October 26, 2011 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 via Skype!), contributing writer to Billboard & Relix Magazine. Girls, "Alex" - Sophomore slump is for the birds. This track is off the second album by Girls called "Father, Son, Holy Ghost" and it is totally, completely fantastic. Girls has made its name for emotionally bare, intimate rock and roll, and the new music delivers, but this time with a fuller sound and cleaner production. Bombay Bicycle Club, "Shuffle" - There hasn't been a piano line this fun since Matt and Kim's "Daylight." From this English band's third album "A New Kind of Fix," this track has the right mix of soft, pretty melodies and some freaky-artsy-interesting parts. It's like Snow Patrol if Snow Patrol didn't totally suck.
October 12, 2011 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: Battles, "My Machines" - When the experimental New York band lost its singer (to use the word loosely) during the making of "Gloss Drop," it enlisted the help of four special guests. One of them was New Wave icon Gary Numan, who brings a rush of familiarity to this industrial metal track. The members of Battles were heartened by the fact that even Mr. Numan thought the song was "weird." Allies, "Wire Walk" - The second offering from this Pittsburgh punk/post-punk band is a fierce and noisy guitar record with as much passion as volume. At times, like on this title track, it sounds like Jane's Addiction is bashing away in your basement.
October 5, 2011 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 (plus a  bonus song): Austra, "Lose It" - Austra is the synthpop project of Toronto's Katie Stelmanis. This coldwave-ish album combines the baroque beauty of Kate Bush with the sensual weirdness of Bjork, and is one of my favorite records of the year; the band plays Saturday night as part of the VIA Festival lineup. Emperor X, "Canada Day" - Emperor X is the band/project of Chad Matheny, who is a great pop songwriter and a swell human. His lyrics often have a weird futurist bent to them, even as they deal with the most mundane topics; he plays Garfield Artworks next Wednesday, the 12th. Pujol, "Mayday" - This is the lead single from Pujol's forthcoming EP, Nasty, Brutish and Short, on Saddle Creek. Favorite new-to-me songwriter, hands down; nearly everything Daniel Pujol has produced as yet has been golden. Think of him as an intellectual Jay Reatard.
September 28, 2011 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): Jonathan Coulton, “Good Morning Tucson” - This song made me laugh out loud when I heard Jonathan play it a few weeks ago as opening act for They Might Be Giants. The song is set at one of those ultra-perky, local TV news morning shows where the aging anchor is starting to snap. Jonathan told Pittsburgh audience he’s played lots of those shows, and the host seldom knows who he is. But he sympathizes with them for having to wake up so early. Ray Bonneville, “Night Walker” - This Austin-based, Canadian-born blues-roots-rock singer has been hailed for having “the sexiest guitar styles around” (Acoustic Guitar magazine). Bonneville does pluck an alluring tone; I also like the rich imagery in his songwriting. The lyrics here are about a guy gazing out his second-floor window each night, becoming increasingly fascinated by a mysterious character he sees walking the streets. The singer wonders if they are kindred souls. Bonneville will perform Oct. 6 at the Calliope Center Stage in Shadyside. He also will be performing Oct. 7 at the Hollywood Gardens, in Rochester, Beaver County!
September 21, 2011 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, contributing writer to Billboard Magazine Mr. Heavenly "Bronx Sniper" - If you're like me, this track arrives with a serious "Whew!" Mr. Heavenly is a sorta-supergroup featuring members of Man Man, Islands and Modest Mouse. They self-described themselves as a 'doom wop' band, but until now, their songs didn't live up to that seemingly awesome new genre title. With "Bronx Sniper," though, we get a hellish and huge guitar romp. If the band's debut follows suit, I might have a new favorite album. Big Harp "Everybody Pays" - Think The National playing songs by Will Oldham - with Big Harp we've got a married couple creating sincere, gorgeous folk rock with a slight grin. I really hope this act gets the attention they deserve; Big Harp's debut "White Hat" is seriously a gem, filled with country heartbreak, smart lyrics and even some fun.
