Thursday, April 30, 2015


"Abducted as children, and again in early 2014, the members of Spacefish have since been surveyed and deemed worthy by galactic travelers to form a static twosome of a band in pursuit of world-change and betterment for the terrestrial lifestyle."

Spacefish is a Pittsburgh 'American gothic' duo that transcends genres (and space and time, for that matter). Their latest effort is the single 'Tin Man' and as you listen, I want to thank Bubba Clowson (Keys/Percussion/Sculpting) and Nate 'N.R.' Dibert (Guitar/Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

First album ever bought?
Bubba Clowson: I bought “The Beatles Greatest Hits 1967-1970” when I was 9 or 10. I bought many more soon after.
Nate Dibert: “Demon Days” by the Gorillaz. I was fourteen and waiting for their video (“Feel Good Inc.”) to play on MTV almost every morning before school. Ironically enough, I hated the album after I bought it. But, thankfully, two years passed; I grew wiser. We’ve been best friends ever since.

Last album bought?
Nate: Man Man’s “The Man in a Blue Turban with a Face”. It’s wildly percussive. It shimmers frightfully. I recommend it to anyone or any thing looking for something they haven’t quite found yet. There’s one line that goes: “Wait for the rain storm to come wash the scum off.” That sounds perfect to me.
Bub: “Fate” by Dr. Dog. I’ve been going through a miraculous Dr. Dog phase after seeing them play live. Right now, they’re all that I listen to, and dishing out the money for one of their albums is a no-brainer.

Favorite album ever?
Bub: If you’re gonna put a gun to my head, I would have to choose something from The Beatles. Most likely “Rubber Soul” or “The White Album”. Those two albums speak to me most.
Nate: I can’t choose. I refuse to choose. I will say, though, that Foxygen’s “We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace and Magic” is one of the most well-crafted albums I’ve listened to in a long time. It’s a solid 10/10. Please don’t shoot me.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Nate & Bub (in unison): “Turn Blue” by The Black Keys. After hearing the first single from that album, my stomach sank to the floor and felt like I lost a best friend. That band is so important to me, and it’s nearly unbearable to watch them dish out mediocre tunes that lack the soul and spirit of their previous albums. Sorry Dan and Pat, but we all know you can do better.

First concert attended?
Nate: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers in Burgettstown, PA. Months before the show, I bought (nearly all) their albums and treated them like jewels. It was love. Haven’t missed a PA show since.
Bub: I went to see Jackyl when I was about 16, and for a first “concert” it was pretty insane. I’m not a huge fan of their music, but watching a guy destroying things with a chainsaw on stage was pretty inspiring.

Last concert?
Nate: We both just saw Foxygen. It was killer. I’ve never seen a band put that much work into a show. They had everything: stellar energy, wit, and a flawless performance. There were skits and wild dances and a luau thrift themed stage set-up (complete with tiki decor and raggedy Ann). We couldn’t have been more awed.

Favorite concert ever?
Bub: Jack White in Cleveland last year was probably the best concert I’ve ever seen. I was basically front row for my favorite musician of all time, and that’s pretty hard to beat. The energy is out of this world at his shows, and the band he carries with him is incredible. Jack White is a must see for any concert goer.
Nate: I’m still in shock from Foxygen. But, if you ever get the chance to see The Kills, The Growlers, Dr. Dog, St. Vincent or Mac Demarco, then go, you fool! You won’t be disappointed.

Least favorite concert?
Bub: I absolutely hate saying this, but I saw Bob Dylan in Johnstown, PA in 2012 (I think), and it was horrendous. Bob is one of my musical heroes, and it was so disappointing to see my favorite Dylan tunes being torn apart by the man who wrote them. I could barely recognize the songs that were being played, and the show seemed fake in a way. I don’t blame Bob at all for the performance; I mean, the dude’s been doing this forever. It just wasn’t what I was expecting, that’s all.

Favorite thoughts. experiences about Pittsburgh?
Nate: The Mattress Factory is one of my favorite places to visit in Pittsburgh. They have a carnival installation currently. Also, Runaway Studios is a neat place for a good night. Every show we’ve played in Pittsburgh has been phenomenal. The people are great. The energy is static (that’s a good thing). And it’s all very open-minded and accepting of our shenanigans. We played a show back in December, and we faked Bub’s death onstage. It happened to be his birthday that night, too. I told the crowd I’d promised him a drum solo on his special day. He faked a heart attack in the middle of it, and we had a lot of folks fooled into thinking something was seriously wrong. Then, we played a jam/ritual that slowly brought him back to life. The crowd handled it very well, and it became a highlight of the night. We’ve played shows before where that kind of stuff just doesn't fly well with people. We’re thankful for the Pittsburgh audience.
Bub: Playing live is honestly my fondest memory of the city. I had a great time on stage, and I feel Nate and I set the bar fairly high for the other bands that followed. I’ve never had a bad experience in the city. I’ve seen a ton of shows there, as well as baseball and hockey games, and I can’t say that I’ve ever had a bad time. It’s a great place to be, and I can definitely see myself spending more time there.

