Sunday, July 31, 2011

Lollapalooza Brings in Bands - 20th Anniversary

Lollapalooza is celebrating their 20th Anniversary this year (how this was calculated not sure). This brings in several bands that have not or rarely performed in Pittsburgh before. Be sure to catch them:


Disappears - Brillobox
Phantograms - Rex Theater


The Black Lips - Mr Smalls

Monday, 8/8:

Foster The People

Tuesday, 8/9:

A Perfect Circle

Wednesday, 8/10:

My Morning Jacket

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Show Preview - The Black Lips - 8/1/11 - Mr Smalls - Pittsburgh - Concert Preview

One of the most entertaining live bands will be making a stop this Monday, 8/1 at Mr Smalls. The Black Lips were born out of the south in Atlanta, GA in the late 90's. The then teenage group built their music from old garage punk, blues, 60' pop and country to form an eclectic sound. Their albums are often marked by sloppiness but with clever harmonies and experimentation that show their talented ability. They are touring behind their sixth studio album entitled Arabia Mountain co-produced by two other like minded individuals, Mark Ronson and Lockett Pundt of Deerhunter.

On previous albums the band has chosen to record in inferior surroundings such as warehouses, garages or even a bar in Tijuana, Mexico. However, these days the band chooses to enter the professional studios to gain a more commercial (and higher quality) sound. The band has been releasing their albums via Vice Records for the past few years. The new album has received rave reviews from mainstream and online publications for reaching a larger audience.

Scion A/V Presents: Black Lips - New Direction from Scion A/V on Vimeo.

Their live shows once garnered national headlines for drunken hijinks including faux fighting, lighting firecrackers, being banned from clubs and even once being chased out of India. But most of that can be contributed to their young age and lacking maturity. These days the band is still buzz worthy for their live act with the precision and technique you would expect from over 10 years of experience.

The show begins at 8p with Night Beats opening. Tickets can be found here.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Show Preview - Interview - Disappears - Brillobox - 7/30/11 - Concert Preview - Pittsburgh

I am excited to see this band perform live at the Brillobox this Saturday, 7/30. Stopping through on a tour that includes a spot at Lollapalooza (which we will be attending), Disappears makes their debut in Pittsburgh. The band features members of well known acts including (most prominently) Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth, Brian Case of The Ponys and Graeme Gibson of Fruit Bats. The project was first seen just as an outlet with no real set goals but to share the music with family and friends. However, that quickly changed as their posting of songs garnered a blog buzz. Disappears have released two LP's including their latest, Guider. Brian Case was able to answer a few of our questions on their new album, the addition of Steve Shelley and their constant comparisons to late 90's indie bands.

I read that this venture took over 2 years to create and put out an album. Why the long wait? Were you waiting for the proper time? Or was this ever planned to be ‘officially’ released?

You may be thinking of our first album LUX. That was recorded for a label that ended up folding before they could release the record. It took about a year for us to get together with Kranky and release the album. Our new album GUIDER was recorded about a month after LUX came out and was released in January of this year.

Guider is your second LP. How long was did it take to complete from your first lp Lux? How would you say the albums differ?

GUIDER was written during the lag time between LUX being recorded and released. I guess that was about a year. It's a more open record arrangement wise, more space in the songs and a better distillation of the ideas on LUX. We honed in on the minimalism and repetition much better on this one.

Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth) recently came into the band. What made that happen? Did he contribute to Guiders? What does he bring to your live sound?

We have a mutual friend that brought Steve to see us play. He liked the show and we ended up collaborating on a recording project later that summer and keeping in touch. Our first drummer ended up moving away shortly after we finished recording GUIDER so on a lark we asked Steve if he wanted play, turns out he had some time and was into it. He didn't do anything on GUIDER as it was recorded before he joined. We are recording a new album in October that he'll be on.

The song “Revisiting” plays for over 15 minutes. What was the inspiration for this? Was there something you were trying to achieve with it?

We wanted to try and stretch out, most of our songs clock in at under 3 minutes so we thought it would be a good way to push ourselves. Plus we were interested in trying to create a solid mood or piece for a whole side of a record - let there be two distinct halves of the album.

When searching you all on the internet there is a wide variety of influences contributed to you. It appears to be a real focus of reviewers and bloggers, more so than other bands that are often reviewed. What do you think about this? Why do you think the focus is on this?

