August 15, 2012 by [email protected]

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. Special thanks to Brian Siewiorek for filling in for me!!! In case you missed it here's what he played with commentary by Scott: Ponderosa, "Navajo" - With a name like Ponderosa you expect a country band on the bottom of a Kenny Chesney festival. Not the case. This band, produced by Dave Fridman (Flaming Lips), is more in line with a Fleet Foxes or Band of Horses, as it demonstrates on this dynamic track. Ian Hunter & The Rant Band, "When I'm President" - At a ripe old 73, the former leader of Mott the Hoople still sounds fired up here, as he takes on the 1 percent, with Who-like synths and vocals that nod to Dylan. The album is due on Sept. 4.
August 8, 2012 by [email protected]

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: Beachwood Sparks, Sparks Fly Again - Nice little country-rock ditty from the California band -- it's got that early-'70s California sound. This song has an American Beauty-era Dead vibe; there are other tunes on the record that are reminiscent of Gram Parsons. Their new record, The Tarnished Gold, is out now on Sub Pop. Dirty Projectors, Swing Lo Magellan - This is the title track of the eclectic art-pop band's latest album. Parts of the record are loud and rowdy; this song is quiet, stripped-down and sweet. One of my favorite albums of 2012, and their show at Small's was one of my favorite shows this year, too.
August 1, 2012 by [email protected]

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): Antlers, "Drift Dive" - The Antlers can be found "Undersea," the well-chosen title of the Brooklyn indie-rock band's new 4-song EP, which has a watery, dreamy, ambience. Hawaiian pedal steel and Pete Silberman's floating,hypnotic vocals give this lead-off track a Sigur Ros-ish feel. The slow, steady buildup of intensity leads to a satisfying finish. The Gaslight Anthem, "Mullholland Drive" - Brian Fallon's urgent singing and earnest lyrics are the high-octane fuel for this New Jersey band's punk-edged, blue-collar rock. The single off their fourth studio album is "45." Check out this deeper album cut, with lines like "I used to drive you all around with the radio on" and "In the deep, dark parking lot pressed up against my car/With your hands around my neck I felt the pounding of your heart." Remind you of some other Jersey rocker?
July 25, 2012 by [email protected]

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 from Lancaster County via Skype!), contributing writer to Billboard & Relix Magazine. In case you missed it here's what he played with commentary by Justin: Passion Pit, "Cry Like A Ghost" - Passion Pit loves to play with opposing forces: ecstatic, jubliant synth pop sounds mixed with wildly personal and often depressing lyrics. Uppers and downers. Weddings and funerals. Stuff like that. But the result is some really compelling music — and the band's second album, Gossamer, is the best thing they've done to date. This is my favorite track on the record. I hope Cindy plays it twice just so you can hear it again. Whata you think, Cindy? Give the people what they (are about to) want! (Ha ha! - Cindy) Fang Island, "Asunder" - Also a band that works with jubilant, celebratory sounds, but without so much falsetto and hip-hop beats. These dudes create a guitar hurricane of joy. Whatever that means. I wans't a huge fan of their debut — too much guitar acrobatics, not enough actual songwriting — but their follow up, Major, is much more grounded with catchy, well-written songs. Definitely a band to watch out for. Bonus Track! The xx, "Angels" - Everybody stop what you're doing! Seriously, quit it! The xx released a new song! I figured after two dancey, happy tracks, I'd suggest this exercise in melancholy. It's a beautiful first release from the British trio's upcoming album, Coexist, out in September. The band nearly took over the indie music world when they first broke out a few years back — Coexist is primed to push them further. Google or YouTube this, smoke a cigarette somewhere cold, and enjoy.
July 18, 2012 by [email protected]

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: Dead Sara, "Whispers and Ashes" - Why go to Warped Tour every year? It's fun to crowd surf in a 100-degree parking lot! No, the reason is that you can find a hidden gem on one of the smaller stages. This year, it was Dead Sara, an LA quartet led by front-woman Emily Armstrong, who combines a siren voice with a fierce stage persona. Some of the songs are heavy, like a punk Zeppelin or a grungier Sleater-Kinney. This one sounds a bit more crafted for a more pleasant radio station. For something more ear-damaging, do check out the explosive single "Weatherman" Karl Hendricks Trio, "The Adult Section" - In the midst of converting Paul's CDs into his own Sound Cat Records, acclaimed indie artist Karl Hendricks found time to record his ninth album, another blast of noisy guitar-rock with his wry lyrical touch. The title track, he says, carries the theme about "the conflict between our desires ... and our responsibilities."
July 11, 2012 by [email protected]

