A round up of the best (and strangest) action on Bandcamp from artists in and around Pittsburgh.
“MEXICO TOUR DEMO TAPE”
One of the few remaining hardcore bands grinding out the good fight in Pittsburgh, Blood Pressure has released their demo tape ahead of an ambitious tour weaving through Texas and Mexico over the next two months.
Blood Pressure stuffed three tracks onto the tape (clocking in at three minutes and twenty seconds) that boast their speed and grime. The demo tape is an aesthetic throwback to the songwriting tendencies of the 90s’ best hardcore bands, splattering a mix of Infest and D.R.I. with modern-hardcore vocals and structure.
Hot track: BPHCFU
Arbitrary emoji rating: 4 out of 5 derelict houses
Morgantown’s False Pterodactyl may have just a dumb, dumb name, but good God is this a great release. The West Virginia trio pumped out one of the few great lo-fi recordings I’ve heard in a long time in their return to the studio for the first time since 2015, emphasizing songwriting over pure fuzz.
The final product is a bumpy tour through fuzz and mumbles that sounds like Thee Oh Sees and Pile met halfway on a collaboration piece. As an added bonus, holy shit is this album loud. In the midst of a period of crisis when a lot of alternative bands are just playing catch up with each other, False Pterodactyl stuck their necks out on “smushy homo” and produced a great, great record as a result.
Hot track: bangs
Arbitrary emoji rating: 4.5 out of 5 men playing water polo
“YOU DESERVE THIS”
Wilkinsburg-bred rapper Livefromthecity carried his relentless work ethic into 2017, releasing his newest full-length effort “You Deserve This” just four days into the new year.
There are few guarantees for hip-hop albums, but I promise that “You Deserve This” will be the most chill record you listen to this week. Livefromthecity finds the cushy middle ground between production and lyricism throughout the album, tossing the content of his words around within the record. At points Livefromthecity boasts about his talent and drive, only to recede to a vault of introspection.
Musically, you can expect standard hip-hop drums blended with modern jazz hooks, similar to the production we’ve grown to expect from Dangermouse. Livefromthecity clearly has an ear for this industry, and “You Deserve This” certainly seems to be a stepping stone to gaining more prominence in the Pittsburgh music scene.
Hot track: Got Juice?
Arbitrary emoji rating: 3.5 out of 5 speakers with sound waves
“RED IN THE HOLLOW”
Matt McDowell (Sun Circles, Dire Wolves) released another album of his solo, heavily folk-inspired pickings in the new year, carrying the torch of fellow string-enthusiasts Marissa Anderson and Eric Chenaux.
Like many bands that wander into post-rock and minimalist territory, many of McDowell’s songs require patience to hit the ultimate payoff, though even the momentum is wonderful and digestible in of itself, and the conclusion is masterful. “Red in the Hollow” is a complex listen that requires thorough attention to pick up on the subtleties, but McDowell delivers in the end and rewards those who wander into his web.
Hot track: Nimbus Silhouettes
Arbitrary emoji rating: 4 out of 5 fuel pumps
“KILL ME FOR MY ART”
Pittsburgh’s throwback hip-hop enthusiast Cap Jazzo has joined the ranks of under appreciated Steel City rappers with his illuminating release “Kill Me for My Art”. The 12-track album plays like the logical evolution of Kool Keith – if the elder statesman ever grew out of hating the music industry and instead focused on his production.
There is a feverish intensity to Cap Jazzo’s lyrics – he gains steam like a boulder parading down a mountain, but just when you expect Cap Jazzo to trip over his dedication, he pulls back and sticks the landing. “Kill Me for my Art” ends up as an impressive album reflective of a young, creative rapper who has the confidence and tools to execute his vision.
Hot track: Smile
Arbitrary emoji rating: 4 out of 5 tropical drinks
THE WHAT THE FUCK-EST RELEASES OF 2017 (YET)
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 year (so far).
“SELF-HEALING AND RELAXATION”
Isabel Meisler, who is apparently Pittsburgh’s resident Maurice Pitka, has released a single-track therapeutic album designed to ease its listeners into the milky wonder of meditation. The song is fine and everything, but the tonal consistency of Meisler’s voice turns haunting after just a few minutes, unintentionally veering the track into Ordre du Temple Solaire territory.
I’m sure under the right pretense this may be an effective and useful album for those seeking respite from the authenticity of their human experience, but in isolation and without context, this track makes me tighten up like one of those balls make from rubber bands. How do people make those things?
Hot track: Self-Healing and Relaxation
MACRONYMPHA / EASY BAKE OVEN
This one’s fun because I genuinely can’t tell the difference between the two artists. Noise music!
Hot track: None. Fucking none.
“HAVE A VERY HARRY CHRISTMAS”
Yes, this album was released before the new year and yes, I’ve written about this duo before, but I refuse to just gloss over these tracks and pretend like they don’t exist.
Pittsburgh’s favorite (and Jesus, I hope only) Harry Potter-themed musicians had the wherewithal to produce a short collection of Christmas songs rewritten to include Severus Snape and Voldemort. The world needed exactly this – another submission to the uncomfortable and sexually confused world of Harry Potter universe fan-fiction.
Thank you, #MuggleSnuggle, for everything you do. May you descend farther and farther into the depths of psychosis so that we may bathe in the grace that is your heartbreak.
Hot track: Here Comes Severus