Hey. How’s it going? Good, great. So, yeah, you might be new here. Maybe you’re a freshman at Pitt or CMU or somewhere else. That’s terrific and we applaud your good choice in city. But maybe you’re not exactly new here, and you’re finding yourself ready to explore the town and uncover it’s wonders. You’re like a goddamn pearl diver, ready to take the plunge and come up for air with a little bit of treasure. Well, we’re here to help you with that whole situation. It could definitely seem like a staggering endeavor. We understand. We went through it all and others have succeeded and/or failed before you. Our goal is to make it easier and get you on the right track so however many years you have left in school, or after school, you have the chance to enjoy them to capacity. Yeah. Welcome to The Draw Us Lines College Primer.
Let’s dive right into it. Bands. This is music.
You’re lucky enough to live in a city that has tons of sport championships and all the love and hate that goes along with it, but we’re not really interested in that right this second. To us, Pittsburgh is amazing because of all the music, art, and culture that’s just below the surface. Exciting, right? We’ve been throwing this idea around after a discussion with our pals in Mariage Blanc almost a year ago, and this is how it turned out. This is part one of our three part series, specifically highlighting local bands.
If you take a peek down at the almost-comprehensive list below, you’ll notice there’s something for everyone. We’ve got indie everything, punk, pop, dad rock, you name it. This isn’t even talking about the jazz and more progressive or cultural music around the city. Below is a grouping of musicians and/or bands that span several different genres. Specifically, we’re featuring New Shouts, David Bernabo, Pairdown, Donora, The Slow Reel, Big Hurry, Caleb Pogyor, Boca Chica, Brooke Annibale, and Mariage Blanc. Do a bit of exploring and we’ll bet you find something you like. Enjoy.
The Beatles, The Kinks, The Beach Boys, and all manner of classic R&B influence the sound of New Shouts. These guys take all the wonderful melodies of ’60s pop and filter them through a modern day, rough around the edges, indie rock lens. It’s wild stuff and holy shit, are these guys versatile. Whether they’re playing some stripped down acoustic tunes for our Echo Chamber series or wailing through tracks off their latest release New Shouts sing New Shouts, this four piece does it with a classic and modern edge. You can catch them around town supporting their newest full length release this fall and winter.
David Bernabo is an artistic shapeshifter and incredibly versatile. Two of his main projects, Assembly and Host Skull, showcase Bernabo’s wildly imaginative songwriting ability, his talent for bringing top shelf musicians together, and the fact that he must never ever sleep (he does so much it’s insane). Both of his most current projects are a sight to behold at live shows where Bernabo and crew dance around genres such as rock, pop, jazz, classical, funk, and all sorts of indie. There’s dual drummers, baritone sax players, dancers, and more. When he’s not being ridiculously creative and musical, Bernabo spends his time as a huge supporter of local music and you’ll be sure to see him at plenty of shows around town.
Raymond Morin and David Leicht are guitar virtuosos. No, I’m serious, and Pittsburgh’s lucky enough to hear their channeled masterwork in the form of Pairdown. Recording and performing as an acoustic duo, Pairdown is a mixture of acoustic folk, ’70s progressive, and traditional classical guitar. It may be hard to explain, but its even harder to wrap your head around the amazing sounds these guys produce. Be prepared for interlocking guitar parts, pinched harmonics, percussive strikes, harmonized melodies, and manicured fingernails (this is serious stuff). It’s amazing to listen to and even better to see live as Morin and Leicht play ultra passionately. It’s hypnotic. The duo has two prior releases (Petrifidelity and Holykyle) and is currently recording and playing live their new and exciting tunes.
Holy Jesus, if you’re thinking about seeing Donora live, well, you better get there early. This is a band on the verge of being huge (though they still maintain their modest and honest personalities) and no doubt sell out every place they play in town. Signed to Pittsburgh’s darling indie record label Rostrum Records (home to THE Wiz Khalifa), Donora is indie pop at it’s most perfect, most fun, and most catchy. Big choruses, claps, and honest guitar work are the name of the game here. Fronted by Casey Hanner, backed by her big brother Jake Hanner on drums, and held together by bassist Jake Churton, this hometown three piece holds a tender spot in the hearts of Pittsburghers young and old. Their debut eponymous release is just terrific and their second release Boyfriends, Girlfriends is just as good. We’re anxious to see what will happen to this hometown indie band. I’ll reiterate what I said in the beginning: If you’re going to catch Donora live, get their early and be prepared to get sweaty (and probably drunk).
