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The Black Crowes and Tedeschi Trucks Band Serve Up The Concert Of The Year

Pittsburgh has lured a lot of spectacular acts this year.  It seems that the concert list is filled with cool eclectic new acts and road tested proven rockers.  Last night at Stage AE, Pittsburgh was treated to sonic experience like no other I’ve seen. The night opened with fairly new rockers to the scene, NYC’s The London Souls (see review here). Followed by heavy hitting southern blues trailblazers The Tedeschi Trucks Band and The Black Crowes.

TTB kicked off the celebration by filling the stage with an 11 piece band which included a horn section. Fronted by the husband wife team of Tedeschi and Trucks. Susan Tedeschi may have one of the most soulful and beautiful voices in the business today.  She is a relaxed performer with all the tools to wield a sweet sounding guitar to accompany her aforementioned singing.  Derek Trucks delivers the Sonny Boy Williamson slide blues style better than anybody in the business.  I guess we’ll find out when Warren Haynes takes the same stage with Government Mule September 18th.

 

“Midnight In Harlem” was beautifully performed and Susan T added a little rasp to the honey.  She continued to get better as she went on.  The crowd got amped when Trucks started a call and answer run around with the horn section. He may have even smiled as he is not one to show much emotion. It all comes from his hands and trusty Gibson SG.

Georgia’s prodigal sons, The Black Crowes came out of a puff of smoke with old staple numbers from “Shake Your Money Maker” their platinum debut record. A hard hitting “Jealous Again” and “Thick and Thin” woke the crowd up from their soft southern nap and had people scurrying back from the beer lines.  Drummer Steve Gorman drove TBC hard through the first half of the set which sounded like viral Humble Pie live at The Fillmore.

By the time they got to “Soul Singing” they were ready to let it out and take everyone on a hippy infused Dead-trip. Jackie Greene brings a stinging psychedelic flavor to TBC. He and Rich Robinson wove a groovy sound that sent Chris Robinson to new heights. His voice was masterful on this night as he danced and plodded alongside bassist Sven Pipien. There only break was an acoustic version of “She Talks To Angels” with Jackie Greene on the mandolin. The Crowes then opened the pen to a string of hits which included “Thorn In My Pride”, “Sting Me” and “Remedy”. Somewhere in the magic, keyboardist Adam MacDougall had some spectacular solos and fills that had the crowd in dance mode. The evening’s next highlight was the “Hard To Handle- Hush” medley which had the whole place spinning like a scene at a pagan festival.

The encore was a special moment.  The sound was spot on and only could be improved by being joined by Tedeschi and Trucks.  The southern blues rock all-stars crushed a cool version of Joe Tex’s “Show Me” (see vid below of the tune) with Trucks standing side by side with TBC primary songwriter Rich Robinson. Rich and Derek were having a ball trading licks and glances of approval. Susan T and Chris Robinson harmonized through chorus sections and brought the soul to new stratospheric levels.  The show closed with a blinder of a cut, “Turn On Your Lovelight” by Bob Bland where the band twisted and turned with ferocious grooves and syncopated solos.

 

The post show chatter through the parking lot was all the same. People smiling and shaking their heads in awe of the performance shared at Stage AE. The double bill of TTB and TBC prove to be one of the best of the summer. We can only hope they return.

Set List

Rob Eldridge 

PMM> Editor in Chief > Writer > Photographer

Pittsburgh Please Welcome…….The London Souls

NYC based trio, The London Souls fought off Pittsburgh’s rush hour traffic to arrive just in time to support The Black Crowes and Tedeschi-Trucks Band at Stage AE.  Taking the stage at 6pm, The London Souls ripped though a 30 minute set filled with older hits and newer gems from their upcoming new record “Here Come The Girls” slated for an early winter release.

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The guys came out swinging opening their set with a power rhythmic number “Steady Are You Ready” followed by an ultra sweet rendition of  “Honey”.  Singer-guitarist Tash Neal pushed his apple red Gibson through a beat up Vox amp, serving up warm dirty tones for drummer Chris St. Hilaire to drive to the very engaged crowd. By the time they got to “I Think I Like It” Pittsburgh already did.  Paying witness to a happy head-bobbing crowd with absolute no regard for the steady drizzle, I noticed people were asking around “who are these guys again?”.

The London Souls are Tash Neal – gtr-vox, Chris St. Hilaire – drums, vox and Stu Mahan – bass. Their sound could best be described as melodically charged riff rock with blues progressions and a super energetic rhythm section.

I was fortunate to catch up with the guys after the show to chat about where they are and where they’re going. Trust me folks…..these guys are going to lofty places.

I will be reviewing their new CD real soon. Don’t miss them when they return with Umphrey’s McGee at Stage AE on Oct. 25th.  I will be covering this show and will continue to provide updates from this very promising band.

 

KR-3 Drops “Fractures And Sparks” And We Are Happier For It.

Just south of us in the Mountain State of WV there is a busy sound lab.  KR-3 are the technicians (Tim Boyd – guitar, vocals…Shane Lundy – guitar, vocals…Travis Hoard – keyboard, vocals…Ian Varlas – bass…Steve Fullerton – drums). They make way cool music and their latest concoction “Fractures and Sparks” has dropped on the public lap.

We all dig comparisons because it gives us a reference starting point.  Using the new record I’ll give you my best interpretation of KR-3.  Songwriter-guitar player Tim Boyd sings like Richard Thompson and KR-3 draws similarities to the Swedish band, ‘The Soundtrack Of Our Lives” and flirts with “Phish” stylistically.

The title track, “Fractures and Sparks” kicks off the trip.  A cool running piano line reminiscent of early Phish records meshes nicely with the Boyd-Lundy guitar combo. It’s a hippy solemn number and a wise choice to bring you into KR-3 lands. Once you’re in, “Agora Honey” is the meeting place, with funky guitars, washed out licks and electric piano lines from Travis Hoard. Fullerton and Varlas are a workmanlike rhythm section so careful when you look under the hood…it might be a bit toasty.  “The Bardo Of Becoming” and “Down” dovetail nicely together with “Down” offering their strongest chorus hook and radio potential.

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“Grime” turns a corner sonically bringing choppy clean tele-strat sounds, a groovy bassline and Boyd singing in a higher voicing or maybe a guest singing spot here from one of the guys. There’s a difference between being a straight jam band and songwriter act. KR-3 does a bang-up job bridging the both. “Jailbreak” leans toward the songwriter side and really sounds like a Trey Anastasio penned tune. Quirky in its presentation and eventually building into a cool outro ending. “Old Man, Young Man” starts off with a dirtier guitar sound and lacks the warmth the other tracks do but works nonetheless with its Neil Young-like chorus.

The oxymoronic “Desert Is An Ocean” sounds like a B-Side track and introduces a little brass with some sax fills. Boyd appears to whisper this one out and not bring the confidence he does with the previous takes. It’s a well written song but could’ve used a little more special attention. The acoustic based “Metaphor Man” rises up with organ swells and gets KR-3 back on track with the earlier brilliance. The vocals again could use strength with an extra db in the mix to bolster the hook.  Fractures and Sparks closes out with “The Last Glass”. Good ideas throughout this tune especially in the middle section breakdown with some killer Dead-ish guitar work from Boyd and Lundy.

