Bo Ningen/Savages team up for live gem ‘Words to the Blind’

Savages Bo Ningen‘Words to the Blind’
Bo Ningen/Savages (Stolen/Pop Noire)
4 stars out of 5

Brit post-punk rockers Savages and Japanese outfit Bo Ningen have made a practice of setting up shop and basically doing sonic battle with one another. That is captured on “Words to the Blind,” a 37-minute display recorded live in England in May 2013 that is one hell of a dynamic tug of war.

Savages Bo Ningen coverYou’ll hang on the edge of your seat for the duration of this one, as the track gets off to an experimental start with noises swirling, bass stabbing, and wordless harmonies hanging in the air. Later on, commanding Savages vocalist Jehnny Beth emerges and takes over the proceedings, but everything ends on a boil of sound and destruction with visions of post-Apocalypse the only thing left. This is one hell of a performance, one I only can imagine how it must have felt live. (Brian Krasman)

Mamiffer continue to impress on third release ‘Statu Nascendi’

Mamiffer‘Statu Nascendi’
Mamiffer (Sige)
4 stars out of 5

Mamiffer is one of the most interesting projects in music. They’re covered on metal sites, but they’re really not a metal band. Their music can find favor among those who want something relaxing and can help them do some quality dreaming. They even can be great to hear while reading or trying to tackle a large, tedious work project. Their possibilities know no bounds, and that continues on their excellent third record “Statu Nascendi.”

12" Glued SleeveRecorded by wife-husband team Faith Coloccia and Aaron Turner, these four tracks practically take you by the hand and lead you into misty woodlands. The 16-minute “Enantiodromia” is the centerpiece of the record, bathing you in liturgical sounds, guitar gaze, drone, and angelic vocals, making for one great opus. Around that are other
worthy cuts “Caelestis Partus,” a track that balances noise and delicacy, as well as arresting closer “Flower of the Field.” This is the soundtrack to your next adventurous dream. (Brian Krasman)

Siblings 2:54 serve up more mesmerizing rock on ‘The Other I’

254 band‘The Other I’
2:54 (Bella Union)
3 stars out of 5

Sisters Colette and Hannah Thurlow have a knack for atmospheric, mesmerizing rock, which they first unfurled on their self-titled debut in 2012 and now push into their second opus “The Other I,” a title inspired by poet Percy Shelley.

254 coverOn these charged up, sometime foggy, always emotional 11 cuts, the band treads the same waters as bands such as the XX, Warpaint, and Young Galaxy, lathering their work in darkness and moodiness, peaking on catchy yet trippy “Blindfold”; pulled-back, shadowy “No Better Prize”; slow and liquidy “South”; and “The Menace,” where the bouncy tempos don’t prepare you for lines such as, “The ground beneath my feet is swallowing me whole.”  (Brian Krasman)

Comedienne Cameron Esposito shines on ‘Same Sex Symbol’

Cameron-Esposito‘Same Sex Symbol’
Cameron Esposito (Kill Rock Stars)
4 stars out of 5

Comedian Cameron Esposito is a lesbian. She thinks you should know this from her hairstyle, and she laughs at you if you wonder why she can’t conceive of the idea of wanting to be with a man. Through her new live album “Same Sex Symbol,” she does what, in 2014, shouldn’t even be necessary: normalizing lesbian and gay relationships and LGBT lifestyles. She does so riotously, with her sometimes squeaky voice that might grate some, but it endears her to people like me.

CameronThrough her 18-track, hour-long set that was taped in Portland, Ore., Esposito covers plenty of topics such as explaining to straight men why she has zero interest in what’s in their pants (often to their utter disbelief); a story about a three-way proposition from a stoned-out skater dude; an ill-fated trip to a strip club; and a tremendous “do and don’t” list about lesbian pornography.

