Ball of Flame shoots again
• Ball of Flame Shoot Fire is coming back to Pittsburgh Saturday for its first hometown show in two years and -- no surprise -- the prolific and very quirky indie-rock band has a new album, "Zileur (Mi-Mi-Mo-Mo)."
Ball of Flame -- Winston Cook-Wilson, Tim Good, Peter Henry, Patrick Kellya and Jess Tambellini -- formed at Mt. Lebanon High School back in 2006 and then left for New York after graduation.
After first settling into a five-bedroom house in Long Island, Ball of Flame moved into an apartment above an abandoned funeral home in Brooklyn, where it built a home studio. Fans will notice that "Zileur" is more organic than the electronics-heavy 2011 album, "Pots and Knives."
" 'Zileur' represents a marked turn for us towards incorporating more Americana influences," says Mr. Good. "I played some country-ish guitar on a few tracks, we're starting to embrace vocal harmony, and the samples have been dialed back a bit. In a lot of ways, we're moving backwards in history in terms of what kind of music we're being influenced by -- Animal Collective, Pavement and No Wave have been largely displaced by John Prine, Van Dyke Parks, the Beach Boys and George Jones -- and I think it comes through pretty strongly when you put the two albums side by side."
While the influences may have changed, it's remarkable that the band hasn't. How have five guys from high school stayed together in New York this long?
"I think the desire for some stability in our lives has helped us keep playing together," Mr. Good says. "We made the decision to move to NYC together, but it's pretty crazy -- especially for five Mt. Lebanon boys used to a lot more space and quiet -- and we've used the band to hang on to a little bit of home. Also, buying the equipment to record ourselves has allowed us to pursue whatever creative directions we want to. So the band has remained consistently artistically rewarding. And it probably doesn't hurt that we've been friends for almost a decade, which is almost half of my life."
Ball of Flame plays a CD release party at the Brillobox, Bloomfield, at 10 p.m. Saturday with Crappy Funeral and Mrs. Paintbrush (Jackson from Grand Buffet). Admission is $7. Go to www.ticketweb.com.
• My Cardboard Spaceship Adventure has a new album in the works, but for now, the pop-punk band is pushing a new single, "Farewell," that's a step up for the band.
It was produced by Dave Douglas, former drummer for national touring band Relient K who now plays and sings with Rachel Haskins in the Cleveland pop-rock duo Attack Cat.
"Last year we received an email from Attack Cat asking if we'd be interested in playing with them," says Mikey Meiers, of My Cardboard Spaceship Adventure. "We set up a show and had a great time. Dave is extremely easy to get along with and very humble -- it's refreshing to find that. He asked what our future plans for releasing new music were and said he'd like to work with us on our new stuff. We wrote a bunch, sent him demos, and finally chose to use 'Farewell.' Having Dave at the helm guiding us along the way made the song much stronger."
MCSA has released the song as a pay-what-you-want download on its website www.mcsarocks.com.
The band has been busy touring the East Coast and Midwest this year and is about to head to New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Virginia and Connecticut.
"We're trying to keep consistent in touring and releasing music," Mr. Meiers says, "It's a delicate balance but we're finding our way."
Before they leave town, MCSA plays Diesel on the South Side at 5 p.m. Saturday with Attack Cat, The Switch Kids and These Three Words.