KR-3 should learn a few things from this release. First being they can write some formidable songs and secondly they have ear candy sounds.  Personally, I would’ve released “Fractures And Sparks” as an EP. The first 5 songs are worthy and will withstand the test in the music critic arena.  In early conversations with guitar player Shane Lundy I learned KR-3 records almost all their tracks independently. This is a luxury and occasionally a burden. Luxury being that you’re not feeling the pressure of hourly rates and creativity can flourish. The disadvantage of being an artist/producer is switching hats.  In the process some songs change fingerprints and don’t fit with others due to engineering differences, EQ-ing and timing. I foresee KR-3 making great records as they plod along and continue to put on stellar live performances. Great musicians that love to play never fail. KR-3 is here to stay.

I caught with KR-3 and tossed a few questions at them and they hit it outta the park!!

Q: Can you give us a “rig run-down”?  (guitars, bass, drums, keys, amps, pedals and gear) We love these!!

A: Tim plays a 2012 American Strat through a modified 74 Fender Twin fitted with Weber California speakers. His pedal board includes cheap Chinese knockoffs (a Biyang Tone Fancier and Joyo 808 clone) as well as classic pedals (a 72 Colorsound wah, Carl Martin kick/boost, BBE Two-timer and a Korg sdd 1000 racked). Shane prefers a Gibson Midtown played through a 72 Fender Twin fitted with Weber Chicago speakers. His pedals include a JHS Superbolt, TS-9, MXR boost and Korg SDD 1200 dual delay. The Admiral plays a Ludwig kit with a 60’s Slingerland snare.Travis plays a Yamaha MO-8 and a 70’s Fender Rhodes. Ian uses a Fender Jazz bass played through a BBE Sonic Maximizer and Ampeg SVT IV Pro head.

Q: I’m impressed with your melodic sensibility. Who brings the ideas to KR-3 or do you guys just belly up and start writing together?

A: We have no working formula for how songs are written or how pieces come together. Sometimes the songs are written to near completetion by members of the band, other times ideas come from jam sessions.

Q: What new or old music have you been listening to?

A: We’ll just go ahead and confess that we’ve been listening to tons of Dead shows. How about that Playin’ from Tampa 73? Perfect for watching the Appalachian mountains drift by from the comfort of our van.

Q: Who were your childhood rocker heroes?

A: Most of us we’re huge fans of Kurt Cobain and Lou Reed.

Q: “Fractures and Sparks” is a mind bender record. When did you realize it’s potential and begin formalize the idea to package the project.

A: Fractures was the album that almost stayed on the hard drive. It was completed in the basic stages in July of 2012 with Alex Wudarski on bass, Eric Stone on drums, Tim Boyd on guitar and vocals and Travis Hoard on keys and vocals. When Wudarski and Stone departed, the album was shelved. It was brought out of hiding and the bass was retracked by Tim who also added a second guitar. The final version of Fractures features only two members of the current KR-3 lineup, Tim and Travis.

Q: Do you have any goals in the upcoming years that might blow our minds?

A: We’re already back in the studio working on a new record. It also appears we’ll be seeing a lot of the US as we prepare to tour.

Q: How do you like Pittsburgh guys?

A: The City itself is beautiful and has a lot of potential. The music scene is locked down by a grouping of greedy promoters who are willing to stifle artistic processes in the name of money. (this will make for some interesting conversations w artists and promoters moving forward)

Q: What band would you guys like to tour with?

A: Led Zeppelin.

KR-3 is a 5 piece original Psychedelic Jam Rock band hailing from Wheeling, West Virginia. Since their foundation was built-in 2004, KR-3 has played more than 200 mind bending shows, sharing the stage with artists like Tim Reynolds, The Pimps of Joytime, Kofi Burbridge, John the Conqueror, and many others.The band’s sound is a soul grabbing, mind expanding, psychedelic, funk, and blues inspired jam, mixed with prevailing three-part vocal harmonies, which you can hear all throughout their latest album “Fractures and Sparks” and at their live shows.

Besides playing music festivals through the Northeast alongside notable artists such as Rusted Root, The Werks, and Ekoostic Hookah, KR-3 is currently touring up and down the East coast of the United States playing to packed houses hundreds of miles outside of their hometown. KR-3 has a supernatural ability to improvise together as one brain. With the powerful and moving lyrics of Tim Boyd, strong vocal harmonies of Shane Lundy and Travis Hoard, raging guitar solos over the power and energy this band’s rhythm section puts forth during each live performance, leaves audiences yearning for more.

Rob Eldridge – Writer/Editor

PMM

The Wheals Realize It’s “Diamond Time”

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Hey Pittsburgh! Guess what? You probably have family or close friends that know something about the mining business. And we’ve all heard that the Steel City produced a ton of coal back in the day. Some say diamonds, renowned as a material with superlative physical qualities, most of which originate from the strong bonding between its atoms come from coal.  Needless to say, there’s been a covalent bonding occurring between men for the past 8 years.  These particular guys have called their experience “The Wheals”.

The Wheals strive to transcend a genre specific definition. Elements of reggae, gospel, folk, rock and country illustrate the band’s sound. The Wheals, with their new release, “Diamond Time” display refreshing originality as well as mature musicianship.

The Wheals are Joe Piacquadio– guitar, vocals, Brad Barron– bass, guitar, vocals, TJ Connolly-bass, guitar, vocals, Jere Bucek-drums, vocals, and Jake Breiding-keyboard, guitar, vocals.

Stream their new record here.

Diamond Time Favs:

“8 Mile Shuffle”- great openers, bar room feel w honky tonk piano and horn swells, being a huge Dr. John fan this tune does it for me, little Jersey southside-jukey feel too with sax stabs and nice guitar work…..”just a little bit of muscle and little bit of hustle that’s all”

“Unknown Energy” and “Heavy”- reggae swag, with Santana flavor from the guitars, ole organ sounds plowing away!

“Rain On The Rooftop”- “every time you pack your suitcase and leave town it’s like rain on my rooftop…” great lyrics and vocal take on this number. This is a songwriter’s gem.  The fact that WYEP wouldn’t play this track (or any of these for that matter) blows my mind.  #missingthemusic

“Sorry Baby”- pedal steel madness, taking a page out of a Levon Helms book.  I want to hear the vocal charge a bit more. Southern stylistically with country chops. “Oh Momma” snuggles up real nice with previous track “she picked up my head and she showed me the way …she brought back a life that I once tossed away”

“Witness”-  texas style blues attitude, soul rich guitars, lazy groove, give me another whiskey. “Livin Lovin Lyin Dyin Bossman” – western rockabilly, slide guitars and a swindler singing a good old story.

“Jody Was A Player” – I’m hearing some J Geils phrasing vocally and rich changes.

I really dig The Wheals. I’m not really familiar with older material but suspect this a more mature effort from the guys.  They obviously are collective in the songwriting process. There is no instrument out of place or leading the charge.  This album is made up of good damn songs man the only way records should be made!

Check them out!

CD Release Party @ Club Cafe June 22!

Rob Eldridge

PMM

Black Keys “Tighten Up” Their Grip In Pittsburgh

Real old electric blues had a specific tonality and sound. Robert Johnson, Muddy and even Buddy Guy didn’t have any Bonamassa, or Hendrix “Red House” tones, like any of the big “blues” guys today. Missing was the “Dumble” sound or any of what I would call contemp-blues tones in their guitars. Doyle Bramhall III maybe one of the few guys that goes back and forth between contemp-blues and old electric-blues along with Clapton.