Thanks, guys. I am so glad I discovered your music. You have something unique yet so familiar going on. Looking forward to see you play out live soon.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

First/Last-Caroline Rose

 "A self-proclaimed “failed scholar and modern-day hobo,” 24 year-old Caroline Rose has broken her long string of short circuits with a live-wire national debut, I Will Not Be Afraid (August 19th / Little Hi! Records) that draws on her roots in rockabilly, vintage country, and blues to capture her unique and distinctive vision. Written and arranged by Rose and co-produced with multi-instrumentalist Jer Coons (with Pat Melvin on bass), I Will Not Be Afraid chronicles Caroline’s wandering years; a disillusioned youth constantly demanding freedom and the most from life.  Raised in the Northeast (and currently living in her van), Rose is a rare mix of Northern grit and Southern charm whose musical influences trace back to her family’s Southern roots, running deep into the heart of Mississippi.  “You can hear my history in the music,” Rose says. “It’s a bit rough around the edges, a bit wild, but American music through and through.”

Caroline Rose is an alt-country siren from Burlington, VT who's latest release is her debut full-length "I Will Not Be Afraid". She returns to Pittsburgh tomorrow night (4/30) opening for Pokey LaFarge at The Rex and I want to thank her for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
It was either “Take Off Your Pants And Jacket” by Blink 182 or “Speak of The Devil” by Chris Isaak. That's right I just outed myself as a Chris Isaak fan.

Your last album bought?
“CSN” self-titled, “Thriller”, Tom Waits' “Swordfishtrombones”, “Best of the Ventures”, Yves Montand, St. Vincent, the Minutemen, Lyres, Anna Calvi, Tal National, ‘Easy Rider’ soundtrack, Kraftwerk, Panda Bear and a very obscure album of Persian Folk Songs about love. For record store day...

Favorite album of all time?
I hate you for trying to make me choose so instead I will give you a very long list. Dave Brubeck Quartet – “Take 5” / Gun Club – “Fire of Love” / The Cramps – “Off the Bone” / Ryan Adams – “Heartbreaker” / La Femme – “Psycho Tropical Berlin” / Kendrick Lamar – “good kid, m.A.A.d. city” / Kronos Quartet & Asha Bhosle play R.D. Burman – “You've Stolen My Heart” / Manu Chao – “Proxima Estacion: Esperanza” / Philip Glass – “String Quartet No. 5” / Joni Mitchell – “Blue” / Deerhunter – “Monomania” / Neil Young – “Harvest Moon” / Tom Waits – “Swordfishtrombones/Rain Dogs” / Frank Ocean – “Channel Orange”.
I'm not gonna put anything by Bob Dylan also out of spite.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
“Heroine” by Lorde. The EP was sooooooo goooooooooood, they just stacked it full of all the best songs and left the dregs for the LP...

First concert attended?
Incubus at Madison Square Garden.

Last concert?
And the Kids! With Taylor from Cricket Blue! (see several interviews below)

Favorite concert ever?
Ooooooooooooooo there has been a tie for a while now between Battles and Lake Street Dive. Both very different, but extremely satisfying live shows. I go to so many shows though, I am probably forgetting the billion times I've said something was my favorite concert ever.

Least favorite concert?
I'm an ass hole but I got a gift to go to a Jason Mraz show at MSG and it was truly the worst experience of my life... So many neon butterflies... I'm still reeling from the trauma.
Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Surprisingly clean.

Thanks, Caroline. Clean? That is surprising. Wait till you step out of the show on Carson street tomorrow night. You might be changing your perception.

First/Last-Grand Vapids

"Forming in early 2014, Grand Vapids spent the course of a year recording its debut album Guarantees with producer and engineer Drew Vandenberg (of Montreal, Deerhunter, Kishi Bashi) at Chase Park Transduction in Athens, GA. On the album the sonic palette is wide. With  guitars that are laboriously crafted, a driving rhythm section, and synths that are densely layered and structured. The songs are at once intimate and expansive, exploring a fevered state of fear and wonder. The album was mastered by Joe Lambert (Wye Oak, Sharon Van Etten, Wild Nothing) in NYC.
While Grand Vapids' music could easily satiate the space between Yo La Tengo and Sonic Youth, there is a depth of feeling to these songs that moves beyond nostalgia and pushes the listener toward a state of mind where memory and wonderment intersect. It is a delicate and dense balance on a debut record that finds the band carving out its own musical identity."

Grand Vapids is an indie rock band from Athens, GA. Their cool self-titled debut dropped earlier this year. I want to thank Chris Goggans (Bass), McKendrick Bearden (Guitar/Vocals) and Austin Harris (Guitar/Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Chris Goggans: “How the West Was Won” by Led Zeppelin.
McKendrick Bearden: “Seal” sometimes referred to as “Seal II”.
Austin Harris: Hootie and the Blowfish “Cracked Rear View”.

Your last album bought?
Chris: “Fantasy Empire” by Lightning Bolt.
McKendrick: Semicircle “Blown Breeze, Grown Grass And We Are Part of the Earth”.
Austin: “Viet Cong”.

Favorite album of all time?
Chris: “Amnesiac” by Radiohead.
McKendrick: I don't know it's hard. I don't really think of things in these terms. I try to imagine what I couldn't go the rest of my life without hearing... honestly probably “Pink Moon” by Nick Drake or “Late for the Sky” by Jackson Browne.
Austin: Constantly changing, but today "On the Beach" by Neil Young.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
McKendrick: I don't know... if I'm not into it or I feel disappointed I kind of just forget about it. If it doesn't stick it doesn't stick.

First concert attended?
Chris: The White Stripes.
McKendrick: Hootie and the Blowfish... I was 5 or 6.
Austin: Alabama at the Columbus Civic Center. I was 5 and wore an Alabama bandanna for weeks after the show.

Last concert?
Chris: Semicircle/Warehouse.
McKendrick: The War on Drugs.
Austin: Hope for a Golden Summer at The Earl in Atlanta.

Favorite concert ever?
Chris: The Black Lips on New Years Eve.
McKendrick: I remember going to see Danielson at the 40 Watt with our bass player Chris. I was in college and I think he might've still been in high school. There weren't many people there, but the show was incredible. It may not be the best show I've ever seen, but it's dear to my memory.
Austin: Probably seeing Prince do a secret midnight show at The Tabernacle in Atlanta.

Least favorite concert?
Chris: Kanye at Bonnaroo... it was truly awful.
McKendrick: Ehhh... I don't know. Kind of the same with records I don't like... Oh, well I did see Perfect Pussy recently and was very underwhelmed. I don't think it was entirely their fault. You couldn't hear her vocals at all. It was so bizarre... like watching a shreds video... her just  gesticulating around on stage with such intensity all the while you can't hear a damn thing coming out of her mic save for a few delay trails. Just took the power out of it.
Austin: Perfect Pussy.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
McKendrick: Never been to Pittsburgh. Hopefully we stop through there soon.
Austin: Never been, but I've always wanted to see the Warhol exhibit.

Thanks, guys. You definitely should check out the Warhol if ever in town, Austin. It's actually not an exhibit but a whole museum dedicated to his art and life!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

First/Last-Crab Legs

 "circle pits, skate tricks, and hipster chicks = what we're about
it's like mixing spoons and a seagull in a blender.. add a dash of circle pit, skateboarding, hating your job, and every day life and you have CRAB LEGS"

Crab Legs is an energetic punk trio form Fargo, ND. Check out their catalog and their latest single 'Frost' from an upcoming split release due June 23. I want to thank BJ Moore (Drums) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
The first album I ever bought on my own was either Guns and Roses "Lies" or  Pearl Jam "Ten."

Your last album bought?
The last digital album I bought was The Pears "Go To Prison." We recently played with them and they blew me away. The last LP I bought was Baptists "Bloodlines." Heavy, fast hardcore/metal that fans of Converge and Trap Them would enjoy.

Favorite album of all time?
Nirvana "Incesticide." I love all of their records and rare tracks, but this has some of my all-time favorite songs ('Sliver' and 'Aneurysm').

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Oh man, this is hard. The new Title Fight record bummed me out. That record or anything MXPX put out after "Slowly Going The Way Of The Buffalo."

First concert attended?
My first concert was Trenchmouth in October, 1994 at the Minot Collective Cultural Center, in Minot, ND. Trenchmouth was a post-hardcore band from Chicago that Fred Armisen (of SNL/Portlandia) played drums for.

Last concert?
Off With Their Heads and The Pears at the Aquarium in Fargo, ND.

Favorite concert ever?
Refused, Catharsis, Frodus, and Cavity in Greensboro, NC in October, 1998. Every band was amazing. Catharsis floored me. I finally got to see Frodus live. Refused was insanely good, and I found out that they had decided to break up the night before.

Least favorite concert?
I've seen some pretty bad shows, but band names don't need to be mentioned. If it involved the cops shutting the show down or a promoter being an absolute jerk, it probably ruined that show for me.

Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Pittsburgh is always a fun stop on the road. Crab Legs played a house show there last year and we had a blast. I love looking at the architecture there, and the hills remind me of my hometown. There are so many great local restaurants, and we love searching out great local spots on tour.

Thanks, BJ. House shows are always a blast in Pittsburgh. Come back and do another one anytime.