Taking their cues from a wide set of influences — the rhythmic world music of Tinariwen and Lijadu Sisters; the production of Air, Damon Albarn, and Fiona Apple’s The Idler Wheel; the tenor vocal range of Big Star’s Alex Chilton and Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham, with the occasional pop crooner delivery of Harry Nilsson — the two unveil their new direction with Airpark’s debut EP, Early Works, Volume 1.
It’s a sound that targets the feet and the head. It’s pop music for thinkers. It’s dance music for wallflowers. And with the brothers pulling triple-duty as songwriters, multi-instrumentalists, and co-producers, Early Works, Volume 1 is their most forward-thinking project to date, pairing the band’s growing ambition with musical chops to match.
Thrival Festival just continues to get better and better every year. This year we were introduced to a new venue, the Carrie Furnaces. The festival also brought it’s largest lineup yet. I’ve saved you guys the trouble of reading all the other articles and posts out there, I’ll tell you the gist.
Friday wasn’t the best, and there’s a lot of feedback on social media to verify that. There were long lines galore; for drinks, for wristbands to GET drinks; and some heavy confusion around drink tokens. Oh, and then they ran out of water. BUT ALAS, no fear, they fixed everything all up for Saturday which was amazing! It’s not very often that an event like this fixes up main complaints in time for the following year, let alone Day Two!
The music has great feedback from Friday (shout-out to Lettuce!!!) EXCEPT for one MAJOR setback. Hmm…let’s see, we have Daya performing and we have The Chainsmokers performing. Daya and Chainsmokers have the hit song “Don’t Let Me Down” and yet they definitely let everyone down by not performing that song together! Whyyyyy? Blasphemy! I seriously don’t get it, can someone explain this to me? There was a chance for some legendary shit right there. *big sigh*
But, here’s a video of them performing their brand new song, “All We Know” featuring Phoebe Ryan:
Anyway, according to festival goers, Saturday ran much smoother and they nixed whatever the hell those drink tokens were about (Thank goodness because no one has time for that when they’re going to have a good time and listen to music!)
I did not make the Music Festival for Day One. But, my main passion was Thievery Corporation who was headlining on Day Two. You know how in your car, if you have Sirius, you can set “alerts” to let you know when certain artists or songs come on, and you can set it to auto-tune to that station. Well, Thievery Corporation is one of the groups on my “alerts” list….and lemme tell you, that alerts list has maybe 3 artists on it. So, that’s how excited I was, if that puts it into perspective for you.
I would have never known the fiasco of Day One had I not read about it, because Day Two was a dream. The weather was perfect; anyone from Pittsburgh knows that’s a huge accomplishment to have good weather for an exciting event. The crowds weren’t as big as Day One, which I attribute to the Chainsmokers crowd, but I welcomed the much more relaxed flow. Especially since only a week before, I was in California for the Kaaboo Music Festival (which The Chainsmokers also performed at) and it was way oversold and overcrowded. So much so that we were forced to leave the event early. Womp Womp.
I also did not deal with any of the parking or shuttle woes thanks to Uber. Though I very much like that a shuttle service was available. So, Uber dropped us off at a designated drop-off area and we marched on down to the entrance. The entrance brought on a teensy bit of confusion, since there were different locations for general admission, will call and VIP, but nothing major. I just have a really bad sense of direction. Once inside, we were thirsty (duh) and while I’m happy with almost anything, my friend was bummed about no liquor, unless you were VIP. BUT, it was still a step up from last year because this year there was wine. Maybe next year everyone can have access to liquor, who knows. Oh, but there were, however, two Skyy Vodka gals there though giving out free shots of a watermelon vodka of some sort, so we took advantage of that (again, duh).
I love that this festival has two stages with only one band playing at a time. This way, there’s no conflicts of interest and you can hear the band playing from anywhere on the festival grounds. And there’s no long waits in between the bands because the next one is already setting up on the other stage. Ty Dolla $ign was supposed to perform, but sadly had to cancel due to a death in his immediate family. But, there was lots to check out besides the music. There were vendors set up selling different items including clothing and coveted flower crowns. Rivers of Steel Arts created live iron pours. The Wheel Mill Stunt BMX team put on a show. There was even a tent with a virtual reality simulator to check out.