She also offers encouragement and strength to others in the LGBT community and ends her set with a hilarious story about a mix-up while she was working on a party planning committee. Go out of your way to hear this, especially if you’re one of the ones who still have issues with our gay brothers and sisters.  (Brian Krasman)

Black Spirituals explore myriad of sounds on ‘Deconstruction’

Black Spirituals band‘Deconstruction’
Black Spirituals (Sige)
3.5 stars out of 5

What constitutes music? Some people are stuck to a rigid verse-chorus-verse-chorus structure. Some demand sensibility, catchiness, and melody. None of those people are wrong, because music means different things to different people. This is a precursor to the
new collection by Black Spirituals, a rambling, noisy, free-form project that’s sure to perplex a great many.

Black SpiritualsThe three tracks on “Deconstruction” take some patience and understanding, and they’re perfect for mental decompression and reaching out psychologically. These songs are packed with oppressive noise, static drone, drums that often sprawl in and break up the scene entirely, guitars spitting energy, windy wooshes, you name it. This record won’t resonate with just anyone, but those who get it will spend the duration of this music with a knowing, satisfied nod. (Brian Krasman)

Frazey Ford spreads her wings on soulful gem ‘Indian Ocean’

FRazey Ford‘Indian Ocean’
Frazey Ford (Nettwerk)
4 stars out of 5

Frazey Ford has carved out a really great solo career outside her work fronting the awesome Be Good Tanyas. On “Indian Ocean,” she finds a soulfulness and bluesy heart, which helps inform and paint the 11 tracks on her superb new album.

Frazey Ford coverRecorded at Memphis’ Royal Studios with members of Hi Rhythm Section (who played with Al Green) as her collaborators, Ford explores the DNA of those who played before her in that storied room and really stretches her legs on tracks including “September Fields,” that benefits from Ford’s trademark brassy voice and a flood of horns (the final track is an acoustic version); “Done,” that has a classic Fleetwood Mac feel and lets her vent her frustrations; sorrowful “Three Golden Trees”; and the slow burn of “Weather Pattern” that has a sunburnt ’70s feel and simmers in warm emotions. Really excellent effort by a reliable, flexible musician. (Brian Krasman)

Harlem Globetrotters renew hoops rivalry on Friday, Dec. 26, at Pittsburgh’s Consol Energy Center

Scooter Christensen of the world famous Harlem Globetrotters shows the form that helped him set a Guinness World Record for longest duration of time spinning a basketball on his nose. Christensen and the Globetrotters will play the Washington Generals at Pittsburgh's Consol Energy Center on Friday, Dec. 26, at 1 and 6 p.m.

Scooter Christensen of the world famous Harlem Globetrotters shows the form that helped him set a Guinness World Record for longest duration of time spinning a basketball on his nose. Christensen and the Globetrotters play the Washington Generals at Pittsburgh’s Consol Energy Center on Friday, Dec. 26, at 1 and 6 p.m.

By JEFFREY SISK

The Harlem Globetrotters have spent the better part of a century entertaining millions of people in all corners of the world with their unique brand of basketball wizardry. They’ll kick off their 2015 tour — the 89th consecutive year of touring for the Globetrotters — on Friday, Dec. 26, at Pittsburgh’s Consol Energy Center.

For the past several years, football crazy Pittsburgh fans have flocked to Consol Energy Center for what’s become a day-after-Christmas basketball ritual.

Scooter Christensen of the Globetrotters helps a young fan spin hone her basketball-spinning skills. Christensen and the Globetrotters return to Pittsburgh on Friday, Sept. 26, at 1 and 6 p.m. for the launch of their 2015 world tour.

Scooter Christensen of the Globetrotters helps a young fan spin hone her basketball-spinning skills. Christensen and the Globetrotters return to Pittsburgh on Friday, Sept. 26, at 1 and 6 p.m. for the launch of their 2015 world tour.

On Friday, the Globetrotters play a pair of games against the Washington Generals — at 1 and 6 p.m. — giving local audiences two chances to see them compete in an exciting, family-friendly atmosphere. Tickets prices start at $20.50 and are available online at www.ticketmaster.com.

The projected Globetrotters lineup for the Pittsburgh tour stop includes Scooter Christensen, Big Easy Lofton, Moose Weeks, Crash Beaty, Sweet J Ekwormadu, Hacksaw Hall, Too Tall Hall, Flip White and Buckets Blake.

