks open and they are transported back in time and live with Dinosaurs. There's smoking in bars, wood paneling, regional accent, nature taking over 30 years of decay. I've lived here for eight years and have had so many ridiculous experiences not just related to the music scene. Some of those experiences are reflected in SLIP lyrics. I think that TV show was called "The Family That Couldn't Not Go Back In Time".

Thanks, Dave. Blog first! Naming an automotive part instead of an album. Was bound to happen.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

First/Last-Roulette Waves

"Roulette Waves is a American grunge rock band formed by singer and guitarist Heather Donovan and lead guitarist Jared Augustus Creighton in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in September 2013. Roulette Waves first started out as a three piece with former drummer Aiden Angle. The three piece released a five track EP called "Move, Feel, Live, the Message." Daniel Gray former bassist also played in the beginning of 2014 with the band. In July 2014, Greg Brunner joined the band as the current drummer along with bassist Gordy Brash in November 2014. Creighton has decided to enjoy music behind the scenes as a recording producer. Derrick Davila will join the band as the new lead guitarist on August 8th. Roulette Waves have played with bands such as Hank & Cupcakes, Shellshag, Kind of like Spitting, Free Throw, and The City On Film."

Roulette Waves is an 'in your face, make no apologies' grunge band from Pittsburgh who will be celebrating the release of their latest (and I might add, excellent) album "Blown Out" this upcoming Saturday (8/1) with a show at Spirit in Lawrenceville with local faves Dumplings, KHeeS and Swampwalk as support. Much thank to Heather Donovan (Guitar/Lead Vocals), Greg Brunner (Drums), Derrick Davilla (Lead Guitar), Gordy Brash (Bass) and Jared Augustus Creighton (Lead Guitars) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Heather Donovan: Blink 182 “Enema of the State”.
Greg Brunner: Green Day “Dookie”.
Derrick Davilla: Nine Inch Nails "Broken".
Gordy Brash: Oh man, I think either Incubus "Fungus Amongus" or Sugar Ray "14:59".
Jared ‘Gus’ Creighton: Micheal Jackson "Dangerous".

Your last album bought?
Heather: Jamie xx "In Colour".
Greg: Jim Croce “Greatest Hits” (it was 50 cents!!)
Derrick: Dead Batteries "Sessions in the Red".
Gordy: Screaming Females "Rose Mountain".
Gus: The Decemberists "Terrible World, Beautiful World".

Favorite album of all time?
Heather: Taking Back Sunday “Where You Want to Be” or The Used “The Used”.
Greg: Queens of the Stone Age :Songs for the Deaf”.
Derrick: Red Hot Chili Peppers "Blood Sugar Sex Magik".
Gordy: Super hard question so I'll just go with some albums I've been digging a lot lately! Ava Luna "Infinite House", Unknown Mortal Orchestra "Multi Love", Thee Oh Sees "Castlemania", and Screaming Females "Rose Mountain".
Gus: “Get Behind Me Satan” The White Stripes.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Heather: Taking Back Sunday "Happiness Is".
Greg: Hmmm... Green Day “Warning”. That's when Green Day started to suck.
Derrick: Mars Volta's "Frances the Mute" only because it followed such an epic 1st album "Deloused in the Comatorium".
Gordy: GetGo - Our Food Sucks (you're welcome, Gordy - Greg).
Gus: “Newer” of Montreal.

First concert attended?
Heather: Three Days Grace in Pittsburgh, 2004.
Greg: Ha-ha, oh goodness. Skillet with my Dad in 90-something. First big one on my own was Blink 182 in 2002.
Derrick: Foo Fighters and Red Hot Chili Peppers 99'.
Gordy: Neil Young and Crazy Horse in Japan, 2003.
Gus: No idea.

Last concert?
Heather: Interpol got cancelled... BUSH before that.
Greg: Bush in Pittsburgh, 2015.
Derrick: Heartless Bastards.
Gus: Dumplings.

Favorite concert ever?
Heather: No Doubt at Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Pavilion in 2009 or Brand New at AJ Palumbo Center in 2007.
Greg: Queens of the Stone Age in Pittsburgh, PA in 2013. Hands down. Followed closely by MXPX at a house show just outside of Pittsburgh. That was nuts.
Derrick: The Dead Weather at The Fillmore in Detroit, MI.
Gordy: Super hard question once again. Either The Dead Weather's first show ever at 9:30 club in D.C. in 2009 (Screaming Females opened!!!), St. Vincent and Radiohead back to back at Bonnaroo 2012, or Deerhoof at the Andy Warhol Museum.
Gus: The White Stripes at the Boston Opera House in 2005.