Metric put on a fantastic set and wowed us with some of their best songs. Here’s a video of “Breathing Underwater” from Shawn Glass on YouTube:
When it was getting to be that time (Thievery Corporation), the place was noticeably and expectedly even more crowded. I can’t even express how excited I was to see this group that’s been together for over 20 years and yet this was their very first time performing here in Pittsburgh! Their set exceeded mostly everyone’s wildest expectations and hopefully it doesn’t take them that long to come back! They were the most perfect close-out for a sensational Thrival Festival.
After their set, everyone wafted around seemingly walking on clouds. And then suddenly…something more happened. Over yonder, music started playing. The strange but cool artsy thing that everyone had been looking at all weekend sprung to life. It was the Squonk Opera! And what…pray tell, is that?
Squonk Opera is a group of interdisciplinary performing artists from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Led by artistic directors Jackie Dempsey and Steve O’Hearn, Squonk Opera’s shows consist of music, visual art, and acting elements in an attempt to make a form of opera accessible to all people. The group “like to think of ourselves as a wacky, provincial opera company,” says Dempsey, who named the group “Squonk” after a description of a jazz saxophonist’s playing as a “squonk-fest”, rather than the legendary creature of the same name. — From Wikipedia
Check out this little tidbit video of Squonk Opera performing from their Pneumatica show:
I’m so glad that Pittsburgh keeps moving up that cultural ladder and bringing more and more awesomeness, especially in the music department. There’s always going to be little hiccups but this festival was overall a huge success and I can’t wait to see what next year brings!
(P.S. I’m sure I’ll think of more suggestions, but I’d love to see Lotus come perform next year! — Here’s a video of them performing “Anti-Gravity” at the Summerdance Festival in Ohio this year!)
On the innovation side of things —- for the first time this year, the festival will transform over one hundred thousand square feet at Nova Place and Alloy 26 — a former indoor/outdoor mall and Woolworth’s five-and-dime — as its home base for its Thrival Innovation programming. A 14,000 square foot “Innovation Hall” will feature highlights from experiential electronic music collaborations through smart devices (CEEMI) to live demos by noted Pittsburgh chefs of a new hands-free cooking assistant app (Yes, Chef). This will be paired with an outdoor “Innovation Playground” that includes aesthetically graffitied demolition derby cars (PGH Art Car), adaptive sports games for people of all abilities (Find Some Flow), and a mobile office bus equipped with 3-D printing, laser engraving, and robotics (Tech Tank).
Crayon Soul is produced by Corbu and mixed by Dave Fridmann (Tame Impala, MGMT, The Flaming Lips). It follows two acclaimed EPs, We Are Sound and Everything You Imagine Is Real, which garnered praise from the likes of NYLON, Stereogum, The Guardian, NME and more, as well as capturing the attention of Jessie Ware, who personally requested the band to remix her song “You & I (Forever)”.
“some of the most addictive, hypnotizing disco-pop jams you’ll hear” –COMPLEX
“Skulls’ tunes are one part electro, another indie-pop, and a whole lotta soul all wrapped into one package”- THUMP
“He sings, he DJs, he produces, he stuns… Tantalizing disco-inspired harmonies will no-doubt get you dancing”. –VIBE
“Every live Mystery Skulls show maintains a juxtaposition between the energy and grittiness of a DIY show with his infectious and dance-worthy productions and vocals. Forever is a disco house and funk-infused album” – DJ MAG USA
Following some time off after two tours with Cherub, spot dates around the globe, and commissioned remixes, sound architect Mystery Skulls will hit the road in August for a 7 day, 7-city tour run that begins Friday August 21st in Brooklyn and ends Friday August 28th in his former stomping grounds of Toronto.
