Tuesday, January 31, 2012

FAWM.ORG - 14½ SONGS IN 29 DAYS

Member Burr S. of the band Delicious Pastries is coordinating the annual FAWM.ORG challenge. The goal is for each author to pen 14.5 new songs for the month of February. For Burr, the project started as a hobby and has become part of his research at CMU. From Burr, "After running the project for fun for several years, I am now beginning to use it as a laboratory to study theories of social motivation, and as a testbed for "computational creativity" software (see http://muse.fawm.org) --- with a few scientific publications on these subjects already."

From the press release:

In 2011, so-called “fawmers” collectively penned more than 10,000 new songs, instrumentals, and works of sound art during the year’s shortest month. By mid-January of this year, more than 6,000 musicians have registered to take up the challenge from six continents and 90 countries including Canada, Australia, Germany, the United Kingdom, and all fifty U.S. States. FAWM is the largest songwriting challenge of its kind.

Most fawmers are musical hobbyists, while many are professional musicians and recording industry professionals who use FAWM as a much-needed creative exercise.  FAWM began when founder Burr Settles wrote  a  short novel as a graduate student for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in 2003.  He and three friends then challenged each other to write a song every other day in February 2004, using an informal weblog where they posted demo recordings and constructive comments throughout the process.  Due  to  the  public  interest  that followed, Settles developed a website for the challenge in 2005, which has continued to grow every year since.

For more information please go to these links:

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Ticket Giveaway - Show Preview - Jenny Owen Youngs - 2.7.12 - Brillobox - Concert Preview

Jenny Owen Youngs will be making a stop at the Brillobox on her 30 day national tour. She is touring behind her new album An Unwavering Band of Light that will be released on 2.7, the same as the show date. Jenny hails from Montclair, NJ (now residing in Brooklyn) and has been picking up steam these past few years. She plays indie pop with a hightened intensity featuring lyrics of love and passion. Her vocals fall in the spectrum of Jenny Lewis (Rilo Kiley) and Erin McKeown. Her new album stretches the boundaries from her past output. The LP is louder, with more rock, but maitaining the same appeal of her pop sensibility. We are happy to be giving away a pair of tickets to the show. As usual just email us your name at pghmusicreport@gmail.com


From her press:

 “I wanted to explore new territory, mess around with tones and textures that Dan and I hadn’t really dug into before,” she explains. “When we started working on this album, I was obsessed with Tom Waits’s Swordfishtrombones and Dan was wrapped up in Harry Belafonte’s Calypso.”

These influences are echoed in the loose, bouncy electric guitar lines and layers of woodblocks, oil drums, and varied percussion that can be found weaving through many of the album’s songs, most notably “Love For Long” and “Your Apartment.” “I also wanted to get loud,” she adds. “I cut my teeth on Nirvana, and spend a lot of time listening to bands like The White Stripes, The Strokes, and Sleater-Kinney.” And loudness prevails on the punked-out “Pirates” and the schizophrenic “Sleep Machine.”

There is also something here for those who gravitate toward the quiet and the sad. “O God” is a meditation on regret and taking a pass on perfectly good love, made all the more heart-wrenching by the mournful string arrangement by Romer. “So Long” explores the greatest loss with nothing more than a piano and a few voices (including soaring assists from Ben Thornewill and Tommy Siegel of Jukebox the Ghost). As Youngs puts it, “I love playing loud, but there are still plenty of feelings to go around.”

 Show begins at 9:30p with doors at 9p. Tickets are $12 and can be found here.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Show Review - Jaymay - 1.25.12 - Club Cafe - Pittsburgh - Concert Review - Live Review

This is going to be a short, short review (if you want to call it that). Needless to say, if you missed Jaymay Wednesday night at Club Cafe you should regret it (Hugh). The performance was the best by a solo artist I have seen in quite some time. Club Cafe was at capacity this evening with over 100 in attendance making the room difficult to navigate. When she was here in 2008 I recall half that. It's really nice to see her audience grow, especially in Pittsburgh, since she has been off the radar for a couple of years. Her in-between song banter was priceless (see videos) allowing the audience into the meaning of her songs, sarcastic remarks and a dig on bloggers. Charismatic, funny, captivating .... She's got the package. If you have a chance make sure to catch her.



