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: Regina Spektor, "All the Rowboats" - She's back! Everyone's favorite Russian immigrant piano player will release her new record, What We Saw From the Cheap Seats, in a few months, but in the meantime she's dropped this tasty bit of dark, deeply melodic and oddly tweaked pop. This one harkens back to her weirder days of 11:11 and (my favorite) Soviet Kitsch, instead of the brighter pop of latter records. Suckers, "Turn on the Sunshine" - These dudes released my favorite record of 2010, and their second effort, the questionably titled Candy Salad, drops next month. This first single is a good teaser — more straightforward but still twisted indie pop, and happy as all hell. If you like this one, rest assured, it is not the best song on the album. Extra fun track! --> Lucero, "On My Way Downtown" - A time-tested country punk band hires a horn section and gets all Memphis-Stax-soul on us on new album Women and Work. It's a good look for the guys.
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: Fanfarlo, "Deconstruction" - Not a lot about this fun track is Derridan in nature; it's more evocative of bleak, driving British synth pop a la New Order. Nice song from Rooms Filled with Light, the latest from the band led by a guy whose name is really Simon Balthazar. Bear in Heaven, "The Reflection of You" - I'm a big fan of these guys, and this was the first track release off their latest, I Love You, It's Cool. The soft synths combine with Jon Philpot's vocals to hypnotic effect. A friend once likened Philpot to a cult leader; it may be true, but if so it's a cult of synths and love. Retribution Gospel Choir, "The Stone (Revolution!)" - This is the other band helmed by Low's Alan Sparhawk; not everything they do thrills me, but this is from a free four-song EP they just released, and it's pretty great! When they do the Big Star-style power-pop rock, they do it better than most.
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):
Dr. Dog, "Do the Trick" - Prior efforts were tagged as psychedelic-folk, though this Philly band rocks out on album No. 7, "Be the Void," their loosest, loudest, most live sounding yet. It's a very cohesive album, and entertaining from start to finish. To prove it, I steered clear of "That Old Black Hole" and "These Days," both being spun on WYEP, and chose a deeper cut that hearkens more to "classic" Dr. Dog, with a swirling melody, swelling harmonies and clever but un-fancy lyrics. Sample: "My talk is a nervous tick/Won't you freeze my hands of time?/Will you do the trick?." They're in town tomorrow for a concert.
Jerry Joseph & the Jackmormons, "Anaconda" - Joseph's songwriting is inspired by his years in Salt Lake City (where Jack Mormons is a local coffee company). You can practically taste the dry, dusty expansive setting of Utah in his music, which is guitar-driven alt-rock with jam-band elements. This isn't the angst of a New York songwriter affected by the hustle-and-bustle of a big city, but a guy whose demons are spurred by the Wild West with its lonesome highways and stark, barren landscapes. Jerry has written several songs for Widespread Panic, and his band has shared stages with Drive-By Truckers (who were the opening act). Alas, his touring in the past decade has been limited largely to the Rockies and Pacific Northwest. I'm hoping WYEP can bring him to Pittsburgh! Jerry Joseph & the Jackmormons album goes public on March 30.
Seven days and nights of music with over 40 performers on a cruise ship.
