Drive about 20 miles in any direction from Pittsburgh and you might as well be in Kentucky. So the brand of Southern rock Ellwood City band The Sparrows plays doesn’t really feel inauthentic.
This week's MP3 Monday comes from their album Back in Red. The track "Hitchhiker" is reminiscent of Dylan's "rock phase" with some loosely unison Grateful Dead-esque vocals, and tells the story of some wispy leather-clad biker chick rollin' into town and stealing our rock'n roll hero's heart.
The Sparrows will head into the city on Sept. 11 to perform in the SouthSide Works Summer Unwind Concert Series.
First, and most importantly: Wise Blood is a local feller who's getting some buzz in the Internet-world: he was featured today in Pitchfork's Rising section (I just linked to the Rising tag because the permalink to his story is kind of messed up -- he should be at the top of this page for a few days at least).
Prior to his Pitchfork splash, Wise Blood (real name: Chris Laufman) got some attention over at Pittsburgh Music Report -- that interview is interspersed with tracks of his that you can check out. It's sample-heavy, dreamy stuff with nods to other pop cult-pastiche artists like (as mentioned in the Pitchfork interview) Girl Talk (only less party-heavy). Dig!
Second, and also importantly, but not AS importantly maybe, weekend things you might consider doing:
Friday (tonight): In addition to those things highlighted in the paper (Ursa Major, My Morning Jacket, These United States), the biggest thing going is DEVO-Fest, a Devo tribute night at Howlers to benefit the Animal Rescue League. It's organized by the Ceiling Stares' Bill Julin and features bands like Microwaves and Test Slices (a hybrid of Slices and Test Patterns). It starts at 10 and there's a $5 minimum donation but COME ON it's for animals who need rescued for cripes' sakes.
Saturday: We've got a benefit at the Bloomfield Bridge Tavern for restoration efforts in the wake of the Gulf Coast oil disaster -- this one features the Typewriter Girls, Phat Man Dee, belly dancer Olivia Kissel and Christiane D. Elsewhere, Karl Hendricks Trio headlines at Brillobox.
Jumping ahead to Monday, it behooves me to inform you that free jazz legend Henry Grimes is appearing at Thunderbird Cafe; we missed it in the listings, but it’s a Big Deal and you should probably go see him. His story is a pretty amazing one.
Have a good weekend, my children!
Lots of kids put together bands in high school, but most don't get to play shows with big national acts. On Sun., Aug. 29, young local band Crossing Boundaries will play a side stage at the Maroon 5 show at Trib Total Media Amphitheatre at Station Square.
This week's MP3, "Slurring Words," from Crossing Boundaries' new full-length All That Matters, is a great sample of the four-piece's pop-infused radio rock: a Jason Mraz-like vocal rhythm with backing music in the vein of Guster. For more info, visit the band's website.
YOU: Gee, Andy! It's Friday and we've looked through our City Paper and read the music previews and scanned the Short List and EVEN LOOKED AT THE WEEK'S FFW>> POSTS, but we're still not totally sure what to do this weekend! What can you do for us?!?!
ME: WELL. OKAYYYYY . . .
Tonight at Howlers we've got locals Big Hurry, Triggers, and Pet Clinic. It starts at 10, it's $5, and it's probably where you'll find me, if you're looking for me. But seriously: don't stalk me. Okay?
Basically everything else I could realllly recommend in full confidence for tonight has already been covered, either here or in the paper itself.
Tomorrow (Saturday), you should watch the Steelers play. Okay, okay, it's the first pre-season game, who am I kidding? It's gonna suck. So instead, go check out the Motorpsychos at the 31st St. Pub, along with Mud Sharks (kind of a great name) and Bloody Seamen (possibly the most disturbing band name in PIttsburgh).
