Thursday, July 30, 2009

Show Announcement - Bad Veins + Now, Now Every Children - Garfield Artworks - Friday, 8/7/09 - Pittsburgh

A great double bill will be playing at Garfield Artworks next Friday, 8/7 which will include both Bad Veins and Now, Now Every Children. This will be happening after the Unblurred Art Crawl (haven't figured out exactly what this is). Below is a brief preview of each album along with a video. Next week I will (hopefully) be posting a couple of interviews plus some more samples of their tunes. Try to give a listenand see if you like. These are 2 young, upstart groups that should be around for a while.

Bad Veins is a duo hailing from Cincinnati who are on Dangerbird Records (Silversun Pickups, Eulogies, The Dears) and just came out with their first self titled lp in July. The album is a multi layered affair with distorted vocals that pounce through. There is your usual drum plus guitar, but the sound is much stronger than your typical two piece. They get compared to Franz Ferndinand and Pulp which you can hear, but doesn't really represent them entirely. "Found" starts the album off with clarinets and trombones mixed in with the drums and guitar. Its a slower tune than what you find on the rest of the album. "Gold and Warm" is Bad Veins song that grabs you from the get go with a few hooks. The album continues down this same path with a theme of storytelling about life's experiences and encounters.

Now, Now Every Children began as a duo also but expanded to a full fledged touring band. They are based out of Minneapolis, MN and are on Afternoon Records. The duo met in a high school marching band and began recording soon afterwards. They play the indie pop rock variety and have opened for the like Mates of State. They are touring on their first album Cars that can be considered an album with a theme behind it. The album has a very polished sound and admirable song writing from a band that is so young. "Not One, But Two" begins things off with a slow build up to a smashing cymbal crash that surprises the listener jolting them into a head nodding experience. The album mixes this on most of the tracks. "Friends With My Sister" begins with minimal strumming guitar and quiet vocals before ripping into a quick drum flurry with a pouncing guitar rhythm. This is a admirable freshman album for an upcoming band that should only get better as time goes on.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Neko Case + Jason Lytle vs. Girl Talk + Pgh Bands - 7/31/09 - Show Announcement

Two great shows coming to Pittsburgh on the same day. Tough decision. I am going with Girl Talk plus the rest of some successful Pittsburgh bands. I have yet to see Girl Talk besides a quick peek at Coachella but from what everyone says he puts on quite the show. I used to enjoy Grandaddy (or at least the first 2 albums) but haven't had a chance to listen to Jason Lytle's solo album. Neko is Neko though. Curious how many people will show for her.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Reminder - Red Collar at Lava Lounge 7/23/09 - Show

Just a reminder that Red Collar will be playing at the Lava Lounge tomorrow night (see preview here or below). Show starts at 10p with 2 other bands (Red Collar are up last). Admission is only $5. They will definitely put on an entertaining show.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Album Review - The Lovely Feathers - Fantasy of the Lot

One of my favorites shows since being in pgh was in November 2006 when The Lovely Feathers graced the stage at Garfield Artworks. I am one of those types that always checks out who is coming into town that month, listen to a couple of tunes and see if I like what I hear. These guys were one of the bands I was glad I caught...their performance for about 15 people was uncanny and their album matched their frantic mesmerising charisma. Hind Hind Legs was their last album and one that stayed in my player continuously for almost 3 months.

I thought the Lovely Feathers might be done. I followed their blog hoping they would come out with a new album but it appeared that they might have run their course after a couple of members left. They often got compared to the band Islands/Unicorns which could be a crutch for them since they are from Montreal as well. After a couple of years and a new label, everything has come together. They are back with their new lp Fantasy of the Lot.

This isn't the schizo pop of the last lp, HHL. This is a more evolved endeavor that shows what surely should come out after HHL. Their single "Lowiza" is a very good indication of the album and their progression. Its a more subdued affair with a slow beginning before blowing up towards the chorus. The track details the sex life that has basically died between a married couple (video can be seen below). A good majority of the songs off the album are in the opposite direction...keeping a low key route with stripped down instruments and lyrics instead of the maniacal pace that they displayed before. "Agrotaker" is another tune that stands out with a eastern influence and balanced sound. It has some hooks and melodies that keep the listener's foot tapping. "Long Walks" is probably the only track that reminds me of the last album, although not enough to think that it shouldn't be included.

