Rich- "One"

I’ve been jumping back and forth searching for something to supplant Sam, Carla, and the Cheers Gang; god bless the algorithms, they try, they really do, but it’s been mostly duds and sinkers over here until Hulu decided to shove Taxi right into my face. I’ve heard so many good things about this show, Andy Kaufman, Judd Hirsch, Danny Devito, Marilu Henner, and Chrisotpher Lloyd, so I finally gave it a go. I hit play, and what’s this? WHAT’S THIS THEME MUSIC?! Alright, shit, you got me Taxi, I’m hooked and I haven’t even heard dialogue yet. I did some digging and realized that the theme song for the show (“Angela’s Theme”- Bob James [1978]) wasn’t even the original theme music. It was the score for a one-off character in the third episode. After listening to what was the intended original theme music, it just seems like there was no way that “Angela’s Theme” couldn’t be the theme music. It sets the tone and environment for the entire show; a group of people trying their best and just barely making it through. Dark, neon, sunshine, sorrow, some success, and more failures. Anything made in a vacuum always has a different potential when you see the forest for the trees.

Rich is a self-proclaimed “Pontoon Rock” group based out of Pittsburgh, and their debut album One is a stellar display of Ambien drenched, groovy-bop, heartbreaking, sunset-driving ballads. The members of this group hauled their rear-ends to a hunting camp away from the city, near Allegheny National Forest, and decided to just go ahead and write and record some excellent music in the span of a few days in March (Minus “So, True I Do” which was recorded at Mr. Smalls Recording Studio). The environment of this album brings the bass tone (Nate Campisi), reverb-twingy, drenched guitar (Rich Stanley), beautiful synthscapes (Ryan Hizer), and smooooooth drums (Kayla Schureman) of the 70’s blended together with a little bit of now. “So True, I Do” slings the same groove as “Down the Line” by Gerry Rafferty with a little bit more tension, while “Let’s Get Real” lets off all the steam of relationship frustration sung with so much sultriness you’d be convinced it was a love song.

Which leads to the vocals and lyrics on this album, Stanley, brings all of these tones together, with Schureman backing his lead to ensure maximum groove, solidifying One. The lyrics bring the light to the disco ball and then you can see what is on the walls, or at least try to, it's pretty damn dim, but here's a hand, Stanley's, held out to guide us through. The production on this album is grade-A as well, and who could’ve guessed it’s Campisi behind the knobs, who’s had his hands on a whole buffet’s worth of great Pittsburgh releases, let’s hope he continues to do so.

My favorite track on this album, “Silver Skin”, rides for almost 6 minutes without you even realizing it. Everything is locked together in rhythm and moving from suite to suite as easy and as effortless as a tide. Overall Rich has created an album that has a multitude of potential coming out of its cabin creation. It’s boat cooler music, it’s sad slowdance disco floor boogie; really the genre rubix cube is for everyone and anyone to solve. For me, “Visions of You” first finished the album out as I was in Deep Creek, Maryland with the sun setting, getting ready to hit the town, pensive but ready to boogie. Whatever you think One, it’s that and so much more.

RIYL: Connan Mockasin, Christopher Cross and Gerry Rafferty slow dancing on Ambien, Aloe Vera
that’s been in the fridge, “you got any more white claws in the boat cooler, dude?”

Favorite Tracks: “So True, I Do”, “Silver Skin”, “Visions of You”


Gauche- "A People's History of Gauche"

Listen, I get it. Shit ain’t right.

Something feels off; hasn’t this already happened before?
How old is this newspaper?

Oh it’s from today?

That can’t be?
2 weeks... again?

Everything shouldn’t come in cycles.
I can’t go to work and act like it’s just another normal day...wanna play hooky?

“I know! I can’t! Survive like this!”- Gauche

Gauche is a 6 person post-punk, goddess worship, absolute ripper of a doozy, dance your dang legs off, group hailing from Washington D.C. Their most recent album, The People’s History of Gauce, is just crackling with energy; absolutely the most inviting and fun power-punk album I’ve heard in a minute, Idles’ Joy as an Act of Resistance being up there as well. Every song is built to make sure that we all understand how Gauche got here but they never tip their hand to where they’re going to next.

“Flash” kicks the album off and from there we’re on a motorcycle of divinity ripping on a speed run that ends in a crisp, 36 minutes. The rhythm section of keys, percussion, and bass are so locked in together, boogie just oooooozzzesss out. From there, everything else is exactly where it needs to be, saxophone, guitar and lyrics. The LYRICS. Some powerful words, painting some powerful images and, through their delivery, become scripture. The one-two punch of “Pay Day” into “Surveilled Society” is the only rollercoaster your heart and brain need to ride this week, and by the time we get to the second sucker-punch of “Dirty Jacket” and “History”, well hell, the owner came in pissed off about 20 minutes ago; Gauche had simultaneously tilted every pinball machine in the arcade while getting all 3 top high scores and giving all the kids their quarters.

I think the most important thing about this album is that you can be angry and smile and have fun and cry all at the same time. Gauche is here to help you release all your tension with society through the newest Richard Simmons’ exercise video filmed in the middle of a protest. Leg-warmers provided.

RIYL: Disco Patti Smith, The Raincoats, boogie shoes with daggers on them, sax so perfectly peppered you wanna season your eggs with it, No New York

Favorite Tracks: Flash, Pay Day, Surveilled Society, Dirty Jacket, History

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Pat Coyle - "Long Soft Life"

There are few artists that trigger a level of introspection like Pat Coyle. Upon hearing his new single "Long Soft Life" I was shook to the core. The blissful combination of careful drum work, lo-fi sampling, and uniquely captivating vocals really sent me home. I say home specifically in regards to the audio samples pulled from a home video at the end of the track. The song is a incredibly intimate piece that, if listened to with undivided attention, will send you on a trip through childhood memories both vivid and vague. It was a very good trip for me.

I guess I (21) am really one of the last of a generation whose parents used a big camcorder to capture family events and important childhood moments. There was a greater purpose and a dedication to remembrance and appreciation of such happenings in the era before smartphones, etc. that made it possible to record so easily. For me at least, when looking back on old videos of myself alongside relatives, you can see the efforts that went into making it work for you, your siblings, cousins, grandparents, etc. Buried beneath those familiar smiles of your elders there are anxieties and fears of challenges life presents, but everyone puts that aside for these moments that mattered the most. For some reason grainy video and audio captures those times best in a fleeting, deteriorating fashion.

"I love you"... "I miss you"... *laughter* ... "Happy birthday, Pop Pop"... weaved in between dings and keys struck me in such a profound way. By the end of the track I felt as if my mind was just a tape rewinding and fast-forwarding in a loop through "the memories I love" and "the memories I hate." I think what I found the most interesting about the track is that although there is a emphasized link to the past in the lyrics and dialogue, I felt that "Long Soft Life" hinted to the future and what that holds, which is lovely and terrifying at the same time.

Per what I have been told, Pat Coyle expands upon the what was documented in "Long Soft Life" in a collection of related songs. On his upcoming EP Iridescent Cue (Out August 23), Pat explores emotional growth through the visions of a 1993 home video that set in Yardley, PA, which explains the audio bits you heard in this tracks. It is through these joyous scenes and palpable connections with loved ones, Pat thinks deeper and wonders how much these experiences have fed into a current misplacement of identity.

Pat will relocating to LA in September. Pittsburgh will miss him for his vision, kindness, and creative influence on others. His contributions to other projects like IT IT, Blød Maud, Soft Gondola, and others are definitely works that should not go unrecognized or unappreciated. I'll never forget when he hopped on stage during the Bat Zuppel MIRROR|RORRIM release and howled during "The Witch" or some other song. I was like, yup, this guy has it. It was only later that I started piecing together the other things he had been a part of. I caught a set of his earlier this summer, and I can say with confidence that this next EP will hold up well. I am excited to see what is next for Mr. Coyle.

You can catch his EP release show on Friday, August 23 at The Government Center, my favorite record store in the city, where he'll be supported by Natural Rat (WV), Anthony Heubel and the High Lonesome Band, and The Childlike Empress.

RIYL: Atlas Sound, Palm, IT IT, Panda Bear, home videos, the human experience, existential dread
Hot Take: Call your relatives and tell them you love them.

