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Cosmically chaotic

DiLisio (formerly Fly.) is the brainchild of Mark Jeffries, a Pittsburgh-based singer/songwriter with an edge. In collab with drummer Garrett Grube and producer/engineer Matt Very, DiLisio’s brand of garage & blues rock has been on display all year with the release of seven current singles (and two more in the works!)
In fact, their latest release entitled “Pain” drops today and to celebrate, I want to thank Mark (Guitar, Bass, Keys, Synth, Harmonica/Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
The Space Jam soundtrack. “I believe I can fly…”

Your last album bought?
I’ve been on a huge Bon Iver kick for most of 2020. I love everything and every side project Justin Vernon puts his hands on.

Favorite album of all time?
Magic Potion by The Black Keys. I had no idea blues and rock ‘n roll like that could still be made in these modern times. It blew my mind as a college sophomore in ’07.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
I wouldn’t say I’m disappointed by many albums, but the one that comes to mind is Enema of the State by Blink-182. Because because it came out when I was 11 and my grandparents bought it for me; can’t imagine what they thought about that cover art! Ha!

First concert attended?
The Clarks in the Outer Banks, NC. It was SUPER yinzer.

Last concert?
The Blue Stones at Thunderbird Music Hall. Kickass blues rock band from Toronto.

Favorite concert ever?
The Raconteurs in August ’19. Jack White is a god among men.

Least favorite concert?
First time I saw Cage the Elephant in 2010. They sounded okay, but Matt Schultz kept screwing up the lyrics!

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
I grew up in Moon and now live in Brighton Heights. My work, family, friends, and passions are all here. It’s home.

 

Thanks, Mark. Funny that you saw The Clarks in N.C. and not in Pittsburgh. I was out of town once and saw Rusted Root. It was cool to see them out of their blanket of love

 

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HughShows welcomes back contributing music journalist Jill Berkin. A a UK-based writer and avid music enthusiast, she’s interested in shoegaze, rock, and alternative music. I couldn’t be more thrilled in highlighting her wonderful work on the blog.

Damon Che is the drummer and founder of the instrumental rock band Don Caballero. Apart from followers of Pittsburgh’s local music scene, anyone who listens to post rock or math rock is familiar with Che’s work – whether or not they know that it’s actually him behind the drum kit. While there are many other math rock drummers that have become prominent before Don Caballero’s rise to popularity, it was Che’s drumming style that solidified the contemporary elements of math rock as a genre.

Historically, the first math rock bands were Rush and King Crimson. Neil Peart’s well-known virtuosity as a drummer not only catapulted Rush to global stardom, but was also instrumental in seeding early elements of post rock experimentation into mainstream classic rock from the ‘60s to the ‘80s. The same can be said for British rock group King Crimson, whose use of two to three drummers onstage attracted massive droves of fans to their blend of psychedelic jazz rock. While these bands were responsible for the formative years of math rock, it wasn’t until the ‘90s that the genre took on the form that we know it to be today.

Alongside Don Caballero, bands like Tortoise and Isotope 217 dominated the early to late’ 90s post and math rock scene. While the drumming style in all of these aforementioned bands have a similar polyrhythmic, unorthodox approach to rock, it was Don Caballero under the musical direction of Damon Che which pushed the drum-led, purely instrumental sound of the genre. Unlike most rock drummers, it’s rare to hear Che just simply keeping time in the background. In fact, it’s the opposite – his drumming practically nixes the need for vocals, leading each song while the guitar and bass are delegated to keeping time. This is what freed Che to develop his punk-inspired, progressive, and flowing style of playing the drums. And to this day, it is this style and sound that defines contemporary math rock.

You don’t need to look far to hear the influence that Che has had on the development of math and post-rock. His own former bandmates, whether they like it or not, carry the signature of Don Caballero’s indelible mark on the genre. After notoriously quarrelling with Che which led to Don Caballero being temporarily dissolved in 2000, guitarist Ian Williams formed the experimental rock group Battles in 2002. Known for using guitar loop pedals to combine different effects and create walls of sound, Williams’ work in Battles is an expansion of his seminal post-rock style from Don Caballero. While it can be said that both bands rely on a foundation of post-rock percussions, Battles’ sound is focused more towards repetition. And in his ‘new’ band, Williams is better able to express different aspects of his musicality. Expanding from different guitar effects pedals to a combination of his pedalboard, keyboards, MIDI controllers, and other electronic instruments, Williams represents the more than 20-year evolution of post-rock. And there’s no denying the fact that he developed his legendary chops under Che’s musical direction.

Today, Che is not even as famous as Neil Peart’s notoriously complex drum kit. But under the radar, his influence lives on. From the progressive and melodic rock of Historian to Man Your Horse’s experimental blend of afro-beat and math rock, the foundations of the genre are intact in modern music. And while there are many talented unorthodox rock drummers coming to the fore, not one of them has reached the level of genre-defining creativity that Damon Che has showcased throughout his career.

The Whelming Waters is Pittsburgh based folk rock band which formed in the winter of 2015. The band began when three high school friends John, Collin, and Nina, decided to start a folk trio consisting of mandolin, guitar, and violin. However, when the songwriting quickly started to expand, and with the introduction of two new members in the form of Collin’s older sister Kelcie and her husband, Jereme, the group suddenly became a rock band with a wide variety of musical styles and a “no rules” attitude when it comes to songwriting or genre restrictions. With the addition of more friends in the form of a second saxophone player, Andy, and Kristen on keys, the band’s sonic profile was established with music ranging from heartfelt country ballads to raucous horn-laden rock and roll romps. Their debut full-length release from June of this year entitled Bon Voyage, captures the expansive sound of the band while retaining the simplicity of their beginings. I want to thank Collin Joseph (Guitar/Lead Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
I think the first album I actually went out and bought was an original vinyl of the soundtrack to The Song Remains the Same film by Led Zeppelin. I was young and had never bought vinyl, so of course I didn’t check it. I got home and realized that one of the two records was missing. I learned an important lesson about buying used vinyl that day.

Your last album bought?
A few months ago I played a show at the awesome The Government Center record store on the North Side and before the show I purchased a reissue of my favorite Bowie album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.

Favorite album of all time?
It’s hard to say, but it would probably be …Like Clockwork by Queens of the Stone Age.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
I’ve never been a big Taylor Swift fan, but I kept hearing that her new album Folklore was a departure from her normal style and pretty good, so I took a listen. I still didn’t find it particularly interesting. I have nothing against her or fans of her music, just can’t get into it for some reason.

First concert attended?
My first concert was G Love and Special Sauce in Millvale.

Last concert?
We played a show on February 6, 2020 at Thunderbird Music Hall in Lawrenceville before the pandemic happened. Got to okay a gig with two great Pittsburgh bands, Standard Broadcast and Back Alley Sound. After our set we got to hang out and watch them play. Better times!

Favorite concert ever?
My favorite concert was seeing The Dead Weather at Prospect Park in Brooklyn around 2009 when they were on top of their game. Great show!

