Critics' Picks: August 22 - 28 | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Critics' Picks: August 22 - 28

Local shows by Guardian Alien, Blackberry Smoke, Maps & Atlases, Tigers Jaw, and Elikeh

click to enlarge Critics' Picks: August 22 - 28
Guardian Alien Photo courtesy of Rebecca Smeyne


One thing to know about Guardian Alien is that the band heavily features former members of Liturgy (drummer Greg Fox and guitarist Bernard Gann) and otherworldly weird vocalist Alex Drewchin. Another thing to know is that its latest, See the World Given to a One World Entity (on Thrill Jockey), is one long, writhing track, clocking in at nearly 40 minutes. The five-piece melds drone, Eastern sounds and shamanic mysticism into some heavy, latter-day hippie stuff that's worth zoning out to. Guardian Alien plays the 31st Street Pub tonight with Starring and Low Man. Andy Mulkerin 9 p.m. 3101 Penn Ave., Strip District. $5. 412-391-8334 or

click to enlarge Critics' Picks: August 22 - 28
Photo courtesy of Zack Arias


Blackberry Smoke's new album, The Whippoorwill, spent its debut week in the top 15 on the iTunes U.S. Country charts, but it's not that similar to what we think of as popular contemporary country: Think less Toby Keith, more Black Crowes. The band signed to Zac Brown's label, and gives a show that's sure to appeal to the Skynyrd and Marshall Tucker crowd. Blackberry Smoke plays Altar Bar tonight, and it might be your last chance to see the band before it gets picked up on a touring package with, like, Big & Rich or something. Lyndsey Highlander and The Hawkeyes open. AM 7 p.m. 1620 Penn Ave., Strip District. $15-18. 412-206-9719 or


Chicago has long had a fruitful music scene, spawning many talented bands across many genres. Maps & Atlases are no exception; the band has been churning out its signature math-rock sound since the members met at that city's Columbia College in 2004. Beware and Be Grateful, the band's most recent album on Barsuk Records, keeps up the tradition of quirky and organic indie rock. Maps & Atlases play the Shadow Lounge tonight with Gypsy & His Band of Ghosts and Noble Hunter. Gregg Harrington 7 p.m. 5972 Baum Blvd., East Liberty. $10-12. 412-363-8277 or


While Scranton, Pa., may be best known for the setting of NBC's The Office, the town also has a claim to fame in the indie-rock scene. Tigers Jaw, a five-piece band, has made waves in that scene with its three full length albums. 2011's Two Worlds, released by emerging pop-punk and emo label Run For Cover Records, was met with critical praise for the swirling emotions brought forth within. Joining the band at the Smiling Moose tonight will be Run Forever, Adventures and Brightside. GH 6:30 p.m. 1306 E. Carson St., South Side. $10-12. 1-800-745-3000 or

click to enlarge Critics' Picks: August 22 - 28
Photo courtesy of Lisa A. Walker

[AFRO-POP] + SAT., AUG. 25

Massama Dogo of Elikeh was born in Togo, but has lived in Washington, D.C., for more than a decade now. Massama sings and writes for the eight-piece, whose latest, Between 2 Worlds, came out just this week. It's a joyful mix of complex West African percussion, fuzzy highlife-style guitar work and beautiful, blaring horns; doubtful there'll be a single stationary behind at Thunderbird Café tonight when the band brings the dance beats. AM 9 p.m. 4033 Butler St., Lawrenceville. $8-10. 412-682-0177 or