Least favorite concert?
Heather: Alt-J at The Benedum in 2015. They're amazing but the show was too long and I wasn't in to the performance. They're more of a chill and listen band but the concert was huge so it wasn't intimate.
Greg: I'm sure I've been to worse, but BUSH was pretty boring. Wanted it to be wayyyyy better.
Derrick: Ozzfest 2000.
Gordy: I saw NIN and Jane's Addiction at First Niagara about 6 or 7 years ago for like 5 bucks. NIN was pretty cool but Jane's Addiction just sucked. Ha-ha.
Gus: Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Heather: I love Pittsburgh and its music scene. I'm only about two years into the multiple scenes of music (DIY, open-mic, big promoters, or local cliques) and I enjoy experiencing everything. I've learned to be strong and true to myself. Musicians can easily get taken advantage of by promoters or writing songs that aren't really them to please people. Networking is something that is very important and can make or break a band depending on your audience; however music has and always will be a way to express myself. When people are impacted or feel something when we step on stage that's the response I hope for. Support your local bands and make Pittsburgh a place where musicians come from, because there’s a lot of talent here!
Greg: Black and Yellow. Black and Yellow. Black and Yellow.
Derrick: I've moved here, moved away, and came back two years ago. I like this city's contagious team spirit, ultra-supportive art & music scene. It's a great city to experience a mixture of good old Pgh. Staples, budding venues & small businesses. It's an exciting city of steady growth of art, music, and culture.
Gordy: I've been living in the city for a little over 1 year now. I love it here, it's a small town atmosphere just magnified about a thousand times. Just watching the music scene explode over the past year has been super cool. I'm really excited about what Pittsburgh has to offer with all of its "up and coming" hype actually becoming reality.
Gus: Gum bands, yellow everything.

Thanks, all. Congrats on the record, it is kickin'! Saturday should be a very sweet time.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

First/Last-we speak in colors

"bummer-rock band filtered through a bunch of different people at different times. just wanna move around the earth."

we speak in colors is the moniker for songwriter Andrew Armstrong. With a couple of very good songs under his belt, Andrew plays two shows this weekend in Pittsburgh before heading out out to Abu Dhabi. Catch him at Spirit Friday night (7/31)  and then Saturday night (8/1) he's at The People's Warehouse for a rager with local heroes Skull Kid. I want to thank Andrew for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Hanson's cassette single for ‘Mmbop’, Third Eye Blind's self-titled record, and Mxpx's “Life in General”. Spun ‘em all dead on the walkman.

Your last album bought?
Ratboys' “Aoid” on cassette. They just got signed to Topshelf Records. Julia is a ridiculous songwriter.

Favorite album of all time?
Albums that I return to consistently are “Good News” by Modest Mouse, “Bleed American” by Jimmy Eat World, everything that The Weakerthans have done, Phosphorescent, Counting Crows, I mean I could just keep going.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Hmm… I get so invested in artists that I seem to be often disappointed in new records, but many times, years later, I end up coming back around to them. Some of my favorite Margot and the Nuclear So and So's songs are from records I didn't get at first. Same with a lot of Death Cab.

First concert attended?
The first shows I remember going to that really affected me were at a Christian music festival called Creation. I went in 7th grade with my youth group and the music grabbed me. While I keep my distance with that culture now, I have fond memories. Right after that I started going to small-town DIY shows which lead to club shows in the city. I didn't know it then, but it seems that was one of the beginning markers of the we speak in colors story.

Last concert?
Last show I went to was Ike Reilly. Dude and his band floored my friends and I. I'd never heard of him, but my friends promised a good time. They were right.

Favorite concert ever?
Will never forget seeing The Avett Brothers at 123 Pleasant St. in Morgantown. 9/2006. Thanks, Jon.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
I adore the international community in the city, the small theatres, the polish hill steps, and the endless neighborhoods/streets to wander. I'm enjoying seeing a lot of artists and businesses stepping into community spaces and not just being tied to one insular pocket. That's encouraging to me and my little journey.

Thanks, Andrew. I have to say, the few songs you have available sound really amazing, man! Can't wait for a full release from you.