Least favorite concert?
I went to see “Umphrey’s McGee,” a jam fusion band, with a friend. To be honest I thought they were some sort of Irish folk band, but I was of course mistaken. I didn’t enjoy the music much. Again, nothing against them or their fans, just isn’t my thing.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
It’s hard to pin down individual experiences because there are so many, but generally, it’s been really great to get to know other artists in the Pittsburgh music scene. It’s a great community and we’ve formed a lot of awesome relationships in just the past couple of years.

 

Thanks, Collin. I have been really excited to see your band grow and come into your own within the last couple years. I cannot wait until this is all over and actually see you PLAY LIVE!

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HughShows would like to welcome contributing music journalist Jill Berkin to the fold. A a UK-based writer who was able to travel quite a lot before the pandemic and has had an awesome experience with the people and places while visiting Pittsburgh. As an avid music enthusiast, she’s interested in shoegaze, rock, and alternative music. I couldn’t be more thrilled in highlighting her wonderful work on the blog.

Dirty Projectors – Super João EP

Dirty Projectors have been indie rock mainstays since they launched their debut album The Glad Fact back in 2003. Here in Pittsburgh, we were witness to the group’s musical prowess when they played a stellar show in May 2018. As that concert proved, the band is still lauded as one of the best groups in the industry as they continue to push boundaries with their unique and experimental brand of music.

2018’s Lamp Lit Prose is a great example of this, as the band really leaned into their eccentricity by using the Critter & Guitari Pocket Piano and other synths to create a sonic hodgepodge of melodies and sounds that only a creative force like them could have successfully pulled off. Experimentation is part of the reason why Dirty Projectors are so great, which is why it isn’t surprising that they continue to redefine their sound with each new project.

The band’s latest release, Super João, is yet another testament to how playful the band can be with their sound. Settling is seemingly not a part of their plans, as they’ve yet again delivered a unique musical experience packaged with the four tracks of this EP. If you want to know more about this, read on for our review of Dirty Projectors’ Super João!

Five EP Cycle and Super João

Before we jump into the review, it’s important to give a little background information on this EP. Rolling Stone’s article on the EP’s announcement details that Super João is the third EP of the group’s five-EP cycle for 2020. And just like their last project, Flight Tower which drifted towards an uncharacteristic R&B sound, the group has also decided to try a different approach with this record.

The group has gone a more minimalist route with this EP, as they’ve really reeled in the sound. They’ve opted to swap out the multitude of different instruments that they usually use for a barer setup, as the songs on the EP are driven solely by a nylon-string acoustic guitar. This shouldn’t be too surprising as the namesake for the EP, João Gilberto, pioneered the Brazilian bossa nova movement. This is put front and center in “I Get Carried Away”, as the rhythmic plucking style sounds like it was transposed directly from Gilberto’s “Insensatez”.

Another key difference with this EP comes in the form of the vocals. Unlike the previous EPs in the cycle, David Longstreth is the sole vocalist on this project. And while it’s been great to hear the other members of the band singing, Longstreth’s performance on the album is one for the ages. Indeed, the Shure SM7B’s impeccable sound clarity is on full display as it brings out the natural elements of a Longstreth’s voice. Longstreth’s vocal chops are on full display right off the bat in the EP’s first track “Holy Mackerel”. Longstreth serenades the listener and preps them for what’s to come, as this may not be what people expected from a Dirty Projectors record.

Overall

Bands are often castigated for veering off the path that their listeners and fans have put them on. However, Dirty Projectors have made a career of perpetually redefining themselves and constantly trying new things. This latest EP is no exception to this. And while it could come off as gimmicky, this project is a testament to the group’s deep admiration and respect for different types and genres of music. Super João is a love letter to a proud genre, a worthy addition to the group’s body of work.

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Singer, Writer, Rocker Mom

Emily Zuzik is an L.A. based Americana singer-songwriter originally from Pittsburgh who has planted her musical roots in a unique eclectic blend of alt-country, modern, rhythm & blues and rock music. She brings to her songs a woman’s vulnerability and strength in the tradition of Patsy Cline and Madonna.  Her latest solo album Torch & Trouble produced by Ted Russell Kamp is available today on all platforms. As a singer-songwriter, her music captures the film-noir essence of Los Angeles’ haunted past infused with the soul of the Memphis Stax sound. Her songs compel and engage as they call to mind her musical kinship with Carole King and Rickie Lee Jones. Her voice is warm as she seduces the listener in a way reminiscent of Sheryl Crow and Liz Phair.  Emily has been a recording and touring independent artist for over 15 years. She’s written with artists such as Grant Langston, Ted Russell Kamp, Benji Rogers, Moby, Wes Hutchinson (Sundown) among others. I want to thank Emily for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Julian Lennon, Valotte.

Your last album bought?
The Adobe Collective (vinyl).

Favorite album of all time?
Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon or Beatles, Abbey Road.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
I honestly can’t think of one… maybe I wanted to get one and then someone warned me or I had a test listen and decided not to buy it.

First concert attended?
INXS, The Kick Tour at Pittsburgh Civic Arena.

Last concert?
Wilco, The Orpheum, Los Angeles.

Favorite concert ever?
Neko Case at Central Park, Wilco at The Greek Theatre or James Brown in Oakland.

Least favorite concert?
Honestly, if it was that bad, I likely walked out.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
I love the closeness of the town. It has so much character and uniqueness that often get lost in a big city. I also love how the city is surrounded by green hills and rivers. It’s a city in nature. It has also hung onto the industrial past that is often washed away over time. I like how the city keeps reinventing itself with new clubs, new restaurants, museums like the Warhol. I’ve lived in a lot of cities since I left for college. There’s something that always ties me to the ‘burgh. I am not sure what it is all the time, but when you meet folks from Pittsburgh on the road, there’s an instant camaraderie.

Thanks, Emily. You captured Pittsburgh beautifully in your response. It’s always nice to hear from a perspective of someone who knows the city intimately coming from experience from living elsewhere.

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HughShows welcomes back contributing music journalist Mara Meyer. A graduate of Point Park University, Mara is also a visual artist and concert photographer, who is beginning her career within the Pittsburgh music landscape and I couldn’t be more thrilled in highlighting her wonderful work on the blog.

Anthony Heubel and the High Lonesome Band / Released April 2020

Anthony Heubel and the High Lonesome Band join up to bring folk/Americana vibes with a slight country twist. The Pittsburgh, PA based group consists of Anthony Heubel and Zach Bronder on guitar and vocals, Pat Coyle on drums, vocals and percussion, Nate Campisi on bass, Greg Decarolis on keys, piano, organ and bass, Read Connolly on pedal steel and dobro and Richie Colosimo on trumpet. The group together released their self-titled album on April 24, 2020 through Wild Kindness Records. The album provides a 10 track set solely written by Anthony Heubel. The album was recorded by Campisi at a camp in the Allegheny National Forest. Heubel wrote this personal album based off of experiences he has endured. The listener is taken on a journey of ups and downs along with him as he reflects.