Christensen, a 10-year Globetrotters veteran who holds the Guinness World Record for longest duration spinning a basketball on his nose (5.1 seconds, in case you’re wondering), recently spoke with Pittsburgh In Tune about the upcoming tour stop and his experiences with the most famous basketball team in the world.

“I feel so very fortunate and blessed to be a part of this organization. knowing that the guys before me paved the way for me and my teammates to keep the tradition alive,” the 36-year-old Christensen says of his time with the Trotters. “My intentions were never to be a Globetrotter. I wanted to be the best basketball player I could be. I happened to be in the right place at the right time.

“It’s something that definitely developed after my college years (at the University of Montana). I played for a couple of minor pro leagues and then I became an assistant video coordinator for the Phoenix Suns and through that, the Globetrotters found me and invited me to training camp. I became a Globetrotter (for the) 2004-05 season.”

Scooter Christensen douses the official and a handful of courtside fans with one of the most famous Globetrotter routines — the water bucket.

Scooter Christensen douses the official and a handful of courtside fans with one of the most famous Globetrotter routines — the water bucket. Christensen and the Trotters kick off their 2015 world tour at Pittsburgh’s Consol Energy Center on Friday, Dec. 26, at 1 and 6 p.m.

Christensen, a 6-foot-1 guard, has played thousands of games for the Globetrotters over the years and considers himself blessed to have experienced all sorts of people, places and things he never could have imagined.

“My most memorable experiences have been playing for the troops in Baghdad,” he says. “I also had the opportunity to play on an aircraft carrier where F-16s were coming down on a moving ship.”

Scooter Christensen, a 10-year veteran of the fabulous Harlem Globetrotters, modeled his ball handling wizardry after the legendary "Pistol" Pete Maravich.

Scooter Christensen, a 10-year veteran of the fabulous Harlem Globetrotters, modeled his ball handling wizardry after the legendary “Pistol” Pete Maravich.

Growing up in Las Vegas, Christensen said he admired the ball handling magic of “Pistol” Pete Maravich. As such, he modeled his game after the Hall of Famer.

“He had a lot of ball tricks that helped his competitive game.,” Christensen recalls. “So I copied and mimicked everything that he did to handle the ball which, ironically, definitely helped me become a Globetrotter.

“I still have to work hard to keep my ball handling skills up to par. That means countless hours and hours and hours of practice and, of course, I’m always working on new tricks.”

As much as he enjoys his experiences as a Globetrotter, Christensen admits that the grueling tour schedule — which results in long periods of time away from home — can take a toll.

“If there’s one thing that is definitely hard when it comes to the Globetrotters, it’s time spent away from your family,” Christensen says. “But having your teammates on the road with you going through the same thing makes it easier for one another. We’re like a family on the road and to know that your brothers and sisters are with you traveling, playing and practicing, makes life a lot easier.

“Another thing that makes it easier is our fans. Because as soon as we step on the floor and they give us energy, we give them that same energy back.”

This year’s tour has been dubbed the “Washington Generals’ Revenge Tour” in honor of the Globetrotters’ storied nemesis.

Louis “Red” Klotz was the longtime mastermind behind the Generals as a player, coach and owner for more than 60 years. Klotz died last July 14 at age 93 and the Generals are dedicating the upcoming touring season to his memory.

Louis "Red" Klotz, the longtime player/coach/owner of Globetrotters nemesis the Washington Generals, passed away last July at the age of 93. The Generals are dedicating the upcoming season to Klotz's memory with the "Washington Generals' Revenge Tour." The tour kicks off Friday, Dec. 26, at Pittsburgh's Consol Energy Center.

Louis “Red” Klotz, the longtime player/coach/owner of Globetrotters nemesis the Washington Generals, passed away last July at the age of 93. The Generals are dedicating the upcoming season to Klotz’s memory with the “Washington Generals’ Revenge Tour.” The tour kicks off Friday, Dec. 26, at Pittsburgh’s Consol Energy Center.

