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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Magnetic Fields perform 50 Song Memoir at Carnegie Music Hall June 19 and 20

Posted By on Thu, Jun 14, 2018 at 12:29 PM

  • Photo courtesy of Marcelo Krasilcic
Stephin Merritt knew when Magnetic Fields’ contract with Nonesuch Records came up for a renewal because the date coincided with his 50th birthday, in 2015.

When he and Nonesuch president Robert Hurwitz
discussed its renewal — over lunch at the Grand Central Station Oyster Bar — Hurwitz suggested the voice behind Magnetic Fields should celebrate his half-century on their next album. Merritt immediately devised a 50-song album, and Hurwitz responded enthusiastically.

To some musicians, this might seem like a daunting concept.

But Merritt is the same songwriter who created
69 Love Songs, the Magnetic Fields’ opus that approached the idea of amour from that many angles, lyrically and musically, from ukulele-driven folkiness to synth-pop to experimental sound. Released on Merge Records in 1999, the album is considered a high watermark for indie rock and established Merritt as a skilled composer with an unmatched lyrical wit and sense of melody.

Speaking from his New York home in his dry, understated
manner, Merritt explains his approach to the five-record/five-CD 50 Song Memoir.

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Monday, June 11, 2018

Q&A with Jenny Lewis, performing at Carnegie Library Music Hall Tue., June 12

Posted By on Mon, Jun 11, 2018 at 4:17 PM

  • Photo courtesy of Alister Ann

Jenny Lewis has a wicked sense of humor and a gift for crafting brilliant songs.

Since her early days with Rilo Kiley to her current thriving solo career, Lewis continues to make art that's entrancing but still accessible. Her 2014 record, The Voyager, was a spectacular alt-country release with smart lyrics and captivating melodies. CP caught up with Lewis as she prepared for a tour in the midst of mixing her forthcoming, still unnamed record.

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Thursday, March 1, 2018

Pittsburgh Music Ecosystem Project Town Hall Meeting raises more questions than answers

Posted By on Thu, Mar 1, 2018 at 3:31 PM


“We’re not expecting to walk out with any answers,” Abby Goldstein said on Tue., Feb. 27, from the stage of the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater, in East Liberty. “We’re gathering input.” The general manager of 91.3 WYEP-FM, Goldstein was there to moderate the Pittsburgh Music Ecosystem Project Town Hall Meeting, a mouthful of a title for an effort geared toward strengthening the Pittsburgh music scene.

The event served as the next step following a joint effort by WYEP, the City of Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership, fueled by a $30,000 grant from Heinz Endowments. Five panelists, all with some connection to Pittsburgh music, spoke candidly with Goldstein and fielded questions from the audience.

The panel consisted of: Emily Plazek, CEO of MIC (Music Industry Connected); Charles “Poogie” Bell, Grammy-award winning jazz drummer, producer and composer; Liz Berlin, of Rusted Root and co-owner of Mr. Smalls Theatre, among other things; Thomas Agnew, editor in chief of JENESIS magazine and co-founder of BOOM Concepts, a community organization that works with artists and musicians; and Dave Wheeler, guitarist/vocalist of Outsideinside and Carousel.

Audience members were encouraged to submit questions to the panelists. Volunteers handed out blue index cards at the entrance to jot them down. In a savvy technological move, the meeting was hooked up to the app, allowing the chance to inquire that way, take a couple surveys, or — as many did — to simply vent. The submitted text was then projected onto screens above both sides of the stage.

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Friday, February 16, 2018

Palm's Eve Alpert on Philadelphia, working slowly and making weird pop music

Posted By on Fri, Feb 16, 2018 at 11:58 AM

  • Photo courtesy of Dylan Pearce
  • Palm

When City Paper recently called Eve Alpert, she was pulled over on the side of the road to talk on the phone “without being a distracted driver!” The guitarist and vocalist of pysch-pop band Palm was en route to vacuum the van before their latest tour.

In the following forty minutes, we chatted about Palm's latest record Rock Island, making pop music that's also weird and writing music patiently and slowly. 

Rock Island, the latest Palm record, came out Feb. 9. How does it feel to finally have that body of work out in the open?

It feels longer, maybe because the stream came out a week ago. This is the most excited we’ve been about a release and about the music and recording that we’ve ever been. I’m really happy and very happy with the music.

This is the first time we felt very confident about all the songs we wrote, and we’ve really focused on making a cohesive, unified record. With all our previous releases, they were just the songs we had at the time, so making the songs feel cohesive and whole was always an afterthought, but this time it was an intentional act from the first song we wrote. It was also the first time we’ve had a lot of time to record.

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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Review: Noah Gundersen at the Rex Theater, Sat., Feb. 3

Posted By on Tue, Feb 6, 2018 at 10:56 AM

Noah Gundersen performs solo at the Rex Theater - CP PHOTOS BY EMILY BENNETT
  • CP photos by Emily Bennett
  • Noah Gundersen performs solo at the Rex Theater

How does that old phrase go again? The one about meeting your heroes? Oh, right. NEVER DO IT. EVER.

I once heard about a writer who was completely elated to meet Ellen DeGeneres. During the interview, Ellen didn’t even smile. That’s enough to scar you for one whole lifetime. I think I speak for all of us here in saying that I imagine Ellen smiling even as she’s cleaning out the garbage disposal.

