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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Upcoming Shows + Reviews Oct. 2012

I am playing these shows that are coming up:
  Full Moon's Beat is a new album I've recorded featuring lots of glitchy synth pieces along with my droning guitar.  It will be available at all of the shows above.



  Curse is a duo composed of Jane Vincent and Logan Terkelsen.  They are on tour for their new self-titled album and recently attempted to play at Caliente in Pittsburgh, but ultimately didn't.  After listening to the album, I'm disappointed with the results of that show; it would have been really great to see them play live.  Most, if not all, of the instrumentation seems to be keyboards and live drums with Jane Vincent's powerful vocals over top.  The songs are atmospheric and dark with apocalyptic drama and occasional dance parts.  It is noisy, but not without melodies and hooks.
  Many of the songs reference Peter Pan and others deal with growing up but still staying youthful.  Time and the juxtaposition between one point in time and another are the other big themes: the aforementioned themes of childhood vs. adulthood is related and other songs deal with the cyclic nature of time (seasons, tides) and that, though you have to live through the difficult times, you shouldn't despair because the good times will return.  "Let's make the most of what we have".  The song "Untitled" is a spooky atmospheric piece with no vocals.  The last song, "Light Drinker", asks how much of reality is in our head and how much is concrete.  How powerful is imagination?  "Is there a dog that dreams in green?  Is the thought of a unicorn a real thought?"
  Curse receives a rating of Good.



  The band Stella has asked me to review their album Vapid Rubs for the upcoming Pittsburgh show.  They are a very noisy post-hardcore band similar to The Nation of Ulysses or Pittsburgh's own Relationships.  Vapid Rubs is a short EP, a little over eight minutes, and all of the tracks are full-on heavy, loud, rock 'n' roll heart attacks.  I don't understand a lot of the lyrics that bands like these produce.  There are very few rhymes, odd meters, and strange metaphors that deal with personal problems that I don't know anything about.  "Omega" is sort of like about a modern Romulus and Remus and involves a building being destroyed.  "Fast Guy" uses video games as a metaphor for not dealing with society and not moving up to harder problems.  "Let’s just place some landmines here yeah/And some hedgehogs because/I want you to be a lifetime playerKeep the yellow ring on".   "The Man with the Chainsaw Leg" is a strange song; it is presented sort of like a play, but just seems like a weird joke.  I like the strange imagery and "who-the-fuck-cares" vibe I get from it, but I also feel like it is kind of just a cliche.
  Musically the album is pretty cool.  Each song features a few different parts; it is stupid but complex which is cool.  The vocalist screams a lot and sounds like he is gonna erupt; he sounds sort of like Ian Svenonius of The Nation of Ulysses.  Everything is really lo-fi across the board, but there is a lot of energy.  The cover has a weird ASCII tank on it with a white background.  It should be fun to see this band live.  I'm excited to play with them.
  Vapid Rubs receives a rating of Good.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Weird Paul Rock Band 99¢ Variety Show: May 2012


The Weird Paul Rock Band Variety show was pretty awesome in May (it's pretty bad that I'm writing about this in October, but oh well).  This was the second one I had ever been to and was probably double the fun of the first.


I missed some stuff at the beginning, but the first thing I saw was the first and only performance by the band Splashy, featuring Racheal and Brian from Skinless Boneless and Sasha from Actorcop.  It was pretty cool.  They played two songs, "Splashy One" and "Splashy Two" which both had a sort of prog-rock feel, but didn't have incredible lengths or eighteen different parts.


Next Greg Cislon played in yet another band with Jordan Weeks along with another guy I didn't know named Jim Steiner.  This band sounded pretty cool: kind of 90's alt-rock-ish/Elvis Costello with simple instrumentation played in an interesting manner.  They played a song for a TV series they wrote or something, but I'm not sure if that is real or not.  All of Greg's songs seemed like they dealt with personal relationships.


Ruthie and Gladis told us about their crazy adventures involving noise bands and tupperware.  Ruthie also gave details about her recent dates involving a guy that seems to be a Twilight-esque vampire.  Ruthie was played by Scott Fry and Gladis was Zo Weslowski of course.  It was really funny.


Finally the Weird Paul Rock Band played some really killer stuff.  They played really fast and hard with lots of punk covers like "Sonic Reducer", "Beat on the Brat", and "Mongoloid".  Sasha and Jerry both helped sing at during songs that they requested and everybody looked like they had a great time there.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Sound of Melting Plastics: Russian Tsarlag

I had no idea who Russian Tsarlag was before attending this show and I had never been to Romeo House before.  I thought I knew where it was, but ended up getting lost and having to ask some guys with a truck full of liquid nitrogen where to go.  I finally got there, but had missed Super Mohawk, a combination of Last Supper (Michael Sibenac) and John Kasunic from Pay the Rent, both of whom were supposed to play separately.


