Friday, April 30, 2010

First/Last-These United States

These United States
Club Cafe
Thursday May 13, 2010

TUS are a self-described "psychedelic/gospel/grime" band hailing from both Kentucky and D.C. Before playing a mess of high profile festivals this summer, they are stopping in Pittsburgh. Drummer Robby Cosenza was cool enough to participate in this latest edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
With my own hard earned snow shoveling dough? Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, I Love Rock n Roll. This was 1982 in Long Island, NY, and it made a lot of sense. Only to find out later that it features members of The Sex Pistols and Ramones camp. Turned me onto 70’s punk and early college underground. A monster album. Still.

Your last album bought?
Hmmm. Probably something used, and from a lost back catalogue. Zeppelin, I think? But the newest album that I have access to and am excited about is Lykke Li. The one with Dance, Dance, Dance on it. Very minimal and very smart. And I love her. I think.

Favorite album of all time?
This changes, of course. Used to be Twisted Sister’s, You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll, if that gives you an indication on just how MUCH things change. Now it would maybe be Bob Dylan’s Street Legal from 1978. After the mayhem of Rolling Thunder, during the divorce, sailing like a bat outta heaven into the born-again period. Best period, on album.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Family album. Way to many junior high era pics for my taste.

First concert attended?
I know this sounds not cool, but it is cool. UB40 and Midnight Oil. NOW – this was pre- Red Red Wine mainstream success and WAY before Midnight Oil were known outside of Australia. A shirtless Peter Garrett in black/yellow tights running around like a feaky Aussie Iggy. 1984 at The Greek Theatre. San Francisco, CA. Fact: We left early because the drums were too loud for me. Go figure.

Last concert?
This is tough to answer because we tour constantly, and…I mean, we played with Weezer last night in Florida (!!?). Would THAT be my last concert? Nah. I think the last ticket I got for a SHOW show was GWAR in Providence, RI. The whole band got to go. It was amazing. And filthy. Like all good things in life.

Favorite concert ever?
The Ramones, at Rhinestones, in the winter of 1989. Lexington, KY. Rhinestones was a 200 capacity country-western bar on the outskirts of Lexington. How that got booked I will never know. Saw a small add for the show in the local Herald and bought a $5 ticket, only to find out the night of the show that it was 21 and over. They agreed to give my mother a ticket and allow her to “parent” me and my pals throughout the show. I got Johnny AND Dee Dee’s pics, and a crew laminate. Favorite concert. Hands down.

Least favorite concert?
Yikes. Weezer last night? Am I a jerk?

Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Ah, yes! Always been a tenacious town. I love it. Our last bout with Pittsburgh was this past February. The weather was outrageous. I think the national guard were in town. Our bassist, Colin, and I were stuck at the Greyhound station on route to KY after tracking our newest album due east in rural PA. We ended up at an old professor of Jesse’s (our singer / chief songwriter) drinking scotch from a plastic bottle, and blaring odd Beatles tunes in rapid dj-battle succession until the wee small hours of the morning. Got some killer hockey stories to boot. Thank you, Pittsburgh!

Thanks Robby! You definitely have a cool vibe going.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

First/Last-Martin Bisi

Martin Bisi
Sunday May 2, 2010

Martin Bisi has a storied career as a producer and performer. Some of his noteworthy collaborations are with Brian Eno, Sonic Youth, and Herbie Hancock to name a few. He's coming to town and was cool enough to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
The first 2 albums I owned were bought for me by my mom, around 1969. They were Grateful Dead - Anthem Of The Sun; and John McLaughlin - Extrapolation. The Dead one I actually hung on to and listened to repeatedly for a few years. It struck me as totally weird and epic. McLaughlin was way too proggy for me at that age.
As far as me buying my own? It was likely when I was around 12, and was probably in a shopping spree of Hendrix, Zappa, and Rolling Stones. The proto-punk of the late 60's didn't reach my ears till I was exposed to actual punk and New Wave in the late 70's. I thought things could start in a void and then someone suggested I check out The Stooges, like after I'd heard Branca.

Your last album bought ?
Aaaah, painful to answer. I'm one of what I'd estimate is 20% of people in music -musicians, engineers, producers- who end up not actively listening to music anymore in their private time. I work on or play music nearly every day of my life, even if it's just noodling on my guitar, so I just don't listen to albums. I like knowing what's new out there, but I don't listen a great deal of any one individual artist. I hear stuff at people's houses, in hipster cafes, and I ask people to play me new stuff they're excited about for reference, usually while we're working in the recording studio.

