January 16, 2011 by barbmstein@aol.com

Even though it’s only January, I have a CD already on my Best of 2011 list.  “The Next Right Thing” is the sophomore release on MPress for singer-songwriter Seth Glier.  This musician from Massachusetts has assurance well beyond his 22-years.

The CD opens with the title track.  It only includes vocals, drums and percussion coming in under 2 minutes.  A unique way to take the listener into the next dozen tracks.  There are also two short instrumental transition pieces among the 13 tracks.  “Beauty in the Breakdown” is one of the songs that have a brief instrumental introduction which helps the song build.  “Walk Katie Home” and “What The Others Have Done” tell stories in about 4 minutes.  “First” gives you the hint that this is a young lyricist with a line referring to high school sweethearts who keep the zip code where their folks live. The song also includes current events like what’s going on in Detroit and Bagdad.  You may write about what you know, but with Mr. Glier you can relate to the images he paints no matter what your age.  My favorite track is “Lauralee”  This song sounds like Ellis Paul joining with Coldplay (really!)  Edwin McCain provides backing vocals on “I Don’t Need You”.  Mr. Glier has performed over 200 shows and “No Place to Land” talks about missing someone while out on the road.

Mr. Glier’s friends / mentors / fans include the likes of James Taylor, Livingston Taylor, Ellis Paul, Maia Sharp, Edwin McCain, Stephen Kellogg, and The Verve Pipe.  I too am a fan of Mr. Glier and this CD.  I’ve seen Mr. Glier open for Livingston Taylor and Maia Sharp.  I look forward to the day Mr. Glier earns his status as a headliner.

Barb S - Sunday Mix Host

January 14, 2011 by kyle@wyep.org

A Bit of a preview of the forthcoming R.E.M.

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January 12, 2011 by cindy@wyep.org

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:

Gang of Four, "She Said" - Gang of Four is one of my favorite bands ever, despite the British post-punkers only having about three albums worth of stellar material. It's been 16 years since we've heard anything new from them, so the appearance of "Content" is a thrill. From the sound of this lead track the new rhythm section sounds as solid as the original and guitarist Andy Gill is as menacing as ever.

Social Distortion, "Alone and Forsaken" - These are hard times, so it's a good time for this vintage Orange County band that delivers its punk rock with a bluesy edge. "Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes" doesn't break any new ground (why would it?), but it rocks from start to finish and Mike Ness brings the same old passion to these tales of woe.

January 11, 2011 by kyle@wyep.org

Many listeners have been turned onto The Low Anthem over the past couple of years. The band did a great studio session at WYEP and we carried their show Live from Club Cafe. The band was recently out on tour with the great Emmylou Harris and really impressed the crowd with their new material.

Enjoy "Ghost Woman Blues" their new video and song. The band is back for a full show in Pittsburgh on February 26th at Brillobox.

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January 10, 2011 by barbmstein@aol.com

The first show of the second season of what is usually a quarterly event, the Songwriters Spotlight, took place Saturday night at the New Hazlett Theater.

Hosted by Joe Grushecky and Rick Witkowski. The guest songwriters were Greg Joseph (The Clarks), Maddie Georgi and Jeff Schmutz (Good Brother Earl).

The format:  Each singer-songwriter performs two to three of their original songs, then each performs a cover of a song that they wish they wrote, and the two hours of music ends with a group collaboration / sing-a-long.

The hosts Mr. Grushecky and Mr. Witkoswki are at each end of a semi-circle with the guest singer-songwriters in the middle.

Mr. Grushecky offered "The Sun is Going to Shine" (East Carson Street), "Another Rainy Day in Pittsburgh (Fingerprints) sounding like it was from Jimmy Webb/Burt Bacharach 1960's era, "Beauty Fades" (A Good Life), along with his cover of The Rolling Stones "Wild Horses".  He also reminisced, on the anniversary of Elvis Presely's birth, about a visit to Graceland before it was open to the public, which gave way to an impromptu short medley of Presley's songs.

Mr. Witkoswki sang the rocky hip hop Gothic "Do You Have it (Guts)" and a song from the "Prog Rock" group Crack the Sky's 3rd album that he wrote with his wife that had the 1940's feel to it "A Night on the Town" (played on the ukulele).  He covered the Carole King and Gerry Goffin penned "Will You Love Me Tomorrow".

Mr. Joseph performed "Mississippi Mud" (with a sampling of "Delta Dawn" at the end), "Snowman" (a children's song about cocaine), and "Magazine" along with a cover of David Gray's "Babylon" which was spot on.