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: Friends, "Friend Crush" - Still working out my feelings on Friends' debut album, but I think I might like it. At first I took it to be pretty shallow hipster pop stuff, but there's something charming about the sincerity of the songwriting. At the very worst, this is a great summer jam. Crocodiles, "No Black Clouds for Dee Dee" - Another one for the driving-around-listening-to-summer-songs pile. Crocodiles' latest, Endless Flowers, is a trippy garage-pop tour de force. Gem after gem after gem! Just don't take the sticker off the cover.
June 27, 2012 by [email protected]

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): Nude Beach, "Some Kinda Love" - With a name like that, they had better be entertaining! Fortunately, these Brooklyn-Long Island punk-rockers are on their new album due out in August. While authentic to DIY punk, Nude Beach doesn't mask the Springsteen and Petty influences that sound-tracked their youth. This song hearkens to "Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash"-era Replacements. Metric, "Youth Without Youth" - If Muse had a female singer, they might sound like this synth-hardened indie/alt-rock Canadian band. Singer Emily Haines is part of the Broken Social Scene music collective. She displays a gift for intriguing lyrics on the band's 2-week-old album, which also occasionally drifts in an Arcade Fire-ish direction.
June 20, 2012 by [email protected]

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 from Isreal via Skype!), contributing writer to Billboard & Relix Magazine. In case you missed it here's what he played with commentary by Justin: Pomegranates, Passaway - I will love this band until they either get famous, or stop playing altogether, but I hope the first one happens. This is from Heaven, the fourth album from these Cincinnati guys. They create beautiful, exotic sounding indie pop that always seems like it could be the soundtrack to a dream you don't want to wake up from. This track is among their catchiest ever, which is a problem because many of the vocals are falsetto. Be prepared to sing along in your highest voice. The Whiskey Holler, I Get Dreaming - This is my favorite track from the new EP, HiveSongs, by Pittsburgh band The Whiskey Holler. I may live in Tel Aviv now, but I'll be damned if I don't keep up on what's happening in my city. I love the band's sound — really scrappy, loose alt-country with a punk edge. I only wish I was back home to see them live. They play at Club Cafe June 26. Extra Bonus: Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Big Moon Ritual - This is the first album from Chris Robinson's (he of The Black Crowes) new solo project. And - aw shucks - it doesn't include his brother. Sure, that's kind of a dick move, but the music is absolutely great: all smoothed out, soulful Southern rock jams. Like the Allman Brothers and the Grateful Dead had a picnic on a lake with lots of beer and whiskey. Plus, his guitarist is Neal Casal from Ryan Adam's band. So I love them for a multitude of reasons.
June 13, 2012 by [email protected]

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: Broken Fences, "Today It's Raining on Just You" - This duo of Morgan Erina and Guy Russo sounds like Pittsburgh's answer to the Swell Season. They met through the Acousticafe Monday night sessions at Club Cafe, but with harmonies like this, their open stage days might be behind quickly. The 12-song debut is a gem that combines gentle acoustic folk, folk-blues and full-blown melancholy rockers like this one. FOOD, "Jesus and Johnny Cash" - FOOD is an acronym for Far Out Old Dudes, the lead dude being Ed Crawford aka eDFROMOHIO who fronted the '80s indie band fIREHOSE (with the rhythm section of the Minutemen). Crawford, who lives on Polish Hill now, takes a trip down Highway 61 here with bassist Eric Vermillion (formerly of Gumball) and drummer Mike Quinlan (formerly on the Cynics). This song comes from the debut EP "Four Pieces from Candyland" and in between fIREHOSE reunions, a full-length will be in the works.
June 6, 2012 by [email protected]

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: Bowerbirds, "In the Yard" - This tune is from the North Carolina Americana group's latest, "The Clearing." I saw this band on tour with The Mountain Goats a few years back and they delivered live; their upcoming show at Mr. Small's is likely to be great. Santigold, "Disparate Youth" - This is one of the few upbeat, "happy" tunes on Santi's new album, "Master of My Make-Believe." Excited to see her at Stage AE next weekend. Pujol, "Providence" - Pujol is the Susan Lucci of the 9:13 Buzz; I think I've brought tunes by this band four times and Cindy has always had me play the other tracks I brought, and make Pujol my runner-up. Let the record show, though, that I think Daniel Pujol is one of our most talented young songwriters, and "United States of Being" is my summer 2012 album. [Editor's note- :P]
June 1, 2012 by [email protected]
This Sunday on the Bluegrass Jam Session (8-10pm, June 3), join host Bruce Mountjoy for his tribute to Doc Watson, who passed away this past week. Bruce will be playing music spanning the remarkable career of Watson throughout the show. Streaming live at wyep.org.
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May 30, 2012 by [email protected]
If you’re a fan of the Block Party (weeknights from 8pm-12am EST) on 91.3fm, each month we feature one of the artists featured on the Block Party as an Album of the Month with a New or Renewing Membership to WYEP. The Block Party Featured Album is available in CD format for a $60 donation to WYEP or on vinyl for your gift of $75. June''s Block Party Featured Album of the Month is Blunderbuss by Jack White. Become a WYEP Member at wyep.org and grab a copy as your thank you gift this month.