So the last album I bought was Bob Dylan's Time Out Of Mind. I picked it up in '02 ..yikes.
Favorite album of all time?
A contender would be Wee Tam by The Incredible String Band. Runner up is Low by David Bowie.
Least favorite/most disappointing album ?
The Jesus Lizard - Goat. I've really enjoyed the band live, and I don't really hear it on that record.
First concert attended ?
The first concert I went to under my own steam was Bob Dylan at Madison Square Garden in 1974 - benefit for Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, a boxer wrongly convicted of murder. The first concert I actually attended was probably a classical concert my parents dragged me to as a toddler. They were really into that. I just sat there in my little suit and tie fuming.
Last concert ?

Tania Stavreva playing solo classical piano at Roulette in Manhattan last week - Debussy and Prokofiev. A total coincidence that my first and last concerts are both classical.

Favorite concert ever ?
It really might be Sonic Youth doing the last concert ever at McCarren Park Pool in Williamsburg Brooklyn in 2008. It might not count so much cause it's one of "my" bands, but honestly I've seen them and hated them. When they seem comfortable, like too Pavement-y, I feel they've really lost the original mission of indie/post-punk.

Least favorite concert ?
God, that's easy. Rasputina easily held up as my worst musical experience of '08, and still holds the prize. Three women just sawing away on distorted cellos, without anything very compelling on vocals, and a guy doing metal "riffs" on drums. Just stupid crap.

Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh ?
So far it's been the "touring curse" ..quantity but little quality. You go lots of places, but you're in and out. I came, did not see, and will have to conquer next time.

Thanks Martin. BTW, the two local bands who are on the bill with you at Brillobox (David Bernabo + Assembly, Mandrake Project) are fantastic!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Image Of The Day-"Strange Times"

The Black Keys
Carnegie Mellon University
Friday April 16, 2010

I like these guys. I don't LOVE them as many people seem to do. For me, a two man band is limited in their sound. If they had a full band I think I would be groovin' on them more than I do. What I do love are the pictures I took of them. Sometimes the three song limit seems to work to my advantage. Setlist here. More photos here.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

First/Last-JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound

Shadow Lounge
Sunday May 9, 2010
East Liberty

This soul/pop punk band from Chicago is ending a quick East Coast swing in Pittsburgh before heading home to play summer dates. JC was kind enough to participate in this latest installment of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Blind Melon's self-titled album in 7th grade

Your last album bought?
Janelle Monae - Metropolis: The Chase Suite

Favorite album(s) of all time?
Skunk Anansie - Paranoid & Sunburnt
Mos Def & Talib Kweli are BlackStar
Parliament - The Motor Booty Affair
Steely Dan – Gaucho and Aja

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
I kinda’ just forget about albums I don't like--sorry.

First concert attended?
period: Janet Jackson (during the Rhythm Nation tour) @ The Spectrum in Philadelphia, PA
alone: The Offspring/Quicksand/No Use For A Name @ The Expo Center, Pennsauken, NJ

Last concert?
Janelle Monae @ Schuba’s, Chicago

Favorite concert ever?
-Red Hot Chili Peppers/Silverchair/The Rentals in Philly, '96
-Spearhead @ Berkshire Mountain Music Fest (early 2000s)

Least favorite concert?
Mos Def/MF Doom @ The Congress Theater, Chicago 2010 (too may openers and headlined by a 'Doomposter').

Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Too many to list -I lived there for 6 years during and after college.

Thanks JC. Hope to see you May 9th.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Image Of The Day-"Goodbye, I!"

