[The Lookahead is a monthly segment where we get to be all newsy and point out cool stuff going down in the next 30 days or so. We'll have cool Pittsburgh music shows and events, local album releases, and some national releases of interest. This is the good stuff we've heard about. Come back on the 1st of each month for more!]
We shared some upcoming Pittsburgh shows we’re excited for, and now it’s time to talk about the music, and the music of Pittsburgh bands in particular. Local musicians are putting out all sorts of great material, and we’re pleased and honored to be able to listen to as much of it as we can and share what we like with you. Some of the albums/songs/videos here are really new, some are yet to come out, and some are a few months old and we just kinda missed them until now. That happens. But they’re all great and deserve a listen. Dig in and see what you like!
Also, we try to keep up to speed on some upcoming new music, but most often we just don’t know about it until it’s out there. If you know of something great coming out soon (or is already out), let us know, and be sure to tell us you’re local. Okay, enough of that, onto the music!
This band is pretty darn new to us but is quickly creeping up our “need to see live” list. The Color Fleet have played a few shows around town but we have yet to catch them, and this pair of songs has really piqued our interest. Recorded by the band themselves and then mixed by our buddy J at J Bird Studios (that’s our Echo Chamber sound man, too!) these two songs are upbeat, catchy, harmonious, and rockin’. J and the band have managed to capture something special in these recordings, playing up some echoey sounds and clearly capitalizing on the band’s committed enthusiasm. It makes for an engaging and inviting digital single, and leaves us waiting for more good stuff from The Color Fleet. Stay tuned!
A solid EP of self-described “bombastic folk” songs, which is one of the more accurate descriptions from a band I’ve heard in a while. There are touches of Grizzly Bear‘s chamber folk melodies (like on “Beats in the Hills”), both upbeat and languid, with a bit of Beatles by way of Olivia Tremor Control pop sensibilities (like on “Jesus Keeps the Bomb Away”). To keep with the comparisons-via-name-checking—and perhaps because I’ve been listening to both lately—it sounds, to me, like songs by Fresh & Onlys‘ Tim Cohen as sung by Fleet Foxes‘ Robin Pecknold. Just listen to all of them and you’ll kinda see it. Or, at the very least, I hope I’m making you give some thought to a band that clearly has a lot of talent and commitment to their sound. Big tip of the hat to Pgh Music Report for the introduction to these guys.
Mace Ballard might be the most energetic band in the city, and this single only furthers that description. The band has an EP, The Time It Takes To Rewind, available for free download on their website, and a new LP, The Next Time You See Sky, available on their Bandcamp page. This new single, though, is part of their campaign in the Iron City Sound Ambassadors competition. I feel a little bad promoting this now that the voting has closed, but hey, you can still go and enjoy this song and see the band around town. It’s all about spreading the Pgh music love, right? The winner of the voting contest will be announced on May 14 on the Iron City Facebook page, FYI.
This FREE album was released in January, but I’m just stumbling into it now. This is some excellent garage rock here, folks, and begs to be played at full volume. Clearly big Neil Young & Crazy Horse fans, The Buffalo have funneled all sorts of 60s & 70s rock paradigms through their 21st century psyches and come out with this rowdy LP. The title and the fact that this was mixed in mono add to the intrigue, but it’s the fuzzy guitar riffs and raucous energy that keep me listening over and over. Dig this and check them out live. I bet it’s a rollickin’ good time!
Two new songs from Harlan Twins! This band continues to be one of the best live bands in town, kicking up the energy and rockin’ out. Here, they’re stripped down and acoustic, hanging out in their living room and jamming some tunes, but there’s no loss of energy, that’s for sure. “These Are The Days” has an insistent little percussion line and an ear worm of a banjo riff to go along with Carrie Battle’s solid lead vocals. “Long Black Veil” is a little slower and quieter with group harmonies and makes for a perfect flip-side. Yeah, this pair would be a sweet 7″ single. Keep your eyes and ears out for more new stuff from Harlan Twins and catch them at the Brillobox next weekend, too!