Yeah I've noticed that as well. Maybe it's the way we're combining different eras or influences? I'm not really sure but I do like how people can hear so many different touchstones in our music - we listen to a lot of different things so it's nice to see it get in there subconsciously.

How do you go about creating your music? Do you all contribute to the lyrics and music?

We start with a set form for the music and melody for the lyrics and just play it a lot changing small things or refining the parts. We all contribute to the music but the lyrics are all me.

What would you like to accomplish with this project? Are there any goals you have?

The real goal is to continue making music and evolving as a band. Everything we've done at this point has been a step forward so as long as that continues I think we'll all be happy to do this.

What made you want to dedicate your life to music? Was there a show or album?

Some of my earliest memories and feelings are attached to music, it's always been a really big part of my life - even when I was very young. I don't know if it was anything really specific, although there are certainly shows and albums that influenced me very much. It's more about what I've learned through playing in bands and listening to records - the friendships and travel, good things and some really bad ones as well. It's helped me be able to communicate on a lot of levels.

Anything you would like to say to Pittsburgh?

I don't know what highway it is but I love when you pull out of those tunnels and your above the city, you see the whole thing below you - it's really beautiful. I love going there. I really like the Brillobox as well - should be a good night.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Show Preview - Interview - Callers - Brillobox - 7/26/11 - Pittsburgh - Concert Preview

Callers will be performing at the Brillobox this Tuesday, 7/26. They are opening for Nate Baldwin. Originally from New Orleans, the trio is now based out of Brooklyn. Ryan, Sarah and Don first began recording in NOLA before placing the project on hiatus. After living apart for quite some time, they met backup in Brooklyn and soon produced their first LP Life of Love. The band has received high praise from the likes of Pitchfork, The Village Voice and Q Magazine. Ryan was kind enough to answer some questions from us. You can also find some songs streaming from their album.

From your bio, I read you resided in New Orleans for a time. Were you all from the area? Or? How would you say that area has influenced your music? How did the band come together?

We're from Little Rock, AR; Cape Girardeau, MO; and St. Louis, MO. We all met while living in New Orleans. Just living in that city helped inform how we listen to each other when we play.

Life of Love by Callers

Why did you leave NOLA and move to Providence before hitting Brooklyn?

Sara and I went to Providence to reconnect with some friends, musicians and engineers. It was an incubation period for us. We started to hone our sound there.

Live is Love is your first LP released. How long did it take you to write this album? Was there a theme behind it or was this just a collection of songs? How does it differ from your first?

"Life of Love" was the first record conceived as a three-piece with our drummer, Don Godwin. It was also written entirely in New York, so that city definitely crept into our consciousness and made an impact on the record. It took about a year, and almost all the songs were very thoroughly road tested by recording time.

Was the album done in the studio? Or did you self record/produce?

We worked in two Brooklyn studios in addition to two home studios...lots of meddling and sculpting at home.

Dressed In Blue by Callers

I know you probably get sick of press asking about the jazz component. So, hopefully something different, how much of it plays into your live show? How is brought together?

We're not in any way a jazz ensemble. I think that some of our harmonies recall "jazz" harmony, but our music isn't improvisitory. I mean, there's some wiggle room, and the songs might change a little from night to night, but we're really just writing rock music and pop tunes. We're also a stripped down band. Exposed. And with our setup and communication onstage, I think that maybe we tap into a musical vein that ends up being equated to jazz. I couldn't follow a lead sheet to save my sweet life. Don can, but he owns like 4 tubas. And plays darbuka and stuff.

How do you go about creating your music? Do you all contribute to the lyrics and music?

We build off of little musical cells. We play small ideas in a room together and let them grow and change until we think they're finished. Sara has the biggest hand in the lyric writing, but we all contribute. In the end, melody wins, so Don and I will work around Sara's strongest melodic ideas. Our songs sometimes go through several incarnations and radical changes before they settle into their final forms.

You Are An Arc by Callers

What would you like to accomplish with this project? Are there any goals you have?

We want to keep exploring our music together and see what happens next. And travel. And make more records. And pay our rent in expensive-ass New York.

What made you want to dedicate your life to music? Was there a show or album?

It's something that each of us has done since childhood. The first cassette tape I owned was Boston's "Third Stage," but that couldn't have been it. I don't think...

