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Friday, July 30, 2010

Musician tweet of the week: Slash

Guitarist and best-selling author Slash had this to say on Twitter earlier this week:

Just did some licks on Travis Barker's new solo record. Really cool song called "Sat Night." Good stuff.

Who knew Travis Barker was working on a solo album? Cool news.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Musician tweet of the week: Paula gets frustrated

Paula Abdul can melt down in front of the Idol cameras and in cyberspace. Last night she ranted with a series of tweets about people who were arguing on her twitter page:

I cannot believe what's happening. I just took a little break from filming video replies & people are saying horrible things to each other!

PLEASE the fighting and the profanity is ENOUGH. I don't want it. I care about you, I do not want this to go on...

This fighting & name-calling & arguing has to STOP. it is TOTALLY against what I believe in.

please do NOT retweet any more negative, rude, disrespectful comments. I don't want them. I don't want you to see them.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Random girl notes

Amanda Palmer is releasing an album of Radiohead covers recorded on ukelele. Why? Because she can.

The album can be purchased online for a donation here. I haven't heard it yet but I'll give it a listen at some point in the near future.

Meanwhile, NPR recently surveyed hundreds of female musicians about life on the road, life in the music business, and all that stuff. Their responses have been categorized and posted individually here. Check it out, very fascinating even though most of the women surveyed are not household names.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Musician tweet of the week: Jason Isbell

This week Jason Isbell served as news anchor with his tweet:

Hank Cochran has died. Damn fine songwriter. http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jSUlNcszRGbPobW4pmJy_Y0XTjcgD9GVMG6G0


Monday, July 12, 2010

My favorite record of 2010: Sleigh Bells

I've been slacking on listening to new music this year. I think it's because so many of my favorite artists released new albums earlier this year, and they were mostly disappointments. I'm looking at you, MGMT, Gogol Bordello, New Pornographers, the Hold Steady and the National (though I think those last two will grow on me with a few more listens.)

But, inspired by BeckEye's recent post at The Pop Eye, I decided to get caught up this weekend. I downloaded 21 albums, the majority of which came from the NPR list of the top 50 albums of 2010 so far.

I haven't listened to all of them in their entirety yet, but I can say unequivocally that I have a new favorite record of 2010: Treats by Sleigh Bells. It's grating, female-fronted experimental rock, and I can't stop listening to it. Here's the opening track, "Tell 'Em." It's been a long time since a record grabbed my attention within the first three seconds of the first track:

Audio: Sleigh Bells - Tell 'Em

Sleigh Bells are playing the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago this weekend (I'll be attending for the second time), so I won't have to wait long to see them live.

Among my other recent downloads, I'm enjoying Janelle Monae, whose record is described as a Kanye-esque R&B space opera. I'm halfway through the record and already I've never heard an R&B record this diverse.

Others I like so far: Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Ratatat, Caribou, Frightened Rabbit, Tobacco, Band of Horses and Scissors Sisters. I'll post again when I've gotten through the whole batch.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Musician tweets of the week: Everyone's a meteorologist

Yes, it was hot this week. And musicians on Twitter couldn't shut up about it.

Ingrid Michaelson: it is 96 degrees in NYC but feels like 99 say weather.com. once you get past 90, i feel like it's all the same. unbearable.

Amanda Palmer
: 96 degrees out in boston and i'm headed to a hot yoga class because i want MOAR HEAT. this weather is heavenly.

Jonathan Knight (New Kids on the Block):
92 degrees, 58% humidity......... Isn't there some casino thats air conditioned at 68 degrees looking for a group to perform today?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The inbox of a music blogger...

Not long ago musician Amanda Palmer did a really insightful blog post in which she wrote about each email in her inbox in excruciating detail. It was fascinating to see the messages from her friends, fans, and management team. So I thought it would be fun to do something similar from the perspective of a blogger, in case anybody is interested.

My inbox is not nearly as flooded as hers, but I do get around 30 emails a day related to my music writing gig. When I first started blogging, it was cool to get the occasional message from a publicist. Now, they're mostly annoying.

So here's a random sampling from a recent day last month. Welcome to the inbox of a music blogger...

Email #1: Email from Jason Webley, a musician I interviewed for another site, apologizing for missing my guest list request and asking if I got into the show. I reply yes, and the show was fun.

Email #2: Email from a local Pittsburgh band I'm not familiar with asking me to check out their new record and consider it for coverage. I'd love to listen to every Pittsburgh band but my writing schedule is so crazy these days that, sadly, I do not have the time. Send polite reply declining coverage and encouraging the band to check out the other Pittsburgh music blogs in my sidebar, as many of them do a great job covering the local scene.

Email #3: Email from a publicity company pimping an up-and-coming band, Kaiser Cartel, and asking if I want to attend a show. I promise myself I'll look them up later and see if they're interesting enough for me to want to attend. File email in special "PR" folder.

Emails #4-6: Promotional emails from some mailing lists I never joined. Scan subject lines for anything of interest, delete unread.

Email #7: Message from publicist confirming my upcoming interview with Hawthorne Heights. Remind myself to start putting together a list of questions.

Email #8: Invitation to an upcoming rock show at the Burgettstown pavilion. I'm somewhat interested but won't be able to attend. Wish I had more of a "staff" so I could send someone else. File away email.

Email #9: Another press release about an artist I've never heard of. But it's from the PR company that does the Pitchfork Music Festival, so I open it and see if there's anything interesting in it. I'd like to cover some of the artists for this company, to get on their good side. This message doesn't interest me, though. Delete.

Email #10: Personal message from another local artist, a female rapper. This sounds interesting so I click on some of the links within, only to discover this girl works for Nakturnal, a local publicity agency. They promoted a show last year by Snoop Dogg and I had attempted to interview someone at the agency for a blog post here. At first they were agreeable but later they didn't return my call. So I'm not going to give this girl any press. Sorry, what goes around comes around! Delete.

Emails #11-13: More unsolicited press releases from publicity agencies. Scan subject lines, open one message that sounds vaguely interesting, then delete all.

Email #14: Email from Josh at Drusky Entertainment about a just-announced local show. I've never met Josh but he's one of my favorite local music people as he is really on the ball when it comes to internet promotion. This particular concert isn't one I want to write about (Candlebox? They're still touring?), so I file the email away.

Email #15: Press release from Warner Music Group about one of their artists. I sent them an interview request months ago - I don't even remember who it was for. And they never responded. But they did add me to their email list. I hate when that happens. But I'm not going to unsubscribe; being on a major-label mailing list could prove useful at some point.

Email #16: Personal email from some unknown musician from Europe. I love when they include a line like, "I'm a fan of your blog and I thought you might be interested in my record..." That's such a transparent lie. You are not a fan of my blog! Delete.

Email #17: Press release about Rusted Root performance. Consider for a moment whether I'd be interested in interviewing them. Negative, I decide. File away email.

Email #18: PR email about Buckcherry recording a single for oil spill relief. I get Buckcherry emails all the time. Their publicists go all-out. I was once supposed to sit in on a Buckcherry telephone conference call interview but sadly something came up and I couldn't make it.

Email #19: PR message about the Afro-Punk Festival in Brooklyn. Sounds interesting, Bad Brains and Cool Kids will be there. But I don't live in New York. Delete.

Email #20: PR message from Shorefire titled "Jukebox the Ghost plays all 5 NYC boroughs today." Now that's interesting enough to read. It's not something I'd write about though, specially with the short notice. File in PR folder.

Email #21: PR email about a Reel Big Fish greatest hits album. Good for them. Delete.

Email #22: Press release from the publicist of Amanda Palmer herself, about her new album of Radiohead covers. The letter describes Amanda as "un-pin-downable," probably the best adjective I've heard used to describe her. File email in "PR" folder.

Email #23: Message from someone who is apparently Joy Ike's new publicist. It's cool to see she is getting some representation. Except they misspelled her city as "Pittsburg" in the email. Epic publicist fail!

Email #24: A message selling Andrew WK & GG Allin "throbbleheads." The photos make them look just like bobbleheads, so I'm not sure what the distinction is. I like Andrew WK but I have no interest in buying one. Delete.

And that's all I feel like writing about today. I can't wait to see what tomorrow's inbox has in store!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

July Pittsburgh concerts


7/20 Flaming Lips & Fang Island @ Station Square Amphitheatre

Last year I finally crossed the Flaming Lips off my concert bucket list, and the show was everything I've been led to believe it would be. It was intense sensory overload with confetti cannons, furry costumes and the giant ball of Wayne Coyne. The music's not bad, either.

7/10 Dave Matthews Band & Zac Brown Band @ PNC Park

Dave Matthews Band's 2009 album Big Whiskey was one of the best of their career so you can expect to hear a few of those songs at PNC Park. DMB just announced they will not be touring at all in 2011, marking their first extended break from the road since the band formed in the early '90s. So if you want to see them anytime soon, don't skip this show!

7/24 Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and Drive-By Truckers @ First Niagara Pavilion
I'd like to highlight a smaller band here, but all of this month's best shows are the big boys. It's totally unnecessary at this point to make an argument why you should go see Petty. Just go. And the Drive-By Truckers as the opening act is just a huge bonus. They've never been my cup of tea, but they do what they do very well.

Others to keep in mind:
7/1 Bettye LaVette @ Diesel
7/1 Athlete @ Club Cafe
7/1 Neon Trees @ Altar Bar
7/3 Sleigh Bells @ Brillobox
7/4 Phil Vassar @ Heinz Field
7/5 Scorpions & Cinderella @ Station Square Amphitheatre
7/7 Warped Tour with Andrew WK, All-American Rejects, Sum 41 & Motion City Soundtrack @ First Niagara Pavilion
7/7 Weird Al Yankovic @ Palace Theatre
7/8 Tim McGraw & Lady Antebellum @ First Niagara Pavilion
7/9 Devo @ Station Square Amphitheatre
7/9 Ted Leo & the Pharmacists @ Diesel
7/11 Lynyrd Skynyrd, Bret Michaels & .38 Special @ First Niagara Pavilion
7/13 B.B. King @ Station Square Amphitheatre
7/15 Jon Spencer Blues Explosion @ Diesel
7/18 Roseanne Cash @ Hartwood Acres
7/21 Rogue Wave @ Andy Warhol Museum
7/23 Lightning Bolt @ Belvedere's
7/24 Candlebox @ Alltar Bar
7/24 Steve Miller Band @ PNC Park
7/25 Kenny Wayne Shephered @ Hartwood Acres
7/25 Rasputina @ Mr. Small's
7/26 Dashboard Confessional @ Diesel
7/29 KISS & The Academy Is... @ First Niagara Pavilion
7/29 Lords of Acid @ Diesel
7/30 Brooks N Dunn @ First Niagara Pavilion