The beginning track entitled “A Good Ending” starts off with an instant catchy heavy acoustic guitar and overlaying sound to get you moving. You may find yourself tapping your foot along to the beat. Heubel reminisces on nights with friends and the never ending life story they are creating. The next track “Gutter” leads off on a more solemn note of hardships and leads to a climax of finding one’s place and continuing forward. In “Desert Islander” one instrument is added at a time to create an undeniable folk rhythm. The instrumental sections dominate this track as I found myself being taken away with the melody. The intro to “Beg or Borrow” is accompanied by a whistle tone adding yet another level to the arrangement. The track gives off more of a stripped down feel with the accompaniment of acoustic guitar throughout the piece. “Avalanche” shows off Heubel’s vocal range with words of thoughts and feelings holding him down yet trying to find a reason to hold on to hope. In “Ode To Jesse” the stripped down arrangement allows the vocals to truly shine. Heubel’s vocals allow a pure and honest approach drawing one into the story of loss and separation. The seventh track on the album “Real love” explains how there may be bumps but there will always be love. This song I found as the most relatable as relationships take work but together can conquer all. “Spitting Image” turns from indie to rock vibes halfway through. The ending feels like a celebration with the trumpet becoming prominent. The ninth track “Sad Old Moon” layers vocals for emphasis. The track feels mystical and wholesome as it stands out against the others on the album. I can imagine this live as the lights go low and the crowd sway along in awe. “This Same Old Way” closes the album with an inviting melody and thought grabbing lyrics as Heubel sings “No one should have to get used to living like nothings gonna change”.

The storytelling qualities of Anthony Heubel and the High Lonesome band along with their musical talent has brought about an incredible piece of work. The full album is available to listen on Bandcamp.

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The way music evokes feelings, memories, and mental pictures is powerful and magical.

Hell’s Oasis is a Pittsburgh based multi-genre band who fuse progressive rock with funk and punk. They’ve added trip-hop, singer-songwriter, and folk styles to their repertoire. This is evidenced on their latest release from July, the single “Lilacs”, which draws you in with echoing guitar and dreamy vocals with segue into an energetic guitar solo, grounded by a poppy sax line. I want to thank Alexis Polozoff (Guitar), John Rheaume (Saxophone), Abhishek Ravi- (Bass), and Ginger Polozoff (Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Alexis Polozoff: Dark Side of the Moon.
John Rheaume: Do I have to answer this one? OK, when I was 9 years old, I got To the Extreme by Vanilla Ice. But in my defense, I was 9 and I most certainly wasn’t the only one! Seriously, I still think it’s an OK album especially for a One Hit Wonder.
Abhishek Ravi: Buying albums wasn’t really a thing in our household! We owned a cassette player at home and had one in the old car and my parents bought a couple of tapes. I guess I might’ve been in the 7th grade when we went to Planet Music, which was the new big music store in the city, and I could afford one CD, so I bought a Best of Evanescence compilation album. Still a pretty solid choice I’d say!
Ginger Polozoff: Saturday Night Fever. O.M.G! The Bee Gee’s harmonies! Also, I fancied I was quite the disco dancer. Jazz splits were my specialty.

Your last album bought?
Alexis: Moorcheba.
John: The last one I bought is actually 40 years old – Wizard Island by Jeff Lorber Fusion. Lorber has put together a lot of great bands together, and this one features a very young Kenny Gorelick before he became a household name as Kenny G. Now, you can’t argue with the mainstream success he has had, but I like the old (young?) Kenny a lot better. He had this killer R&B sound on the tenor back then. Anyway, the tracks are really funky with great basslines and drumming. Jeff’s improvised solos are really impressive.
Abhi: Wow it’s been a while! I guess I must have been in the 11th grade before everything went handheld and online. I went back to the same store and bought Metallica’s Reload. Had a great time ripping high quality tracks off the DVD so I could put them in my little MP3 player.
Ginger: Uhhh… it’s been a while, but I think it was Wilco’s A Ghost is Born and Ryan Adams’ Easy Tiger at the same time. But who buys albums anymore? I download singles. Probably the most recent single I bought was “Gimme All Your Love” by Alabama Shakes.

Favorite album of all time?
Alexis: Abbey Road
John: The Stranger by Billy Joel. You know you have a great album when you crank out four hits knowing that several more would have been hits on any other album. It really turned his career around, in fact it might have even saved it all together because besides “Piano Man”, he really hadn’t achieved much commercial success. The Stranger had a huge impact on me. I was actually introduced to “Just the Way You Are” after we played it in my middle school jazz band. I went out to buy the entire album, and I still have the CD 26 years later (it still plays!)
Abhi: I have far too many, so the less thought I put into this, the better. Still Life by Opeth is definitely my all-time favorite. It’s an excellent concept album that tells the story of a banished tribe member returning to reunite with his lover. It’s a progressive death metal masterpiece that explores everything from bone-crunching riffs to smooth jazz and acoustic ballads. I love each and every track.
Ginger: My “favorite” album changes over time. For many years it was Van Halen’s Women and Children First and though that album has faded in popularity, it still has its hooks in me. I discovered The Beatles’ Abbey Road as an adult. That’s probably my favorite rock album. However, going in a completely different direction, Flower Duet by Léo Delibes and Claire de Lune by Claude Debussy are probably the two songs I never tire of.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Alexis: Dark Side of the Moon. Would listen to album with puffy 80’s head phones after swim practice. I’d fall asleep to the music and be woken up by the alarm clocks in the song time.
John: All I can say is, critics have a tough job and I’m not a critic! I plead the fifth.
Abhi: Hahaha, I feel like I just have least favorite songs or even genres. Why listen to a whole album when a single track isn’t good.
Ginger: Alannah Myles. I only liked two songs on it.

First concert attended?
Alexis: Saw Genesis with my sister at Madison Square Garden when I was 17. Still remember Phil’s face spot lit while the garden is in total darkness. Next song, “In the Air Tonight”.
John: Not too surprisingly as a young saxophonist it was Kenny G in 1994. I feel his studio recordings are quite vanilla, but his touring band was actually really tight. He had Vail Johnson on the bass, who had the ability to do the unthinkable: put some soul and funk into elevator music.
Abhi: Iron Maiden, Rock ‘n India 2006 in Bangalore. I wasn’t allowed to go unaccompanied, so my dad came along and we had a great time! It was a legendary show and they were touring right after releasing A Matter of Life and Death, another kick-ass album. A steppingstone to much heavier concerts I’d eventually attend.
Ginger: AC/DC in Hammersmith Odeon, London. It blew my mind!

Last concert?
Alexis: Willie Nelson. Glad I got to see a legend and a real inspiration. Willie played the whole set standing, and had lots of improv solos! At 86 I hope I am still playing!
John: Not including local shows, I’ve been slacking in this department. I went to the Pittsburgh Jazz Festival last year which was great.
Abhi: Was lucky enough to catch Opeth at the Apollo in New York this February, before the world caught fire. It was the third time seeing them live and it was spectacular!! Although it was a seated concert which made absolutely no sense to me.
Ginger: Willie Nelson, last summer. As a native Texan, I had to see him. He’s a national treasure. And he was great!

