Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ticket Giveaway - Say Anything - 4.11.12 - Show Preview - Concert Preview

We have had several giveaways for sold out shows (Heartless Bastards, Grimes, The Kooks) and now another. Say Anything will be playing at Mr Small’s Theatre next Wednesday, April 11th. They are touring behind their recently released Tim O'heir produced (Superdrag, Sebadoh) record Anarchy, My Dear. The new songs are catchy with a raw, cathartic intensity. I have listened to the album several times. It has an almost vintage, classic/glam rock feel with anthem choruses and rampant energy. Years of constant touring has created one of the most intense shows that fans clamor to see. We are happy to be giving away a pair of tickets to the show. All  you need to do is email us your name to to enter.

From their press:

Anarchy, My Dear, produced by Tim O’Heir (Say Anything, Sebadoh, Superdrag), is in its purest sense, a form of propaganda—an intense expression of frontman Max Bemis’ love for the idea of anarchy. Says Bemis, “Anarchy, My Dear is our first attempt to write a true ‘punk’ record; thematically speaking, it’s a collection of songs about subverting society and destroying the boundaries humankind has placed upon ourselves both physically and in our minds. Coincidentally, it also happens to be the first record we’ve made in years where we had total freedom to explore our ‘edgier’ side and present a raw picture of what the band is truly about onstage.”

Filled with thought-provoking, idiosyncratic lyrics, Anarchy marks a breakthrough in Say Anything’s genre-defying evolution. Hailed by Alternative Press as one of the most anticipated albums of 2012, the music has a newfound vintage, glam-rock feel, complete with an urgent punch of anthemic choruses and ferocious energy. SPIN Magazine declared that the first single, “Burn A Miracle,” is “one of the more schizophrenic and toothsome pop-punk outbursts frontman Max Bemis (or maybe anyone for that matter) has shared to date. It’s a beast. Have a listen.

Show begins at 8p with doors at 7p. Craigslist, ebay and begging are the ways to go for tickets.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Ticket Giveaway - Interview - Margot and the Nuclear So & So's - 4.7.12 - Brillobox - Show Preview - Concert Preview

Margot and the Nuclear So & So's will be making a stop at the Brillobox, next Saturday 4.7. The band recently self released their new LP Rot Gut, Domestic this past week. It has steadily been gaining buzz on the blogosphere, as the band kept the album close to the vest during the production. The Indianapolis based group is fronted by Richard Edwards, the mainstay of every Margot album. We are big fans of Margot having featured interviews with Richard here and here. He was generous enough to speak with us again about the new album, touring with Greg Dulli and how Peyton Manning is no longer a Colt. We are happy to be giving away a pair of tickets to the show. As usual, just email us your name to to enter.

First, have to get this out of the way. What do you think of Peyton Manning being released by the Colts? Smart? Would you take Andrew Luck or RG3?

It's very sad for the obvious reasons, but seems like the wise move. That being said, it's the wise move because they did a bad job gradually upgrading the team, and now they're forced with the prospect of a complete tear down. I like RG3 better, but would probably take Luck. 


Your past albums have been released on major label Artemis Record, V2, Epic. This time around you had a Pledge Music campaign and self released Rot Gut, Domestic. What brought about this change? 

We've actually been self releasing for a couple years. Buzzard was also released on our label. The reasons for doing it are many, but the increased freedom is as good a reason as any.

How did the incentive based rewards for donating workout (including credits in linear notes, band member mixing your own song, etc)? I see on the site you had pledges almost 3x what you asked. Did people keep their pledges and send the funds?

Everything seemed to work very well. I would do it again.

You have always had dark, gloomy lyrics about alienation, frustration and anxiety. Are all these from your personal experiences? Or is this more character motivated?

The lyrics are about all sorts of things. Sometimes it's personal experiences, sometimes they are bible stories. There's a fair amount of darker humor in the songs, as well, but people do tend to focus on the other stuff.

Your last album Buzzard was more guitar driven than the baroque sound of your earlier records. Rot Gut appears to even go further with this sound, comparably to 90’s alt rock. Would you agree? Or do you feel this was a natural progression?

I can see some similarities to 90's alternative music, mixed in with a bunch of other stuff. I think it was a natural evolution. Just felt like playing electric guitars. I generally do something until I suddenly feel like not doing it. There's very little plotting or premeditation. I like making music with all sorts of sounds and instruments.

Did you have any definitive direction when you began the album with regards to sound? How did others input affect the direction?

Not really, besides feeling like it was going to be another guitar centric affair. I'd say John Congleton, who produced the record with us, always encouraged the big loud things to be unapologetically big and loud. If it wants to rock, let it rock.

I read that the your song ‘The Devil’ off the album is the bands favorite, but no one originally wanted it on the record besides yourself. Why is that? And what made them come around?

I can't really remember, but probably just because it's a bit bizarre. Not traditionally structured. When you bring a demo of a song like that in to the studio, it is sometimes hard for others to see what it's going to eventually be. As the recording of it comes together, and it starts sounding cool, people's guards generally come down. 

The last time you were you were supporting Greg Dulli’s Twilight Singers. How did that tour go? Were you able to garner advice, perspective from the indie rock legend?

The tour was great. I'd say most of the advice I took from Greg was health based. Musically, we both like each others bands quite a bit. I enjoy hanging out with him. He's a good egg.

Anything you like to say to Pittsburgh?

When we play, please bring any pictures you took during the Batman shoot. I want to see them.

