(Late Show) Opus One Comedy Presents James Phelps, Vanessa St Clair, James J Hamilton, Christina McNeese, Garrett Titlebaum, Helen Wildy, Mike Sasson and Hosted by Cassi Bruno
Singer-songwriter and music producer William Fitzsimmons latest record, Mission Bell is a chronicling of the tumultuous last year of his life, particularly of the separation from his second wife. An initial version of the album was originally recorded in Fitzsimmons home studio in the summer of 2017 but was subsequently abandoned during the course of, and as a result of, the separation.
In 2018 William traveled to Nashville, TN to start recording the album over from square one. Working with producer Adam Landry (Deer Tick, Los Lobos, k.d. Lang, Vanessa Carlton), Fitzsimmons spent a months time rebuilding the lost record, with contributions from friends, including Abby Gundersen and Rosie Thomas. The resulting 11-song album tells the story of a decade-long marriage destroyed and eventually rebuilt from the ground up.
The process and the results are both painful and healing, but also respect the complexity of humans, especially at their worst. This is not an exercise in good-guy, bad-guy songwriting; rather an attempt to find empathy, even when people are at their most depraved. Mission Bell includes songs about betrayal, but also reconciliation and forgiveness. Choosing to go deeper than mere absolutism and fate, these are stories of people doing their best, but still managing to often destroy each other in the process.
Having to let go of the first version of this record was incredibly strange and something Ive never done before. But it was the right thing to do. That record was made at a time when nearly all involved, including myself, were living dishonestly and selfishly and poorly, and it was clear in the results. When I was forced to see the truth of how rotten things had become inside and around me, I deleted every note and every word. My dear friend and manager, Rishon, connected me with producer Adam Landry, and together the two of us spent weeks upon weeks breathing back life into a project that I thought was lost for good. By the time we finished, I felt like I had reclaimed something that was taken from me and I remain terribly proud of this work as a result, says Fitzsimmons.
Sonically, Mission Bell is Fitzsimmons first analog tape-centric album. The sounds are raw, real, and tangible. The familiar comforts of acoustic guitars are present but now joined generously by synthesizers, electric guitars, drum loops and violins. Cutting to tape was new and honestly rather terrifying to me. Theres no well fix that in post kind of shit going on. What you play is what youre gonna hear on the record. But theres a specialness you get in a performance when you dont have a parachute. You either play it like it matters to you or you dont and I think that comes through so clearly in the recordings.
Originally from Pittsburgh, PA, Fitzsimmons currently resides in Nashville, TN.
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With music that has been described as a collision between The Hives and The Black Keys, FLY. is a fresh take on good old american rock.
What started as a small personal project has blossomed into the hip upbeat sound that is now taking the stage throughout Pittsburgh. On the heels of their debut album She Will Like the Science, FLY. is out to reinvigorate the alt-rock scene in the steel city.
Stavros Halkias is a stand-up comedian and co-host of the popular podcast Cum Town. He is also widely known for his body-positive Instagram account.
Stavros has made appearances on Adult Swim, XM Satellite radio, IFC, and the MSG Network, where he wrote and performed on the Emmy nominated, People Talking Sports and Other Stuff. Hes been featured in Tig Notaros Bentzen Ball, the New York Comedy Festival, and toured nationally with Wham City Comedy, Tom Papa, and Robert Kelly. Hes very sorry that the word Cum was in the first sentence of this biography.
The Blue-hots is a jazz vocalese and exotica group that draws its material from the mid-century American pop and jazz, along with original material.
Bryan Vamp is a Singer/Keyboardist who performs original songs in the genre of post-punk.
Full of energy and surprise, wit and subtlety, Twisted Pine has quickly become one of the most acclaimed young string bands in the Northeast. Audiences across the US and UK have been drawn to their forthright songwriting, lush harmonies, musical daring, and charismatic appeal, to quote Grammy-winner Alison Brown.
In its early days, Twisted Pine hewed pretty close to its bluegrass origins, but over time the quartet has developed a unique, infectious style without limits. Moving beyond the standard verse-chorus-solo structure of traditional string bands, Twisted Pine is a multilayered ensemble that brings the enveloping sound and pop hooks of indie music to an acoustic instrumental setting.
Guitarist Rachel Sumner and fiddler Kathleen Parks share the vocal mic, forming a combination as charming as it is gutsy. Whether switching off leads or blending and bending their voices into unexpected harmonies, these front-women are a commanding presence. On her instrument, Parks is an insatiable risk-taker, seeking out exciting new improvisational territories. Mandolinist Dan Bui is a master of melody and drive, celebrated widely for his dexterous, tasteful picking. And bassist Chris Sartori holds down the low end and a lot more, introducing creative, jazz-inflected cadences that never overwhelm the beat.
But while its easy to celebrate each of the band members individually, Twisted Pine isnt just a collection of talented musicians. Its a unit that grooves together. Intricate arrangements of swelling, syncopated rhythm and precise instrumental interplay generate something big and vital: a thick landscape of sound built on an organic acoustic foundation. Its a fitting context for original songs written with equal parts passion and intelligence, adding up to music that lies at the intersection of heartrending and heart-racing.
