Sunday, January 30, 2011

Pittsburgh Steeers - Super Bowl Week

In honor of Super Bowl week we show a clip of The Pop Rocks playing one of their Steelers tune's.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Spotlight on Local Artist - Robin Vote - Pittsburgh - January 2011

Our first of the year local spotlight is Robin Vote. They were kind enough to answer a few questions about their sound, beginnings and favorite places to play. Be sure to checkout the songs throughout the interview.

How did the band come together? Were you all friends that went to school? or?

we came together one at a time. i have been a wild-card in various iterations of my friend anita fix's projects. z gave me my first real shot. i took it and i asked for another my first incarnation was as an acoustic three piece, doom-folk, i-am-your-neighbor sort of thing called 'the sorrowful wife'. i played with a long-time, school friend mika metz, and with an acquaintance, nathan kukulski, who we knew from the coffee shop on the corner. that was guitar, mandolin and violin/accordion and we just didn't stop. then julie sokolow sang with us for a minute and we were called 'dead bird'. that passed zach harass was playing a snare drum when we became 'colin and the shots'. then i heard a violin coming from a window in a house across the alley from anita's and anna finley joined the band, much the way a spirit becomes human: by unanimous assumption. mika and i are long-time friends, so he left the band and anna suggested andrew stewart could play bass and matt cummings could play drums. we were beginning to become electrified and the wheel was shuffling the line up jason boggs hung in there on electric guitar for a good six months. he also was quite helpful in organizing the recording process we went through. he and nathan split to do their thing 'we are the dead', but by that time jesse phillips was in position on the drums and we had become a tight four-piece called 'robin vote'.anita fix was doing time up in queens where she became ayshe. now she takes the bus to pittsburgh to play electric guitar with us. sometimes she invites me to play in her troupe 'the ecstatic gestures' or 'anita fix+bambam'. those shows are wild!

telephones by robin vote

How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you?

as far as what we sound like, we definitely have our roots in the panic, existential tumult, and doom-folk scenes. so, if you mix that with skiffle and fairy-tale, you get a sort of glam-jazz. but lately, i have been aiming for a more chiaroscuro sound.

Are you all originally from the Pittsburgh area? Families here as well?

i was born in white plains, ny, but i grew up in murrysville, east of pittsburgh. everyone else lives in pgh, has family in the area and was probably born in the vicinity thereof.

Do you all create music full time or is this more of a part time venture? Do you have day jobs?

everyone in the band, now or ever really, is naturally creative and musical. everyone of us has had to struggle to maintain our 'artistic' pursuits in the thick of paying the bills. this year, 2011, is when we are really taking steps to integrate our passionate endeavors with productivity and returns.anna is classically trained on violin from an early age and plays with various chamber ensembles, and still she maintains jobs ranging from a counter girl at a bakery to a food chemist in a lab. she does her own songwriting and composing as well.
andrew is a philosophy major with a kink for absurdist drama who currently works as a financial analyst. presently he is writing a script for a play called 'the life of leisure', for which anna is composing the score. he plays bass because it is fun. jesse is a carpenter, painter and all-around good-guy. he can probably do anything and finds little trouble juggling the demands of work with those of playing. he plays with another pittsburgh phenom: 'lungs, face, feet', a horn and drum outfit sure to make your face jump off. i do whatever it takes: i've mucked out horse stalls and i've painted sets on high-budget films. i often am making dust in my own home, knocking down walls and then rebuilding them. i have treated my lungs like punching bags; i'm trying to change my ways. i work most every day even if it is only chopping wood to heat my house. the only one of us who has really come close to being unemployable is ayshe; z is just too good. its best to just keep her at home where z can cook and clean and write her songs and stories. i'm aiming to take after her.

How do you create your music? What is the song writing process?

the music comes mostly from thin air, or maybe empty space. sometimes a fragment of a poem or a song will lead me to write something with a particular phrasing or to sing in a certain key, but for the most part, i dont know where it comes from. the important thing seems to be listening well whenever i hear a song emerging and to write it down or remember it. and as ayshe puts, it just takes time.