September 14, 2011 by admin
Headliner - Fountains of Wayne Rock the Block’s headliner this year is the fun and quirky Fountains of Wayne. Having not released an album since their 2007 effort Traffic and Weather, the band is back with a musical vengeance to create catchy tunes with their latest release Sky Full of Holes. The album takes listeners on an emotional roller coaster, causing a chuckle here and there and bringing on the heavy stuff with songs like “Cemetery Guns”. Fountains of Wayne has been deeply involved in TV and film soundtracks. Their songs have appeared on hit series such as How I Met Your Mother, Gilmore Girls and Scrubs. There is sure to be a song known by every Rock the Block attendee, such as their hit single “Stacey’s Mom”? If you are in need of a pop-rock revival, allow Fountains of Wayne’s up-beat, poppy melodies to bring in the festive air of a night on the town at WYEP’s Rock the Block! VIP Performer - Ben Sollee There is no better artist to perform the intimate Rock the Block VIP session than the pop-folk cellist Ben Sollee. His songs are layered with a sweet innocence meant to bring a crowd together. Every track is filled with his honey-brushed vocals and passionate, percussion style cello plucking. Sollee is a devout environmentalist and uses many of his songs to speak out against ecological atrocities. Born in Kentucky, he struggles with the sight of his Appalachia being ripped apart by the removal of mountaintops in coal mining. His lyrics are often a plea for a nature that cannot speak for itself. Collaborating with talented artists such as Abigail Washburn, Bela Fleck and Casey Driessen, Sollee has had incredible opportunities to formulate and tweak a sound that is all his own. Come see this unique performer live at WYEP’s Rock the Block and you will not be disappointed. Local Opener - Chet Vincent & The Big Bend The Pittsburgh music scene is overflowing with local musical talents. Chet Vincent & The Big Bend are representing this cultural niche at Rock the Block with their blend of alternative rock and country. The band started out as a group of young guys playing music together, just scratching the surface of Pittsburgh’s nightlife. A few years later, they all met up again to dive right into a city thirsty for new artists. Chet Vincent & The Big Bend’s old-timey clothing style gives their performances an air of entertainment and whimsy. They come to shows guitars tuned, shoes shined and suspenders at the ready. --- All previews written by WYEP Summer Marketing Intern Katie O'Leary Rock the Block takes place Saturday, September 17 at The WYEP Community Broadcast Center (67 Bedford Square) and in Bedford Square on the South Side. VIP starts at 6pm, General Admission starts at 8pm. Tickets are available until 12pm Saturday at showclix.com. Tickets will then be available at the gates, day of the event, starting at 5:45pm. More information at wyep.org.
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September 14, 2011 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: Wild Flag, "Romance" - If you've been missing Sleater-Kinney, here's the remedy. Singer-guitarist Carrie Brownstein and drummer Janet Weiss are back with this indie-rock "supergroup" that also features guitarist Mary Timony (Helium) and keyboardist Rebecca Cole (The Minders). This song is on the poppier side, but you still get Brownstein in all her Wild glory on the band's Merge debut. Donora, "The Story" - This is the lead-off track on the pop-rock trio's new album, its second on Rostrum Records. Despite the label being the home of Wiz Khalifa and Mac Miller, the rappers make no appearance here. Rather, Donora gives us 10 tracks of adorable pop, going all the way back to '50s/'60s girl group and '80s New Wave for influences.
