Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Matthew Sweet - Mr Smalls - 10.21.11 - 20th Anniversary 'Girlfriend' Tour

I just received Opus One's weekly email and saw Matthew Sweet is coming to Mr Smalls in October. I honestly didn't even realize he was still around, much less producing music. But checking his wiki page, Sweet has been releasing albums almost annually. Go figure.

Sweet's most popular album, 'Girlfriend' was released 20 years ago and eventually was certified gold. This was during the heyday of grunge where power pop was the bottom of the barrel for many music fies. Even though it wasn't the most popular album that year in the alt world, 'Girlfriend' was considered a masterpiece of post-punk pop. Sweet's reputation sky rocketed before fizzling out after his follow up 100% Fun in 1995.



Sweet is touring behind the 20th year anniversary of 'Girlfriend' and will be playing the LP in its entirety. I am not sure what to expect, much less if I even recall enjoying the album back in the day. Listening to a couple of songs, I guess it's a solid output, but does nothing in the way of nostalgia. I guess Nirvana was playing nonstop on my cassette tape.

Should be interesting to see what kind of crowd he will get for this show.



Saturday, August 27, 2011

Show Preview - The War On Drugs - 9/1/11 - Club Cafe - Concert Review


Adam Granduciel is the front man and the driving force behind Philadelphia's The War On Drugs. Granduciel  moved from Oakland to Philly back in 2003 and began collaborating with Kurt Vile on many of his albums. The two soon began a new project, The War On Drugs, before Vile left and Adam continued the endeavor recruiting local Philly musicians. He began releasing albums in 2005 before Secret Canadian Label picked him up. Four albums later, Adam released his new record on August 16, Slave Ambient. Already it has garnered national praise receiving Pitchfork's 'Best New Music', 4 stars from Mojo and 5 stars from Uncut.


The War on Drugs - "Come to the City" (Official Music Video) from Urban Outfitters on Vimeo.


From their press:

Slave Ambient features a team of Philadelphia's finest musicians, including multi-instrumentalists Dave Hartley and Robbie Bennett, and drummer Mike Zanghi. Recorded throughout the last four years at Granduciel's home studio in Philly, Jeff Ziegler's Uniform Recording and Echo Mountain in Asheville, NC, the album puts the weirdest influences in just the right places. Synthesizers fall where you might expect more electric guitars (and vice versa); country-rock sidles up to the warped extravagance of '80s pop.


The War on Drugs "Baby Missiles" from Secretly Jag on Vimeo.


Show is scheduled to begin at 8p with doors at 7p. Caveman will be opening. You can find more information about them here.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Show Preview - Caveman w/ War on Drugs - 9/1/11 - Club Cafe - Concert Preview

Caveman will be performing Thursday, 9/1 at Club Cafe supporting The War On Drugs. They are another band hailing from NYC. If you search their name on your favorite search engine, you will find a small buzz about them from Pitchfork to the New York Times. NYT described there music as "a rolling set, thick with animalistic drums and swooning guitar riffs…an hour of seamless musical beauty." Good stuff right? The sound is balanced with animated electronics and downhearted melodies over a chamber pop tune. Just take a listen below.





The band is one year old and is putting out its first LP (digital) this coming September. The album entitled Coco Beware, is having a physical release in November. You can find more about the band here:


http://cavemantheband.com/
http://www.facebook.com/CavemanBand
http://www.myspace.com/thiscaveman


Doors at Club Cafe open at 7p and show beginning at 8p.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lollapalooza 2011 in Review Part II

Doing a quick wrap up of Lollapalooza. The last day of the festival we were fortunate enough to obtain backstage passes. It's a whole different world watching from the stage and enjoying all the free food and alcohol. Only bad part was the off and on rain during the last day. Since the park sits right on the lake, it quickly becomes mud with thousands trampling on it. But here are the top 3 acts I caught, balanced with the 3 that were most disappointing.

Best:

Explosions in the Sky: With the sunset and cool breeze as a backdrop, they were simply amazing.

Death From Above 1979: Wish I had caught this band a smaller venue. They totally thrilled the crowd.

Muse: Masterful live act. Wish they would make a stop here. They had a full on fireworks set.


Dissapointments:

Mountain Goats: Usually like this band a lot. But they were simply bland and did nothing special besides where suits with an excellent time slot. Wasted.
Noah & The Whale: Crowd was ready for this band. Simply pedestrian. No intensity, no interaction. Snooze.
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart: Was on the stage for this one. Could only take four songs before bailing. Seriously do something to liven up your set.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Lollapalooza 2011 In Review


I have been meaning to write a proper review of Lollapalooza 2011. Time is not my friend these days.