Ole school electric-blues is thin in it’s presentation. Auerbach steals a page out of SRV’s book when we discuss tone…obviously not style or even choice in guitar for that matter. Auerbach is the king of “dumble” sounding blues. Influencing new hitters like Gary Clark Jr. I always refer to his really cool rig rundown being a player myself. Gotta love the squishy tweed deluxe Japanese fuzz-wah sounds.

The guitar in those bands (often with piano, mouth harp, or other instruments in the mix) just totally stood out. Dan Auerbach is a traditionalist and fails to completely conform to modern blues sounds. Many people were confused with the muffled sound of his guitar.  People who know The Black Keys realize this is the palette that Auerbach paints from and we dig it!

Nobody seems to go for that sound anymore. Yet a lot of covers of the originals do it with a more mid-rangy, chirpy, OD sound. In fact, a lot of the old electric blues wasn’t even close to being in OD territory.  This territory was fantastic when Carney and Auerbach went two piece during the early middle part of the show doing down home versions of Thickfreakness, Girl On My Mind and Your Touch.

I can see where in today’s world, we have changed our tastes, and it could wear thin over a whole set, but for those of us “chasing the tone”, it might be a cool idea, for authentic blues sound, to play a couple of songs on the bridge pickup, and let the bass and drums (and maybe piano) cover the low and mid ranges. This would be my only complaint after watching The Black Keys rip it up last night at Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh PA.

Tempo discussion was also thrown around the crowd. Patrick Carney always charges out of the gates like a bull at Pampalona.  He leads and very rarely follows. So when Auerbach starts most of the songs you have an unpredictable dichotomy between chase and follow.  Now don’t be misled by my observations which tend to be highly critical when analyzing live music. I truly loved this show and everything about it.  The magic is never lost in their set which is listed below (thx to “Setlist“).

Little Black Submarines was a highlight for a lot of people starting off with great acoustic sound similar to the record and eventually morphing into it’s muscle flexing power rock ending.  The rest of the set lived up to it’s billing and The Black Keys deserve the success they’ve garnered in the past 3 years. They’ve always seemed to carry that blue collar swagger with them and they truly appreciate their fan base.

The rule being that if you really dig at least 3 releases from a band you may be hooked. I loved the Magic Potion CD the first time I heard it and everything they put out after it.  I guess we must concede the fact that Ohio is the home of one of the best bands from the rust belt.  Maybe there’s another Black Keys in the making, in some basement in Pittsburgh. We can only hope.  But, I have a feeling that those guys from Akron will be around for a long time.

All photos ©2013 AWeldingphoto and Pittsburgh Music Magazine

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Early Spring Trifecta With Fletcher, The End Men & Land Lines

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Team Clermont-Fletcher began in early 2012 as a basement project between English brothers Oscar and Harvey Baker and their Chicagoan friend Tom Fry. Since then, the group has been steadily creating an incredible buzz as one of rock music’s new, relevant acts. The band has developed a strand of new-age British Rock with quirky melodies and brain tingling music. Insisting on sticking to a three-piece, Fletcher has created a vigorous and chemistry-driven connection between each member.

Their release details have a hard time comparing them to other acts, as their sound is so different. They’ve heard names such as The Flaming Lips, Arctic Monkeys, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, The Kooks, Kings of Leon, The Strokes – but nobody can quite figure their influence. They like it that way evidently. Oscar Baker might not be the rock star that Johnny Borrell is but his vocals are easily on par. There is a coy appeal to their sound and delivery and you can def hear the resemblences to The Artic Monkeys and Razorlight.  I’ll stop here with the references and let you hear for yourself. I’m in queue for the this April 9th self release date and hope to review the entire record then.

 

The End Men start off Play With Your Toys” by Cleaning Your Mind. The first track is a haunting chant with the unmistakeable voice of singer-songwriter Matthew Hendershot delivering a lecture to get your head right.  Now Hendershot’s voice has been compared to Tom Waits which I can accept.  He’s a crooner that showcases his sound via the two piece approach in live settings. He is joined by the very talented Livia Ranalli on drums, percussions, toys, vox, other noise makers.

Sound likes: warm fuzzed out guitars, great acoustic boomy drums, grooving purposeful bass lines, raspy storytelling vox, interesting song arrangements, unpredictable, stellar percussive ideas.

 

The Brooklyn based duo have a devilish lure about them. Hendershot channels a villain storyteller from a Disney movie who’d do well in pairing with filmmaker Tim Burton to create a gloomy storyboard. Track 4 “Into The Mine” is a fascinating composition that projects a male version of Cinderella’s Lady Tremaine or maybe a down and out Jafar sitting on some rolled up oriental rugs smoking squares in beat up attire.

 

The End Men are garage-rock pioneers on a time warp circus tour telling warm sounding stories. Forget the snake oil people this is as real as it gets. Play With Your Toys is your spring-summer BBQ soundtrack.

Land Lines is a Colorado based strings band. The players are Martina Grbac, Anna Mascorella and Ross Harada. Their 11 track release under the same name is a collection of very live sounding works.

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Sounds like: bright tamborines, cellos, two part female harmonies, plucked strings a very different sound from bowing, short and percussive rather than sustained-pizzicato, straight ahead songs, militant drumming, bells.

I especially like their very acoustic sound sans electricity.  Martina Grbac’s voice carries the tonality of Dolores O’Riordan‘s. The approach is very safe in terms of progression. They tend to stay in the same key too much for my liking.  I keep waiting for the sonic palette to change and would love to hear some electronica somewhere underneath it all. The trio makes up for these simple shortcomings with very dynamic songs and vocals. They appear to be happy with “instruments, books and hot water” and what else do you really need right?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Black Francis & Reid Paley Breathe Fresh Air Into Club Cafe

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Black Francis Set List w Special Guest Reid Paley
  1. (Pixies song)
  2. (Gary Green cover)
  3. (Pixies song)

Read a very cool interview by Pittsburgh Post’s Scott Mervis with Reid Paley here.

Sandpaper Eyebrow’s Clockwork Utopia Has Time On It’s Side

Tick-tock, check the dial please…come in come in. I’m locked in my place with bells from a schoolgirls jewelry box. “Feel like I’ve been here before….feels like I walked through that door…..here in my head, here in my head”. “Electric Eye”, the second track on “Sandpaper Eyebrow’s” new full length release “Clockwork Utopia“, (Tuppence A Bag Records) takes you through a game of musical chairs. One minute you’re listening to fuzzed-out guitars meandering through organ sounds only to be dropped into a melodic acoustic holding pattern. Evidently, the key idea in Sandpaper’s minds-eye was dynamics. 

Initiating most adventurous ideas is a man or woman hidden behind a curtain. We all saw the Wizard Of Oz right? Well songwriter, David Georgiou has momentarily left his keyboards post with KingBathMat to handle all instrument duties on “Clockwork Utopia”, a 9 track synth-metal banger that sounds like an old Tommy Iommi demo CD. I keep waiting waiting for Ozzy’s voice. Georgiou’s guitar work isn’t on par with Iommi’s but let’s own up and understand not many guitarist are. The comparisons to Sabbath are in the sense of sound.  “Clockwork” does sound like a tracked but functional record. Meaning that there’s spots where the song staves off the prog groove, but human magic brings a sense realness to the songs.  The performance feels cared about, but would certainly benefit from the energy generated from a group or partial band recording.

