Sunday, March 31, 2013

Show Preview - Iceage - 6119 Penn - 4.12.13 - Concert Preview

Copenhagen's Iceage will be making another appearance in Pittsburgh next Friday, April 12th at 6119 Penn. The band just released their sophomore LP You're Nothing on Matador Records this past February. They performed here over a year and a half ago at The Shop (does that exist anymore?) and put on a pretty nice, punk enthused show. Now in their early 20's, the quartet is pushing their sound with a new mix of post-punk, hardcore and Goth demonstrating a more aggressive tone. From their press: When you see Iceage live you get the feeling the songs are just about to fall apart before miraculously recovering, always rewarding you with a climax. This menacing energy is more forceful on You're Nothing. The album is a climb further up the rock ‘n roll mountain and a descent into adulthood's ever-collapsing musical mines. The sea is rough, and the boat the band has built of driftwood from the last 50 years of outsider culture is headed for unknown shores.

This is taken from our previous interview with Lead man Elias Bender Rønnenfelt when they were here last which you can find here:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More information about the show can be found here. More information about the band:

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Show Preview - Zola Jesus - CMU Lawn - 4.6.13 - Concert Preview

CMU's AB Coffeehouse are hosting a free concert outdoors with special guest Zola Jesus next Saturday, 4.6. Zola Jesus has released three critically acclaimed albums since her start in 2009. She recorded her first album in her dorm room at the University of Wisconsin, and later went on to collaborate with artists such as M83 and Vampire Weekend.

From her press:

In the last three years Nika Roza Danilova has gone from being an outsider experimental teenage noise-maker to a full fledged internationally celebrated electronic pop musician. It was a huge feat to accomplish, and despite her age (young), her geography (mid-western, desolate), her accelerated scholastic requirements (high school and college were completed in three years each) and her diminutive physical size (4”11, 90 lbs) she has triumphed. She has emerged as a figurehead—a self-produced, self-designed, self-taught independent woman.

Zola Jesus is not a singer; she is a musician. Zola Jesus is not a band; it is a solo project. That is not to say the people who have helped her along the way were not deeply important. Her irreplaceable live band, who’s drummer Nick Johnson lends a hand on several tracks here, and her friend Brian Foote who co-produced this album in addition to the live string players (Sean McCann, Ryan York) who contribute here were all crucial in the process. Nika however, is a woman who can command a room, any room, without needing a band, a stage, or even a microphone. Her voice is unmistakable; it cuts right to the core.

You can find more information here:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Show Preview - SUPERCUTE w/ Kate Nash - 3.21.13 - Mr Smalls - Concert Preview

SUPERCUTE will be opening for Kate Nash next Thursdsay, 3.21 at Mr Smalls. The all female pop group is based out of NYC and has been riding a wave of buzz in the blogoshphere. Rachel Trachtenburg (of the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players - saw them way back in 2000) founded SUPERCUTE in 2009 with friend Julia Cumming. Trachtenburg, veteran of the indie rock scene at 19, has been playing drums in her family band since she was six years old. The band creates bubble gum pop with intentionally amusing lyrics that are framed around stories about animal rights and their love of candy.

From their press:

The girls of SUPERCUTE raised their own money via KickStarter to record their first full length album produced by Kate Nash in London. The album showcases the dreamy, psychedelic, dark direction that their sound has evolved into, incorporating complex instrumentation and harmonies that have become one of the group’s signatures. The combination of SUPERCUTE’s underground attitude and Nash’s pop intellect created the album “DON’T PoP MY BUBBLE’’ to be released on Secret Code Records distributed by The Frenchkiss Label Group.

Since SUPERCUTE's inception, the band has created quite the stir, garnering an impressive array of raves from respected media outlets like The New York Times, The New York Post, Time Out New York and The New Yorker. They’ve been blogged about by Teen Vogue, featured in a full 2-page spread in Bust, and were named Deli Magazine's "Band of the Month" for April 2010. They have played alongside artists such as Adam Green, The Shaggs, John Spencer Blues Explosion, The N’ere Dowells, Ira Glass, Janeane Garofalo, R. Stevie Moore, and Jeffrey Lewis. They have also performed at SXSW, the CMJ conference, at the 92nd Street, and at such big venues as the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) New York’s Bowery Ballroom, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Minneapolis’s First Avenue and the Los Angeles’s El Rey Theater.

