Favorite Albums of 2012

World Party-Arkeology

Probably my favorite band of all-time releases a 5CD monster of a box set that not just retreads old ground with a plethora of scarcely available b-sides and live cuts but also includes plenty of ‘new’ material from his exhaustive musical vault that had me listening to this thing for months straight without getting the slightest bit stale. Simply put, AMAZING! Look out for a First/Last from Karl Wallinger himself here early next year.

Earlimart-System Preferences

I cannot think of another group who more deserves the title of ‘most underrated band in rock and roll’. With this, their eighth official release, duo Aaron Espinoza and Ariana Murray continue to make the best indie pop music I have ever heard. The vibe of this latest album reminds me of Beach House but I detest Beach House, so go figure? These two have been at the very top of bands I must see play before I die. Read my previous First/Last with Aaron Espinoza here.

Quiet Company-We Are All Were We Belong

I guy struggles with his faith and composes a beautiful testament to the power of music and what God means to all of us. Well, at least that what I got out of it. Don’t let the description scare you away either. This album is soooo damn good. It happens to contain my absolute favorite song released this year in the incredible, ‘At Last! The Celestial Being Speaks’. Read my previous First/Last with main man Taylor Muse here.

Household Stories-Blueprints EP

Local boys making the list! My affinity to these snot nosed kids is indescribable. The music on the two EP’s they have put out isn’t anything Earth-shattering but I found I just cannot not stop listening to it. They are finding their legs and I predict they are going to blow everyone away soon. Read my previous First/Last with them here.

Ty Segall & White Fence-Hair

I am such a sucker for the so-called ‘psychedelic rock’! Music labeled as such has a tendency to wear thin after awhile but in this particular case, the record sounds as fresh and exciting with each listen as it did the first time I heard it. This would have been a killer show to have seen for sure. Read my previous First/Last with Tim Presley here.

Favorite Pittsburgh Albums of 2012

There were way too many Pittsburgh releases that could have made this list. I seriously would have been here all day. Please do yourself a favor and check out the latest albums from Good Night States, Bear Cub, Meeting of Important People, Costello & The Cool Minors, Coronado, Sleep Experiments, Satin Gum, Grand Piano, Several Conclusions, Instead of Sleeping, The Long Time Darlings, Fist Fight in the Parking Lot, Gypsy & His Band of Ghosts, Pet Clinic, Dan Getkin & The Masters of American Music, The Color Fleet, Ivory Weeds, City Dwelling Nature Seekers, Big Snow Big Thaw, The Lopez, Action Camp, Legs Like Tree Trunks, New Victorians and The Committee for Getting Attention. Support our local artists.

The Harlan Twins-Old Familiar

This aptly titled sophomore effort showcases the band’s best attributes. Always reliable good ole rock and roll with a tinge of country boogie. The Harlans are best heard live in a boozy club setting but believe me, this is the next best thing.

Broken Fences-Broken Fences

I’ve really enjoyed listening to this debut from the local duo. It’s heartfelt, delicate folk without turning too precious or sappy. Would love to hear these two ‘plug in’ and rock out. In time.

Triggers-Forcing a Smile

Most of the material on this, their long awaited second full length, I have heard live many times so it’s fitting this album sounds like it’s been around for years.

Black Moth Super Rainbow-Cobra Juicy

Local weirdos’ triumphant return to form after several years to put the melody into the vocoder as instrument. My favorite album of theirs yet.

Madeline & The Metropolis-Madeline & The Metropolis

Surprise of the year for me as these guys came outta nowhere and put on one of the best sets at their CD Release gig I have seen all year. No wonder, these songs are catchy pop that are sure to put this scene on notice.

Favorite Live Moments of 2012

World Party

If the box set wasn’t enough, it was announced that Karl was not only making a rare concert appearance in town, he was playing a special studio solo session at WYEP the day before which you can check out here. Now, I normally would have picked the moment at Altar Bar when Karl pointed to me me as he started, ‘Sweet Soul Dream‘ but going into the studio session, I saw Karl’s manager and asked if I could shoot sound check? He obliged and I found myself alone in the room as Karl rehearsed his set and was able to chat with him for several minutes before the rest of the crowd entered. Pretty damn cool!