Trogpite started playing soon after I got there.  He seemed very at home in the darkened living room and sang into a microphone housed in a stick and, as always, looked really cool.  Lots of sounds: the chanting of satanic cults, endlessly broken synthesizer loops, cool computer sounds, buzzings of a fly, squeaks from broken doors, watery voices, etc.  Trogpite had some killer backing tracks at this and added his standard moans over top, sometimes echoing into near feedback.  It was awesome.


Jeff Zagers played afterwards, music that sounded like it could come from St. Basil's Cathedral.  He started off with a spooky Trogpite groove, but added metallic synth sounds on top.  His voice was like a controlled krautrock singer's.  There were horns and very gothic songs and more krautrock.  Most of his stuff had a classical European music flavor with hints of middle eastern drones at the sides.  At the end he played a very Kraftwerk-sounding song followed by a doo wop cover(?).  Jeff Zagers keeps it together even when being all over the place.


When Russian Tsarlag was about to play I felt very ill at ease.  It seemed as if anything could and would happen.  We started off watching trailers of horror movies and then the TV changed to present a monologue about Russian Tsarlag presented by himself.  He entered the room in high heels, covered in what appeared to be melted plastic, and wearing a plastic bag for a helmet.  After doing a seemingly choreographed performance with golf clubs to spooky music that started off very dark, but transformed into an Ariel Pink-type of pop song with radio static in the background, Russian Tsarlag removed his "helmet" and spoke.  "You may wanna come in here, have a seat, get comfortable, uh, there's no need to be afraid.  As daunting as things my look this is actually a very flaccid performance you're about to see."  I was still not relieved, but whatever; he must have had a kind of ESP.


The mysterious visitor then told us of how he would present the Americana of Pittsburgh to us for his set and played another demented pop song, "Plastic Shock", a darker song with semi-buried vocals.  He played a frightening a capella version of "Poor Little Fool" by Ricky Nelson with some sort of octave effect and reverb afterward, sounding like a space alien.  Then we watched more TV, perhaps the method that he had studied our culture from his flying saucer (he claims to be from Florida, but who knows).  It wasn't real TV of course, but a tape to which Russian Tsarlag provided humorous comedy.  Bill Stevens, a friend of his with a face like a smashed, flesh-colored, deer skull, appeared and had a weird conversation with him.  The final song of Russian Tsarlag's set was another dark-pop masterpiece, "Down That Road".  Afterwards Russian Tsarlag disappeared into the night and flew away on the wings of a silent craft.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Slices Prom: Let's Get Married!

Slices Prom was May 18th and was the first big show at Caliente.  A lot of people attended due to the City Paper highlighting it as Slices big album release for Still Cruising, an album that had been reviewed in Spin and other national music magazines.  Most people dressed up since it was prom, but it was a little different than any dance at high school.


Fogged Out was playing when I got there.  His set was comprised of the same songs that I've seen him play before.  The fog was so thick that I couldn't get any pictures of really anything.  I could only here the spooky baritone of Mike Kasunic's voice, coated in reverb, over dark beats.  Some of the vocals seemed especially harsh, effects creating an almost death metal growl.  I didn't hear any pseudo rap stuff that he's done before (maybe this never happened, but pretty sure that it did) so it was pretty cool.


Pay the Rent, who I had never seen/heard before was next; the fog continued into their set.  Both members, John and Mike Kasunic, are Slices members and also brothers.  Mike Kasunic was also in Tusk Lord and had just played as Fogged Out.  Pay the Rent was like Fogged Out with guitar and was less poppy and very, very dark.  A lot of it sounded like the Halloween theme with reverb'd Bauhaus guitar over top spooky, chanted vocals.  Some of Pay the Rent's backing tracks were almost like slow dance tracks.  Pretty killer stuff.


Finally Slices was going to play (it wasn't like we hadn't just seen half the band turn into Goths).  The whole room was full and the crowd went crazy moshing and stuff; lots of drinks got spilled, some possibly expensive.  The weird Oscar/theater decorations that decorated the place got smashed up also.  Slices played hard and tight and very together, even more so than usual, though it took them a few minutes to get figured out.  I don't know any of their song titles, but they played lots of stuff they usually play and some new stuff, probably from the new album.  Slices played Highway to Hell to close their set, kind of surprising and atypical.  There was no encore, "We have no more songs.  Thank you."  It ruled.
Buy the LP from Iron Lung
Get the album on Amazon

Saturday, August 11, 2012

La Sera Sees the Light at the 31st St. Pub


I really love Vivian Girls.  The combination of Ramones punk, 60s girl groups, and shoegazer music in a lo-fi setting is near perfect.  When I heard that La Sera, a band featuring Vivian Girls member "Kickball" Katy Goodman as the frontman, was coming to Pittsburgh, I knew I had to be there to see it.