Routing and ticket links are as follows:
DATE CITY VENUE
FRI 8/21 Brooklyn, NY Baby’s All Night TICKETS
SAT 8/22 New York, NY Mercury Lounge TICKETS
SUN 8/23 Baltimore, MD The Metro Gallery TICKETS
TUE 8/25 Philadelphia, PA Ortlieb’s Lounge TICKETS
WED 8/26 Cambridge, MA Brighton Music Hall TICKETS
THU 8/27 Pittsburgh, PA Brillobox TICKETS
FRI 8/28 Toronto, ON Drake Hotel TICKETS
To coincide with the tour, Mystery Skulls takes his eclectic ear and genre-bending stylings to produce a specially curated mix to hold over fans while (re)introducing the sounds popularized in his Forever debut last year which featured appearances from Nile Rodgers, Brandy and Snowblood.
Brick + Mortar will release their highly anticipated EP on 7/17. But, right now, they are thrilled to premiere their new video for “Train”. The video plays off of the trops of the star-crossed lovers by reenacting some of the most iconic scenes from famous love films to create an epic ode to love.
The video plays homage to such films as:
7/16/15 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Club Cafe
7/17/15 – Cincinnati, OH @ Fountain Square w/ The Ting Tings
7/18/15 – Lakewood, OH @ Mahall’s 20 Lanes
7/19/15 – Columbus, OH @ Woodlands Tavern
7/21/15 – Detroit, MI @The Shelter
7/22/15 – Chicago, IL @ The Beat Kitchen
7/23/15 – Lawrence, KS @ Granada
7/24/15 – Denver, CO @ Underground Music Showcase
7/25/15 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Music Garage Live
7/27/15 – Seattle, WA @ El Corozon
7/28/15 – Portland, OR @ Analog Cafe
7/29/15 – San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop
7/30/15 – Redlands, CA @ Hangar 24 Brewery
7/31/15 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Satellite
8/01/15 – Phoenix, AZ @ The Rebel Lounge
8/02/15 – Tucson, AZ @ Club Congress
8/04/15 – Austin, TX @ The Mohawk
8/05/15 – Dallas, TX @ Club Dada
8/07/15 – Tampa, FL @ New Wrold Brewery
8/08/15 – Atlanta, GA @ Wrecking Ball 2015
8/09/15 – Orlando, FL @ Backbooth
8/11/15 – Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle
8/12/15 – Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter
8/13/15 – Washington, DC @ DC9
8/14/15 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Barbary
8/15/15 – New York, NY @ Webster Hall Studio
8/16/15 – Cambridge, MA @ Middle East Upstairs
Kopecky’s upcoming second full-length album Drug for the Modern Age is now available to stream on SPIN, who describe the record as “a collection of melodic tunes that prove pop can be deeply intimate and fiercely energetic at the same time.” To be released on Tuesday May 19 via ATO Records, DFTMA is also available for pre-order on the band’s official store and iTunes.
5/14 at Camp House in Chattanooga, TN
5/15 at Vinyl in Atlanta, GA
5/17 at Hangout Festival in Gulf Shores, AL
5/19 at Basement in Nashville, TN
5/22 at Live Oak in Fort Worth, TX
5/25 at The Casbah in San Diego, CA
5/26 at The Echo in Los Angeles, CA
5/29 at Bottlerock Festival in Napa, CA
5/31 at Sainte Rocke in Hermosa Beach, CA
6/1 at Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix, AZ
6/4 at Wakarusa in Ozark, AR
6/5 at Wanderlust Festival in Snowshoe, WV
6/6 at KINK on the Waterfront in Portland, OR
6/12 at MidPoint Music Fest in Cincinnati, OH
6/13 at Lincoln Hall in Chicago, IL
6/16 at Vega in Lincoln, NE
6/18 at Vanguard in Tulsa, OK
6/20 at Turf Club in Minneapolis, MN
6/26 at U Street Music Hall in Washington, DC
6/27 at WYEP’s Summer Music Festival in Pittsburgh, PA
7/26 at XPoNential Music Festival in Camden, NJ
8/8 at Chateau Morrisette Winery in Floyd, VA
9/18 at Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion in Bristol, VA
Today, Albert Hammond Jr. is pleased to share plans to release his third solo album, and first in five years, entitled Momentary Masters. The album’s name derives from a phrase in astronomer Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space – a notion that underscores the truism that every triumph is fleeting.
