This week's MP3 Monday comes from 17-year-old singer-songwriter Stephthelyricist. The folk/pop musician, whose real name is Stephanie Kong, writes and sings about serious issues that she faces in her life. In this week's track, titled "Her," Kong sings about her experience with depression and loneliness in high school over simple and sweet instrumentation.
You missed a good one this week. Philadelphia‘s Kurt Vile and The Violators stopped by Carnegie Lecture Hall Wednesday night for another installment of the Warhol Museuem's always-worth-it Sound Series.
And despite a slightly underwhelming turnout, a few sound issues and a muggy un-airconditioned room, Vile and crew came through with flying colors (or whatever it is Kurt Vile comes through with), playing through his early catalogue and highlights from 2013’s Wakin' On A Pretty Daze.
If you’re unfamiliar, Kurt Vile is a subdued, finger-picking guitarist and singer-songwriter from Philadelphia, and a founding member of the also excellent War On Drugs. Vile departed the group in 2008 after their (criminally underappreciated) debut Wagonwheel Blues and has been releasing solo material near-constantly since (five full lengths and five EPs in five years).
What started as lo-fi dude-and-a-guitar folk has evolved into something way more interesting and fully-baked. These days, Vile is more 70s classic rock than bedroom-folk, making guitar-heavy, (relatively) accessible rock music that melds with his dry, sardonic lyrics to an incredibly satisfying end. His most recent release, the critically adored Wakin’ On A Pretty Daze, can also double as an elaborate love letter to Neil Young.
On Wednesday, Vile and band took the stage after a solid showing from local openers Old Head and dove straight into the Wakin’-heavy setlist (“Wakin’ On A Pretty Day,” “Jesus Fever,” “Was All Talk,” and “KV Crimes” to start). It’s hard to explain, but Vile is kind of a great performer in an anti-performer sort of way. He doesn’t move much. His hair obscures his face. He’s not really a talker. But it’s hard to look away; he’s got charisma and it goes a long way.
After a few audio hiccups, a dozen or so guitar-swaps and a few songs of Vile on his own, the band closed out with one of his best, strangest tunes called “Freak Train.” It’s a seven-minute, one-note stampede of energy, all drum loops and feedback and stream of consciousness and one seriously killer saxophone solo.
In an unexpected encore, Vile returned solo for a laid back two-song finish (with a different guitar for each) and concluded with a polite nod and one of those little kid waves where you shake your whole hand from the wrist. It's pretty hard not to like the guy.
So... there weren’t very many people there. And there were some issues with the sound. And it was pretty hot. But glass half-full: it was an intimate, appealingly unpolished, warm performance from a great young talent with a bright future.
*Also, my mom wanted me to clarify that Kurt Vile is not related to, nor is he the same person as, the German composer Kurt Weill.
Slow Machete is a collaborative music group made of up Haitian and American artists: six female vocalists from Cap Haitien (a city on the northern coast of Haiti) and Joseph Shaffer, an electronic musician from Pittsburgh who is currently based in Washington, DC. The result is hard to describe; a combination of nearly every genre I can think of, the music is haunting, otherworldly, sometimes ambient, other times groovy. Whatever the genre — or even the proper adjectives — it is certainly beautiful and memorable.
Slow Machete's newest EP, Mango Tree, was released in July and features an array of sounds; electronic beats, layered vocals, and field recordings from Haiti all come together to make uniquely inspiring songs. They have a laid-back groove to them that feels really natural. They're not overproduced or too Americanized. Rather, they're songs that stay true to the roots of the musicians. In fact, the whole project goes back to those roots: All proceeds from the recordings support the Haitian people through education and agriculture programs in the region.
This week we've got a sweet little bluegrass number for you from The Stillhouse Pickers. The group is releasing its first full-length CD this week and will be celebrating with a release party on Saturday, Sept. 28 at Nied's Hotel (5438 Butler St.). Stream or download the track, "Honeysuckle Wine," below and don't miss the free party on Saturday.
With heavy emphasis on swirling violins and vocal looping, Kishi Bashi creates the kind of avant-pop associated with popular groups like of Montreal and Animal Collective. A project of singer and multi-instrumentalist K. Ishibashi, Kishi Bashi's music is built up piece by piece, combining violins and vocals with beatboxing. The result is a joyous and surprisingly complex sound that leaves the listener wanting more. Ishibashi's playfulness comes through on every song, whether he's singing in English or Japanese, performing a tightly rehearsed melody or completely improvising.