“Ozone” is an eight minute jam that dabbles in vocal pitch tweaks and autotune segments. The song plods along on a ride cymbal carpet ride with phased out fills and warm metal guitar chords. This track is the strongest and could be best described as a heavy version of the band Elbow.  This is the direction Georgiou needs to go as he proves to be fully capable behind the knobs and engineering controls. He cleverly includes several sub-two minute interludes throughout, that nicely frame well arranged progressive explorations.

Kingbathmat’s frontman, John Bassett, lends his vocals on “Electric Eye” and “Ozone”. Rob Watts sings on “Clockwork Utopia” and Ishan Ladak on “To Nowhere”. There’s something to learned by the guest vocalist on this record. Basset’s experience brings an added strength to the Sandapaper Eyebrow CD. Georgiou will discover a much needed identity by having someone of Bassett’s caliber singing on future configurations. When he finds his “Ozzy” he’ll grow wings and elevate his promise and look back upon his footprints to map out another prog-adventure. One thing Sandpaper Eyebrow has is a budding young songwriter that’s fearless in his attempts to bring neo-metal prog rock back to the south shores of the UK.

Let’s go ahead and ask the man himself about his project shall we…

Upon completion of Clockwork Utopia what would you have done differently?
I think I would have just done more to it, I would have put in a few more songs and put a bit more effort into the final album. The album is mainly about time and time is one thing I didn’t have a lot of while I was recording the album.
I hear a lot of promise with The Sandpaper Eyebrows. Have you considered a permanent line-up with an experienced singer?
Yes, I tried to work with a few different singers during 2012 as I was trying to find the album sound I wanted, most of them either were too far away to be a permanent singer or were already in bands. I was planning to do a bit of singing myself on the second album, to make things easier for myself so as soon as I have an idea for a song I can just get straight onto recording it in my own time. I most likely will not like the sound of my own voice, so I will be looking for a more experienced singer who I can work with in the second album and for live shows.
How has your experience with KingBathmat shaped you as a songwriter?
Massively. I recorded the bonus demo track “To Nowhere” before I had joined KingBathmat and that was a huge fail. A month or two later I started recording little bits of what turned out to be Electric Eye, which I really wasn’t happy with and didn’t like very much, but I decided to post samples on Soundcloud anyway. This was just after I joined KingBathmat. I asked John at a practice if he’d be happy to record some vocals for a Sandpaper Eyebrows track. He then came back to me later to say that he had listened to the track I had recorded and that he’s come up with a vocal melody to it. After I had the final vocal recording and started putting the song together I decided to add the instrumental bass riff / guitar riff bit.  He then gave me a few tips on mixing and mastering for a few other tracks which I think may have saved the album from being completely un-listenable. 
I do realize that a lot of the tracks sound similar to KingBathmat, this is probably due to John featuring on a few tracks. I have a feeling that the second Sandpaper Eyebrows album will be quite a lot different in the way it sounds.
Please explain your goals with The Sandpaper Eyebrows and Tuppence A Bag Records.
I’d like to, by the end of 2013, have a full band for The Sandpaper Eyebrows and get gig ready. Then I will write songs with the band and see what sound suits us all. 2012 has probably been the worst year for me time wise, I’ve had no spare time to do anything really, I’d like to spend more time on Tuppence A Bag Records establishing a name, we are looking into working with a distribution company to get UK distribution physically and digitally very soon.
Describe the music scene in the southern region of England and how it changes as you proceed into London.
Well, in Hastings there are so many different types of genre and musical styles flying about the whole town, there’s anything from rock, pop punk, ska, acoustic to dubstep-metal. There is so much music constantly in Hastings but no one seems to buy albums anymore, at all. People take what they can if it’s free or very cheap, I think that’s mainly why the album is only £3. 
Writer & Editor, PMM
Photographer

A Couple Of Gems To Kick Off 2013

Night Moves– Colored Emotions

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I was hooked on the initial “sell comparisons”.  A sell comparison ( I made this term up btw) is a short sentence or description sent to a blogger or reviewer, like myself, that compares the band your about to hear to a more popular band. In Night Moves case the bands used were Supertramp, MGMT, and Gram Parsons. After sifting through the press I read some cool write ups about this Minneapolis band.  I hear the MGMT comparisons immediately with the high reverb soaked vocals by John Pelant. That’s where I’d stop because personally Night Moves are more interesting than MGMT.

Their worn leather psychedelic saloon sound digs it’s heels deep in your head.  If Mercury Rev were to write a cowboy theme record they’d come up with Colored Emotions After three spins I’m still listening for the Supertramp comparisons. This would be a tough sell for me being a huge Supertramp fan. Maybe the unique arrangements they portray would garner such common ground but otherwise I don’t hear it.

This record sounds like it was conceived out of Dave Fridmann’s sound lab, Tarbox Road Studios (MGMT, Mercury Rev, Tame Impala, Flaming Lips).  After a furthur research I learned it was beautifully recorded by John Miller and mixed by Thom Monaghan (who’s done some fantastic work with Black Crowes frontman, Chris Robinson and the Beachwood Sparks).

Night Moves is John Pelant (guitars/vocals), Micky Alfano (bass) and Mark Ritsema (multi-instrumentalist) and will be joined by drummerJared Isabella for the tour. The band has been named “Best New Band” by Minneapolis City Pages and received praise from the likes of NPR MusicSPINBullettMagnetMinneapolis Star Tribune and more. They’ve also been getting steady airplay on public radio’s most esteemed stations including KCRW (Los Angeles), KEXP(Seattle), The Current (Minneapolis) and WXPN(Philadelphia).

3 Stars *** (if had two more songs as solid as Headlights it would’ve pushed the 4 star range….so again a very STRONG 3 stars)

Onward Chariot: This Is My Confession

onward chariot

A very daring record from a theatrical classical-pop hybrid songwriter named Ben Morss. Conceptual mind set and full steam ahead. Morss is able to guide this project into a realm where Ben Folds meets Paul Revere and the Raiders. This record is perfect for the ADHD music aficionado who enjoys a flip flop between modern production and vintage instruments with sweeping vocal hooks. Every songwriter is searching for a hook, and in this case melodies abound, so much so that they can barely be contained. Kudos to Ben Morss, Dan Davine, Shawn Setaro, and Rus Wimbish for this very stylistic record. Love the organs sounds man!!

3 Stars *** (this one is pushing the 4 star range….so a very STRONG 3 stars)

Rob Eldridge

Writer & Photographer, PMM

The Eldge Rating Scale: 

1 Star > pass on it  

2 Stars > couple good cuts

3 Stars > explore this one  

4 Stars > purchase it  

5 Stars > never leaves your side

 

Bear In Heaven and Snowmine Heat Up Brillobox

Brooklyn, New York sent vistors to Pittsburgh Tuesday night when Bear In Heaven and Snowmine shared the stage.  The cold and ice was met head on with a solid 2.5 hours of lush-laden guitars and electronica. Snowmine opened the night with a syncopated echo driven pop set best described as a junior varsity version of the British powerhouse Keane. Fronted by keyboardist, Grayson Sanders, who seemed very appreciative of the warm reception the Brillobox crowd gave Snowmine.