This is a later show with doors at 9:30 and show beginning at 10p. More information can be found here

Monday, March 26, 2012

Ticket Giveaway - Cloud Nothings - 4.3.12 - Brillobox - Show Preview - Concert Preview

Cloud Nothings will be performing next Tuesday, 4.3 at the Brillobox. The band has just recently released a new LP this year entitled, Attack on Memory, which has garnered significant praise including Pitchfork's 'Best New Music'. The Cleveland quartet is known for their energetic live shows, pushing the envelope from their lo-fi sound to fierce, rock pounding sets. We are happy to be giving away a pair of tickets to the show. As usual, just email us your name to

From their press:

It’s been a crazy year for Cloud Nothings since they burst onto the music scene last winter. At the time main man Dylan Baldi was eighteen, living at home, and making lo-fi indie rock on a crappy computer in his parent’s suburban basement outside Cleveland. Since then, Cloud Nothings has released an EP and a handful of singles, and the band has put a few North American tours under its belt. With all the internet notoriety and their recent signing with Carpark, Cloud Nothings are now able to record somewhere besides the basement. For a producer, Dylan chose Baltimore’s Chester Gwazda, known for his work with Dan Deacon and Future Islands. Recorded this past August in a warehouse studio in Baltimore’s famed Copycat Building (home to the original Wham City and many of the city’s best musicians and artists), the self-titled Cloud Nothings album shines through with a crispness and boldness that Dylan has always envisioned. The songs now sound as they do live: full of energy, precision, and catchy bits. Dylan plays all the instruments on the album, but this time without the lo-fi scuzz. The excitement and emotion are practically jumping off the grooves.

Show begins at 9:30 with doors at 9p. Tickets for the show are $8 and can be found here. Locals Pet Clinic and A Classic Education will be opening. More information on the band:

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Show Review - Larry and His Flask - Altar Bar - 3.9.12 - Pittsburgh - Concert Review - Live Review

I've never found it more difficult to place a band in a single genre as I did with Larry and His Flask.  The six piece, all of them multi instrumentalists playing a variety of mandolin, banjo, percussion, and horns, brought their literal blend of folk, alternative country, and americana into Pittsburgh part of the Stewed, Screwed, and Tattooed tour in support of the cult road veterans Reverend Horton Heat.

The Altar Bar stage could barely contain them all as they pumped out set opener "Blood Drunk" to a mixed crowd of rockabilly and punk fans.  With founder Jamin Marshall providing percussion and brother Jesse twisting behind him on the upright bass the band slowly rev'd the crowd into a swinging dance craze.  The only slow down section of the set was during the song named for such an occasion, "Slow It Down".  

Finishing the 45 minute set the band invited openers The Goddamn Gallows back on stage for an "in the crowd" party.  Lead vocalist Ian Cook jumped on the bar leading the pandemonium while the long bearded, now wolf masked Dallin Bulkey stirred the crowd into a trance with the rest of the band lip syncing every lyric as sweat poured from their faces.   

The road warriors thanked the crowd and departed the stage looking like they were leaving the place they were meant to always be on, the stage.  No worries though, the band had an enormous selection of merchandise to remember them by.  And yes, they actually do sell LAHF flasks.

-Johnathon Puff

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Local Spotlight - The Woodpile - March 2012 - Pittsburgh

Our local artist spotlight for the month of March is The Woodpile. The band just recently completed their debut LP, Life Vacation, which you can download for free from their bandcamp site. The band was kind enough to answer our normal 'spotlight' questions. You can find their album throughout the interview with links to their sites at the bottom.

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

My old band, The Douglass Brothers, broke up. We could never really get it together, but I didn’t want to abandon the sound that I thought we should have gone for. So, in early 2008 I wrote about 20 songs and hired a band to rehearse and record what would become Life Vacation. I have known Steve Whooler, who played guitar in TDB, since we played in a couple high school bands together, and his metal style was a big part of what I envisioned for the project. Chris Belin handled the drumming. He was a go to guy on the skins when a drummer flaked (happened all the time), so I worked with him on and off over the years. A word of advice to someone starting out who wants to earn a living playing music…learn the drums. If you can show up on time and learn your parts before rehearsal you’re miles ahead of most. Anyway, Big Cat Lynch did a lot of vocals on the record. His musical talent is rather diverse and he’s a friend I have known since college so he was a clear choice. Lastly, E Graham played guitar and did background vocals. He posted a Craigslist ad that simply said something like “e-mail if you’re not a p*ssy.” I instantly knew what he meant so I hit him up. We got on real well and the timing was perfect because I had just finished the demos and was in the process of gathering the band. 

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

I still don’t have a very good answer for this question. Maybe after more people here the album and we get some feedback it will be easier. From the first rehearsal to release was about three and half years and during that time no one heard anything, not even the guys involved. Besides the first weekend where we cut the drums and some rough guitar tracks all recording sessions were periodic one-offs with each member. So they ended up hearing the finished product about one week before it was released. It seems like new genres are popping up constantly these days, but I don’t think any of that’s necessary here, it’s just rock music.

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

Everyone is from the Pittsburgh area. Besides Lynch, who grew up in the south hills, we’re all originally from the eastern suburbs. 

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

Chris Belin’s traveling drum school has been freaking parents out in their own homes since 1999 and he does freelance gigs and studio sessions, so he’s been fortunate enough to pay the bills that way. The rest of us, to a varying degree, are giving it go, but we’re certainly all still punching the clock. 

Do you have day jobs?

Whooler is in charge of keeping produce fresh as a manager at a local chain supermarket. Graham worked at a piano store, but apparently it’s hard to make a living on the commissions from sales of $30,000.00 pianos since no one has the money to buy one. Lynch most recently worked for a software company, and I trade bonds at a large financial institution. 