Youll find Twisted Pine on stages large and small, entertaining festivals of thousands and intimate rooms alike. Winners of the 2014 Freshgrass band competition and finalists at the 2015 Rockygrass contest, Twisted Pine has played major events from Greyfox to Green River to Glasgows Celtic Connections and beyond. Their live show is already legendary for the bands unbridled spirit and contagious energy, says Jim Olsen, president of the innovative folk label Signature Sounds (Lake Street Dive, Crooked Still, Joy Kills Sorrow). Its no wonder the International Bluegrass Music Association nominated Twisted Pine for its 2015 Momentum Award, which recognizes exceptional up-and-coming acts.
Twisted Pine released its debut album at Green River Festival, July 14, 2017, and will be touring across the United States throughout 2018. Check out Twisted Pine on tour and see why Olsen calls it the most exciting new roots band to emerge from the New England scene in quite some time.
WHO IS CHARLY BLISS?
If its true that listening to just the right record at just the right moment can psychically transport you to some other time and place, then Charly Blissan NYC band responsible for having crafted some of the finest guitar-crunched power pop this side of an old Weezer record with a blue covercan pretty much turn any space into an adult-friendly version of your old teenage bedroom, a candy-scented safe space for extreme fits of happiness and angsty teen-level explosions of romantic ennui.
Though Charly Bliss has been a band for over half a decade, the path that led to their first full-length record, Guppy, has been anything but straightforward. As the story goes, the band officially started when frontwoman Eva Hendricks and guitarist Spencer Fox, both just 15, crossed paths at a Tokyo Police Club show in New York City, but the ties within the band go much deeper than that. Its kind of insane and hilarious, says Eva, Sam is my older brother, so obviously weve known each other our whole lives, but all of us have been connected to each other since we were little kids. Dan Shure and I dated when we were in our early teens and he and Spencer went to summer camp together. Dan and I broke up years ago, but eventually he d become our bass player. The reason we all get along so well has to do with the fact we share this ridiculous history. We are all deeply embedded in each others lives.
After spending years playing shows in and around New York City, the band eventually released an EP (2014s Soft Serve) and scored opening gigs for the likes of Glass Animals, Darwin Deez, Tokyo Police Club, Sleater-Kinney, as well as a touring spot for their own musical forebears, Veruca Salt. Even though the band had amassed a sizable fanbase and a reputation as a truly formidable live act, the goal of making a full-length record proved to be a fraught series of false-starts. Given their propensity for making hooky, ebullient pop songs, the band often felt out of step with what was happening around them in Brooklyn. (We werent weird in the right ways, says Sam). They eventually set about recording an album on their ownand then recording it twicebefore figuring out what had been staring them in the face the entire time. We basically had to come to terms with the fact that we are, at heart, a pop band, recalls Spencer. Before, it was always trying to decide which of the songs would be more rock and which would be more poppy, but we eventually realized we needed to meet in the middle, we had to create an ecosystem where our loud, messy rock sounds could co-exist with these super catchy melodies and pop hooks. It was really about realizing what were best at as a band.
The ten tracks that make up Guppy, Charly Bliss sparkling full-length debut, show the band embracing all of their strengthsa combination of ripping guitars and irrepressible pop hooks, all delivered with the hyper-enthusiasm of a middle school cafeteria food fight. That every track is loaded front-to-back with sing/shout-worthy lyrics and earworm melodies is a testament to the band's commitment to the art form of pop songwriting. Opening track Percolator sets the toneall power riffs and yo-yo-ing melodies playing against Hendricks acrobatic vocals, which veer from gentle coo to an emphatic squeal:
Im gonna die in the getaway car! I would try but it sounds too hard! It's a vibe that carries throughout Guppy, a record that shares an undeniable kinship with 90s alt-rockers like Letters to Cleo and That Dogbands that balanced melodicism, sugary vocals, and overdriven guitar turned up to 11. Its an aesthetic that Charly Bliss both embraces and improves upon in tracks like Ruby (We actually wrote the guitar solo by sitting in a circle and passing the guitar around, each of us adding our own notes, says Fox) and Glitter, the records first single. I wanted to make a song about being romantically involved with someone who makes you kind of hate yourself because they are so much like you, says Hendricks, A fun song about complicated self-loathing that you could also dance around your bedroom tothat kind of sums us up as a band, actually.
Pop music can actually be very subversive, she continues. The lyrics that I'm most proud of on the record are me existing both in and out of this overgrown teenybopper feelingfeeling like everything I was going through was the most extreme thing that had ever happened to anyone ever. The songs are often about being totally in the throes of this stuff, but also being able to step out of it and make fun of myself. Its possible to write songs that really get at all of these dark feelings while also just being really fun to sing and dance to. You can be serious and also sing about peeing while jumping on a trampoline.
Guppy is a record that doesnt so much seek to reinvent the pop wheel so much as gleefully refine it. People forget sometimes that expressing joy is just as important as examining despair, says Shure. People need joy, especially right now. Were all about writing tight pop songs, but also giving people this super enthusiastic release. These songs are kind of the sound of expressing something that you cant really contain. These are songs you play really loudly when you need to freak out.
Moonspeaker is a Pittsburgh based pop-folk fantasy band with evocative lyrics and rich harmonies carried by vibrant violin melodies and eclectic rhythms. Their debut album, Gravity, is set to be released on Jan 18, 2019.
56-58 South 12th Street, Pittsburgh PA 15203 (In Pittsburgh’s Historic South Side)