Rustling Autumn Leaves by robin vote

What are your goals for the band? What would you like to accomplish? Are you trying to get signed to a label?

basically, we want to play more shows, for more people, in more places.  if getting signed to a label helps us to do those things, it will be considered. we play music for the same reasons some people go to church or to war, only with a less-imperial agenda. 

What advice would you give to local acts trying to make it?

i would give anyone else the same advice i give to myself: hang on, buddy.

Being in the Pgh area, do you find it more difficult to try and succeed?

being in the pittsburgh area is wonderful. you can do anything, you just have to do it. it doesn't really happen on its own unless you live a charmed life, which can be very valuable in any endeavor. i think that learning the skill of charming oneself is a good first step, because you're the one who is going to have to back you up. you're going to have to do the work and the chores. and that's most of what i write about: chores and conviction. pittsburgh has beautiful topography, though it may display an uncanny similarity to the folds in the surface of the brain of a schizophrenic. it is big or small depending on how you look at it. there are fantastically creative and talented people here, mind-bending writers and film-makers, bastions of resistance and poetry, a diverse assortment of musical sounds. you might even find a job here if you really try.
What are some of the obstacles you face trying to create some 'success' in Pgh?
i think that the most difficult thing or biggest obstacle to success of any kind in pittsburgh, particularly, is choosing comfort over accomplishment.  its so easy to just get by here that one could be easily tempted to do the bare minimum and not take advantage of the fact that it is easier here to do more than just get by.
Is there a venue you have enjoyed playing more than others in the area?
'howlers coyote cafe' has been a favorite spot to play for years and we have recordings of several live shows there. one show particularly, july 26th 2010, was an awesome show. ayshe was in town and we just tore it up- so nice. jo albright, who runs the bookings, is really good to the bands. another favorite is 'the shop' located on main st. in bloomfield/lawrenceville. the shop is an art and performance venue with strange walls. it is a great place to see or play a show; as was its predecessor, 'the nerve', located a year ago and a few blocks away.
Have you all toured nationally? Or do you usually stay more regionally?
we have only been playing as 'robin vote' for one year now and have only played as far as brooklyn. we play all over pittsburgh, though mostly in the east-end area.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Ticket Winner - Nuclear Cowboyz Freestyle Chaos - Consol Energy - 1/29/11

Congratulations to Krista L. winner of the tickets to see the Nuclear Cowboyz show at the Consol Energy Center. Reminder that it will be this week Saturday, 1/29.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Show Review - The Walkmen w/ Lower Dens at Cat's Cradle, Carborro, NC - 1/12/11 - Concert Review

A show review of the Wakmen/Lower Dens from JP at the famouse Cat's Cradle while traveling in North Carolina.

A trip to North Carolina usually brings a sense of winter relief with temperatures in the mid 50s with lows in the 40's. An early 2011 spring for someone from the Northeast. This however was not the case for this former Leo this past week nor the traveling Lower Dens supporting The Walkmen on a short tour at the University of North Carolina infamous Cat's Cradle this past Wednesday night.

Cat's Cradle is actually located very close to the smaller Local 506 which I happened to visit back in September. From the front it takes on the appearance of an older skating ring and any driver passing by wouldn't have any idea that it was a music venue. On entering I was given the above 21 hand stamp, with an unwanted three days of scouring, and was greeted with a Mr. Smalls introduction with the stage on my right hand side adjacent to the entrance. Adventuring towards the back there were seats along the wall, all occupied by the way, with platforms next to the soundbooth. The bar was located against the back wall facing the stage and that seemed to be the meeting place for all the attendees or should I say UNC students drinking PBR. I watched the Pitt basketball team beat up on Georgetown then went to check out the Lower Dens.

