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Donora returns to Brillobox for "Ha Ha Heart" release show

January 30, 9 p.m.
Few bands have defined and help grow Pittsburgh’s indie-rock scene over the past decade more than Donora. That’s due in part to their consistently tight guitar pop that has evolved admirably over the course of three albums, but it also has to do with their longevity and commitment. Many of the Pittsburgh bands the trio was most associated with during their early heyday in the late aughts -- including Boca Chica; Good Night, States; Lohio; and The Harlan Twins -- have all taken extended hiatuses to either explore new projects or to focus on their non-rock star lives.This isn’t a criticism; it’s simply the typical life cycle of a vibrant local music scene.

But now, Donora seems to be moving in a different direction than its peers, emerging as the esteemed scene veterans amid a new crop of hungry up-and-coming bands. And with their latest release, Ha Ha Heart, they’ve made their most accomplished record yet, one full of gorgeous studio flourishes and robust arrangements that fill in the group’s arsenal of insanely catchy compositions with a glittering galaxy of synth lines, tape loops, and sampled sound collages. Donora’s studio-centric approach, cultivated in moments on their 2011 album Boyfriends, Girlfriends and augured on their 2013 EP Play Nice, has now blossomed to its full potential. Lead single “Always Gonna Be” has all of Donora’s trademarks: lead singer Casey Hanner’s crunchy guitar work and perfectly calibrated harmonies, bassist Jake Churton strutting, restless basslines, and drummer/producer Jake Hanner’s party-ready percussion. But when the song snaps into its chorus, there's greater depth and dimension thanks to a cascading collection of electronic keyboard riffs and playful vocal samples, which ebb and pulse on each progression.

Probably no song on the album personifies the group’s evolution better than the guitar-less shimmering daydream “Memory,” a gauzy, wafting track that recalls the somnambulist qualities of classic Beach House and even Top Gun OST-era Giorgio Moroder. This immersive, headphone symphony of a song uses every inch of the new studio Jake Hanner recently built in his Gibsonia home, where the band recorded Ha Ha Heat in its entirety. After releasing the album in early December, the trio are finally readying a proper release show on Jan. 30 at the Brillobox, the venue that has been their de facto homebase since Donora's earliest shows. Don’t miss this chance to see one of the Pittsburgh music scene’s most-revered bands operating at the height of their powers. (4104 Penn Avenue, Bloomfield, Brillobox)

Someday is Now: The Art of Corita Kent opens at the Warhol Museum

January 31 - April 19
Starting Jan. 31 and running through April, The Andy Warhol Museum will host the first comprehensive survey of Corita Kent’s lifetime work titled Someday is Now: The Art of Corita Kent. Considering the impact that Kent had not only as a trailblazing artist in the pop art scene of the '50s and '60s, but also as an activist during civil rights and women’s liberation movements, it’s stunning to think no major gallery has ever taken on an expansive retrospective of her work before now. The museum plans to not only focus on her most famous screen-printing work from the 1960s, but also her early text and abstract pieces and the work she produced in the '70s and '80s while living in Boston.

Kent cut a fascinating figure, studying art at Otis College of Art and Design, Chouinard Art Institute, and Immaculate Heart College while being a member of the Roman Catholic Order of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Los Angeles. She eventually became the head of Immaculate Heart College’s Art Department and her classes proved to be the epicenter for Los Angeles’ avant-garde artist community, including the likes of visionaries such as John Cage, Saul Bass, Buckminster Fuller, and Charles and Ray Eames. In her work, Kent was fond of incorporating various pieces of texts accrued from religious, political and philosophical works, as well as street signs, films, and popular music, into large screen prints with bold colors and innovative designs.

With Someday is Now, The Warhol offers Pittsburgh a chance to explore one of the most important and groundbreaking voices the American art community has ever produced. For more information about the exhibit, check out The Warhol’s custom exhibition page at www.warhol.org/CoritaKent/. (117 Sandusky Street, North Side, The Warhol)
 
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