 

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During the Snowmine soundcheck I had a chance to catch up with singer Jon Philpot, guitar/bassist Adam Wills and drummer Joe Stickney of Bear In Heaven. We discussed a variety of topics including their 24 hours in Pittsburgh, a trip to Russia, meeting Bob Mould and recording I Love You, It’s Cool.

Listen to our chat.

Bear In Heaven did not disappoint with an electric sample-loop driven set hitting the mark with tracks from their latest release.  Joe Stickney was the evening’s workhorse plowing through the set with Brooklyn swag. Philpot handled the loop add-ins and ambient keys. His voice soared with a slew of effects over top the steering groove eloquently played by Adam Wills. My bet is the Brillobox might not accommodate the overzealous interest generated by BIH. Catch you next time guys….in a much bigger venue. Save travels!

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Rob Eldridge

PMM > Writer & Photographer

 

 

Tea Leaf Green & Tumbleweed Wanderers Will Bring Americana To Mr. Smalls Feb 16th.

PMM’s Rob Eldridge will be on assignment to cover to very cool California bands: Tea Leaf Green and Tumbleweed Wanderers. See bio summaries below.

It ain’t easy being a gypsy, especially if one sings for their supper.  San Francisco’s Tea Leaf Green are newfangled Lost Boys, a traveling gang dedicated to seeking wisdom and experience in places both glorious and seedy.  In many ways, this quintet is the essence of rock’s adventurous, playfully outlaw spirit, all of which ultimately fuels songs that resonate with classic vibrations, open-ended possibilities and radio-ready charm.  TLG are bruised romantics with heavy minds and a lighthearted way with experimentation, as likely to jam out a number as they are to nail a primo verse-verse-chorus pop gem.

 

Oakland, California’s Tumbleweed Wanderers combine soul, folk, and rock and roll to create a hugely dynamic musical experience. They weave through their shows with smooth transitions, bringing the listener from dark chaotic banjo-rock, through intimate acoustic harmonies, to energetic explosions of soul.

Since forming in April of 2011, TW have been bringing their electric shows to an increasingly wider audience, from their early performances at small bars and cafes, to becoming a major local headliner, selling out shows at the Bay Area’s best venues such as Great American Music Hall and Bottom of the Hill. Since recording their debut full-length album, they have entered a period of near constant touring, starting on the West Coast, but now including all of North America, most recently opening for Angus Stone at renowned venues in the US and Canada.

 

PMM Names Top 5 Alt Rock Records Of 2012

PMM-December 28th 2012
Here they are folks. My Top 5 Releases of 2012. I’ve included links to other critic reviews and big hitter reviews. Be mindful that these are my specific keepers and they don’t represent my fellow PMMer’s (Alan, Kait and Fritz) opinions.
1) Dr. John – Locked Down – with the help of Dan Auerbach Dr. John releases his grooviest record in years. 

Dr. John

2) Jack White – Blunderbuss – A heart-wrenching rocker. Jack delivers on all fronts.

blunderbuss

3) Frank Ocean – Channel Orange– Outside the box neo-psychedelic soul with street cred. If this is hip-hop then Frank Ocean has changed the channel.

channel-orange

4) Divine Fits – A Thing Called the Divine Fits – This record is killer…..42 and 1/2 minutes of such topics as “the death of true love, hitchhiking, cocoa butter, emotional distance, what happens when the curtain drops, and Minneapolis, MN”. Fronted by Spoon’s Britt Daniels.

a-thing-called-the-divine-fits

http://vimeo.com/47464480

5) Deep Sea Diver – History Speaks– read our full review here: http://pittsburghmusicmagazine.com/2012/09/02/deep-sea-diver-finds-the-pearl-with-history-speaks/

dsd

Honorable Mentions:

Bob Dylan – Tempest

Neil Young and Crazy Horse – Psychedelic Pill

Gary Clark Jr. – Blak & Blu

Tame Impala – Lonerism

Alabama Shakes – Boys & Girls

Grizzly Bear – Shields

Bill Fay – Life Is People

The Lumineers – The Lumineers

The Shins – Port of Morrow

Dr. Dog – Be The Void

 

PMM- Editor/Photographer – Rob Eldridge

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Steelesque Signs With UK Label Tuppence A Bag Records!

We are pleased to announce that Steelesque signed with Tuppence A Bag Records, East Sussex, England and set a physical release date for “Johnny on the Spot” exclusive to the UK in mid 2013! Discussions surrounding a new EP or even a debut full length CD are in the works. Thanks to David and everyone TAB Records for supporting steel-city music!

tuppence.label

IAMDYNAMITE Likes Pittsburgh’s Beards and Girls With Tattoos

Unfortunately I missed IAMDYNAMITE when they came through Pittsburgh in November because of the head cold that melted my head. Luckily those who attended the show at Altar Bar had their heads melted with a raucous spectacle.  Any comments from people that attended the show would be appreciated. The grapevine produced raved reviews.

Love this video by the guys!

I was able to catch up with Guitarist Christopher Martin (CM) and Drummer Chris Phillips (CP) via email to get a better understanding of what IAMDYNAMITE is all about.  I realize I’m only scratching the surface with these cats but you’ll be more informed by the interview below…

At what point did you guys decide to have a go as a two piece?

CM: we were in your typical, not so good local rock band and we hated it.  Our songs were long, poorly played, not well written and not well sung, playing in small clubs with shitty p.a.’s and uncaring sound guys who hated their lives. Some bands can still make that exciting with Passion and energy, but we didn’t. In other words: We were boring. We were tedious. We didn’t like watching bands like that, let alone being a band like that. So it was time for some change.  If the sound at the clubs was going to be shitty, then why don’t we just get rid of all the extra instruments. What matters most is the human voice. The melody. And to make people move how we wanted we needed powerful and simple drums. Much easier to cut through a bad pa with only those things. The guitar provides another source of rhythm and dynamics, and also gives the melodies harmonic context. Done deal!

(for C.Martin) Guitar players are typically apprehensive about not having other musicians to accompany them. Did you spend a lot of time getting your rig together for live shows to get that big sound?

CM: Not really, my rig back then was already capable of filling up the low end pretty well. Some amps and setups obviously may not work as well as others.

(for C.Martin) Can you give us a “rig run-down”? We love these!!

CM: A rig run-down, eh? Okay.. first off, my rig is pretty ghetto. My amp head is usually kept upside down because the tubes keep falling out and I was too lazy to have someone to fix it. I LOVE hollow or semi-hollow guitars. They don’t look as RAWK, but I think they sound amazing. That said, my rig:

Guitars: gretsch hollowbody and an ibanez artcore w/ gibson classic 57 pickups

Amp: Early 70s fender bassman head

Mesa boogie 2×12 cab

Pedals: just a Big Muff tone wicker, that allows you to bypass the tone knob.

CP: why cant i answer this one? Yamaha oak…. sabian cymbals and a 27in wuhan

(for C.Martin) I’m impressed with your melodic sensibility. Do you bring the idea to Chris Phillips and complete the song or do you guys just belly up and start writing together?

