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 Love Me Nots, "He Doesn't Share Well" - As a rule, I'd rather not be driving around Sunday nights between 10 and midnight, but when that happens, it's a treat to flip on Little Steven's Underground Garage on that rock station up the dial. He focuses on '60s garage- and psych-rock and the bands that were influenced by it. Arizona band The Love Me Nots are a perfect fit, rocking hard with a fat, distorted guitar tone and Spector-style girl pop. The local connection is that the band, which just released "The Demon and the Devotee," features former Pittsburgher Bob Hoag (The Breakup Society) on drums. Ezra Furman & The Harpoons, "I Killed Myself But I Didn't Die" - For years, indie-rock bands played down the importance of lyrics to the point where a lot of people didn't even care about them anymore. With this Chicago band, which just released "Mysterious Power," the words jump out and demand your attention. But it's far from easy-listening singer-songwriter stuff. The Harpoons rock with noise and clatter, like on this song which recalls such indie greats as The Pixies and Pavement.
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 bonus songs):
Man Man, "Bangkok Necktie" - This is from the new album, Life Fantastic, from the Philly-based band. The record is, on the whole, quite pleasant and energetic; this was the song I could find that didn’t have swears in it.
Secret Cities, "Always Friends" - This is from Strange Hearts, the new album from this Midwestern three-piece psyche outfit. It’s got their signature muddy baroque sound, but is upbeat and has elements of old rock steady to it.
Poison Control Center, "Porcelain Brain" - Longtime Buzz listeners know I like this Iowa-based band a lot. Their new album, Stranger Ballet, comes out next month, and this song – a Silver Jews-sounding rocker – is on it.
Bare Branches, "Kids in Love II" - This Butler-based band issued a solid album, Haunts, earlier this year. There’s something nostalgic to me about the band’s guitar sounds and Christopher Wagner’s Ian Curtis vocals.
The petite and feisty Tift Merritt took the stage all in black. With a lot of energy and spunk Ms. Merritt played the guitar and keyboards. At only 5 feet tall, she commands the stage with her strong voice and musicianship. She performed music from her catalog that included Broken and Mixtape, a song she wrote in France, Another Country, along with a couple of new songs and Good Hearted Man from her CD Tambourine, which was Grammy nominated in the Best Country Album category.
When you see Stephen Kellogg without the Sixers, it really makes you focus on his strong songwriting skills. I found myself listening intently to all the lyrics. He stayed center stage, playing the guitar and harmonica with a crate nearby acting as a table holding his mugs and various harmonicas. Mr. Kellogg, tall and slim all in black, performed for about 70 minutes with mostly a mix of Sixers fan favorites. There was one new song 1993 that will be on the upcoming Sixers CD due out in September. It’s another love song, about meeting his wife and starting a family. Among the songs: A (With Love), 4th of July, Sweet Sophia, My Old Man. Mr. Kellogg shared some quotes about life, romance, work and success. Ms. Merritt joined Mr. Kellogg on stage for a duet on the Kenny Loggins penned Danny’s Song. The 3-song encore included The Bear and Satisfied Man followed by a toast to the audience.
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 Scott Tady of The Beaver County Times. In case you missed it here's what he played (with commentary by Scott): The Smithereens, "Sorry" - No, the Smithereens hadn’t stashed their new album in a vault for 20 years, it just sounds that way. And that’s a good thing. Fuzzed-up guitar and crunchy drums and bass — British Invasion melodies filtered through East Coast pub rock — provide the vibrant backdrop to Pat DiNizio’s rich, vibrato-heavy voice. “The Smithereens 2011” kicks off effectively with this jangly, stomping single with brooding lyrics like, “Well my back’s against the wall/But I’m not afraid at all/I would like to say I’m sorry, but I won’t.” Andy Friedman, “Old Pennsylvania" - In typically off-kilter fashion, one of Brooklyn’s best and world weariest alt-country singers paints a picture of a late-fall Pennsylvania day in an old, rural town. Critical exultation for Friedman include “the king of art country” (Minneapolis’ City Pages), “art-damaged, ragged-but-right” (L.A. Weekly), “dusty, paint-splattered Americana sage” (Rochester News & Democrat) and “Ingenious originals” (The New Yorker, one of the New York publications for which Friedman has done freelance illustrations.) Indie-rock icon Sufjan Stevens once said, “I’ve always wanted to be Andy Friedman.”) See what the buzz is about May 9, when Friedman performs at Hollywood Gardens, an eclectic, TV-less bar in Rochester, Beaver County.