Cults v. Saturday Looks Good to Me

I was listening to my ipod on random the other day and heard a song that I swore was by Saturday Looks Good to Me. I looked up and strange enough it was Cults 'Never Heal Myself'. Thought that was pretty odd until I started going through the album again and heard bits and pieces of SLGTM. Not saying that they are ripping off SLGTM, but some of there album definitely treads around the edges. While SLGTM never became close in popularity, Cults have taken that formula and taken it to the next level. Checkout the two beginnings from the below songs.



Sunday, January 22, 2012

Show Review - The Lemonheads - 1.16.12 - Stage AE - Pittsburgh - Concert Review - Live Review



When I heard the Lemonheads were doing a 20 year celebration concert for Its A Shame About Ray, I was super excited.  Surely this album was a standout amongst the many that defined my adolescence.  When we arrived at Stage AE we thought that based on the amount of cars it would be empty, however this club was the most packed show I have seen there.  After waiting an unnecessary long time after the opener, Evan Dando finally came out.  He played a handful of songs solo and acoustic and I did not recognize any of them.  I was fearing the old bait and switch, where was the promised album performance that undoubtedly all had come to see?  The crowd of mostly 30-40 somethings did not seem to enthralled either. 


Thankfully, soon the band appeared and they launched into 'Rockin Stroll' and the crowd perked up.  Yep this is what we all anticipated seeing.  Dando, who was a bit withdrawn in the beginning, began to ease up and seemed pretty happy to be playing.  My personal favorite was 'My Drug Buddy', I always loved that tune.  I have to admit that it definitely missed the added layer of Juliana Hatfields voice to complete the song.  She was missed throughout, however the end result of the performance was still satisfying to me. 

It seemed as though the 1-2 punch of 'Bit Part' and 'Alisons Starting To Happen' really was the high point of the show. The entire crowd really seemed to go wild at this point, vigorously singing and bopping along. I will say that I left before they could sing Mrs. Robinson. Now I know that cover may have put them on the mainstream map and probably was their biggest hit, but I love Simon and Garfunkle and never really was too jazzed about their rendition. I definitely walked away feeling satisfied with the show. Its got to be hard to play an uberpopular album 20 years later, especially when you haven’t been on the radar for most of that time, and still please the fans. Dando and Co. pulled it off though.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Ticket Giveaway - Dare Dukes -Interview - Club Cafe - 1.27.12 - Show Preview - Concert Preview


Dare Dukes will be performing at Club Cafe on 1.27 opening for Emily Rodgers. The Savannah, GA based artist is touring behind his new album Thugs and China Dolls released on Mazarine Records this month. He had assistance from several other acts including TV on the Radio, Of Montreal and Jim White. We are happy to be giving away a pair of tickets to the show. As usual just email us with your name at pghmusicreport@gmail.com

Dare was kind enough to answer our questions about his new album, residing in Savannah and his subject material for his lyrics.

You have lived in a multitude of cities while growing up. How did you end up in Savannah? How do you like residing in a true southern city?

Well, I grew up in Saratoga, CA (near San Francisco). But at 17 I was off to the races. Lived in Boston, Minneapolis, New York City, and now Savannah. My wife and I moved down here from New York City four years ago. She was offered a job teaching anthropology at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). We had just married, and we were looking for an adventure. We visited and immediately loved it. So we leapt, and we promised to never compare Savannah to New York City, because it was clear then and still is that they are very different cities.

