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 Mervis of The Pittsburgh Post-GazetteThis morning, Scott shares some of his favorites from 2010. Look for his full list in the Post-Gazette right before Christmas. Here's what we heard today: Spoon, "Transference" - Spare, driving and still filled with smart hooks, "Transference" is another winner from the Austin band. "Is Love Forever?" shows how Spoon locks into a groove and builds around it. The Roots, "Dear God" - The Philly hip-hop band didn’t make one great record this year, it made two — one as just The Roots, and one a collaboration with John Legend. "Dear God," from The Roots-only "How I Got Over," is indicative of the increasing crossover with hip-hop and indie-rock as The Roots take a sample from the Monsters of Folk song "Dear God," featuring the angelic voice of Jim James, and add their touch of conscious-hip-hop. Steve Wynn + and the Miracle 3, "Resolution" - Bound to be overlooked, the latest album from the former leader of the Dream Syndicate, "Northern Aggression," could have been made back in the post-punk/paisley underground era of the ’80s. And that’s a good thing. Taking its cues from the Velvet Underground, it’s a guitar record well stocked with melodic tension and dizzying jams, like this one that leads it off.
~~Bruce Springsteen,from the stage the day ofter John Lennon's murderHere's the list of songs aired during our special "John Lennon: A Life in Song."
- The Beatles, "In My Life" (Rubber Soul, 1965)
- Rainbo, "John, You Went Too Far This Time" (single, 1968)
- The Beatles, "The Ballad of John & Yoko" (single, 1969)
- Tom Paxton, "Crazy John" (Tom Paxton 6, 1970)
- Blossom Dearie, "Hey John" (That's Just the Way I Want to Be, 1970)
- John Lennon, "God" (Plastic Ono Band, 1970)
- George Harrison, "All Those Years Ago" (Somewhere in England, 1981)
- Paul McCartney, "Here Today" (Tug of War, 1982)
- Elton John, "Empty Garden (Hey, Hey Johnny)" (Jump Up!, 1982)
- Christine Lavin, "The Dakota" (Future Fossils, 1984)
- Loudon Wainwright III, "Not John" (I'm Alright, 1984)
- Paul Simon, "The Late Great Johnny Ace" (Hearts and Bones, 1983)
- Paul Thorn, "Where Was I?" (Ain't Love Strange, 1999)
- Queen, "Life Is Real (Song for Lennon)" (Hot Space, 1982)
- Susanna Hoffs, "Weak With Love" (Susanna Hoffs, 1996)
- Hamell on Trial, "John Lennon" (The Chord Is Mightier Than the Sword, 1997)
- Christy Moore, "The Least We Can Do" (Ride On, 1984)
- John Lennon, "(Just Like) Starting Over" (Double Fantasy Stripped Down, 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 Andy Mulkerin of Pittsburgh's City Paper This time, Andy shares his Top albums for 2010. Take it away Andy! .... Here are a few things you ought to know about me: - I hate quantifying my favorite music. Or, generally, my favorite anything. - I don't really care that much about telling other people what to like. (I know, I know, it's my job, sort of.) - I've always liked paying attention to the microcosmic function of the local music scene more than I like paying attention to what big buzz indie band X is up to. - I'm not very good at following directions. With all that out there in the open, while I was asked to provide a top ten list of the best albums of 2010, I instead present to you a dual list: five new albums by local bands that I really liked in 2010, and five new albums by not-local bands that I really liked in 2010. In no particular order. Are they the best albums that were released this year? Maybe, maybe not. But they were the albums that spent the most time in my car and/or being pumped on my MP3 player. My local faves: Lohio, Family Tree - A light, fun, well-written collection of pop songs from the local stalwarts. Their most exciting material to date. Meeting of Important People, Quit Music - A more eclectic collection than their first album, this release revealss the trio's versatility and showcases some spot-on pop songwriting. Satin Gum, EP2 - This is one of my favorite local bands: messy, fun, none too self-conscious, often profane without being overbearing. Most underrated local release of the year. The Ceiling Stares, S/T