Anything you would like to say to Pittsburgh?

Does the O still exist? Is it cool to ask if the O still exists, or does it make me sound like an out-of-touch jerk? Ten years ago, I tried to drink a beer that they sold to me there, and I was asked to take it home first. I want to try my luck again!
Come see us at Brillobox on Tuesday, July 26th.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Show Preview - Mountain Man - Club Cafe - 7/24/11 - Concert Preview - Pittsburgh

Mountain Man will be performing at Club Cafe this Sunday, 7/24. The female trio play haunting harmonies acapallea with a some acoustic sound. The trio mostly perform originals, but do play a few covers of folk songs. They are touring behind a audio/video release this past month entitled Live at the Wiltern. The album was recorded at the Wiltern Theater last October in Los Angeles.

From their press:

Mountain Man is a creature growing from the mouths of: Molly Erin Sarle, Alexandra Sauser-Monnig, Amelia Randall Meath. Their debut album, Made the Harbor, was released July 2010 on Partisan Records.

 July 5, 2011, Mountain Man will release Live at the Wiltern, recorded October 2010. The album beautifully captures the on-stage intimacy and mystique their acapella songs summon. It features live renditions of compositions from their Made The Harbor, plus live show hallmarks “Holy Father” and “Come All Yee”.

Mountain Man will be performing at Club Cafe with doors at 7p and show beginning at 8p.

Show Preview - Interview - The Wilderness of Manitoba - 7/19/11 - Mr Smalls - Concert Preview - Pittsburgh

The Wilderness of Manitoba will be playing this evening at Mr Smalls opening for Rasputina. They are a quintet hailing from Toronto touring behind their first LP When You Left the Fire released this past year. Below is an interview with the band along with some videos from their albums.

You just came out with your first LP this past year. How long did it take to create? What was the recording process?

The album was about 6 months to a year in the making. Some of the songs, like 'Hermit', were written much earlier and some were written in the process of the recording. We recorded the bed tracks for the album in a church in our hometown of Toronto and then spent the next few months doing overdubs and perfecting the mixes.

You all hail from Toronto . How is the music scene there? How involved are you within the scene? We hear of bands such as Feist, Broken Social Scene, etc. but you are a different genre from them. Do you all ever cross paths?

Toronto is a great place for music. The city has so many different music scenes, but there tends to be a lot of crossover as we usually have friends in common with other musicians. We really love to support our friends playing music in the city - whether it's by going to their shows or by throwing house shows for them in our backyard barn when we are not touring.

Did you all grow up in the Toronto area? Your music has a very nostalgic feel to it where I feel a metropolitan area wouldn’t play a big role in the sound.

Though we've all lived in the city for a number of years, we kind of grew up all over the place from Vancouver , BC to Belgrade , Serbia . We all love to be outside of the city.So, that definitely inspires us.

I understand one of the members mothers wrote a song for the LP. Is she a musician herself? Has she written other songs you are considering?

Will's mom wrote a song called 'Evening' on the EP that we released in Canada in 2009 called 'Hymns of Love & Spirits'. It was written around 1967 and she gave him a record when he turned 25 with her original recording of the song. She wrote other songs as well that we've considered recording but haven't, as of yet.

How did your band come about? Did you all know each other from school?

Will and Scott were in a band together from about 2006-7 on - they met through the musician listings on Craigslist. In 2008, they started throwing house shows in the aforementioned backyard barn and creating basement recordings that didn't fit in with the rockier sound of their band. They performed twice as The Wilderness of Manitoba as a duo. Melissa had been attending the house shows and they recruited her to sing harmonies. Around the same time, they met Stefan at an annual event called Rock Lottery, where 25 local musicians form 5 bands by picking names from a hat. The new bands create 20mins of music over the course of one day and play them all that night. Will had already been playing around with a midi cello sound in his basement recordings so Stefan seemed a natural fit. Then, Sean joined in a few months later when we met him playing in the house band at a local comedy club.

How do you go about creating your music? Do you all contribute to the lyrics and music?

It can happen differently, depending on who is bringing the song to the table. Some people prefer to write a whole song, with all of the parts figured out, and then bring a rough demo to the rest of the group. Others will write a the bones of a song, a banjo or cello line, part of a vocal line etc, and then bring others in on it to flesh it out. We've all written lyrics or music at some point in time.