All in all I really enjoy the new record and growth of this band. Its a more relaxed feel and shows them not sticking to any one formula. I hope they make it back to Pittsburgh because they put on superb show that isn't to miss.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Red Collar - Show Preview - Lava Lounge 7/23 - Album Review "Pilgrim"

Red Collar are coming to the Lava Lounge in the Southside on Thursday, 7/23. First, I want to mention the blog Jason Kutchma (lead singer) keeps on the band's website. Its a very well written, insightful blog that shows a band being unguarded of the troubles and difficulties just trying for a little success. There is a very interesting entry about what happened to them the last time they were in Pittsburgh (2 months ago) at the same time the Pens were on their Stanley Cup run (do a search on Pittsburgh). It's a bit long but well worth the read.

Red Collar are a four piece based out of Durham, NC although 2 members are originally from the PA West area. They are described as Fugazi meeting the Hold Steady which you can definitely hear on their album Pilgrim. They are known for their intense live shows no matter what the crowd size. If you search youtube you can see what a fun live act they are. At times the album comes off sounding like a bar band with talking point lyrics (ala Hold Steady) and much heavier rifts. You feel the force and compassion come through (ala Fugazi) with the same DIY attitude and no backing label.

Red Collar recently gave up their day jobs and decided to take a chance as a rock band. You can here the regret on the opening track "Commuter" where the lyrics suggest disappointment with the 9-5 drag. Lyrics "A job that pays for the garage for the car/that picks up the kid that watches the kid/while I work this job". It starts out mellow before kicking in with intensity and stout vocals. "Tool" is another standout track that begins out slowly before bringing in robust rifts that power the song into its staple sound. Similar in the vein of Craig Finn (Hold Steady) the lyrics begin more of as a talking point, "Oh f*ck! Not this shit again! I had a map and a plan but I'm lost, I'm lost. Follow mother's advice or daddy's course. They thought they knew love before the divorce." You feel the frustration and despair coming through the headphones.

All of the songs on the record come with an intensity and DIY ethos that has the feel of old Dischord Records from years past. A definite theme emerges off the record of being confused and wondering if this is what life is all about. They should put on an entertaining show. Below is the title track off their album 'Pilgrim'.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Show Review - Mr Gnome - Bloomfield Bridge Tavern - 7/17/09 - Concert Review

Really good show last night. The BBT is a converted Polish restaurant that hosts bands on Friday/Saturday. It doesn't have the best sound but what it does have is an intimate setting for you to watch any show. Mr Gnome was the second the time they went on there were approximately 60 people to see the show. We were waiting at the bar near the entrance while the first band played. A female in a Mr Gnome shirt (complete with her own tailoring) tried to get in but she had forgotten her id. I guess the venue has a strict +21 policy because she definitely looked old enough. It was a shame as you could feel the disappointment.

I am not going to go through the whole set list but Mr Gnome played about 4 songs off their new album that will be coming out in October. All of them came across fantastic with the sound of a band maturing. I don't think I have ever seen someone hit the snare drum so hard and repetitive as Sam does. Its something to see. We took some pictures and video which are below (not great since we aren't professional photographers). Also, Nicole and Sam (Mr Gnome) are 2 of the nicest people you will ever want to come across. Both were gracious and just happy to talk with fans. I really hope they make it to a larger audience. They definitely are deserving.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Reminder Mr Gnome @ Bloomfield Bridge Tavern Friday 7/17

Just a reminder that Mr Gnome is playing tonight at the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern. Someone mentioned to me I should also name the other 2 bands which are Dawn Canon and The Broken Arms (both are from Pgh). Doors are at 9 and show starts at 10p with Mr Gnome playing second. Seriously, if you attend mention the blog and I will buy you a beer.

Read a great interview here (or below)

Here is another song for your listening pleasure off "Deliver This Creature" entitled 'Rabbit'

"I'm Alright" is off their last lp

"Truffle Shuffle" off their "Echoes on the Ground" ep

Here is an award wining video for "Night of the Crickets"

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Mr Gnome Interview - Preview - Bloomfield Bridge Tavern 7/17/09

As mentioned previously, Mr Gnome will be performing at Bloomfield Bridge Tavern Friday night. Doors are at 9p and show begins at 10p (they will be second band up). Mr Gnome was kind enough to give us an interview and as you can read, they have a great sense of humor.

Are you both originally from Cleveland? Do you still reside there?

Yes, we are. Yes, we do.

Your first full length album just came out in 2008 (Deliver This Creature) and I just read on your blog that you recorded the follow-up already. When do you expect that to come out? Will it be on El Marko Records again?

We recorded the follow-up to Deliver This Creature in April at Pink Duck Studios (Josh Homme's studio - lead singer of Queens of the Stone Age). As of right now, our plans are to release the new album in late October. Yes, we will be releasing the record through El Marko Records.

On Deliver this Creature there is a nice mixture of soft to violent songs. Is this a theme that will also be on the new album?