Ms. Georgi is a freshman in college, who found herself center stage amongst the more seasoned songwriters.  She sang "Shades of Green", "I Like The Way That Feels", and "Already Gone" (about your senior year of high school going by too quickly).  Ms. Georgi's cover of Leonard Cohen's "'Hallelujah" was simply breathtaking.

Mr. Schmutz songs included "Glass Tiger" and "Firefly" with a cover of the Hank Williams Sr. song "Long Gone Lonesome Blues" which gave him a chance to yodel.

The final number was Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" with the audience accompanying the talented singer-songwriters each time on the chorus.

It was the 3rd Songwriters Spotlight I was able to attend and I look forward to future installments to discover more local singer-songwriters.

Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host

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January 5, 2011 by cindy@wyep.org

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):

Wye Oak, "Civilian" - This is an advance track from the Baltimore-based duo’s forthcoming album, also titled Civilian. It’s a beautiful song that starts out mumbly and quiet and turns pretty raucous with an abrasive but great guitar solo. The record comes out in early March.

Howlin Rain, "Burning of the Midnight Lamp" - This is one of my favorite rock bands, led by Ethan Miller, former frontman of Comets on Fire. They hope to have a full-length – their third – out later this year, but this track was released as part of a three-song EP in December. With a ’70’s-guitar-rock-cum-‘90s noise rock sound, there’s a lot to like for folks with a lot of different tastes.

Lemuria, "Pleaser" - This Buffalo three-piece has been putting out sweet dual-vocal indie pop-rock for a few years now; the last time I saw them was probably 2008 or so at the late Mr. Roboto Project. This is from their brand-new Pebble LP.

Asobi Seksu "Trails" - This duo from Brooklyn makes noisy dream-pop that’s just plain pretty. This is an advance track from Fluourescence, due to drop on Polyvinyl in February. They’ve already ended up in some TV shows; I imagine they’ll be ending up on some indie mix CDs as well when the new album arrives.

January 3, 2011 by kyle@wyep.org

Phish - "Meatstick" 12/31/10 New Year's Eve from Phish on Vimeo.

Phish rang in the New Year with 3 sold-out nights at Madison Square Garden in NYC. Their 12/31 show featured a 50-person choreographed "gag" revolving around the band's song "Meatstick" that culminated in the return of the band flying in a giant hot dog across the arena right before the stroke of midnight. The hot dog had been used in previous NYE gags in 1994 and 1999 and it was borrowed from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where it's been on display for the past decade.

Enjoy the edited down version !

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December 28, 2010 by alex.waters.gordon@gmail.com

While on tour for 2010's Plastic Beach, Gorillaz recorded an album almost exclusively using sounds and production applications on their iPads. Probably a symptom of the times, handheld recording studios, yadda yadda yadda...

You'd expect it to sound either cheap or boring, relegated to a small number of production gimmicks and recycled instruments. But it actually sounds great. Plus, fans who caught them on tour (like me!) can see which songs they were recording while in their city. Some are more obvious than others, like "Shy-Town" recorded in Chicago or "Detroit" recorded in Detroit. "Hillbilly man," for instance, was recorded with Mick Jones (yes, from The Clash) the night I saw them in New Jersey. Personally, I think "Shy-Town" and "Little Pink Plastic Bags" are the unquestionable highlights of the record, so maybe that means that Chicago's a good town in which to write songs on your iPad. Either way, the album is a series of neat little projects that fails to reach the revelatory sensations on Plastic Beach, but succeeds as an experiment in short-term inspiration.

The album, called The Fall is available for streaming on the Gorillaz website here.

Posted in
December 22, 2010 by alex.waters.gordon@gmail.com

Tame Impala is an Australian psychedelic rock band. They dropped their debut full release called Innerspeaker this year and it's an incredibly groovy and adventurous experience. Words like "trippy" and "sonic" may come to mind, but that's really selling their ambition short. Check out the opening track, called "It Is Not Meant To Be."

The song is replete with trademark psychedelia, prominent guitar pedals, wayward chord modulations and toasty guitar solos. But none of those cliches hurt the song; it's an awesome listening experience.

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December 21, 2010 by barbmstein@aol.com

Who is Jann Klose?  Let’s find out more about this singer-songwriter, musician, “citizen of the world” who has a song on an album that has been nominated for a Grammy.

Barb WYEP’s Sunday Mix Host (WYEP): Jann thanks for taking the time to answer some questions via email for the WYEP Music Blog.

WYEP:  You were born in Germany, raised in Kenya and South Africa, then went back to Germany, before going to Cleveland, Ohio as an exchange student.  That’s quite a mixture of cultures.  Is that reflected in your music?