Ishibashi has toured with well-known acts like singer-songwriter Regina Spektor and of Montreal, with whom he collaborated on their most recent album, 2012's Paralytic Stalks. According to Ishibashi, working with of Montreal's Kevin Barnes pushed him creatively and allowed him to experiment with his violin in ways he hadn't before. Shortly after the release of Paralytic Stalks, Ishibashi released his own debut EP, 151a, as Kishi Bashi.
He is currently in the middle of a two-month long tour of the East Coast and will be stopping in Pittsburgh this weekend. Ishibashi last performed here in February, at a concert at Carnegie Mellon's The Underground. This Sunday the violinist returns, performing at the Altar Bar with Richmond-based indie rock group My Darling Fury.
Doors for Sunday's all ages show open at 7 p.m. For more information and tickets, visit www.thealtarbar.com.
On Saturday, Sept. 14, FarEsh Brand presented A Night On Mars. The showcase was hosted at 720 Music, Clothing, and Café, and featured an intimate performance by Pittsburgh hip-hop artist Mars Jackson. Having recently released his fourth mixtape, HypeChill, Jackson and FarEsh collaborated to create an experience similar to MTV’s Unplugged series. DJ Bamboo set up on the hardwood floor near stage left as fans and local tastemakers filled the chairs that covered the rest of the open area. A stool and two microphone stands were on stage where Jackson would be spotlighted.
He adds: “I wanted everybody to get to know me, and to give them some background so they could understand what went into the songs, or the pivotal moments.”
Beginning the performance, Jackson took the audience on a journey back to the first recording from his debut mixtape, B.A.M.D.I.C.T., which he recorded circa 2010-11. The song, “The Show,” features Jackson rapping atop Kendrick Lamar’s “P & P” instrumental. He explained that he recorded the song while freestyling in a closet as a student at Slippery Rock University.
The Hill District-born rapper continued with insightful explanations between songs. A shared moment of laughter came when Jackson confessed his love for R&B singer Sade before performing his latest single, "Stoop Thought," which samples her vocals.
Also joining Jackson on stage throughout the performance were past collaborators - Shad Ali for their song “Drift,” KH for “Tru Fuggin Playa,” Yury for “Stay Golden,” and S. Boo for “We Heard That Shit.”
“I just wanna do something different from the norm,” says Jackson. “Next month we’re gonna be in an art gallery. We’re using the resources of the city.”
It's been a couple weeks since we've had an MP3 Monday for you — I'll admit, it's because my last awesome intern left a couple weeks ago, and my new awesome intern hadn't started, and I'm incapable of doing things for myself. But I got it together and booked one for this week, and it's a doozy!
The new EP from indie rockers The Lampshades, Arena Punk, comes out tomorrow, but you can get a taste of it today: The band leaked us the song "Atlanta" for our MP3 Monday. Stream or download it below and if you like it, you can get the full release tomorrow!
To download, right-click here and choose "save link as"
Do you like free stuff? So do the folks at FreeBurgh, a local non-profit organization that aims to promote free entertainment around the city, mostly through Facebook and Twitter promotions. But the organization's love of free stuff has moved beyond the realm of social media, and this Saturday they'll be hosting the first annual FreeBurgh Fest. The concert will take place on Sat., Sept. 14, at Schenley Plaza and will feature performances by a number of local musicians.
Bridging genre divisions, hip-hop DJ duo Tracksploitation, psychedelic art-pop group The Van Allen Belt, and garage-pop band Wreck Loose will all perform on Saturday alongside other local acts like Diego Byrnes and The Great Boges. The event, which is free and open to all ages, will take place from 5-10 p.m.
The details for the event can be found on the Facebook page or on this handy flier:
Melding deep-Earth roots with the wires and systems of the information age, Papadosio gives a sound to a revolutionary shift in the collective consciousness. And on Saturday, the Asheville, N.C.-based electro-rock syndicate is bringing that sound — and its messages — to the Rex Theater.
Led by singer-songwriter Anthony Thogmartin (who, along with guests Dopapod, also opens with his new solo project, EarthCry), Papadosio are well-known and loved throughout the burgeoning transformational festival culture. Last month, in rural southeastern Ohio's Kappner's Woods, they hosted their fourth annual Rootwire Music and Arts Festival, which band members and organizers describe as “a cascading flow of artistic expression," — from live music and painting, installation and performance art, presentations, workshops, ceremony and more — that is "an expedition into light, nature, sound, community and healing."
And, after having experienced even just one of Rootwire's four days, I can say that sounds entirely right on.
Doors for Saturday's all-ages show open at 8 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit rextheatre.com.
To check out Papadosio — and hear live sets from Rootwire 2K13 — visit www.papadosio.com and www.rootwirefestival.com. And below, check out our slideshow from this year's festival.