Favorite concert ever?
Alexis: Santana.
John: I saw Ben Folds in Boston when he was doing a solo tour: Literally just him with no bass and drums. It was a totally different way to hear his music and he was great at getting the audience involved. They recorded it and he used a couple songs on his Ben Folds Live album. Also, our show was picked as the album cover depicting him hanging his head in shame as we (the audience) flip him off as if we were booing him off the stage. It was awesome to be a part of the production.
Abhi: Lamb of God came to my hometown of Bangalore back in 2011. This was my first ever heavy metal concert with a lot of my favorite metal bands from India opening for Lamb of God. I had my first mosh pit, ran in the wall of death and had an absolute blast. Woke up with a terrible neck ache but totally worth it!
Ginger: Texxas Jam (yes, two Xes) 1986. It was hot; we were crushing each other against the stage (no one even thought about how dangerous that could’ve been); they were spraying us with firehoses; women were on men’s shoulders; got thrown over the barricade next to the stage—sopping wet, my cigarette tobacco smushed all along my belly—it was AMAZING! I was so sore the next day from being crushed! And oh, yeah, the music was great! Van Halen was the headliner—I was still in that phase. ( -:

Least favorite concert?
Alexis: ?
John: I had free tickets to see Rufus Wainwright about 7 years ago. He’s clearly very talented. It just wasn’t my thing. I gave it a shot!
Abhi: I saw Tool in December at the PPG arena. Tool were fantastic of course, but the opening band, honestly, were garbage. They were terrible and we were seated high up from a weird angle with the worst view. Plus, it was a seated concert, which again, makes no sense!
Ginger: Robert Palmer didn’t say one word to the audience during his show in Austin. May he RIP.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Alexis: Love the fact that it is very raw and underdeveloped compared to other cities like Austin, TX where the music scene is fading due to high cost of living and commercialism.
John: Coming to Pittsburgh from Boston two years ago, it’s clear that the scene is smaller, but it’s more tight-knit. More people know each other and there is a sense of camaraderie between musicians.
Abhi: Pittsburgh was my first home after coming to the US for the first time ever, so it’s very special to me. The metal scene here is great, especially for prog rock and djent! Bands that I’d have to wait for years to do an India tour just casually gig in pubs here every couple of months! It’s a great place to live, Plus the Thai food is to die for!
Ginger: I really like all the free outdoor concerts and festivals in the summer. It really builds a sense of community.

Thanks, all. It’s really comforting to know that you are still able to work on music through all of this. Looking forward to hearing the next single “Shoes” soon!

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I lock my vice wide for the feeding of the choir.

Sommelier is a Pittsburgh based electro pop band that was formed in early 2020 by Brian Ferrell and J Trafford. Brian was working on a projected with Zach Coss and Ben Wingrove that lost their singer. Brian began looking to start a new group. He answered an ad that J put online after his previous band dissolved. J and Brian started working on material with Zach and Ben joining shortly thereafter. With only about a month of practice time, the quarantine began. Brian and J decided to make alternate versions of the songs through file sharing during the lockdown, the latest being “My Hypocrisy”, released just last week. I want to thank Brian (Guitar/String and Keyboard Arrangements/Backing Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
I remember being able to buy a record when I was around 4. It was the Beach Boys’ Endless Summer double LP. It had a really vivid cover, and the album sleeve opened up to reveal more imagery. I wore those records out. As far as tapes, I don’t remember which was my first purchase. I know everyone had a copy of Thriller, but I had tons of blank tape that I would use to record off of the radio or dub other things. I am an album listener though, so I have always leaned more towards getting full albums rather than singles.

Your last album bought?
During the Quarantine I was on a garage rock kick, so I bought the first two Fuzz albums. My 7-year-old son likes them too.

Favorite album of all time?
The impossible question, but I think the correct answer is Abbey Road. When I think about all of the great albums, I feel like so much can be traced to that album. From Elliott Smiths harmonies and guitar tones, to Nirvana, Pink Floyd, Bowie, etc… It has both narrative and stream of conscious lyrics, moog. It references Beethoven (“Because”), it has two of the Best George songs, it has 3 of them trading guitar solos, and then Ringo’s solo! There are so many amazing albums. OK Computer blew me away. I’m just now discovering how incredible early Genesis was with Foxtrot. Nearly everything The National does is fantastic. Hissing Fauna Are You the Destroyer? by of Montreal was my favorite album of the aughts. But I think Abbey Road is the foundation that holds that all together.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Somebody’s Miracle by Liz Phair was a huge letdown. The edge she had in her music totally disappeared with that one. I know there was some record company stuff going on behind the scenes and she was doing some work for other artists, but that album definitely catered to a softer crowd. The redemption – I got to see Liz Phair play a concert during that tour. The crowd was split between old fans, and new fans (with their mothers). She walked out and opened with “Flower”. It was excellent (the performance and the reaction).

First concert attended?
My dad was into going to places with old honky tonk or blues music, so I was around that a lot as a kid. I’m not sure which concert was my first true experience. It was either a Fugazi show or the Smashing Pumpkins on the ‘Siamese Dream’ tour. They were both around the same time, I think. I remember absolute chaos for the Fuzagi show. It was packed, and the music was intense. We would see them every time they came to town. The Pumpkins show was in a gymnasium. But the wall of speakers was massive. That was the loudest show I’ve ever seen for sure.

Last concert?
One week before the lockdown I saw of Montreal! They put on a great live show. They usually have dancers and puppets choreographed to specific songs.

Favorite concert ever?
I was obsessed with the DC band Jawbox and managed to see them in a tiny bar in State College. I got to stand right in front of J. Robbins and watch him play all of the songs that I listened to over and over. That was such a treat, but I think seeing Radiohead in a small club during the ‘OK Computer’ tour edges that by a little bit. They played over 20 songs from the first few albums, including “Talk Show Host”!

Least favorite concert?
I saw U2 at the Mellon Arena sometime around 2001. I was excited because PJ Harvey was the opening act. She is incredible, but sadly the sound crew gave her very little attention and it was almost impossible to hear her. U2 was ok. It was a big stage show with videos and long runways for Bono to strut around. A few years later I was living in Boston and got to see PJ Harvey in a much smaller venue. It happened to be her birthday so the crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to her. That was cool.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
A great thing about Pittsburgh is that it is small enough to engage with your scene, whether that is music, art, or whatever. But it is big enough to be a good home base when it is time to reach a little further.

Thanks, Brian. I have been to countless shows where I was looking forward to and enjoyed the opener so much more than the headliner. I’ve learned a long time ago to never blow off the opening act.

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Guitarish music that melts while you listen to it

Inch Deep Pool of Slush is the moniker for lo-fi shoegaze musician Ben Gibbons, who composes and records his music in a bedroom in South Oakland. Lockdown has allowed time for Ben to release several songs since May, the latest being a group of unmastered tunes collected as Little Buddy. I want to thank Ben (Guitar/Synth/Thumb Piano/Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
First album I ever bought with my own money was How to Save a Life by The Fray (network-drama-core was the move back in middle school.)

