The Best Albums of 2015

Written by Scott Mervis on .




pimp1. Kendrick Lamar, “To Pimp a Butterfly”: I’ve heard this called Kendrick’s “Songs in the Key of Life,” and, admittedly, as a middle-aged white male, this is not MY “Songs in the Key of Life.” But this is a pure musical adventure, the kind that makes you shake your head and wonder, “How did he do this?” The craft is breathtaking, bursting with so many ideas and juxtapositions, something different is happening practically every 10 or 20 seconds. In lieu of hip-pop songs and bangers, we get a musical palette rich and relentless, big on free jazz but with a mix of heavy beats, Prince-ly funk and soul, and a splash of what sounds like Steely Dan (the middle-aged white male connection!). Over top, Kendrick wrestles the demons of fame, love, sex, depression, expectations and the state of blackness. There’s so much to take in, a book could be written about this album. I’m not the one to do it.


EricChurchCoverMrMisunderstood2. Eric Church, “Mr. Misunderstood”: Surprise albums aren’t just for Beyonce and Prince ... and Wilco. The heartland rocker and Nashville outsider dropped one in November that tones down the bombast of last year’s hit “The Outsiders.” Church and company just let it rip, crossing boundaries into gospel, soul, hard rock, swamp rock, etc. The playing dazzles and the lyrics are frequently devastating, whether it’s Church singing about the weird kid in the title track, the heartbroken sods in “Round Here” and “Mixed Drinks About Feelings” or what he learned from his son in “Three Year Old.” It’s nothing groundbreaking -- just an unhyped gift of great songs.


Sufjan Stevens - Carrie  Lowell3. Sufjan Stevens, “Carrie & Lowell”: The faded cover photo of his late mother and stepfather illustrates the collection of fractured memories to be found inside. This is a quietly harrowing work from the singer-songwriter channeling his grief into a beautiful and dreamy mosaic of their troubled, mostly estranged relationship. He solidified the album for Pittsburghers with a brilliant show at Heinz Hall in which he performed it in its entirety.


hopalong4. Hop Along, “Painted Shut”: I won’t argue with Adele being the best singer going, but I’ll take Frances Quinlan, who keeps you on edge wondering what her voice is going to do next. It’s not one for “The Voice” or anything remotely like that. It’s a lethal weapon the Philly freak-folk-singer-turned-indie-rocker unleashes on this second band album and Saddle Creek debut produced by John Agnello (Kurt Vile, Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth, the Hold Steady). Hop Along keeps the electricity turned up and Quinlan scratches out a compelling cast of characters, from the waitress in the waffle house to the witness at the door to portraits of two mysterious old musicians, but it’s the untamed vocals, from whisper to cracking howl, that keeps it hopping.


courtney5. Courtney Barnett, “Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit”: What if Liz Phair had a baby? In Australia? Bouncing from stripped-down garage to moody and squalling indie-rock, Barnett’s debut album reboots that world-weary, deadpan vibe, working magic with mundane details. “Depreston,” a song about hipsters house hunting in the suburbs, turns into a bracing meditation on mortality. In “An Illustration of Loneliness (Sleepless in NY),” a night of insomnia has the cracks in the ceiling making her imagine “my love line seems intertwined with death.” The single, “Pedestrian at Best” -- “Put me on a pedestal and I’ll only disappoint you!” -- is a giddy existential crisis with monsters riffs out of the Sonics or the Cynics.


No Cities to Love cover6. Sleater-Kinney, “No Cities to Love”: After a decade off, it was so good to hear the riot ladies again, it didn’t even have to be that good. Oh, but it was! The angular riffs, stabbing guitars, punk-force beats, darting vocals of Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein … all present and delivered with the same lurching abandon.



kurt-vile-b-lieve-im-down-album-stream-listen7. Kurt Vile, “B’lieve I’m Going Down”: It sounds like Vile did this one sitting down, like he is on the cover. It’s a languid, mostly melancholy-sounding piece best enjoyed looking out the window at the rain or late at night with headphones in a smoky room. As always, he draws on Dylan/Petty/Lou Reed, but it comes out as pure Kurt Vile, sounding more relaxed (and maybe a little more surreal) than ever in his own skin.


tame-impala-currents8. Tame Impala, “Currents”: The fuzz guitars are phased out for synths, which, to some fans, might feel like going backwards, but the dreamy psychedelia is intact on the third album from the Australian band. It’s Kevin Parker dealing with a break-up, in grand musical fashion, with hints of Motown and Flaming Lips.