Sometimes you just need some classic, down home tunes. Catch The Slow Reel live, and you’ll instantly be transported to south of the Mason Dixon and about 30 years in the past. Rob Collier and company harken back to the days of Stephen Stills, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Canned Heat, the Marshall Tucker Band, and only the good parts of Lynyrd Skynrd. Don’t let those aged references scare you away, as The Slow Reel pack plenty of contemporary cool on their full length release Governor’s Daughter. They played at our 1st Birthday party this past summer and impressed a packed room at Brillobox with walking bass lines and rocking rhythms. This is a big band that packs a big classic rock punch.
We rarely miss a Big Hurry show. It just doesn’t make any sense to. Big Hurry is the perfect mixture of indie rock, dance pop, and throwback ’80s coolness. This group has a knack for creating some of the catchiest and smartest rock songs we’ve heard and executes perfectly live every time. Kelly Tobias’s soaring vocals match perfectly with Andy Wilkosz’s melodic, effect-soaked, guitar lines while Dani Buncher’s epic and unique drum patterns hold it all together with the help of Lenny Flatley’s booming bass. We’re also suckers for the all female vocals, with Buncher routinely backing up Tobias on big sing along choruses. They have a new EP coming out this fall and released a stellar EP this past winter (Gets Me Low), so watch out for that and make sure to catch the new tracks live. Word to the wise: If you ever get a chance to catch Big Hurry playing acoustically, don’t even think twice, as it’s super impressive to hear them transform their songs and show off their individual musicianship (just check out their Echo Chamber session linked below).
The guys in Mariage Blanc are masters of melodic and mellow indie pop. They definitely know how to walk the line between upbeat indie pop and depressing sad bastard pop (if that’s a real genre, which I think it should be). Dual frontmen Josh Kretzmer and Matt Ceraso share lead vocals (with one sounding eerily like the late Elliott Smith) and guitar, churning out some really great, multi-part pop songs. They recorded their last and self-titled release entirely on their own in their ramshackle, frozen, studio and produced an amazing sounding collection of songs that impressed DUL and beyond. We have it on good faith they’re currently working on new material and we can’t wait to catch them live again soon. They’ve been featured in Under the Radar and Paste (those other legit indie music publications), so you know these guys are the real deal. If you’re in the mood for sing song, melodramatic pop music complete with dueling guitar work, great keys, and moments of sleigh bells, well, check out Mariage Blanc, already! And check out this sweet video while you’re at it.
Caleb Pogyor and his ever rotating group of musicians can really bring down the house. We’ve caught him several times around Pittsburgh and each show, regardless of personnel, is always loud, exciting, and tons of fun. His latest release, I’m Talking to You, highlights Poygor’s talented song writing (big ol’ hooks), his loud guitars (up to 11), and emphatic singing (precision yelling). He’s got a hell of a band and he’s been known to rock out to the perfect cover for the situation at hand (my favorite has been Weezer‘s “El Scorcho”). This is no frills indie rock at it’s finest.
We’ll never pass on good ol’ folk-rock americana music. Some of us (Jim especially) have a real soft spot for it and therefore, chances are, you’ll catch us at a Boca Chica show. This collective revolves around lead singer songwriter Hallie Pritts and has seen it’s fair share of evolution over the years. Currently, the band is the strongest it’s ever been and the songs really reflect that. Their 2009 release Lace Up Your Workboots was an eclectic mix of folk and rock and we’re anxiously awaiting their upcoming release (funded entirely via Kickstarter). They’ve spent a lot of time and effort on this one and the few tracks we’ve heard have left us wanting more. Sometimes straight ahead acoustic folk, other times the band will satisfy your folk pop cravings a la Sufjan Stevens, but you can rest assured it’s always good. They’ve done a lot of work over the years with the Norwegian label Eardrums Pop! and we expect even more to come (hey they were even featured on NPR!).
We’re suckers for singer songwriters, especially the type that write beautifully honest songs that strike deep. Brooke Annibale does exactly that by pairing her deep, breathy vocals with adept acoustic guitar work. Her 2011 release Silence Worth Breaking floored us with its catchy, well-produced, mellow pop songs. She’s released several albums and is the epitome of passionate and professional, which we experienced firsthand filming her perform in Frick Park. You know it’s a good tune when you can strip away all the studio magic to just vocals and guitar and still be held speechless. Having recorded her latest album in Nashville and holding a degree in Music Business, we’re expecting big things from Brooke in the future.