Your last album bought?
Athena by Sudan Archives (awesome violin playing.)

Favorite album of all time?
Lost in the Dream by The War on Drugs. It’s 80’s Americana road trip music filtered through a haze and launched into space.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Anything by Creed.

First concert attended?
Cage the Elephant. I lost my shoe in a mosh pit right at the beginning and never found it.

Last concert?
Some Irish cover band at some bar in Erie.

Favorite concert ever?
Youth Lagoon and Majical Cloudz (went for YL, was blown away by the intensity and emotional directness of MC.)

Least favorite concert?
Never really disliked a concert that I’ve been to.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Funky features, little pockets of nature, increasingly supportive music scene (only been here a few years, so not the authority on this.)

 

Thanks, Ben. Love the DIY aspect to your music. Also, your band name couldn’t be more appropriate for your music as we all melt.

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Stricken with the blues, laced with punk, and feeling the hangover of old rock and roll. Steve Hawk took the experience of being the front man of a Pittsburgh band and established his own solo sound.

Steve Hawk is a Pittsburgh based singer-songwriter who frequently plays out around town and has just released a follow-up to his 2015 debut, a single entitled “Midnight Misery” which you can stream below. I want to thank Steve (Guitar/Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/last.

The first album you ever bought?
Social Distortion – Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell.

Your last album bought?
Fubar – Get on The Bus.

Favorite album of all time?
I can’t pick a favorite. So many albums have inspired me. Honorable Mentions: Vast – Music For People, Social D –Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell also Sex Love and Rock and Roll, Green Day – Dookie, The Gaslight Anthem – The ‘59 Sound, AFI – Sing the Sorrow.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Harvey Danger – The album with “Flagpole Sitta”. The rest of the album fell flat.

First concert attended?
I went to X-Fest in the summer of ‘97. Dicky Barrett of the Bosstones came up to my friend and I, put his arms on our shoulders, and asked us if we were having a good time. He offered to buy us a beer, but we were only 18.

Last concert?
I attend so many local concerts of friends in the scene.

Favorite concert ever?
Everyone that I play.

Least favorite concert?
I never really attended a bad one. I missed Social D’s 25th Anniversary tour show because I was at leukemia night at the Pirate game to support my niece. Bummed I missed that one, but my family waited for me as I listened outside of the venue on our way back to the car. They knew how much I would have loved to be at that concert.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Pittsburgh is a great city to play live, underground music. I had great experiences with my band, Forgotten Nobody in the mid 2000’s as well as striking it out on my own in the past decade. I’ve had memorable shows at The Smiling Moose  and The Hard Rock, as well as outstanding local venues in Irwin, Manor, and Greensburg. I absolutely love playing in my hometown of Scottdale. The town really pulled through to help me earn an Iron City Rocks Pittsburgh Music Award in the category of Best Singer Songwriter for 2019.

 

Thanks, Steve. It’s quite amazing to me that as a solo performer, you can literally play anywhere and throughout this crisis, you haven’t stopped your live streams and I really do appreciate that about you and other ‘singer-songwriters’.

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Stationary Pebbles are a Pittsburgh based funk/reggae/rock band who interweave a natural flow of shredding and riff driven guitar playing with a constantly grooving drum and bass section. The Pebbles have become accustomed to making crowds tap their feet and move to the music. Incorporating conscious lyrics, the music is a very real product. Combining the musical influences of each member makes a Pebbles show a genre exploring experience. The band is playing the ever more now ‘normal’ gig at the Starlight Drive-In Theater in Butler opening for Tropidelic this Sunday (July 26) at 8pm. I want to thank Steve Short (Guitar/Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Either AC/DC Highway to Hell or Blink 182 Take off Your Pants and Jacket. I can’t remember which was first?

Your last album bought?
Bumpin Uglies’ Keep Your Suitcase Packed.

Favorite album of all time?
Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Blood Sugar Sex Magik.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
I don’t know.

First concert attended?
Joe Satriani and Eric Johnson, Palace Theater, on Satriani’s ‘Supercolossal’ tour.

Last concert?
Dopapod at the Rex Theater, a week or so before Corona shut down the entertainment industry as well as much of everything else.

Favorite concert ever?
Gonna have to give a few in no particular order. Tom Petty on the Gulf of Mexico, Gulf Shores Alabama. Stevie Wonder the very next day on that same beach. RHCP the previous year on that same beach. Umphreys at Red Rocks (any of the 3 of those I saw). Roger Waters’ ‘The Wall’ at Console.

Least favorite concert?
My Morning Jacket / Band of horses. Had free tix, heard tons of good things about MMJ, was so disappointing. The entire group of 4 or 5 of us that went together all left early.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
The sense of community in the music scene. For the most part, it seems like everyone is there for each other.

 

Thanks, Steve. I have had readers of this blog weigh in on their thoughts about the drive-in concert concept and it is pretty much split down the middle on whether fans like it or not but I am all for it if that’s what our ‘new normal’ is going to be. Have fun at the show and stay safe!

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I write and record music that I enjoy. Hopefully others can find some enjoyment in it also.

Bill Munz is a Pittsburgh based experimental musician who recent release from May of this year entitled Just Smile and Shut the Door is available via local label RORER714 Recordings. I want to thank Bill (Guitar/Bass/Keyboards/Drum Programming/Vocals) forsaking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
The first album (cassette) I ever bought with my own money was Black Sabbath – Paranoid.

Your last album bought?
The last album (CD) I bought was Vista Chino – Peace.

Favorite album of all time?
SO many to choose from! Every Black Sabbath album! Most Frank Zappa albums! Soundgarden – Louder Than Love, Mind Funk – Dropped, ALL, Decendents, Misfits, Black Flag! Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique! I could go on and on! Can’t choose just one.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Metallica Black album. This album was such a disappointment when it came out! Total garbage! Plus it went on to ruin metal!

First concert attended?
Scorpions with Bon Jovi opening June 20th, 1984 Pittsburgh Civic Arena.

Last concert?
Dweezil Zappa March 6, 2020 Jergel’s.

Favorite concert ever?
I have seen thousands of concerts! SO many great ones, but one that has always stood out would be Sammy Hagar VOA tour Oct. 23. 1984 Pittsburgh Civic Arena.

Least favorite concert?
Foo Fighters July 19, 2018 PPG Paints Arena Pittsburgh. Totally ridiculous amount of wasted time!! 19 songs in 2 1/2 hours!!! WAY too much bullshit and not enough music!!

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
I loved growing up in Pittsburgh!! So many great memories!! Seeing the City change over the years has been amazing. Now I am raising my kids in the City I grew up in. In some ways it is a completely different City, while it hasn’t changed much at all in some other ways.

Thanks, Bill. That Foo Fighters show has come up intermittently as people’s worst show over the years. I always wonder if the whole tour sucked or just that Pittsburgh gig?

