Monday, July 28, 2014

MP3 Monday: MH the Verb

Posted By on Mon, Jul 28, 2014 at 4:14 PM

MH the Verb
  • Photo by Crystal Engel
  • MH the Verb


Hey, itsa Monday. Here we go...

This week, we have a special MP3 Monday. One that pulls at the heart strings and makes you feel like you're watching Finding Nemo for the first time (it's that touching).

Marcus Harris, aka MH the Verb, is a hip hop artist operating out of Pittsburgh via New York City. His new single "Coraline" is the product of artistic negotiations between himself and artist Borbay. Borbay agreed to do the artwork for MH the Verb's fourth album The Balloon Guide, in exchange for a song about his newborn daughter.

Fast forward to today and on her 1st birthday, Borbay's daughter Coraline has a song written about her. If that's not a feel good story, I don't know what is.

Check out "Coraline" below.

(To download, right click here and choose "save link as")

Friday, July 25, 2014

No longer a teen: Pittsburgh Blues Festival hits two decades of operation

Posted By on Fri, Jul 25, 2014 at 1:56 PM

JJ Grey
  • Photo courtesy of Jensen Hande
  • JJ Grey

The Pittsburgh Blues Festival celebrates its 20th anniversary today through Sunday at Hartwood Acres.

This year's headliners include Trampled Under Foot, Dr. John, Spin Doctors, JJ Grey & Mofro and more. Locals acts include Mahajibee, Norm Nardini & The Pittsburgh All Stars and more. Full line-up can be found here. Gates open at 4 p.m. today and 1:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with music starting at 5 p.m. and 2 p.m. respectively. The festival will also have hot air balloon rides, games and crafts for kids.

Tickets for today's events are free with a bag of nonperishable grocery items to donate to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. Since it's creation in 1994, the Pittsburgh Blues Festival has been the largest annual event for the Food Bank, raising over $2 million in 19 years.

One day tickets for Saturday and Sunday are $35 and two day passes are $50. Student and military discounted tickets are $25 for one day tickets and $45 for two day passes. Children under 12 attend the festival for free. Parking at Hartwood Acres is free. Shuttles will also run to and from Station Square and The Waterfront to accommodate patrons.

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fundraising campaign launched for Paul Zyla

Posted By on Thu, Jul 24, 2014 at 3:32 PM

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched in support of local DJ Paul Zyla.

On July 14, Zyla suffered an aneurysm and seizure. He is currently in stable condition in the neurovascular ICU at UPMC Presbyterian in Oakland. Zyla performs as Relative Q (his DJ moniker), is a co-founder of record label Young Robots and was a former keyboardist in the Harlan Twins. He is also a contributor to Humanaut, a monthly house and techno show, and hosts a weekly online DJ event at Ultrawizardsword.net.

The campaign has a goal of $10,000 and $7650 has been raised. Donations can be made starting at $1. Young Robots is hosting a record drive for those unable to donate monetarily as well.

A benefit show is being held tomorrow night at Belvedere's Ultra Dive in Lawrenceville with all proceeds going directly to Zyla and his family. Another benefit event is being planned for Aug. 13 at Rock Bottom in the Waterfront.

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Monday, July 21, 2014

MP3 Monday: The Danzas

Posted By on Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 5:20 PM

The Danzas
  • The Danzas

Hey hey!

As you well know, each week, we bring you a new MP3 from a local band. This week? We've got The Danzas! Their album is, of course, called We're the Boss, and they've got a show this Fri., July 25, at the Smiling Moose. (It's the late show, at 10:00, with GAHARA and Super Fun Time Awesome Party Band.)

If you wanna give them a test drive before you go see them in person, here's your chance: Stream or download "Torn," from We're the Boss. (Hint: It's a poppy punk number, not a cover of the Natalie Imbruglia song.)

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Tom Verlaine, Dean Wareham and others to perform Warhol program in October

Posted By on Fri, Jul 18, 2014 at 11:24 AM

Andy Warhol, Jack’s Cigarette (excerpt from Batman Dracula), 1964
  • Film still courtesy of The Andy Warhol Museum
  • Andy Warhol, Jack’s Cigarette (excerpt from Batman Dracula), 1964

In the fall of 2008, Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips came to Pittsburgh to perform a live-music program set to Andy Warhol's famous "screen test" films, as commissioned by the Andy Warhol Museum. The program, part of the Pittsburgh International Festival of Firsts, was a world premiere.

Now the Warhol is bringing Wareham back, along with a number of other rock-music luminaries, to set more Warhol films to live music. "Exposed: Songs for Unseen Warhol Films" is a new project curated by Wareham (of Galaxie 500, Luna), bringing together Tom Verlaine (of Television), Martin Rev (Suicide), Eleanor Friedberger (Fiery Furnaces) and Bradford Cox (Deerhunter). All five musicians will perform live, in accompaniment to the previously unseen Warhol films, featuring everyone from Marcel Duchamp to Allen Ginsberg and Warhol himself.