ryanadams9. Ryan Adams, “1989”: If this had come out before the Taylor Swift album, could we have guessed that the songs were actually written by a 25-year-old pop diva? “Haters gonna hate” may have been a tip-off, but otherwise, this would have passed as another really good Ryan Adams record. Knowing it’s a Taylor Swift tribute album adds a layer of gender and generational complexity to each song. He fully occupies the 13 tracks, turning many of the smiles upside-down and infusing it with the emotional wallop of a more seasoned artist.


carousel-211310. Carousel, “2113”:  Some up-and-coming bands aim to get heavier with each record. With the addition of Philly-based guitarist Matt Goldsborough, a member of '70s metal pioneers Pentagram, Pittsburgh’s Carousel backs off the sludge for a sizzling twin-guitar, hard rock attack with a touch of Southern boogie. More than suitable for fans of Thin Lizzy, Aerosmith and Kiss.



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Puscifer Money $hot tour coming to Stage AE in April

Written by Scott Mervis on .


puscifertimcadiente3Puscifer, the band led by Tool frontman Maynard James Keenan, will bring the Money $hot – Round 2 tour to Stage AE on April 1 with Luchafer.


Tickets are $39.50 advance/$45 day of show and go on sale Dec. 23 at all Ticketmaster locations, charge by phone at 800-745-3000 or online at Doors open at 7 p.m. for the show.


Money $hot, the third album from Puscifer was released in October, and landed at No. 1 on Billboard’s Independent Music chart and No. 30 on the Top 200.

“This show is so much more than just a band regurgitating songs,” Keenan said in a statement. “This is a multi-media performance unlike anything you’ve ever witnessed. There are those who know, and there are those who will know soon enough.”


Puscifer did a stunning conceptual theater show at the Byham in March 2012 after the release of "Conditions of My Parole."


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Pittsburgh's Best Concerts of 2015: Pop/rock

Written by Scott Mervis on .


Taylor6-2Steve Mellon/Post-GazetteIt was a good year for the legends, and when they live up to the billing, there’s nothing better.


We had Stevie Wonder doing “Songs in the Key of Life,” the Stones romping through the North Shore for first time in a decade; rare sightings of Randy Newman and Television; The Zombies playing one of the great cult records; and a wicked $%&*-ing set from the last of the blues legends, Buddy Guy.


It wasn’t all geezers, as Tame Impala, Manchester Orchestra and, of course, Taylor Swift were among those proudly representing the millennials.


Here’s the list:



Wonder03-3John Heller/Post-Gazette1. Stevie Wonder (Consol Energy Center, Oct. 19): A greatest hits set would have been the ultimate crowd-pleaser, but perhaps not as meaningful or memorable. This time, we got to see the genius delve deep into a groundbreaking album that goes all over the map, musically. Wonder was in perfect form doing “Songs in the Key of Life,” fronting one of the tightest, funkiest bands to ever sit foot in this town. The lovely local touch was bringing the Skyliners up (to their own surprise) for “Since I Don’t Have You,” one of Wonder’s favorite old ballads.


jaggerSteve Mellon/Post-Gazette2. The Rolling Stones (Heinz Field, June 20): The Stones ... not the tightest band to ever set foot in this town. In fact, they were awfully sloppy, but brilliantly so, on a magical night in which a stormy evening left a rainbow over the stadium. Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood had those glorious, snarling guitars cranked to the hilt and the 71-year-old Mick Jagger proved himself the ninth wonder of the world, mixing the big hits with concert rarity “Moonlight Mile” and a requested “Paint it Black.”

TaylorblogAndrew Rush/Post-Gazette3. Taylor Swift (Heinz Field, June 6): Nobody casts a spell over a stadium quite like T-Swift, who arrived here on her “1989 Tour” and boldly pushed aside many of her earlier hits to focus on her exceptional new-ish album. It would have been even better if Wiz Khalifa had been the surprise guest here instead of Little Big Town. Nonetheless, Taylor, who seems to connect with everyone in the stadium on a personal level, was as sparkling as the 50,000 points of glowing light.



SufjanStevens-3-2Katelyn Jones/Post-Gazette4. Sufjan Stevens (Heinz Hall, Nov. 3): The Midwest indie darling hadn’t played a show here since doing an acoustic set at Club Cafe at the beginning of his 15-year career. We were fortunate to finally get Stevens touring on what many feel is his compelling piece, "Carrie & Lowell," a poetic, soul-baring eulogy to his mother. That voice we'd only heard on record was so immediate live, it practically froze you in your seat. “Carrie & Lowell” was presented as a theater piece with artful lighting and old home video. Between the acoustics of Heinz Hall, a microphone he must have spent a fortune on, exquisite melodies and a voice that glides so beautifully from whisper to falsetto, it was a stunning effect.


