January 2012

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)

The Shins, “Simple Song” - Well, it’s not THAT simple, or else more bands would figure out how to make such an uplifting song. The ingredients are elemental: lilting melody, a catchy hook, a swelling chorus where singer James Mercer scales the heights. The upbeat lyrical message, “you don’t have to go it alone,” inspires without getting bogged down in details. There are a few subtle layers, too, including some brief but pretty piano. Can’t wait to hear the full album, “Port of Morrow,” due out March 20.

Heartless Bastards, “Parted Ways” - Words like “primal” and “throaty” get used when discussing the distinct, powerful voice of Erika Wennerstrom. “I need a little bit of whiskey and a little bit of time to ease my troubled mind,” she sings with a dusty, soulful charm on this post-breakup rumination. Formed in Cincinnati but now based in Austin, Texas, the Heartless Bastards have been characterized as a garage-y, bluesy rock band, but this single also has some alt-country seasoning. See them next month at Club Café at a WYEP-sponsored show.

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New Music Personal Picks

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 (talking to us via Skype!), contributing writer to Billboard & Relix Magazine.

In case you missed it here's what he played with commentary by Justin:

My picks this week cover a few sadly overlooked records of last year. It's not too late, check them out!

Thee Oh Sees, "Heavy Doctor" - From the band's 2nd 2011 release, Carrion Crawler/The Dream, this blast of psychedelic-garage punk sounds like an update on The Stooges: raw, fast, weird, awesome. The band is incredibly prolific (6 albums since 2008), and this latest record is among their best. Definitely a lot of fun, and simply wonderful for air guitar practice.

Youth Lagoon, "Afternoon" - This is the opening track from Youth Lagoon's The Year of Hibernation. It's an album of dreamy, lo-fi bedroom pop from an actual kid (Trevor Powers) in an actual bedroom (in Boise, Idaho). This is music for rainy day hibernation - under a blanket, maybe. It's beautiful and sad and makes me feel like I'm inside some bittersweet romantic indie movie.

The Roots, Undun - The latest album from The Roots was released way at the end of 2011, and was understandably overshadowed by the holidays, New Years Eve parties and our collective fear that the world would end in 2012. That's a shame because it's really, really good. Even for folks unfamiliar with The Roots' long hip-hop history, it's very worth checking out.

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New Music Personal Picks

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-Gazette.

In case you missed it here's what he played with commentary by Scott:

Kathleen Edwards, "Change the Sheets" - We won't say the Canadian singer-songwriter was stuck in a rut, because her songs are usually thoughtful, passionate, pretty, sexy, etc. But on this fourth album, it's nice to see her get a little sonic makeover, thanks in part to new flame Justin Vernon (Bon Iver). You can hear their two styles at work in this atmospheric rock single.

Sharon Van Etten, "Serpents" - I didn't know much about her going into Carnegie Library Music Hall of Homestead, when she opened for Iron and Wine, but was pretty blown away after a few songs. A year later, the New York singer-songwriter is on the brink of breaking out with this Jagjaguwar debut, "Tramp," produced by Aaron Dessner of The National. This is a rather straight-forward rock song on a record that has its pleasantly off-kilter moments.

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New Music Personal Picks

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:

Christopher Paul Stelling, "Mourning Train to Memphis" - Excited about the forthcoming debut LP from this Brooklyn-based Americana songwriter. It's beautiful and touching in an understated way.

Howlin Rain, "Beneath Wild Wings" - One of my favorite bands of the past five years of so -- Howlin Rain is the post-Comets on Fire project of Ethan Miller. This is from their new album, The Russian Wilds, released by American, which finds them straying further from the noisy Southern rock they started out playing, and more into smooth Southern soul.

Hospitality, "Betty Wang" - This is the first single from the garage-pop band's debut release on Merge. It's right up my alley, and I'm excited about it -- also about them playing Brillobox later this month.

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