The world-premiere event takes place Fri., Oct. 17, at the Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland; tickets run $15-20. More info on the Warhol's site.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Rootwire festival returns with a new venue, big lineup

Posted By on Tue, Jul 15, 2014 at 4:02 PM

Since its inception some short years back, the Rootwire Transformational Arts Festival has seemed, in all of its ways, grounded — and deep — in change, of both ideas and actions.

And, from Thursday through Sunday, this year's Rootwire — with a new, festie-friendly location (Sunshine Daydream Memorial Park in West Virginia); the previously announced, amicable departure of founders Papadosio; and a nonetheless amazing lineup of jamtronica, EDM, and IDM master acts and visionary visiting artists, healers and thinkers from around the globe — could prove to be its most transformational yet.

A stellar lineup — headliners like Shpongle, Beats Antique, EOTO, Conspirator, and Zilla, along with a whooole lot more mind-bending acts, will provide the super-sonic backdrop for this year's Rootwire, while an array of celebrated visionary artists, performers, teachers, and thousands of festival-goers participate and immerse themselves in that sound, time and space, for four days and four nights, in the Appalachian foothills.

"Rootwire is all about transforming our thought processes on a wide variety of subjects. ...Life is so much more than dollars and cents," festival co-founder and organizer Ed Quackenmeyer said during a recent interview. "That is what we are here to show people, and it just so happens that artistic expression and education are some of the best tools we have to wake up the minds of our fellow humans, and allow them to experience a whole new paradigm, and become part of the shift towards a sustainable and loving culture."

Along with its expanding musical lineup and being host to dozens of participatory happenings and transformational workshops presented by well-known, respected alternative thinkers and leaders, Rootwire's also grown to become host to the largest visionary arts exposition in the eastern United States.

"The transformation of Rootwire is happening at an amazing rate right now," said Quackenmeyer. "We've been able to draw in some of the most talented musicians, artists, performers, teachers, and healers that the festival community has ever seen in one place."

Having found myself for a short time at last year's Rootwire — as a writer, a photographer, a music-and-arts geek and fan of things freaky for good reason — I gotta say this festival is simply one of the kindest, coolest, and best-intentioned I've ever experienced.

"The reality is that music is spiritual, and music is healing — at least on the emotional level, and, who knows, most likely on the physical as well," Marc Brownstein of Conspirator (and also the Disco Biscuits) said in an interview last week.
"There is such a strong connection between the mind and the body, so we can infer that music festivals in general — whether they know it or not — are spiritually positive and transformational experiences.

"And that has been our experience," too, he added.

For complete Rootwire lineups and artist info, tickets, directions and more details, check out www.rootwirefest.com.

Pittsburgh Emo Week: The week that was

Posted By on Tue, Jul 15, 2014 at 3:42 PM

It hit me when looking at what shows were happening this summer. First, it was Brand New announcing their tour, with a Pittsburgh date on July 10. Then the pieces starting falling into place, creating a week of concerts that would be "sad" and "emotional".

With that, Pittsburgh Emo Week was born, a term and hashtag that I coined. The week of July 6 through July 12 was a high point of emo shows in Pittsburgh. Let's take a look back at who was the saddest, who was the best and what surprised during the week.

The Shows:

Sunday (7/6): Say Anything w/ The Front Bottoms, The So So Glos, You Blew It! @ Mr. Small's

Wednesday (7/9): Braid w/ Into It. Over It., Pity Sex and Signals Midwest @ Altar Bar

Thursday (7/10): Brand New w/ Man Man and Dinosaur Pile Up @ Stage AE

Friday (7/11): Pentimento / Have Mercy w/ gates @ Smiling Moose

Saturday (7/12): Owls w/ Hop Along, Glocca Morra, Run Forever @ Mr. Small's


Best show - Say Anything
Honorable mention - Braid

The combination of Say Anything, The Front Bottoms and You Blew It! was too much for any other show to overcome. Every band's set (minus The So So Glos) was great and kept the sold-out crowd at Mr. Small's enticed. The crowd, which bands have some but not complete control over, had a big part in deciding this category. The Braid show line up was nothing to scoff at, but the crowd at Mr. Small's was into every band, singing along if they knew the words. The crowd at Altar Bar for Braid, while a much smaller crowd, seemed apathetic toward the bands until Braid's set.


Best set - Braid
Honorable mention - Brand New

While this may come as a shock to some, I honestly feel that Braid's set was better than Brand New's. After releasing their new album No Coast, their first LP in 16 years, the day before their Pittsburgh date, the band was excited and energetic to try out new material, noting a few times throughout their set that it was their first time playing said song live. Braid's members, all in their late 30's, were jumping up and down and all around the stage during their set. They also rarely stopped (maybe three times) during their set, immediately going into the next song. Braid still has it and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.