Cassette - A great debut from a band that's doing accessible rock (maybe art rock?) that's not formulaic. Mariage Blanc, Mariage Blanc - An immaculate-sounding full-length from the reserved local indie-pop band. My not-local faves: Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, Let It Sway - This album has seven songs I absolutely love, three that are okay, and two that I just can't get through, but that I'm glad to skip in order to get to the good ones. It's just good, hooky pop-rock. Beach House, Teen Dream - I wasn't sure if Beach House could keep it up after 2008's Devotion; their dreamy pop could get old pretty quickly. But solid songwriting saved them from losing me. Aloha, Home Acres - Aloha has long been one of my favorites, and Home Acres didn't disappoint: the subject matter of the songs has slowly progressed to more grown-up themes, but Tony hasn't lost his ability to find magic in the mundane. Secret Cities, Pink Graffiti - This one came out of nowhere; I wasn't familiar with Secret Cities until this album hit my desk, then it became a spacey, weird favorite. Poison Control Center, Sad Sour Future - It's a double-LP that probably could've been a little shorter, but I forgive Poison Control Center because a good three-quarters of the material is stellar. Add an energetic live show to the mix and you've got a band that I hope finds the audience they deserve.
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 Today, Scott shares his Top 10 albums for 2010: 1. Arcade Fire, "The Suburbs" - A smart, stinging, vibrant and accessible essay on growing up, and then old, in the 'burbs. There's resentment, bewilderment, and equal bits respect and mistrust of rebellion, though a few rays of optimism, or at least acceptance, creep in eventually. Win Butler, the husband half of the spouse-fronted Montreal indie-rockers said he strived for a Depeche Mode-meets-Neil Young vibe. Nice! 2. The National, "High Violet" - Joy Division comparisons are inevitable, thanks to singer Matt Berninger's somber and spellbinding baritone. Textured guitars heighten the drama from these Brooklyn-by-way-of-Cincinnati rockers. 3. Black Keys, "Brothers" - The Akron, Ohio duo slips some funkiness into its raw and blistering, hook-laden blues-rock. "Next Girl" and "Tighten Up" are the best back-to-back songs on any album this year. 4. Titus Andronicus, "The Monitor" - Mine ears have heard the glory of this New Jersey punk band that sticks numerous Civil War references into its songs. Overall, though, the album is a contemporary call-to-arms, with singer Patrick Stickles rallying the troops by saying, "It's us against them, and they're winning," as his band pounds out a Pogues-Dropkick Murphys brand of defiance. 5. Sufjan Stevens, "The Age of Adz" - The alt-folk artist successfully experiments with electronica. His emotional voice is a grabber, especially on the supreme heartbreak track, "I Walked," where amid window-rattling bass thumps he fragilely sings, "At least I deserve the respect of a kiss goodbye." 6. Jason and the Scorchers "Halcyon Times." The unbridled enthusiasm is infectious on this raucous, rollicking comeback by the pioneering cowpunk/alt-country band. 7. Local Natives, "Gorilla Manor" - This L.A. band's rookie effort melds the rustic charm of Fleet Foxes with the more muscular moments of My Morning Jacket. 8. Deerhunter, "Halcyon Digest" - Dreamy, ambient pop-rock with enough feisty blasts of fuzzed-up guitar to keep you on your toes. 9. Gaslight Anthem, "American Slang" - Their "Born to Run" will come, but for now let's savor this "The Wild, The Innocent & the E Street Shuffle"-caliber effort from a band that's endured its share of Springsteen comparisons because, well, they're from Jersey, and they craft songs with anthemic ardor. By the way, they've got plenty of alt-rock and punk references, too. 10. ... will be revealed in my Sunday column (timesonline.com), though if the rest of Sleigh Bells' "Treats" is like the 6 songs I've heard from the Brooklyn noise-pop duo, then they'll be a lock. Also under consideration: Taylor Swift (sorry John Mayer fans) and Paul Weller.