With that being said, I cannot even begin to rank from the other 194 bands I saw this past year (only 196…yeah, I know I’m slipping). But many stand outs were Roger Waters, Hotel Lights, The Beach Boys, WOODS, The Belle Brigade, Sharon Van Etten, Basia Bulat, and Lydia Loveless

Favorite Photo of the Year

Meeting of Important People/Mr. Smalls Funhouse/Friday, August 24, 2012

1/80-f 2.8-16mm-ISO 1600 Out of the thousands and thousands of shots I took this year, why this one? Easy. When anyone asks me what makes a good concert photo, I respond that there are several obvious factors involved. Being at the exact right place at the exact right moment. Having a photogenic subject. Substantial and interesting lighting. All these are key for sure, but for me the images that capture my attention are the few that convey the photographer’s love for the subject matter. In other words, if my heart isn’t into the shoot, the photo will reflect that more than any other reason I can think of.

When this gig was announced, I asked Josh (as the norm, I usually contact someone from the band I am shooting whether their manager or publicist) where and when I can shoot? He replied, “I’ve got a ticket with your name on it bud! This is OUR FREAKIN SHOW and you are free to go anywhere you damn well feel– on-stage, behind the bar, backstage, parking lot, anywhere :)”. Needless to say, I was jazzed and I truly believe my longtime appreciation for these guys reflects in the photo.

This show was an absolute blast as the band, the crowd, the whole room was ON! Midway through the show they ‘stripped’ down for their acoustic set and as you can see with some of the other images, I decided that the one above was the keeper. I always realize that my opinion on what makes a photo work may not be what others feel but that’s art, man. I stick with what I think I know and run with that!

And finally, amazingly, there was this. Just too cool.

Quiet Company
The Smiling Moose
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
“In 2011 Quiet Company spent the majority of their time writing &
recording their most ambitious & thought provoking album to date,
“We Are All Where We Belong.” In late summer they were approached by
Grooveshark & signed to their new Artist Development program. Since
July 1st, Quiet Company has garnered  a global audience, thanks to their
partnership with Grooveshark. Quiet Company’s Facebook fans jumped from
2,800 in July to over 50,000 by February & their video for “Fear
& Fallacy, Sitting in a Tree” reached over 100,000 plays in under 3
months. Quiet Company is averaging well over 50,000 song plays a day on
Grooveshark alone all across the globe.
In October, Quiet Company released their new album, “We Are All Where
We Belong” which received the best reviews & response the band has
earned to date. They were invited to play Deluna Fest in Florida as well
as CMJ in New York.”
So here’s the deal, I am constantly exposed to music…constantly. Most of it I like, some of it I don’t. But there are a few times that I discover an album that absolutely floors me. Case in point, “We Are All Where We Belong” by Quiet Company. Everything about it, most notably, the amazing lyrics, have struck a chord with me and I am so geeked that the band will be playing Pittsburgh tomorrow night at the Moose on a bill with Brick + Mortar for the EARLY show. My sincere thanks to songwriter Taylor Muse (Vocals/Guitar/Piano) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.
The first album you ever bought?
Probably something obscure and Christian. I want to say “Scarecrow
Messiah” by Bride, but it might have been “Snakes in the
Playground” by Bride. I’m pretty sure it was something by Bride.
Your last album bought?
“Moms” by Menomena. It’s very good, as is everything that Menomena
has done.
Favorite album of all time?
For my money, “OK Computer” by Radiohead is the closest thing to
perfection anyone has achieved in the history of recorded music.
Least favorite/most disappointing
Zwan, and then everything Billy Corgan has done afterward.
First concert attended?
Newsboys, probably. They were/are a contemporary Christian band that was always
coming through east Texas and playing churches or whatever the biggest venue in
the area was. I saw them at Longview High School’s coliseum, and they
had a ton of lasers and a lift for the drummer that hung him upside down over
the crowd while he played a solo. Looking back, their music was pretty
cheesy and preachy but the live show was undeniably insane.
Last concert?
Saw Menomena at the Parish in Austin last Wednesday. A week or so before, my
wife and I saw Ben Folds Five at Stubb’s.
Favorite concert ever?
Radiohead in Houston, TX. ‘Amnesiac’ tour. Their song selection was damn near
perfect and covered all of their albums not just the most recent. On the four
hour drive home, my friends and I talked ceaselessly about all the things that
would be cool about naming your child “Skeletor”.
Least favorite concert?
The Smashing Pumpkins in Austin. ‘Zeitgeist’ tour. I’d never seen them in
their heyday, so our manager, Paul, got tickets for us. I still worship the
band’s early catalog but seeing them live was less than life-affirming. Parts
of the show made me think, “That’s the most rock ‘n’ roll thing I’ve ever
seen!” but the rest of the show made me think, “That’s the most
self-indulgent thing I’ve ever seen.”
Any thoughts, experiences about
We’ve played their once before but no one was there and it was several years
ago, but we did have one amazing experience in the Primanti Bros. sandwiches.

Thanks, Taylor. Can’t tell you how much I love this album. Really looking forward to the gig.