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Local 913, Episode 5 - Meeting of Important People

Meeting of Important People If you've been listening to WYEP over the past half-dozen years, you've probably heard about the Pittsburgh trio Meeting of Important People. Over the course of their two full-length albums, the group has made some tremendously catchy pop-rock songs that can stick in your head in the best possible way. The band is fronted by guitarist/vocalist Josh Verbanets, and propelled by bassist Aaron Bubenheim and drummer Matt Miller. Each member has been playing in different area bands since they were much younger, and they got together as sort of a local supergroup in 2007. The band released their self-titled debut album in 2009, earning them plaudits from a number of sources including from us here at WYEP who declared them our 2009 Local Artist of the Year. In 2012, Meeting of Important People returned with the album My Ears Are Having a Heart Attack, once again continuing their tradition of crafting engaging songs with big hooks and a bright sound. The band promises on their Facebook page that they keep the "loud parts loud and the pretty parts pretty," and while that's a whimsical way to sum up their sound, they do have a knack for pulling off rock songs with harmonies, a fun sound, and clean production. They can take elements reminiscent of The Kinks, Fountains of Wayne, Guster, and The Who Sell Out-era The Who, and make it sound their own. Their new single, "All Ride Off Together," puts into one song a lot of what the band has been seemingly working towards since they began recording. An energetic rhythm and gentle guitars start the song which builds to a gigantic sound, including a chorus of notable guests from the local music scene, including Chet Vincent, Morgan Erina, and Andre Costello. Find out more about Meeting of Important People at their website.

Local 913, Episode 1 - Morgan Erina

Morgan ErinaBorn and raised in the Bronx, indie-singer/songwriter, Morgan Erina, relocated to Pittsburgh in 2010 after releasing her debut solo album. The goal was to start a new music project with family friend and collaborator Justin Sane of Anti-Flag. Instead, Erina paved her own way musically with her duo Broken  Fences, who released one full length album and an EP over the course of the group’s existence. Since  the dissolution of Broken Fences, Morgan Erina has  maintained a strong local following with her solo  material. Erina’s haunting, sensitive lyrics and finger-picking acoustic guitar, bring to mind names like  Elliott Smith, Kurt Cobain and Sinead O’Connor. Last fall, she released a new single titled “October” with  the hope of finishing a new solo EP in the near future. Check out more information about Morgan Erina at her website: morganerina.com.

Local 913, Episode 18: The Jakob's Ferry Stragglers

Coming from Washington County, The Jakob's Ferry Stragglers were recommended by WYEP's Sunday night Bluegrass Jam Session host Bruce Mountjoy. The relatively new band featuring Gary Antol, Libby Eddy, Mitch Hall and Ed Croft, hail from the mountains and river towns of southwestern PA, West Virginia, and Ohio. Bruce Mountjoy talks a little more about why he likes the group, who has a new Bluegrass record, The Lane Change. The first track on The Jakob's Ferry Stragglers new album is The Legend of Gandy Grey, which catches the ear immediately. For more on The Jakob's Ferry Stragglers, check out their website. 

Local 913, Episode 17: Heather Kropf

Heather Kropf has forged a reputation as a talented, dedicated songwriter and performer in Pittsburgh and beyond. She learned her craft through years of playing live with bands and as a solo artist. Her training in classical piano shines through in songs that deftly weave folk, pop, and jazz into songs that capture the complexity of modern life and romance. As a seasoned performer Kropf knows the challenges of a music career including the stress of recording. Listen below to learn about Kropf’s recording process on her new album, Chrysalis. For more on Heather Kropf, check out her website. 

Local 913 Live: Mariage Blanc

Mariage Blanc performs at WYEP's local music happy hour on July 16th, 2015.

Local 913, Episode 15, The Van Allen Belt

The Van Allen Belt is one of Pittsburgh's most unique bands, both visually and sonically, with influences from 1960's girl groups to Bjork. Originally formed in 2006: Several lineup changes, albums and opening slots for Stereolab later, The Van Allen Belt is now focused on the audio-visual experience their music offered. In 2012, they debuted a live multimedia show that left live drums behind and operated as an electronic act incorporating live elements of vocals, keys and bass with former drummer, Scott Taylor acting as a live sound designer. It is clear what the influence of great visual musicians like Kate Bush and Bjork have had on The Van Allen Belt. The group self-released their latest LP Heaven on a Branch in fall of 2014. The record's experimental production and vocal performance from lead singer Tamar Kamin, bring to mind the current output of artists like St. Vincent. For more information on The Van Allen Belt, click here.

