Saturday, October 25, 2014

First/Last-J Fernandez

"Having migrated to Chicago for a job with the Rand McNally map company in the early aughts, J, or Justin, spent his following years playing in friends’ projects in Chicago’s active DIY scene. In his own time, he was mapping out out a series of personal recordings in his rudimentary home studio, it was these recordings that would develop into the first EP, Olympic Village.
Though somewhat crudely recorded (the lively Puerto Rican festivals of his adopted Humboldt Park neighborhood made cause for some creative EQ tinkering), that EP and its follow-up, No Luck, both showed undeniable songwriting prowess, and were released by Chicago-based labels Teen River and Lake Paradise. The resulting response that ensued from these releases earned diverse comparisons ranging from Stereolab to Syd Barrett to a young Robyn Hitchcock, while also earning some gentle jibes from his peers asking if he ever left his apartment after having been labeled a “bedroom pop artist.”

J Fernandez plays Pittsburgh Monday night (10/27) at Gooski's, touring behind his latest effort, the fantastic EP "Memorize Now". I want to thank Justin for taking a few minutes to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Nirvana “In Utero”.

Your last album bought?
Laetitia Sadier “Something Shines”.

Favorite album of all time?
I don’t want to say it’s the one and only favorite album. But Can’s “Tago Mago” is definitely one I keep coming back to.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Also don’t have a least favorite album. There’s a lot of good and bad music around.

First concert attended?
My dad took me to see the Rolling Stones – Voodoo Lounge tour. I think Bryan Adams was the opening act.

Last concert?
Last “concert” was Magnetic Fields at the Vic in Chicago. Last show was probably one that I played.

Favorite concert ever?
I’ve seen Yo La Tengo a few times. Pretty much any of their shows.

Least favorite concert?
When I was maybe ten years old, my cousin took me to a Boys II Men concert.

Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
If I decide to leave Chicago, I’ll move to Pittsburgh.

Thanks, Justin. I also saw the Stones' Voodoo Lounge tour. I got kicked out of the stadium for being too intoxicated. Ah... good times.

Monday, October 20, 2014

First/Last-The Quick & Easy Boys

"On their fourth full-length, Portland, Oregon-based psychedelic rock/melodic-pop outfit The Quick & Easy Boys make a record you can shake your hips and move your feet to, all courtesy of Los Lobos keyboardist/horn player and producer Steve Berlin. Berlin recorded Follow Us Overboard at Modest Mouse mastermind Isaac Brock's private studio, where Modest Mouse has been recording their next record for the past two years; The Quick & Easy Boys the first outside band to record there."

The Quick & Easy Boys are a power rock trio from Portland, Oregon who's latest release is entitled "Follow Us Overboard". I want to thank Sean Badders (Bass/Lead Vocals) for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
When I was in 4th or 5th grade I bought my first two albums at the same time: Naughty By Nature's "19naughty3" and Anthrax's "Attack of the Killer B's". Looking back it seems kind of a weird mix, but I think Anthrax did a track with Public Enemy on that album which is probably what sold me. The song ‘Starting Up a Posse’ was mind blowing for a 9-year-old. It went from country to metal and was filled with so much good profanity. I later learned they did it in response to the PMRC being assholes -- I did a 100 page research project on the PMRC and profane lyrics in college -- as the song is very unlike everything else I heard from them.

Your last album bought?
The last album I bought was Future Islands' "Singles". Awesome, awesome synth-pop. All the songs are really catchy and nice, if you're into that kind of music.

Favorite album of all time?
Very tough question, but my answer today is "Pet Sounds" by the Beach Boys. Brian Wilson is a musical beast and you hear new instruments and parts every time you listen. Carl Wilson's vocals are so soaring and just have that trademark sound. We play it a lot in the van and after every listen I end up with the whole album stuck in my head for like a week. Random snippets of lyrics or music will just pop in my head at any given time, which can be pretty rough when you're trying to sleep. I will also use this opportunity to publicly state The Quick & Easy Boys' hatred of Mike Love.

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
I'm having a hard time thinking of any album that I genuinely don't like, but I'll go ahead and say I probably wouldn't like late '80's/early '90's Richard Marx albums, or any Richard Marx albums for that matter.