Due to drop on July 31st in the US via Vagrant/BMG, Momentary Masters serves as a follow up to 2006’s Yours To Keep and 2008’s ¿Cómo Te Llama? “We’re huge fans of Albert Hammond Jr.’s and are excited to be working with him on his best effort yet,” says Jon Cohen EVP of Recorded Music for Vagrant/BMG.
Recorded in Hammond Jr.’s home in upstate New York in a converted barn he calls One Way Studios, Albert created Momentary Masters alongside guitarist Hammarsing Kharhmar (Mon Khmer), guitarist Mikey Hart (Bleachers), bassist Jordan Brooks, and drummer Jeremy Gustin (Delicate Steve, Marc Ribot). The sessions were extremely relaxed which encouraged space for creativity and collaboration. The result offers a new kind of dynamism: you can hear it in “Power Hungry,” with its Morricone-esque grooves and a Mellotron manipulated to sound like violins; or in the aggressive stomp and anxiety-inducing guitars of “Caught By My Shadow.” Even on “Side Boob” – titled so because, hey, why not celebrate a good thing? – there’s a jittery energy that leaves the listener excited.
Momentary Masters is a record that reflects on missed opportunities, choices made, wasted time, and paths not chosen. He calls it “a love letter to my past self.” The music might be largely buoyant-spry, breezy guitar lines locking together and dancing apart – but melancholy frequently seeps into even the sunniest of toplines. It’s a record of acceptance, too. Tucked in the songs is an exploration of the reconciliation of two halves: the best self that you present to others, and the self that slips through and lies exposed when your guard drops.
Albert Hammond Jr. will be on tour in North America from the beginning of September until the beginning of November. All dates (except fests) are on pre-sale beginning today directly via Albert’s website. A full list can be found below.
Momentary Masters Track List
1. Born Slippy
2. Power Hungry
3. Caught By My Shadow
4. Coming To Getcha
5. Losing Touch
6. Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright
7. Razors Edge
9. Drunched In Crumbs
10. Side Boob
Albert Hammond Jr. On Tour
May 27 Barcelona, Spain @ Primavera Sound
September 09 Pittsburgh, PA @Brillobox
September 10 Cleveland, OH @ The Grog Shop
September 12 St. Louis, MO @ Loufest
September 13 Lawrence, KS @The Bottleneck
September 15 Chicago, IL @ Bottom Lounge
September 16 Detroit, MI @ Shelter
September 17 Toronto, ON @ The Opera House
September 19 Montreal, QC @ La Sala Rossa
September 20 Cambridge, MA @ The Sinclair
September 21 New York, NY @ The Bowery Ballroom
September 26-27 Washington DC @ Landmark Festival
September 29 Atlanta, GA @ The Earl Restaurant & Lounge
September 30 Nashville, TN @ Exit In
October 02 New Orleans, LA @ One Eyed Jacks
October 02-04 Austin, TX @ ACL Festival
October 05 Houston, TX @ HOB Bronze Peacock
October 06 Dallas, TX @ HOB Cambridge Room
October 07 Norman, OK @ Opolis
October 08 Little Rock, AK @ Juantias
October 9-11 Austin, TX @ ACL Festival
October 12 Phoenix, AZ @ Crescent Ballroom
October 13 Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory – Constellation Room
October 14 Los Angeles, CA @ Teragram Ballroom
October 16 San Francisco, CA @ The Independent
October 25 Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile
October 26 Vancouver, BC @ Venue
October 27 Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge
October 29 Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge
October 30 Aspen, CO @ Belly Up Aspen
October 31 Denver, CO @ Lost Lake
November 02 Des Moines, IA @ Vaudeville Mews
November 03 Minneapolis, MN @ Triple Rock
November 04 Madison, WI @ High Noon Saloon
November 06 Columbus, OH @ The Basement
November 07 Philadelphia, PA @ First Unitarian Church