Best new band - gates
Honorable mention - You Blew It!

The New Brunswick, N.J. outfit has a sound that is a combination of Moving Mountains, Caspian and Prawn, mixing elements of post rock and indie. If that's not enough to win you over, just watch their set when they come back through Pittsburgh. In my opinion, the band stole the show when they played The Smiling Moose with Pentimento and Have Mercy. Having toured with the likes of The Gaslight Anthem, the band is no joke. It is also on the same label as The Story So Far and Reggie and the Full Effect. Do not sleep on this band.


Best surprise - Max Bemis joined on stage by wife and daughter

In an absolutely heart warming display, the whole Bemis clan came together at center stage. During "Cemetery," in which Max's wife Sherri Dupree-Bemis is featured, she and one-and-a-half-year-old daughter Lucy came out so mommy could sing her verse, while daughter wore noise canceling head phones and tried playing with the mic, foreshadowing her future in the indie music world like mother Eisley and father Say Anything. Max sang his part to Lucy and the whole thing just couldn't have been cuter.

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Monday, July 14, 2014

MP3 Monday: Save Us from the Archon

Posted By on Mon, Jul 14, 2014 at 5:04 PM

Save Us from the Archon
  • Save Us from the Archon

This week, we spice things up for MP3 Monday. BOOM! That's what that Emeril guy used to say, right?

The spice comes in the form of Save Us from the Archon. This band sounds like The Fall of Troy, sans vocals. SUFTA released their latest album, Thereafter, via Seizure Man records in late April. On the release, the instrumental post-hardcore band play so technically and at such a fast pace that it's hard to comprehend. Is this music coming from man or machine? You decide.

Check out "you know everything ends, and everyone leaves." from their new album Thereafter, below.

(To download, right click here and choose "save link as")

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Brand New returns to Pittsburgh, after three year layoff

Posted By on Fri, Jul 11, 2014 at 4:13 PM

When you have the cult status that Brand New has, you can pretty much do whatever you want. Tour when you want. Play where you want. Do what you want.

Fans will come to shows, no matter the distance. They will buy tickets, buy albums, buy anything with the band's name on it. The Long Island, N.Y., emo band is at unfathomable level of prominence, to say the least, with a sense of mystery about them. Last here in April 2011, three years stood between local fans and their last Brand New experience. Tickets for last night's show went on sale Feb. 6 and sold out within minutes.

This time around, the band played a 15-song set that drew from every album. It heavily favored more recent releases, with only five songs from its first two albums,Your Favorite Weapon and Deja Entendu, arguably the band's most popular release. Frontman Jesse Lacey didn't address the sold-out crowd until 20 minutes into its set. After a band introduction and a thank you for coming to the show, Lacey and Co. went right into "Okay I Believe You, but My Tommy Gun Don't" and pushed on.

With little crowd interaction, the lack of stoppages during the set furthered the idea of Brand New and its members being these almost mythical, if not legendary, characters that surface occasionally, play a show, then disappear back into hiding. The set was on point and the veteran band of 14 years showed why it is as big a deal as it is, playing its songs very tight and enticing fans, who sang along to every song. The band also extended "Limousine and "You Won't Know," segueing the latter into a verse from The Kingsmen's "Louie, Louie."

Lacey, who turned 36 yesterday, played solo on the last song of the evening, "Soco Amaretto Lime," ironically singing "I'm gonna stay eighteen forever." With no encore to follow, the repeated line "You're just jealous cause we're young and in love" served as the show's last hurrah, before Lacey put his guitar down, leaving the crowd with feedback from his amp and a wave goodbye.

Set List

1. Sink
2. Gasoline
3. At the Bottom
4. You Stole
5. Sic Transit Gloria... Glory Fades
6. I Will Play My Game Beneath the Spin Light
7. Okay I Believe You, but My Tommy Gun Don't
8. Seventy Times 7
9. Sowing Season
10. Millstone
11. Limousine (MS Rebridge) - Extended Outro
12. Jesus Christ
13. Degausser
14. You Won't Know (Louie, Louie interpretation)
15. Soco Amaretto Lime

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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

GiveForward campaign launched for Karl Hendricks

Posted By on Wed, Jul 9, 2014 at 3:07 PM

One of Pittsburgh's record store owners — and better-known indie-rockers — needs your help.

Karl Hendricks, owner of Sound Cat Records in Bloomfield, has been diagnosed with oral cancer. With Hendricks unable to work this summer and the cost of his medical bills, a GiveForward fundraiser was started for him with his consent. GiveForward is an online fundraising / donation website that focuses on medical costs.

The campaign has a goal of $30,000 and ends Oct. 3. The minimum amount that can be donated is $5 and donations can be made anonymously. A series of benefit shows will be held in August and September and rare items will be auctioned off around that time to benefit Hendricks.

To donate or find out more about Hendricks and the fundraiser, visit the GiveForward page.

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