Savannah is one of the most beautiful, most exotic, and weirdest places I’ve ever lived. I didn’t realize just how weird until I’d lived here a couple years. In many ways, good and bad, it’s a hundred years behind the rest of the country. I still can’t believe some of the things I see while driving down the street--incredible beauty juxtaposed with images of poverty that are unreal. One of the weirdest and most counter-productive forces here is the drive to turn the historic district into a museum, a simulacrum of a pretty antebellum South where there’s next to no representation of the history of slavery and no room for an aesthetics of the new (though Banana Repbulics and McDonalds are fine, apparently). As an outsider, it’s extraordinarily glaring. The other thing that’s painfully apparent is how race and class are conflated here. Savannah has a very high poverty rate--almost 22%--and something like 80% of those living below the poverty level are African American. This stark fact, of course, doesn’t worm its way into the museum zone. But you have to drive only a couple of blocks east or west of the tourist center to be smack in the middle of some of the poorest neighborhoods in America. And this isn’t Robert Moses poverty. This is old poverty, shotgun-shack poverty like you see in old footage of President Johnson’s War on Poverty. It's a trip.

I should say that I don’t think Savannah or the South have cornered the market on bad things, like structural racism. Savannah’s history, for sure, is stark for obvious reasons, but I don’t think the North or the West get a pass just because slavery didn’t happen there.

“Old West Broad,” the first song on the new record, is specifically about these clashing forces of beauty and badness in Savannah. West Broad used to be the name of what’s now, ironically, called MLK Boulevard. When MLK was West Broad it was a thriving center of African-American business and culture. Apparently there were some amazing jazz clubs there in the 60s. And I think it was a Jewish center, as well. Then, like in many an urban center across the US in the 70s, they built a flyover from an Interstate that literally cut the neighborhood in half. Then the population was displaced, Robert Moses-style, into dreary public housing that, if you squint, looks like a prison. They killed a neighborhood in the name of progress. I used this event in “Old West Broad” as a way into treating the stark juxtaposition of beauty and ugliness in Savannah. Very challenging.

Anyway, so living in the South has been very interesting, for sure. There's lots to think and write about down here. And I must also say that the people are extraordinarily hospitable and generous of spirit in ways that are unimaginable in the west or north. It's easy to get into long, lazy conversations with strangers here.



Your new album Thugs and China Dolls is billed as having members of Sufjan Stevens, Of Montreal and TV On the Radio. How did these partnerships come about? How much influence did they have in constructing your songs?

Thayer Sarrano, who plays with of Montreal, came to me through Claire Campbell of another terrific Athens band (that deserves national attention) called Hope for Agoldensummer. Claire is a very generous soul. After only a little prodding, she acted as my tour guide of sorts for the Athens music scene. She introduced me to Suny Lyons, her band mate, and the owner of Popheart Productions, where the record was recorded. I liked Suny's work as an engineer and producer, and I enlisted his help with the record. My steady band at the time (Blake Helton, Daniel Beauregard, Chris VanBrackle, Anna Chandler) tracked basics, and then I started layering on all the magical instruments I also wish I had—horns, strings, keys, synths. So Suny and Claire helped me pull in the amazing Thayer (of Montreal) and the amazing JoJo Glidewell (Modern Skirts). I had a tough time recording horns in Athens for some reason, so I did it in Brooklyn. I know an amazing trombonist up there, Kevin Moehringer (who also played on my first record). He had just tracked horns for TV on the Radio's latest record, and he gathered that same crew of horn players for me. They were phenomenal to work with. Came in and just nailed it.

A friend, Marla Hansen, has a huge presence on the record. I met Marla at an open mic night in the East Village years ago, right after I started taking my music seriously again after a long hiatus. She went on to record and tour with an incredible list of people (Sufjan Stevens, the National, My Brightest Diamond, DM Stith, Kanye West, to name only a few). And when I was struggling to find a female voice that could nail one very tricky song, I thought of her. We emailed her the tracks in Berlin, Germany, where she lives with her fiance. After the first song worked out so well, we tracked her vocals and viola on several songs. Thank god for the internet.

And I can't list of the cast of characters without talking about Jim White. Jim produced one song, “Simon Says,” and he did an incredible job. I met him last year when I was lucky enough to get put on a bill with him in Athens. He was very kind and supportive. I played “Simon Says” solo at that gig, and he like it. At that pointed I had recorded it twice with two slightly different bands and I wasn't happy with the arrangement. I was very close to dumping it from the record. I gave it to Jim to produce and he turned it into this off-kilter chamber piece. He managed to find the perfect blend of poignant and strange—which is exactly the nature of crumbling relationships, the subject of the song.