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Poetry In Commotion is an experimental blend of metal & spoken word from John (Ballistic) Perry who’s main instrument is Bass guitar in the band but is currently it’s only member. His latest release is the album entitled Spoken Word Stupidity and Other Shady Shenanigans distributed from Pittsburgh based label RORER714 Recordings. I want to thank John for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Kiss – Destroyer when I was 10.

Your last album bought?
Bill Munz – Just Smile and Shut The Door. Bill plays with the Pittsburgh band Modern Fossils.

Favorite album of all time?
I’m not good with “faves” as my opinion changes constantly. My favorite albums tend to be ones I can play all the way through without needing to skip songs. Off the top of my head, Black Sabbath – Born Again, Judas Priest – Screaming for Vengeance, Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Rust Never Sleeps. There are many more!

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Metallica – …And Justice for All. I dislike metal albums where the bass is buried in the mix.

First concert attended?
Pat Benatar/Saga at the Civic Arena.

Last concert?
Southern Thunder Hospitality Tour 2019 w/ Atlanta Rhythm Section, Black Oak Arkansas and Blackfoot.

Favorite concert ever?
Again too many to list as my favorite concerts are usually bucket list type shows with bands I had never seen before or shows that inspired me to go home and play. Sleep & Big Business (2019), Electric Wizard & Oryx (2019), Fates Warning & Metal Church, Kiss Reunion tour, Ozzfest 2004 (featuring Black Sabbath, Judas Priest & Slayer), Megadeth & Savatage, Blue Oyster Cult and many, many more!

Least favorite concert?
I never really attended a bad one. I missed Social D’s 25th Anniversary tour show. Taste of Colorado 2019 for a variety of reasons but mainly because Grand Funk Railroad had to cancel last minute.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
I grew up in Pittsburgh (Millvale) and left as a young adult (I moved to Denver in 1990). Though Pittsburgh was always in my mind and heart it wasn’t until subsequent visits that I realized that I had probably taken for granted many things while growing up there. Leaving has given me a greater appreciation of the city and its beauty and charm. There is no other place in my mind quite like the ‘burgh. I like to joke that most of my childhood (Catholic) rites of passage (1st confession, 1st communion, confirmation) took place at Mr. Smalls as I attended school and was an altar boy there when it was St. Ann’s! As a kid we would fantasize about our crappy childhood bands putting on shows in the gym for our classmates. One involved my delusion daydreams of performing with Donnie Iris! Btw… I have to admit it bothers me that almost no one out here knows who Donnie is! It is so cool to be recording for and supported by a local Pittsburgh label (Rorer714 Recordings)!

Thanks, John. I agree, Donnie is a national treasure and should be recognized all over for that!

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The music I write ranges from acoustic alternative to instrumental rock to the soulful edges of electronic music and hip hop. I may not have a style, but I think I have a vibe.

Jon Wolff is a multi-instrumentalist based in Pittsburgh. When he’s not creating his own music, you can find Jon working other local acts as a Producer or Mixing and Mastering Engineer. He released his latest EP entitled Wolffsburgh in late June. I want to thank Jon for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.


The first album you ever bought?
Chumbawamba Tubthumper. What can I say? I get knocked down, but I get up again. You’re never gonna keep me down! My music tastes have expanded quite a lot since then.

Your last album bought?
I DON’T REMEMBER! I listen to so much more music thanks to streaming services, but I’m not actually buying any…

Favorite album of all time?
It’s either Revolver by The Beatles or maybe Strange Beautiful Music by Joe Satriani. Revolver is just such a perfect album for the history of music of the music that remains influential in my life, but that Satch album, literally put me on my path – one of the songs on the album was the audition piece that I used to get into Music School.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
What a HARD question! I don’t think I have a real answer to this, so I’ll do with the stock answer of audio engineers everywhere just for how crazy bad the production values are on (drum roll please) St. Anger by Metallica.

First concert attended?
In the suburbs of Philly where I grew up, they had a thing called Sundaes in the Park, where there was ice cream and bands performing at a local amphitheater. There were folk music acts, and marching bands, and at one point I even performed there in my high school jazz band. I don’t remember ANY of the names, but when other people think about some big arena show or some smelly venue as “their first,” I think of this. My college also had a TON of neat things come to campus to perform – so I was never really lacking for cool music. Again, the names stick with me less I do however remember the first off-campus show I bought tickets for: They Might Be Giants played at Chameleon Club in Lancaster, PA.

Last concert?
Moon Hooch… or honestly? local open mics in Millvale. They’re the best.

Favorite concert ever?
Two way tie – both at the Electric Factory in Philly: either going to see Ben Folds with my best friend Jesse for my birthday one year, or the time I left a Wolfmother concert early to fanboy over the opening act, thenewno2 and got to talk with Dhani Harrison super-duper briefly about music and his dad.

Least favorite concert?
There was a venue in Philly that just simple sounded BAD. It didn’t matter what show it was, it got to the point where if it was at “this place,” I just wouldn’t go. We’ll leave the name of this closed venue in the past with all its other memories.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Pittsburgh is a tricky town, especially for a loner like me. Some areas seem emotionally gated off my long-standing opinions, right or wrong, that aren’t interested in outside influences. However, I recently have been found a little community that’s interested in what I’m working on, and that’s made a huge difference. Don’t be afraid of new things in your community – especially your artistic ones!

Thanks, Jon. A very well put statement on finding artistic common ground within Pittsburgh. I have no doubt that if you continue to seek and reach out, you will eventually find what you are looking for here.

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My name is Tai, 2020 marks the end of my first decade playing music. I focus on simple guitar parts, mega harmonies, and making people do the “wow” thing when I sing.

Tai Chirovsky is a Pittsburgh based singer-songwriter who’s latest release is the excellent EP growing up from earlier this month. I want to thank Tai (Guitar/Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.


The first album you ever bought?
I was working at an antique shop and I spent my first paycheck on We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things by Jason Mraz and Everybody by Ingrid Michaelson. Which, now, seems odd. But I still like and respect those artists a lot. They used very aesthetically “pretty” voices to great effect.

Your last album bought?
I am a collective buyer, so I’ll buy a few albums and then dedicate a few months to memorizing everything about them and building my *own* harmonies. So, the last things I bought were: all the singles from 2020 of Julia Nunes, Midnight Boom by the Kills, and the Why Am I Like This? EP by Orla Gartland.

Favorite album of all time?
Some Feelings by Julia Nunes. Julia Nunes has been a musician I’ve followed for years. I watched her upload videos from her bedroom and I watch her now uploading these iconic pop pieces that I can’t get out of my head. I had just left an abusive relationship the month Some Feelings came out – an album also written about leaving abuse and growing through it. It was so instrumental to my healing process. I will always be grateful for it.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Turn Blue by The Black Keys from 2014. Years later, I can now appreciate a few songs, but back then I hated this album.

First concert attended?
Dashboard Confessional. DC was a huge part of growing up for me; I love the way he writes songs, I love the rhythm of his music.

