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New Releases

Reviews of records by A.T.S. and Brewer’s Row

Watering the Plants
(Another True Story Publ.)

The members of this long-running Pittsburgh institution, which has existed since 1985, have developed a reputation as wiseass iconoclasts, and on its newest release, Watering the Plants, the group stays true to its classic sound: cow-punk drumming, mournful sing-alongs and frank, often literary lyrics. (On the track “Dusty Roads,” singer Mike Marcinko namedrops both Hemingway and Faulkner.) A.T.S. combines classic country and folk with a post-punk sensibility. Though I wouldn’t exactly compare the band to the Meat Puppets (A.T.S. is a little more solemn, a little less scraggly), perhaps a better comparison, due to the haunting harmonicas and tales of working-class heartbreak and economic hardship, would be if Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska was instead called Pennsylvania. Andrew Woehrel 

A.T.S. CD-RELEASE SHOW 9:30 p.m. Sat., April 23. The Funhouse at Mr. Smalls, 400 Lincoln Ave., Millvale. Free for over 21, $2 for under 21. 412-821-4447 or

Brewer’s Row
There Was a Time We Were Kids

As a quasi-family affair — guitarist Mark Hohman is the father of frontman Nicholas Hohman and singer/pianist Leah Hohman-Esser — five-piece Brewer’s Row has familial comfort (and a decade of experience) on its side. That comes through in the technical competence and easy feel of There Was a Time We Were Kids. The songs touch on a surprisingly wide breadth of Americana-flavored rock, from the Tom Petty-esque opener “Jimmy” to the gospelish shuffle of “Own Way Home” to “Do You Believe (in That Now),” which closes the record with some surprising Bowie-style drama. It feels less like a record than a career retrospective: a little too long, with a few out-of-place tracks, but ultimately a solid offering. Margaret Welsh

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