Your musical content appears to resonate around non mainstream characters and life. What is your fascination with these factions? Would you consider yourself in this same category?

I think that humans just might save us from the ill effects of humanity as a whole. There's a great deal of pressure to franchise not just our food, but our culture, our thinking, and values. I'd like to say it's worse than ever, but I suspect there have always been bad ideas adopted on large scales. These ideas are eroded by regular people like you and me, misbehaving, disrupting, being rude, not doing what they're told, or inventing eccentric work-arounds to the everyday invisible obstacles to light and joy. Some of these strange people do it intentionally. Others do it quite by accident, just by having a particular knack for being who they were meant to be. Such people are like saints to me. They make miracles happen in the desert.

In your bio it stated you wrote for a while in NYC before coming back to music. What made you decide to try it again?

Music insisted itself upon me again. Really. I'd had a band in Minneapolis that no one has ever heard of. It was heavily influence by my adoration of bands like the Pixies and Fugazi and maybe a little Nick Cave and Jesus Lizard and PJ Harvey. Then I moved to New York and, over a long and tortured time, wrote a long-winded and tortured novel that not many people could get to the end of. I got an agent then watched it get rejected a lot by a lot of publishers. I was working on a second one and feeling worn out and idealess and lonely. And I looked around and saw all these songs and fragments of songs I'd been writing but neglecting over the years, like orphans. It suddenly seemed ill-advised to ignore these little critters. Like they might eat me if I turned my back on them. And a dear, dear friend looked me in the eye one day and said that it was god's business, not mine, this little talent I had. And that to ignore it would be self-centered and self-destructive and wasteful. Her words took me by surprise and sounded true, and she had tears in her eyes so I knew she wasn't bullshitting me. So I set out to cultivate my music a touch more. I had friends who were pro musicians, so I asked them to back me. They generously did. I would be miserable for days in advance of a show. Performing still scares me. But I do it because it is the most important point of communication for a musician. The earplug experience just can't compare to hearing sound of the singer's breath in the same room.



How many eccentric characters are found in Savannah that you wrote about? It’s a quite a unique city.

The place is jam-packed with them. It's a southern city, but it's also not. There's a high degree of tolerance here for the weird. I'm told that's because it's a port city, and port cities attract people who don't fit in.

You utilize an assortment of instruments on this album including the accordion, mandolin, upright bass, cello, viola, trombone and french horn. How proficient are you with these? And why utilize so many?

I'm not proficient in any of them! I'm a guitar player, and not a very good one. And I can also sort of play banjo very ineptly, but only if I tune it like a guitar. I'm really a songwriter. Every time I sit down to get better at guitar I end up writing a song instead. But what I am good at is arranging my music and picking excellent players to manifest those arrangements. Why did I pick these instruments for the songs? The basic instrumentation was rooted in what was available to me in my backup band. Savannah has a very small music scene, so if you want to be a musician here you must learn to adapt to the personnel on hand, or play solo. I've never been that interested in playing solo, because when I compose my songs I hear a full band and arrangements. The reason the record is largely acoustic is because once it became clear to me that those were the instruments available to me I started writing for those instruments, especially banjo (“Meet You at the Bus”) and accordion (“Jim Eggers' Parrot”).



When you are creating your music do you enlist others to assist with lyrics/structure? Or do you perform most of this on your own? What is your current process?

I hear music in my head. I don't have to decide to activate anything to make that happen. It's just there. The musical and melodic cores of my songs fall out of my head almost effortlessly. Can you imagine? This is a great gift, and a nice and entertaining thing, and probably a little bothersome to my loved ones, who often wonder why I'm mumbling and humming to myself most of the time. The process for the words is the opposite, in most instances. They come hard and only with patience and a commitment to staring at the whiteness of the blank page. Writing a novel helped a lot with my lyric writing. I gained patience in the slow workings of words emerging. I am a bad collaborator. Ask my band members. And I've never really tried to write a song with anyone. I don't really have any interest in it. It's hard enough collaborating with myself.