I had the great fortune of graciously being surprised by the Lower Den's great sound when they opened for Bear in Heaven this past fall at Brillobox. Jana Hunter wearing a goose sweater of all things and band came out to "Blue and Silver" which received no applause at all. It was until after the intricate guitar picking of "A Dog's Dick" that the applause came. Bouncing around their acclaimed Twin-Hand Movement they came to their new single "Batman" which started to energize the crowd, not to mention their drummer who had a thank you look on his face. 40 minutes later they finished with their 2nd rocking song of the evening "Holy Water". After the performance I walked over the merchandise stand to pick up the "Batman" 7 inch and get a better spot for The Walkmen. Having the stage right near the entrance usually isn't a big deal if capacity is managed appropriately. I had read that the capacity was roughly 500, but on this however it was well above that number.

The Walkmen had just been in Pittsburgh as well and to be honest skipped out on their set after Japandroids. I had seen them once opening for Spoon and wasn't too impressed then. On their first song, which I didn't recognize, it was more of the same. It wasn't until "Angelina Surf City" when I started to reconsider my verdict. With veins pumping from his neck Hamilton Leithauser belted the chorus to the overcrowded venue while the only other enthusiastic member, drummer Matt Barrick, banged away. My biggest problem with The Walkmen is that their sound isn't as diversified as one would think this far into their career and they usually just go through the motions on stage. All this being said they did play one of my more favorite songs of the 21st century, "The Rat", although most of the songs were from their latest Lisbon, it did include "Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone" and "In the New Year."
--Johnathon Puff

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Show Preview - Nuclear Cowboyz Freestyle Chaos - Consol Energy Center - 1/29/11 - Ticket Giveaway

We are branching out a bit. Instead of bringing you a show preview (& ticket giveaway) about a concert, we are instead promoting a motor sports event. The "Nuclear Cowboyz Freestyle Chaos" will be making its first ever stop in Pittsburgh at the Consol Energy Center. The event showcases Adam Jones, a four time X Games gold medalist, who was raised right here in Pittsburgh. You will be seeing freestyle bikers, quad riders (along with others) performing eye defying stunts and tricks over 100 feet in the air. Plus, music is a key component, choreographing many of the stunts while promoting a rock concert environment. We are happy to be giving away a pair of tickets to the show. All you need to do is email us at with your name by 1/24. **Please note the winner will need to provide their address as the tickets will be mailed to you.

From the press release:

Feld Motor Sports℠ brings Nuclear Cowboyz Freestyle Chaos℠ to CONSOL Energy Center for the first time ever on January 29, 2011. Nuclear Cowboyz Freestyle Chaos is the legend of two powerful freestyle motocross tribes, the Soldiers of Havoc and the Metal Mulisha™, whose survival in their post-apocalyptic world is told through gravity defying and fearless freestyle motocross aerial feats. The Nuclear Cowboyz mayhem and chaos is literally set in extreme non-stop motion when the tribes are challenged by a dark underworld that begins the ultimate battle for world supremacy.

The Nuclear Cowboyz Freestyle Chaos Tour is affordably priced with seats starting at just $25 and just $10 for children ages 2-12. Tickets are available at, 1-800-745-3000, all Ticketmaster Retail locations and Dick’s Sporting Goods Box Office at CONSOL Energy Center.

The 2011 Nuclear Cowboyz Freestyle Chaos tour has the greatest cast of freestyle motocross riders ever assembled, including Pittsburgh’s own four-time X-Game Gold Medalist, Adam Jones. Other legendary riders include Jeremy “Twitch” Stenberg, Ronnie Faisst, Mike Mason, Taka Higashino, Beau Bamburg, Derek Garland, Nixey Danielson, Jim McNeil, Derek Garland, Brody Wilson, Jimmy Fitzpatrick and Dustin Miller. In addition to these world renowned freestyle motocross riders, trials riders Geoff Aaron and Keith Whineland, along with quad riders Derek Guetter and Colton Moore, take their apocalyptic power to the massive ramps, conveying the action-packed narrative through choreographed, synchronized awe-inspiring tricks and the Nuclear Cowgirlz℠ dancers.