Top 3 Bands Friday, 8/5/11:

3) White Lies - Never Even heard of this band. Brilliant.
2) The Naked and Famous - Heard of this band. Good god are they good.
1) Muse - The best live act going today.

Saturday, 8/6/11

3) Disappears - Why did I not see this band at the Brillo?
2) Death From Above 1979 - Most had never seen this band nor had I. They are worth the hype.
1) Eminem - Surprise of the festival. Wow.

Sunday, 8/7/11

3) Foo Fighters - This should have been amazing, but rain dampered my spirits.
2) The Joy Formidable - The best coda to a show at the festival bar none.
1) Explosions in the Sky - Backstage with Arctic Monkeys cutting in. These guys were professional as hell.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Wise Blood Impersonator - Stereogum Fooled


I was just perusing around Stereogum searching for Wise Blood since they commissioned his cover of 'Someday'. Well, it appears they were fooled when promoting a twitter account as his. You would think they might double check since working with him. But here is the post promoting @fuckwiseblood.

His real twitter account is @Wi5eBlood, where you can find this tweet to stereogum:  "@stereogum u do know that @fuckwiseblood is someone pretending to be me, right?" Join him, the fake twitter account has many more followers.

If you ever wonder what he looks like close up, this him watching a live recording of himself.


Here is an article from CBS Pittsburgh as well.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wise Blood Releases New EP - 'These Wings' - 8/30/11


Cruising down the road listening to XM, our favorite local artist popped up on the radio with his new single 'Nosferatu'. I did a double take to verify what I was hearing. Wise Blook (aka Chris Laufman) will be releasing his first album on major Dovecote Records on October 30th. These Wings marks a period of over a year since Laufman's self release, '+' EP. There is probably more in the vault than these seven songs, but at least Dovecote has finally set a release date.

If you don't know, Stereogum commissioned WB to create a song for The Strokes Is This It 10 year anniversary. It took me a couple of listens, but 'Someday' is one of the best covers that pushes the boundaries of the typical. Take a listen below.

Wise Blood - Someday by Wise Blood

These Wings is available for preorder at this link:
http://dovecoterecords.com/media/preorders/thesewings//

Wise Blood - Nosferatu by Dovecote Records

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Local Artist Spotlight - RIVKA - August 2011

RIVKA is our featured local artist for the month of August. The band is an electronic duo featuring Reggie Wilkins and Rebecca Dulberg. They met while attending the University of Pittsburgh (Rebecca is now a junior) at a jam session and realized they had common interests. They soon formed the project RIVKA. Below you can find our interview with the band along with some of their songs streaming. You can find more information on the band here: http://rivka.bandcamp.com/

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

We met at a spontaneous jam session at the University of Pittsburgh and discovered we had common music interests.



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

Our music is still evolving, as it is a very new project and combination of ideas. Our aim, however, is to achieve a warm ambience that evokes nostalgic days of summer and youth through the use of icy soundscapes, passive vocals, and grooving beats.

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

Reggie Wilkins is originally from Washington, DC. He moved out here to attend the University of Pittsburgh, from which he graduated with a degree in architectural studies this past spring. Rebecca Dulberg is originally from Miami, Florida and also moved to Pittsburgh to attend the university. She will be a junior in the fall of 2011. Both Reggie and Rebecca’s families still reside in their hometowns.



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

Reggie has committed to making music a full time hobby since his recent college graduation, while Rebecca is still attending school and working on music in her free time.

Do you have day jobs?

Reggie gives piano lessons and has a paid position as a church pianist. Rebecca is a full time student and provides child care during most afternoons.

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

Reggie writes the music for the songs and some of the lyrics, while Rebecca creates ambient melodies in addition to lyrics. Our friend, John Chriest of Ivory Weeds, gave us a copy of Logic Express and that’s when the music really began to happen for us. Reggie was able to experiment with different synthesizers and drums, while Rebecca took advantage of vocal effects. We both just have a lot of fun with it and are pretty much addicted to the creative process.



What are your goals for the band? What would you like to accomplish?

Are you trying to get signed to a label?If the opportunity presents itself, it would be nice to find a label. Our goals are to keep pushing RIVKA out into the music world as much as possible and have it reach more and more ears because we love what we do and want to see where it goes.

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

Putting our stuff up online was really helpful for spreading the music around. It has reached blogs overseas and we have networked with other musicians who were enthusiastic about discovering our music and sharing their own.

Have you all toured nationally? Or do you usually stay more regionally?

For the most part we have stayed regionally. However, we played a show in Miami, Florida this past May and are currently planning a mini tour in the Northeast.



What are some of the obstacles you face trying to create some 'success' in Pgh?