“To honor Red’s unmatched legacy, the Washington Generals will be wearing a uniform patch with his signature when playing the Harlem Globetrotters on their 2015 world tour,” current Generals general manager John Ferrari explains. “Red’s spirit will live on each time the Generals take the court against the Globetrotters, and each game will represent a renewed opportunity for victory.”

Victories are few and far between for the Generals against the Globetrotters. The squads haven’t faced off in five years and the last Washington victory came in 1971 — when 50-year-old player/coach Klotz sank a last-second shot to seal the upset win.

For more than six decades, Klotz put together a team to face the Globetrotters more than 400 games a year. In addition to the Generals, he organized squads like the New Jersey Reds, the New York Nationals, the International Elite, Global Select and the World All-Stars. On March 13, 2011, Klotz became the first non-Trotter to have his jersey retired by the Globetrotters.

Though the Generals have some added incentive this year in honoring Klotz’s memory, Christensen doesn’t expect the Globetrotters to lose to Washington in Pittsburgh — or at any other tour stop.

“It’s certainly not going to happen in my lifetime,” he recently quipped to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “(The Generals have) got a couple tricks up their sleeves, but they’re messing with the masters. We’re the masters of trickery.”

Christensen doesn’t plan on hanging up his high-top sneakers any time soon. He says he still loves playing the game of basketball and having the opportunity to touch so many lives as a member of the Globetrotters.

“As long as God continues to keep me healthy and I have the opportunity to make people smile, I’ll be a Globetrotter,” he insists. “After my Globetrotter days I’ll probably be coaching somewhere or maybe running camps or even being a motivational speaker. I’d like to inspire someone to reach their dreams just as I have.”

Eddie Cohn makes a name for himself on ‘Guarantee Me Love’

Eddie Cohn‘Guarantee Me Love’
Eddie Cohn (self-released)
3.5 stars out of 5

For every overnight success story there are dozens (hundreds? thousands?) of talented artists toiling in relative obscurity in hopes of catching their big break. Singer/songwriter Eddie Cohn hasn’t broken through into the mainstream yet, but perhaps the rock-solid “Guarantee Me Love” will be the album that does the trick for him.

Eddie Cohn CDCohn tackles the universal them of love on the nine-track release and pours plenty of raw emotion into each and every one of the tracks. “I know firsthand how it’s not so simple anymore,” Cohn says of love. “Being with someone and being in love is work. At the same time, it’s work that all of us really want to do. We all want to find true love. Our hearts are craving it. So I wanted to make a record that, while very personal, is also something everyone can connect with.”

It took a little while for me to warm to “Guarantee Me Love.” Opener “Mercy’s Gone” doesn’t really resonate, but Cohn soon hits his stride with keepers “How Do You Feel,” “Wasted Time,” “Give Up on Love” and personal favorite “Help Me Feel Something.” This one’s worthy of some attention. (Jeffrey Sisk)

Lace Curtains take things up a notch on newest release ‘A Signed Piece of Paper’

Lace Curtains‘A Signed Piece of Paper’
Lace Curtains (Female Fantasy)
3.5 stars out of 5

Michael “Coomers” Coomer earned his stripes as a member of garage-punk outfit Harlem, but has spread his musical wings with solo project Lace Curtains. The Tuscon, Ariz., made a nice first impression with 2012’s “The Garden of Joy and the Well of Loneliness” debut and take things up a notch with sophomore Lace Curtains release “A Signed Piece of Paper.”

Lace Curtains CDCoomer’s most noticeable growth is as a storyteller, with the nine-track album dealing with such heavyweight topics as death, money and mental illness. In two of the better tracks, Lace Curtains pay homage to The Notorious B.I.G. (“Wilshire and Fairfax”) and Sly Stone (“Boardwalk to the Alps”).

Where the Big Appple served as the backdrop for the last record, “A Signed Piece of Paper” is shaded by Los Angeles and Hollywood. The record gets off to a strong start with personal favorite “The Fly,” and Lace Curtains later score with “Wilshire and Fairfax,” “Glass of Sand,” “Be Good” and “Crocodile Tears.” Good stuff. (Jeffrey Sisk)