The aesthetic of decay is something the city of Pittsburgh,Pennsylvania wears like a crest. Where an industry died and left colossalartifacts of its ruin to rust away in plain sight punk rock raised its clamor of ongoing eulogy, wrote maps of tattoos on its people, and reclaimed the architecture with decades of graffiti. Still its foolish to think that the only realistic reaction to Pittsburgh's industrial ghosts lies in something so morose. Pittsburgh's Shade may very well be the modern torchbearer of space rock escape, living alongside the culture of decay, and yet somehow managing to resist its pessimistic fashion.
Inventive beyond their years, Shade are as adept at venerating their influences as they are at transforming them. Taking in Forever Now,Nowhere Tomorrow, the band's 2002 Psychodaisy debut, or ending up before them on stage, the most obvious reference points are, at best, starting points. England's early 90's psychedelic renaissance of shoegazer bands like Ride and Lush undoubtedly lives in the blood and headphones of these guys. But on the dirge of 'Marooned', vocalist, Matt Stuart is anything but pillheaded--let alone uncertain. His delivery recalls the most thoughtfully self-destructive promises of a young Elvis Costello--a characteristic reinforced on "Spider Rock", when Craig Stuart's whirring organ fill transports the northern soul groove back to the dynamo days of "Oliver's Army".
With a rhythm section like this, (Stuart's keys are joined by Brad Kiefer on bass, and Dave Halloran on drums) the low-end brings Shade's music to a crossroad of Paisley Park-funk and post-shoegaze rock and roll. David Woods' guitar rounds out the line-up, imparting everything from
seagull-squall to Eddie Hazel-worthy f-punk graffitis.
Like latter-day Primal Scream before them, Shade's soul rhythms ultimately serve as the long-burning kindle to that immutable guitar noise, a heavy metal sound living in dancing shoes beneath colored light. On stage this relationship moves in better ways still. The hummable quality in any given tune from their debut all but vaporizes in a show of instinctive, and instinctively loud expression. They are one of the few songwriting acts of their class who take the tasks of performance as seriously as their compositions require. This is not merely the recital of a sound, its the spreading of the word.
Local musicians turn 2002 into banner year
By Regis Behe
Sunday, December 8, 2002
Â· "Forever Now, Nowhere Tomorrow," Shade. While a lot of bands are trying to emulate the garage band sound a la the Strokes and the Hives, Shade has the good taste to go to other sources. Would you believe the atmospheric post-punk of 20 years ago? This is the type of music New Order could have made if Ian Curtis hadn't killed himself - moody, ethereal and sometimes brilliant.
Forever Now, Nowhere Tomorrow (Shade)
By: Sonya Brown
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania seems a long way for us Pacific Northwesterners to go to find Shade, but I feel rather fortunate because Shade actually found me. "Forever Now, Nowhere Tomorrow" blows like a cool rock and roll breeze straight out of Pittsburgh and into my mailbox.
Starting off with a psychedelic vibe, Shade kicks in gritty guitars and down-home percussion and then takes things down a notch with the bass, keys, and harmonies leading to likely comparisons to bands like Blur, or perhaps Oasis.
For Portland, Oregon locals familiar with The Rotating Leslies, Shade opening track, "Hurricane" stirs fond memories of RL's debut cd, "Equipoise".
It's nice to hear real guitar and drum music every now and then in a music scene often inundated with studio-processed sounds... and, is that harmonica I hear in the track, "Smile"? I do believe so! Now that is a breath of fresh air. Shade could quite easily be the next dreamy pop band heard on your local "Nu Rock" radio station.
I'll spare you the "future's so bright" trivialities, and instead steer you over to CDBaby.com where you can hear a few tracks off Forever Now, Nowhere Tomorrow; such as "Hurricane", "Automatic", "Smile", "Dream Happy", "Spider Rock", and "On My Way".
SHADE CD RELEASE
31ST STREET PUB
Friday, August 30
Shade creates chiaroscuro like no other local band does; and as their name suggests, they emulsify the vast spaces between darkness and light in a way that is equal parts heavy and pretty. Think spiraling Stone Roses-like guitar riffs covered with soft-yet-intense vocal lines, inconspicuous drums and twinkling keyboards. If that description sounds an awful lot like Brit-pop -- and it should -- it's not because Shade is trying to be the next Radiohead or Manic Street Preachers, though their dashing good looks wouldn't hurt that aspiration. They come across in the same sort of understated manner that characterizes those bands and their shoegazing forefathers. Being able to play soft while still being considered rock is a tough feat, but Shade, established for more than five years as a Pittsburgh underground favorite, carries it off with acute propensity. Members of the five-piece all grew up together and were friends long before they were bandmates, which no doubt helped form the solid intraband bond that's kept them together as long as it has. They spent last year recording their debut album, Forever Now, Nowhere Tomorrow, which carries a consistent, intensely autumnal theme and adeptly fades and builds in the most appropriate places. Though British band comparisons are inevitable, they shouldn't be overemphasized, as Shade stands alone as a bright and unique outfit in the local music scene. And with so promising a debut, there will be no shadow over such grace.
Friday, August 30, 2002
Shade of Brit-pop
By Ed Masley, Post-Gazette Pop Music Critic
When the members of Shade hit the basement of ex-Suburban Sect guitarist Tim Thomas to record "Forever Now, Nowhere Tomorrow," the goal was to capture the live sound, says bassist Brad Kiefer, " 'cause that's what we think we're best at."