ThrivalChurches/Scott Mervis/Post-Gazette5. Thrival Festival (Hazelwood, Sept. 25-26): When I drive down Second Avenue in Hazelwood now, I look toward the Mon at the abandoned LTV mill and remember those two nights in September when Thrill Mill transformed it into one of the coolest concert sites we’ve ever seen here. With the mill glowing with red light and lasers shooting across the rocky grass field, we were treated to great, sample-sized sets by Manchester Orchestra, San Fermin, Strand of Oaks, Cathedrals, Panic! At the Disco (not my favorite band in the world) and Raekwon/Ghostface Killah, among others. It’s our own miniature version of Coachella or Bonnaroo, and I can’t wait till the next one.


sleaterkinneymag02-1Larry Roberts/Post-Gazette6. Sleater-Kinney (Stage AE, March 1): This was the first show here in 19 years for the riot grrrrls from Olympia, Wash., who attack with a vicious combination of angry, sexy and catchy. Fresh off a decade-long hiatus and touring on "No Cities to Love," one of the better albums of the year, Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss (with touring member Katie Harkin) delivered monstrous squalls, short spastic bursts and those unmistakable high-pitched vocals.


RaulScott Mervis/Post-Gazette7. The Mavericks (Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall, April 25): The Mavericks would have to screw up majorly to not have a place on this list. The Mavericks are an unstoppable force live, between frontman Raul Malo sounding like the second coming of Elvis and Roy Orbison and the eight-piece band merrily blending rockabilly, ska, Latino, surf, alt-country, hard rock and just about everything. This was a true Saturday night party set as the Mavs revved the engine and then kept going and going, with 13 songs in the encore, one more rollicking than the next.


alvin1-jpgScott Mervis/Post-Gazette8. The Alvin Brothers (Club Cafe, March 12): After being estranged for more than 30 years, one of rock 'n' roll's great unsung brother pairs, Dave and Phil Alvin, better known as the Blasters, tore it up in the tiny club. Dave is a blues guitar virtuoso and Phil has always channeled some ancient musical. Being a few feet away from them playing the hell out of "Border Radio," "Trouble Bound" and “Marie Marie” was an indescribable thrill.


9. Randy Newman (Heinz Hall, July 30): Having not shown his face here since 1977 (Syria Mosque), the singer-songwriter-pianist-composer-humorist renewed his acquaintance with the city, magnificently, joining the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Along with elegant versions of his underrated songs, he conducted the PSO in four of his own suites, including "Toy Story" and "Maverick." And his between-song banter...even better than Paul Stanley’s!


Decemberists01John Heller/Post-Gazette10. The Decemberists (Benedum, March 31): I get it. A 40-year-old Portlander who sings sea shanties and grandly poetic love songs with an affected British accent -- not for everyone. But there are few songwriters/storytellers more commanding on stage than Colin Meloy, and his bandmates, who had to double as the opening act when Alvvays got stuck at the Canadian border, are as versatile and accomplished as musicians get. The highlight was a four-song suite from "The Hazards of Love," the glorious rock opera they performed here in 2009.


Television-JPG11. Television (Carnegie Music Hall, Sept. 25): The NYC punk-era pioneers had played Pittsburgh only once, opening for Peter Gabriel at the Stanley in 1977, before splitting a year later. Tom Verlaine and company, re-formed in 1992, finally returned in a rare 2015 North American appearance, giving us the groundbreaking "Marquee Moon" album with the precision and intensity you'd expect from such veteran and masterful players. It was presented by The Andy Warhol Museum.


Buddy-GuyNate Guidry/Post-Gazette12. Buddy Guy (Hartwood Acres, Pittsburgh Blues Festival, July 25): The blues legend had to apologize for this one. He swore like a sailor (if, in fact, sailors do swear more than other people) between songs. No apology necessary for the performance, which demonstrated why he was the bluesman of choice for the ’60s rock generation, and why he is a national treasure at 79.


mellencampmag03-2Matt Freed/Post-Gazette13. John Mellencamp (Benedum, May 12): The Indiana Hall of Famer has made one of the more artful transitions from arena spectacle to theater show, and from young rocker into old protest singer, offering rich and beautiful Americana while also bringing the old hits in a joyous manner.