Carnegie Mellon University
Friday April 16, 2010

I never heard of this band before they were announced as an opener. They were pretty solid given I wasn't familiar with their music at all. Extremely humble and cool dudes even though they hail from Philly...BOOO! As with last year, I have to give a huge shout out to my man Warren who hooked me up with the pass. Thanks, buddy!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Image Of The Day-"Will And A Way"

City Dwelling Nature Seekers
WYEP Third Thursdays
ThursdaApril 15, 2010

I have been trying to see this band for awhile now. They have a 'country' vibe to them which was brought out even more by the inclusion of Pete Freeman's beautiful pedal steel runs. They have a slew of local shows coming up. You should definitely check them out. The set should be up soon here.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Image Of The Day-"Old Time Religion"

Steel Pennies
Morning Glory Coffeehouse
Saturday April 3, 2010

So Rick(?) and his partners opened up for Dark Dark Dark at MoGlo and was a totally welcome surprise. Basic acoustic music? Yes, although there was an 'honesty' to his set that makes me want to seek out more. I briefly introduced myself to him after the show and dude, contact me please. There is absolutely zero tracings of you online and I have to hear your stuff again. More photos here.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Image Of The Day-"Passenger Side"

Carnegie Music Hall
Sunday April 11, 2010

There is a lot of incredible buzz blogging around Pittsburgh about this show. I have seen the band seven times now and I feel the praise not only for this show but the whole tour in general is very much well deserved. With a near perfect mammoth set list, the band playing better than I have ever seen them, and with an acoustically gorgeous (albeit stuffy...blechh) venue this was one show to remember. My favorite Wilco show, well almost but not quite. That would have to be my first show at The Fillmore. More groovy pics here.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Image Of The Day-"Tiger Lily"

Dean & Britta
Warhol Live! Opening Reception
Andy Warhol Museum
Saturday June 14, 2009

So why focus on a show that took place almost a year ago now? Why not? For reasons I cannot explain, I sometimes put off editing my photos for a show until, well...I feel like it. That's not to say that this show wasn't enjoyable. I have to say the exact opposite. It was probably my favorite show of last year for a number of reasons. The set itself had a great mix of Dean's entire career (I finally got to hear 'Tiger Lily' live before I die!) The outdoor stage area was more than comfortable(?) for a concertgoer. The accompanying exhibit was interesting and entertaining at the same time. Maybe the perfect Pittsburgh night.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Image Of The Day-"Dog In The Burning Building"

Miles Kurosky
Monday March 29, 2010

For a review of the show check out my man from The PGH Music Report, the ultimate Beulah fanboy. I have to say that Miles was one cool dude. His father is from Carnegie. My wife is from Carnegie. So yeah, we're practically related.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Image Of The Day-"Underwater T-Shirt, USA"

Delicious Pastries
Monday March 29, 2010

This is one fun band. They have that psychedelic vibe going that takes me back to my late teens when my motto was '...the only good music is acid music!' Glad I got out of that phase but I can appreciate a taste of it once in awhile. I loved the group's melodies and sing-songy harmonies. They weren't in full on rock band mode due to a request from Opus to not be loud or something? I probably got that wrong but weird nonetheless. Can't wait to see them again.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Image Of The Day-"Flood"

Dark Dark Dark
Morning Glory Coffeehouse
Saturday April 3, 2010

All The Things/The Hand/Right Path/Celebrate/Nobody Knows/Something For Myself/Wild Goose Chase/Bright Bright Bright/Make Time/Wild Go

I was extremely pumped to see this band. So far still, they have released my favorite music of the year. I was in contact with them before the show and they are cool as hell people. Marshall even constructively critiqued my art which I love! Bands that fly under the radar and are 'organic' in everything they do appeal to me. Unfortunately, this gig was WAY too crowded to actually enjoy fully. Thanks to Mrs. PGHMR I had a spot and swill waiting for me that made me forget my legs were falling asleep. The band was great. Don't get me wrong but that EP is just golden to me and something that far up on the pedestal just cannot be touched. My bar was set too damned high. That is unless I finally hear Flood live someday! Someday.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Image Of The Day-"Roscoe"

Monday April 5, 2010

This was a decent show. I like their albums a lot and was actually surprised that they announced a Pittsburgh show. It always seemed to me that we got passed up by most of the 'cool' indie bands in the last several years but for some reason we are finally a 'viable' town for bands to play in? I hope that trend continues. It wasn't too crowded which is always a bonus for getting different angles and Diesel is such a great place for taking pictures anyway. They were at times a bit sleepy but more than made up for it when they were 'on'. Totally nice dudes to boot.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

First/Last-Jeremy Porter

Jeremy Porter
Howler's Coyote Cafe
Friday April 9, 2010

In an effort to preview new music and upcoming shows of worth, I am starting a new feature here. Rather than an interview, I will ask few questions pertaining to an artists' musical taste. Today, I ask Jeremy Porter (who has a long and interesting career) to participate.