And the album does, in fact, recall their live sound. But it should be noted that their live sound could pass for a record, a swirling psychedelic wall of sound that makes you wonder how a local band could get to be so British.
But it's all about the inspirations -- inspirations Kiefer says are "still the same as when we started -- The Stone Roses, the Charlatans big-time, especially with the keyboards, Blur and Ride. Those would probably be the three or four biggest influences."
At first, there were no keyboards in the band.
Craig Stuart, whose brother Matt provides the hypnotizing vocals at the center of the storm, was two years younger than the others when they put the band together in late '97 while finishing high school.
"We wanted to incorporate him," Kiefer says, "but he was too much younger at the time."
The keyboards had become a major part of what the band is all about by the time recording began.
They've self-released the record.
As Kiefer explains, "We kind of just wanted to do it ourselves and kind of label-shop it from there."
Although the official release of the album is tonight, you could have bought it weeks ago in California, where they staged a five-day mini-tour with shows in San Francisco, Fresno, Hollywood and just outside of Los Angeles.
"We actually got the record in two days before we left," says Kiefer.
The tour came together when a California band called Sundown that they'd done a couple shows with invited them out to play The Gig in Hollywood.
"It was just gonna be, like, one show," Kiefer says. "And we decided if we were gonna go there for one show, we might as well set up a mini-tour type deal. So I just started booking shows before and after it."
Those shows included an in-store performance at the Fresno Tower Records.
The tour went well enough that he's already planning an even more ambitious trip -- a 10-day United Kingdom tour.
"It's possible," he says. "It would be tough, but I think our sound fits more there than here. We'd be more appreciated there."
But then, he feels the band is more appreciated anywhere than here.
"And I'm not even saying far, far out of town," he says. "I'm saying, like, Ohio -- Youngstown, Akron. There's a much better vibe going on. I mean, we have our fan base, sort of, here. But it just seems as though people aren't really interested in that kind of stuff here. They're interested in the Nick's Fat City gig and that's it."
Pittsburgh City Paper - May 1st, 2002
by Steve May
After the Strokes finished their sold-out show at Nick's Fat City last fall, the guys in Shade tracked them down and kindly offered to show them the sights. Guitarist Nick Valensi and bass player Fab Moretti took them up on it, and the party sped off to the Upstage for '80s Night. The verdict?
"Fab was cooler than Nick," Shade bass player Brad Keifer says. "Nick seemed kind of perturbed. He wasn't 21, so we had to talk the bouncer into letting him in."
Shade definitely gets out, and its members are arguably better looking than their New York brethren -- if less scruffy -- but that's where the similarities end. The Strokes stole their sound from New York of the late '60s and early '70s. Shade's biggest influence is Her Majesty's United Kingdom, and its members have done their homework diligently, dredging up everything from Donovan to My Bloody Valentine to Blur, doing honor to the hard-drinking, well-dressed lad lifestyle, sticking close together and looking after each other like the kids in Quadrophenia -- minus the pimped-out scooters.
Pittsburgh bands, according to the cliché, sing about beer and girls, not necessarily in that order. They give the people what they want, either with Buzz Poets crudeness, Joe Grushecky honesty or Submachine intoxication. They are not supposed to be pretty or graceful or sing with fake British accents. Maybe that's what makes Shade so damn interesting.
This is a band that was weaned on New Kensington's long-forgotten alternative outpost X-15, which in the early '90s held court at 1510 AM on the local radio dial. Before sundown, between bursts of fuzz, they were treated to a modern rock take on the FM radio of the '70s, with album tracks from Blur, Oasis and Suede alternating with Brit-approved American stuff like R.E.M. and Sonic Youth. The only local bands they cared about were mods Suburban Sect and Cure obsessives Low Sunday Ghost Machine.
Three would-be members of Shade -- Kiefer, guitarist David Woods and singer/guitarist Matthew Stuart -- played on the same high school soccer team before falling for music. The trio picked up instruments, and subsequently added swimmer Dave Halloran on drums and Craig Stuart, Matthew's brother and confessed Younger-Sibling-Who-Used-to-Follow-Them-Around, on keyboard and percussion.
Shade played all-ages shows at the late Electric Banana, graduated to shows at the late Pluto's, and moved on to the tough South Oakland basement scene -- where Shade kicked out the jams to sloppy, crowded, sometimes indifferent keg parties. It has spent the past year laboring over its debut album with old friend Tim Thomas -- formally of Suburban Sect, currently bass player for the Subterraneans -- and doing well attended, once-a-month shows on the dimly lit local bar circuit, most recently a super-tight, color-splashed performance with the brand-new Camera and Toronto indie drone band The Creeping Nobodies at the Lava Lounge.
The as-of-yet-unnamed album, which should be finished by mid-summer, accurately captures the band's live sound -- poppy but with a solid, rock rhythm section. It's full of sonic detail, psychedelic haze and swagger, recalling The Verve's early work but not too closely, with everything from vintage Edge guitar flourishes to a James-ish bass line to a grinding, unmistakable "I Wanna Be Your Dog" chord progression thrown in for good measure. It's stylish, atmospheric and image-conscious, and sounds like it would be perfectly at home in the late-afternoon X-15 play list. And that's why it's good.
---------------"Breathless" by Shade. From demo CD (self-produced).
Beautiful vocals. Incredible music composition. It has a Radiohead feel and on the darker side of Coldplay. The guitars bring out a darker nature of ethereal-gloom British pop while the bass and vocals hold the light in the sound. Drumming carries a very mod-rock sound that more bands should follow. I love this. This band has a very bright future. Is this Shade?
by Jon Johnson