Pittsburgh is such a small city, which makes it more difficult to branch out and network with other musicians. We would like to discover more developing artists with music similar to ours.

What are the positive benefits of being in the area?

Because it is such a small city, there is a familial feeling in the music scene. Local artists are supportive of one another and it is common to see the same faces at our shows.

Is there a venue you have enjoyed playing more than others in the area?

We have enjoyed house venues the most so far, for example The Beach House. The shows are free and the atmosphere is vibrant and filled with a true love for music.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Show Review - Iceage - The Shop - 8/11/11 - Pittsburgh - Concert Review - Live Review



Back in June I heard that Iceage was coming to Pittsburgh and playing at The Shop. I had been listening to XM radio constantly hearing Iceage to the point of infatuation. I was looking forward to the show but wasn’t able to attend at the last minute. Luckily, I got a break as they decided make a return trip here this past week. I definitely did not miss them this time around.

The Shop was new to me as I had never attended a show here before. It is reminiscent of those DIY art spaces that have quickly evaporated from the city. It’s dirty, grungy and nothing more than a hollowed out room with no stage and a sub par sound system. Remember those days kids? The place was pretty packed for the pubescent quintet from Denmark that hadn’t even hit their 20’s yet. True to their punk rock ethic, the show lasted little more than 15 minutes, but they made the most out of the short set.


Iceage plays loud and fast but it feels much more than your average punk act. I couldn’t help feeling I was watching something special happen. After each song, the singer warbled what I think was ‘thank you’ spoken in Dutch and immediately launched into the next. Unfortunately an eye blink later they were pulling their plugs from their amps with the crowd looking at each other like ‘what just happened, is it over’? What did you expect? An $8 cover with 3 bands, and one that has been touring worldwide for the past two years? These young guys have it and are probably one of the best punk acts I have seen in quite some time. Hopefully they stick together for another couple of years and give us one more album before moving on.

--Shannon Smith

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Show Review - Foster The People - Mr Smalls - 8/8/11 - Pittsburgh - Live Review - Concert Review

To be honest, I wasn’t sure I even wanted to attend this show. I had just returned from Lollapalooza that morning witnessing Foster The People’s set on Friday. It was the largest crowd for a 3pm show I had seen at a festival setting. Needless to say I ended up way in the back. My impression wasn’t positive. It was hot and maybe I was in a mood. We left after about 4 songs into the set. So the question became, “Did I really want to attend after coming home beat up from the long weekend?” Everyone deserves a second chance and the payoff came that evening.

This show had been sold out for weeks with scalpers asking over $100 a piece. They are probably one of the hottest bands touring where you can find a gauntlet of ages from 13-60 at the shows. There was no exception this evening with a hodgepodge of mothers and teeny boppers in attendance. I brought a buddy who usually doesn’t attend concerts, but loves the Torches LP and wanted to check them out. I hinted beforehand about my experience at Lolla, but just asked him to give me an honest opinion after the show. Really though, it wasn’t needed. With the lights dimmed, Foster The People came out with members pounding in unison on various drums stirring the crowd into a frenzy before launching into their set. What can I say? I made a terrible misjudgment.



Front man Mark Foster understands how to appeal to a crowd at such a young age. He is probably a few years removed from High School but interacts with the audience as a veteran. His movements, vocals, energy and banter kept the masses in the palm of his hand the entire evening. The rest of the band supplies just as much energy as their lead. They are all talented, multi-instrumental individuals, taking turns from guitars, keyboards and drums. You cannot say enough about their own charisma adding the backdrop to Foster’s gut wrenching vocals and sweat induced dancing. One of those ‘I will never forget’ moments is when playing ‘Pumped Up Kicks’ Mark literally stopped singing and the crowd sang the lyrics for him verbatim. Solid.



Foster is one of the most grounded lead’s I have witnessed at such a young age. Before launching into ‘Broken Jaw’ (see first minute of video below) he addressed the audience with a bit of guidance for the youngsters. He summed up his life stating he had worked at various jobs including pizza delivery, gas stations and a door to door salesman. His message: Follow your dream and don’t give up. Obviously, it worked for him.


As the band performed its encore, they played a cover of ‘Heart of Gold’ by Neil Young. I was impressed. Haven’t seen many tackle that song, but they did it notably.



After the show I asked my buddy what he thought. He said it was one of the best time’s he had in 5 years. That truly is saying something. For me, what the hell was I thinking disparaging this band? It validates you should always give anyone a second chance. Glad I did. Go see them now in the smaller theater setting while you still can. No regrets.