What would you like to accomplish with this project? Are there any goals you have?

Well, for a Canadian band with a new release in the US , we hope that we can reach more ears and continue to play our hearts out all over the place! Also, obviously we are writing, even now and hope to come out with another album in the not too distant future.

What made you want to dedicate your life to music? Was there a show or album?

We all have our different reasons. We love the music we're playing and love performing - that's really what is driving us right now as a group.

Anything you would like to say to Pittsburgh ?

We've heard really good things about Mr. Small's Theater and look forward to checking out the city too since it's our first time there! Any recommendations, please post on our facebook page!!!

The show is tonight at Mr. Smalls with music beginning at 8p.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Show Review - Nobunny - 31st Street Pub - 7/7/11 - Concert Review - Live Review

Eleven pm last Thursday night, I shook my head clear of some writing work and headed down to the 31st Street Pub for a night of the catchiest punk this side of the Ramones. Was my tender mind ready for Nobunny? I’m not sure. I’m not even sure Nobunny was ready. The first order of business for me was to find him, in the hopes that he would have time to regale me with stories of his birth in the Tucson desert and his life as an aspiring Elvis impersonator. Unfortunately, nobody knew where Nobunny was. I asked bass player Touchy Tony if he could help me find him. Nope. Tony said, “Haven’t seen him. He’s kinda reclusive and hard to find.” Scanning the crowd for his furry face and larger than average ears, I came up empty.

After local opener Secret Tomb, Nobunny finally appeared. Arm-in-arm with an entourage of short-shorted girls, he strolled through the crowd wearing a too-small leather jacket, black underwear with no pants or shoes (why not?), and his familiar bunny face. Nobunny has been touring hard and non-stop, which at some point along the way has robbed Nobunny’s mask of its twitchy nose—so his strange human nose was visible. At least the cute, grungy ears remained. Seriously grungy.

And the show was a blast! Nobunny played a mix of punk crossed with 60s pop from all three of his albums, including his newest, First Blood. “Blow dumb” and “Ain’t it a shame” from the new albums were great, and crowd favorites “I am a girlfriend” and “It’s true” sounded even better live than recorded. The music drew a good sized crowd into an enthusiastic frenzy at the front of the stage—something between a dance party and a mosh pit. The band was surprisingly tight and chock full of energy. Like their albums, the set was short and the crowd wanted more. Hopefully Nobunny will be back soon at 31st –it was the perfect spot for this show.
--Daniel Hammer

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Tale of Two Animal Collective Show Reviews

As you may have seen (in comments section), I am not a fan of the Animal Collective live show. I have seen them twice and literally walked away from one show because of how agonizingly terrible it was. They are not a good live act even though their albums are worth a listen. So, when the show at Mr Smalls sold out in less than one day, I couldn't wait for the reviews.

I was only able to find two of them via google so far. They are definitely opposing views even to the point where you get that "selling out feel". One can be found via a blog here. The author absolutely despised the show and everything about it. The other, written by Sam Butterfield of the Post Gazette, can be found here. He finds some very amusing ways to give props to the band although writing some pseudo derogatory remarks. Lets contrast a couple excerpts:

With regards to the stage:
Post Gazette: Kudos must go to whomever constructed the set design. The group played under the glow of a massive pink skull hanging from the ceiling at Mr. Smalls, once a church, giving the venue a spooky, hallowed and almost cavernous feel. Along the sides of the walls were quartz-like, crystalline lanterns of varying jagged patterns, reinforcing the underground (possibly haunted) mine ambience the venue assumed.

Blog: Starting with the set, which might have looked cool on LSD or mushrooms, but just on straight booze looked like something I could have come up with in the 3rd grade. There was an orange garland that stretched from one end of the stage to the other which looked like something you’d hang at a Halloween party. Straight up. I hope they didn’t put too much effort into making that, because a similar option could have been purchased at Dollar General.

Wow...ok. Let's take another excerpt.
The Crowd:

Blog: There was a real crowd disconnect taking place here. Other than the die-hard fans who hung on every note, the general consensus of the room, which was reinforced by someone yelling “Animal Collective sucks!” at the close of the show, was indeed, a vast disappointment.

Post Gazette: ...but from the crowd's giddy, manic dancing and almost nonstop bobbing and lilting, it did not seem many were disappointed.

