Broken Fences and 'Stormy Clouds'
■ Some of the prettiest harmonies you'll ever hear from a Pittsburgh band appeared last year on the debut album by Broken Fences.
Morgan Erina and Guy Russo, whose delicate acoustic folk approach brings to mind The Swell Season, return with more harmonies to make you melt on the vinyl EP "Stormy Clouds." With backing from guitarist Nathan Zoob and bassist Jason Rafalak, the EP was recorded over two days at J Bird Studio in Cranberry.
"We wanted to make a raw, live-sounding record," Mr. Russo says. "All of the instruments are played together, and there is very little post-production, in contrast to the painstaking and meticulous separate tracking of our album, which took months and months to record. We wanted to make this one a true folk record, even if the next album (for which we've already begun preproduction) brings back some of the more indie-pop traits of our debut. This is part of the reason we went with a vinyl release."
Since releasing the debut album, Broken Fences has placed songs on the shows "Necessary Roughness" and "The Young and the Restless" and toured quite a bit, including three weeks in Europe.
"Probably walking into a loud smoky dive bar in Berlin, thinking it was going to be a lousy night with an unruly and inattentive crowd, and ending up with a full, seated and captivated audience that wanted us to play all night," Mr. Russo says. "Europe was full of pleasant surprises like that. Denmark was the most beautiful, Germany had the best audiences, and England was the most fun."
Broken Fences will release the EP and screen the Joe Stammerjohn-directed video for the song "Simplicity" at Club Cafe at 7 p.m. Friday. Andre Costello opens. Tickets are $10-$12; www.clubcafelive.com.
Blues Orphans get ' Hystericana'
■ Asked about his songwriting heroes, Vince Herman of Leftover Salmon told American Songwriter last year he liked Jackson Browne and Todd Snider and then said, "But my real hero is Bob Gabig in my hometown of Carnegie, Pennsylvania. He writes hysterical anthems that have inspired me for years."
Mr. Gabig, frontman for the Blues Orphans since 1979, will keep you laughing -- or wincing, depending on your tolerance for novelty songs -- singing about "Smart Phones, Dumb People," "Yinzer Polka" and "Plastic Soup" on the band's fifth studio album, "Hystericana."
The singer hits lots of local references while the band chugs along behind, defying the name by incorporating bluegrass, honky-tonk, funk, doo-wop and more.
The CD release party for 12-song "Hystericana" is 8 p.m. Friday at James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy, North Side. jamesstreetgastropub.com.
Belvie record fest
■ What if you held a record show not in a hotel on a Sunday but in a bar on a Saturday night with DJs and beer and loud music, and no charge for a table?
That would be the Pittsburgh Record Fest at Belvedere's in Lawrenceville, which started out as a few friends swapping 45s and LPs and has grown into a regional event.
"The way we approach it is pretty different than the traditional record fair" co-founder Max Terasauro says. "We do not charge for tables so we get all kinds of people who just have too many records. So its not oriented to professional dealers -- it's the people's record fair. There's live DJ's, booze ... it's more in the spirit of music and getting people together than just shopping."
Pittsburgh Record Fest takes place at 7 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $3. For further information contact firstname.lastname@example.org or Pittsburgh Record Fest on Facebook.
New from Triggers
■ The last album from Triggers, "At Last ... A Smile," was great but also a drama-filled affair that involved an expensive LA studio, a mishap with a start-up label and a yearlong delay.
This time the power-pop band (led by former members of Monarch and The You), kept it simple, going into the studio with Jake Hanner of Donora.
They emerged with a six-song EP called "What Part of Strangers Don't You Understand?" It will be released with a show at the Brillobox, Bloomfield, at 9:30 p.m. Friday with the Harlan Twins and Delicious Pastries. www.brillobox.net.
New music from Broken Fences, Blues Orphans, Triggers and a Pittsburgh Record Fest at Belvedere's.