Monday, December 19, 2016

First/Last - Honey

"guitar / bass / drums / dreams"

Honey is an Pittsburgh based rock trio who are steadily gaining a following based on their early releases and energetic live shows. discover yourself what the buzz is when they host thier annual Holiday blowout lovingly called  'A Crustmas Miracle' this Friday at Brillobox with newcomers Jiant Eagle and Good Sport.
I want to thank Joe Praksti (Guitar/Vocals), Pat O'Toole (Bass), and Evan Meindl (Drums) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Joe Praksti: A terrific twofer from my favorite record store in my youth, Monroeville's Target. Went in to buy American Idiot by Green Day and nabbed Demon Days by Gorillaz based on cover alone in one fell swoop. 2005 never looked so good.
Pat O'Toole: I think it was Make Believe by Weezer. Have to start somewhere.
Evan Meindl: I actually believe it was Off the Deep End by ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic.

Your last album bought?
Joe: I've been doing some Christmas shopping and got an unopened copy of Utopia's self-titled for a friend - highly, highly, highly recommend "Feet Don't Fail Me Now" for the uninitiated. But for myself I recently purchased Wu-Tang Forever by, y'know, Wu-Tang Clan. Picked it up at this thrift store in Boston called Urban Renewals for 99 cents. Still haven't gotten the chance to spin it, but it is apparently an enhanced CD that features an interactive tour through the "Wu Mansion" when inserted into any CD-ROM system! My disc drive is kaput though, unfortunately, so if any good Samaritan out there wants to spend an afternoon with me touring RZA's movie collection and the rest of the Wu Cru's closets, hit me up!
Pat: Last one was Speed of Sound by Wings. “Silly Love Songs” is my JAM!
Evan: The conformist that I am, I have become an online streaming advocate through Spotify. Sadly, I don't remember the last physical record I bought. I'm a bad person.

Favorite album of all time?
Joe: Chipmunk Punk is pretty damn good if you ask me.
Pat: ....Album by Girls.
Evan: Nearly impossible to narrow down one, but possibly I'm Wide Awake It's Morning by Bright Eyes.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Joe: Me. I Am Mariah... The Elusive Chanteuse by none other than the Chanteuse herself, Mimi. You know, with a title that good, you really got to deliver, and unfortunately she came off way short of the mark. Losing another golden standard to becoming another cog in the industry machine, trying to adapt with the times. A tear comes to mind. At least it wasn't as bad as Rebel Heart by Madonna though. That album is truly trash.
Pat: AM.
Evan: The last three Say Anything albums have broken my heart. Their first full-length is still one of my all-time favorites, so it's hard to believe how rough the last few years have been for them.

First concert attended?
Joe: The phenomenal Backstreet Boys, my favorite group of my youth, played the abbo fabbo Mellon Arena  (r.i.p. bb) during the first leg of their oft-praised, star-studded, yet tumultuous Black & Blue Tour (a prophetic title for the strain it put on the group). The woefully forgotten Krystal Harris opened the show playing easily forgettable tunes on a grand grand piano - she'd go on to score some would-be hits for the Princess Diaries, Legally Blonde, and Country Bears soundtracks to a less than crystallizing reception. Allegedly Destiny's Child also played this show, but being 8 I must have been too busy picking the salt off of my pretzel to pay attention. However I do recall the Backstreet Boys treating the audience to a view of their backstage dressing rooms halfway through the show, and I believe it was the homie Brian Littrell whose room was filled with stuffed animals. Totally adorable. Would recommend for time machine enthusiasts: 5 out of 7 grapples. The pretzel was a little stale.
Pat: I was late to the game when it comes to my first concert. New American Music Union in 2008. Went with Joe and Evan's older brother Cam. Saw Spoon, Gnarls Barkley, The Black Keys before the Arena days, and The Roots.
Evan: I saw Styx when I was four years old with my parents. I fell asleep during the show; I kid you not.

Last concert?
Joe: Honey just finished a weeklong tour of the East Coast with our good friends the Brooklyn-by DC-by Philly band Boon at the legendary house venue Kokomo (there's a song written about it somewhere featuring heartthrob John Stamos) in the fair District of Columbia. Thoroughly good chaps with totally exceptional music - highly recommend, but you don't have to take my word for it! I believe the last big production performance I saw though was The 1975 with Evan on Halloween. So good!
Pat: Saw Kurt Vile and Wilco in August at Hals Island in Minneapolis. So good!
Evan: The 1975, two nights in Pittsburgh. So good!