The show begins at 8p with doors at 7p. Tickets are $10 and can be found here.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Local Artist Spotlight - André Costello - March 2013

Andre Costello is our local artist spotlight for the month of March 2013. Andre is a former member of the now defunct The Slant, a band we have featured a few times. Since the band's demise, Andre has been keeping busy with his new new project recently releasing an EP entitled Summer's Best. Andre answered our normal range of questions explaining what he has been up to including opening for Atlas Sound (Bradford Cox) and R. Ring (Kelley Deal), his views on the Pgh music scene and how this project defers from The Slant.

You were in The Slant, one of my favorite local artists before you broke up. What have you been doing since?

Ever since The Slant, I’ve been diligently deconstructing walls and building new ones as I see fit. l laid the foundation for the “new structure” (Outer Spaces EP) and now the place is coming together quite nicely. By the end of last year, I got the first floor up  (Costello and the Cool Minors LP). I just drywalled the entire thing and painted it with colors I had lying around in the basement and bought some new ones, too (Summer’s Best EP).

This past year, I did this small run of shows with Sun For Moon who’s been an M.I.A. backup singer, former Slant-mate Polar Scoüt, The Building (with Anthony LaMarca, drummer for St. Vincent), Nat Baldwin (of Dirty Projectors) and other Pittsburgh-based artists on Wild Kindness Records including S. Neary and Little Tired Press. It was a 3-day tour including Pittsburgh, Brooklyn and Youngstown. The tour raised money for a Youngstown non-profit named G.E.M.S., pushing a great compilation CD called “Sunshine Off The Tracks” that included tracks from record labels like Lefse, K Records, Misra, and my own, Wild Kindness.

2012 was a great year for me. I opened up for Atlas Sound, the solo project of Bradford Cox of Deerhunter, at Penn State University which was an absolute honor. “Walkabout,” the collab between him and Noah Lennox better known as Panda Bear, has been an inspiration to me as I settle into adulthood and further my artistic career. So, yeah... it was a great night. Very surreal. It was the night that Joe Paterno passed away.

I also opened for Kelley Deal and her project
R. Ring at Cedar’s Lounge in Youngstown. She’s awesome! She sounds as good as ever, and is in fact, identical to her twin sister Kim. Interesting fact: Kelley’s tuner pedal still has a piece of masking tape on it that says “Breeders.” I’m sure she’ll leave that on there for the big reunion at that All Tomorrow’s Parties festival.

In December, I released my “Summer’s Best” EP and did a “two-off,” performing it and my “Costello and the Cool Minors” LP in their entireties for two nights only. I paired the set with a video projection, making the show more of a multimedia art piece than the usual setup of a band playing in a corner. The venues I selected for this performance had the atmosphere appropriate for an intimate experience without the typical barroom distractions or chatter. It’s important to consider the venue when deciding what the set will be. Luckily, I have an assortment of songs that can be fitting to both environments.

Anyways, I’ve been busy.

How has this venture differed from The Slant?

With this project, I’m the maestro. I write the songs and direct the musicians in my ensemble. The recordings are entirely my songs and are my arrangements. This is very different from The Slant, where it was more of a collective. We kind of tossed the reign of alpha back and forth but ultimately got frustrated by it. We were too young to realize what was happening. In hindsight, it’s clear that it was simply too many cooks in the kitchen. We were too immature to realize it at the time, which ultimately ended in a falling out. By then, the best thing for us to do was to split off and exercise our abilities with side projects. For me, it has been liberating and has really improved my self-worth. By the way, we’ve since made amends and are happy to still hear through the grapevine that even now people are discovering songs in The Slant’s catalogue. Actually, Zach’s anthem, “Pennsylvania!” has become somewhat of a hit on YouTube.

You have been around the Pgh music scene now for years. How has it changed? Positive v. negative?

