It’s taken me a little while to give some attention to Jon Quest who over the course of 2010 has established himself as one of Pittsburgh’s most disciplined and dependable MC’s, readily dispensing effortlessly cool, nostalgic jams recalling the golden years of 90’s East Coast hip-hop. With his latest mix tape The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, JQ makes sure to feature some of the Steel City’s best producers (DJ Vex, Bus-Crates 16-bit Ensemble, Armstead Brown, Big Jerm, Shade Cobain) and MC’s (Beedie, YD, Thelonious Stretch, Ayatollah Jaxx) for what is arguably the most consistent mix tape of the year. Continue reading
Regardless of my undying allegiance to the Pittsburgh music scene, I can’t help but pay attention to any regional acts that are…uh…worth my attention. And with that, we have yet another Morgantown, WV band gracing the pages of speed of the Pittsburgh sound in Fox Japan, who have been making waves across the rustbelt with their angular, paranoid indie punk and the 2010 release of their second full-length Reenactment. “Hate Hate Them” is the album’s track one and is breathless with anxious energy and twitchy guitar lines, showcasing Fox Japan’s slightly unhinged aesthetic. The group plays Morgantown staple 123 Pleasant Street in late September but maybe, just maybe, we can lure them along with Librarians up 79 to play a couple dates in the Steel City.
I couldn’t help posting this absolutely gorgeous song from Pittsburgh’s resident soul goddess Joy Ike to aid in battling a fairly dreary Monday. “Sweeter” is the centerpiece of Ike’s June 2010 release Rumors and touches down like a fleeting dream of positive energy, all a flutter with airy pianos, elastic melodies and the young woman’s classic, trademark croon. Ike is fresh off touring with the 2010 revival of the Lilith Fair and makes her way through Pittsburgh September 21st for Pitt’s annual WPTS day.
Plan Your Week Accordingly: August 23 to August 29
Morgantown, WV natives Librarians released a stunner of an album with Present Passed way back in March, and even found their song “Candy Season” near the top of speed of the Pittsburgh sound’s Top 20 Steel City Tracks of 2009 (due to the fact I picked up their album at a show in late December). The group is currently taking a small hiatus from touring but should be up and running by the fall. In the meantime, here’s another highlight from Present Passed “Hard To Unwind, which pretty much cements Librarians as the rust belt’s Animal Collective. Spacey keyboard lines, crunching synth samples and tribal drum beat swirl into an indie-psychedellic fury as Ryan Hizer’s coolly harmonic vocals keep the track from evaporating. Be sure to keep an eye out for these guys on their next tour through Pittsburgh.
Wednesday, August 18
– Cave @ Gooski’s
Cave – Gamm
Chapel Hill natives Polvo pretty much set the standard for the indie off-shoot known as math rock for the better part of a decade. And while many purveyors of the genre became wrapped up in increasingly intricate and progressive compositions solely because of their difficulty and inaccessibility (as Pittsburgh legends Don Caballero can attest), Polvo managed to infuse even their most complicated songs with the primal, free-wheeling energy of classic hard rock.
Their 2009 release In Prism was their first in twelve years, but clearly showed the Merge stawlwarts had yet to miss a beat. While the release had all of the genre’s signifiers intact (alternative guitar tunings, jacked up time signatures, eight minute plus tracks), present was an atmosphere of loose improvisation and spacey, psychedelic expansion. Regardless, the show the this Thursday at the Brillobox plans to be quite the head trip with these pioneers of math rock still capable of melting faces and local rockers The Ceiling Stares and new comers Broughton’s Rules filling out the bill.
Pittsburgh psych-poppers The Van Allen Belt really enjoy keeping the start value for difficulty high; between the mesmerizing, serpentine melodies of lead singer Tamar Kamin’s otherworldly croon and the group’s everything-but-the-kitchen-sink performance style, “Lovely in Akron,” off the group’s 2010 full-length release Superpowerfragilis, is anything but simple. The track easily encapsulates influences from forty years of pop music, evoking anything from the Euro indie-pop bombast of Jens Lekman to the symphonic swells of The Ronnettes, and doing it multiple times in less than three minutes. The linchpin of the entire operation remains Kamin’s voice, a sultry expansion of Zooey Dechanel’s detached song: insouciant but playful, opulent yet controlled.
The fact of the matter is Christopher Laufman, a.k.a. Wise Blood, is blowing up. From the small interview with Pittsburgh Music Report to serious attention from taste making blogs and beyond, the Houston transplant, and current Pittsburgh resident, has found himself signed to boutique indie label Heart Music Group. Mr. Laufman’s first download ready EP “+” was responsible for all those wave across the interwebs, and now the man himself returns with an upcoming release set for August 16th.
The first track to fall off the playlist for the new ep is the is the caps-riddled, neo-soul slow burn “2 ALL THE GIRLS WHO HAVE TRUSTED ME.” After the smooth jam head rush samples that defined “B.I.G. E.G.O.” and “STRT SRNS,” Laufman slows things down with a billowy beat and bringing his pensive, ladykiller vocals front and center. It’s a summer daydream of a song, beautiful, sincere and soulful. It ends with the simple lament, “My heart goes out to all the girls who have trusted me.” Pay attention people, this kid’s the real deal.
Plan Your Week Accordingly: August 9 to August 15