Whoa. Who had the best vision here? Crowd sounds spectacularly involved to PG. But the blog says patrons were yelling "you suck" to the band. hmmm.

You can find the PG article questioning the set list construction throughout the article and whether it was connecting with patrons. But evidently everyone was "dancing" and "nonstop bobbing" of heads. What? Huh? Yeah, let's call it like it is.

I went to see Wild Nothing at Stage AE that same evening, which while decent, wasn't anything to write home about. But I am certainly glad I didn't see Animal Collective.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cut Copy - Show Review - Altar Bar - 7/11/11 - Concert Review

Very quick review of the Cut Copy concert at Altar Bar this past Monday. I cannot say I am the biggest Cut Copy fan in the world, but they certainly put on a spectacular show. The Altar Bar was at capacity this evening, probably only 2/3 of what Club Zoo (original venue) could hold. First, one small tangent about the sponsor that evening, IC Light.

Iron City just came out with a new beer, Mango IC Light. First, I am all for branching out in a ever-spiraling craft beer market. But mango? Lime, yes. Lemon, sure. But mango? The IC Light Girls were giving away free samples as everyone walked in. It was hideous. This review says it all. I didn't see one patron drink the Mango combination. And it even says more with the IC Light Girls are watching the show and the beverage in hand isn't Mango IC Light. That should tell you something. Did they do a test market study on this?

Anyway, Cut Copy came on and had the place dancing with the first number. I just saw Wild Nothing play at Stage AE last night, and while decent, they were severely lacking in 'performance'. Bands need to realize that stage presence and crowd interaction mean a great deal and can expand your audience when the next time you come through town. Cut Copy knows this first hand and put on a show that is well known world wide. People jiggling and moving throughout the entire show just added to a entertaining night. I hope they come back.  

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Olivia Tremor Control - 9/15/11 - New Hazlett Theater

Just saw the Olivia Tremor Control are coming to the New Hazlett on 9/15. I really enjoyed thse guys back in the day but never had a chance to see them live. Not sure about the venue as it's seated but does have a small pit. This didn't work too well for Broken Social Scene this past year. Hopefully OTC will be able to pull it off.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Cut Copy Show Moved to Altar Bar - 7/11/11 - Interview

Just a note that the Cut Copy show has moved to Altar Bar instead of Club Zoo. Not sure of the reason, but hopefully not due to a lack of ticket sales. Altar Bar isn't a bad place to see a show, but is a lot smaller than Club Zoo.

Checkout our interview with Cut Copy here.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Top Album & Show - Midway 2011

Last year I created a post on the top concerts halfway through the year. This year I decided to get other contributors views as well. Without further ado, here are the top show and album by writer:

Album - James Blake - My favorite album at the halfway point is James Blake's debut. This is the first album in a long time where I listen the entire way through, every time. It really requires you to sink into its atmosphere. Blake's youth is apparent, and the album is not perfect--but this is precisely what makes it perfect. The flaws in his voice and sound breathe a vulnerability into electronic music that compares to what Bon Iver's debut did a few years back for folk.

Show - Oberhofer - My favorite live show so far goes to Oberhofer, who I have seen three times since first hearing his music in January. His live show is so energetic and an incredibly good translation of his recorded music. The show with Neon Indian was an excellent lineup through and through.

--Daniel Hammer

Show - My Morning Jacket - Bonnaroo

I'm chugging the coolaid now. MMJ is the best live act today and they proved it again at their SIXTH Bonnaroo appearance, the first on the What Stage (the main stage). Look for Jim James's white feather boots at Stage AE this August.

Album - The Antlers - Burst Apart

Not nearly as sad as Hospice, but equally as powerful. Roller coaster of emotion from start to finish making it the strongest overall album to date barely beating out Fleet Foxes's Helplessness Blues and Panda Bear's Tomboy.
--Jonathon Puff
Album - EMA - Past Life Martyred Saints
I haven't listened to as much music as I have wanted to, but this album is one I have been infatuated with this year. A bit bleak, the artist has a voice that draws you in and never let's go.
Show - Guards - Brillobox
Soldout show at the Brillobox is a hit or miss venture because of the wall to wall people that can make the venue uncomfortable. These guys made me not even realize the sweat soaked patrons next to me. Opening for sister act Cults, they just did a much better job with stage presence and delivery.