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

It varies. I like to sit with the bass or guitar and just jam. If something comes out that I like I’ll lay it down. Sometimes it builds on itself right away and other times it doesn’t, but either way I try not to force it. Many times I’ll come up with something much later and realize that it happens to work well with an older riff, and that can happen a few times and then there’s a song. A lot of lyrics pop into my head while I’m at work or some other random place. It usually results in a chorus or a couple of verse lines I like, and then that becomes the topic of the song.

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

That really depends. I would love to rehearse all the time and play a bunch of shows and go on tour. I’m ready to throw it all down on a moments’ notice, as I always have been. But the saying that you’re only as strong as your weakest link is so true when it comes to a band. The opportunity cost is too high for me to spend any time in a project where everyone involved doesn’t take pride in what we’re doing. I want to be the guy who cares the least. I wouldn’t lose any sleep if no one liked us, as long as we’re tight. The dudes involved in this case are all solid, so it’s feasible that we could pull it off, but it’s been so long since we started making the record that I need to sit down with everyone and see where they are in their life. I’d be open to having a label release Life Vacation on a larger scale, but it’s not something I’m actively pursuing.
What advice would you give to local acts trying to make it?

I’m definitely not the person to ask that question to, but I could tell you quite a few things not to do. How much time do you have?

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

Whooler and I toured regionally with TDB. I booked all of our shows and we played a bunch of cities, Cleveland, Buffalo, Ithaca, Syracuse, NYC, Philly, just to name a few. It was very ambitious, but never resulted in much because we weren’t where we should have been as a unit. We had a great time though, and have a lot of memorable stories that will be told for years to come.

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

There are disadvantages and advantages of every city or town. It comes down to how you make those things work for you or against you. I lived in Fishtown in Philly for a time and the scene there was pretty robust. There were so many bands/studios/venues operating at a professional level. Was it easier to get noticed or easier to get lost in the shuffle because of that? I don’t know. 

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

Many regional and national touring acts seem to skip Pittsburgh, so not as many people get into the routine of going out to smaller club shows on a regular basis, which I think would have a positive trickle down effect for local bands. That being said, I think there have been some small improvements in that area over the last couple of years and that it will continue to get better.

What are the positive benefits of being in the area?

People here are loyal and they know what they like. Those are positive qualities. Bands that have a loyal fan base, even if it’s not that big, will be better off than some buzz band from a bigger market. Additionally, I believe Pittsburgh is on the up and up in general. There was a brain drain here for years, but many people I know who moved away after college were able to find a good job here and move back. I’m one of those people.

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

Club Café is a nice club and always very accomodating. The Rex Theater is good for a louder band like those I’ve been in because the sound system and size of the venue, but only if there are 100+ people. I really like the setup at Howlers, and it’s the perfect size for local and smaller touring acts.

More information about the band can be found at these sites:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Interview - Cymbals Eat Guitars - 3.28.12 - Mr Smalls - Show Preview - Concert Preview

Today’s musical landscape—especially as experienced through the internet and the blogosphere—is always churning out new sounds and phenomenal music. But, it is safe to say that something which is in short supply are bands which seriously rock out. It seems to me that last time indie music really had a number of bands who rocked out was in the late 1990s.

It’s time to rock again, next Wednesday, March 28th at Mr. Small’s. Cursive headlines with opener Cymbals Eat Guitars. Both bands bring onstage a handful of guitars, a healthy dose of angst, and let it rip. Cursive is a band that cut its teeth in the rock scene of the 1990s, and has continued to make aggressive and emotional music since. Cymbals Eat Guitars have not surprisingly been referred to as a “90s-style” rock band, but they have also garnered comparisons with Animal Collective and Mogwai  for their complicated, linear songs. I had a chance to talk with Matt Whipple of Cymbals Eat Guitars in anticipation of what is sure to be a fantastic show. Don't' forget we have a pair of tickets to the show to giveaway

This past October, Cymbals Eat Guitars released their sophomore full length, Lenses Alien, to high critical acclaim. Personally, I find it even better than their debut. “We're really proud of the record we made,” Matt says. Whipple joined the band after the release of their first album, Why There Are Mountains, so this was the first Cymbals Eat Guitars album where he was actively involved in the writing and recording. Unlike the first album, this one did not receive the coveted (but in my mind overrated) label of Best New Music by Pitchfork. Matt spoke honestly about this. “We'd be lying if we said we weren't hoping to get Pitchfork’s Best New Music. A lot of bands try to downplay that. But it makes no sense, because it obviously makes a difference in terms of how your record is received, because a lot of music on the internet is basically a Pitchfork echo chamber.” Receiving such positive press from Pitchfork on their first album, when the band was relatively unknown, really helped get them on the indie rock map. “While we were understandably a little disappointed to not have the record be such a zeitgeist as the last time around, we kind of understand that not being a new band anymore definitely impacts how much excitement there is about the music that you put out. People love new and now. When you're putting out your second record there is a bit more of a battle for attention.”

The album title is indicative of both the band’s musical approach and the lyrics written by singer Joe D’Agostino. Lenses Alien refers to taking perspectives on the world which are unfamiliar to us. Both song structure and lyrics are complex; sometimes psychedelic, wandering, and disjointed. “I think kaleidoscopic is definitely a good word for it,” Matt says. “For this record there was a concerted effort to make it so. To arrive at that kind of sound, the lyrics and the music together, it’s not like one comes first and the other comes second. They dance around each other and shift and change shape until they fit together in a way that makes sense to us.”

The band isn’t necessarily not bothered by the label of “90s” rock, especially as it has been applied with increasing regularity to such critical darlings as Yuck. “I think a lot of guitar bands now that don't really sound much like the 90s get labeled as throwback, just because they're not using synths basically. I think in some ways for us it is a very apt description, but in others it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I think that people are always just going to like guitar music. Not to be a rockist, but I think there is something very visceral and immediately satisfactory to people who like this kind of music to hear guitars played loudly and weirdly.”

