October 2010

Every Wednesday at 9:13 am, one of Pittsburgh's finest music writers joins me (Cindy Howes) on the Morning Mix to play a couple favorite new songs and share some insight. Today we welcome Justin Jacobs, contributing writer to Relix Magazine, AOL's Spinner.com and Pittsburgh's City Paper

In case you missed it here's what he played: The Heavy, "That Kind of Man" - The word "heavy" in music usually describes some gutteral, brutal metal music. But somehow, this English band makes funky soul music that is undeniably heavy too, albeit in a much, much different way. This track came out in 2007, but The Heavy retooled it and yes, made it heavier, for an EP that just dropped last week. Pomegranates, "Skull Cakin" - My favorite band you've never heard of. Dudes are from Cincinnati and make fun, arty dream pop. This jam, of their new album "One of Us," out yesterday, is the rocking-est thing they've ever done, but it's still weird and wonderful. Dr. Dog, "Nobody Knows Who You Are" - A new Dr. Dog song! Everybody rejoice! The Philly pop-classicists have been releasing new songs online, and this one is too good. I'm admittedly a total fanboy, but Dr. Dog can do no wrong. Download this for free here. Twin Shadow, "Castles in the Snow" - Being the latest band made famous by the Internet (thanks, Pitchfork!) usually warrants some sort of snarky, underhanded insult, but I don't have anything bad to say about Twin Shadow. Dark and catchy, 80's-reminiscent dance songs., not unlike The Cure. They stopped at Brillobox last month, and a buddy of mine kept yelling for "In Between Days." Not nice, but very funnny.

Every Wednesday at 9:13 am, one of Pittsburgh's finest music writers joins me (Cindy Howes) on the Morning Mix to play a couple favorite new songs and share some insight. Today we welcome Scott Tady of The Beaver County Times In case you missed it here's what he played with commentary by Scott (plus some bonus songs): Sufjan Stevens, The Age of Adz. - The critically adored indie-folk singer delves deeper into electronica here. His swirling, spacey synth blips are grounded by bass that'll rattle your fillings. Multi-layered melodies with abrupt time changes provide a strong counterpoint to his simple ruminations on love. I singled out the 5-minute love-gone-wrong song "I Walked" with its emotionally delivered line, "At least I deserve the respect of a kiss goodbye." We've all been there. The Drums, The Drums - OK, that's not the most original band name (What, was The Guitars already taken?) But you still gotta love the rookie effort from this Brooklyn indie-surf-pop band. Their pop is unabashed, highlighted by lush harmonies as you'll hear on my chosen track, "Down by the Water." The Drums list among their influences The Smiths and the Shangri-La's of "Leader of the Pack" fame. I'm also digging... Avett Brothers, Live Vol. 3 - One of the best live acts around, captured at its banjo-pluckin', foot-stompin', folk-punk finest. Who says sensitive love songs can't be fun?
Marc Cohn's latest release is Listening Booth: 1970.  The Kent Stage became our listening booth Tuesday night, as Mr. Cohn gave a reflective and emotional performance in front of what could be considered a hometown crowd. During the nearly two-hour show Marc Cohn moved from playing the piano, to the guitar (he's a lefty like Jimi Hendrix) to standing alone center stage to sing.  Mr. Cohn soulfully feels the music he writes.  He also surrounds himself with a small, talented band which includes his long time guitarist, Shane Fontane (whose resume includes playing with Bruce Springsteen and playing for Presidents of the United States). Mr. Cohn played a variety of songs from all of his studio albums Marc Cohn (1991), The Rainy Season (1993), Burning the Daze (1998), Join The Parade (2007), and Listening Booth: 1970 (2010).  Known as a singer-songwriter, ironically his highest charting CD to date is Listening Booth: 1970, from which Mr. Cohn sang and provided a commentary on his cover versions of  "The Letter", "The Only Living Boy in New York"  and "Into the Mystic". I've only had the chance to see Mr. Cohn in concert four times since his career began and I'm always amazed that he manages to come up with different arrangements.  His music tends to be reflective and he continues to breathe new life into his songs.  He is also very appreciative of the fans who support his music. Cleveland is Mr. Cohn's hometown.  Many of his songs contain references to places around Cleveland and the weather (clouds, rain).  Mr. Cohn's most recent release looks back to music from 40 years ago and being in Kent, OH he remembered the events that took place at Kent State University in 1970. He even reflected on the attempted carjacking in Denver in 2005 when he got shot in the head (something Mr. Cohn does not often talk about.)  His stories continued as he shared how his Grammy award winning song (Best New Artist) "Walking in Memphis" came to life, giving most of the credit to the real life Muriel (who plays piano every Friday at the Hollywood.) It was a family reunion for Mr. Cohn, as his three brothers were in the audience.  Mr. Cohn came out to do an encore with a cake in his hands, candles lit.  We sang happy birthday to his brother Al, who will be turning 70 this week.  The evening of music came to a fitting end when Mr. Cohn sang "One Safe Place" and then he, his brothers and his band all took a final bow. Opening the show with a 30-minute set was an 18-year-old singer-songwriter from the Jersey Shore named Cara Salimando. She reminded me of the singer Jewel, just needs some polish.  She plays the keyboards and ukulele.  It was a nice touch that she offered a free 3-song CD EP of her music. Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host
Cool new video featuring JJ Grey and Mofro along with Toots Hibbert on "The Sweetest Thing".  JJ Grey & Mofro are coming to Pittsburgh on Friday, November 19th at Mr.Smalls.

Every Wednesday at 9:13 am, one of Pittsburgh's finest music writers joins me (Cindy Howes) on the Morning Mix to play a couple favorite new songs and share some insight. Today we welcome Andy Mulkerin of Pittsburgh's City Paper In case you missed it here's what he played with commentary by Andy (plus some bonus songs): La Sera, "Never Come Around" - La Sera is the side project of Kickball Katy of Vivian Girls fame. This tune maintains the girl-group sound of that band, but is a little sweeter, more polished and less bored/angry than Vivian Girls. Lohio, "Family Tree" - This is the second track off the local band's new EP of the same name. It's an upbeat number with airy vocals and fun little vocal flourishes. I like the direction this band has taken! STRFKR, "Julius" - This track is from the naughtily named band's new single, a sample of its upcoming full-length to be issued on Polyvinyl. It's synth pop done exceedingly well, and, as I mentioned in the paper last week, will likely as not end up in a car commercial or something. Sun Airway, "Infinity" - This Philly band is starting to get some buzz, having been featured on the World Cafe recently. The kinda muddy, psychedelic synth/vox band is touring with Bear In Heaven and will make a stop in Pittsburgh on October 26 -- incidentally, the day of the official release of this new album.
The Dubmission airs each Saturday night, late night on 91.3fm WYEP from 1 until 5am.  The Dubmission is a weekly 4 hour mix of broken soul, downtempo, nujazz, house and rare grooves. Host Kerem Gokman had a chance to catch up with TOKiMONSTA at this past weekend's Via audio and visual festival in Pittsburgh.  TOKiMONSTA was born and raised in the South Bay area of Los Angeles. TOKiMONSTA (Jennifer Lee) was an unfocused pupil of classical piano. However, she has come to use this background to create vast textural soundscapes by utilizing live instruments, percussion, digital manipulation, and dusty vinyl. Through the creation of beats, she is able to fuse vintage sounds with progressive styles into something unique. Tune in for the interview and excellent music on the Dubmission this Saturday night on 91.3fm WYEP.