That’s just a small taste of the glory. Seriously. It’s a good place to start if you’re into the same music we are. Below is a more extensive and almost all-encompassing list of bands and artists around the city and their genres. It’s not fool-proof and we’re just some dudes doing this stuff, so I’m sure we missed something. Forgive us, ok? Thanks to those who helped us compile too! Most importantly, use it for good, not evil, and godspeed. Check back tomorrow for our article on local venues!
Meeting of Important People / garage rock
Ben Hardt and His Symphony / indie symphonic pop
Pet Clinic / indie rock
Bluebird Midwest / folk punk
Bear Cub / newgrass folk pop
Paul Luc / alternative pop rock
School of Athens / indie rock
Triggers / indie pop rock
Chad Sipes Stereo / indie alternative
Emily Rodgers / singer songwriter mellow rock
The Wreckids / acoustic folk comedy
Truth in Advertising / indie folk rock
Neighbours / indie rock pop soul
Brett Staggs / singer songwriter
The Red Western / folk rock
Lovebettie / alternative pop rock
Nik and the Central Plains / indie garage rock folk
Lohio / indie folk pop
Justin Andrew / folk americana
1,2,3 / indie rock experimental
Chet Vincent and the Big Bend / indie folk rock
Sleep Experiments / ambient dreampop
Sleepy V / indie folk pop
Legs like Tree Trunks / mathrock indie rock
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot / indie rock
The Whiskey Holler / folk roots rock
Mark Dingham / irish singer songwriter
Mother Sun / indie electronic
Atlas / indie rock punk
Wise Blood / indie experimental electronica
Wifebeater! / acoustic folk punk riot grrl
Joy Ike / singer songwriter
Good Night, States / indie pop rock
City Dwelling Nature Seekers / indie folk
The Ceiling Stares / indie psych rock
Gangwish / experimental solocore
Hot Garbage / experimental indie rock
Horse or Cycle / indie rock
Delicious Pastries / indie pop rock
The Long Time Darlings / alternative rock
Slingshot Genius / alternative rock
Satin Gum / indie rock
Run Forever / indie rock
Colonizing the Cosmos / indie cosmic folk rock
Big Snow Big Thaw / newgrass roots americana
Shade Cobain / hip hop experimental nu soul
Ursa Major / indie psych rock jam band
Ivory Weeds / indie experimental folk
The Van Allen Belt / psych pop
The Harlan Twins / indie rock folk
The Armadillos / folk punk americana
The Electric Situation / indie rock
Boulevard of the Allies / acoustic pop rock
Summer-Winter / downtempo folk experimental
Don Caballero / post rock
Modey Lemon / indie rock
Weird Paul / indie eclectic comedy
Brad Yoder / singer songwriter
The Mon River Ramblers / bluegrass folk
Joe Grushecky / Dad rock
The Clarks / Dad Rock
The Grifters / Roots rock folk
Allies / post-punk
The Gotobeds / post-punk
Centipede Eest / psych rock
Kim Phuc / punk
Slices / punk
Brain Handle / hardcore punk
Sports Metaphors / noisy indie rock
Raw Blow / experimental psych pop
Passengers / indie rock
Expensive Shit / experimental electronic
Low Man / stoner punk
The Lopez / rock
Crooked Teeth / poppy punk
Brass Chariot / heavy rock
Smooth Tutors / experimental pop
Action Camp / electronic pop
Carousel / 70′s-inspired hard rock
Sistered / loud heavy rock/punk
Tusk Lord / indie/experimental
Whatever It Takes / punk
Karl Hendricks / indie rock
Dean Cercone / experimental pop
Holy Daze / rock
TM Eye / experimental/electronic
Hunted Creatures / experimental/noise
World’s Scariest Police Chases / punk
American Armada / punk
Rivka / electronic
Le Cachot / indie rock
Ash Dinosaur / indie rock
88 Sex Biz / experimental
Dwarf Fortress / punk/metal
Secret Tombs / heavy rock/punk
Ennui / psych experimental pop
The Shutouts / power pop
Arlo Aldo / singer songwriter folk
Shade / shoegaze indie
Ike / indie shoegaze punk
Psychic Boots / lo-fi pop
The Garment District / synth-pop, experimental psych
Just a quick, broad, all-encompassing disclaimer: None of the photos above are ours and that goes for the music as well. If you’d like credit, just email us, or if that’s not enough, just let us know and we’ll take whatever down. It’s all good.