Sunday, you can of course drop by the Brillobox for We Are Scientists, Bad Veins, and one of my local faves, Satin Gum. Or you can make haste to Howlers again for the all-day Woodstock 41 celebration: a bunch of locals including Midnite Snake, The Four Roses, and Mrs. Paintbrush pay tribute to acts that played the original Woodstock. Pretty sure neither of these shows will let you down. And don't forget to celebrate National Relaxation Day with some licorice.
A lot of you probably know of Anne Feeney -- longtime Pittsburgher, longtime folk singer and labor/generally progressive activist, longtime nice lady. When I was a lil baby writer in college, Anne, busy as she was was gracious enough to meet up with me and do some interviews for a short profile piece for my first non-fiction course. She's constantly traveling, but always has time for a benefit show for a worth cause.
But now she's slowed down -- and needs some help. According to an email blast reprinted here on her blog, Anne was diagnosed last week with a tumor in her lung.
Besides the obvious medical bills, Anne is out of work for a while, as her lungs are her job. And, as a hard-working politically oriented folk singer, she's never exactly had a career cash cow, so she could use some financial help. If you've got some cash to help a stand-up lady who's done a ton for a lot of people in the area over the years, I'm sure she'd appreciate it. Her address and Paypal info are in the blog post linked to above.
The comparisons to a certain well-known blues-rock man-woman duo are obvious, but that doesn't make Boom Chick not worth seeing. The band -- singer/guitarist Frank Hoier and drummer Moselle Spiller -- rides the line between straight-up hard rock and blues, hearkening back to early rock 'n roll acts like Bo Diddley (whom they name-drop) and slide-guitar Delta blues artists. The preview I got of their forthcoming album, Show Pony, shows a fun and accomplished duo with a raw, gutsy sound.
They play Friday night at the Thunderbird along with some good local acts we've written up before: Nik & the Central Plains and The Wreckids, as well as newer locals Bear Cub, who, like so many bear cubs who feel the urge to leave the den and explore, are readying to set out for Nashville.
Consider this to be my advising you to check this show out!
(PS: Frank bears something of a resemblance to our own Weird Paul, no?)
Pop-punk is alive and well in Pittsburgh, and this week's MP3 Monday comes from one of these local punk-light poppers -- The I Drive. Their song "I Can't Speak" is a punchy number with modern-rock guitars fronted by lead singer Seth Milberger's echoing, strident voice. Laced with a catchy refrain, it's radio-ready to go.
You can check out the I Drive this Fri., Aug. 13, when they open for Punchline's CD release party at Diesel with The Space Pimps and Spontaneo.
So, back in the day, it would've been hard to contest the contention that Teddy Duchamp's Army was the best poppy punk outfit in town. It was just kind of a given. After a couple lineup shifts and a morph into Voice In the Wire, the band called it quits for good a couple years ago, but has occasionally pulled itself up by its bootstraps for reunion shows -- another is happening tomorrow at Garfield Artworks.
It's a celebration of the birthday of the Lock & Key Collective, a label-ish project run by Dan Rock, longtime local promoter, DIY stalwart and brother of TDA rocker Mike Rock. In addition to TDA, some other Lock & Key-related bands play: Captain We're Sinking, The Holy Mess, Dandelion Snow, Coal Miner, and, in the blue trunks with the best band name of the night and possible the month or maybe ever, World's Scariest Police Chases.
Following a tradition of local heavies hooking up with the Pennsylvania-based metal/etc. label, Pittsburgh's Broughton's Rules have signed to Relapse Records, according to a press release issued this afternoon by the label. The band, as you may know, features former members of Blunderbuss, Don Cab and Creta Bourzia. They're playing with Polvo and The Ceiling Stares next Thursday at the Brillobox if you're interested in checking out Relapse's newest signing.
Other current/former Relapse artists from town include Zombi and Hero Destroyed.
It's not Monday, I know, but I couldn't resist passing along ANOTHER MP3 this week. This one's from old scene heads The B-3's, who, as I wrote in my column this week, are reuniting this Saturday for a show at Shadow Lounge. The track is called "Devil Blues" and features some wicked work by Stu Braun, the subject of above-linked column.