One of my favorite pieces of guitar brilliance is the epic album opener, “Rifle Eyesight (Proper Name).” At 8 and ½ minutes, the song is more than twice as long as everything else on the album…but so good. I asked Matt if we were likely to hear it at the show with Cursive. “Yeah, I think so. It’s such a behemoth of a song, you kind of have to build the set around it.” Other considerations come into play when designing their set, he said, especially an opening spot. “We're kind of hemmed in by the fact that Joe plays songs in a bunch of different tunes, and he has three different guitars that he brings on tour. So because we don't have a guitar tech or someone to retune guitars after every song, a lot of our set is dictated by us saying, ‘Ok, we need to minimize dead space between songs, so let's play the three songs in standard tuning, and then the three songs on the white guitar, and then the three songs on the black guitar.”

The band has release videos for two singles off the album. The first video, for “Keep Me Waiting,” shows a complicated story of adolescents with the feel of a Richard Kelly film with a crazy ending open for interpretation. Matt told me that the band is interested in letting the directors do much of the decision-making and story writing, with the band providing only minimal suggestions. More recently they released the video for “Definite Darkness,” directed by Jaime Harley. Like the first, they let the director take over. “I don't want to say he is the director really…he is sort of a video collage artist. What he does is find these really obscure found footage shots and assemble a video using that footage to create an emotional collage experience. So we weren't really involved in that video at all. We heard that Jaime wanted to do a video for us, and we had seen other stuff that he had done for How to Dress Well and Twin Shadow. As soon as we heard he wanted to do one we were like, "Yes, absolutely, do whatever you want." He submitted a rough cut to us that was basically the song playing 3 or 4 times in a row just over all of the footage that he wanted to pull from. We immediately said, “Yes! Go. Do it.” And the end result is what came out a few days ago. We're really stoked on it.”

The band spent a good bit of last year on touring Europe. I asked Matt about his experience there versus here. “US crowds are usually a little bit more boisterous, a little bit more vocal, more enthusiastic. That doesn't necessarily mean that they like the shows more. I think European crowds tend to be a little bit more reserved and a little bit more reverent. We could play a show in Germany and everybody is just dead silent and politely clapping the whole time, and then we don't play an encore. Somebody would come up to us afterwards and say, ‘Why didn’t you play an encore?!’ And we were like, ‘Um, I don’t know. Cause we thought you hated the show.”

They didn’t hate the show though. Nor will we when the band rocks Pittsburgh next week. Ultimately, Matt said the louder the crowd, the easier it is to play the show. But, he adds, “I don't think it necessarily means we'll play a better show. But it certainly means that we'll think we're playing a better show.”

--Daniel Hammer

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Interview - Jeffrey Lewis - Club Cafe - 3.24.12 - Show Preview - Concert Preview

As previously mentioned, Jeffrey Lewis will be playing this Saturday at Club Cafe. We were able to finally catch up with him after his SXSW shows this past week. JL was kind enough to answer questions on how he has been able to create a living with his DIY ethos, his connection with Jaymay and Kimya Dawson and his dark lyrical content. As mentioned before, we would like to offer you a free pair of tickets to the show. As usual, just email us with your name at

You have been making a living with your DIY ethos for over 10 years. What is your secret for sustaining an ‘indie’ career especially in NYC?

Three things: one, read "Our Band Could Be Your Life" to see how some other bands did it; two, don't pay for any services until after you've already made enough for yourself to survive, in other words any money for a manager, photographer, publicist, record producer, vehicle, hotel, or any other possible expense, should only come out of the profit that you make for yourself and your bandmates, so that the musicians get paid first and foremost and only after the musicians are surviving is it possible to then start spending money on those extra things. I don't believe in investments, or spending money to make money, going into debt in hopes of making money later. You have to be making money before you can spend money. And the third rule is that the function of art is to blow minds, that's your job as an artist, if you're doing your job then you'll do fine.

Jaymay and Kimya Dawson recently played here. You are linked by the ‘Sidewalk Café’ anti-folk scene. Do you feel any connection with it? These are other artists that are making it on their own. Do you similar economic structure?

The Sidewalk Cafe has this great Monday might open mic that's been going on for decades, and it's where I got my start performing in New York City when I began writing songs. It's the perfect place to start in many ways, because anybody can just walk in off the street, no demo tape needed, no pre-arrangements, and there's usually a good crowd and a lot of inspiring and talented people to meet, and creativity is prized more than musicianship or cover songs or posturing. Everybody who plays the Sidewalk is called "Antifolk" no matter what kind of music they play. I feel a big connection with that place, and especially the group of people who were around there in the late 90s when I was starting out. Everybody's got their own economic situations, and their own goals and ambitions, but I think of it like the "million monkeys on a million typewriters" thing, like, there's so many zillions of people who have played that open mic there's inevitably going to be a handful of great people coming out of there.

A Turn in the Dream Songs is your latest album. Was there a particular theme behind this? Or?

My records usually don't have conscious themes, though in retrospect when I look back on an album a couple years later I can see the dominant thoughts and ideas and attitudes that inform the overall feeling of the record.

You have been on Rough Trade Records now for years. With your DIY ethos, did you ever consider putting out these albums yourself? Why do you stay with a label?

I put my recordings out myself on cassettes for a few years before Rough Trade asked me if they could release some of this stuff on CD, and it seems to have been a good idea to have them do that. It's not like I was shopping stuff around to different labels, or like I chose Rough Trade for some reason to be my label, it was just a lucky circumstance that I got an email from them one day in 2001 that lead to all of this. Now, ten years later, I still give them first choice when I make an album, I'll send them a copy of the recording and ask if they'd want to put it out, and most of the time they've said yes, which has been great. I can also still put stuff out myself, which I do sometimes.

