Monday, February 28, 2011

Image of the Day-"Sounds Like Hallelujah"

The Head & The Heart
Mr Small's Funhouse
Thursday, February 17, 2011

Opening acts usually get no love. Audiences can be indifferent, or even worse, cruel as they patiently bide the time waiting for the headliner. This band got none of that as the audience showed some genuine love. For good reason, they were really good. Word on the street is that they will be the next big band to blow up and although I hear that all the time, they have the goods to back it up. We'll see.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Artist of the Month February 2011

David Lowery-The Palace Guards

February flew by and as we all know Bright Eyes and Radiohead released their latest to much 'electronic' fanfare. As with last month, I want to spotlight some maybe lesser known releases that deserve as much attention.

It's hard to believe that David Lowery has been making music since 1985, first with Camper Van Beethoven and later with Cracker. It's even harder to believe that I have been seeing him play live for just as long and I easily consider him a reluctant musical hero of sorts to me. After 24 (Wow!) releases as main songwriter with his bands, he comes out with a debut solo album. I am happy to say it is exactly what to expect from him. It's a little bit of country, rock, Americana, and thankfully 'weirdness' thrown together that ranks as amongst the best stuff he has ever produced. This album gets better and better every time I spin it. David Lowery is the man!

Other artists of note:

The Low Anthem-Smart Flesh
Much has been said about how they recorded this sophomore effort, which may be good press but the proof is in the work. I saw them for the third time just last night and was struck by the superb musicianship the members possess. Amazing. More about the show soon.

Jessica Lea Mayfield-Tell Me
Her second album brings a whole lot of growth to her sound. Branching out in production and a more 'band' sound has her songwriting becoming more accessible. Be warned, her April 5th show at Club Cafe will probably sell out.

Shipbuilding Co.-Radios & Flying Birds
This is one strange, catchy, and ultimately cool effort. Former Head of Femur member Michael Partington moves to Asia and creates this by himself on a laptop. There's a retro vibe going...retro as in turn of the century electronic pop? It's also not a bad thing that he writes about Pittsburgh's inclines on the opening track!

Zoey Van Goey-Propeller Versus Wings
Eclectic folk pop from Glasgow. The band mixes different styles that seamlessly works on their second album.

Nicole Atkins-Mondo Amore
This album is great. She is naturally maturing as a songwriter and her tunes showcase her killer voice. I have seen her a few times but cannot wait to see her again. My favorite track, 'Cry Cry Cry', was done better when I saw her play it live with a different arrangement.

The Babies-The Babies
Side project from Vivian Girls and Woods members. Lo-fi one off? Too bad. This is good stuff and if they were somewhat 'serious', they could have kicked major with this. I am shocked how much I do like it.

Ivan & Alyosha-Fathers Be Kind
The band is named after characters in a Dostoevsky book. Little known fact, I love Dostoevsky! This second EP from the band is solid.

Le Sera-Le Sera
Another Vivian Girls spin-off? Right on! Ethereal folkie dream-pop love from my new favorite label Hardly Art.

The Finches-On Golden Hill
Sweet folk from San Francisco. Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs' music has a laid back, 'It's A Beautiful Day' feel to it. Coincidence? Regardless, these songs linger.

Lia Ices-Grown Unknown
This album is good in an Enya meets Feist kinda way. The first two songs are incredible. You know those repeat songs you can listen to over and over. 'Love Is Won' and 'Daphne' do that for me. Both songs have an epic guitar driven feel that I wish the rest of the album had.

Friday, February 25, 2011

First/Last-Laura Burhenn

The Mynabirds
What We Lose In The Fire We Gain In The Flood
Saddle Creek Records
April 2010

This was one of my absolute favorite releases from last year. With the intention of making a debut record that sounded like 'Neil Young doing Motown', songwriter Laura Burhemm formed The Mynabirds. You can check out some NPR love here as well as some Daytrotter goodness here. Currently on tour with label mates Bright Eyes (which hopefully has her hitting Pittsburgh soon), Laura was cool enough to participate in this "70th Platinum Anniversary" edition of First/Last Friday.

The first album you ever bought?
The first cassette tapes I remember asking my parents to buy me were the Monkees (I was in love with Davy Jones from those Monkees show reruns on TBS) and the Beach Boys. The first CD I ever bought for myself with my own money was Pearl Jam's "Vs".

Your last album bought?
Harry Nilsson's "Nilsson Schmilsson" and the album that John Lennon produced for him, "Pussy Cats". Such an amazing talent, that Harry Nilsson. I've been obsessed with him recently -- watched the documentary, can't stop watching clips from "Points" on YouTube.