First up was Alexei's New Band, featuring Alexei Plotnicov, who I had recognized from the yearly PPP Halloween Comp and who was also apparently a member of the Karl Hendricks Trio at some point.  His performance was really funny with lots of big body motions and exaggerated expressions, but you could tell that he and his bandmates put blood and soul into their music.  The New Band sounded like weirder versions of Graham Parker and the Rumour or Neil Young with discordant/melodic guitar solos; the big overblown resembled the Dictators in the same "ridiculous but endearing" way.  The New Band also had elements of progressive rock, 70's ballads, and jazz, especially when Alexei switched from guitar to piano.  With weird songs about cats and crossing guards it was a fun time.
André Costello and the Cool Minors are a really killer band built on the songwriting strength of singer/guitariist André Costello.  Shoegazer/country Neil Young is how I would describe them, but for the most part they have a pretty classic sound.  André and his band seem to stick to strong, slow pop melodies with occasional outbursts into Evol-era Sonic Youth noise.  I really like their approach and the way that they make these classic sounding songs unique by subtle means.  It's no wonder that André has an actual record deal with an album on Wild Kindness Records.

La Sera played a great set to a huge crowd at the end of the night; you could tell that they were really into it which is always cool.  Katy Goodman swirled around hypnotically and even went and danced among the crowd.  They played a lot of the songs from their second album, Sees the Light,, songs of lost/unrequited love.  With a slower and more melodic, but also more psychedelic sound, than Vivian Girls, these types of songs sound great especially with Goodman's soft, echoing vocals.  The guitar work was excellent with lots of reverb and cool solos, the guitarist on the left even used an Echoplex!  Katy Goodman liked my Vivian Girls shirt, but she seemed very focused on La Sera when I asked her about that band.  That makes a lot of sense because La Sera is really great.  Hopefully they will come back soon(you can get stuff herewhile you wait)!


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Greg McKillop Returns

Manny advertised this show that happened on May 16th as featuring "a large-scale (10+ people) political emo-punk brass band".  It was an awesome show and I saw Greg McKillop again who had played here with Valerie Kuehne back in March.  My friend Charlie Cairone also played his first show in a while with his band Firth of Lorn so everything was like a big reunion.

 
The Homeless Gospel Choir was first.  I had seen him before at Roup in August during Quiet Sound Night VI; he played mostly the same songs as before in the same kind of way.  The Homeless Gospel Choir's songs are like folk punk or whatever.  I feel like that genre seems ridiculous and sometimes people just seem to use that term to be edgy, but he takes a sort of Jesus is cool, mainstream Christianity is bad kind of approach which I really like.  His new album Luxury Problems had come out before this show and he had it for sale.  The new songs sounded great.


Anna Vogelzang played second.  She used to live in Pittsburgh apparently, but I'm not sure where she lives now (apparently she is also moving back here soon).  She and her upright bass player played lovey, indie stuff that sounded good; usually I don't like this stuff.  There were lots of love songs and some audience accompaniment to her sort of country/Celtic vocals.  Again it was actually really cool, but I'm not sure if it's the kind of thing I want to see all the time.


Firth of Lorn is a band that a high school friend of mine has had for a while.  It is more or less a solo project that sometimes includes other members.  Firth of Lorn sounds like math rock/metal/grunge (maybe like Tool?); they really need a bass player.  Their setlist had included covers so they ended up playing songs that they weren't at all prepared to play; there are over all a lot of kinks to work I think.  It was a good try and they have a good sound, but need better equipment at least.  I'd like to seem them again and see how they improve.


Speaker for the Dead, Greg McKillop's huge folk band, played last.  They stood among the crowd, shifted positions often, and stood on chairs; it made for a fun and energetic set.  There were acoustic guitars, trumpets, an accordion (or something like that), and maybe some other instruments, but nothing was electric.  The band members are gathered from all over and change frequently.  Greg is the leader and sort of directs them which is really cool; everything is loose and semi-improvised.  I really like their song about Worcester, MA.  Their set was the perfect length and a really good way to end the show.  They'll problem come back some time soon and you should probably go, but in the meantime you can listen to their set here.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Louisville Comes to GA

On May 14th 2012 I booked a show.  This was not actually the first one I have booked, but it was more significant in that it involved touring bands contacting me to play here in Pittsburgh.  Douglas Lucas had emailed me all the way from Louisville, Kentucky about doing a cool drone show that seemed to keep getting bigger and bigger as more people ended up getting on it.