Is there always a plan to create a comic book with your albums? Or is this something you do every now and then?

Do you mean for the album packaging artwork? I have been trying, for the past few albums, to give each album a unique packaging design that is different from anything else being sold. I think that in this day and age when the music itself is very easy to download, it's important that the physical item be worth buying. I've even considered releasing the album packaging without even including the disc, just with a note saying where to download the music. I'm very happy with the way the artwork and design worked out for A Turn in the Dream-Songs, but I think they printed it too dark. I've been asking Rough Trade to fix this on subsequent printings, maybe they will.

Your music is often described as comedy, but there is a darker side. Do the ‘depressed, gloomy’ lyrics personify you as a musician?

My music is mostly pretty dark, as far as I see it myself. I'm basically an atheist and a pragmatist, trying to keep myself happy and sane in a world that often seems poorly designed for such stuff. I usually try to use songs as ways to battle the darkness of life, with a tool kit that includes logic, humor, and philosophy. If people take some of it as comedy, that's at least good to the extent that it admits humor as a part of life, on equal ground with tragedy, love, death, heartbreak, food, housing, travel, history, art, youth, all of the stuff of human existence on earth. I think any artist who narrows their scope to exclude any of these aspects is missing some colors in their pallet, missing some parts of the toolkit. So yeah, humor is part of it, but everything is part of it.

Was there a show or artists who made you want to dedicate your life to music/comic books?

Any great comic book creator makes me want to dedicate my life to comic books, whether it's Alan Moore, Daniel Clowes, Harvey Kurtzman, Joe Matt, Jack Kirby, and a long list of others who have inspired me to pursue making comic books my entire life, from a very young age. As for music and songs, I'd have to point to Daniel Johnston as the primary inspiration for me making and recording songs, when I discovered his stuff in the mid-90s it was a life-changing experience because he proved so clearly that songs have nothing to do with how good you sing, how good you play, how expensive your recordings are, what you look like, any of that stuff. A song can be the greatest, most moving, most enlightening thing you've ever heard even with absolutely none of that stuff going for you. The song itself is the only important thing. That's a lesson that my entire songwriting output is based on. When it comes to the more musical side of what I do, I think Yo La Tengo and Lou Reed have had the biggest influences on the dynamic that I aim for, the balance between the sonically beautiful and the sonically brutal, complete control and complete chaos, with no corner unexplored.

What future goals would you like to accomplish?

More comic books and more songs that I'm proud of.

Anything you would like to say to Pittsburgh?

I have fond memories of Pittsburgh, some old friends from New York moved there a while back.

This is the early show at Club Cafe with doors at 6p and show at 7p. Tickets are only $8 and can be found here.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Ticket Giveaway - Interview - Cursive - Mr Smalls - 3.28.12 - Show Preview - Concert Preview

If you follow the blog you know we are huge fans of Tim Kasher and any project he is involved with. He was here this past November touring behind his first solo album at the Thunderbird Cafe, which included buying everyone in the crowd a shot of Jameson. This time around his main act, Cursive, are back with him touring behind their new album I Am Gemini. This is Cursive's seventh LP, telling the story of twin brothers Cassius and Pollock, one good and one evil. An unexpected reunion at a house that is not a home ignites a classic struggle for the soul, played out with a cast of supporting characters that includes a chorus of angels and devils, and twin sisters conjoined at the head. We have a pair of tickets to giveaway to the show. As usual, just email us with your name to

Tim Kasher was kind enough to talk with us briefly about the dichotomy of the new album, his ongoing screenwriting and if we would buy everyone a shot of Jameson this time around.

What made you decide to write an album about a fictional set up conjoined brothers?

It kind of evolved into that. I had loosely planned on writing about conflicting voices in one's heads, it spun out of control from there.

It’s the story of good v. evil from what I have read/heard. Is this something you see as a screenplay?

I had some daydreams of doing other things with this story, but set those ideas aside to ensure the story of the album was told completely. I didn't want it to be a companion piece to other proposed mediums, but rather a story in and of itself.

We had spoken before you had written a couple of more screenplays and were trying to film your first movie. Have you been able to do this? 

I got tripped up a few times in the production aspect of film making, enough times to leave me exhausted. I still write plenty aside from songwriting, but continue to consider it a hobby.

How did writing the structures of these songs compare to your past albums? Was this a much different process from more of ‘personal’ albums?

It wasn't incredibly different, we approached the compiling of songs in the same fashion as we have in the past, the main difference was we sequenced the songs in their correct order before writing the lyrics or recording. This way I was able to write the story linearly from track one to the end of the album. It also gave us a lot more insight whilst recording, knowing in advance which songs went into which songs.

In the cd booklet there is narrative of the album with the twin brothers. Did you write this? And what made you decide to add it?

Ted suggested I write it out as a play - or, more technically, a 'libretto' - to help listeners follow the story we had created. Yes, I wrote it, essentially just a more stylized version of the outline I had written prior to writing the lyrics.

Are you going to be playing a full catalogue on this tour? Or playing this concept album for the most part to tell the entire story?

We have been playing the full catalogue. Or, mostly full, from Domestica on.

How do you feel about writing the solo album and then creating a Cursive LP? Was it a nice break? Is this something you will continue to do?

I will continue putting out albums in this fashion. Or, I hope to, anyway. Yes, it's great to get away from one set of ideas and tackle something a bit different.

The last time you were here touring behind your solo album, you bought everyone at the show  a shot of Jameson. Any chance this will happen this time around? Was that a normal thing for you? 

Only done it a rare few times when I'm in a rare mood!