Local 913, Episode 14: Don Strange

Pittsburgh singer-songwriter Don Strange takes a typical indie rock song and turns it into something unique. Utilizing his background in creative writing, Strange pens clever lyrics, often layered with dark humor, taking cues from indie rock icons such as The Mountain Goats, Pavement, and Dead Milkmen. The music is guitar-driven but there's always room for big drums or a sweet groove. While he often performs with his full band, Don Strange and the Doosh Bears, this new album is a solo venture. "Are You Johnson?" is a very lyric-driven album, containing laugh-out-loud, stand-out lines like, “Cassanova didn’t really love you, neither did Morrissey or That guy from The Wire” in a song about love following you. For more on Don Strange, check out his website. 

Local 913, Episode 13: Essential Machine

Greensburg-based Essential Machine, a jangly folk pop group of husband and wife, RJ and KarenDietrich, released their fourth EP this past May. The Ceiling and Floor is a great example of Essential Machine’s sound, a kind of R.E.M.-meets-Mumford-and-Sons-meets-The-Breeders mix they have been perfecting since about 2009. One song that introduces a new sound to Essential Machine is “It’s a Crime”. Find out more and listen to the song below. For more on Essential Machine, check out their website.

Local 913, Episode 12: Billy Price

Billy Price has been a fixture on the Pittsburgh music scene since the mid-1970s. During those early years, he gained national attention for his three year collaboration with legendary blues guitarist Roy Buchanan. For his twelfth album, he’s teamed up with another legendary artist, R&B and soul singer Otis Clay. “This Time For Real” is produced by Duke Robbillard and features horn players from Roomful of Blues. If you’re in the market for a great soul album, this one’s for you. It’s the perfect antidote for the summertime heat. Listen to the piece below for more information on the album (right from Billy Price himself) and get more on Billy Price at his website.

Local 913 Live: Grand Bell

Indie-pop group, Grand Bell performs at WYEP's local music happy hour on June 18, 2015.Set List: - Oh My God- New Code- Calling For Me- Song 53- Tell Me- Signs- Mess Of My Life - Flood- Satisfied

Local 913, Episode 11 - Grand Bell

Formerly known as Race The Ghost, the Pittsburgh indie-rock quartet Grand Bell is made up of two sets of brothers who have known each other since childhood. Vincent and Benjamin Bruni and Frank and Mike Salati have been in bands together since middle school, which explains the great chemistry shared on their new, self-titled album. Grand Bell is prime example of a great Pittsburgh rock band: four best friends who grew up together making music as kids and are still doing it as adults. The album ranges from crunchy, electric  "Built To Spill" riffs to melodic Jeff Buckley and U2 guitars. As the band puts it, “It is the unfamiliar sound in the middle of the night that keeps you awake and entices you to get closer.” The song “Mess of My Life” from the new album acts like an anthem that mixes all three of those afore mentioned influences. For more information on Grand Bell, check out their Facebook page. Be sure to join us at WYEP Community Broadcast Center on Thursday, June 18, 2015 for a Local 913 Live happy hour featuring Grand Bell. Click for more info.

Local 913, Episode 10: Mad Rapture

The mysterious Pittsburgh-based electro-acoustic duo, Mad Rapture began in 2012 releasing two EPs within a few months of each other. Their sound can be described as both alluring and experimental, especially on their new release, Rubicon. The duo, which normally refers to themselves as M (Maia) and P (Patrick), are DJ and bassist Patrick McGinley and vocalist Maia Rodriguez. Combining electronic elements with hip-hop, soul, and acoustic pop, Mad Rapture’s three releases are solid and captivating, yet still leave room for the songs to breathe. It’s always refreshing when a musician knows when to leave space. According to McGinley, the album Rubicon  “was written during trying times for the band—family passings, heartache, and similarly large life changes. This in mind, the title Rubicon is a head nod to Caesar's tale of crossing the point of no return.”  This band has a good groove, but also can be challenging with sweeping dynamics that can be surprising, but always are smooth. If you like Lauryn Hill, Lorde, or Zero 7, you’ll probably like Mad Rapture a lot. For more information visit Mad Rapture's website. 