Well, from what I hear, there was a time about ten years ago, where just about all the local music that people supported was bar bands playing cover songs. In the short span that I’ve been involved, it seems as though the local music community has multiplied almost exponentially. It’s great. People are getting out, seeing music, being a part of something.

On the other hand, sometimes it feels like it might be oversaturated. I mean, it’s kind of silly to even give a band a name if it only exists for seven minutes in someone’s basement on a Thursday, but I guess thats “art” for you. I respect it, but Facebook is my go-to tool for promotion. I play one show a month on average and I feel like a jerk when sending an invitation to one of my shows, because there are punks out there sending out three invites a day to “Ragefist-Fest” at “So and So’s house,” featuring twenty-six of the Burgh’s most unknown noise bands. At the same time, I’ve been to these gatherings and have enjoyed myself, so it’s not all bad. Noise can be sweet. Texture is fantastic and important to whatever your medium is, but I’m a structure kind of person. The world needs people to push things to that point of artistic questionability. Moderation is key. Anyhow... all in all, I love the Pittsburgh music scene. The Facebook thing is really my only gripe today.

Do you find it easier? more difficult?

Like Dylan said “you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone.” For me, I started swimming a while ago and I haven’t stopped. So, I’m doing just fine. The key is making meaningful connections with real people, and while you’re at it, help each other out. It’s a community, not so much a scene, if you view it from the perspective of within.

At this point in your musical career, what are you attempting to accomplish? What would be a goal?

Well, like most musicians, whether they admit it or not, I want people to like me. I want them to relate to my expressions through the songs I sing.  My goal is to develop a presence elsewhere.
To do this, I imagine touring with a notable national act is a viable option and as the days go by and I meet more like-minded individuals, this will fall into place.

I’m also working on a short film to be paired with
“Summer’s Best”. I just played a show in Youngstown and this one girl kept saying, “Brooklyn, Brooklyn, vinyl, vinyl, vinyl.” So I’m thinking of Brooklyn ...and vinyl. I’m certainly not moving to Brooklyn anytime soon, but I’m looking to set up a show with Anthony LaMarca and one of his many projects and of course... to put something on vinyl.

Do you feel its more difficult to make it in a regional environment musically?

More difficult than what? Every real musician starts out in a regional setting. Once an individual stops viewing obstacles as difficult and realizes that they are actually opportunities, it’s easy to rise above, take what you’re dealt, and work with what you have, making the best of it.
What would be your key to any success in this area?

A realization that networking isn’t something you should consciously do. At least, at this point, for me, it’s not. If one maintains any kind of social presence, meets people, supports peers and is sincere, real connections will be made and good things will happen.


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Show Preview - Trust w/ ERAAS - 3.19.13 - Brillobox - Concert Preview

Two tremendous acts will be making a stop at the Brillobox next Tuesday, 3.19 on their way to SXSW. Toronto based Trust on Arts & Crafts Records along with Brooklynites ERAAS (Felte Records) are the double bill for the evening. Trust has been gaining major accolades for their debut album TRST from the likes of Pitchfork, Rolling Stone and many others. They play a dark, synthpop which reminds one of the early 80's electronica movement. Robert Alfons is the man behind the band. The project was "born out of desperation in the brutal Canadian winter of 2009" when he "began writing songs about nostalgia, lust, and erotomania". The music brings back a sense of nostalgia where a decade of dance and decadence thrived.

From ERAAS press:

ERAAS is a tribal atmospheric quartet based in Brooklyn led by its two founding members Robert Toher and Austin Stawiarz which arose from the ashes of New England-based project Apse in 2011, forming with the desire to create more ritualistic and darker themes. Live, the band, generally as a 4-piece, elicit foreboding, cautionary themes, mixing driving percussion, insistent basslines tangled with hypnotic guitars and ethereal vocals. Like a dream (or a nightmare), this is a record that invites you into its own world, a world that's strange and unfamiliar, but also fascinating and compelling, with subtleties and intricacies that reveal themselves with repeated listens. ERAAS is an album with its own distinct sense of place — a place that's worth visiting again and again.

Show begins at 9:30p with doors at 9p. Tickets can be found here. You can find more information about the bands here: