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)


Truth Club - 'Not An Exit'

Steve Prefontaine was one of the greatest runners and personalities ever to exist in the sport. He was under six feet, had one leg shorter than the other, and still managed to dust every person that towered over him because, to him, there was literally no other option. “To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift.” 

So what exactly do the big lads of NYC and across the pond in the U.K. think they’re going to do when Truth Club steps up to the start line? To be quite honest, I don’t even think they’ll be able to get a step in before they’re left in the wake. 

Truth Club is an avant-ferry-garde, rare earth metal, post-punk group out of Raleigh, North Carolina and their newest release, Not An Exit (Tiny Engines) is an absolute slammer. 9 songs filled with layers of anxiety, longing, and dissociation that not even a trailer truck full of Prozac would slow these folks down. These songs are the culmination of early British post-punk grooves slammed head on with high pop sensibilities, say for instance if Bauhaus was walking down an alley, came across the Killers and the Strokes, and a brawl ensued. The instrumentation on these songs is perfectly arranged and you can’t help but boogie in your room by yourself in the dark while a candle is flickering in the background. 

Although there are dark tidings accompanying this album, there is still room for hope and beauty. “I Know There Is” starts it off with a message- “I hope that you hope that there is a right place for us”. Reflecting over anxious thoughts or morose feelings can only get you so far until you’re left empty with no growth, but Truth Club is able to do push ups during their deep digs and extract earnest meaning from their experiences. 

“No Planned Sequel” goes through so many different phases, ending with a gut punch of guitar and lyrics that blindside you, “I’m impressed with your willingness to redact unwritten contracts for the sake of potential mutual happiness and no planned sequel” Being vulnerable takes courage and the risks that come with taking off your armor sometimes become so overwhelmingly scary that if something isn’t continuously guaranteed then what’s the end goal? Is a day of true happiness really worth it if you don’t get to experience those vivid emotions again? Truth Club understand this type of reflection on relationships and emotion isn’t easy and taking responsibility for your own faults is crucial if you want to grow. In the end, these folks have created a phenomenal, concise record and want you to know that lying to yourself about the past and your interpretation of it only furthers the depressive cycle.

You can’t live without truth. 

RIYL: Quietly freaking out while your friends have a good time, Protomartyr, Everything all at once in your mind//nothing at the same time, Ba uhaus versus the Killers and Strokes in an alley fight,  Trying like hell to jitterbug your anxiety away

Favorite Tracks: Student Housing, No Planned Sequel, Tethering, Not an Exit

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Written by Ira Mason (@spookEguy420_69)


halfsour - 'Sticky'

Well... what’re you looking at? 

Listen, pal. I know the riffs are choice and the rhythm section is keeping the angst in the forefront, but that doesn’t mean that you get to talk about Pearl Jam while they’re playing, frick Pearl Jam. Eddie Veder can go kick rocks. 

halfsour is a power-pop three piece hailing from Boston and Sticky is their second full length following 2016’s Tuesday Night Live, released through Jigsaw records in 2016. Their newest, released through Fire Talk and Disposable America, is a powerful, concise zing dinger that brings the crunch with a steady stream of honesty, intimacy, and frustration. This is pop, this is punk, this is definitely not pop-punk. Boy howdy no siree. Those lame-o’s wanna get out of this town; halfsour wanna burn it down and analyze every burning ember to make sure we do better next time. 

The single “Blurred Camera Phone” helped to set the tone for what the lyrical environment of this album was going to entail. It’s a reflection of an everyday event pushed to profoundness by the instruments behind it and the strength in Zoe Wylner’s voice. I guess I should really think twice more about the shit I do everyday. With Sticky, the best parts are found in the small details and a constant reminder of how I need to slow down and think about the reason why I couldn’t stop staring at the one oil stain on the road for 4 hours when I was working as a flagger for PennDOT during the summer after my freshman year of college.

The reason I bring up that job specifically is because something about this album brings the memories of standing around and flipping a “STOP/GO” sign for hours up to the forefront of my mind. This album is strong in painting cohesive pastiches that meld together in the form of a landscape much akin to the cover art. Everyone talks about how at a certain point when you’re driving, the landscape blurs together to form one image, but what happens when you stand around for hours on end staring at the same patch of road, same group of people, and same trees? You’re mind begins to create a cohesive image of how this landscape is affecting you, and once you’ve created that image, what’s next? For halfsour, the only obvious conclusion is to write about the things that have occurred within this image in order to make sense of the mundane. 

There’s a moment in Paris, Texas when Harry Dean Stanton’s character, Travis, is picking up his son from school and they begin walking home. What could be scene as a simple, everyday task in any parent’s life becomes elevated because the focus is beyond the environment of the school and city which have become the blurred, still background. Take a moment to look down at an oil spill, or consider why those two people were walking the whole way home separated across the street? Everything’s important, even if it’s just gum on the sole of your shoe. 

RIYL: Scraping your knees in the summer, drinking on a stoop yelling about it all, the best flannel….you know the one I always wear, The Breeders, Guadalcanal Diary, Speedy Ortiz

Favorite Tracks: Blurred Camera Phone, Built-In Guilt, All Gone, Big Teeth, Milk Bath

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Written by Ira Mason (@spookEguy420_69)