Last concert?
The Zells album release last year. (It’s been a while….)

Favorite concert ever?
Last year, I saw the Eels with my partner. It’s our band; he played our song. It was magical. The added sax parts, the band jived SO WELL, everything was amazing that night. AND my partner got to meet E, who is his all-time favorite musician and he signed a record for us. Although, close second was going to see Los Lonely Boys with my brother (ahem, Anton Charr) at the Jazz Fest.

Least favorite concert?
For my eighteenth birthday, I saw Ed Sheeran. The concert was fine, I guess, but I really went because my friend group all liked him and then we all had a falling out. So there I was, alone, in a group of people that kinda hated me that I kinda hated, ready to graduate high school and cursing everything my life had become.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
One of my big concerns is the lack of diversity, the ability for every single open mic to become a clique, the lack of cross-pollination. I also wish Pittsburgh had more options for people who didn’t want to drink. I’m not a sober person, but I always feel this incredible pressure to drink when at shows. If/when we get to play shows again, I’m looking to book at coffee shops and living room shows from here on out, but I worry about how our venues will fare in these times. But I need more options to listen to diverse music and listen in diverse spaces. Dark bars just don’t cut it for me anymore. I moved to Pittsburgh when I was 10 and I love it here. I’ve been here for almost 16 years. When I first started playing at 15, I loved Cannon Coffee in Brookline. They were my people. Around 2017, I started playing music again and I fell in love with Acousticafé, which is where I met my partner a few years later. The music scene has always been my escape, my place to grow. I’ve grown a lot in the past couple of years and I’m grateful the scene still exists (COVID, excepting).

Thanks, Tai. I have to agree on many points you raised about Pittsburgh and I am hopeful when we all come out the other side of this, we can almost reset the Pittsburgh musical landscape and insist on many things moving forward, diversity being at the forefront, which I have been cognizant of for several years now in terms of lineups I put together.

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Steelesque is equal parts British Blues and latter-day jam band blending the sound and style of Exile on Main Street-era Stones or The Band, with adventurous passages echoing Phish or Wilco. . . At their best, the 6 piece Steelesque delivers the swagger of bands from days gone by while echoing their influences in a way that is all their own.

Steelesque is has been rocking out in Pittsburgh since 2011 and with their latest release from earlier this month appropriate entitled Songswan, it appears the band is hangin up their gear (for now) as members prepare to focus on separate projects. I want to thank Rob Eldridge (Guitar/Wurlitzer/Lead Vocals) for the hours of enjoyment listening to his music and for participating in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Damn the Torpedoes.

Your last album bought?
Robert Palmer – Sneaking Sally Through the Alley.

Favorite album of all time?
The Rolling Stones – Exile on Main St. Pretty much Keith’s solo record with Jagger on vocals. Keith holed up, in tax exile, in a southern France town while Jagger courted his high-profile wife, Bianca around Europe. I think the record was ahead of its time and people didn’t react favorably until they actually dug in and “got it”. Genius effort in my opinion. I listen to it monthly.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Beck’s Hyperspace simply misses the mark in comparison to previous hard-hitting gem albums.

First concert attended?
Simple Minds – Montreal Forum, circa 82.

Last concert?
The Rolling Stones – MetLife Stadium, Summer 2019.

Favorite concert ever?
The Black Crowes, Burlington VT – ‘Southern Harmony’ Tour.

Least favorite concert?
ZZ Top in Albany, NY. Unenthusiastic performance and they followed the The Blacks Crowes who were peaking which added to their stale sound and production.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Overwhelming amount of songwriting talent and most of the songwriters are very humble and appreciative of others that comes in the way of mutual support/feedback.

 

Thanks, Robby. Your band was a great example of mature musicians who did their thing the right way in this town, good music, hard work, and positive vibes. Hopefully this ‘break’ is temporary.

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“it’s a trap trying to savesomeone. choose wisely”

savesomeone is the moniker for chris ferree, a pittsburgh born solo musician who started out learning the drums at the age of twelve and from inspiration and example of his older brother and encouragement form his parents, taught himself guitar, bass, piano, and production. after not being fulfilled by drumming in a band, chris desired to ‘be up front’ and is now releasing music on his own while currently attending at the berklee college of music. I want to thank chris for freeing me up from overrated, somewhat burdensome capital letters and taking the time to participate in this edition of first/last.

savesomeone · first & last time (feat. james october)the first album you ever bought?
i can’t remember 🙁

the first album you ever bought?
i can’t remember 🙁

your last album bought?
punk2 by brakence.

favorite album of all time?
circles by mac miller.

least favorite/most disappointing album?
n/a.

first concert attended?
i’m quite embarrassed but it was nickleback… to be honest i loved it at the time but since then peer pressure has made me stop liking them, lol.

last concert?
the 1975.

favorite concert ever?
twenty one pilots

least favorite concert?
n/a.

favorite thoughts, experiences about pittsburgh?
it’s a great city unlike any other. i just recently realized how great pittsburgh actually is… geographically, yes, but the people are what make the city.

thanks, chris. it’s refreshing to hear of the acknowledgement that you give your family for steering you towards music like they did and how important it is to you.

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Heath Forslund is a Pittsburgh based singer-songwriter who discovered after being in various bands and recording projects, he wanted to dive into a writing process by himself. He met Matt Rowley in 2016, played a few of his solo songs for him and encouraged Heath to record them. At first it was hard for Heath to find a voice alone, about after going through many drafts and a little heartache, he was able to find something that felt like himself. He’s always been drawn to Americana and Folk music, but also cut his teeth on bands like The Smashing Pumpkins and R.E.M while also going through the emo phase of the early 2000’s. The music that he writes now is a healthy blend of all of those phases as evidenced on his EP from April of this year entitled Just a Few. I want to thank Heath (Guitar/Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Beck – Mellow Gold. I remember using my allowance to buy the cassette tape. My Dad took me to The Wall to make the purchase. Before that I was recording songs from the radio to blank tapes, of course filling in the first few seconds of the songs by singing them myself.

Your last album bought?
So everyone pretty much just streams what they want to these days. I always try to purchase albums from my favorite artists. Caspian – On Circles was the last record I bought. I’ve been following them for years. Post Rock has always been a huge inspiration for me.

Favorite album of all time?
Tough one. Either R.E.M. – Green or Radiohead – OK Computer. I remember my Dad driving around in his 1991 Chevy Blazer, blasting R.E.M. I know that I didn’t understand what the lyrics were trying to convey, and probably still don’t, completely, but they sounded different than anything I’d ever heard. OK Computer is a pretty cliché favorite album, I know this. My older sister bought it for me for my 14th birthday. I’d been playing guitar for around 4 years and this album changed the way I looked at creating my own music. Before it was just Nirvana power chords and whatever Led Zeppelin son a friend showed me.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Anything that went along with that new metal thing. Korn, Disturbed, etc.

First concert attended?
Some Kiss reunion BS.

Last concert?
Mewithoutyou.

Favorite concert ever?
Caspian.