First was Poor Kitty, Seth and Lucy from Roup House, doing awesome spoken word/ambient noise soundscapes.  Lucy's vocals seemed like a "best of" of all of the previous performances that I had released on the self-titled Poor Kitty CD mixed into a new narrative, which was cool, and the set was really good.  Things started off very slow and dry, like a bored beat writer next to a big empty highway.  Things started to build up until everything exploded with crashing boxes and tools being run across sheets of rippling metal.  There was a dramatic pause and everything slowed down before fading away into the dirt-choked, rust-covered distance.


Michael Sibenac from Half-Nelson and Last Supper (which I erroneously labeled him as) played tapes and other found sounds second.  Lots of audio hiss amidst roaring tape growls and spooky echoing things hitting together.  Later everything turned into long synth sounds that droned forever while sounds swirled in the distance.  We traveled back into the ghost machine plant and then that was it.  A lot like Cotton Museum + Cut Hands and killer stuff as always.


Douglas Lucas performed third as Mu.  The black-haired Thurston Moore look-alike started with long synth notes building into a furious loop of spacey, ghost sounds from beyond.  There were lots of soaring high notes as invisible people chanted and feedback escalated as he took a drumstick to his guitar, using it to bend the strings upward forcefully.  The air was filled withthe sounds of things crashing together (books, walls, floors, beds, planes, washing machines, whatever) as his guitar generated an endless assortment of feedback and spring effects.  Mu is awesome stuff.


Ashochious looked like a the Louisville edition of White Reeves (left is Micah, right is Ryan).  They played the slow-lurching 4AM sounds of old machines and Halloween screams as ancient acetates violins created a low dance to the macabre.  Violins changed to backwards speech and watery tape sounds and then we entered a blast furnace/foundry.  The work became busier and busier until fading out into breathing in the darkness.

Manson Girls broke there contact microphone and maybe something else, but played a killer set anyway.  Kyle's heavy military drum beat was unresponsive and repetitious as Gena created distorted feedback and white noise.  They created some slow lurching songs for a while before speeding up to an end that extended into another variation.  It was so good, maybe better than at the Experimental Variety Show at Belvedere's the past year.

I played last with the still relatively new (and much harder to control) Synsonics guitar with weird built in speaker.  My was set was loud, but hard to hear for me; I ended up trying to play something else, but the volume dropped so I just turned it back up and tried to be as loud as possible.  Tons of sludged up distorted sounds with piercing swerving feedback blaring over the top.  Lots of started and stopping towards the end before I tried to play real notes, but than quit again.  I took out my earplugs because I couldn't hear myself and regretted it later.

It was fun booking a show and I've done it pretty frequently afterwards.  This was really good over all, every band was great.  Manson Girls and I also were both invited to play the Louisville Experimental Festival in June, though we couldn't get there on time, but I am hoping to play with Mu or Ashochious again.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Roup Bust/The Shop Fucks Up Again

On May 3rd Forget the Times was scheduled to play at the Shop with Triangle & Rhino, Relationships, and Skinless Boneless.  The two people in charge were busy or couldn't get keys or something however, and the show was moved to Roup House despite it being a weeknight.


First up was Relationships who played an exceptionally good set, sounding a lot harder and cool than ever previously.  Their slower song with the lyrics "I'm not yr friend, and I never wanted to be" is maybe their best and it ruled here.  Early on they played really fast and tough with lots of noise and kept it up later to some extent, tough they did get "twinkly" or whatever.  The vocals were cool throughout, rough and not completely nailed to the melody.  Relationships was really good and standing like inches away from them due to the cramped quarters of the Roup basement made it even better.


Triangle & Rhino played second.  Jake Lexso had hurt his hand falling from a ladder when roofing and couldn't play guitar though, so this was a set of synths and drums only and the only set like this that they would ever play live.  Despite the lack of guitar the stuff they played sounded a lot like their normal set only slower and all electronics.  The vocals were muffled and Jake sounded like a psychopath singing through a ballgag.  The sound was maybe too compressed or something, but it was pretty great.


When Triangle & Rhino was finishing up a guy from Forget the Times was at the door.  The cops had come and asked us to shut down the show due to noise complaints; it was a weeknight.  Unfortunately the other two bands, Forget the Times and Skinless Boneless never got to play.  It made sense for Skinless Boneless, who always seem to get shut down by authority figures, but Forget the Times was on tour and I never got to see them.  Hopefully they'll come back and maybe not play the Shop.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Art All Night 2012

Art All Night is a yearly art show in Pittsburgh that anyone can submit art to; this year it was featured in a warehouse under the 40th street bridge in Lawrenceville.  I submitted a video, a music video for my song "The Elfin Mountains" from Home Life, Steph Neary and Andy Scott painted in a live painting feature, Ivory Weeds played music, and roupers Seth, Autumn, and Brian had some visual art displayed.  Here are some pictures (all artwork is copyright the original artists):