Show Preview - Iceage - The Shop - 8/11/11 - Bloomfield - Pittsburgh - Concert Preview

Iceage will be performing next tomorrow at The Shop in Bloomfield. They just performed here most recently in June. I wasn't able to attend the show, but from what I heard it was as good as their reputation suggested. Below is the interview and videos we posted last time. Be sure to check them out if you missed them in June.

They are a quartet based out of Copenhagen, Denmark making their first tour in the states. The band just released their debut lp entitled New Brigade. Playing at a total length of 26 minutes, the album stretches the bounds of punk adding in goth and hardcore to the mix. The teenage musicians are known for their frantic shows that leave bruises on your body for days.

Lead man Elias Bender R√łnnenfelt was kind enough to answer a few questions about their upcoming tour, album and their sweat filled sets. Also, find a couple of videos

You all are from Copenhagen. How is the music scene there compared to the rest of Europe or the US?

I don't know that many bands from Europe that I like but it's probably not the same as Copenhagen. For me what's going on in Copenhagen is the best but that's probably because that's where I'm from and I get to follow the bands from early on.



Is there a strong punk scene in Copenhagen? Or the rest of Denmark?

I think it's divided into different splinters. Some of my friends' bands that I really enjoy includes Lower, Sexdrome, Jackman, Pregnant Man. I also saw another good band the other day called The War Goes On.

Could you give some background on how your band became? Did you go to school together? Or?

We have all known each other since we were really small. I knew Johan and Dan because they were in the class above me in my first school and Jakob because we were kids in the same neighborhood. We've always played music together to pass time but it wasn't until 2008 when the band and the songs came together.

You are known for your frantic live shows. Are these typical everywhere you travel? How intense do they get?

Not everywhere we travel. It's very different. Everything depends on the spirit in the air.

You just recently produced your first lp, New Brigade. How long did it take you to create the album? Was there a theme behind it?

We figured out the songs over a period of two years and the album took three or four days to record. There is no theme or concept—it's just whatever we felt like doing.


You just graduated HS. What are your plans for the future? College? Or trying to make a go of being a musician?

No I didn't graduate high school—I'm in my final year but I fucked up so I won't be graduating. I'm not trying to be a musician, and I don't expect to live off it later in my life.

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

We don't write the lyrics together, but we all write stuff on our own and contribute.

What would you like to accomplish as a band? What are the goals?

Just whatever happens.



What made you want to dedicate your life to music? Was there a show or album that made you want to get into the punk scene?

I don't think there's one show or album that changed everything. It's just what we need to do and I don't think we could not do this.

Anything you would like to say to Pittsburgh?

I look forward to seeing your town, I hope it's nice.

Show is at 4312 Main St in Bloomfield.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Lollapalooza 2011 Videos

As usual Lollapalooza was a blast. I will be writing more when I have time. But here are some videos from the festival.









I am still working on trying to post others on youtube. Enjoy

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Gone Fishin! Lollapalooza

We are going fishing until Tuesday. Follow us on twitter to catch all the Lollapalooza news.

Show Preview - Foster The People - Mr Smalls - 8/8/11 - Pittsburgh - Concert Preview

Foster The People will be making their way from Lollapalooza this Monday with a stop at Mr Smalls. The show is already sold out, but if you can try to wrangle a ticket do so. Torches is their debut LP that they are touring behind which has quickly blown up. "Helena Beat" is their second single and featured in the below video:



For Foster The People’s second single, “Helena Beat,” off their prominent debut Torches, the band chose to go post-apocalyptic. As Mark Foster explained to MTV.com last month it’s sort of “'Lord of the Flies' meets 'Mad Max.'” Pair that with the track described by the L.A Times as “rock-driven” with “Parisian pop accents and a techno-meets-South Africa breakdown” and you’ll soon enough find yourself dancing among these mini-civilians about to take over the world: Watch "Helena Beat" Now!

Ace Norton (She and Him, Scissor Sisters, Death Cab for Cutie,) who directed this futuristic clip, worked closely with the band to realize an over-turned, run down world where rules are long gone and kids are now rulers. During the making of the video the director notes that, “everyone took a very hands on approach to the entire process,” every person did their own stunts and no children were harmed! However, we cannot speak for the adults in this video.

Foster The People will continue to tour the world this summer and well into the fall. With sold-out shows in nearly every market and a live set that’s undeniably energetic, this is a band who you won’t want to miss in 2011!

Monday, August 1, 2011

AA Bondy to Release New Album 9/13 - Believers


One of my favorite artist and performers AA Bondy is releasing a new album in September via Fat Possum Records entitled Believers. The first single "The Hear is Willing" is now streaming at NPR.org which you can find here. He has played here several times and you can find reviews here and here. Ecstatic for the new album.