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Writen by Connor Murray (@craftedsounds)

String Machine- "Death of the Neon"

I think the first time I saw String Machine I was playing a show with them when Soda Club was trotting and boppin’ around. It was at, the now defunct (RIP I really liked the venue), James Street Gastropub. It was kind of a surreal evening for me I was soaking up in friendship because a couple days later I was going to be leaving PGH for a month to study on a Native American reservation, very far away from a lot of the urban landscape I’d been accustomed to for quite some time. Anyway, here’s all these feelings, magnified by the city and the multitude of people who were at the show. Lights, friends, laughter, music, and I WAS FEELING it. Being caught up in a dopamine rush//heightened awareness//whatever you want to call it, String Machine was just about to start and close out the night. David started playing his guitar and the band members started joining in steadily as if it were an orchestra feeling it out and sound checking, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect, then it all clicked. Whatever anxieties I had dissipated for those few minutes and my brain had a momentary reset. The song was “Pit of the Peach” and I was completely blown away. I’ve been humming that song for about a year and a half now and I bet the band has had it in their back pocket for that long or longer, but now, now we all get to bask in the glory of the world this band has created with Death of the Neon, and let me tell you folks something, hell yeah. 

String Machine are a 7 piece collective hailing from north of Pittsburgh, the rural hinterlands above the city. Comprised of David Beck (vocals, lyrics, guitar), Dylan Kersten (synth, piano), Laurel Wain (vocals), Ian Compton (trumpet), Nic Temple (drums), Mike Law (bass), Katie Morrow (cello) this group has blended together to create the best version of maximalism I’ve heard in a long minute. Tender maximalism is hard; emotions meant to create a scope the size of the earth can either be narcissisticly hollow or pretentious to the point of drool, but String Machine have created an environment that puts the whole world in your heart while you’re shoveling snow in your backyard. 

The album begins and the first three tracks immediately capture me into a world of hope, despair and earnestness. Engine/It’s Time immediately grabbing me as Beck narrates how his brain is working and jumping across thoughts, scatterbrained yet focused, as he’s waiting for his car to start working again. It seems like in times of forced patience during chaos our mind can focus and create beautiful connections.

“I’m thinking of how friends treat friends differently. If I’m an engine to you, I have no use if I overheat.” 

The lyrics fall off and we’re transported into a second suite giving us a preview of how the album will teeter between earth and the ether finally bringing us crashing back with the rhythm section locked into a beautiful back and forth that leads to an explosion. The instrumentation and production on this track is incredible and this is just the first track? God damn. 

As the album continues and we’re brought about the countryside as Beck narrates to us the angular didactics of his mind, with Laurel Wain’s harmonies pushing every song to greater heights. The layers of instrumentation, vocals, and weird car engine noises/found sounds make this album a great thing to come back for repeated listens to. Every track is either a city or a forest and you can’t explore Yellowstone or New Orleans in one day. Everything needs space to breathe. This might be accredited to them recording this album in Saxonburg. While still being listed as part of the Metropolitan area of Pittsburgh is more rural than urban. I feel that this is something that you can feel through the music as well, a distinct recognition of ruralness against the backdrop of urbanization, technology and desolation through industry. While all of this sounds bleak, which I mean yes of course it is, there is still the idea of resolution, strength, and most importantly, love. That’s the thing that String Machine is so good at doing, creating a space that you can float around in and feel surrounded by love while still being by yourself in vast isolation, whether it be through nature, walking alone in a city, or in your own anxious thoughts.
While I’m guessing String Machine will consistently be compared to big maximalist groups like TWIABP and Los Campesinos, I can’t help but think of Neil Young when I hear the first three tracks. Sincere, folk bounce amongst anxiety. It’s like String Machine is taking us along a scrapbook of their influences while not ripping any of the pages out to shove up their sleeves to cheat on the exam. I think it all comes together on Old Mack, my favorite song on the album. It’s a reflection on memories but also reassurance of everything; in the face of trouble we rely on our friends, community, memories to keep us safe. When the guitar solo hits I’m brought to the images of coming to in a haze after naps in the car when torrential downpours are going on, sitting there hearing the chaos around me while knowing a loved one is trying to safely maneuver through it all. Which brings me back to that feeling of ease I got when I saw them live at James Street. Here we are surrounded by a downpour of existential thoughts and chaos in the universe, but I can rest easy knowing String Machine is driving, trying to get us through this storm into better territory. 