Sunday, 2.5.12: As we boarded the ship for the 7-night journey through song, we were treated to the music of Beth Wood performing. WPA played their first of three scheduled shows. Glen Phillips noted that this cruise is really the only gig WPA plays and that their genre of music is “sad”. Willie Watson (Old Crow Medicine Show) and Rhett Miller (Old 97’s) also joined WPA which included Sean & Sara Watkins, Sebastian Steinberg, Jerry Roe and Greg Leisz (who was much in demand throughout the week to play dobro and pedal steel with many other artists). Luke Bulla was not on the cruise, but WPA still performed a couple of his songs. I briefly went to see Levi Lowrey perform and he mentioned being on board in 2009 with the Zac Brown Band. He went looking for a slot to play and that he was honored to be back on board again. Next, it was a Rhett Miller solo set. Miller really puts his whole body into his performances, swaying and sweating through his shirt by the end of the hour. I was amazed at the depth of his songwriting, he looks too young to have written so many songs in his growing catalog of music. His most recent release is a cover CD The Interpreter: Live At Largo and he performed quite a few tracks in his sets including American Girl and the Wilco song California Stars. We caught a little bit of the married couple Sarah Lee (Guthrie) and Johnny (Irion)’s set as well as a couple of tunes by Sarah Jaffe. The evening of music ended for us with 90 minutes of songwriter Chuck Cannon (introduced by Shawn Mullins), whose latest CD Symphony of Scars was only available on the ship for now. Cannon was joined by Shawn Mullins and Nashville based country singer Sarah Buxton.
Greg Leisz, Sara Watkins & Glen Phillips - WPA
Monday, 2.6.12: Our first day at Sea. The music began at 12:30 pm and probably went well past 2:00 am, as we sailed into the Atlantic time zone. Winterbloom (Antje Duvekot, Anne Heaton, Meg Hutchinson & Natalia Zuckerman) started out on the pool deck, but their set was shortened due to the windy conditions. I went to get a seat in the lounge early for Shawn Mullins’ first performance. Mullins does not travel with his full band on the road (Patrick Blanchard, Gerry Hansen, Davis Causey, and Tom ‘Panda’ Ryan), but they sounded very tight especially on the extended Beautiful Wreck jam. He was also joined by the talented British singer-songwriter Callaghan (Mullins produced her CD Life in Full Colour to be released on 5/1) who headlined her own show later in the week. Mullins shared a few new songs She Completes Me, Hold on Love and Sunshine, which sounded just great. He talked about 3-chord pop songs and how his songs do not often end on a chord, instead they fade out with a deceptive cadence. Meanwhile, Mr. Barb went to see Sara Watkins first solo show then to see the Ryan Montbleau Band. After Mullins, I stayed to see Edwin McCain and Maia Sharp perform. They each took a turn signing one of their songs, often co-written by the other. Great stories - Sharp talked about her song Red Dress turning into an Irish drinking song thanks to a male fan that was familiar with it at a past show and started singing along. Sharp has a new CD coming out in the summer. I met Mr. Barb in the atrium where we saw the end of Joe Purdy’s show. I also went to check out Bobby Long (definitely resembles Rhett Miller). Holly Williams has noticeably improved as a performed since her first cruise in 2008 (she also relayed the story of how she missed getting back on the boat at a port stop, when she didn’t change her watch to ship time and learned a valuable lesson that she wanted to pass along). It was our first time seeing James McMurtry and it was quite an upbeat rocking set of long songs. After that set it was another show from WPA. Sarah & Christian Dugas (The Duhks) hosted a throw down jam with musical guests that extended into the early morning hours. Shawn Mullins covered a Kris Kristofferson song, while the Watkins’ sang a Linda Ronstadt song.
Tuesday, 2.7.12: Cayo Levantado. We stayed on board the ship. A nice discovery for us was Willie Watson, who had his own set. He commented that he was on board with WPA, then saw he was given a solo slot. He did a variety of songs on the banjo and guitar; joined on stage at times by Greg Leisz, as well as Sara & Sean Watkins. Mr. Barb stayed in his seat and saw Angie Aparo (he has quite a vocal range and uses one of those microphones that amplifies his speaking voice). I went out on the pool deck for Enter the Haggis. It was evident they fully absorbed all they could on their first voyage the previous year and took what they learned and put it into their current release Whitelake. Panda from the Shawn Mullins band joined them on saxophone & bass. Mr. Barb was really looking forward to seeing Iris Dement and he made sure to catch all of her shows as well as those of her husband, Greg Brown. I again went to see Edwin McCain and Maia Sharp – they were joined by Rhett Miller, the Watkins’ and the Dugas’. McCain and Sharp recorded Uncharted in a Holiday Inn on Sharp’s laptop, liked that version and put it on McCain’s Mercy Bound release (it sounded great live). We then enjoyed another set by the Ryan Montbleau Band. Afterwards “The Time Bandits” (the Shawn Mullins band with multiple guests) jammed in the atrium into the early morning hours with covers such as Ophelia, Statesboro Blues, Easy and Dreams.