You have always said Pittsburgh is a great town. What has been your favorite place when visiting?

I find Pittsburgh to be a gorgeous city, underrated. I have had some friends report great things about living there. I was so proud when I heard the latest Batman film was shooting there! That DID happen, correct? As for favorite places, I am fairly traditional about loving New York City. Also appreciate the out of the way locales - went all the way to Helsinki, Finland last year. That was a unique experience.

Yes, part of the new Batman was filmed here. The show is at Mr Smalls with doors at 7p and show at 8p. Tickets are $16 and can be found here. Cymbals Eat Guitar will be opening. We have an interview with them as well so check back soon. 

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ticket Giveaway - Jeffrey Lewis - 3.24.12 - Club Cafe - Show Preview

Jeffrey Lewis will be performing this Saturday, 3.24 at Club Cafe. The quirky musician and comic book artist brings his brand of ironic folk pop to the small club this evening with guest Kid Brother. He is touring behind his latest LP,  A TURN IN THE DREAM-SONGS, out this past year on Rough Trade Records. We first caught a glimpse of JL about 4 years ago opening for someone (who obviously didn't make an impression) at Mr Smalls. He simply stole the evening, playing solo while turning his comic books onstage with each song. His melodic vocals and folk guitar plucks merge with self deprecating lyrics to create his catchy songs.We are hoping to get an interview within in the next day, but for now, we would like to offer you a free pair of tickets to the show. As usual, just email us with your name at

From his press:

Jarvis Cocker says Jeffrey Lewis is the finest lyricist of his generation and coming from him that’s quite an accolade. We’re inclined to agree and really it’s quite undeniable when you hear him explain the history of communist China or being sexually assaulted on a train by Will Oldham through song with an ease that makes you forget he’s being limited by rhythm and rhyme. Jeff’s the product of loving beatnik parents who raised him in New York’s Lower East Side in a tenement apartment with no television (it seems they’re on to something there). Before Jeffrey could even read he was crazy about comic books, which is probably why listening to his lo-fi anti folk punk rock feels a lot like reading one.

Nearly all of his songs contain at least one killer lyric that you’ll want to tell people about when you hear it. This writer for instance has explained the storyline of ‘Chelsea Hotel Oral Sex Song’ to every friend and family member. Lewis’s themes may range from bad acid trips to politcal history and oral sex, but there’s an overriding preoccupation that tends towards the life affirming. Relentless positivity usually makes us puke, but how irresistible are lines like, “bad times give you something to talk about/the next time you feel you’re all worn out/remember life is a story, don’t you doubt/it only takes a day for everything to turn around”.

This is the early show at Club Cafe with doors at 6p and show at 7p. Tickets are only $8 and can be found here

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Interview - Fanfarlo - 3.25.12 - Mr Smalls - Pittsburgh - Show Preview

Fanfarlo was here last back in December 2009 at the Brillobox putting on an amazing show. A little over two years later, they are making their second stop in Pgh, this time at the larger venue Mr Smalls. The band just released their second LP on new major label, Atlantic Records, entitled Rooms Filled With Light. It's a departure from their previous album, with more electric guitar and synthesizer compared to the folk sound of Reservoirs. We had a great interview with drummer Amos Memon, speaking about the new sound, recent performances in Seoul and their hope to create a soundtrack to a film. Also, don't forget we have a pair of tickets to giveaway to the show

There was a good 4 years between your two lp’s. Why such a long gap? What was the band doing between these years?

Reservoir was recorded in late 2008 and released in early 2009. We then toured for the bulk of 2009 and 2010, before taking time off to write our second album, which we recorded in 2011 and released last month. Basically we got caught in the tour-record-release black hole!

You recorded Rooms Filled With Light for Atlantic Records. How has this transition been compared to your indie roots? Did you feel more pressure to create a more ‘popular’ album?

We had a lot of fun practicing songs for Rooms Filled With Light and didn't feel any pressure to create something we weren't committed to. Even if we weren't on Canvasback/Atlantic, our approach would have been exactly the same.

There is a real departure sonically on your new album compared to the last. There is more electric guitar and synthesizers. What made you change direction? Or do you feel this was just a natural progression?

As musicians, we'd improved at playing our instruments since the last time we were in a studio. We'd matured and wanted to try new things, setting parameters for the album's sound, such as abandoning familiar instruments (glockenspiel, melodica, acoustic guitar and clarinet) and replacing them with electronics, electric guitar and getting Simon to dust off his saxophone.

What was the writing process with the new sound? Did it change for this album?

It had changed. The songs on Reservoir were written by Simon about three or four years before we'd recorded them! We were all there for the conception of the songs on Rooms Filled With Light, so this is a band effort.

 Has your live show changed compared when you were touring behind your last lp? Do you bring more musicians with you on tour?

We've been a quintet for two years. It's more manageable on stage, in the practice room and in the tour van. Our live show has evolved to include lights and projections, so much so that is does feel like you're missing a member when we don't have them.

You all have quite a touring schedule plan from looking on your website. How do the audiences differ from Europe to the US? And what about places such as Iceland? Any cities/countries you really enjoy playing?

Visiting Seoul, South Korea was an exciting city to play. We'd never been there before and made sure we could stay a bit longer to see the city and even travelled to border with North Korea. It was satisfying to finally play to our fans there. Last month we played our first show in Istanbul, Turkey and I think it's  become our favourite destination, ever. European audiences can be brazen and high spirited, and depending on where you play in the States, it's almost the same. Popular gig cities like Paris, London and New York, I feel, always make you work harder to win over a crowd, I think because there's so much choice and competition. The other day we were talking about a summer festival show in a small fishing village, Borgarfjordur Eystri, in the east of Iceland that we performed at. People were acting crazy there! As the sun didn't set until about midnight, it had a debauched air to it. The next morning, everyone was very civilised and all went for breakfast together. I guess it's the norm there, go mad in the evening and be normal in the day.