I don't know if we necessarily ever write with a theme in mind, but that tends to happen naturally when we write a batch of songs together. To us, the new material is an extension of where Deliver This Creature left off.

Has the current state of the economy affected any plans you had for your band from travel or recording? To marketing?

No, we've pretty much always been poor and continue to be poor. We're good at it. We are from Cleveland!

I have seen a lot of comparisons of your music from Portishead to Tool. With previous bands you were in did you have this same sound?

Mr. Gnome was actually the first "real" band that both Sam and I were in, as far as actually playing out and releasing albums. Previous to the Gnome, I did a bunch of solo stuff on a four-track that never saw the light of day and Sam was busy in the Adult Film Industry. When we started mr. Gnome, it was just a natural process and this is what came out of those intoxicated sessions.

You have two members...has there always been two or have you ever thought of adding another?

It's always been just the two of us, although we've had guests come up on stage and play a song or two with us. Sure, we've definitely thought about adding more members...not necessarily in the writing process though, just more as live players. Or maybe recruiting people to do a live sex show on stage...something like that maybe...

I saw your video "Night of the Crickets" just recently won 2 Telly Awards. Did you all rcv any money?

Yes, we were very excited about the Telly's! The Telly Awards don't actually give out any money...just some sweet ass statues, maybe we can sell the statues for some cash?

What has been your favorite place to play when on tour?
We're big fans of the pacific northwest...that's probably our favorite at the moment...

Do you create your own artwork for your albums and shirts? Really like it.

Thank you kindly. Yes, we do almost all of our own artwork, video production, and album production between the two of us. But we have had some very great friends do a few designs for us. Our flying Gnome T-shirt was designed by the wonderful artists at Go Media, and our 7" single jacket was illustrated by Alex Alvarez.

Final question from a burgher, how bad does it suck to live in Cleveland?

This should explain everything:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Show Review - AA Bondy with Conor Oberst - Mr Smalls 7/12/09 - Concert Review

We showed up to Mr Smalls before the doors opened so we could try to get a decent spot in the crowd. But this was a sold out show and Conor fanatics were abound circling the old church 15 minutes (when we arrived) before doors opened. It was a very young crowd with probably 70% being under the age of 21. Instead of waiting we hit up the Double L beforehand to get ready for a packed house.

Deap Sea Diver was the first to come on stage. I wasn't familiar with them...they were from Long Beach, CA and had a female lead and a 3 person backing band. They were evidently pretty new as all they had was an ep for sale. I was really enjoying their tunes and the crowd seemed pretty enthused as well. Afterwards I looked them up and found out the lead has actually put out 2 solo albums before and was touring guitarist for Beck.

AA Bondy was up next...after seeing him at Club Cafe I was curious how he would translate to a group of teenage Conor lover's from Pgh. Not to my surprise the crowd was very enthusiastic to his songs even though a majority probably hadn't heard him before that evening. He started off solo with his harmonicas and guitar and launched into a few tunes from his upcoming lp "When The Devil's Loose" including the title track. There was some banter going on with him and some of the crowd members in the front but I couldn't make out was being said (or for that matter what was being said during songs with all of the bands). When Bondy launched into "Vice Rag" with the opening lyrics "Sweet, sweet cocaine/Won't you be all mine" the 2 women (way older) next to me started laughing and then went into a 2 minute conversation about if they had any of their stash left. After about half is set Bondy brought out 2 members of Conor's band, one on drums and the other on bass. It definitely added a layer that kicked the set into another gear. However, on a few of the songs I felt the drummer was pushing the pace too much breaking up the song.

Bondy put on another impressive set and surely made several new fans. Conor came on next...
**Thanks to Hugh for the pic.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Show Announcement - Mr Gnome - Bloomfield Bridge Tavern - 7/17/09

I have seen this duo before and was glad to see they were coming back to Pittsburgh. They are playing at the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern this Friday. I saw them the last time they were here at Hard Rock Cafe and they put on an outstanding show. Not too mention that their last lp "Deliver This Creature" was in my top 5 albums for 2008.

I haven't seen a show at this venue before although I did have a very good polish platter there if you get hungry. It should be an intimate show as the stage and dining area aren't huge. If you do come seek me out, mention the blog and I will buy you a beer.

Here is a video plus some outstanding tracks that you won't find on their myspace page.

Here is an award wining video for "Night of the Crickets"

"I'm Alright" is off their last lp

"Truffle Shuffle" off their "Echoes on the Ground" ep

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Interview with AA Bondy - Preview Mr Smalls 7/12 with Conor Oberst

Sunday, AA Bondy will open for Conor Oberst at Mr Smalls. Below is an interview...make to sure to catch him especially if you are already attending.