Local 913, Episode 9 - City Dwelling Nature Seekers

City Dwelling Nature SeekersWhat first grabs you about City Dwelling Nature Seekers is their name: it completely defines who the band are and once you know you’re dealing with a group of guys who grew up listening to Neil Young and The Band, it all falls together. Formed in 2008 around the songs of lead singer and songwriter, Michael McCormick, the band has since developed a sound that is a great mix of alt-country, bluegrass and indie-rock. City Dwelling Nature Seekers are just a solid, reliable band: they have four releases out, with each one containing ear-catching, original songs that have that well-worn Americana feel, making seem like you already know them. This is due to the songs that McCormick writes and sings as well as the instrumentation of the players: Dan Barrett on keyboards, Lee Hintenlang on mandolin, Matt Booth on bass and Chris Parker on drums & Guitars. They have been a self-sufficient unit, producing and releasing their own material, up until their latest EP. For Bringing It Back, City Dwelling Nature Seekers brought in Michael Glabicki of the famed Pittsburgh band, Rusted Root. Glabicki engineered, co-produced and mixed the album and no doubt gave the band invaluable guidance on how to make a record sound like their live shows. The result of his and the groups’ effort is the most energetic, loose and direct set of songs from the band’s career. This 17 minute EP flies by from the opening cut, a bar-ready end of the night closer called “Down To The Bone” to the sunny closing track “She Waits On One”. Also a shout out to keyboardist Dan Barrett, who really shines with his tight solos and fun fills on that track. For more information on City Dwelling Nature Seekers, go to their website.

Local 913, Episode 8 - Mariage Blanc

Mariage BlancFormed in 2008, the Pittsburgh indie-rock quartet Mariage Blanc released their latest LP, No Autobiography, amidst great change in the band in terms of location and lineup, while still maintaining their smooth, steady sound. While the band is sporting a new drummer, Rich “Woody” Kawood, who you may recognize from his other drumming gig with the Pittsburgh power-pop band Triggers, Mariage Blanc are able to hone that already tight, slick, indie-rock style while adding a few new elements. This time around, Mariage Blanc pays tribute to late 60’s Laurel Canyon rock, like Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and even a hint of Steely Dan. Also present on No Autobiography, is a strong influence from 90’s indie-pop bands like Travis and non-country sounding Whiskeytown. Last year saw the relocation of frontman  Josh Kretzmer from Pittsburgh to San Francisco, which often means the end of a band. However, it meant the opposite for Mariage Blanc: Kretzmer’s move sparked a re-dedication to the group and gave clarity on why they were making this music in the first place. Mariage Blanc realized that they could make music AND be in their thirties: the result is a refined, mature, yet emotional record from Kretzmer, Kawood bassist Josh Dotson and guitarist/songwriter, Matt Ceraso. A close and educated listen to the album and you can tell that this music was painstakingly and lovingly worked on and is technically precise and complicated in each and every way…. Orrrr you can just throw the record on in the background and it’ll act as a soothing companion to your hectic workday. The song “Blue Eyes” instantly familiar melody and breezy harmonies is ready and set for your next coastal roadtrip mix. It’s kind of hard to believe that Kretzmer moved to California AFTER No Autobiography was recorded. For more on Mariage Blanc, check out their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/mariageblanc/

Local 913 Live: Cold Weather

WYEP's local music happy hour is now the Local 913 Live. The chamber-folk-pop group Cold Weather performs.- All Is Night- Tough Love- JRT- Whispering Dome- SYITS- When Waking- Start Over- 13,000 Satellites- Pale Ignitions- I Will Suprise You- The Bottom (ft. Fun Home)- Last June (ft. Fun Home)- Functional (ft. Fun Home)