Favorite album of all time?
Neil Young's "Harvest" or the Beatles' "White Album".

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Not sure I have a good answer for this one. Probably most of those incredibly popular, top 40 albums that sell millions, but mean absolutely nothing. Shiny pop records with zero substance that supposedly define our "culture". I find those incredibly disappointing. That the albums exist aren't as depressing as the fact that millions of people buy them and they become a whole generation's vapid anthem. The thought of legions of little girls knowing and singing all the words to Katy Perry's "California Gurls" makes me nauseous. They'll "melt your popsicle"!? Gross.

First concert attended?
The Temptations. I was seven and am mad to this day that I didn't run up onstage to sing "My Girl" with them when they asked for audience participation.

Last concert?
The Slowdown Virginia reunion show in Omaha at Slowdown. And yes, the club WAS named after the band! (Slowdown Virginia was Tim Kasher's pre-Cursive band.)

Favorite concert ever?
It's a tie between the Flaming Lips and Al Green. I think that nearly sums up my musical tastes overall.

Least favorite concert?
I got free tickets to see a band whose name I can't remember when I was in college at the 9:30 Club in DC. They had a top 40 hit that was pretty catchy. But live, they just didn't deliver. And it was clear that everyone in the room thought the same thing. So the audience talked and got drunk while the band struggled to get their attention for an hour. It was painful.

Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
My dad's side of the family is from just outside of Pittsburgh, so I've spent a good deal of time there. Sadly I've only ever played one show there (with Georgie James). I need to get back soon. There are some really amazing things in Pittsburgh, for sure. The Warhol Museum, Jerry's Records, and some of my favorite people (and sometimes collaborators) Black Moth Super Rainbow and TOBACCO.

Thanks Laura. I am totally with you on that Nilsson kick. He was amazing. Can't wait till your next family reunion brings through the 'burgh again!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Image of the Day-"Safe In L.A."

Gold Motel
Mr. Smalls Funhouse
Saturday, February 12, 2011

Of all the bands that performed this night, the only one I was familiar with Gold Motel. Greta did her First/Last this previous May, and I knew most of the tunes they ended up playing. She mentioned her favorite show was last year when her favorite band sang Happy Birthday to her. Weird that this show fell on her birthday also.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Image of the Day-"We've Got Diggin' Out To Do"

You, Me and Everyone We Know
Mr. Smalls Funhouse
Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sometimes I feel like and old fogie and want to get out and see what the kids are listening to to. As with the first band, these guys weren't awful at all. In fact, I kinda dug a few tunes. They mentioned from the stage that it was nice to playing someplace else in Pittsburgh other than Garfield Artworks. A note to bands: stop hating on the GA. If it wasn't for Manny, you probably wouldn't be playing PGH at all. Think about it.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Image of the Day-"In My Chest"

Now Now
Mr. Smalls Funhouse
Saturday, February 12, 2011

The first act of a multiple band night. What can I say, I was not too familiar at all with them but my buddy was. At least I wasn't running for the door.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Between The Lines-Graham Nash

Unforgettable Rock 'n' Roll Photographs
Graham Nash
Chronicle Books

In 2009, musician and renowned photographer Graham Nash was asked to curate an exhibit for the Experience Music Project of rock and roll photography. The results have been compiled into this magnificent coffee table book that would satisfy any fan of music. With no guidelines set, Nash has chosen images that are iconic and many that are somewhat obscure. There is a CD included that has Nash himself giving brief descriptions of each of the 80 images included in the book. While I personally would have liked more technical information, it is cool that you get to hear some of why he chose the picture.

Among the photos chosen:

Elvis Presley by Roger Marshutz (1956)

Bob Marley by Dennis Morris (1975)

Buddy Holly by Lew Allen (1958)

John Lennon by Annie Leibovitz (1980)

Johnny Cash by Jim Marshall (1969)

FTC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on a link, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. The links helps to support this site and will allow me to keep writing about local music.  

Friday, February 18, 2011

First/Last-Fergus & Geronimo

Fergus & Geronimo
Garfield Artworks
Thursday, February 24, 2011

I happened to mention this band in my January artists of the month post. If you miss this this show next Thursday...your loss. This will they say, EPIC. I give you the weirdness that is First/Last Friday.

The first album you ever bought?
Jason Kelly: Whatever Metallica's latest record is called.
Andrew Savage: CD- Rod Stewart "Vagabond Heart", Cassette-Tag Team "Whoop There it Is", 7"-SMD "Kings of Drunk", LP-Rolling Stones "Their Satanic Majesties Request".

