Profile: String Machine (2020)

There are elements of Neutral Milk Hotel’s freak-folk,’90s slowcore, and of Montreal’s cinematic post-rock on Death of the Neon — the second LP from Pittsburgh-area ensemble String Machine — which Know Hope Records will re-release Jan. 16. But, more than that, the record is informed by a gnawing hunger: A hunger to create, yes, but also that…

Profile: Astrology Now (2020)

Pittsburgh psych-rock band Astrology Now will celebrate its new Knife EP by playing an acid-tinged set at 9 p.m. Friday, Jan. 10, with Outsideinside, Silver Car Crash and DJ Miss Mungo at Spirit in Lawrenceville. That’s oddly appropriate because the group’s story started in Lawrenceville. A decade ago, Greg Mastrean – who was en route to being…

Review: House & Hawk – “Pure Emotion” EP

I still harbor conflicted emotions about Mick Jagger Solo Album, the A-for-effort 2016 LP of synthetic pop from House & Hawk. At times inventive and at times oddly polished, the disc kind of wobbled somewhere between interesting and really good, and its larger experiments were worth taking in, yes, but not always worth revisiting. So,…

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…

MusicTAP Record of the Year (2019)

It’s an ugly, vicious thing for an ugly, vicious year. And, yeah, there might be bigger chart-toppers from 2019 or “better” market-researched deep-cuts out there polished to within an inch of their life, but I’m tipping my hat and giving my Hall of Fame vote this year to a series of explosions from Pittsburgh. 2019’s…

Feature: Pittsburgh Record of the Year (2019)

Drumroll. Drumroll, please. I submit for your consideration, dear reader, my selections for Pittsburgh record of the year – two brilliant debut offerings on opposite ends of the volume spectrum. Both are available on Bandcamp, nudge, nudge. LOUD: TRVSS – Absence. Visceral noise-rock that blisters the skin. The band’s 10-song debut lashed at the senses…

Feature: Unreliable Narrator (2019)

Though the raucous punk of Pittsburgh band Unreliable Narrator’s debut LP – Old Man Yells At Older Man, self-released this month by the quartet – owes a lot to ’70s punk and ’80s hardcore, its message-minded blasts of noise are definitely cut from the cloth of 2019. Take, for example, frontman Clint Benjamin’s take on the Trump-era…

Profile: Flower Crown (2019)

What was Pittsburgh musician Richie Colosimo listening to while his band, Flower Crown, tracked dream-pop single “High Fantasy” at Mr. Small’s recording studio in October? Black metal, of course – why do you ask? “I know they’re kind of polar opposites but the things I’ve always liked about [black metal] are the walls of sound…

Profile: TRVSS (2019)

There are shreds of feedback and, waiting, waiting, waiting, also an air of anticipation as members of Pittsburgh trio TRVSS wait for WRCT DJ Sean Cho to peer through the studio glass and give them the thumbs up to start. Then, after a requisite “Alright, go!” TRVSS erupts over the airwaves and, figuratively, of course,…

Concert Review: Tool (2019)

The prog-metal quartet Tool exudes context, from its rich LPs, full of epic songs and epic phrasings, to its historiography as a band, which is ripe, unfortunately, with legal headaches and more than its share of silence. (More than a decade passed between the band’s last and newest LPs.) But the group largely avoided the…