Perhaps it makes me a bad rock journalist, but I'm not a major collector. I recently realized there are only a couple of artists I feel the completist compulsion toward: Arthur Russell is one, and Daniel Higgs is another.
I attempted last spring to sum Higgs up in 400 words or so, as he was to appear at Morning Glory Coffeehouse in Morningside. The show last year was Higgsian all around: I recall babies attending, as well as dogs. I remember singalongs, and Higgs's giant banjo. Much of his newer material -- some of it straight-up storytelling with some autoharp drone -- was simple but transcendent.
Lo! Higgs returns: he'll be back at Morning Glory tomorrow night (Saturday, the 30th) and so will I. Come join us and learn about the universal alphabet, and puppet-heads and all that. The Dutch Stellar OM Source appears as well; it kicks off around 7:30.
Pop punk, with its serrated guitar hooks, sunny melodies and periodic gang vocals, has a strong presence in the Pittsburgh area -- groups like Punchline, The Berlin Project, Transition, and more recently, Chalk Dinosaur. One of the newest groups to tap that legacy is Mace Ballard. Last fall, the band released its five-song debut, Can't Build Something with Monologues. "We're not messing around this time / This is not a test," sings vocalist and guitarist Chris Daley on the opening track.
That Mace Ballard is a new band is also suggested by the fact that, apart from Daley (formerly of Kid Durango), it can be a little tricky figuring out who is (still) in the band. Dan Maldonado, for example, is the bass player on the band's MySpace page and has a thank-you section in the EP's liner notes ... yet the bass playing is all credited to two other musicians. Several tracks also feature guitar by Justin Portis (Portis Project, among others), presumably as a guest. While you ponder such lineup-change mysteries, check out this free download of "Go Means Go."
In today's paper you'll find my debut as a columnist in our new Local Beat feature. Okay, so it's not my most engaging work -- but that's because I wanted to cram in SO DAMN MUCH INFORMATION, know what I mean? It's all about local music blogs, of which, I've learned, there are many. Since our current CMS doesn't let me have a blogroll, here's a list of local music blogs that I mentioned, and some I didn't, in the article. Add them to your feedreader, fair reader!
Sites I mention in the article:
Other sites that cover local music:
Additionally, Old Mon Music covers local music new and old (tags on the blog include "David Bernabo" and "Meeting of Important People," but also "Marcels" and "WIXZ").
Finally, the Pittsburgh Music Blog Reader aggregates a lot of this stuff together in one place, and I've developed a (growing) (not officially CP-endorsed) Twitter list of local music entities, which I call pghjams, which is available here.
What did I miss? Please comment with additions -- blogs or Twitter feeds. Thanks!
Harangue recently released a new LP, a split release backed by Enamel Records and Wilder Pryor Recordings. They long-running keyboard-based avant-pop combo had previously released a 7", but this is its first full-length. It can be sourced from any of the usual locals -- Paul's, Eide's, Desolation Row, Wicked Discs -- and online at Chicago Independent. A proper record release show is in the works yet -- we'll keep you posted!
Hello, beautiful people!
Your CP music team wishes to send along a couple quick notes regarding local band scuttlebutt! Here it is! Exclamation point!
Have a good weekend! You are beautiful!
It was less than two months ago that I scrawled down a short piece on the phenomenon of Jay Reatard, the garage rock genius and/or charlatan who came from Memphis and swept the nation. Pitchfork is reporting this afternoon that Reatard died last night at 29. Ever the entertainer, he'll be missed, as will so many other musicians (like Vic Chesnutt) who have met untimely deaths recently.
Local singer-songwriter and guitarist Peter King released Dancing On a Long Leash in November; at the time, I wrote, "On his new album, playful lyrics and Steely Dan-esque changes combine with jazz-pro instrumentation and King's disarmingly vulnerable, unembellished voice." Nowhere is that Dan influence more apparent than on "Thank You St. Jude": You’ll hear some Babylon sisters backing him on this jazz blues, and touches of Two Against Nature electric guitar.
Unlike a Sunday in TJ, our MP3 download of "Thank You St. Jude" is free, but not cheap.
A few weeks back I wrote a Short List piece about a local band called The Guest List. (Scroll down . . . keep going . . . THERE, right toward the bottom!)
I mentioned in said piece that the band was gearing up for a pretty serious start to 2010; I did not lie. I did, however, lie about the show that's coming up tomorrow -- or, rather, the truth has changed since I wrote about it. Rather than release a DVD of the live show they filmed at Shadow Lounge, they're re-shooting the DVD. So, if you've always wanted to be in a live pop-punk video, this is your chance: the show is tomorrow, January 8, at Belvedere's in Lawrenceville, and Mason Summers and Trash Magnet open.
For a taste of The Guest List, check out www.theguestlistband.com
In last week's Short List section, if you did your homework, you saw my brief on the return of Brown Angel, the doomy noisy slow metal band that features some local heavy hitters. If you read particularly closely, you saw that this week's MP3 Monday would be a track from them. Congratulations! Here it is: eight-plus minutes of sick and twisted plodding heavy from a few masters. The track is called "White Flight." Enjoy!