Favorite concert ever?
Joe: Hm, hm, hm, so one concert in particular really stands out to me - Cursive opening for Alkaline Trio at ye olde Club Zoo on March the Fifth, 2010. Right around the time of Mama, I'm Swollen, the greatest album title ever. Just a month shy of 17, Evan and I went without having any knowledge of Cursive whatsoever, and both came away from the concert completely floored by their performance. Seriously one of the most visceral, passionate performances I've ever seen a band give - they had the whole crowd in the palm of their hand, seemingly all attendees completely standstill and mystified throughout. After the show was over Evan and I decided to form a band together, and the rest, as the poets say, is history (not his story).
Pat: Deerhunter at Bonnaroo 2011. Life changing.
Evan: I remember being floored when I saw St. Vincent in Cleveland in 2014. That one has really resonated with me. Arcade Fire on the Reflektor Tour was pretty fantastic as well.

Least favorite concert?
Joe: I saw Bob Dylan play at the New American Music Union with Pat and Cam (Ev's older bro). He was the last to go on for the whole event, and my expectations were pretty high. Age having taken it's toll, however, the frog in his throat finally won the battle over his vocal chords and sang instead of Dylan. I finally realized what song he played by the time the last note of his swing-blues rendition of “Like A Rolling Stone” faded away into the distant ephemera fog of the South Side sprawl. Conversely, this may be my favorite concert I've ever seen, just for the sheer absurdity of watching an aged Bob Dylan sing completely rearranged songs to a crowd of teenagers who can't even name all four members of the Beatles... or the Rutles, for that matter.
Pat: The Shins. Highlight of the show was the guy in front of me doing coke off of his iPhone.
Evan: I saw Kendrick Lamar in 2013 and the woman screaming at the top of her lungs directly in front of me for the entirety of his set really made it one of the most insufferable concert sets ever.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Joe: While moving to the city has certainly emptied my pockets, it has repaid me back with so many different experiences that just keep multiplying each week. Pittsburgh may not be on the cultural map per se of current music trends, but I think, in my humble opinion, it is a hub for some of the coolest bands in the States - personal bias notwithstanding. You really only need to spend a weekend here to get a feel for that, so living here is quite the treat. Having been around the States a bit, I can say with certainty that Pittsburgh is totally my favorite city to be in, bar none. I'm a total sucker for this town, and I don't see that changing anytime soon.
Pat: It’s been great getting involved in the music scene here. Everyone here is super homie and kind. Bloomfield is the greatest place ever!!!
Evan: I've loved seeing how the support here for local music is evidently present. The fact that artists have the backs of venues, other artists, and the general public is sincerely heart-warming. It is really fun to be a band from this town.
Thanks, fellas. This was one of my most enjoyable reads on the blog. Thanks for the picks and the 'flourishes.'

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Kevin Stiffler Fire Recovery Campaign

Kevin Stiffler is a Western Pennsylvania based photographer who has been consistently documenting and supporting the local music scene for awhile now.
Kevin suffered a bad break recently when a fire destroyed everything he had.
There has been a GoFundMe page set up to assist Kevin. He is an incredibly sweet and likable dude if you know him personally like I do. Please consider donating anything you can no matter how large or small or even spreading the word via social media which goes a long way.
Thanks in advance.

Monday, December 12, 2016

First/Last - Red Room Effect

"Eric Gadola, also known by his stage name "Crazy Eric" formed the grassroots
of Red Room Effect in the summer of 2013. Working as a golf pro by day and struggling singer/songwriter by night, Gadola approached producer/drummer, Paul Jay with songs he had been writing with hopes of forming a band. Impressed by his songwriting abilities, Paul Jay and Eric began to mold the the majority of songs that would later appear on the "Frame of Mind EP." Hendrix, Clapton, Jack White, The Black Keys, the RHCP, Nirvana, Prince, Rick James, & Outcast have played a significant role in Gadola's, songwriting, playing style, and vocal delivery."

