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…

Review: Avishai Cohen – “Big Vicious”

As a bandleader, the Israeli-bred trumpeter Avishai Cohen leans democratic. I don’t mean that in the American political connotation of the word – sorry, Biden 2020 campaign – but in the tradition of broad cooperation, of each member of a collective having their skin in the game. Cohen attended the same high school in Tel Aviv as…

Review: Murder for Girls – “Done In The Dark”

When I reviewed Murder for Girls’ last LP, All The Pretty Stars, for the SWPA-based zine Punksburgh back in 2017, I cited as the group’s forebears and immediate influences Babes In Toyland and Riot Grrrls like Bikini Kill and Bratmobile. But on the Pittsburgh quartet’s new LP — Done In The Dark, out on CD…

Review: Talking Book – “Talking Book II”

The best film scores are symbiotes, feeding off developments on the screen as much as their notes and flourishes contribute non-diagetic narrative elements such as foreshadowing. A character enters the frame, their leitmotif surfaces and the action unfurls, and so on. Talking Book is a duo-turned-trio – and Faith No More/Gigante Sound side project, it should…