Your last album bought?
Jason: Queen “Jazz”.
Andrew: The Fall "Live at the Witchtrials".

Favorite album of all time?
Jason: Bruce Willis – “The Return Of Bruno”.
Andrew: Of all time on not sure. Of all week its been Cheveu-"1000". Fucking masterpiece.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Jason: Whatever Metallica's latest record is called.
Andrew: I dunno, I usually don't buy full albums of stuff I don't like.

First concert attended?
Jason: Saw a Creedance Clearwater show just three days before their debut in Vietnam war movies.
Andrew: Rolling Stones, Smashing Pumpkins, Matchbox 20, Dave Matthews Band... ah the 90's.

Last concert?
Jason: Jimmy Hendrix cover band @ not sure where I was.
Andrew: Concert concert? I dunno, I guess we played this Festival in France called Midi Festival that kind of got into concert status. Lee Ronaldo played, the food was great... south of France. Far out scene overall.

Favorite concert ever?
Jason: Dave Mathews Band - American Airlines center 04'.
Andrew: I guess it depends on... Yeah I guess Midi Festival.

Least favorite concert?
Jason: Whatever Metallica's last concert was.
Andrew: I dunno, I've never been to Woodstock 99 but that sounded pretty weak. Woodstock 99.

Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Jason: It's been great in the past! Is it very beautiful! We're really looking forward to experiencing more of the city this time!
Andrew: I tend to like cities with rivers.

Jason added, “Sorry, I wrote the answers while drunk, I hope they don’t think I am being an asshole. Ha ha". Thanks Hugh!!!

Thanks guys (I think). I am really digging your music and can't wait for your show Thursday.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Image of the Day-"So Sue Me, Lucinda"

Mount Peru
Friday, January 28, 2011

Cool band from Boston in town to give 'sisterly' support to the Big in Big Hurry. Flatleys were all over the place that night and I am surprised the Brillo is still standing. Oh yeah, they sounded really good.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Image of the Day-"A More Perfect Union"

Titus Andronicus
Rangos Hall
Carnegie Mellon University
Sunday, February 12, 2011

So the word spread rather quickly Friday that this show was taking place in two days. The university's AB Board has been dormant, so it came as a surprise to me and many others that this show was even happening at all. I am not that familiar with the band but I did like their last release enough to check them out. The sparse crowd of 100 or so were treated to a fantastic set. They were sounding awesome in the 'hall' and kudos go out to the techs who know how to mix and light a band in that room. I also have to say again how much I appreciate the fellas who hook me up for these shows. Thank you guys.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Image of the Day-"Contagious"

Friday, January 28, 2011

When the awesome Key Party comp was released a few years ago, one of the highlights for me was Triggers contribution. I never had the chance to see them play until this show. They were so great! The guys had no merch due to leaving their bin at a previous show...bummer. I will definitely remedy that soon, as the guys are playing some upcoming shows that I, and you, HAVE to check out. I will have more from this band in a future post or two. More pics here.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Image of the Day-"Cans of Champagne"

12th Annual WYEP Alternative Souper Bowl
Sunday February 6th, 2010
Borders Books And Music
East End

I am losing count on how many of these annual events I have been to. This year featured Nik & The Central Plains, The Wreckids, and J.D. Eicher & The Goodnights. Three hours of free local music is always a good thing. More pics here.

Friday, February 11, 2011

First/Last-Forrest Kline

Image courtesy the band.

It turns out that I am shooting this band tomorrow. There are four bands playing and the only one I am familiar with is Gold Motel when Greta succumbed to the First/Last juggernaut last May. Looking forward to 'discovering' some music and meeting musicians on a Saturday night. Today it is Forrest's turn to succumb in this edition 'power pop' edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Weezer "Blue Album" & Skankin' Pickle "Skankin' Pickle" at the same time.

Your last album bought?
Ra Ra Riot "The Orchard".

Favorite album of all time?
The Beach Boys "Pet Sounds".

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Too tough! I don't know!

First concert attended?
The Beach Boys at a fair.

Last concert?
Still Flyin' at The Prospector.

Favorite concert ever?
Sondre at troubadour or Belle & Sebastian at the Greek Theater.

Least favorite concert?

Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Dormont Dogs in Dormont! Sooo good…

Hellogoodbye Website

Thanks Forrest. I live about 4 miles from Dormont. Gotta try them dogs, man. Looking forward to the show tomorrow.