If you haven't been to the new arena (and don't want to pay exorbitant Pens games prices) this is a good way to checkout something new and unusual. Just email us for a chance to win.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

New Wise Blood Video - "The Girls Who Have Trusted Me"

Local Pittsburgh heavyweight Wise Blood has created a new video for his song "The Girls Who Have Trusted". It's being featured over on the fork in their tv section. A bit of a strange, confusing piece. But happy that another pgh guy is getting national recognition.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tapes N Tapes - Outside

I was just cruising pitchfork and saw their review of Tapes N Tapes new lp Outside. Of course they were not impressed scoring it a 5.5 on their scale of 10. I remember seeing these guys at the Quiet Storm back when they had performances. After that the band blew up playing festivals and headlining big shows. All of this due to pitchfork's review and 'best new music' label. They were signed to major label XL and then immediately dropped after slow sales.

Fast forward 5 years and these guys are playing in obscurity at half empty dives and self producing/releasing their own album. Of course this was after pitchfork burned their last lp Walk It Off. It just amazes me how one blog could determine the fate of a small up and coming act like TnT. I bet this wil be their swan song.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Show Preview - Oberhofer - Interview - 1/13/11 - Brillobox - Pittsburgh - Concert Preview

Twenty-ten was a good year for Brad Oberhofer, the eponymous frontman of Oberhofer. He released an EP o0Oo0Oo and several singles which attracted considerable attention in the online world and, increasingly, in the live (show) world as well. His bedroom/basement produced music is full of layered melodies, hooks, distortions, and lots of energy for his sometimes-dark lyrics. Now touring with a band, we caught up with Brad for an interview in preparation for his visit to the city of champions next week.

Oberhofer will play at Brillobox on Thursday, January 13th along with Cloud Nothings and Guest Legs Like Tree Trunks.

You are touring with Cloud Nothings (from Cleveland) for several weeks (including your stop in Pittsburgh) and then you pick up with Tapes 'n Tapes for several more weeks of touring. How did you connect with these bands, and is this your first extended tour?

We're bros with Cloud Nothings, our drummer knows them from Ohio. Tapes 'n Tapes really just asked us to do it—I don't even know all the details. We just did a tour with Twin Sister and Morning Benders for about two weeks, and that was the longest that I had ever toured. This Tapes 'n Tapes tour is about 4 ½ weeks, which is longer than I've ever been out on the road and we won't be stopping back in New York at any point.

o0O0o0O0o by Oberhofer

What do you expect this tour to be like?

Honestly, the only thing I ever expect is to just have tons of fun. I think it's going to be really great for us, especially because we've never been to most of the places we're playing. And I've never seen the South. I like to go jogging in every town that I go too, so that I can see a lot of new things.

Me too! OK, a little more abstractly—what is your music to you? Is it a personal endeavor, are you trying to accomplish something with music? Do you think about it in terms of reception and your audience—what does it mean to you?

It's just really personal, honestly. It just sort of happens that people can connect with it right now. I think that the problem with so many bands, and the reason so many bands sound really generic, is because there's a lot of contrivance in their music and they're trying to achieve something with their music. I think if people were just genuinely themselves in the music they write, and really did what their heart was telling them, instead of trying to rationalize their music in any sort of way, then there would be a greater variety of genres and styles. Tons of different bands and a cooler community, with less of a competitive nature between bands.

I definitely get that personal vibe from your music, and I understand that all of your songs thus far (except the Neon Indian cover) have been performed and recorded by you alone. Now that you are playing live with a band, do you intend to keep your writing and recording as a personal process, or do you think you might change this to write and record together with the band?

I've recently taken some songs to the band, and I've really liked what's happened. There is something personal that can happen in a group of four as well—four people that are connecting to make a piece of music that's meaningful to them as a group of people. If we find that working together forms songs that are a nice cohesive whole, then we will incorporate things like that on future recordings. Or it may be that I bring songs that are already written to the table, and they write parts. No matter what, the people in the band are incredibly important to me, because they write amazing parts and the live show would be nothing without them.

Don'tneedya by Oberhofer

I want to ask you about blogging. I've read that you were active in getting your own songs sent out there to music blogs (i.e., those which post mp3s). How do you see the role of blogs in today's musical landscape? Are blogs an unmitigated positive?

