Review: Stuck – “Change Is Bad”

Holy mother of fuck, how did this one slip below the radar? Born Yesterday Records released the Chicago quartet Stuck’s debut LP, Change Is Bad, mid-pandemic in April and I am left wondering how this atypical and teetering 11-song blessing of angular post-punk didn’t make it itself known on a seismic scale. This thing is that…

Review: David Grubbs/Taku Unami – “Comet Meta”

In “Heart of the Thrumming House”, the fourth track off the new David Grubbs and Taku Unami collaboration, Comet Meta, listeners can be forgiven for feeling the surroundings are a little familiar, that peculiar déjà vu of sensing that they’ve been here before. There are Grubbs’ fragile and sparse, borderline-nonexistent guitar figures, and Unami unleashes undulating waves…

Review: Same – “Plastic Western”

SAME, the post-something quartet with the un-Google-able name, is from southwestern Pennsylvania, the duly coined Paris of Appalachia, but not entirely of the place. Now, Pittsburgh is far from a musical monolith. Most storied bands (a recent example being Code Orange) have come from the city’s punk and metal scenes, but there’s a robust diversity to the…

Review: Melkbelly – “PITH”

Sorry, as much as you want them to be, Melkbelly aren’t a 2020s reincarnation of the Breeders. There are parallels, yes, yes, but it’s not that simple, not that clean-cut a thesis. For one, Melkbelly are rougher around the edges and more likely to lunge at you with the blade than carve out a careful refrain. (In short:…

Review: Sufjan Stevens and Lowell Brams – “Aporia”

Lowell Brams has been part of singer/songwriter Sufjan Stevens life since Stevens was barely out of toddlerhood. Brams – the titular “Lowell” of Stevens’ excellent 2015 solo LP Carrie & Lowell – is Stevens’ stepfather, yes, but, moreso a kind of guiding presence in his musical and/or public lives. Brams introduced Stevens, then a boy,…

Review: El Ten Eleven – “Tautology I”

The first chapter in El Ten Eleven‘s new three-part musical journey seems to be written entirely in the third person and drained of all impulse for narrative twists. Kristian Dunn, the duo’s very adept guitar and bass player, said he wanted Tautology I to “represent what my teenage years were like, when I was full of testosterone and…

Profile: Same (2020)

Playing guitar in an indie-rock band in 2020 requires some genre knowledge and a lot of muscle memory, that ability to reproduce the fingers shifting between chords and sentiments without conscious thought.  Jake Stern, who plays guitar and keys and provides backing vocals in the placid Pittsburgh band Same, knows the instinct to rely on…

Feature: Bandcamp in the COVID-19 Era

Bandcamp is a drug for music lovers and knowing that your support directly buttresses the performers’ work – on May 1, mind you, without Bandcamp’s cut removed – has got to up the potency of the aural narcotic a bit. Here is a sadly incomplete compendium of what I’ve been listening to and downloading on…

Profile: Greg Dulli (2020)

Cincinnati is a solid four-and-a-half drive from Millvale, Pa. but when Ohio-bred musical provocateur Greg Dulli plays Mr. Smalls Theatre in the Pittsburgh-area borough on April 30 (SHOW CANCELLED DUE TO COVID-19), the distance between the two places might seem a little bit smaller. “I love playing Pittsburgh because I grew up in Cincinnati,” said…