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Chip DiMonick gets pumped

• After taking a spin through darker, heavier terrain on "Sick Definition of Fun," hard rock band Chip Dimonick is back in a lighter (and still raunchy) mood with sports anthems, tattoos and drunk girls on its fourth album "The Sign of a New Generation."

"It's been over three years since our last release," says frontman Dimonick. "So we've spent more time in the live environment than being hunkered down writing or in a studio. So, being in -- or, more accurately, creating -- a party atmosphere has probably influenced us to write more party-oriented songs this go-round. You can't get inspired to write something like 'When The Drunkest Girls Wear The Shortest Skirts' if you spend your life in your band room, right?"

The five-song record opens with a "Pump," a song designed for firing up a crowd at a sports event, preferably a local one.

"Being hometown heroes," he says, "we'd love to see the Pirates, the Steelers, and/or the Penguins claim it as their own but, if they don't, we'll see who else gets where we are coming from with it."

In a scene often dominated by much heavier nu metal, Chip Dimonick takes its cue from Alice Cooper and Motley Crue, which can put the band in a no-man's land in terms of attracting a crowd.

But, he says, "I think we found a real sweet spot with our sound. We have the energy and attitude to get under-21 kids pressed up against the front of the stage at our shows, but we also have a lot of 30-something people who sense a hint of the music they liked growing up that are connecting with our music as well. A teenager with a Black Veil Brides shirt may come up to us after a show and tell us that she loved us right after someone her dad's age tells us we reminded him of Motley Crue -- and the teenager may not even know who Motley Crue is!"

For shame.

As for whether the fans will roll with Chip Dimonick's changes, he says with a laugh, "We're fortunate to have some really flexible fans, in more ways than one. Each one of our albums has been different and it's so rewarding to see some of our diehards in the crowd who have been there from the beginning. Early reactions to our new songs are extremely positive and I think that our fans will actually be happier that we injected more fun into our music and didn't release the same album we released last time."

The release show is at the Hard Rock Cafe, Station Square, at 10 p.m. Saturday, with After the Fall and Through These Walls. Go to http://www.facebook.com/chipdimonick

Neon Swing goes high concept

• For its new album, the Neon Swing X-perience didn't just throw together a collection of 17 standards and originals, it set out to tell a tale -- the story of "Grandpa Tempo: The Chairman of Swing."

It all started to the east of us in Ravens country.

"We were playing a swing dance in Baltimore," says singer/trumpeter Mike Urick, "when we got yelled at by a cranky elderly chap because our tempo was too fast. Our keyboardist, Andy [Leer], looked over at me and jokingly said, 'Who's this guy, Grandpa Tempo?' "

Later, when they were playing a Sinatra song, Mr. Tempo approached them again claiming that he in fact was The Chairman, not Frank. They set out to write a backstory for this now mythical character, who would be a ballroom dancer "too big for his britches."

"We had been writing some new songs that we never knew would make it to an album," Mr. Urick says. "We started writing songs, though, with similar themes -- and these themes seemed perfect for the title of the album. Then, by fate it would seem, we were doing a bunch of live recordings at the same time. A lot of the tracks that we really liked from the live recordings had similar themes to the songs we've been writing."

The lively album roars through such classics as "Just A Gigolo," "Zoot Suit Riot" and "Blue Suede Shoes," while adding uptempo originals, including "275 Miles," "Speakeasy" and the doo-wop rave-up "Would You Stay the Night?" As it progresses, it gets a bit more heady with the Squirrel Nut Zippers' "Hell" and Screaming Jay Hawkins' "I Put a Spell on You."

Says Mr. Urick, "The themes we noticed were maturing from a party animal into someone that's had a lot of life experiences, journeying, lost love, the afterlife, ultimate redemption, etc."

For the release show Friday at the James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy, 422 Foreland St., North Side, the NSX will perform the new album live, followed by two more sets of favorites and rarities.

The show is at 8 p.m. Admission is $5; free if you contributed to the Kickstarter. For more info, go to www.neonswing.com or call 412-904-3335. On Saturday night, the band will be at NOLA on the Square, Market Square, Downtown, at 8 p.m.

-- Scott Mervis: smervis@post-gazette.com; 412-263-2576

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