Tame-ImpalaScott Mervis/Post-Gazette14. Tame Impala (Stage AE, June 3): If Ken Kesey had been looking for a heavy Australian band from the future for his acid tests, Tame Impala would have been the first call. The members of Tame, who weren't even born in the '60s, would have been a nice addition to the psychedelic festivities, based on this Pittsburgh debut at Stage AE with colorful screens, fog, streaming lights and dizzying sounds.


EarthWindFire02-1Scott Mervis/Post-Gazette15. Earth, Wind & Fire (Heinz Hall, May 19): Playing a rare headlining show in Pittsburgh, EWF hit the stage 12 strong and took a polite crowd that didn’t know whether to stand up or sit down to a “Boogie Wonderland." The group is down to three core members, most importantly bass-master Verdine White and incomparable falsetto singer Philip Bailey. They wooed us with such slow jams as “Reasons” and “That's the Way of the World”) and got butts out of seats for “Shining Star” and “September.” Making this night even better was getting out early enough to see the Psychedelic Furs at Mr. Smalls.


primusKatie Darby/Invision/Associated Press16. Primus (Stage AE, April 14): We've seen a lot of Primus around here, from the Palumbo to Metropol to the Beaver Dome. This avant-funk-metal take on "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory," complete with Wonka stage set, film and Oompa-Loompas, was Optimal Primus.


Oldcrow-JPGScott Mervis/Post-Gazette17. Old Crow Medicine Show/Sturgill Simpson (Stage AE, July 29): It was Square Dance Night at Stage AE with this rowdy old-time string band from Nashville playing downhome hillbilly music (and even some Grateful Dead and Tom Petty), supported by the Kentucky outlaw who’s making a name as this generation’s Dwight Yoakam.


zombiesScott Mervis/Post-Gazette18. The Zombies (Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall, Oct. 14): The Zombies are adored for 1968's "Odessey and Oracle," one of the most unsung psych-pop albums to emerge in the '60s and album No. 100 on Rolling Stone's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. After a first set that ranged from charming blue-eyed soul hit "Tell Her No" to Argent's "Hold Your Head Up," the Zombies, fronted by angelic singer Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent, re-created "Odessey" so beautifully, it was enough to bring tears to the eyes of a psych-pop connoisseur.


19. Jason Isbell (Carnegie of Homestead Music Hall, Feb. 9): The body count escalated with every murderous ballad and rocker delivered by the former member of Drive-By Truckers. He unveiled his stories with exquisite detail and subtle twists, singing in a sharp voice that cut to the core.


ChristieMag01Bill Wade/Post-Gazette20. Pittsburgh Rockin’ Reunion (Benedum, April 4)/Pittsburgh Rock N Roll Legends Awards (Hard Rock Cafe, April 23): First, Lou Christie and Donnie Iris, two local heroes in their 70s, raised the roof at the Benedum for the oldies show Pittsburgh Rockin Reunion. And then a few weeks later, the Pittsburgh All-Star Band -- with Iris, Joe Grushecky, Billy Price, Frank Czuri, Rusted Root, etc. -- did the city proud in a jam session that topped the one at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame the week before.




Other shows I loved: The War on Drugs, Wire, And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead, New Pornographers, Modest Mouse, My Morning Jacket, Joe Jackson, Richard Thompson, Flogging Molly, Steve Miller, David Crosby, Wiz Khalifa, Hozier, Styx, Of Monsters and Men, Mark Knopfler, Public Image Ltd.


Concert that would have been on the list: Father John Misty was the same night as Taylor Swift, and based on watching on the Coachella stream, he certainly would have cracked the list.


Best show that didn’t happen: The Replacements, who had been getting rave reviews, were all set to play their first show here in 24 years in May, but singer Paul Westerberg got sick a few days before and canceled just a couple dates on the tour, including ours. By the time the tour finished, we were hearing the Mats were finished for good. Among the other cancellations this year: Linkin Park/Rise Against, Interpol canceled the same month.


Least favorite shows: Alt-J, who sounded fine, but were once again deadly dull to watch; Shania Twain, who lacked the shine and vocal force of younger days; Darius Rucker ...same.


Best mainstream country show: What can I say: Florida Georgia Line has been a guilty pleasure since “Cruise.”


Best opening band: The J Geils Band blowing our faces out before Bob Seger at Consol.


