Like Axl, all Black Tie Revue needed was "just a little patience." In August of 2005, the local rockers recorded a full-length slated for release on Get Hip. Since the band paid for the recording, its members were understandably discouraged -- and broke -- when the deal went south. But now it's gone west. After a year of shopping it around, Woodland, Calif.-based Gearhead Records (home of Hellacopters, GitoGito Hustler, New Bomb Turks) will be releasing Black Tie Revue's disc in March. "We need to come up with a title here soon," says bassist Matt Hanzes. The band's planning a tour that includes a showcase at Austin's mammoth South By Southwest festival. After that, who knows. "It's really great to finally have a label behind you," says Hanzes, but jokes, "we'll still have problems paying the rent."
Say what you will about Clutch, but the '90s rock warhorse managed to sell out Mr. Small's on a Wednesday, along the way redefining the term "sausage party." Although those few women in attendance appeared quite robust, they were outnumbered to a comical degree by, not men, but dudes. Most of whom seemed to be standing in the long line for the bathroom. "It's just the guys from Rusted Root -- piss in the sinks, guys!" urged the proud owner of a lush goatee. "Show those mushroom caps!"
But I had no interest in seeing that, or Clutch, either -- I'd heard the real attraction was openers The Sword. Sadly, these spindly longhairs were basically content to flog riffs that seemed like early Sabbath castoffs, but without Sabbath's dynamics and majestic slowness. While some in the retro-metal genre aren't bad (Danava, Wolfmother), the whole thing strikes me as analogous to the MTV-garage-rock of yesteryear: certainly a blast to play and fun to hear (with or without the nostalgia factor), but an ultimately frivolous confection with scant relevance and nowhere to go. Unless those things are actually true of ... us, in which case, The Sword is pretty spot-on.
With nominations over for the 2007 Pittsburgh Hip Hop Awards, it's time to vote on your favorite artists in categories including "Lyricist of the Year" and "Best Gospel Rap." I'll be curious to see who wins "The Steel City Mover and Shaker Award." The awards presentation promises to be a "star-studded affair," held Jan. 14 at the Downtown Hilton. Exactly what those awards mean, and who's giving them out are mysteries to me at the moment. Visit www.pittsburghhiphopawards.com to cast your ballot.