The first album you ever bought?

"KISS Alive! or Cheap Trick at Budokan. I remember hearing I Want You To Want Me and just being drawn in by that melody. I couldn’t get it out of my head and to this day melody and hooks are my favorite parts of music. Truth is though, it was probably Alive! I knew I wanted a KISS record, I knew it had to have Rock And Roll All Night on it, and Alive! had so many songs. Seemed like a good choice. Funny that they were both live records!"

Your last album bought?

"The Big To-Do by the Drive-By Truckers. Lots of people see them as the best band in the world these days. I have trouble arguing that. They have been unbelievably consistent for many years. This record is a bit shorter and a bit more rockin’ than the last couple, but the perfect follow up to last year’s Brighter Than Creations Dark."

Favorite album of all time?

"Tough question. It rotates around a bit I suppose. Let it Be by The Replacements is up there. Exile on Main Street (Rolling Stones) or Quadrophenia by The Who. Zen Arcade by Hüsker Dü. Springteen’s Nebraska is in the top 10 too."

Least favorite album?

"Not sure I have a least favorite album. Nothing comes to mind. I have a pretty low tolerance for things that are self indulgent, excessively noisy, or lack hooks and strong melody. I just get bored. Nothing against that stuff – some people eat it up so it has its place, just not my cuppa tea."

First concert attended?

"Alice Cooper with The Rockets at the Alpena (MI) Drive In, Special Forces Tour, July 4th 1981."

Last concert?

"Drive-By Truckers at Tipitina’s, New Orleans, LA March 19 & 20 2010."

Favorite concert ever?

"Probably The Ramones at Harpo’s in Detroit in December of 88. An unbelievable onslaught of power and great songs. I’ve seen a lot of great shows, but that one has stuck with me."

Least favorite concert?

"The Grateful Dead, 1994ish, The Palace of Auburn Hills, MI. I paid an (at the time) ungodly $35 to stare at the back of Jerry Garcia’s head for 3 goddamn hours. It was a waste of a buzz, money and time. I couldn’t wait to get out of there."

Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
"I’ve been to Pittsburgh a couple times. A few years back we went to a Penguins/Red Wings game. Got to see Mario Lemieux score a couple of goals, but the Wings won in OT. Then, this past June I was playing in St Louis when the 2 teams faced off in game 7 of the finals. We were the only people in the building who wanted the Wings to win. I don’t think the people there cared that it was the Penguins, but they desperately wanted Detroit to lose. Anyhow – I am happy for the Penguins to see success after almost losing the franchise. Pittsburgh is a cool, blue collar city like Detroit and I can’t wait for my show at Howler’s Coyote Café on Friday April 9th!"

Thanks Jeremy. I am digging the disc.

If you are in a band and would like to be featured in upcoming First/Last columns, drop me a line.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Image Of The Day-"Paper Trails"

Big Hurry
Friday March 25, 2010

I was so happy to finally see BH play. They sounded great live and I am very surprised how much I enjoy the CD. It's really hard for me to describe their stuff. Do yourself a favor and hit the links to sample some of their tunes. Here's my man Matthew's report from a YEP set which you can listen to here. Some CP love here.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Image Of The Day-"Dance Me Home"

Satin Gum
Friday March 25, 2010

This was my first exposure to the band and man were they a blast! I had this totally false perception beforehand that they were some hippy drippy psychedelic goof band (not that there is anything wrong with that label) but it turns out that they a power pop force to be reckoned with. Book ending their set with a couple Alex Chilton tributes seemed appropriate considering their musical styles are not so distance cousins. Can't wait to see them again.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Image Of The Day-"Umbrella...really!"

La Roche College Student Union
Thursday March 25, 2010

Imagine hanging with a buddy for a couple of hours as he noodles around on his guitar. Then consider that your buddy released your absolute favorite album of the last year. That was the case for this 'show'. A handful of willing students (and some parents) showed up to sing-along, shout out requests and take in the merriment. Josh played stripped down versions of the album tracks, obscurities and crazy covers ranging from The Beatles to Rihanna. He also tackled songs from Radiohead, Pink Floyd, The Zombies, and OutKast among others. Some of my favorite songs he did were by other Pittsburgh artists including Lohio, Boca Chica and Donora. I was considering not going to this being a late (for me) weeknight but I am really glad I did.