Best banter: Right up there with Buddy Guy and Randy Newman was Ed Robertson of Barenaked Ladies, who was hilarious talking his trip to Kennywood.


Biggest miss: Rush on its farewell tour doesn’t play Pittsburgh, one of its core cities? A real slight to the fans here.


Best fake band: If I can’t see the real band, I would rather just play the record or watch the DVD, but the musicianship of Brit Floyd at Stage AE was positively stunning.



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Billy Price/Otis Clay album nominated for Blues Music Award

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Price"This Time For Real," the collaborative album between Pittsburgh's Billy Price and soul legend Otis Clay, has been nominated for Best Soul Blues Album at the 37th annual Blues Music Awards, presented by the Blues Foundation in Memphis.

It will be voted on by Blues Foundation members, with the ceremony taking place at Cook Convention Center in Memphis on May 5.

"I'm very excited," Price said Tuesday. "I've never been nominated for anything like this at a national level before. Signing with Vizztone was big for me. Otis and I are hoping that the recognition we get from the nomination will help us book some festivals here and overseas in the coming year."

James Harman led the list of nominations with five.

37th Blues Music Award Nominees

Acoustic Album
Doug MacLeod – Exactly Like This
Duke Robillard – The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard
Eric Bibb – Blues People
Guy Davis – Kokomo Kidd
The Ragpicker String Band – The Ragpicker String Band

Acoustic Artist
Doug MacLeod
Eric Bibb
Gaye Adegbalola
Guy Davis
Ian Siegal

Anthony Geraci & the Boston Blues All-Stars – Fifty Shades of Blue
Buddy Guy – Born to Play Guitar
James Harman – Bonetime
The Cash Box Kings – Holding Court
Wee Willie Walker – If Nothing Ever Changes

Andy T – Nick Nixon Band
Rick Estrin & the Nightcats
Sugar Ray & the Bluetones
The Cash Box Kings
Victor Wainwright & the Wild Roots

B.B. King Entertainer
John Németh
Rick Estrin
Shemekia Copeland
Sugaray Rayford
Victor Wainwright

Best New Artist Album
Eddie Cotton – One at a Time
Igor Prado Band – Way Down South
Mighty Mike Schermer – Blues in Good Hands
Mr. Sipp – The Mississippi Blues Child
Slam Allen – Feel These Blues

Contemporary Blues Album
Buddy Guy – Born to Play Guitar
Eugene Hideaway Bridges – Hold on a Little Bit Longer
Shemekia Copeland – Outskirts of Love
Sonny Landreth – Bound by the Blues
Sugaray Rayford – Southside

Contemporary Blues Female Artist
Beth Hart
Karen Lovely
Nikki Hill
Samantha Fish
Shemekia Copeland

Contemporary Blues Male Artist
Brandon Santini
Eugene Hideaway Bridges
Jarekus Singleton
Joe Louis Walker
Sugaray Rayford

Historical Album
The Henry Gray/Bob Corritore Sessions, Vol. 1, Blues Won’t Let Me Take My Rest on Delta Groove Records
Hawk Squat by J. B. Hutto & His Hawks on Delmark Records
Southside Blues Jam by Junior Wells on Delmark Records
Buzzin’ the Blues by Slim Harpo on Bear Family Records
Dynamite! The Unsung King of the Blues by Tampa Red on Ace Records

Charlie Wooton
Lisa Mann
Michael “Mudcat” Ward
Patrick Rynn
Willie J. Campbell

Cedric Burnside
Jimi Bott
June Core
Tom Hambridge
Tony Braunagel

Anson Funderburgh
Kid Andersen
Monster Mike Welch
Ronnie Earl
Sonny Landreth

Billy Branch
Brandon Santini
James Harman
Jason Ricci
Kim Wilson

Al Basile
Doug James
Kaz Kazanoff
Sax Gordon
Terry Hanck

Koko Taylor Award (Traditional Blues Female)
Diunna Greenleaf
Fiona Boyes
Ruthie Foster
Trudy Lynn
Zora Young

Pinetop Perkins Piano Player
Allen Toussaint
Anthony Geraci
Barrelhouse Chuck
John Ginty
Victor Wainwright

Rock Blues Album of the Year
Joe Bonamassa – Muddy Wolf at Red Rocks
Joe Louis Walker – Everybody Wants a Piece
Royal Southern Brotherhood – Don’t Look Back
Tinsley Ellis – Tough Love
Walter Trout – Battle Scars