Well, this is a dangerous question because so many of my friends write for cool blogs, and I read blogs all the time. But more and more I'm seeing that it's easier for blogs to gain recognition. There are so many popular or semi-popular blogs out that, and I think there is going to be a rebellion against blogs and the goal of musicians will be to transcend the blogs.

Why the backlash? Because they're too powerful as taste-makers?

Yeah, too powerful as taste-makers. But at the same time, they were completely helpful to me in getting my music out there. It's kind of a double-edged sword. I see blogs as being a temporary stepping stone for musicians, and I think that maybe they'll be prominent for another ten years, and hopefully musicians will connect with people independent of any sort of media.

You're a young musician, and I'm interested in your song titles like "AWY FRM U"—all caps without vowels. "Don'tneedya" smooshed together. "Smylez." "o0Oo0Oo." There seems to be a contemporary blogging, texting-type reference there. Do you have anything in mind when you write your titles like that?

Yeah, I mean...I don't really have anything in mind to be honest. That's just how I write them. I personally don't like putting serious titles to my songs for the most part, because the songs are really meaningful to me, but I don't take seriously what the title is. To me, although the title is what people see, it's not really part of the substance of the artwork.

Smylez by Oberhofer

I think that's a great answer. Do you have any plans for upcoming recordings?

Yeah, we have a 7" coming out on January 11th. I might put out a six-song thing for the summer, maybe a full-length. We have a whole lot of songs written, and they're all very different, so we'll see how it goes.

Great! Thanks Brad. We're excited to have you here in Pittsburgh next week.

Thanks. Take care.

--Daniel Hammer

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Best of 2010 (Part 5) Cont.

One more entry for 2010....Samantha Ritzer

As the year draws to a close, everyone is left with nothing to do but look back on everything that went on during the last 365 days. For me, this has been the most eventful and exciting year of my life, much thanks to opportunities I’ve had from writing for Pittsburgh Music Report. It’s time for some musical retrospection, in the form of my top three shows and albums of the year.


#3: LCD Soundsystem - This Is Happening

This Is Happening was one of my most anticipated releases of the year, and I was not disappointed in the least. I think that every LCD fan, including myself, was dying for something new from James Murphy, the man behind the music. This Is Happening was his first full release since The Sound of Silver, released in 2007. You’ll find a lot of discontinuity between LCD fans when it comes to choosing a favorite album, especially since The Sound of Silver was named The Guardian’s best album of 2007, and his previous release, LCD Soundsystem (self-titled) was nominated for a Grammy. I, however, don’t think this album falls short in any sense. It’s full of ear-grabbing songs and references to Murphy’s musical heroes, more densely than either of the previous releases. There are clear signs that point to 70’s David Bowie and Iggy Pop as major influences on this record, you can hear some of the classic songs note for note in the background of Murphy’s new release. It’s entirely worth the purchase.

#2: The Chariot - Long Live

With a release date set for November 22, 2010, everyone was thoroughly surprised when we were listening to Long Live in early September. Whether the leak was planned through Good Fight Records, or if it was a total accident, it ended up being a good thing for the Chariot, increasing the hype of the album. Long Live is a completely solid album the whole way through, and though staying true to the southern metal and hardcore roots, it veers slightly from the traditional Chariot sound that many of us were used to. With “David De La Hoz” having an entire verse of clean vocals, it was something that we’ve hardly ever heard from the Chariot, but it fits perfectly within the album. The Chariot goes as far as to use samples from old Atlanta tourist bureau commercials. They’re proud of their southern roots, and we sure love them too.

#1: The National - High Violet

Released on May 11, High Violet marked the fifth studio album by the National, and by far my favorite of any release so far. The complex simplicity of the album leaves so much to question how it was even accomplished. Each and every song has a million pieces to it, and they can each be heard separately and clearly, but altogether bring such beauty to the sadness of the album. For me, I knew it was going to top my list for this year due to the fact that the first time I played it, I was literally incapacitated while listening. With every word out of Matt Berninger’s mouth, my eyes were opened, and I’ll admit that I have cried to this album more than a few times. It’s the sort of release that you don’t question, you just let it hit you and accept the emotion that it stirs up. In the end, you realize that it is pure beauty through music.