September 7, 2011 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 (plus a  bonus song): New Shouts, "Reins to Your Heart" - These local retro-ish indie rockers are about to unleash a 7-song EP; they dwell somewhere between throwback and contemporary hip stuff, which I like. This easy jam almost has a Philly soul sound to it. Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, "Letter Divine" - Someone still loves you, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. It's me! You just released a new double album filled with unreleased songs old and new, and some demos of songs we already knew. It's great, and this song is sweet and fun and makes me feel young. Thanks! Mandrake Project, "Transitions" - This is the title track from the local band's new album; last year they took on John Schisler (formerly of New Invisible Joy) as a full-time vocalist, and it works really well; I think they've really taken it to the next level. Good, pretty, cinematic stuff. Editor's note: Andy Mulkerin loves this boat --->
August 31, 2011 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: The War on Drugs, "Brothers" - My first thought was, 'Wow, this sounds so much like Kurt Vile.' Then I found out he used to be in this Philadelphia band. Adam Granduciel is a kindred spirit to Vile, sharing an interest in hazy, guitar-driven psych-rock with a Dylan and Petty influence. Adam sings a lot like Dylan on this track, but it's more winking tribute than rehash. Neighbours, "Real Talk" - If you live within shouting distance of Pittsburgh band Neighbours, what you're hearing from the rehearsal space ranges from Who-era power pop to Motown to blue-eyed soul. This track has the quartet, which formed in 2009 and features fellow 9:13 Buzz contributor Andy Mulkerin on drums, spinning along like The Four Tops.
August 24, 2011 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, contributing writer to Billboard Magazine Beirut, "East Harlem" - All the indie kids in town are excited for this one. Beirut burst on the scene a few years ago with an Eastern European music-aping debut, but with new album "The Rip Tide," he's finally finding a good balance of new and old, and the sound is all Beirut. Bound to find a place on year-end Best Album lists. Grooms, "Tiger Trees" - Joining Girls, Men, Women and all the other assorted 'people' bands, Grooms mixes scuzzy electronics with dark, danceable rock. I love the mood of "Tiger Trees": delicate but powerful, loud but whispered, crisp but murky. Definitely a band to watch. In case you missed it here's what he played:
August 17, 2011 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): Jeff Bridges, "Maybe I Missed the Point" - Yesterday was a big day for The Dude! Along with the re-mastered Blu-ray debut of "The Big Lebowski," Jeff Bridges released his self-titled country-western album. Picking up where he left off with his Oscar-winning portrayal as a seasoned, cut-to-the-bone philosophy-slinging singer, "Bad" Blake, Bridges delivers 10 sincere, homespun tracks helmed by longtime friend/Oscar-Grammy winner T-Bone Burnett. Like a true country star, Bridges writes just 3 of the album's songs, and not this standout track penned by John Goodwin, where a guy admits life's been good, but he could of and should of done more. Bridges' weathered and wisdom-filled voice makes the song sound autobiographical on lines like, "I laid low when I could've stood high/I said nothing when I should've asked why" and "Inside I'd like to believe I'm cool/Easy to love and hard to fool/But I know there's more I could have enjoyed." In terms of Hollywood stars-turned-music-artists, I'd rank Bridges well above Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner ... though a step below Kevin Bacon. Holy Ghost!, "Wait and See" - I saw this New York band make its Pittsburgh debut Saturday in a matinee slot on the Identity festival at First Niagara Pavilion. I liked their enthusiasm, tunefulness and the pop-rock spin they gave to techno-trance-house-EDM-dubstep (or whatever term you prefer for what many of us consider "rave" music.) A few of their songs, this one included, remind me a bit of Pet Shop Boys. The album's lead-off track has a Love & Rockets feel (remember them?)
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August 10, 2011 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 (plus a  bonus song): Future Islands, "Before the Bridge" - Future Islands is a formerly Baltimore-based, currently Brooklyn-based synthpop band led by the enigmatic and growly Samuel T. Herring. Their last full-length grew to be a favorite of mine; this single was released earlier in the summer in advance of their next full-length, On the Water, which is due in October. Nikki Lane, "Gone, Gone Gone" - This is the title track from Nikki Lane's EP from earlier this year. She's a young singer-songwriter with a very classic take on country music; it's a little bit affected, but then, so is Dolly Parton, eh? She's got a full-length in the works; I'm interested in seeing how it comes together. The War on Drugs, "I Was There" -This Philly-based band (which originally included Kurt Vile) is getting a lot of buzz for their ethereal new album, Slave Ambient. Is it wrong that I think Adam Granduciel sounds a little like Bryan Adams? Like, if Bryan Adams were the least bit cool?