First concert attended?
My parent's brought me to a show at the Oregon Zoo when I was 9 or 10. I don't remember the band but Jerry Garcia came out and sat in with them. I thought it was so bizarre the way all the people were dancing, and at one point my then 4 year-old cousin ran down to the front of the stage and my friend and I had to go find her. The hippies were so scary and bizarre to us, and I remember they grabbed my friend's hands and danced with him. I love the Grateful Dead now, but at the time those hippies scared me. They still do...

Last concert?
It's hard to get to see concerts because we gig so much when most good shows are happening, and I'm totally drawing a blank on it... The last event I saw was Neil deGrasse Tyson do a speaking-concert/lecture which was pretty awesome. We have a little down time before our next tour in November so next week I'm actually going to see Jungle on Thursday in Portland and Phish on Friday in Eugene. I'm not the biggest Phish fan, but I do dig them and I haven't seen them in 10 years, and it's happening at this brand new, crazy Nike-money basketball stadium at the University of Oregon (which is where we went to school and started the band) so it's kind of a sentimental show for me. Stoked for both but for totally different reasons.

Favorite concert ever?
This is a question that can change on any day for a million reasons, but I'm going to go with the first time I saw Lady Gaga. I went by myself, got blackout drunk and danced like a maniac with my shirt off. People were giving me food because I was in such bad shape. I don't remember much but I know I had a great time.

Least favorite concert?
The least favorite show I've seen was Modest Mouse in 2000/2001 in Eugene, OR at the WOW Hall. I was/am/will be a Modest Mouse fan and I love all their albums, but it was such a mellow show I remember standing there thinking "I could be laying in my living room listening to the albums and it would be more exciting than this." Hopefully this isn't taken in bad form as we used Isaac's studio and instruments to record our new album, but it just didn't seem like a particularly inspired performance. Compared to how lively/exciting they can be.

Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
We played Pittsburgh once like 6 years ago. It was our first time on the east coast and we played a spot called the Black Cat Cafe or something like that. The show was unexceptional, but the streets were all closed around it for a huge Italian street festival going on. It was massive and at the time I had never seen such Italian pride in one place. We had some amazing food and it was a great people watching experience -- so many characters.

Thanks, Sean. Hmmm... not sure if we have a Black Cat Cafe, here. If there was an Italian Fest, you are probably talking about Bloomfield... Howler's Coyote Cafe, perhaps?

Friday, October 17, 2014

First/Last-Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes

"They never look the same at the end of their set; a pair of hip horn-rimmed glasses breaks in half, buttons become undone, and their once slicked-back hair is simply not anymore. But they wouldn’t be themselves if it were any other way; they thrive when they render themselves void of energy, and humbly hope it rubs off on the kids in the crowd, too.
They are Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes. To see them live is to experience the crux of who they are: A high-energy indie rock band dead set on producing the best live sound they know how. And boy, do they know how."

Daniel Ellswoth & The Great Lakes stop in Pittsburgh Sunday (10/19) at The Smiling Moose in support of their excellent latest album, "Kid Tiger". Opening the show will be Baby Bee, Hey Comprade and Even in Persia. I want to thank Daniel Ellsworth (Keys), Timon Lance (Guitar), Marshall Skinner (Bass) and Joel Wren (Drums) for taking the time top participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Daniel Ellsworth: On cassette, I don't remember, probably a Beach Boys “Greatest Hits”. On CD, it was either Hootie & The Blowfish “Cracked Rear View” or Blues Traveler “Four”.
Timon Lance: Buddy Holly's “Greatest Hits”.
Marshall Skinner: “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness” Smashing Pumpkins.
Joel Wren: Green Day "Insomniac".

Your last album bought?
Daniel: I just bought the new solo album from Jeff Tweedy called “Sukierae” and the new Ryan Adams.
Tim: Wilco “A.M.”
Marshall: St. Vincent “St. Vincent” (my wife bought it on vinyl so I'm counting this as a purchase for me because I own the turntable).
Joel: Elvis Costello "Taking Liberties". Bought on the road in Brooklyn I think.

Favorite album of all time?
Daniel: Wilco: “Yankee Hotel Foxtrot”.
Tim: The Band “Cahoots”.
Marshall: Bjork “Vespertine”.
Joel: Nine Inch Nails "The Fragile".

Least favorite/most disappointing album?
Daniel: I assume anything Justin Beiber has done. Album might be too strong of a word, though.
Tim: Anything with a band covering a song by The Band.
Marshall: I'm never really disappointed by albums, if they're not good (in my opinion) I just don't listen to them.
Joel: Smashing Pumpkins "Zeitgeist". It was their first studio album in forever and I was pretty excited. It pretty much sucked.