Honorable Mentions:

Ben Folds & Nick Hornby - Lonely Avenue

Wavves - King of the Beach

Atmosphere - To All My Friends, Blood Makes the Blade Holy


#3: Ben Folds with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra - Heinz Hall, Pgh.

One of the best Valentine’s day gifts I have ever received was a ticket to see Ben Folds perform live with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra at Heinz Hall in February. We’re not together anymore, but that experience is something that I won’t ever be able to forget. I had a floor seat in row YY, fifty-one rows back, and to the left of the stage. I had a clear view of Ben, his piano, and the orchestra set up behind him. He came out to a huge round of applause, and it took a good three minutes for it to quiet down enough for Ben to start talking. He introduced the maestro and the orchestra, and began to play. Most of the songs were the ones you would envision with an orchestra accompaniment, like The Luckiest, Not The Same, and Gracie Girl to name a few. To our surprise though, the orchestra left at the end of the set, and he played a few classics, sans-orchestra, like Army. Orchestra or not, there were some hardcore Ben fans there, I will admit to being one of them, and so was the guy in front of me. When asked for requests and memories from previous Pittsburgh shows, he yelled “Let’s see your dick!” in reference to the original song Ben composed in February of 2009 at Club Zoo. Everyone who was at both shows, including myself, got a good laugh out of it. PSO season ticket holders, who, judging by the gasps at every “fuck” or “shit” in the lyrics seemed unsure of why they were there in the first place, and did not laugh so much. It was an amazing night, and one that I hope to never forget

#2: La Dispute - Most Wanted Fine Art, Garfield

April 5, 2010 was one of the nights I'll never forget, I'm certain of that. I know that I, and a few others who I was with had nearly religious experiences with seeing this band. Trying to grasp the fact that I was finally hearing them play the music and speak the words that I've listened to so many times was truly overwhelming. I love them enough to have their lyrics tattooed on my body, and in the course of seven songs, my life was changed. The show was at a place in Pittsburgh called Most Wanted Fine Art, (a few doors down from Garfield Artworks) and boy was it amazing. It was a dude who bought a fixer-upper, and now lives in the upstairs while the art gallery resides on the first floor, along with a small stage. The highlight of the show for me was the fact that there were maybe thirty people there, it was wonderful. I was standing right next to Jordan the whole time, while everyone in the room sang the words with him. All I wanted was the mic for one second, to sing one line with him, and I got that, more than once. The band melted my heart, along with all the people that were there. It was the perfect environment to be in on a night like that. Nobody judged you, and everyone was all love for each other. I had conversations with folks from all the bands that played before, and none of them were low quality, it was perfect. I can't even put into words how amazing my night was really, it may be one of those things you might only be able to understand if you were there.

#1: Lollapalooza - Grant Park, Chicago, Ill.

I’m not quite sure if this would be considered a show, since it is of course, a three day festival, but there was no way it wasn’t making my list. The weekend of August 6th was the highlight of my entire year, and it essentially sums my entire life up in a matter of 72 hours. The opportunity for me to go was something I never expected, but I owe so much to Pittsburgh Music Report for that.

I could talk about it for hours, and anyone who knows me has probably heard everything there is to hear about it. For anyone who doesn’t know me, it was the most amazing experience of my life, I was able to see so many of the bands that I’ve always wanted to, crammed into three days. In no particular order, I entire sets or pieces of sets by Lady Gaga, The Arcade Fire, Phoenix, MGMT, The National, Gogol Bordello, MUTEMATH, Matt & Kim, Against Me!, The Temper Trap, Minus the Bear, Mumford & Sons, The Antlers, Miniature Tigers, Foxy Shazam, Frank Turner, Neon Trees, Freelance Whales, Rusko, and Caspa. WOW, I KNOW.

As if that wasn’t enough, the atmosphere itself made it something that can’t be fully described, besides to say that it was the most amusing and wonderful three days of my life, and planning has already begun for August again.

Honorable Mentions:

We Were Promised Jetpacks - Mr. Small’s, Pgh.

Fun. - Mr. Small’s, Pgh.