Red Room Effect is an funk rock band from Pittsburgh who today dropped the official video for their single "Sirens" which is also available on iTunes. Much thanks to songwriter Eric Gadola (Guitar/Harmonica/Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Elvis Presley The Number One Hits - I stole it from my uncle when I was 5. I would play “Hounddog,” strumming on a broom in my grandmas living room in my tighty whities .

Your last album bought?
The Getaway Red Hot Chili Peppers - We have been blending rock and hip hop and the Chili Peppers are a big influence of ours... Danger Mouse who produced this record is the best in the business right now. I love referencing this album to our material when arranging and mixing. I absolutely love the record. Reminds me of a classic Chili's record with some modern flare.

Favorite album of all time?
The Jimi Hendrix Experience Axis: Bold As Love – “Little Wing” changed my life as a blues guitarist. I locked myself in my college dorm freshman year for a week and learned the guitar part with little to no music or guitar experience. That helped me progress as a player immensely learning a guitar part that complex early on. I am finally starting to do the song some justice after 10 years of practice....

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Guns N Roses Chinese Democracy - I was a huge GNR fan as a kid, I always thought it wouldn't be the same without Slash, man i was right.... For an album that was 5 years in the making with that kind of budget. I couldn't pick a song I liked, major disappointment.

First concert attended?
Rusted Root at some park in Pittsburgh in the mid 90's before they blew up. My mom had there CD! She has a lot to do with my musical taste.

Last concert?
Stick Figure and the Movement at the Rex Theater. My gf has been getting me into reggae more! I'm not complaining.

Favorite concert ever?
Lollapalooza 2012 Chicago, Illinois: 3 of my hero's headlined: Jack White, The Black Keys, & RHCP. It rained and we got muddy as ever, and my buddy Chris freaked out and disappeared. We found him back at his uncle's barbecue stand passed out with a BBQ sauce mustache.

Least favorite concert?
2009 Wiz Khalifa at The Mezzanine in State College, PA. It was finals week at school, and this up-and-coming rapper was slated to play at an intimate club in downtown State College. Doors were at 9, which is pretty late... it also was snowing pretty heavily. Long story short, there was no opener, he never arrived until 1 am, and played a 15 minute set before the club closed for the night... Let's just say I didn't do to stellar on my final the next day...

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Has to be the local music festivals. It is so fun playing them, the support from the community is great. It’s pretty special when you don't have to leave your back yard to play 4 to 5 legitimate festivals each summer, pretty amazing. Deutschtown Music Festival has to be one of our faves over the past year! Thanks Hugh!!!

Thanks, Eric. Deutschtown is always crazy and always fun. Believe it not, going to start planning 2017 soon.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

First/Last - J.D. Rau

 "as a singer/songwriter from pittsburgh, i am a product of my influences. i was raised on zeppelin, the doors, and bowie, so i have just taken my upbringing and turned it into my own music, integrating other influences as i go along."

J.D. Rau is a Pittsburgh based songwriter who will release his debut album digitally with a celebration at Howler's this Sunday (11/13). Joining him will be local rock stars Blue Clutch. Much thanks to Johnny Danger himself for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last. 

The first album you ever bought?
Led Zeppelin I.

Your last album bought?
And All the Colors by Ian Moore. I had originally been given this album by my drum teacher many years ago, and for about a year, it got stuck in the CD player in my car. This wasn't a bad thing, as I adore that album. My copy of it was lost in the sands of time, and I was unable to find it anywhere, but recently bought a digital copy so that I could have it again

Favorite album of all time?
This kind of depends on what time of year or sometimes even what particular day you catch me on. Even then I could narrow it down to a collection of albums. OK Computer by Radiohead, Led Zeppelin I, Superunknown by Soundgarden, I Trust You to Kill Me by Rocco Deluca and the Burden, De-Loused in the Comatorium by The Mars Volta, In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3 by Coheed and Cambria... just so many good albums that I truly love.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
It's a weird choice on account of the fact that I grew to rather like it despite its shortcomings, but Frances the Mute by The Mars Volta was a huge letdown for me. De-Loused in the Comatorium absolutely blew my doors off when I first heard it. I greatly anticipated their second album, and while the songs were phenomenal, the insanely long spells of frivolous noise really turned me off at first. eMotive by A Perfect Circle deserves a nod, too, cuz outside of two songs, I disliked that album a lot.