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

The tour, I hope, will bring our music to a bigger audience. We'll be traveling with a 6-piece band, which is pretty ginormous for me on the road. One of my goals is to be nice to everyone in the van. And I'm looking forward to meeting all the kind people who've booked shows with and for us.

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

I don't feel like I really had a say in the matter. It's just in me and it insists on coming out.

Anything you would like to say to Pittsburgh?

I'm very thrilled about the Pittsburgh show. This will be my first time not just playing but visiting your town, and I've always heard great things about the art scene there. I'm also excited to play with Emily Rodgers and the Turpentiners! I love their music and still can't believe I get to share a stage with such smart and talented people.

Show is scheduled to start at 10:30p with doors at 10p. Tickets are only $7 and can be found here. More information on Dare Dukes can be found at these links:

http://www.daredukes.com/
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dare-Dukes-Band
http://www.myspace.com/daredukes

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Ticket Giveaway - Jaymay - Interview - 1.25.12 - Club Cafe - Show Preview - Concert Preview


Back in 2008 I went to see an artist known as Jaymay at Club Cafe. Simply put, I was smitten with her performance. She easily made my top show list for that year. At the time she was residing in London on record label EMI, touring frequently on both continents. When I saw she was coming back through our area I reached out to her for an interview. It was one of the most open conversations I have conducted with an artist on record. She holds nothing back.

The singer/songwriter now resides in NYC putting her music out independently. She is up for an Oscar Nomination for her original music in the film 'Happythankyoumoreplease'. She spoke to us about the nomination as well as her independence from labels, her European adventures and her feeling on encores.

We are happy to be giving away a pair of tickets to the show courtesy of double O Productions. As usual, just email us at pghmusicreport@gmail.com with your name.

The last time you were here in Pgh (2008) you were residing in London working with EMI. It appears you are back in NYC? What made you move back? Still with the same label?


While I was in the UK most of my time was spent touring. The longest I spent in one spot was two weeks at a time in London. Otherwise, I was out on the road constantly. I moved back to NYC because it’s my favorite place. I was with a label called Heavenly in England which was a subsidiary of EMI. I was signed with Blue Note in the US, so I was touring worldwide. EMI dropped me and I was really happy. I am not the kind of artist who should be on a major label. I don’t feel I need a full length album, then tour, and then make another studio album. I do much better on my own terms.


How was your time in the UK? What are the differences between music scenes here compared to over the pond?

When I was touring the UK I was opening for larger bands such as Bright Eyes, Jose Gonzales, Okkervil River…so I was exposed to a very large audience. In Italy I always found the crowd to be so warm, wanting to talk to you, even if they don’t understand the language. They are very, reactive, embracive and loud. They applaud a lot and like to interject.

England was more reserve. I really had to work hard. I describe it as a city that took from you but gave nothing back. In a way that can be very inspiring because it makes you want to earn it and win their respect. But it was definitely hard.

In Scotland I felt they had less pretension than anywhere else. Everyone was so genuine, they were definitely there for the music. In Ireland I felt really respected because they crowds were fascinated with storytelling (which my music is).



One of your songs “Never Be Daunted” is in the mix with a possible Oscar nomination. How did this song come about for the film “Thankyoumoreplease”? How does the possibility of being nominated feel?

Josh Radnor (Ted Mosby from How I Met Your Mother) wrote, direct and stars in this film. His friend sent him a song of mine and Josh got it on the second season finale of HIMYM. He contacted me and asked that I read his screenplay for the movie. I was so inspired by it because it was relatable with the plot being about New Yorkers and all the relationships. It resonated with me because that is where I live and have similar experiences. I wrote a couple of songs for it, one being ‘Never Be Daunted’. He then gave me a pre-edited version of the movie and I wrote another song, ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors’. When they heard the songs they decided to score the film with my music (14 songs in total). I only wrote three songs for the film itself. To be nominated for an Oscar you have to write a song specific for the film which was ‘Never Be Daunted’.