CM: I come up with a “song”, usually 3 or 4 melodies with rough guitar parts. It’s mostly an outline. We jam on it, take it apart, argue, play it live, rewrite the lyrics, add harmonies, play it live again, argue some more, demo it and change it all around again, then play it live, and then continue this process until its time to make a real record. Even then we still fiddle with songs after the record comes out.

(for C. Martin) What new or old music have you been listening to? 

CM: Neil young’s “after the gold rush”, I really love purity ring’s album, baroness… teenage Jesus and the jerks, which I had never listened to until recently. I never really listened to no wave, but i love the pure raw energy of it.

(for Chris Phillips) Who were your childhood rocker heroes? 

CP: Bonham for his power and his grace. he was a basher on the drums but still nobody could touch his playing. and the drummer from night ranger…. Kelly Keagy…i mean he sang “sister christian”

(for C. Phillips) What new or old music have you been listening to?

CP: I still have been listening to MUTEMATH, their newest album is awesome. Ive also been listening to Little Hurricane and the Whitest Boy alive. MC Hammer is always in my mind

“Where Will We Go” is a banger. When did you realize it was commercially viable and was going to open some doors for you?

CM: It’s commercially viable? I don’t know, we write songs to be powerful and melodic. I think we knew we liked it and that we hoped other people would be affected by it too. Making something melodic and interesting and simple seems to be a pretty good recipe.

Do you have any goals in the upcoming years that might blow our minds? 

CM: Writing our next record. Minds blown! …….Japan

How’d you like Pittsburgh guys?

CM: we LOVE Pittsburgh. Good people, great beards

CP: Pittsburgh chicks have the best tattoos

Do you guys like canoeing? 

CM: Ah, the infamous out-of-left-field-last-question-to-end-interview…  Hmmm, yes we do… Yes we do…

CP: i am more of an amateur kayaker

Rob Eldridge

PMM Photodude and Writer-pghmusicmag.re@gmail.com @audiorat twitter

Brit-Prog Rockers KingBathmat Never Follow The Rules

I always like getting an assignment to cover and review new Brit-Rock. When PMM’s COO, Alan Welding, sent me the link to KingBathmat’s 6th studio album, “Truth Button” ( to be released on Stereohead Records with worldwide physical and digital distribution by Code 7 on January 21st 2013) I was intrigued.

I loaded up the album, sat in my listening chair and put me feet up with a pint.  After my first listen the musical rolodex spinning in my head tagged the following bands: Queens Of The Stone Age, Black Sabbath, Spocks Beard, The Doves, Elbow, Pink Floyd and placed them all on my sonic palette to draw comparisons from.

Why haven’t heard of these guys? Have they holed themselves up in some old castle Pink Floyd abandoned (with all their instruments)?  Are these recordings from another time dimension? I envisioned them quietly shopping their demo around. Only to be scolded, “Go to the corner lads you’ve been bad. You’ll never get a record deal, hit the mainstream or be on the cover MOJO Mag” by some music industry business-wankjob. You won’t here KingBathmat on any radio station in Pittsburgh, during regular hours anyway, for two reasons….1) radio programming in Pittsburgh has a low IQ and 2) KingBathmat is way too bright musically.  If you have a strong or even mild affinity for any of the groups I listed above then “Truth Button” will be your Winter Solstice record.

I was thinking what a cool band to be part of and then realized that if you were in KingBathmat you’d have to follow these rules:

  1. never come to rehearsals or gigs under the influence of any mind altering drug because their arrangements are mind blowing and complex and you’d be lost by the first bridge
  2. have insane knowledge of vintage sounding instruments and tones because they use classic textures…. especially keys, organ and synth etc.
  3. be familiar with many genres of music and be able to sew them together with energy and style
  4. have incredible endurance and dexterity ( I actually tried to play along with “Dives and Pauper” and my hand cramped within 45 seconds)
  5. realize that “time signatures” are regular everyday occurrences and showcased in their songwriting very effectively

My next step is to get a quality recording of “Truth Button” and wait for Stereohead Records to release KingBathmat’s back catalogue. I’m purchasing them all! Winter is coming and I need brain stimulation!

KingBathmat is a 4 piece band comprises of 
John Bassett (bass,vocals) David Georgiou (Keyboards) Lee Sulsh (guitar) Bernie Smirnoff (drums).

The Eldge Rating Scale: KingBathmat “Truth Button”: 4 Stars

1 Star > pass on it  

2 Stars > couple good cuts

3 Stars > explore this one  

4 Stars > purchase it  

5 Stars > never leaves your side

Rob Eldridge

Writer & Photographer, PMM

Press Below

“Truth Button” is the new album from UK Progressive Rock Band KingBathmat. A collection of 6 tracks that fuse and cross-pollinate the musical genres of Progressive Rock, Grunge, Psychedelia and Experimental Rock to concoct a vibrant intoxicating brew of complex, intricate melodies and heavy bludgeoning riffs all contained within a running time of approximately 50 minutes.

KingBathmat

“Truth Button” deals with an underlying theme of technophobia and social disconnection due to the evergrowing trivial use of modern technology. “Truth Button” calls for the advancement of technology to be employed to make the truth more transparent as opposed to it being exploited to confuse, convulute and restrict us.

Over the coming year Stereohead Records will be re-releasing the entire KingBathmat back catalogue, and by doing so, revealing a progressive rock legacy that has been languishing in the shadows, out of sight, for far too long.

Ending People Getting It Started With Filling Lungs

Ending People has managed to incorporate romanticism within new wave, experimental electronica and prog pop. Clean guitar lines meander through their new synth driven EP, Filling Lungs.  “Beat Of My Heart”, the first track chugs along like an old Simple Minds record (New Gold Dream-Sparkle In The Rain) or something sublime from the british soundbytes I grew up listening to (Tears For Fears, The Fixx, P Furs, Genesis).  Erin Roberts is a fine singer and clearly understands spatial awareness by fitting nice melody lines within creamy synth overlays. Her voice is a perfect match for the warm and lush sympathetic soundscapes. There’s nothing deeply cryptic lyrically, the songs are underpinned by the band’s metronomic-yet-fluid rhythm patterns you’d find on a ever popular record by Keane or portions of Muse songs.  “I’m Not Coming Back” is their strongest cut and has an textural appeal that stands above the other cuts. I’ll take more of these on your next turn please.

 

The whole listening experience remains interesting and limited only by the six songs available on the EP- Filling Lungs. Ending People has cool start in a tough commercial viable genre. They have a high band IQ and sensibility that will put them on a bill with other cool bands like Deep Sea Diver or Divine Fits. Colorado is more diverse by having them around and their best work is ahead of them. Hoping I might be able to chat with band for a more intimate Q & A if they come through Pittsburgh….hint hint.

Ending People is:
Erin Roberts, Tim Husmann, Jeff Davenport, Justin Croft

The Eldge Rating Scale:  Ending People- Filling Lungs EP: 3 Stars

1 Star > pass on it  

2 Stars > couple good cuts

3 Stars > explore this one  

4 Stars > purchase it  

5 Stars > never leaves your side

Rob Eldridge

Writer & Photographer, PMM

My Jerusalem Live From Carnegie Music Hall, Pittsburgh PA

As the awakening, brisk-cold wind travelled precipitously over the musty outskirts, I made my first eager step towards the ominous entrance leading into the settlement of those once abandoned souls, and into Carnegie Music Hall. While I continued at a steady pace towards the distant booming, I felt the vibration of familiar sounds. The closer I seemed to get towards the sound, the darker the area became with the stealthily moving shadows dancing with hymnal rock-gospel songs. During this soundcheck I was warmly received by some cool cats traveling under the moniker, My Jerusalem.