“Bad Feet/Bad Hair” written and performed by James Harman
“Fifty Shades of Blue” written by Anthony Geraci and performed by Anthony Geraci & the Boston Blues All-Stars
“Gonna Live Again” written and performed by Walter Trout
“Southside of Town” written by Sugaray Rayford and & Ralph Carter and performed by Sugaray Rayford
“You Got It Good (and That Ain’t Bad)” written and performed by Doug MacLeod

Soul Blues Album
Bey Paule Band – Not Goin’ Away
Billy Price & Otis Clay – This Time for Real
Jackie Payne – I Saw the Blues
Tad Robinson – Day into Night
Wee Willie Walker – If Nothing Ever Changes

Soul Blues Female Artist
Bettye LaVette
Dorothy Moore
Missy Anderson
Toni Lynn Washington
Vaneese Thomas

Soul Blues Male Artist
Frank Bey
Jackie Payne
Johnny Rawls
Otis Clay
Wee Willie Walker

Traditional Blues Album
Andy T – Nick Nixon Band – Numbers Man
Anthony Geraci & the Boston Blues All-Stars – Fifty Shades of Blue
Cedric Burnside Project – Descendants of Hill Country
James Harman – Bonetime
The Cash Box Kings – Holding Court

Traditional Blues Male Artist
Cedric Burnside
Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin
James Harman
Jimmy Burns
John Primer



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Titus Andronicus/Craig Finn coming to Cattivo

Written by Scott Mervis on .

FinnI know some people who are gonna go crazy over this one: Rowdy indie-rockers Titus Andronicus and brilliant Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn are teaming up for a tour that will hit Cattivo in Lawrenceville on March 20.

No word yet on ticket sales.

It was announced with this very odd and entertaining press release from Merge Records:

With 2015 drawing to a close and the world reflecting on the year that was, one tireless band is still looking towards the future : Titus Andronicus [ hereafter +@ ].

Even with July's historic 3xLP release The Most Lamentable Tragedy sitting unchallenged atop every reporting media outlet's list of 'The Longest Rock Operas of 2015,' +@ remain unsatisfied and so, today, they boldly reveal their plans for a string of American tour dates in the month of March.

For many, rocking through the incomparable experience of live +@ is as synonymous with springtime as dew on the blooming bud, but make no mistake : this will be a tour like no other, as +@ will be joined by legendary wordsmith Craig Finn, an esteemed mic controller beloved by countless devotees for his work with the Hold Steady and for solo efforts such as 2015's Faith In The Future.

See the full list of dates below and stay tuned for further updates from this titanic twosome in the new year. 

Until then, accept this humble season's gift from +@ : an all-new, Grandma-friendly “remix” of 2015's hit single “Fired Up,” finally ready for even the most placid holiday gathering, stripped of all potentially offensive sounds such as drums and electric guitars. Deck the halls with +@'s smoothest sounds yet, which will see physical release in early 2016 as one side of the final installment in the Seven Seven Inches series.

“If I have one regret about 2015, it is that I didn't enunciate more,” said +@ vocalist Patrick Stickles, in a rare moment of lucidity. “I will be grateful for the opportunity to observe the verbal dexterity of Craig [Finn], night after night, so that I might learn some valuable lessons from one of rock's great communicators.” Craig had similar sentiments for his soon-to-be tourmates: "The best show I saw in 2015 was +@ at Shea Stadium, and I was also lucky enough to be invited on stage that evening. I very much look forward to being able to be playing alongside this amazing and important band for all these shows."

So too will fans cherish the chance to nod serenely to the wise words of Craig Finn in his contemporary solo acoustic mode and to bop merrily to +@'s twelve-handed electric attack, though they will surely wonder : will audiences be blessed with the sort of onstage collaboration between these two giants which so thrilled unsuspecting celebrants at +@'s record release show at Brooklyn's Shea Stadium this past July?

“I wouldn't like to promise,” Stickles slyly spoke, his grim visage cracking into a wide grin, “but when one of the illest rock and roll frontmen of the modern era is in the house, +@ doesn't always wish to see them trapped behind an acoustic guitar all night, so I guess we shall see!” Stickles then appeared to mouth the words, “oh yeah,” triumphantly pumping his fist in the chill air.

“Ever since he first trusted me, so many years ago, to take care of his cat when he was out of town, Craig Finn has been a special friend to me and to the whole +@ organization,” Stickles said, a telling twinkle in his eye. “His love has been a great gift, a gift that we can't wait to share with rockers everywhere.”

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