It’s down to 39 contenders. They have actually already voted but they announce the nominees on January 24th. To be nominated you have to score 8.25 or higher and there can be up to 5 nominees. The songs are clips of the film so you have to view it in its complete context. It’s really competitive because The Muppets and Winne the Pooh are in contention as well.

It appears from your site that you have released a series of EP’s and singles. Is there a reason you have yet to release a full LP?

What really happened was when I was dropped by EMI, the contract was still not over and they owed me money. It was over a year and a half before I could release music under Jaymay Music. If I had released anything it would have been owned by EMI which I refused to do. While I was on the road I didn’t even sell my album because I didn’t want to support the label. I just sold my EP. I ended up just writing and recording during this time.

When I finally became Jaymay Music again, I took a look at my work. I felt it was haphazard, jumbled with no running theme because it was just this dry collection. I have a ton of singles that I am just trying to organize now. But all this music will come out. I really want to write a full length album. I have been writing a lot of songs on the piano; I feel my sound has really changed and want to make sure I capture it in LP form. It won’t be anytime in the near future. I am just going to put out music in the meantime. I am basically playing catch up with myself.

When you are creating your music do you enlist others to assist with lyrics/structure? Or do you perform most of this on your own?

I do everything myself. I have produced all my music. I do work with others but I play and create all when recording.


Last time you were here you stated you don’t like to perform encores but did so because of the crowd’s appreciation. Has this changed at all? Why don’t you enjoy it?

For me it’s so ridiculous because it’s just inevitable especially when you go to a big show. The whole thing of walking offstage and coming back on is not something I enjoy. I just want the show to be amazing and then I want to leave. When I am playing for such a small audience it seems so silly to be this single person onstage with a guitar in a room that sometimes doesn’t have a backstage. To do an encore in a small room what does it really mean?

In Italy they have this thing called bis. At the end of your set they yell bis, bis, bis, and you are supposed to play a repeat of your best song or part of it. If you don’t do it, it’s the most non-respectful thing you could do. You have to do it. I am all about giving the people what they want, but I am also about playing my set and leaving.

What made you want to dedicate your life to music? 

It was the Sidewalk CafĂ©. I had a revelation; I have been writing since middle school. I was obsessed with words and word play involving little poems about my dog or anything around. I was also playing the piano and violin. In college I started really writing songs. I bought a guitar when I was 18. I would just perform these songs in my room never performing out. Then in my sophomore year I was on break and a friend of mine took me to the Fireside Cafe where she performed a song. I was just like, “She is so brave. I can’t believe she is playing her own music.” I promised myself the same thing. When I graduated I moved to NYC and went to the open mic where I performed my one song. I just knew…


You are often thrown into the ‘anti folk’ genre based on your lyrics and acoustic sound. Do you think this is a fair assessment?


I don’t know what anti-folk means to be honest. I am involved in the scene according to them, but all it means to me if you had somewhat success or you started there (Sidewalk Cafe) people label you. Lach is the founder of anti-folk movement…like Regina Spector, Langhorne Slim, The Moldy Peaches…all those people came from the scene, but to me anti-folk doesn’t mean anything; you just performed at the Sidewalk Cafe open mic nights. There is no message we are trying to convey.

Anything you would like to say to Pittsburgh?

I can’t wait for the show. I loved playing there last time. I got the best sweatshirt of my life there. It’s black with gold dinosaurs. It’s so amazing. I fell asleep on an airplane once and a woman said, “If you fall asleep I am taking that sweatshirt right off your body.” It’s a great sweatshirt.

Doors are at 7p with the show at 8p. Greg Dutton and The Wreckids will open. Tickets are only $10 and can be found here.




Sunday, January 15, 2012

Lana Del Rey - Saturday Night Live - 1.14.12

I was just catching up with my DVR and was watching Lana Del Rey perform on SNL last night. Honestly, I had no idea who this person is (I realize now the buzz around her). I have heard her song 'Video Games' (which I like) but never knew who sang it.