RIYL: Grizzly Bear, Neil Young, Los Campesinos, your heart exploding with feeling all over the dashboard, the biggest bedroom you’ve ever cried with your friends in, “hell yeah, brother”

Favorite Tracks: Engine/It’s Time, Old Mack, DEATHOFANEON (Pt. 1,2, & 3), Pit of the Peach

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Outer Spaces - 'Gazing Globe'

Gazing Globe is the brainchild of Cara Beth Satalino, who wrote these songs throughout a daily
ritual of meditation and then lyrical composition; while on a romantic break from her life partner
and bandmate, Chester Gwazda. The amount of reflection, observation, and ascension
throughout this album is absolutely astounding. From the beginning you’re taken to another
realm, the muted bass and picked guitar taking you somewhere you know is familiar, but yet
you’re trying to place how? A fog of memory of who you were, or a vision of who you want to
become? Either way there are mistakes made, but god damn a lot of building too, and you’re
building you.

“I’m moving to the other side I’ve mostly lived here all my life...Do you know her...Hiding in the
sun I see her face”

Satalino has such a way with words that punch you in the gut with their candidness, it isn’t easy
being this direct with yourself on tape without coming off hackneyed like a lot of other singer-
songwriters. The instrumentation (Salatino/Gwazda, Dowler, and many others) on this album is
also moving as well as the production (Salatino/Gwazda). “I See Her Face” started me on a journey of my own anxious reflection and “Gazing Globe” had no trouble keeping me there. This song oozes Fleetwood Mac, in all the best ways. The drum and bass locking into tight rhythm, the Buckingham style strumming, and finally Salatino crooning into the personal void so well, that whenever she was laying it down in Baltimore, it sent a shiver up Stevie’s spine. Finally we reach the end of the song, the build coming, and I’m ready for this amazing “Chain” style solo from the violin, but then it fades off, after only a moment, because as much as I (maybe others too) wanted the solo, Outer Spaces didn’t need it. Their meditation was done, in the end this was for them to speak and for us to listen. Maybe we just gotta chew on what it means to leave the thought of wanting something hanging there in the ether, you can always come back to it.

Photo by Alec Pugliese

The album continues to rattle off hits ranging from the Angel Olsen drive of YWLGOML, so
perfectly accented with saxophone, to the REM bounce of TV Screen. Here we are speeding
down the highway of Satalino’s mind, trying to grab onto each idea and follow that vein to the
best river we can find for serenity or attempting to dam up all the mental factory runoff. Finally
we reach the end of this world with Outer Spaces; “Teapot #2” bringing us out of this album with
a John Prine-like reflection, simple, blunt, bigger than a mountain. When the album ended, as
exhausted as I was, my heart was so full. The album ends with Salatino singing.

“I want to love myself, and I want to love you.”

A 9 hour drive back from Gatlinburg, Tennessee is a lot when you’ve been on a 2 day no sleep
streak with copious amounts of fun had, but let’s make that a solo drive because your friends are staying another day and you have to go back to do something else. Now remember it’s three years ago and your data ran out. So….guess it’s time to play radio pinball the whole ride home and try to stay awake/alive. Driving out of, what is essentially, the Las Vegas of the South and hearing preachers condemn you to a life of sin really gets you pensive about every mistake you’ve ever made. At this point I’m praying for any type of radio relief to pull me out of this anxiety induced funk. Just as I pass out of preacher hell, I do some more dial dancin’ and STOP, what is this bassline?? I can’t stop feeling elated about how good it is, how much I’ve reflected on my own misgivings, and refusing to turn around even though I was probably was going the wrong way, I had no map, because now, the reflections and light were right in front of me, no mirror needed. The song was How Long by Ace, a 70’s rock diddy, but the exercise of positivity, growth and self-love it inspired is reignited again when I hit play on Gazing Globe and “I See Her Face” starts.

RIYL: Fleetwood Mac, Angel Olsen, REM, John Prine, just picking up and moving to where the
sunset touches the Tetons, “being 100% in it, dude.”

Fav Tracks: Gazing Globe, YWLGOML, I See Her Face, TV Screen, Teapot #2

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Written by Ira Mason (@spookEguy420_69)