August 3, 2011 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): Glen Campbell, "In My Arms" - One of the most remarkable albums of 2011 is "Ghost on the Canvas," the farewell effort by 75-year-old Glen Campbell. Campbell has been diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer's disease, which sets a dramatic backdrop to an album, due out Aug. 30, where the country-pop singer poignantly comes to terms with his situation. Far from wallowing in sorrow or regret, Campbell celebrates the gift of life and the love of family on the album, providing inspiration to us all. The all-star lineup of guest musicians includes Billy Corgan, Jakob Dylan, the Dandy Warhols, Teddy Thompson and Paul Westerberg, who wrote the title track, reminiscent of Campbell classics "Wichita Lineman," "By the Time I Get to Phoenix," "Galveston" and "Gentle on My Mind." I've chosen here one of the liveliest songs, "In My Arms," which gets twanged and surfed up by the guitar triumverate of Chris Issak, Brian Setzer and Dick Dale. Yawn, "Acid" - These suburban Chicago psychedelic rockers are drawing lots of Animal Collective comparisons. They're trippy, in case the title of this debut single left you wondering. The full-length album arrives Aug. 30. Having opened shows for the likewise memorably named Yuck, not to mention Pittsburgh's Girl Talk, Yawn hits the road next month with Mates of State. The second night of their tour visits Mr. Small's Theatre.
August 2, 2011 by [email protected]
Toad the Wet Sprocket is on the last leg of a tour before they head back into the studio to record their first new album in well over 15 years... so I thought I'd check them out live one more time, Monday night at The Kent Stage, in Kent, OH. In 1998 Toad the Wet Sprocket parted ways and I didn't have my first opportunity to see them until 2009.  Thus; I don't know what their shows were like in the 1990's.  What I do know, however; is that I overheard other concert goers at the venue say that it was like listening to their records...that this was an awesome show...that they still sound great.  This was from both first timers and from those who've seen Toad perform many times over the years. For about 1 hour and 45 minutes Toad delivered 23 songs, 3 of which came in the encore.  It was a live cranked-up version of their music catalog: Something's Always Wrong, Whatever I Fear, Good Intentions, Stupid, Windmills, All I Want, Crazy Life, Nightingale Song, Come Down, I Will Not Take These Things for Granted and Come Back Down.  In the middle of the set they tried out two new songs (which they also did at the show in Pittsburgh back in April): The Moment and Friendly Fire - they already sound like old Toad favorites. To me the overall mood seemed to trend a bit more moody and darker than the other concerts I've attended.  As part of the encore, Toad did an amazing version of Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie) and then slowed things down with their final song Walk on the Ocean.

Jonatham Kingham with Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket

Jonathan Kingham pulled double duty.  Playing keys and other instruments for Toad, and opening the show. Mr. Kingham, who now lives in Nashville and resembles Keith Urban, immediately developed a rapport with the audience that carried him through his brief 5 song, 40 minute set.  The highlight was when Mr. Kingham did a free styling rap in the middle of Every Little Step (Bobby Brown).  He has this natural ability to improvise - encompassing everything that he talked about during his set into the rap.  The audience showed their appreciation by giving him a standing ovation before he did his final song Grace. Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host
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July 27, 2011 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, contributing writer to Billboard Magazine In case you missed it here's what he played: Cloud Nothings, "Should Have" - I already listed this last month as one of my extra picks, but hell, I just couldn't get away from it. Few things are better than a three minute sugar rush of some catchy, electric power pop, and this song takes the cake this summer. White Denim, "Street Joy" - An ethereal cloud of dreamy acoustic folk, this song is alone stylistically on White Denim's album "D." That's a shame, too — the rest of the album is full of assorted rock genres, but none touch on the gorgeous ache of this brooder.
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