What a treat: two hours of stories and music from Colin Hay on Tuesday night.
There may have been more stories than music from this singer-songwriter, who was born in Scotland, moved to Australia and now calls California home. He came to the Rex Theater alone, not only reminding us of his success with Men at Work, but also of his body of music as a solo artist. Between sipping water and changing guitars were the stories of his father, touring with Ringo Starr, meeting Paul McCartney, Men at Work supporting Fleetwood Mac, writing Men at Work songs, and even goats. There was some music too, in between the banter. The title track of his most recent CD Gathering Field began the set. The title track of his 2nd CD Wayfaring Sons and his 5th album Transcendental Highway, with a track from his 3rd CD Into the Cornfields. In the early 1980's we probably would not have appreciated hearing acoustic versions of Down Under, Who Can It Be Now? and Overkill but the songs have aged very well. Another new song Invisible. Also Beautiful World and Waiting For My Real Life To Begin, which he gently reminded us was now 17 years old. The evening ended with Kool & the Gang's Celebration playing over the speakers. To really appreciate that song, you would have had to be there to hear that story.
Opening was Chris Trapper, out of Boston, MA. You may know him as the leader of The Push Stars. I came in near the end of his set as he was introducing a song which he had written in Pittsburgh. He ended with a song he wrote for his parent's 50th wedding anniversary.
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, contributing writer to Billboard Magazine and Relix Magazine In case you missed it here's what he played (plus a bonus song): Black Lips, "Modern Art" - This is the first cut from this Atlanta punk band's new record, Arabia Mountain, which was produced by Mark Ronson. It's a true story about the band taking ketamine and walking through a Salvador Dali museum in Spain. Not sure if that sounds fun to you, but the song certainly is. This band is pure rock'n'roll - sloppy, catchy, danceable, dangerous, fun. The album's out next month, and it is amazing. US Royalty, "Equestrian" - Weird name for a song, but somehow fitting — the tune sounds like some majestic ride down a mountain on a horse, probably during a windy day, possibly while wearing a crown or something. Either way, it's a perfect cross between Fleet Foxes, Local Natives and the Black Keys. The D.C. band's most recent album, Mirrors, came out just last month. Girls in Trouble, "Lemons" - This act got its start writing songs about girls in trouble... girls from the bible, that is. That narrative continues on Half You Half Me, out May 17 on JDub, the sophomore album from Alicia Jo Rabins' band featuring the bassist of Old Time Relijun. The record's no Sunday school affair, though. It's a string-driven, haunting folk record topped with Rabin's plaintive voice and poetic lyrics. Slip it to your rabbi; he'll be exponentially cooler.
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: Kurt Vile, "Runner's Up" - If the Rolling Stones made a lo-fi album, and let's hope they do, it might sound something like this. This hazy, psych-rock song comes from the Philly singer-guitarist's fourth album, "Smoke Ring for My Halo," his most focused record yet. "I was definitely going for a more cohesive record," he told me last month. "I always go for that. I guess my mind jumps around a little." TV on the Radio, “Caffeinated Consciousness” - The trailblazing Brooklyn art-funk-noise band has moved on from its early apocalyptic phase and settled into a warmer, mellower groove on the new album, “Nine Types of Light.” It becomes a great showcase for the bottomless soul of front men Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone, both former Pittsburghers. This is one of the more fiery tracks, flashing some rap-rock bombast.