Review: David Grubbs – “October 19, 2017”

6 April 2020, “The Quarantine Concerts”: This is the first time I remember hearing David Grubbs like this, and I was unmoored by the presentation and the humble kind of luminosity to it all. Grubbs doesn’t break his poker face or fully tip his hand and foreshadow the content of the proceedings that night. But the video…

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: 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:…

Profile: Adam Fitz (2019)

Four out of every five shows singer-songwriter Adam Fitz played this year centered around cover sets in Westmoreland County bars and juke joints. Coming up as a musician in Chicago, he sneered at such gigs. Not so in 2019. “The songs that came out of me this year, those songs came out easier because I…

Review: Adam Fitz – “Can’t Pardon Me”

There might be no better way to end 2019, this dog-eared novella of a year, and start the wondrous new Twenties than with ruminations on regret, redemption and hope. So, let us all join Pittsburgh-area singer-songwriter Adam Fitz when he starts 2020 bright and early Jan. 1 by self-releasing a two-song EP online that’s ripe…

Review: Pan-American – “A Son”

A Son is the name of Chicagoan Mark Nelson’s latest release as Pan-American, out last week via Kranky. And, even by Pan-American standards, it is a startlingly human and naked thing. Nelson’s outside-Labradford project often has come loaded with the lynchpins of glitch and dub: the careful arrangements, even – sometimes especially – of arguably…

Review: Tomeka Reid Quartet – “Old New”

Most of us know or associate with the cello as a staple of the classical and post-classical world, an instrument whose deeper breaths can elicit comparisons to the bowels of sadness. (Jazz polls, for example, list it under “Miscellaneous.”) In Queens-by-way-of-Chicago musician Tomeka Reid’s hands though, the thing swings. Reid recently released the second outing…

Profile: Spotlights (2019)

The band Spotlights played its first show in Pittsburgh in 2017, opening for Melvins at Rex Theater in South Side. At the time, the group – husband and wife team Mario and Sarah Quintero – lived in Brooklyn. On Tuesday, July 16, the band will make its latest appearance in Pittsburgh, headlining Black Forge 2…

Review: Nonagon – “Tuck The Long Tail Under”

Nonagon sound positively, well, positive on “Tuck The Long Tail Under,” its offering from a new split seven-inch with Cincinnati’s Knife The Symphony out on Phratry and Controlled Burn Records. That’s not to say the trio’s gone all doughy or doe-eyed on its first vinyl outing since 2013’s excellent The Last Hydronaut. The closing third…

Review: Radon Chong – “I Keep On Talking To You” (x2)

Radon Chong — a Pittsburgh act that crafts musical nooses out of knotted guitars — sets its sights high on I Keep on Talking to You, a debut cassette sitting at the intersection of post-rock’s interwoven trajectories and Captain Beefheart’s atonal laments. And, man oh man, does this band bloody and utterly batter those sights. In…