1) The last time you were here I overheard a fan stating that they played your song as the opening to their wedding that weird to hear?

A bit.

2) Your new album comes out on 9/1, The Devil's Loose. How does it differ from American Hearts?

It's um, well, I think that, pretty much, see, when I. . .back then, when the. . and then she. . .right?

3) Is there any themes to the new material?


4) What was your favorite touring experience, what other bands did you really enjoy spending time or playing with while on the road?

The Jesus Lizard was fun, I can have fun with pretty much anyone.

5) How is touring by yourself compare to opening for someone? How has the audience reacted?

People are different everywhere you go. People are the same everywhere you go.

6) Will you continue to tour in September in support of the new album? How long have you been touring now?

Why yes, I believe I will have some more cake. This is really good cake. Is it a family recipe?

7) How did the last tour with Holly Miranda go? Any interesting stories?

As their parole officer, I really can't talk to you about those kids.

8) Do you enjoy living in New York compared to Alabama? Do you miss any of the southern comforts of home?

I'm in Alabama right now. I have a speak and spell that has a provincial drawl. A New York speak and spell will say "bed", an Alabama speak and spell says "bay-yed" right?

9) Is any of your new songs collaborations or do you create/write on your own?

I train my own animals.

10) What has been the biggest challenge as a singer/songwriter compared to being in a band?

i. got. no. one. else. to . blame.

11) How are you trying to promote your band now and going forward? How has the internet affected the distribution of your music and accessibility to fans?

Inter what? I don't know what this is, and I don't see what it has to do with staying cool in the summer.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Show Announcement - AA Bondy 7/12/09 - Mr Smalls - Opening Conor Oberst

AA Bondy, who just played Club Cafe less than a month ago, will be opening for Conor Oberst and his band at Mr Smalls on 7/12. As I have stated previously AA Bondy put on the best show I have seen this year. He is definitely worth checking out even as the opener.

Bondy will be coming out with a new album on 9/1 via Fat Possum Records called the The Devil's Loose. Below is the title track "Devil's Loose" of the new album.

Bad Vacation Entertainment - Cruise Ship

I just got back from a vacaction and just wanted to share some of the onboard entertainment. No understatement, it was awful.

Check out this guy's moves towards the end. Classic.

Next was the onboard house band. For 2 weeks they played awful covers and were only good for one thing, knowing how to clear a dance floor.

They were called Great Ideas --wait until the 1 minute mark for the "jump".

Thursday, July 2, 2009

2009 Best Concerts 1st Half of Year

Now that we have officialy reached the halfway point this year, I want to name my top shows thus far. Please feel free to add yours in the comments section as well.

4) Blind Pilot + The Slant Club Cafe 4/1 - Great show and a surprising out of nowhere opener that set the pace.

3) Cursive - Diesel 5/5 - Hard rocking band put out all the hits and didn't disappoint.

2) Frightened Rabbit - CMU 1/26 - Props to CMU who brought in a band that normally skips over the burgh.

1) AA Bondy + Holly Miranda Club Cafe 6/9 - Stellar Hugh mentioned he is opening for Conor Oberst at Mr Smalls in a couple of weeks

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Concert Review - Camera Obscura + Anni Rossi - Mr Smalls 6/30 Show Review

Just got back from my 2 week vacation and read my last post on NIN/JA...I really shouldn't type when I am inebriated. That is pretty horrible stuff. Anyway, I have been stoked to see Camera Obscura ever since they were announced for Mr Smalls. We were able to see the opener Anni Rossi who is signed to 4AD. I hadn't listened to her beforehand so I had no idea what to expect. But when she came out on stage with jorts on plus them being rolled up to mid-thigh I was thinking "this isn't going to be good" (I really need to start bringing my camera). Thankfully I was wrong. It was only her on stage accompanied by her violin and some type of kick bass sound she was using. She picked and played the violin while busting out sweet melodies using no loops nor samples to bolster the sound. The music was soft and melodic and her voice was very distinguishable. The half empty room seemed to be really enjoying her enthusiastically clapping after each tune. The only downside was that after her first few songs people began talking over the music which was pretty annoying.

Camera Obscura came out afterwards and were dressed up for the occasion. I have never seen them live but they have a great aesthetic to go along with their music. They sounded great filling up the old church and sounding tight. They were on their last show in North America and appeared to a bit tired and run down. There was no real energy nor showmanship to their set...although they did talk a bit during songs which you really couldn't understand because of the Scottish accents.

All in all I enjoyed the show but it wasn't one that blew me away. I did pick up Anni Rossi's new cd and am looking forward to hearing her recorded.