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Monday, December 27, 2010

Unrescuable Schizo: It's the End of the World As We Know It...

Greetings, yinz. The time has come to announce that Unrescuable Schizo is going on hiatus.

I'm suspending the blog for two reasons. First, some of you may know that I moved away from Pittsburgh a while back. While I love the city and its music scene, at this point it no longer makes sense to write about shows and venues I cannot attend.

Second, I've turned my attention to writing as a career and there just isn't time to keep this site going. Check out the end of this post to see where you can read my stuff now.

Looking back...
I enjoyed all the perks that came with being a music blogger. By far my favorite aspect of the blog was getting a chance to interview national acts. When I sent my first interview request ever (to Nicole Atkins - a major-label artist, no less) I wasn't expecting to hear back from the publicists at Sony. But to my shock they replied, "She's available tomorrow. Can you do a phoner at 3 pm?"

I knew very little about Nicole's music at the time. So as soon as I got out of work, I raced to the nearest Record Exchange, found a copy of her album, and stayed up til 3 am listening to it and coming up with a list of questions.

Doing the interview was an interesting challenge. I had to take a tape recorder to work and sneak into a meeting room on my break. I put the phone on speaker and recorded the conversation. Nicole couldn't have been nicer, and the chat reminded me how much fun it is to be an actual journalist. I was thrilled to be interviewing someone who'd been on David Letterman just two weeks earlier.

Other interviews
My most exciting moment was interviewing Amanda Palmer of the Dresden Dolls. Amanda was my favorite singer for some time. "Unrescuable Schizo" is a lyric from her song "Delilah." Never in a million years did I think I could score an interview with her. I chatted with her on the phone in 2009 before she played Mr. Small's. It wasn't my best interview (thank goodness for editing). My tape recorder crapped out just before I was scheduled to call, so I was running around like a madman looking for batteries and got really nervous while we chatted. But interviewing my favorite artist was a thrill.

Talking to Taylor Hanson was also strangely fun, because I flashed back to that moment years earlier when I self-consciously walked into Circuit City and purchased the Hanson CD Middle of Nowhere, trying to bury it under a pile of other, more respectable CDs. At that moment I wouldn't have imagined that ten years later I'd be speaking with a Hanson on the phone.

Pittsburgh music...
I wish I'd gotten to meet more of the people in the Pittsburgh music scene, though I am grateful for my interactions with people like Scott Tady of the Beaver County Times and some of the folks at WYEP. I should also mention Steve Juffe at The Concert Manager - he was my entry point into the Pittsburgh concert world, as I worked for him as an assistant for about a year.

Finally, a note to the other Pittsburgh music bloggers. When I started, there were only two others that I know of, and now there might be more than a dozen. I've communicated most often with Brian and Hugh since they were around when I started. It's cool to see all the other people who have joined the club. And thanks to Deena for coming onboard with the blog - our joint coverage of Lolla '08 (experienced together in a cramped air conditioning-less Chicago hostel) was a lot of fun.

So now I'm off to other things. I may pop back in here from time to time if something in the music world compels me to express my opinion. Or perhaps I'll just leave long-winded comments on some of yinz' blogs.

Here's where you can keep up with me online:
AOL Radio Blog
I regularly contribute Top 10 lists and New Song posts for the AOL Radio Blog. Good times! Occasionally, I conduct interviews for their sister site Spinner - this one with Ozomatli was fun.

Grammy Awards Examiner
I know way more about the stuffy Grammy Awards than any human being should, so I became the Grammy guy for examiner.com. The 2011 nominees were announced in early December. Subscribe to me there for more Grammy news than you could ever possibly want.

9000 Miles
I've been operating a travel blog for two years, starting when I took a four-month cross-country van trip through 46 states in April 2009. If you haven't checked it out yet, give it a look. I'm in the process of starting another travel blog; stay tuned to 9000 Miles for the announcement about that in the next couple months.

Monday, December 20, 2010

My Top 10 Albums of 2010

I held off on my Top 10 Albums list just in case the new Michael Jackson album was worthy of inclusion, which turned out to be an unnecessary delay. These are the ten discs that did it for me in 2010.

Tim from OK Go promised when I interviewed him that this record was inspired by a lot of 1999-era Prince, and he wasn't lying. The music would be worthy of attention even without the mind-blowing music videos.

9 LP4, Ratatat
Another batch of intoxicating instrumental rock compositions from the NYC duo. Ratatat are one of the most inventive bands in rock today.

8 THE ARCHANDROID, Janelle Monae
A strange, futuristic, soulful science fiction concept album. Exactly the kind of record that should be nominated for Album of the Year at the Grammys, instead of the tame mainstream stuff like Lady Antebellum.

7 THE SUBURBS, Arcade Fire
Here’s how I feel about the new Arcade Fire album (and, for that matter, all Arcade Fire albums). It’s really good, and when I listen to it I recognize its quality. But when I’m scanning my iTunes trying to decide what to listen to, I rarely choose Arcade Fire. I don’t get excited thinking about the prospect of listening to their music. I’d much rather listen to Girl Talk or Matt and Kim or something more vibrant. So while I might declare this the "best" record of 2010, it's only my 7th favorite.

6 ODD BLOOD, Yeasayer
Weird synths, gratuitous percussion, unconventional time signatures... Odd Blood has it all. Now all Yeasayer have to do is pick up their live game. I've seen them in concert twice and both times came away disappointed.

5 BODY TALK PT. 1, Robyn
Robyn took the pop music world by storm in 2010. The Swedish dance artist released three albums, but the first was her best. "Body Talk Pt. 1" produced memorable tracks "Fembot," "Dancing On My Own" and "Don't Fucking Tell Me What To Do." She also killed it live at Pitchfork.

I didn't enjoy this at first since it was such a change from their last one, but eventually the album grew on me thanks to "Flash Delirium," "Brian Eno," and "It's Working."

3 INFINITE ARMS, Band of Horses
A gorgeous record that somehow flew under the radar in 2010. "Laredo" gets more fantastic every time I hear it. Then again, so does every track on this album.

2 TREATS, Sleigh Bells
I wrote about this one back in July. I can't predict that Sleigh Bells are destined for long-term success (this could be a Crystal Castles-style one-time fluke thing), but at least they delivered one fantastic rock record.

1 GO, Jonsi
Sigur Ros topped this list two years ago, so it should be no surprise that the group's frontman has my favorite album of 2010. Go is a bundle full of energetic, happy songs with uplifting melodies. Jonsi even sang in English, though you still couldn't really figure out any of the words.

Honorable Mention:
I LEARNED THE HARD WAY, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings
ALL DAY, Girl Talk
SIDEWALKS, Matt and Kim
HIGH VIOLET, The National
THE MONITOR, Titus Andronicus

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ticket giveaway: Ghostland Observatory at Mr. Small's

Edit: Winners have been notified. Thanks for entering!

One of our favorite bands, Austin electro-dance-rock duo Ghostland Observatory, is playing two all-ages shows this weekend at Mr. Small's with other local and national electronic acts and we have two tickets to give away.

You can win two passes to either Friday or Saturday night's show (whichever you prefer). Just email your full name and which night you want to attend to scoots2000@hotmail.com. The entry deadline is Thursday, December 9 at noon. One winner will be selected at random and notified by email.

Ghostland performs with a laser-light show that takes their hypnotic music to another level. We've been fortunate to see them several times before (Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza) but this is their first performance ever in Pittsburgh. They were the only band to place two songs on our Favorite Songs of the 2000s list.

On Friday, the band will be supported by Mux Mool with Cutups and Keeb$, while Saturday's additional acts will be Expensive Shit, Keeb$ and DJ Ra. An official after party takes place Saturday night at midnight at Brillobox.

Tickets for the Ghostland shows are available for purchase for $25 per night or $45 for both shows at www.opusoneproductions.com.

Here's a clip of Ghostland's laser show we took last year at the All Points West music festival. It's brief, but you get the idea.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December Pittsburgh concerts


12/3-4 Girl Talk @ Stage AE
12/16-17 Wiz Khalifa @ Stage AE
The new Stage AE venue is open and Pittsburgh's two biggest names are ready to christen it. Girl Talk just dropped his newest album All Day and celebrates with two big shows. Meanwhile, local rapper Wiz Khalifa prepares to hit the stage just as he's finally starting to break through to the bigtime. His single "Black and Yellow" is lighting up iTunes (based on actual sales, unlike when local rapper Kellee Maize hilariously sent a press release touting that her single went to #1 on Amazon, even though it was just a free giveaway.) And Khalifa's major-label debut is scheduled for sometime in 2011. Catch him now before he blows up.

12/10-11 Ghostland Observatory @ Mr. Small's

I've been singing the praises of Ghostland for years, since I discovered them at Lollapalooza and was enchanted by their White Stripes-meets-Daft Punk blend of rock and electronics. Their last record wasn't as well-received, so hopefully the next album will be a return to form. Bring your cameras to capture Aaron Behrens' eye-popping dance moves.

Others to keep in mind:
12/1 Bryan Adams @ Byham Theater
12/3 Demetri Martin @ Byham Theater
12/3 Ryan Cabrera @ Hard Rock Cafe
12/3-4 Mannheim Streamroller @ Benedum Center
12/4 Zac Brown Band @ Pepsi Cola Roadhouse
12/6 Twiztid @ Mr. Small's
12/10 George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic @ Stage AE
12/13 Justin Bieber @ Consol Energy Center
12/15 Better Than Ezra @ Mr. Small's
12/22 Bear Cub @ Rex Theater
12/28 Punchline @ Diesel
12/31 Wu-Tang Clan @ Mr. Small's