Last Full Measure / Places, Everyone
A rich 10-song LP of sprawling rock ‘n roll and folk, seemingly drawing on anything and everything from Neil Young to FM alt-rock to Bright Eyes. “Sellout” is a particular standout, and a perfect soundtrack for a lengthy road trip or just a stroll down the street to your local watering hole. I couldn’t place it for the first couple of listens, but then it struck me that opening track “This One” sounds exactly like Neva Dinova to me (which is a huuuge positive sign, trust me) and then the rest of the album totally opened up in my ears. This is really good stuff, so who cares that frontman Brendan Walsleben makes this music in Philly (and that this was released in January)? Hat tip to Dave Cerminara from Legs Like Tree Trunks (and WPTS radio) for the link to this one!
I first talked about the folksy stylings of Essential Machine in March’s edition of The Lookahead, and here we are again with something new to share. The band is participating in National Songwriting Month which is pretty much what it sounds like. They’ll be posting a new song every day (!) in May on their Soundcloud page so you can follow along and see what they come up with. The first few songs are pretty good, with the debut “Divide” being my favorite. Kudos for even undertaking a project like this, you two!
Legs Like Tree Trunks‘ solid debut EP came out last summer and we totally dug it. They’ve been hard at work on a follow-up LP, recording at Milkboy The Studio in Philadelphia, which is due sometime this summer. In the meantime, they’re whetting our appetites with this random collection of “rarities”, with demos, remixes, and a live tracks. The demos are great and have me even more excited to hear this new record, the live cut is swell, and the remixes are … admittedly, not my thing, in general, but maybe you’ll like them. Now, join me in eagerly waiting for more news from these fellows …
This Pittsburgh collective of artists and musicians formed just a couple months ago, and we think it’s a great idea. It seems like a big group of friends who support each others’ art and music, which is cool, and we’re looking forward to see what they do to promote local creativity. Their first big step is putting out this FREE mix CD full of songs from their musical roster, including (hey, look at that!) Legs Like Tree Trunks (math folky rock), Ivory Weeds (ambient folk), Dean Cercone (shoegazey pop with lots of effects), and Rivka (experimental dance pop), among others. Check it out and find something new, and keep your eye out for what these guys and gals do around town.
I already mentioned the details surrounding this release in a previous post, so I’ll keep this brief: The Slow Reel are breaking up at the end of this month and are going out with a big BANG by releasing this cassette album and playing a bunch of shows. They’ll be at our show with Mount Carmel on the 13th and at the Brillobox on the 25th, and then that’s it. No more Slow Reel. So you gotta make it to one of these shows and pick up a cassette, or at least go over to their Bandcamp page and buy the mp3s on the cheap. This is just more great classic rock sounds from these guys, all solid and fun songs as usual.
This musical project of Jennifer Baron (ex-Ladybug Transistor) released an album back in December called Melody Elder. You can check that out on her Bandcamp page and/or buy it on cassette via Night-People Records. The exciting news is that this video for “Nature-Nurture” is now in the running for a Design, Art and Technology Award from the Pittsburgh Technology Council. She worked with Pittsburgh-based filmmaker Keith Tassick, who “created the video from some 700 still photographs of television images taken by Jennifer. A custom application was written to create random sequences of the images, which were then selected, layered and looped to match the pulses of the music. For the past year, Jennifer has been obsessively photographing the nightly television news in order to interpret and recontextualize the media’s treatment of local Western Pennsylvania occurrences, people and places during the early 21st century. A seemingly mundane act, her images are filtered through her desire to examine the intersection of the ephemeral and the sensational, the authentic and the artificial, and the sublime and the ghastly.” Interesting! The video is cool and kinda creepy and it’s remarkable how the images flow with the music. Enjoy the music, and check out the announcement of the award winners on June 7th!
That’s a lot of local music! So many great releases of late, and there’s so much more out there, too! Tell us your thoughts on these songs and albums and videos, and let us know about anything else we’ve missed.