Wednesday, 2.8.12: St. Maarten. Philipsburg is a beautiful city, we really enjoyed walking around. It was warm and sunny, in the upper 70’s, with a breeze. Once back on the ship, it was our first opportunity to see Mr. Buddy Miller. His guest was Jim Lauderdale, who wore an Elvis Presley like red sequenced jump suit and performed with Miller three George Jones songs. We saw the end of Shawn Mullins’ show on the pool deck, then went to see David Ryan Harris (who is simply captivating). I checked out Shannon McNally and Bobby Long (he tells great stories and is quite a developing young talent), while Mr. Barb stayed to see Greg Brown. In the midnight hour, I went to see songwriter’s talk about their songs and perform them. It was a stellar line up that could have gone on for hours. Edwin McCain was the host and he was joined by Rhett Miller, Angie Aparo, Joe Purdy and Jim Lauderdale. Miller told a story about trying to get Waylon Jennings to pronounce the word elixir correctly. McCain did an impassioned version of White Crosses. You could see the respect they had for each other and it is always interesting to hear the stories behind the songs. Mr. Barb went to see the duo of Aurora Belle.
Thursday, 2.9.12: St. Barts. One of the most beautiful port cities we have visited – where they speak French, use the Euro and tolerate visitors from a cruise ship walking around their village of Gustavia. It rained briefly, which only added to the ambience. I had to balance my time between seeing Edwin McCain & Maia Sharp (on keyboard & guitar) then to the final WPA show. We had two more Buddy Miller shows. At one show he had the drummer from Lucinda Williams band and Miller also had the upright bass player from the John Prine band accompany him and of course Greg Leisz on pedal steel. He had Richard Thompson as a guest at his last show – Mr. Miller was in awe of Thompson’s guitar playing. We caught a bit of Chuck Cannon’s show in between the Miller shows. We saw Sarah Buxton (married to a great guitarist, Tom Bukovac –who also sat in with Chuck Cannon and others). The evening ended with Enter The Haggis playing in the atrium into the morning.
Friday, 2.10.12: A day at sea. The music started at 12:30 p.m. and went past 2:00 a.m. We went to the pool deck to see the Ryan Montbleau Band. Hard to categorize their music, but we like it. I attended a beer tasting hosted by Glen Phillips. I learned a lot about the different types of beer with Phillips sharing some trivia and he even performed a song. Next it was to a very interesting songwriting workshop hosted by Shawn Mullins and Chuck Cannon (who did a signing in the merch store afterwards), while Mr. Barb was seeing Iris Dement. As we were walking into the main theater for a seat, we were treated to Loudon Wainwright III singing Dead Skunk (in the middle of the road). We found a seat and finally got to see Keb’ Mo’. His special guest was Maia Sharp – she co-wrote All the Way on his current CD The Reflection, which they sang together. I have yet to hear a song by Keb’ Mo’ that I did not like. While Mr. Barb stayed to see Greg Brown, I went to see a Glen Phillips solo show (his guest was Ruby Amanfu, who can be heard on the new Jack White (solo) track Love Interruption). Then to see parts of shows by Bobby Long, and Sarah Buxton, before wrapping up the evening with The Watkins Family Hour - hosted by siblings Sara & Sean Watson. They normally do not perform the Watkins Family Hour outside of Largo, so this was a treat. Special guests included Buddy Miller and Glen Phillips, among others.
