Coronado's new EP documents a time of transition | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Coronado's new EP documents a time of transition

The band is holding a series of shows at the Park House to celebrate the release

In transition: Coronado (from left: Brian Swed, Richard Stanley, Martin Connolly, Alexander Sands, Marc Martinka)
In transition: Coronado (from left: Brian Swed, Richard Stanley, Martin Connolly, Alexander Sands, Marc Martinka)

Coronado is at a bit of a crossroads. The North Side-based five-piece lost its guitarist, Andy Carlson, earlier this year when he moved back to California, and the band also recently took on its fifth(!) new bass player, Marty Connolly. So it seemed like the right time to release an EP that would help transition from the old Coronado to the new — thus Past, Present, Future, which the band releases this month. 

"We're planning to release a full-length in the fall," explains keyboardist and vocalist Alexander Sands. "But we had songs recorded with Andy that we hadn't released yet. So that's the past, the present is where we are now, obviously, and the new lineup is the future." 

The title could also be interpreted as something of an interpretation of what Coronado does in a more general sense. Sands is admittedly steeped much more in older music; he spent years plying the trade of a folk singer-songwriter before getting together with a rock band. (He also says he spent much of his college time in Chicago playing blues harp with other artists — talk about old-school.) Some of the others in the band are more in tune with today's music — but "today's music," in ways, also echoes historical trends, with banjos and foot-stomping back in vogue. Coronado finds itself somewhere close to, but not in the middle of, all that. And locally Sands says the band feels "kind of like the black sheep" in a city that "has a strong metal scene, and a strong bluegrass scene. We don't really fit in with those things."

Sands' sweet piano- and organ-playing tends to put a country-rock sheen on everything it touches — and some of the songwriting fits with that. ("El Dorado" could be straight out of The Band's catalog.) Coronado hasn't given up the pop songwriting that characterized its first release, but it has, it seems, started to find its sound on the new EP.  (The band originally got together via Craigslist musician ads, so it makes sense that it would take a little time to gel; the good news is that it's worked.)

To celebrate the release, the band decided not to have a show — but to have four shows. Each Friday night in July, Coronado will play along with a guest at the Park House on the North Side; Sands has played, and booked music, there since moving to the neighborhood upon his return from Chicago in 2008. The first show, on July 5, will be an acoustic set, but the remaining three will feature the full band. The July 5 guest is Robin Vote; July 12 is Emily Rodgers; July 19 is touring artist Daniel Lefkowitz; and July 26 features Randy Baumann. 

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By Mars Johnson