Listening to the new album, there appears to be a strong 80’s new wave influence. Was this something you were attempting to capture?

Hmm, not intentionally, and not so much 80's new wave either. I know some of the band listen to a lot of 70's pop, bands like E.L.O. who married orchestral strings with the three minute pop song structure. We found a lot of minimalist composers inspiring and added their arrangement skills into the Fanfarlo pot.

What are your upcoming goals? What would you like to accomplish?

We keep talking about playing a live soundtrack to a film. We have a wealth of  instrumental songs and jams we keep playing in practice. They wouldn't work at a Fanfarlo gig, so we just need to find a suitable film!

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

I didn't grow up with a drum kit and I didn't start attending shows until I was out of high school. I just enjoyed listening to and watching people play the drums on TV or the radio. I travelled a lot as a kid, so now, I feel lucky to be doing both. I blame Adam Ant for using two drummers on Top Of The Pops. That must have been the catalyst for my young imagination.

Anything you would like to say to Pittsburgh?

That you CAN beat Steel heat. :)

Tickets are $15 and can be found here. Show is scheduled at 8p with doors at 7p. More information about the band at these sites:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ticket Giveaway - Gardens & Villa w/Fanfarlo - 3.25.12 - Show Preview - Concert Preview

Gardens & Villa will be playing at Mr Smalls next Sunday, 3.25. They will be opening for Londonites Fanfarlo that evening. They will be also making a stop at one of our favorite events, Coachella. The band is based out of Santa Barbara, CA, formed from the remains of a west coast post-punk band. The 5 members produced their self titled album back in 2010 and are preparing their new release for 2012 (we should be hearing some of the new tunes). Their sound has been described as a bit David Bowie mixed with Ariel Pink. The lo-fi dancable songs are catchy with hooks and melodic tones. We are happy to be giving away a pair of tickets to the show. As usual, just email us at 

"Spacetime" by Gardens & Villa from Secretly Jag on Vimeo.

From their press:

From Santa Barbara, Gardens & Villa emerged as one of the best new bands from California last year on the strength of their self-titled debut album. PItchfork, Filter, NPR, Nylon Magazine, and CMJ were just a few of the press outlets to spread the word about this band. They also delivered two of the best bar shows I saw last year. The band just finished a new recording session with producer Richard Swift in Oregon so expect some new material at the show. You'll see more from Gardens & Villa this year with performances opening for The Shins, at SXSW, Coachella, and more.

Black Hills by Gardens & Villa from Secretly Jag on Vimeo.

Tickets are $15 and can be found here. Show begins at 8p with doors at 7p. You can find out more information about the band at these sites:

Monday, March 12, 2012

Show Preview - Kimya Dawson - Warhol - 3.22.12 - Pittsburgh - Concert Preview

Kimya Dawson will be making a stop in Pgh at the Warhol Museum Thursday, 3.22. A member of the anti-folk scene in NYC (along with recent shows by Jaymay, Jeffrey Lewis), the artist has been creating music for more than 20 years. Her twee-pop persona work showcases mostly her voice and acoustic guitar. In 2007 KD received her greatest attention with the cutesy high school pregnancy movie Juno. Her former band The Moldy Peaches appeared in the movie and on its soundtrack with KD's solo work as a backdrop throughout. Juno became the semi-success that KD needed to launch her career from a cult following to sudo-mainstream.

From her press:

Kimya Dawson is not preaching to the choir, rather gladly admits standing in the middle, arms around each member, singing her upcoming self-released album, Thunder Thighs due out October 18th via Burnside Distribution. As Kimya's seventh album, the assumed lo-fi sound has taken a delightful turn with the addition of pianos, backing choirs, string arrangements and several beats produced by rapper Aesop Rock. Although the personal touch of Kimya's delicate strumming and the crackling of her soft voice still sit forefront, the backbone is a more mature solid arrangement that supports her powerful poetry.

The mother of one, who’s work with The Moldy Peaches and the Grammy Award winning, platinum selling soundtrack for the film Juno, did not record alone. With her latest release, Kimya has recruited several artists to join the aforementioned choir, appearances by Aesop Rock, John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats, Nikolai Fraiture of the Strokes, Daniel Bryan, Forever Young Senior Citizen Rock and Roll Choir, Olympia Free Choir, and her own five year old daughter Panda create an eccentric journey through Kimya's revealing and honest songs. The first of 16 tracks to be uncovered is “All I Could Do,” a live performance for Kimya's chickens in her backyard shot by Aesop Rock. The first track of the album acts as a musical snapshot of Kimya's life, and is the perfect introduction to her latest release.

Show begins at 8p with doors at 7p. More information on the show can be found here. More information about the artist:

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Ticket Giveaway - Grimes - Brillobox - 3.20.12 - Pittsburgh - Show Preview - Concert Preview

Evidently there is not much convincing to get Pgh residents to the Grimes show as it's already sold out. Before she blew up, I was asked to do an interview with her which I gladly signed up for. But just like her Montreal neighbors Arcade Fire, one day you are scheduled to play at Garfield Artworks, the next you are doing national press and larger tours. Thankfully she kept the Brillobox show. Without further ado, we have a pair of tickets to giveaway to the Grimes show on 3.20. Just send us an email with your name to to enter.

Grimes - Vanessa from Arbutus Records on Vimeo.

From her press:

There is a powerful harmony in Grimes. It is a project which is both musical and visual, embodying the arts of 2D, performance, dance, video and sound. Claire Boucher weaves these together to a strong rhythmic effect, "the marriage between the voice of a human and the heartbeat of a machine".