I actually enjoy her music, but you could tell from her performance she is way out of her realm. Looking uncomfortable, frightened and not even coming close to a professional audition, LDR was clueless on how to perform to a live national audience. She was heavily criticized via twitter and national media. When I watched her, I just wanted to hit her in the face. She annoyed me that much with her poofed hair, doily dress and humorous seductive attempts at dancing.

But don't feel too sorry for her. She has a multi-millionaire father who has been running her career since infancy. She shouldn't have any issue later on. But judge for yourself.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Interviews et al

Had one of the best interviews I have had tonight. The artist was actually supplying me with more than enough information minus the canned answers which I truly appreciate. Be on the lookout soon.

Plus, had a good time with a local artist over drinks. Be on the lookout.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Coachella Festival 2012

I used to make a pilgrimage to the Coachella Festival every year. It's in the desert near Palm Springs, California and can be a nightmare for concert goers with one 2 lane road into the grounds and an uncomfortable dry heat. The lineup was just released yesterday and it provided an interesting mix plus a new twist. There are a bunch of throwback bands that are reforming to play the show. This includes Pulp, Refused (who stated they would never reform), At the Drive In, Jeff Magnum and Godspeed You! Black Emperor.

The new twist is they are performing not one, but two weekends. That means Radiohead, The Black Keys, Beirut, etc are sticking around in the area for the week. While I can see this for major headliners, the smaller bands doubtfully will stick around due to trying to make a living. A bit of false advertisement by the promoters.

I would love to check out some of these acts that I wasn't able to see in my youth (Refused, Pulp), but it's a bit of a trip. I guess the economy is doing well enough for the festival to throw a good bit of money out for these acts to reform. I like the idea (except Refused...come on you were always about the punk aesthetic) of these acts reforming and getting paid when they struggled back in the day. Maybe I will make the trip this year.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Show Preview - Lemonheads - 1.16.12 - Stage AE - Concert Preview


I am a proud product of the 90's and have always felt a definite nostalgia for all pop culture that era. One of the quintessential television shows of that decade was My So Called Life. Featuring a 15 year old Claire Danes, and based in our own town of Pittsburgh, the show only lasted one season but had mass influences from fashion, gay culture and of course music. This is how I first  experienced such 90's stalwarts as Buffalo Tom, Daniel Johnston and of course The Lemonheads. After hearing the music featured on the show, I quickly picked up a copy of the soundtrack and soon after grabbed The Lemonheads LP.



Their 1992 album, It's A Shame About Ray, was simply a classic. In an era of Seattle grunge, Dando and band provided an outstanding pop album and that had the masses and critics raving. It also provided an outlet for a genre that wasn't getting play on MTV at the time. The album pressed Evan Dando into the national spotlight, for better or worse. Fast forward 20 years later and the band just released Laughing All The Way To The Cleaners - The Best Of Lemonheads on January 2nd. It's a 47 track double album featuring may versions of the bands past and present portfolio.



The band had been on hiatus until 2005 when they began touring and recording once again. While never hitting Pittsburgh, the band toured the world and just recently announced a date in here featuring their 1992 classic album,  It's A Shame About Ray. Dando will perform the album’s 13-tracks alongside guitarist Josh Lattanzi (The Candles) and drummer Brian Nolan (American Hi-Fi). Nostalgia awaits.

The show will be at Club Stage AE (more intimate than their normal stage) and will begin at 8p with doors at 7p. Tickets are $15 and can be found here.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Local Spotlight - Horse or Cycle - January 2012

Horse or Cycle is our local spotlight for the month of January. The quartet is made up of  Phil Johnson [drums, backing vocals], Ricky Moslen [guitars, bass], Chris Ryan [guitars, bass], and Liam Cooney [vocals, guitar] who create late 90's style indie rock. Horse or Cycle just released a new EP entitled Godsmack You! Black Emperor (nice title) and will be having the cd release show this Satuday, January 7th at Gooski's. Included on the bill are Allies, Skinless Boneless and Strip Club. Liam Cooney was kind enough to answer our spotlight questions. Be sure to checkout their streaming album.