First concert attended?
Daniel: 5th grade. Neil Diamond.
Tim: AC/DC, Gund Arena, Cleveland, OH.
Marshall: Slipknot yea, Slipknot. I bought that ticket with my own money.
Joel: Creed and Collective Soul. Whatever. They had pyro and at the time, my mind was blown.

Last concert?
Daniel: My good buddy Isaac Hayden had his CD Release Party on an island on a lake just outside of Nashville last week. I also recently saw Beck at The Ryman and it was mind blowing.
Tim: Hopefully Daniel Ellsworth & The Great Lakes on the Moon.
Marshall: The Floorwalkers, Columbus Ohio Independence Day Festival.
Joel: Beck at the Ryman, here in Nashville. It ruled. His band is/was insanely good.

Favorite concert ever?
Daniel: Wilco. Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN.
Tim: Tom Waits, Alabama Theater, Birmingham, AL.
Marshall: Local Natives, Bowery Ballroom CMJ 2013 pre-“Hummingbird” release show where they played a bunch of songs from the new album before it was out.
Joel: Rage Against The Machine at Lollapalooza in '08. I'm pretty sure it was one of like 3 shows that they played in the US that year. It was absolutely incredible.

Least favorite concert?
Daniel: We watched an entire EDM show at SXSW. It was hilarious. That entire genre should be renamed "that douchey wedding DJ that keeps playing the same song." I'm not anti-computers in music. I'm just anti-not having an ounce of musical knowledge but I can press buttons on a computer.
Tim: This EDM thing that I stumbled upon at SXSW.
Marshall: Wu-Tang Clan. Method Man, RZA and Old Dirty Bastard didn't show so all the songs got cut off before their parts.
Joel: Back in the day, I saw Deftones in KC. They ruled, but Puddle of Mudd opened and they were probably the worst band I've ever seen live. I was only like 16 and I knew they were horrible live.

Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
Daniel: This is our first time playing Pittsburgh. We have a lot of friends from there and have heard a lot of really great things. We can't wait to experience it for the first time!
Tim: I once bought a case of beer to go at an Italian restaurant at 1am in downtown Pittsburgh. Sometimes all you have to do is ask.
Marshall: I'm really looking forward to playing a show in Pittsburgh. I lived so close to Pittsburgh growing up but never visited. Now I get to play a show there!
Joel: I've never been there. I'm excited to experience what I can in the short time we'll be there.

Thanks, fellas. Well, there go my plans to hike down to SXSW to debut my just formed EDM band... we play all Justin Bieber covers.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


"They tour in a van and sleep on couches.  They have a strange affinity for cats and Pokemon. They’re called Flashlights and they are a rather spectacular band from the decidedly unspectacular Brevard County, Florida.  What began as a solo acoustic project for 24-year-old singer/guitarist Terry Caudill in 2007 has added various members from the local punk scene."

Hailing from Orlando, melodic indie pop-punkers Flashlights return to Pittsburgh this Saturday at Garfield Artworks in support of their latest effort, the "Bummer Summer". Opening the show are locals The Spectres and Yrs. Much thanks to the band for taking the time to participate in this edition of First/Last.

The first album you ever bought?
Green Day - Brain Stew - Ian

Your last album bought?

Botch - American Nervoso - William

Favorite album of all time?

Prince - Purple Rain - Terry

Least favorite/most disappointing album?

I think Weezer's Make Believe was the first album I remember being pretty disappointed by so I guess that one - William

First concert attended?

Ian - this big all day concert in Hawaii when I was 10. Bad Religion, AFI, NOFX, Offspring all played.

Terry - Anti-Flag!

Mel - Warp Tour 2002

Last concert?

Ian - Crying from NYC

William - Golden Pelicans and False Punk

Terry - PAWS every night!

Favorite concert ever?

Ian - seeing Bomb the Music Industry! in a crazy small bar in Orlando. They set up in the corners and played the the crowd in the middle!

William - During Fest in Gainesville one year I got to see Des Ark, P.S. Elliott, 1994!, Teenage Cool Kids and a bunch of other rad bands in a little space

Terry - the Locust and Daughters

Least favorite concert?

Ian - STYX

William - I was super disappointed by an Animal Collective show

Any thoughts, experiences about Pittsburgh?
We came here last year and played Garfield then, too. Met some great people~ Excited to be back! :)

Thanks, Will. Oh shit sorry about that fellas, ....This work?