Boucher, who was born in Vancouver, Canada, came to Montreal in 2006. Her experience as a performer is deeply embedded in the DIY loft culture of Montreal, where Grimes was one of the prominent figures in the scene surrounding Lab Synthèse - a 4600 square foot re-appropriated textile factory. She developed in a scene where punk ethos and pop music collide, resulting in a distinct sense of community, religiosity and psychedelic revelry.

Visions arises as Boucher's fourth release in less than two years. Her debut album, Geidi Primes (2010), was followed by Halfaxa (2010), which was arguably one of the first witch-house or lo-fi R&B releases. On Darkbloom (2011), Grimes begins taking her first steps as a producer, bringing together the experimentation behind her early work and a cutting edge pop aesthetic.

Show begins at at 9:30 with doors at 9p. Tickets are sold out. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Show Preview - Hoots & Hellmouth - Club Cafe - 3.8.12 - Pittsburgh - Concert Preview

Hoots & Hellmouth will be making a stop at Club Cafe this Thursday, 3.8. The band hails from Philly and is touring behind their new album Salt. The band plays a bit of soul, roots, rock and blues, often being compared to their fellow neighbors Dr. Dog. The new album was recorded in Philly with Jon Low who has produced Sharon Van Etten, Twin Sister and of course Dr. Dog.

From their press:

Salt builds on the fresh ground broken on their previously released EP, Face First In The Dirt, continuing down a path of explosive creativity. “Why Would You Not Want To Go There?” kicks things off with a building intensity reflective of their passionate live performances, but tempered with well-placed flourishes of piano and electric guitar. H&H’s trademark soul vibe is thick on “Lay Low,” incorporating the stomp groove and call-and-response vocals familiar to established fans of the band. By the time the listener reaches the middle of the record, the dynamic and deep “Apple Like A Wrecking Ball” and “The Ache” drive home the point that these guys are not content to rest on their laurels. To round it all out, album closer “Being Borned Again” continues their tradition of massive group sing-alongs so vibrant the listener already feels the chills of the anticipated live rendition.

Lyrically, Sean Hoots has always endeavored to keep a keen eye on the craft of songwriting, and Saltshowcases the artist on top of his game. These new songs reveal a greater depth of vulnerability and personalization unheard on previous H&H offerings. This is the sound of a writer digging deep, planting seeds and harvesting a bumper crop of thought-provoking, soul-scraping tunes.

Show begins at 8p with doors at 7p. Tickets are $12 and can be found here. You can find more information about the band at these sites:

Friday, March 2, 2012

Ticket Giveaway - Saint Motel w/ A Place to Bury Strangers - 3.7.12 - Shadow Lounge - Show Preview - Concert Preview

Saint Motel will be appearing at the Shadow Lounge in East Liberty supporting A Place to Bury Strangers this Wednesday, 3.7. The quartet travels here from the Los Angeles area where they reside. The band play a brand of power, indie pop with infectious hooks and melodies. We are happy to be giving away a pair of tickets to the show. As usual just email us with your name to

From their bio:

With sophisticated savvy and singularity, the Los Angeles quartet Saint Motel has built a formidable reputation for itself on the back of inventive indie pop and wildly fun live shows. Mixing blistering pep with unique flair and a knack for rousing rhythms, Saint Motel's aural catharsis is pure bliss with a twist of cynical humor.

Once pulled in by the pulsating and joyous melodies, delight can be found in the surprisingly avant-garde lyrical subject matter. Stories reveal themselves through thematic twists and turns with a narrative voice both subversive and sincere. We find our contemporary hero assessing the world through a lens of poetic contrasts -- running down the line of his modern concerns and realizing that a mangled face can be beautiful, that honest feedback can be as lethal as any weapon, and that one might be better off when he has nothing at all. With such honest motifs strung together by tongue-in-cheek notions, delivered with such charm, the band's intentions are often left open to interpretation. And so, what might be easily perceived as sexy with one listen, with another might seem mean-spirited or flatly perverse. That is the flair of Saint Motel's rapturous pop and the graceful dichotomy of its existence.

You can download a free mp3 here:

This is an early show with doors at 6p and first band on at 6:30p. Tickets are only $10 and can be found here. You can find more information about the band at these links:

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Ticket Giveaway - The Kooks - Mr Smalls - 3.6.12 - Pittsburgh - Show Preview - Concert Preview

The Kooks will be appearing at Mr Smalls this Tuesday, 3.6. The English indie rock band are touring behind their recently release album Junk of the Heart. This is the third studio album from the quartet based out of East Sussex. You can find the album here on itunes. We are happy to be giving away a pair of tickets to the show. As usual just email us your name to Winner will be chosen at random on Monday.

Several of their upcoming shows (including this one) are already sold out. This is a not to miss.

3/6 Pittsburgh, PA Mr. Small’s Theatre - SOLD OUT
3/7 New York, NY Terminal 5 – SOLD OUT
3/9 New Haven, CT Toad’s Place
3/10 Providence, RI Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel
5/29 New York, NY Rumsey’s Playfield – SOLD OUT
5/30 New York, NY Rumsey’s Playfield – SOLD OUT
6/1 Columbus, OH The LC Pavilion
6/2 Kansas City, KS Livestrong Sporting Park
6/4 Grand Prairie, TX Verizon Theatre
6/5 Austin, TX The Backyard
6/7 Alpharetta, GA Vireless Ampitheatre
6/10 Columbia, MD Merriweather Post Pavilion

The show is already sold out! This is a way for you to get that pair of tickets you missed out on. Show is scheduled to begin at 8p with doors at 7p. Yawn is the scheduled opener. You can find more information on  The Kooks at these links: