A weekly round up of the best (and strangest) action on Bandcamp from artists in and around Pittsburgh.
CHET VINCENT & THE BIG BEND
“DIRTY MONEY / MANGO” RE-RELEASE
Chet Vincent has quietly established himself as perhaps Pittsburgh’s most direct tunnel to the heart of honky tonk, an artist that is sought after to complement the furnishings of a smoky tavern and a name attached to the whispers of his peers’ adulations.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of shitty “blues” inspired bands out there churning out albums that overindulge in the simplicity of three-chord song structures. The Big Bend aren’t one of them. I’m not saying this is real blues, though – far from it. This is honky tonk hipster rock, like Rivers Cuomo getting dragged through a sewage pipe by his hair.
“Dirty Money / Mango” has flavors of Lars Frederickson and Jay Reatard and it is absolutely satisfying. If you don’t dig this then you probably don’t dig Levi Garrett, and if you don’t dig Levi Garrett then you can fuck right off.
Hot track: Mango
Arbitrary emoji rating: 4 out of 5 jeans
“MAKE A FREAK FEEL CLEAN”
There aren’t too many bands stationed in Pittsburgh that are focused on the deconstruction of everyone’s favorite beaten to death, revived, burned and then molested genre – punk.
Yet here is CALYX, a trio of ambitious musicians that are simultaneously confused and totally in tune with one another’s ideas. On their new album “Make a Freak Feel Clean,” CALYX hones in on satisfying dischordia to mold their own sound based around balking industry expectations.
The misdirection (or disarray, depending on how you hear it) is driven by CALYX’s drums, though the guitars jump in and out of rhythmic direction, leaving you guessing the direction of the next bar. Melodies waltz around sections of each song, and ultimately the finished product is slightly reminiscent of Cursive, though this is really pop punk that has been modernized a la Ultra Dolphins.
Patience is required for this album to payoff. Don’t give up on “Make a Freak Feel Clean” because the songs often lead up to a single moment of inspired clarity, like the frenzied emotion in the last minute of Erie.
Hot track: Erie
Arbitrary emoji rating: 3.5 out of 5 tigers
WHAT THE FUCK DID I JUST LISTEN TO?
Bandcamp allows any artist to upload whatever they want to the site. Some artists take that idea and run with it. Here’s the weirdest thing from Pittsburgh on Bandcamp this week.
“LULLABIES FOR RETIRED GYMNASTS”
Have you ever heard an album that made you genuinely concerned for someone else’s safety?
“Lullabies for Retired Gymnasts,” an album probably recorded by someone under involuntary house arrest, is the musical equivalent of a snuff film. These are hymns that harken back to the original intent of lullabies – songs sung to children to distract them from their inevitable death from disease ridden rats
I’ve spent three days trying to figure this album out and it has taken a Lovecraftian toll on my mental health. I really really really wish that Anna Azizzy had just kept this to herself. If this is a cry for help then please, for the love of God, go and get it. I will set up a Kickstarter for your first month of therapy sessions.
Hot track: Retired at Thirteen