Saturday, 2.11.12: Another day at sea with well over 13 hours of performances scheduled on the last full day of the cruise. We began on the pool deck with Chuck Cannon. We had front row tickets to see Shawn Mullins in the main theater. It was a highlight. Rhett Miller’s pool deck show got moved inside to the atrium, due to rain, so he just picked up where he left off on song #6, and guests included Sarah Lee & Johnny and Sarah Jaffee. Mr. Barb went to see another solo Sara Watkins snow. Enter the Haggis was the last show of the cruise on the pool deck. Mr. Barb went to see Iris Dement again. I caught a little bit of Antje Duvekot and then we saw Michael McDermott – who only did two shows – he is definitely an artist that we would like to hear more of. We attend Native Run’s last show – the trio singing Luke Brindley’s Wrecking Ball being a highlight each performance. Then to check out Anne Heaton followed by Levi Lowrey. The final show on the cruise was with David Ryan Harris, Edwin McCain and Angie Aparo each talking about and singing their songs and that turned into another jam session as guests joined them.
It was smooth sailing with wonderful weather and beautiful port stops. With over 40 performers and collaborations, these journeys through song continue to amaze us. The amount of talent on board a ship for 7 nights would be hard to fully duplicate on land. The performers seem to enjoy the cruise as much as we music fans do – since they normally do not get to see each other and perform together due to touring and recording. Saying it’s amazing does not seem to fully capture the experience. You get to interact with the performers – who you are in awe of and they are in turn in awe of the other performers on board. The artists say at their shows that it is an honor to be a part of this journey through song with all of us.
Barb S.- Sunday Mix Host
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: Nneka, "My Home" - This Nigerian goddess of awesome is like the perfect synthesis of two of my favorite singers — the soul and emotion of Corinne Bailey Rae and the funk and robot swagger of Janelle Monae. Play this track really loud, it'll be fun for everyone around you! Tennis, "My Better Self" - Cutesy indie pop husband-wife duo gets so much better on their second album. Maybe it's because they weren't writing about a sailboat this time out, but who knows. This record was produced by the Black Keys' Patrick Carney, and though there's no dirty blues here, his crisp production sounds great. Bonus track! Dr. Dog, "How Long Must I Wait" - My favorite track from my favorite band's new album. Such a good mood-enducing track. Buy the whole album, Be the Void, and support these Philly boys.
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: Gaslight Anthem, "Changing of the Guards" - The Boss is missing from the new Dylan tribute "Chimes of Freedom," but New Jersey is well represented by this raucous band that had the good taste to pick a masterpiece from "Street Legal" and rock it like they were in a bar. Craig Finn, "No Future" - The drop-dead clever singer-songwriter took a break from The Hold Steady to venture into Nashville and make a more acoustic solo album. Rather than going all James Taylor on us, he keeps the edge on, with a string of breakup songs, including this one which name-drops Freddie Mercury and Johnny Rotten.
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: Andre Costello and the Cool Minors, "Tumbleweed (They Call Me)" - Andre is an Ellwood City native and current Pittsburgher who recently released his first solo record through an Ohio boutique label called Wild Kindness. His warm, mature voice is offset at times on the album by sonic experimentation, but there'ms a simple, Americana basis for the tunes. Good stuff. Jeffrey Lewis, "Cult Boyfriend" - Jeffrey Lewis is one of my favorite lyricists, because he mixes a depth of ideas with a penchant for clever wordplay. Sometimes it feels like he wrote the first line of a couplet as a challenge, to see if he can pull of a rhyme that makes sense. He usually can. Damien Jurado, "Museum Flight" - Yes, it's Guys With Guitars Week here on the buzz. The latest full-length from the venerable songwriter, Maraqopa, is forthcoming on Secretly Canadian. This track is gorgeous.