First concert attended?
Jimmy Page and Robert Plant on their Walking Into Clarksdale Tour in 1998. Zeppelin has always been my favorite band, but that experience, at 12 years old, made me want to play music and completely changed my life.

Last concert?
Coheed and Cambria. My fourth time seeing them, and they're always amazing.

Favorite concert ever?
Tough call. Page and Plant was incredible, but seeing Bowie live was unreal, as well.

Least favorite concert?
The NIN/JA tour. Finally seeing Nine Inch Nails live... for a 45-minute opening set, outdoors, while it was still light out. Kind of a bummer.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
I've been to a fair number of places, but somehow Pittsburgh has always just felt right. I don't know exactly how or why. So many of my favorite memories happened here in Pittsburgh, and between performing and attending concerts in this city, I have some incredible memories that I wouldn't trade for the world.

Thanks, Jack. It's always exciting when someone releases a debut in Pittsburgh! Have fun at the show, man. Also, you might be the first musician on the blog to name their very first album as one of their faves.

Monday, November 7, 2016

First/Last - Racing Heart

"Racing Heart makes music that is both complex and catchy, with lyrics that are not afraid of taking on bigger issues in a personal way. Helped by some of the best and most noteworthy musicians from both Norway and the US, such as Jenny Hval, Hanne Hukkelberg and previously members of The War on Drugs, St. Vincent and Sufjan Steven’s band, these songs aim to mean something to you."

Racing Heart is the moniker for Oslo, Norway based synth-folk popster Mathias H. Tjønn, who recently released their sophomore album What Comes After via Misra Records. The band will be celebrating the album release in Pittsburgh this Saturday (11/12) with a show at Brillobox on a sweet bill with blog faves Andre Costello and the Cool Minors and William Forrest. I want to thank Mathias for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
The first record I remember saving up money for and asking my mom to take me to the store to pick up, was The John Lennon Collection on CD. I must’ve been nine or ten years old, already had the red and blue Beatles compilations albums on cassette given to me for Christmas the year before and desperately needed more Lennon to soothe that fix…

Your last album bought?
Went on a little Bandcamp-splurge last week and bought the latest Junior Boys record Big Black Coat together with Jessy Lanza’s Oh No, produced by Jeremy Greenspan who makes up one half of Junior Boys. I’ve always l loved their crisp, creative, Canadian electronica.

Favorite album of all time?
Astral Weeks by Van Morrison, hands down. So much sadness, frailty and beauty on that one.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
A recent dime store vinyl-purchase was Elizabeth Barraclough’s Hi from 1979. Produced by Willie Mitchell and recorded at legendary Hi Studios in Memphis with basically all of Al Green’s extended musical family, I hoped it would be solid soul gold. Not so much.

First concert attended? 
One of the first must’ve been going to see the Nutcracker ballet by Tchaikovsky; maybe I was six years old or so? I remember thinking it lasted for ever, but that all the dancers doing their thing onstage was weirdly interesting.

Last concert?
Susanne Sundfør here in Oslo this past Saturday. It was MASSIVE. The venue has a 9000 people-capacity and normally I’m not too big on huge stadium concerts, but I had a couple of friends in the band and Susanne always puts on a good show.

Favorite concert ever?
Recently thought about this, actually. Mercury Rev came through Oslo in ’98 on tour supporting Deserter’s Songs and it completely floored me. They’d recreated the entire album, down to the dude playing musical saw on “Holes”.

Least favorite concert?
The Doors (!) sometime in the early 2000’s. Blame it on my youth.

Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
I came through Steel-town for the first time a year ago or so, to sign with Misra Records and meet esteemed head-honcho Jeff Betten in person. My first evening was spent at The Oyster House on Market Square, getting the local low-down from the bartender. Awesome dude, awesome place. When I’m playing The Brillobox November 12th later this year I plan on doing some serious record shopping around town. Recommendations on where to go are welcomed!

Thanks, Mathias. As for record stores, I am sure Mr. Betten will be more than happy to help you out but I would suggest at least one stop at Eide's Entertainment.