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

HOC started in earnest early 2009. Chris and Rick had played in other bands together and are from the area. I met Chris through a mutual friend a started recording things with him in 2008. I am transplant to this fair city and originally from New England. Phil our drummer is from Indianapolis, Indiana and we met him through his other band we had played with.



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

I could best describe our sound as loud indie rock. But there are so many sub-categories of genres these days im sure someone wiser could break it down a bit further.

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

We all have day jobs. Some more flexible than others. Two of us are married, and I have a 3 year old so we try and get everyone schedules to mesh in order to practice, write and tour.

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

I write the lyrics and the basic structure of the song and everyone else writes their own parts, it is a very democratic process. Which is to say slow and ham stringed by special interests.



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

Our goals for music are pretty simple. We try and make music that is fun for us to play and listen to. The bonus is that it appeals to some folks other than the 4 of us.

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

The only advice I would pass on to newer bands is try to look like you are enjoying what you are doing on stage. Ive been to so many shows, and especially indie rock shows, where the band looks like they are enduring water torture while on stage. Always remember that people paid to see you, so entertain a crowd and it will be easier for them to dig your music. How am I supposed to enjoy the very thing makes you look like your passing a kidney stone?

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


Touring we try to keep to about 5 days at a time. Try and do regional tours, so midwest one time, east coast another time.

You can find more information about the band at these links:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Horse-or-Cycle/179994348705874?ref=ts
http://horseorcycle.bandcamp.com/
http://www.myspace.com/horseorcycle

Monday, January 2, 2012

Top Shows and Albums 2011

And now for my picks. Difficult year with regards to albums for me. I always choose my 'top of' list by selecting records I listened to over and over again with out tiring of them.

Top 2011 Albums

1a. Guards - Guards EP - Leftover songs from Cult sessions, Richie Fallon brings a charisma and garage sound that did the trick for me. That 50's echo mixed in with several danceable tracks was a throwback to yesteryear. 

1b. Ume - Sunshower EP - After seeing this band perform earlier this year, you had to buy their EP. This was on rotation (and still is) for over 8 months now. While their recently released LP was a let down, this thrashing homage to mid 90's girl rock puts you in a past era which we rarely experience. 

2. Karkwa - Les chemins de verre - This album actually came out in 2010 when I wasn't even aware of the band. All I can say is where was I? They get compared to Sigur Ros in the states, but really that is only because they sing in French. It's not as 'atmospherical' as Ros, but simply one of the best albums I have heard in a while. It won the Canadian Grammy.

3. EMA - Past Life Martyred Saints - I picked this as my favorite midway through the year and it still resonates with me. I stopped listening to it after July but recently picked it up again. Didn't miss a beat.

Top 2011 Shows

1. Wise Blood - 4.10.11 - Liquid Sundays - Probably the most fun I had at a show all year. First, this was a place of worship who booked WB for reasons they only know. Second, they told him no drinking onstage (they were serving alcohol the whole night), no cursing, no drugs, etc. (mine as will give him a lighter). The performance was going well for the sparse crowd who probably had never heard any of his music before he was cutoff by management. Yes, he had a few choice words, swigged a beer onstage, mentioned coke, but come on? What did you expect? It was hilarious watching the manager try her best to coral his antics and hearing the aftermath. 

2. Karkwa - 12.7.11 - Brillobox - One of the most disappointing attendances for a phenomenal act that sells out all over the world in venues of  3k+. For all those musically inclined yinzers who didn't bother to even acknowledge, it was disappointing. French Canadians that know how to perform for thousands including the 20 that showed up this evening.

3. Muse - 8.5.11 - Lollapalooza - One of the most consistently phenomenal live acts going for the past 8 years. I have seen them three times now and this was their best show yet. It probably helps it was 10p and they shot off a 4th of July like fireworks display during 'Hysteria'. Just fun loving Brits.