Blunderbuss review by WYEP Block Party Host Andy Cook: What happens when someone like Jack White finds himself without a band?  This is a pretty interesting question. The guy has been in bands, usually multiple ones simultaneously, for about two decades now.  A lot of highly talented charismatic musicians would have wanted to go solo a long time ago, but it seems to not come so naturally with Mr. White.  He clearly must love something about being in a band.  Is it the camaraderie?  Is it that, to at least some small degree, he can then share the limelight?  It would seem at first glance that this solo thing doesn’t sit well with him.  Even in a recent New York Times profile he admitted that if it were up to him he would still be going full steam ahead with The White Stripes.  He seems a little hurt and confused that Meg, his former bandmate, doesn’t share in this desire any longer.  Therefore, it seems this solo thing might at least partially be out of necessity.  If it’s any consolation, Jack, it seems that you are extremely good at it. Yes, the combination of his recent divorce from Karen Elson and the current distance between Meg White and himself is all over this release.  Right from the first track, “Missing Pieces”, he details losing appendages and feeling lost. “Sometimes someone controls everything about you/ …they’ll take pieces of you / And they’ll stand above you and walk away”. The song “Love Interruption” has a refrain that almost works as a mantra. “I won’t let love disrupt, corrupt, or interrupt me”. It seems White’s determined to enjoy love, but no longer let it leave him emotionally destroyed. Please do not think that this release is a real downer, though.  Jack White seems to be fully aware that you can sing about pain while matching it with upbeat melodies.  “Hip (Eponymous) Poor Boy”, seems to lyrically have some  incredibly harsh bite, but musically is about the most pleasant and happy thing he’s ever done.   It all adds up to some of the strongest songwriting we have yet to experience from White. White is easily one of the most intriguing and compelling rock stars so far this century.  One might say that it’s an easy label to achieve with the lack of true rock stars these days.  Anymore we find potential specimens, dissect them, swallow them, and almost always cast them aside within a few months.  However, it seems White keeps sticking around.  This is not an accident.  It’s because he keeps giving us something slightly different to examine. Pick up a copy of Blunderbuss by Jack White with your Membership today at wyep.org.
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May 30, 2012 by [email protected]

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 Ready Stance, "Rancho Christo" - I'm digging the urgency and hooks on this rookie effort from a Kentucky/suburban-Cincinnati band that's mining the rockier side of Americana. The Riverboat Gamblers, "Bite My Tongue" - They gave the best performance at the 2010 Warped Tour, and these Texas rockers, with punk energy, released last week one of the most exhilarating albums so far this year. The single is "Comedian" but here's a deeper cut to give you a fuller scope of the band's confident and compelling songwriting.
May 23, 2012 by [email protected]

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 from Isreal via Skype!), contributing writer to Billboard & Relix Magazine. In case you missed it here's what he played with commentary by Justin: of Montreal, "Dour Percentage" - Kevin Barnes and company put on a wild show in Tel Aviv a few weeks back — complete with dancing pigs, folks in white sheets, lots of colors and dancing and whatnot. of Montreal's new album, Paralytic Stalks, is a darker take on the band's psychedelic weirdo-pop, and this song captures the band at its best. I liken the band on record to David Bowie: really funky and wild, but in a buttoned-up way. But live, the buttons come off, and so do most of the clothing. Balkan Beat Box, "Part of the Glory" - One of Israel's best exports, these guys make Middle Eastern pop music (not what you're thinking) that could play in any Western club, with saxophone lines cutting through spicy, dusty chants and tons of start-stop beats that make you wanna move. I think pop radio would be a better place if bands like this got some play. Extra bonus! Liars, "No. 1 Against the Rush" - Liars are back! Everyone's favorite endlessly-creepy freak-out rockers are going to drop their sixth album, WIXIW, in a few weeks, and this electronic, churning cut is a great teaser. This summer's going to get weird!
May 16, 2012 by [email protected]

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: Triggers, "In the Offing" - On its first album in four years -- it got tripped up by some label issues -- the Pittsburgh band gets a nice sonic sheen in an LA studio with producer Dave Trumfio (Wilco, Built to Spill). The resulting album, "Forcing A Smile," draws again on long-running influences, ranging from the Beatles to Elvis Costello to Weezer. This one is on the easy-flowing countrified side. Joey Ramone, "I Couldn't Sleep" - This Jerry Lee Lewis-style rocker comes from "Ya Know?," a second posthumous solo album from the lead Ramone. The whole things was pieced together from demo vocals by adoring musicians, including Steve Van Zandt and Joan Jett. Clearly, it isn't Joey Ramone at his best, but it's great to hear his voice again, and if this gets people to pull out their Ramones albums, it's done the trick.

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