Grand Piano's new LP showcases rock and brass | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Grand Piano's new LP showcases rock and brass

Leap Year is the band's first album recorded in a full studio

With or without words: Grand Piano
With or without words: Grand Piano

Grand Piano's new LP, Leap Year, didn't start out with a concept ... but it sort of came together with one.

"The song titles that have to do with weather and stuff, they kind of just went together," explains singer and keyboardist Thomas Cipollone, referring to a trio of tunes mid-album called "The Sun," "The Rain" and "The Wind."

"We didn't write the album planning on having those weather-titled ones. But the record kind of ended up being about going on a trip — going away and being poor, basically. The overall thing is not having any money and wanting to be on the road, making music."

It's a fitting theme for the six-piece, which is starting to make inroads as a touring act, little by little. (And let's be honest: Most rock bands that are on the road making music are also, by default, not having much money.) Leap Year, out this week on Wild Kindness Records, should help with that. After several shorter records recorded in smaller studio setups, the new LP is the band's first recorded in a full studio (at +/-, with Sean Cho), bringing new life to the band's compositions.

Some of those songs are traditional and twangy, others more hard-driving, and more than one is fully instrumental — a trait that can be attributed at least partly to the band's two-man horn section, made up of Ryan Booth and Bob Kircher.

"Having horns has made it easier to play instrumentals, because that replaces vocals easily," says Cipollone.

And the horns allow the band to branch out — like on "Debt March," which developed into a song with a brass-band feel, even though the group as a whole is more rock band than brass.

"Because of the size of the band and the many voices, it's easy to fill the room where lyrics would be," says bassist Wes Conroy. "Our philosophy has always been to do what we really wanted, not to be limited by anything."

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