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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) - Best of 2011 version!: The Decemberists, “The King is Dead” - Oregon folk/alt-rockers tone down the theatricality and embrace a compelling, R.E.M.-ish flavored brand of Americana for their most accessible effort yet. Colin Meloy’s voice and phrasing compellingly set scenes. Released in January, the album still sounds fresh, even after numerous listens. Paul Simon, “So Beautiful or So What" - Simon is rhymin’ masterfully again on what he correctly labeled his best album in 20 years. The instrumentation is spry and imaginative; the lyrics are exceptional and straightforward. Sample verse from “Getting Ready for Christmas Day,” the album’s leadoff track: “I got a nephew in Iraq/It’s his third time back/But it’s ending up the way it began/With the luck of a beginner/He’ll be eating turkey dinner/On some mountain top in Pakistan.” Then there’s “Questions for the Angels,” on which Simon’s delicate voice strikes a potent note pondering “If every human on the planet/And all the buildings in it should disappear/Would a zebra grazing in the African savannah/Care enough to share a zebra tear?” The War on Drugs, “Slave Ambient” - Philly band laces shoe-gazer alt-rock with dream pop, then filters it through a classic-rock prism. The result is cerebral, visceral and catchy — in short, a band that can be enjoyed by fans of My Bloody Valentine as well as Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. Singer Adam Granducial’s poetic lyrics chronicle journeys in which thoughts, not landmarks, are the mileposts. He’s drawn Bob Dylan comparisons, owing much to the way his voice lingers on certain words. I’m reminded more of Lloyd Cole.
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 - Best of 2011 version!! Dawes, "Fire Away" - Dawes' 'Nothing is Wrong' is my pick for album of the year, yet it isn't necessarily the edgiest or most innovative record — it's simply the best rock'n'roll album to come out in a long, long time, balancing classic rock guitar and harmonies with timelessly amazing songwriting. Nothing fancy here, just great rock music. Tune-Yards, "My Country" - Weird and wonderful, Tune-Yards' 'Whokill' was exactly the opposite of Dawes — innovative in every way and never looking back. Singer/songwriter Merrill Garbus mixes hip-hop, lo-fi garage pop and folk to make a seriously electrifying record. Lana Del Rey, "Diet Mt. Dew" - This lady was just booked to appear on Saturday Night Live - and she hasn't even released an album yet. That's nuts. Lana Del Rey, whose album 'Born to Die' drops early next year, is my pick for Most Promising of 2012. She writes sharp, sexy retro soul music; let's hope she isn't as self-destructive as pop music's last soul diva. Bonus! An orderless handful of my other favorite records of 2012: - Fleet Foxes, 'Helplessness Blues' - Drake, 'Take Care' - The Weeknd, 'House of Balloons' - Bon Iver, 'Bon Iver' - Oddisee, 'Rock Creek Park' - Beastie Boys, 'Hot Sauce Committee Part Two' - War on Drugs, 'Slave Ambient' - Jay-Z & Kanye West, 'Watch The Throne' - Felice Brothers, 'Celebration, Florida' - The Head and the Heart, 'S/T' - M83, 'Hurry Up, We're Dreaming' - Ryan Adams, 'Ashes and Fire' Way to go 2011, you had some really great music! I'm proud of you.
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 - Best of 2011 version!! The Black Keys, "Lonely Boy" - If the Black Keys are going to make their jump to arena rock, they need an appropriate arena rock song. "Lonely Boy," from the Akron band's new album, "El Camino," is super-charged, with Danger Mouse helping to deliver one of the best openings to a rock song you'll ever hear. Kurt Vile and the Violators, "Puppet to the Man" - This would be a good entry for an Occupy movement playlist (stoner division), as Vile lashes out in his own weary way about being a puppet to the man. The song comes from the Philly band's latest, "Smoke Ring for My Halo," the best hazy, psych-rock album of the year. Wild Flag, "Boom" - Albums by "supergroup" suck, right? Well, move over, guys. Here's the inimitable Carrie Brownstein, leading the way with Sleater-Kinney bandmate Janet Weiss, Mary Timony (Helium) and Rebecca Cole (The Minders) on this Merge debut. This song delivers on the explosive promise of its title. For a more extended guitar jam, go to "Racehorse."