Least favorite concert?
Dinosaur Jr. I got really drunk, heard it was a great show……

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
I moved to Pittsburgh from NC in the summer of 2012. I have two sisters who have lived here for years and I always loved visiting. Pittsburgh has a positive vibe and I feel like it’s pretty excepting of people as opposed to other places I’ve lived. Although I’ve moved outside of the city within the past two years, I still work in Lawrenceville and the city is special to me.

 

Thanks, Heath. Your Dad seems like a groovy dude, encouraging your interests and turning you onto some great music. My Dad was groovy, too.

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With ever-present murderous expressions on their faces, they regale with tales of brutal annihilation of the innocent residents of the greater Ponyville region. Your ears will be smashed, your heart will swell to the bursting point, and all of your preconceived notions of music will be shattered into jimmy-shaped shards of hatred so putrid that even Pinkie Pie won’t be able to enjoy them atop a delicious cupcake.

Coltcrusher is Pittsburgh,  based ‘ponycore’ band that is actually one person creating all the music. With a My Little Pony’s Equestria theme, Coltcrusher has a punishing death core metal sound that you can experience on their latest release, The Plot Sickens. Way cool that all proceeds from all sales go directly to women’s shelters. I want to thank Brootaloo (Guitar/Bass/Drum Programming/Vocals) for participating in this edition First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
It was probably a ‘Weird Al’ tape, Alapalooza. I don’t know exactly how I got into him when I was young but I thought he was the best. My opinion of him has actually only gotten better over the years. Writing parodies is not easy and his original songs are amazing as well. I ended up owning all of his albums eventually. I loved music before I got into ‘Weird Al’ but my older brother and parents had just about everything I’d want to listen to covered (Faith No More, Queen, Jesus Christ Superstar, Michael Jackson, Pearl Jam, and on and on), so I didn’t have to buy anything until I found something I HAD to have until I found ‘Weird Al’, which had not yet found its way into their collections. I probably bought it from Walmart or NRM, ha-ha.

Your last album bought?
Doctor Octoroc – In the RPA2 Over the Sea. I love this guy. He makes really awesome themed chiptune albums, including 8 Bit Jesus (NES Christmas covers each in the style of a particular game), and After These Messages which was all TV theme songs and jingles. The album I just bought from him is a chiptune recreation of Neutral Milk Hotel’s classic In the Aeroplane Over the Sea. Super awesome album! He does really cool things with chiptune that you don’t hear a lot of other places.

Favorite album of all time?
Smashing Pumpkins – Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. It wasn’t always my favorite favorite but it’s very nearly the prefect ideal for an album in my eyes. Varied, sprawling, surprising… AND it’s just packed with bangers and classics left and right. I never understood the criticism of it having too much filler because I don’t think there’s ANY filler. A total homerun.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
I have never been more disappointed by an album than St. Anger. It’s not my least favorite album, but I think it was a real wake up call to me at the time that expectations and reality could be so diametrically opposed. I WORSHIPPED Metallica when that album came out. I felt like I needed to branch out and find more music to listen to.

First concert attended?
Metallica! Star Lake, 1998. I was 12 and had no idea what I was in for. Loved every second of it, especially as it started to rain during the tail end of the set, including my favorite song at the time, “One.”

Last concert?
GWAR! It was in December of last year in Cleveland. I never miss a Gwar tour. When Dave Brockie died, I finally felt for the first time how people seem to feel when celebrities, musicians, artists, etc. die. I have so much respect for what he built, how he performed (best metal frontman of all time!), and the body of work he put together with Gwar. Their live show still absolutely rips even in his absence. Hail, Oderus!

Favorite concert ever?
This is tough. I’ve been to 350+. A few come to mind. Protomen at Altar Bar in 2012. Anamanaguchi at Garfield Artworks in 2012. Babymetal at the Hammerstein Ballroom in NYC in 2014. But the best is probably any time Daikaiju is in town. They’re an instrumental surf rock band that is constantly touring. They wear masks. They do not wear shirts. They usually play Howlers but I saw them for the first time in a kitchen in South Oakland. Their live show is nearly indescribable. You’ve never seen anything even remotely like it. Do yourself a favor and listen to their tunes and check them out the next time they come through. Go into the live show without doing any reading up on or watching it and just let it happen.

Least favorite concert?
I drove out to Lancaster with a friend to see Streetlight Manifesto at the Chameleon Club. This was our first time seeing them (on their supposed farewell tour no less) so we were stoked. But we got there a little late and were stuck way, way in the back. We could barely see the feet of everyone on stage. And we were so far away that the people around us were louder than the band. It was a great crowd and probably a great show but not for us. We might as well have not even been there. I’ve seen them many times since then and they’re truly incredible live, so it sucks that they’re my least favorite concert memory.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
I love Pittsburgh. It’s got just about everything you could want. The people here are honest and proud of the city. There’s always someone doing something awesome just beneath the surface.

Thanks, Brootaloo. My least fave concert was The Band in 1994 at Metropol. We were stuck in the back and couldn’t hear a thing except the people around us complaining about the terrible sound.

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Chris does everything but what Nicole does and Nicole does everything Chris doesn’t do

Anti-Corn League is a psychedelic garage duo from Johnstown, PA who formed in 2006 and released their fantastic latest album Love It or Leave It in the summer of 2019. The band has traveled the country in the last 5 years spreading love and searching for fellow weirdos. As they prep new music, I want to thank Nicole Eicher (Bass/Synth/Drums, Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
‘Space Jam’ Soundtrack from 1996. I was six years old and can still sing the majority of the songs from this album by heart and memory.

Your last album bought?
I’ve been hard into all of the Silver Jews albums, particularly Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea but I’ve also been getting into Erykah Badu a lot lately, too.

Favorite album of all time?
Silver Jews – American Water.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Some Neil Young’s stuff. He’s either hit or miss. When he hits, he hits your heart hard, like really hard, but when he misses, he really misses you with that shit.

First concert attended?
80’s hair metal band Jackyl, ha-ha. Instead of my boyfriend at the time in high school and I going to the homecoming dance we went to see Jackyl with his older sister. It was my first concert and it was so loud I couldn’t hear for days. I didn’t even know who they were just that they played a chain saw in one song. Ha-ha.

Last concert?
Ariel Pink in Portland, OR and it was a real bummer. I saw him play in Pittsburgh, PA once and it was a really great show but I don’t know if he had something against Portland or what but it was a real stinker.

Favorite concert ever?
I saw Dinosaur Jr. Play outside in midtown Manhattan and it was awesome. They had planes write their latest album name in the clouds.

Least favorite concert?
The Ariel Pink show I saw in Portland because it felt like a waste of my money and no one danced. NO ONE danced.

Favorite thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
All the shows and food I’ve seen or eaten there. It’s a great place to explore through your ears and mouth. The people are always nice too.

Thanks, Nicole. No dancing at an Ariel Pink show is an affront to what everything live music is about. Screw that crowd. When all this craziness is over, come back to play Pittsburgh and I will dance!

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