Just like all those other sayings go, sometimes you simply can’t help yourself. It's easy to imagine that once you meet said hero, you’ll become best friends, and go explore cities and eat ice cream together in the style of an '80s-movie montage, while “We're Going to Be Friends” by the White Stripes plays tenderly in the background.

This is why I had to meet Noah Gundersen. Imagine all the ice-cream cones.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Review: St. Vincent at Stage AE Jan. 9th

Posted By on Wed, Jan 10, 2018 at 4:30 PM

  • CP photos by Meg Fair

On an only mildly chilly night in Pittsburgh, a small crowd gathered early at Stage AE for the VIP experience pre-doors. The feeling in the group was one of nervous excitement and uncertainty about what to expect upon entering the nearly empty venue.

Around 5:30 p.m., about three dozen of us were brought into the venue to play the signature St. Vincent guitar, pose at her bright pink press podium from the album artwork, and explore the merch table without a crowd. But most importantly, this VIP experience included an acoustic performance (“Laughing With A Mouth of Blood” and “Prince Johnny”) and a half hour or so of discussion.

I don’t call it a Q&A because it wasn’t like a press conference. She asked as many questions of us, if not more, than were asked of her, and the questions ranged from serious to silly. I took off my journalist cap and asked her what her favorite holiday is (“Halloween, I guess. Or, no! A nice Easter, actually.”) I won’t say much more on it, just that it was an absolute privilege to engage with such an empathetic, funny and brilliant artist. If you have a strict, "Don’t meet your hero" rule, she’s one artist worth breaking it for.

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Monday, December 18, 2017

Q&A: a chat with Slingshot Dakota's Carly Comando

Posted By on Mon, Dec 18, 2017 at 4:16 PM

  • Photo courtesy of Em Dubin
Slingshot Dakota is a powerful pop duo consisting of vocalist and keyboardist Carly Comando and vocalist and drummer Tom Patterson. The married couple makes exciting music that bursts with far more energy and sonic power than most would expect possible from a two-piece.

Prior to Slingshot Dakota's show at the Mr. Smalls Funhouse with Prawn, People Like You, Us and Us Only and Queen Moo on Tues. Dec. 19, the CP caught up with Comando via email to talk manifestation, cute dogs and how to genuinely support diversity in your own music community.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Barr Brothers switch up its sound on tour for new album Queens of the Breakers

Posted By on Tue, Dec 12, 2017 at 3:54 PM

  • Photo courtesy of Brigitte Henry
  • The Barr Brothers

I fell in love with The Barr Brothers self-titled debut while driving back from a long weekend of cross country skiing in Thomas, W. Va. I’d been out on mountain trails during the day and frequenting the regionally legendary folk venue, The Purple Fiddle, by night. The Barr Brothers' lo-fi, neo-folk sound provided the perfect soundtrack. It’s a wintry sound and reminiscent of Bon Iver, who I also adored. When I listen to it now, I can still feel the sting on my cheeks of the cold and see the low light flitting across the snow out the car window. It’s fair to say that this band has fit into a deeply sentimental part of my brain and that I went into the show with some high expectations — especially since I also adore their sophomore release Sleeping Operator just as fervently.

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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

CMU takes art underground with audiovisual experience SubSurface

Posted By on Tue, Dec 5, 2017 at 1:19 PM

  • Photos courtesy of M&C Photo, CMU
On Dec. 2, a group of Carnegie Mellon University creatives shuttled a crowd of curious travelers from CMU's campus to a limestone mine for a subterranean exploration of sight and sound. The location had been turned into an underground storage facility, but for a night it was repurposed into a deep, winding gallery, a space through which light and sound travelled in interesting and unexpected ways.

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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Local hardcore and metal pioneers Code Orange nominated for Grammy

Posted By on Wed, Nov 29, 2017 at 11:48 AM

  • Photo courtesy of Hans Christian Terslin
To say that Pittsburgh's Code Orange is having a good year would be a criminal understatement.

Since we last spoke to the band's drummer/vocalist Jami Morgan, the group has graced the covers of Revolver and Kerrang!; have put out collaborative tracks with members of Megadeth; and had a hand in creating a ToonTrack Doom/Core midi pack. In addition to packing rooms on headlining tours, CO has performed in Europe, with System of a Down; supported Gojira on a full U.S. tour; and is currently on tour with hardcore legends Hatebreed.

Code Orange's Forever landed on Rolling Stone's Top 50 Albums of the Year List, and the band performed "Bleeding in the Blur" live to open up WWE's highly anticipated NXT Takeover III: Brooklyn, in addition to performing Aleister Black's entrance music live. Code Orange is the first band to perform live at a WWE event.

If all of these impressive accolades were not enough, the band has been nominated for a Grammy for Best Metal Performance for its titular track off 2017's Forever. This makes Code Orange the first rock band from Pittsburgh nominated for a Grammy, and arguably the first hardcore band nominated for a Grammy.

Anyone who has been paying attention to Code Orange since its inception in 2008 knows that this success is not a fluke. The band has been tirelessly hustling since day one to make moves and push musical boundaries, always pushing to be the best band possible. From playing shows at the original Mr. Roboto Project and 222 Ormsby and touring on high school breaks to easily selling out the Rex Theater on Jan. 13 this year, the band has been burning a clear path to success, a road lined with blood and sweat and fierce dedication.

This is Code Orange's world, after all. We're just living in it.

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