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.
After witnessing Polvo’s attempt to effectively eviscerate the Brillobox’s monitors last week with an arena-sized version of mathy, progressive rock, and taking what was previously considered a fairly austere and impenetrable genre to somewhat accessible extremes, Chicago quartet Maps & Atlases make their way to the Lawrenceville mainstay (along with hype machine Cults and Laura Stevenson and the Cans) to exhibit yet another permutation of the sound pioneered by the likes of Don Caballero and Slint.
Brandishing a fully developed folk-pop sensibility and technical acumen that would put many groups to shame, Maps & Atlases have cultivated a sound that is both intricate and inviting, incorporating swirling pieces of mathy percussion, rubbery guitar work and head spinning harmonies that slowly evolves into the post-rock equivalent of Fleet Foxes. Continue reading
Wednesday, August 18
– Cave @ Gooski’s
Cave – Gamm
By the time Sunday night rolled around and I found myself plodding up the stairs to the Brillobox’s second floor, I was a fairly large shell of the human that left his office Thursday evening. The weekend was long and wet; the city felt covered in sweat for the better part of 72 hours and I constantly felt the sting of perspiration in my eyes. The crowd felt heavy and many were still drinking booze at 10:30 on a Sunday night; effectively giving the middle finger to the sticky work week ahead.
The room was thick with a haze of… something: irritation, excitement, the collective heat of the city’s black top… I’m not sure. In the middle of this indecipherable urban cloud, We Are Scientists managed to put on a show that hit pleasure centers I either forgot about or didn’t know I have, transplanting me back to 2003 (my senior year ofof high school) when the sound of New York (Interpol, The Strokes, The Rapture) was literally everywhere. The thrashing baselines, stomping percussion and ringing guitars of the Brooklyn three-piece coalesced into a slick, indie-disco shit storm, making the heat of August in Pittsburgh, for one moment at least, an integral piece to a seriously fun night. Continue reading
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.
Satin Gum possess the spirit of golden age indie rock in their bones. The Pittsburgh quartet have unabashedly become the torchbearers for the sound of late 80’s-early 90’s college radio, easily adopting the free wheeling guitar work, three-part harmonies and slacker persona that made bands like The Replacements and Pavement, and Dinosaur Jr. all but synonymous with the adjective “indie” for the better part of a decade. Their 2009 release LP contained flashes of 70’s power pop gloss (re: Big Star, The Flamin Groovies) but tracks like “I Got a D.U.I. Babe” and “Dance Me Home” were ultimately beholden to waves of distortion pitched with melody, quaking with a current of romantic bombast just beneath the surface.
However, the five song blast of their latest release EP 2 completely embraces their American underground roots, passionately evoking patron saints Malkmus, Westerberg and Pollard while churning out one indelible rocker after another. Don’t get me wrong: these songs are not mediocre photo copies of “Cut Your Hair.” I truly believe Satin Gum are men out of time, not merely paying lip service to their influences but embodying them without cynicism or outward pretension. Continue reading
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