Following the soundcheck I sat down in the Carnegie library, adjacent to the hall, with songwriter Jeff Klein to discuss their new record Preachers An audio interview can be heard below.

Interview w My Jerusalem’s Jeff Klein

Austin, Texas has always produced killer musicians and popular bands. The city itself carries a creative energy that occasionally sidesteps the blues fueled product. Jeff Klein, and his band My Jerusalem, not only side stepped the Texas sound but have given it a new outlet. Tuesday night was their first stop in Pittsburgh. Homestead’s historic Carnegie Music Hall exudes a dusty warm vibrance that invites good sounds but tonight they got a little more.

During My Jerusalem’s opening set for The Wallflowers, I found myself in a whole new unnatural world. There were huge amounts of smallness in an extremely vast area contained in by gloomy, overpowering lyrics. Before entering the cosmic I noticed that there seemed to be no stars in the sky except for one, the band itself. Led by the one two punch of Geena Spigarelli (bass) and Grant Van Amburgh (drums) the band weaved through much of the material off Preachers with road tested confidence and demeanor. Jeff Klein offered up stories told through a crooners voice pushing the songs with shadowy energy. Jon Merz handled the melodic sourcing, going back and forth between multiple instruments sure handily. Collectively, My Jerusalem brought a sound homogeneous with their studio effort but branching into a realm where they rely on each other to transcend the songs. Their sound seemed to be strongly battling and competing with the rest of the darkness in the sky….and this is their comfort zone.

The band powered up when Wallflower keyboardist, Rami Jaffee, joined them for the last three songs. It’s obvious that Klein has found a starting point for a vision he’s had for some time. He is a man who incessantly strives to tell a story. Judging by the reaction of the crowd his stories will be retold again and again.

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With the gathering in Carnegie Music Hall adequately warmed up My Jerusalem slipped away to their place, the shadows of tomorrow.

by Rob Eldridge

Writer & Photographer, PMM

Steelesque Band Rehearsals- Sonic Planet Studios

Local Pittsburgh band Steelesque are gearing up for playing live around town in support of ‘Johnny On The Spot’. Look for them to play in February with New York’s The End Men. Steelesque frontman and PMM contributer Ian Eldge invited us to one of their rehearsals and we have to say they are sounding pretty hot. If you dig blues driven Rock n’ Roll in the style of Black Keys, Jack White, Alabama Shakes, or Band of Skulls then Steelesque is right up your alley- go check them out at http://steelesque.wordpress.com/


Steelesque Band Rehearsals-Photos by PMM’s Alan Welding

STEELESQUE

Photos by Alan Welding- Pittsburgh Music Mag

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Deep Sea Diver Finds The Pearl With “History Speaks”

released 24 February 2012
Recorded by Matt Wignall
Additional recording by Luke Vander Pol
Mixed by Luke Vander Pol
Mastered by TW Walsh
*vinyl mastered by Paul Gold

I looked for the ship early this morning. Upon first sight it grabbed me with both hands. The vessel survived the weekend woes and walked ashore with sea legs. The three person crew introduced themselves as “Deep Sea Diver“. Their explorations proved to be worthy as they unveil a treasure chest of fantastic sounds coined “History Speaks“.  Jessica Dobson has something in her as a songwriter. She exudes a fragile confidence in her craft of creating. Many of us watched her cut her teeth with the likes of The Shins, Beck and Yeah Yeah Yeahs as a guitarist. I believe Dobson should be described as a ‘melodist”.  I don’t even know if that word exists but I’m running with it. With the addition of Peter Mansen on drums and John Raines on bass, DSD have created a beautifully constructed album shifting from clever guitar pop to ballads that sink into your heart.

The records opens with “Ships”. A nice preview of dynamic pop sense the band pays ode to. Clean choppy guitar runs showcases Dobson’s coy playing style and she’s very much on point with a strong vocal presence. “Weekend Wars” would fit on any Shins or Spoon record with cool volleys between piano chords and clean verby guitar. “NWO” features the solid rhythm of Peter Mansen and John Raines. I especially love the middle-end section of this tune as Raines adds distortion to the bass that beats ups the militant Mansen drumming while little guitar shrieks peek through the cracks.

“You Go Running” shows Dobson’s flirty side starting off with a neat little guitar line and a chuckle or two almost Gwen-Stefanish. Lots of stops and starts, guitar amp hum, maracas and formidable songwriting.

The production of “History Speaks” falls in with the ranks of later Spoon or Shin records. “Keep It Moving” certainly has strong ties to The Shins. Mercer himself would be proud of the outcome. The proud traditional piano sounds nestle up with a distantly mixed driving guitar sound.  I hear all kinds of cool nuances in this record. Whispering to myself about squeaky piano pedals and fantastic bass guitar sound. Along with seamless vocal harmonies that seem to be picked out of early Mercury Rev records. Peter Mansen clearly cares about the outcome. His playing provides a sonic palette for Dobson. More importantly he knows when to hide and come out when the others seek.

It’s important to think about what works when creating something. Dobson, Mansen and Raines are detailed oriented in this regard. Songs require melody and a human footprint to make you high. When I close my eyes to tunes like “Tracks of a Green Line” and “History Speaks” I feel like I’m in a rustic open aired home with perfect temperatures. Just cool enough to wear your favorite guitar sound. I want to watch Dobson sing standing on a wooden floor with a black canvas swallowing her into the stars. The string pumping chills come when the falsetto lyric “this is your harmony”,  builds into a deep woods breeze upon the nape of your neck. I’m a huge early Supertramp fan so this one got me big time.  It was obviously in her and had to come out. She is so alone in this song. The vulnerability of her message is beautifully expressed. Listen below.

“History Speaks” ends with “History Speaks”…..an ominous instrument selection with a soft harpsichord throughout paired with clean guitars with memory men on her back. This tune is an encore track. Probably why it ends the record. I visualize Jessica Dobson standing on the back of a Swedish Vasa leaving port as the moon casts diamond-white glistening shadows off the ocean. She seems intensely soft as she sings “into your arms I will surrender…..” mainly because one can rest with hope. Deep Sea Diver has delivered something special upon us. A record we all can appreciate for being honest, bold and beautiful at the same time.

I will be conducting a phone interview with the band this week. Look for the full audio interview soon.

Sealed In Wax,

Rob Eldridge, Writer and Editor PMM

Lee Ranaldo…Green Mtn Boy For A Day

“I’m here supporting the non-violent left” got everyone’s attention in Vermont at Essex’s Champlain Valley Expo. Vermont has always woven themselves into the liberal fabric and feels quite at home there. Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo certainly made himself at home Sunday night supporting Wilco and his new release Between The Times & The Tides on Matador Records.