Jann Klose (JK): Yes, I think it is... I've absorbed a lot of different kinds of music. From African roots music to American classic rock to European classical composers... keeps me from getting bored

WYEP:  Your song “Give In To This Life” is on a Grammy nominated (Best Spoken Word Album for Children) called “Healthy Food For Thought:  Good Enough to Eat”.  How did your song get chosen to be included on this compilation double-CD to be among such songs with titles like “Dirty Dishes”, “Sky Doodles” and “I Sailed on a Potato Chip Ship”?

JK: I knew Kevin Mackie, one of the team members involved with the project. I have another song on an earlier compilation, "Serenity House", that he had put together. When Kevin told me about the HFFT project I was eager to be involved again, it's such a great cause, one that I believe in from the bottom of my heart. The album raises money for the NY Coalition for Healthy School Food

WYEP: Your debut CD “Enough Said” was recorded in Youngstown, Ohio and released in 1997.  That seems to be far away from your roots, was it just the right time and place to make this first album a reality?

JK: I had just moved to Cleveland, Ohio and was getting my bearings on the music scene. I had sent out demos to various regional labels. One called 'Scream Records' - from Youngstown, Ohio - responded and I ended up working out a deal with them to record at their studios. I have been coming back to Youngstown ever since to play shows there whenever I'm touring though the Midwest. 

WYEP: Your band members have varied backgrounds;  jazz, orchestra, symphony, and chamber music.  It’s not typical of a singer-songwriter to have an oboe, violin, flute and accordion as accompaniment.  You also have arranged and produced some of your songs, including the strings.  Are you trying to bring a more “classical” sound to your music when you perform?

JK: Not really... I just enjoy hearing instruments and textures in combinations I'm not used to. I've also been very lucky to work with musicians that are into picking up new instruments and just like trying stuff. Chris Marolf, who's been in my band for almost 8 years now just started playing the Kora, a West-African harp. We've been using it on the road a lot. I call it the Harp-to-go.

WYEP: I’ve had the chance to do email interviews with other artists who have gone the “fan funding” route – like Jill Sobule and Luke Brindley.  Your CD “Reverie” was made with fan support and you are now raising money for your new album, The People Records Project. Please tell us more about that process and how well it’s been working for you.

JK: Well, we just started the fundraiser a couple of weeks ago and have – so far – raised $1200. It's amazing for me to see that there's that kind of support out there for musicians and artists. It's inspiring. It's always hard to ask for help but in this new paradigm of the music business, many, many bands have eliminated the middle man and have a much closer relationship with their fans. We still have a ways to go – so I encourage people to check out what we offer in return for a donation at peoplerecordsmusic.com

WYEP: Over the years you’ve had the opportunity to be around artists like Pete Seeger, Les Paul, Roger McGuinn, Rosanne Cash and Marty Stuart.  What have you learned from these encounters with such seasoned performers?

JK: Well, all the artists you mentioned are very kind, hard-working people. I think sitting in with Les Paul and his band was the most humbling – and intimidating experience... his band is just so badass. I felt like a novice. But Les made me feel totally comfortable and at ease. 

WYEP: Your music is being heard all over the world from the USA to England to Indonesia.  What would you like those of us in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to know about you and your music?

JK:  I love playing live more than anything... every show is a different experience for me. A lot has to do with the people in the audience and the venue, itself. A lot of my friends have played Club Cafe, including The Strawbs and Willy Porter. I'm looking forward to my first time there. 

WYEP: Thanks for your time Jann!

JK: My pleasure. Thanks for a nice set of questions.  

Jann Klose will be performing December 22 along with local songwriters Tim Ruff and Scott Schmitt

Barb S. – Sunday Mix Host

Posted in
December 15, 2010 by cindy@wyep.org

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

This 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.

December 8, 2010 by mike@wyep.org

"If it wasn't for John Lennon, a lot of us would be some place much different tonight. It's a hard world that asks you to live with a lot of things that are unlivable. And it's hard to come out here and play tonight, but there's nothing else to do."

~~Bruce Springsteen,from the stage the day ofter John Lennon's murder

Here's the list of songs aired during our special "John Lennon: A Life in Song."

Posted in
December 8, 2010 by Josh W

MP3: Delta Spirit - "Bushwick Blues"

Delta Spirit rolled into Pittsburgh last Tuesday in support of their excellent new album, History From Below. If you haven’t heard these guys before, you're doing yourself a disservice; the San Diego natives combine folk, Northern soul, and rock and roll into a muscular sound that can hold its own against any band touring today. Continue Reading...

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December 8, 2010 by cindy@wyep.org

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.

December 3, 2010 by kyle@wyep.org

Enjoy the new Coldplay video ! It was filmed recently in London and features fireworks, levitation and three violin-playing Elvises. A new Coldplay record is due out in 2011.

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