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LISTEN AS YOU READ: SCAN THE CODE FOR OUR NEW SPOTIFY PLAYLIST, A SOUNDTRACK TO THE STORIES IN THIS SECTION, OR VISIT WWW.PGHCITYPAPER.COM/BLOGS/FFW/

NEW LOCAL RELEASES {BY MEG FAIR}

Steel City Ruins ONE STEELCITYRUINS.BANDCAMP.COM

Steel City Ruins’ latest album, One, is approximately 45 minutes of spacious, ambient instrumental music with gentle nods to progressive rock. One way in which instrumental acts keep their music interesting without the presence of vocals is by playing with dynamics. This is something that Steel City Ruins does artfully, slowly building up and tearing down musical movements that evoke feelings of contemplation, yearning or blissed-out joy. The way the instrumentals will impact the listener are apt to play out depending on what the listener is going through at the time; the work is essentially a musical Rorschach test. At just over 11 minutes, “1876” is the album’s longest track. Without lyrics, it’s not apparent what exactly about 1876 the band is arranging its music around, but using the tonal directions, some guesses can be made. Perhaps the hopeful feeling of the introduction reflects the promise of possibility: 1876 is the year patents were issued for the telephone and mimeograph, and Johannes Brahms’ long-awaited First Symphony debuted. That hopeful sound gives way to uneasiness, with movements full of anxious riffs. These are sounds perhaps relevant for a year that also held the tragedies of the Battle of Little Bighorn, industrial accidents, and disasters like the Brooklyn Theatre fire that killed almost 300. Situated in the middle of the record is “Center Earth,” a track with a loving and longing tone that brings the mood up after “1876.” The guitar melody is simple yet memorable, delicately riffed out over steady percussion and a supportive rhythm section. In the final minute, there’s a complete dropping out of all music, before bursting into a bright, fortissimo final stand. It sounds like the soundtrack to the scene in an indie film where the protagonist decides to go for it: the journey, the lover, the job, the school of their dreams. “Finite” is a moodier number with more of a heavy bent driven by an eerie bass line. “One” condenses the signature dynamic journey from quiet build to big finale into a digestible voyage less than six minutes in length. Although briefer than the epic “1876,” it manages to pack the same emotional punch. FOR FANS OF: EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY, MEDITATING, WATCHING THE SNOW FALL OUTSIDE YOUR WINDOW

NEWS

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MOON BARBARA {CP PHOTO BY JOHN COLOMBO}

{BY MEG FAIR}

moon baby (in red) poses with drag queens at Blue Moon, where they regularly perform

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ITTSBURGH’S moon baby is a drag queen, and a pop star with mythology and attitude. Everything she does is thought out and intentional, but delivered with cool-girl ease. Barbara, moon baby’s latest musical effort, is six songs of dirty, genre-bending pop produced with longtime collaborator Wise Blood. At times, Barbara makes you want to dance, and at other times, it makes listeners want to toss a Molotov cocktail at Trump Tower. It’s sometimes silly, but in other moments, it is filled with personal and political darkness. “I like to have playfulness with dark themes, because I think as queer people, we have to laugh and be able to see beauty. I love drag-queen music that’s about getting ready and talking shit and all that, but there’s a space for that, and I don’t find myself to be that comedic character anymore,” explains Sam Perry, the brain and body of moon baby. The release packaging is incredibly intimate: a cassette delivered in a hand-painted box and tied with a pink bow, filled with six chocolate truffles themed for each track, a

zine and tons of adorable beads and flair. “The A-side [of the cassette] is the release, and the B-side is a 24-minute-long ASMR recording of essays I wrote. I won that Up and Comin’ Grant through Martin Guitars, so I chose to do this with it,” says Perry. The packaging suits moon baby’s savvy — she is an entrepreneur, after all. She sells her very own “cereal” called Maralago, essentially a cereal-shaped box that comes filled with sand and golf balls.

MOON BABY

9:30 p.m. Fri., Feb. 16. Cattivo, 146 44th St., Lawrenceville. $8-10. 412-687-2157 or www.cattivopgh.com

“Maralago” is also the name of the album’s first single. “I needed a single cover for ‘Maralago,’ and I love the idea of moon baby as this semi-failed pop star now as a semifailed fragrance maker. Like Mariah Carey coming out with a fragrance — nobody has any business doing that, but they do it because they need the money or whatever. The

idea of moon baby coming out with a cereal is hilarious.” But for Perry, moon baby is more than just an art project or a drag persona. She’s an entity that can be used to explore Perry’s own gender fluidity and queerness. “I recently realized that I started out trying to do monster-weird drag, and then I moved into hyper-feminine drag. Now, the way more freeing space for me to be in, which is more challenging to me, is to be more masculine characters, maybe to be a drag king,” Perry says. He talks about the time he joined the band slowdanger, during a performance at the Carnegie Museum of Art. “I got really upset because I didn’t feel pretty. So, then I turned myself into this monster. And at that moment I was able to understand that my drag reflects a little too much how I want to feel. So in the moments I don’t feel perfect in drag, it’s almost dysphoric,” says Perry. “But turning myself into this weird geometric monster, I felt like I gave the best performance I could, because I was amped up on that energy. Because I feel like playing CONTINUES ON PG. 14

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CLASSIFIEDS

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Feb. 7, 2018 - Pittsburgh City Paper  

Volume 28 Issue 6

Feb. 7, 2018 - Pittsburgh City Paper  

Volume 28 Issue 6