Ranaldo job was to “turn all the lights down and turn on the stars” for Wilco. He exceeded expectations by plowing through more pop sounding cuts than we usually here from his daytime job, Sonic Youth. Drummer, Steve Shelley has been a sidekick engine with Ranaldo for many many years. Ranaldo was also joined by Wilco’s Nels Cline, who appears on his new record.  Alan Licht (guitar), Irwin Menken (bass) round out his line-up.

Ranaldo’s group sizzled for the strong contingent of SY fans and Wilco supporters. His new record reminds me a tougher version of REM’s Murmur. The highlight of his set was “Angles” and all it’s combustion. With Cline and Licht sparring lick for lick with Ranaldo the Vermont crowd was treated to a reckless abandon sonic experiment.

Alan Licht & Irwin Menken in Vermont photo by Rob Eldridge

I spoke with Lee after his set and was impressed with his graciousness and friendly demeanor. He clearly loves to create. He is involved in all sort of artistic mediums that should be perused if you have a few minutes by going to his website. You’ll be better for it.

Enjoy the slideshow.

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By Rob Eldridge – Steelesque

Wilco Shares Stories With Vermont

Jeff Tweedy of Wilco in Vermont

by Rob Eldridge of Steelesque

Jeff Tweedy asked a strong gathering of Vermonters if they ever “thought he was effeminate” than blame it on his sister. Mainly, because she dressed him as a girl until he knew better…..age 27. This and many other witty exchanges with the very appreciative crowd, which actually did include Tweedy’s sister, kept the mood light and reposeful. Wilco, on the other hand, prepared a setlist that was everything but effeminate. Pulling gems from notable classics Being There, Ghost Is Born and their latest The Whole Love.

Jeff Tweedy- photo by Rob Eldridge (ian eldge) @pghmusicmag Essex VT 2012

Midway Lawn at Champlain Valley Expo, Essex Junction Vermont is an impressive outdoor venue. It offers the fairground appeal which dovetails nicely with Wilco’s americana footprint. The band’s current lineup, which caught stride in 2004 when guitarist Nels Cline and guitarist/keyboardist Patrick Sansone joined Tweedy, founding bassist John Stirratt, drummer Glenn Kotche and keyboardist Mikael Jorgensen.

John Stirratt – Photo by Rob Eldridge for @pghmusicmag Essex, VT 2012

It’s evident that guitarist Nels Cline has been feeding on the energy Tweedy spins. His playing on 2007’s Sky Blue Sky proved his capability but left true Wilco fans wondering if this was the direction “their” band was heading coming out of the Ghost Is Born brilliance. Wilco has always written and performed songs with a careful recipe including two very important ingredients: one part pretty and one part gritty. Cline and Tweedy shared the cooking duties on this beautiful cool evening under a waxing gibbous moon. Which provided a suitable backdrop for tunes like Sunken Treasure and I Might where Tweedy relied on his trusty beat up Martin. Sansone compliments their live gig going between the keys and guitar. His mannish stride fills the appropriate gaps with a nice tone that fuels the occasional three guitar line-up.

Wilco has become one of the most confident and dynamic live American bands of our generation. John Stirratt and Glen Kotche have certainly achieved a symbiotic relationship. Stirratt creates bass lines that stress the roots even when playing intricate lines. There is some wiggle room in his playing because Kotche is such an excellent drummer. However, you must be judicious and frugal when sidestepping the root and these two never sway your ear in the wrong direction. You couple this with the swelling charm that exudes from Mikael Jorgensen’s keyboard style and Tweedy can’t fail.

Tweedy – Photo by Rob Eldridge (ian eldge) for @pghmusicmag Essex, VT 2012

All evening the band weaved through cuts from their catalogue with Tweedy announcing that they were going bring it. He kept his promise when the opening track of the encore, Art Of Almost, jumped off and brought the hippies off the afghan blankets and into a pagan ritual mosh. Okay….maybe not a mosh but it’s the most excited I’ve seen a Vermont crowd on a Sunday.

It was nice to take PMM on the road and into Vermont. Great state with uber cool people. Sorry Pittsburgh….Wilco dodged us this time but will be hitting Columbus, Ohio. 04 Aug 2012 / Columbus, OH / LC Pavilion

setlist

See slide show below.

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Field Report Will Not Forget The Plot

Ian Eldge of PMM with Field Report

We all were “bloodied from the brawl” delivered by Chris Porterfield’s new project Field Report. Their onslaught of  subtle quiet melodies and interweaving dynamic song delivery eased the Pittsburgh crowd into a pure listening den. All settled in for the their short but fantastic set. Judging by the interactive eye contact, and acknowledging movement of the band, they were on a mission to let the songs be their vehicle on this spectacular evening at Stage AE. Porterfield doesn’t rely on singularity or front man disease. It would be hard to do with Counting Crows captain, Adam Duritz, sitting like a proud patriarch stage left during the whole set. He sees the quality of the canvas that his band provides. Porterfield was ready to mix the sonic palette with lulling colors.

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Years ago when the rest of Eau Claire band Deyarmond Edison – a band which also featured Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and future Megafaun members – pulled up the stakes and decided to relocate to North Carolina, Porterfield made the decision to set up shop in Milwaukee with local talent and Field Report was formed. Field Report, recorded and live, features Porterfield, who also plays guitar, Nick Berg on keys, Travis Whitty on bass, Damian Strigens on drums, Jeff Mitchell on baritone guitar, and Ben Lester on pedal steel.

One doesn’t require keen investigative skills to realize the evidence of a caring band. Songs should be nurtured and allowed to materialize over time. In discussions with FR, prior to their show, we talked about the process of writing and playing “small ball”. Using the baseball analogy FR doesn’t look for the “long ball”. “The songs require a quiet delivery”, states Porterfield. He also states that the band ” tries to remember who they are” and realizes that sometimes it’s harder to hold back and fold to the temptation of playing loud. They remain true to the songs in live setting as well. They eased into their set and recognized the quiet pocket within minutes of their first number. The audience was absorbed into Porterfield’s storytelling while the band locked down the soundtrack.  Lyrical strengths abound with songs like “I Am Not Waiting Anymore”. (lyrics below)

I am red in tooth and claw God’s favorite child, bloodied from the brawl This bitterness was killing me all along I am not waiting anymore I am not waiting anymore

Blowing through time like nickel slots in a windowless room, on a credit card: flash it like a semaphore- a vague, drafty metaphor- I am not waiting anymore

I’ve been a keen eyed observer of the movements of concentric parts of bodies of bones and breasts and unmapped chambers of hearts

Sand in hand has turned to glass a Jeroboam filled with a life that’s passed Toss it off the balcony and listen for the crash I am not waiting anymore

I spent eight long years working on my screenplay it’s a teen movie with young actresses that plays to the middle aged

I have read between the lines I have been wrong every time It burned up on the alter, but I am fine I am not waiting anymore I am not waiting anymore I am not waiting anymore

Field Report has been very gracious of the experience of touring with The Counting Crows. Adam Duritz and his crew have acted as a supportive family for the band.  The relationship certainly exemplifies the good karma of a man who uses his fame to pay it forward. A lesson all of us can learn to appreciate and model ourselves after. We anxiously await their new release due to drop in September. Field Report will be playing a hand full of dates with the Counting Crows and some on their own. Catch them if you can.

For the full interview you can listen here: FieldReport

Story by: Ian Eldge Audio interview: Ian Eldge & Alan Welding photos: Alan Welding