Local 913, Episode 7 - Cold Weather

Cold WeatherFormed in 2012, the chamber pop, indie folk band Cold Weather has a gentle touch that might just knock you right over with their delicate, yet intense new album When Waking. Produced by Jake Hanner of Donora, When Waking will please fans of Elliott Smith, Mazzy Star and Cat Power. Cold Weather is essentially the project of Mark Ramsey, whose soft vocals sounds so similar to Elliott Smith, you almost can’t even believe it. There are songs on the album that not only have Smith’s vocal tone, but also that emotional delivery that sounds like Ramsey’s not actually going to get the words out. Even though their band name suggests that members grew up in colder climates, everyone is actually from the south: drummer Alex Platz is from Georgia, bassist Sarah Lacy from North Carolina, Ramsey is also from North Carolina and Alabama. As a middle school/high school kid in Alabama before the internet, Mark Ramsey spent a lot of time writing letters to bands and indie labels. A few years ago, he came across some of that correspondence including a fan club newsletter signed by all three members of Nirvana. This came at a time when he had been unemployed for about 10 months and was searching for funds buy a keyboard. He put the newsletter up on eBay was then able to buy the keyboard he now plays with Cold Weather. Producer Jake Hanner, who has been the production master-mind of the indie-pop Donora, shows his versatility when working with Cold Weather, adding his magic touch here and there, but letting Ramsey and the rest of the band set the tone for this fantastic album. Of the song “All Is Night,” Ramsey says, “I'm pretty sure that every single instrument available in Jake Hanner's studio made it onto the recording of this song. In addition to vocal, guitars, piano, bass & drums there are multiple hammond organs, a pump organ, saxophone, glockenspiel, synths, toy piano, and many more that I can't remember”. Ramsey says he wanted the song to open the album because musically, it lays out the instrumentation for the rest of the record. Lyrically, the song is meant as an allegory that sets up some of the emotional themes of When Waking and kind of acts like a trailer for the album. For more information about Cold Weather, find them on Facebook. 

Local 913, Episode 6 - Balloon Ride Fantasy

Balloon Ride Fantasy Fans of The Human League, Thomas Dolby, Dead or Alive and other great new wave acts from the 1980’s, take note: Balloon Ride Fantasy has made your favorite record of the year. Formed in 2012, Balloon Ride Fantasy’s roots can be traced to the now-defunct Pittsburgh prog-rock band, Federali. Members Chris Olszewski and Phil Conley released the EP Monocle City under the name Balloon Ride Fantasy. They caught the attention of vocalist Bethany Berkstresser, former member of Rainstation Zero, who had been keeping tabs on the Federali guys for a while. They added Berkstresser to their lineup along with keyboardist Jordan Wood, bassist Brad Schneider of the Pittsburgh group The Incline, and drummer Brian Ganch. While Monocle City was a great mix of indie-rock and pop, their new self-titled LP is an all-out new wave affair, a glorious tribute to the music and pop-culture of the 80’s. Balloon Ride Fantasy takes their affection for the sound of the 80’s even further than their contemporaries like MGMT or Foster The People. They even do one of my favorite things, where they named a song after their band. That’s right! The last song on the new record is called “Balloon Ride Fantasy!” Lyrically inspired by certain films of the 80’s like “Legend,” “Gothic” and “Blade Runner,” Balloon Ride Fantasy is not afraid to explore themes of sci-fi and fantasy. The incredible part is that they pull it off. The new record is an enjoyable listen, even if the songs are about unicorns and magic spells. Or rather, is it especially enjoyable because the songs are about unicorns and magic spells? Depends on who you ask, I guess, but regardless, check out their new self-titled album. 

Local 913, Episode 4 - Wreck Loose

Wreck LooseIf you’ve not yet had the pleasure of listening to Pittsburgh’s Wreckloose, we’re very pleased to introduce you to the guitar and piano driven, classic-rock inspired outfit. Formed in 2013, Max Somerville, Dave Busch & Nathan Zoob have played together for years, most recently in the band Backstabbing Good People. Drummer Derek Krystek has known Somerville since freshmen year at the University of Pittsburgh. With that kind of history it’s no wonder the chemistry was immediate! Along with Backstabbing Good People, members of Wreckloose have performed with bands from the glam-pop band Dazzletine to the folk pop Mark Dignam and the House of Song. The eclectic nature of everyone’s musical backgrounds doesn’t seem to keep these guys from pushing all sorts of 1970’s California rock and roll nostalgia buttons. Even if you’ve never heard these songs, they are somehow instantly familiar. Frontman and pianist Max Somerville looks and sounds like he’s living in the wrong decade: guy sounds like a perfect mixture of Harry Nilsson and Elton John. Luckily for Wreckloose, they can carry this classic-rock torch strongly into the 21st century, along with modern acts like Dawes, Grace Potter and The Nocturnals and The Tedeschi Trucks Band. Another secret weapon these guys have is their solid harmonies layered perfectly under Somerville’s unconventional, yet appealing vocals, which also sound a bit like Ben Folds. Finally, you can’t discuss Wreckloose without making mention of Nathan Zoob’s flying guitar solos that would make Mark Knopfler green with envy. The band is currently working on their first full-length release. You can learn more about Wreckloose at their website: wrecklooseband.com.