FTC Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on a link, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. The links helps to support this site and will allow me to keep writing about local music.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Image of the Day-"Gets Me Low"

Big Hurry
CD Release Show
Friday, January 28, 2011

I have never seen this band more "ON" than I did this night. They were tight as can be, the mix was perfect (Justin's the man!) and the sold out crowd was definitely throwing some major love vibes toward that stage. The band had several family members in attendance and it was a pleasure to be able to meet most of them. We even got one of my friends in low places to guest on banjo. It will be hard pressed to see a more fun show this year...and it was only still January! If you missed it, don't fret, you can catch the band tomorrow night at Lava Lounge.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Image of the Day-"Target On Your Heart"

Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion
Rex Theater
Wednesday, February 2, 2011

I had absolutely zero expectations going into this show for the simple fact that I never heard a note from them ever. I was very shocked how much I enjoyed it. I had the impression that they were granola eatin' folkies as they very might still be (Sarah is Arlo's kid) but they were literally 'electric' for their show. It's no surprise to find out later that Vetiver's Andy Cabic co-produced the new album. Very cool. Listen to a more mellow acoustic WYEP studio session from earlier in the day here. More photos here.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Image of the Day-"My Own Eyes"

Bill Toms
Rex Theater
Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Bill is a true blue-collar troubadour. He wears his roots on his sleeve and even though his acoustic and harmonica setup was cool, I would really like to see him rock out with a full electric band. Soon enough I'm sure.

Friday, February 4, 2011

First/Last-Kellee Maize

Photo courtesy Laura Petrilla

As we get closer to the big game on Sunday, I couldn't ask for a better artist to spotlight than the 'Princess of Pittsburgh' herself, Miss Kellee Maize. She has a video blowing up entitled appropriately enough, City of Champions. I am thrilled that Kellee took the time to participate in this Super Bowl edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Well, I listened to Joan Jett "I Love Rock and Roll" about 10 times a day when I was under 7, according to my mom but the first album I think I can remember buying was TLC – ‘Ooooooohhh…On the TLC Tip’.

Your last album bought?
Busta Rhymes – ‘Back on my B.S’.

Favorite album of all time?
Fugees – ‘The Score’.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Can't remember being disappointed enough to take note.

First concert attended?
Rusted Root - Infamous Pgh band.

Last concert?

Favorite concert ever?
The Roots at the Electric Factory in Philly.

Least favorite concert?
Don't really remember a concert I didn't like. I always have fun hearing artists perform live.

Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Pittsburgh is on some other shit! :) (Excuse my french). The Steelers and Pens are consistently on a roll. We are heading to our 7th Superbowl! We are in the forefront of medical and green technology and underlying it all is a spiritual (includes religious and non-religious Pghers) movement that is known throughout the world. Follow this link by my mentor that explains this in better detail.

Thanks so much Kellee. 412 ALL DAY!!!! Here We GO!!!!!!!!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Image of the Day-"Mancini's Dance Hall"

Rehearsal Space
Thursday, January 27, 2011

Donora have seemingly been dormant for awhile. I can't tell you the last time I saw them play. Fortunately for us, they have been busy prepping the follow-up to their awesome debut CD. I was lucky enough to hear some of the album which is about half done. The songs have taken the band in a more 'mature' direction and I was blown away by what they are cooking up.
They are starting their Winter Tour tonight which takes them through the midwest for two weeks with pals Lohio in tow. The tour closer is at the Thunderbird on the 19th and expect to hear a handful of those new tunes which should sound as tight as can be as is the case with the band after a string of dates to work out the rough edges.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Image of the Day-"See You Tomorrow"

Bishop Clay
Rex Theater
Monday January 24, 2011

Opening up for Liz Phair, these local guys brought the RAWK. Now, I am not the avid hard rock listener but they surprised me how much I did like their set. The guys can wail on those guitars for sure.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Image of the Day-"Supernova"

Liz Phair
Rex Theater
Monday January 24, 2011

From the years 1985 and 1995, there is a black hole in my musical appreciation. I was too busy at the time following the Grateful Dead and racking up 30 shows in those years to appreciate any current bands releasing what would become seminal albums in rock history. Among them was Liz' 1993 album Exile in Guyville. I never realized how badass she was until later and even then didn't give her much notice. That being said, last Monday was a revelation of sorts. She was charming, easy to look at (we are both the same age) and rocking. A very enjoyable introduction to her and her music. The packed audience at the Rex obviously weren't listening the Dead during those years as they were loving every second of the show.