Critics' Picks, Feb. 12-18 | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Critics' Picks, Feb. 12-18

Local shows by Aesop Rock, The New Pornographers, Jay and the Americans and You Blew It!

[RAP] + THU., FEB. 12

The largest vocabulary in rap is coming back to Pittsburgh — with no new album in sight. Aesop Rock, who last performed at the Altar Bar in 2012 to support Skelethon, caught some extra attention last year, when data scientist Matt Daniels found that the artist used more unique words  among his first 35,000 words of published lyrics than did 84 other rappers in his sample. The garrulous rapper comes back to the Altar Bar tonight with Rob Sonic, DJ Abilities and Homeboy Sandman. Shawn Cooke 7 p.m. 1620 Penn Ave., Strip District. $20. All ages. 412-263-2877 or


Brill Bruisers, last year's new offering from The New Pornographers, isn't a huge aberration from the band's general modus, but does see the Canadian supergroup sounding even more like ... a Canadian supergroup. The group's trademark hooks, courtesy of head man A.C. Newman and his rotating cast of stars remain, but there's a bit more of that ethereal, synthy sheen to the new record, bringing to mind others in the same league: Arcade Fire, and the Broken Social Scene-related stable. The band (in a touring lineup that doesn't include Neko Case) comes to Mr. Small's Theatre tonight; opening up is Dan Boeckner's Operators. Andy Mulkerin 8 p.m. 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. $30. All ages. 412-821-4447 or

[OLDIES] + SAT., FEB. 14

"Jay" is sort of like James Bond — they both debuted in the early '60s, and a small handful of people (not necessarily born as "Jay") have filled the role since then. The doo wop-influenced harmony masters, Jay and the Americans, had a steady string of hits throughout the decade with Jay Traynor, and then with "Jay" Black (David Black) at the helm. (Most notable: "Come a Little Bit Closer," and the band's 1968 version of "This Magic Moment.") The band's current lineup consists of three original members (Sandy Deanne, Howie Kane and Marty Sanders) and its third Jay: Jay Reincke, a megafan who covered Jay and the Americans in Chicago for 30 years before his 2006 leap to the real thing. The band plays the Palace Theatre tonight. SC 7:30 p.m. 21 West Otterman St., Greensburg. $35-65. All ages. 724-836-8000 or

[EMO] + WED., FEB. 18

You Blew It! makes earnest, emotive indie punk — which can easily be denoted by a certain three-letter word. However you want to label the band, it's among the best of the genre, and this year's Pioneer of Nothing EP continues the trajectory. After a minor breakout year in 2014 with the strong Keep Doing What You're Doing and an almost too-faithful Weezer covers EP (aptly titled You Blue It), the Orlando natives continue an extensive touring schedule tonight at the Smiling Moose with Tiny Moving Parts and Rozwell Kid. SC 6 p.m. 1306 E. Carson St., South Side. $12. All ages. 412-431-4668 or

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