Local 913 Live: Diamond Shapes

WYEP's local music happy hour is now the Local 913 Live. Folk pop duo Diamond Shapes performs.-Yellow Canoe-Wild Strawberries-River Man-Love, Love-Diamond Shapes-Juniper Bird-Sands of Love

Local 913, Episode 3 - Brightside

Brightside Brightside are one of those bands that have a knack for remembering the past and looking into the future at the same time.  Formed in Pittsburgh in 2010, Brightside released their first album a year later.  Brightside have crafted a poignant blend of emo and indie rock with smart lyrics and perfect pop hooks – think Modest Mouse on “The Moon and Antarctica” or your favorite Lemonheads CD. Brightside’s latest album, their third in all, Now & Loud, was produced and engineered by Jake Ewald of the Philly emo band Modern Baseball. While it may not show in Now and Loud’s careful production and spot-on pop sensibility, at it’s core Brightside is a DIY band. Even before joining the independent record label Broken World Media’s roster in 2012, Brightside has been making their own merch and doing things their own way. Guitarist Matt Vituccio admits, “the result isn't always spot on but that is part of the learning process.” Check out more information about Brightside at their Facebook. 

Local 913, Episode 2 - Arlo Aldo

Arlo AldoThis week, we’re highlighting the indie-folk group Arlo Aldo. After relocating from Baltimore, David Manchester started Arlo Aldo in 2011. Originally, Arlo Aldo served as Manchester’s side-project to his primary band, the Baltimore-based Kadman. The move to Pittsburgh marked the end of Kadman with Manchester shifting his focus to Arlo Aldo.  Inspired by the folk, blues and Americana tradition, Arlo Aldo bring something unique and modern with their sublime, calming sound thanks to Manchester’s vision and to the talented group of musicians in the lineup. Multi-instrumentalist, Ariel Neiland Forbes was the original second member, adding beautiful harmonies and the perfect light touch to the keys, bells and melodica. Pittsburgh music veteran Susanna Meyer, formally of Boca Chica, holds down the bassline and adds further to the perfect harmonies that compliment Manchester’s vocals. Also of note, Brandon Forbes on drums, who’s tasteful beat rounds out the band’s sound and brings the songs to life. Arlo Aldo has released one full length album: Zelie in 2013 and one EP: Spin The Twine in 2014. The band hopes to release their next full length album in late summer. In the meantime, we’ll get a song from their latest, which seems to take influence from bands like Low, Iron & Wine and also a strong influence from The Carter Family. Check out more information about Arlo Aldo at their website: arloaldo.com.

Third Thursdays at WYEP: David Wilson

David Wilson performs at WYEP's local music happy hour Third Thursdays on March 20th.- Pennsylvania Line.- Jefferson- I Miss Those Days- Oh My Sweet Carolina (Ryan Adams)- Breaking Down- Be My Darlin'- Ghost- Don't Mess Around with Jim (Jim Croce)- All I Wanna Do- Railroad Man

Third Thursdays: LoFi Delphi

LoFi Delphi performs at WYEP's monthly local music happy hour on February 19, 2015.Set list- Birds- PVC- Fracture- Goodbye- Record- Boys Only- Tarzan Boy - Buck Monroe- Hey- Sass- Lonny- Only Time

Third Thursdays: Brightside

Brightside played WYEP's local music happy hour on January 15, 2015Setlist: JetpacksThe High PriestessCirca 2006Next I'll Be Deadly SeriousNext TimeTemperanceThe WorldStellarSpeculose

Third Thursdays at WYEP: Jim Mullet, Morgan Erina & Clinton Clegg

Jim Mullet, Morgan Erina and Clinton Clegg performed at WYEP's local music happy hour on November 20, 2014

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