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.
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 Today, Scott shares his Top 10 albums for 2010: 1. Arcade Fire, "The Suburbs" - A smart, stinging, vibrant and accessible essay on growing up, and then old, in the 'burbs. There's resentment, bewilderment, and equal bits respect and mistrust of rebellion, though a few rays of optimism, or at least acceptance, creep in eventually. Win Butler, the husband half of the spouse-fronted Montreal indie-rockers said he strived for a Depeche Mode-meets-Neil Young vibe. Nice! 2. The National, "High Violet" - Joy Division comparisons are inevitable, thanks to singer Matt Berninger's somber and spellbinding baritone. Textured guitars heighten the drama from these Brooklyn-by-way-of-Cincinnati rockers. 3. Black Keys, "Brothers" - The Akron, Ohio duo slips some funkiness into its raw and blistering, hook-laden blues-rock. "Next Girl" and "Tighten Up" are the best back-to-back songs on any album this year. 4. Titus Andronicus, "The Monitor" - Mine ears have heard the glory of this New Jersey punk band that sticks numerous Civil War references into its songs. Overall, though, the album is a contemporary call-to-arms, with singer Patrick Stickles rallying the troops by saying, "It's us against them, and they're winning," as his band pounds out a Pogues-Dropkick Murphys brand of defiance. 5. Sufjan Stevens, "The Age of Adz" - The alt-folk artist successfully experiments with electronica. His emotional voice is a grabber, especially on the supreme heartbreak track, "I Walked," where amid window-rattling bass thumps he fragilely sings, "At least I deserve the respect of a kiss goodbye." 6. Jason and the Scorchers "Halcyon Times." The unbridled enthusiasm is infectious on this raucous, rollicking comeback by the pioneering cowpunk/alt-country band. 7. Local Natives, "Gorilla Manor" - This L.A. band's rookie effort melds the rustic charm of Fleet Foxes with the more muscular moments of My Morning Jacket. 8. Deerhunter, "Halcyon Digest" - Dreamy, ambient pop-rock with enough feisty blasts of fuzzed-up guitar to keep you on your toes. 9. Gaslight Anthem, "American Slang" - Their "Born to Run" will come, but for now let's savor this "The Wild, The Innocent & the E Street Shuffle"-caliber effort from a band that's endured its share of Springsteen comparisons because, well, they're from Jersey, and they craft songs with anthemic ardor. By the way, they've got plenty of alt-rock and punk references, too. 10. ... will be revealed in my Sunday column (timesonline.com), though if the rest of Sleigh Bells' "Treats" is like the 6 songs I've heard from the Brooklyn noise-pop duo, then they'll be a lock. Also under consideration: Taylor Swift (sorry John Mayer fans) and Paul Weller.
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 Relix Magazine, AOL's Spinner.com and Pittsburgh's City Paper. This morning, Justin shares his top picks for 2010. In case you missed it here's what he played: Suckers, "A Mind I Knew" - This band, who made my favorite album of the year, creates off-kilter, exotic sounding anthems. Each song builds and twists unexpectedly, usually marked by a wild yelp of gang vocals or some explosive guitar. The weirdest, and most fun, record of the year. Dr. Dog, "Where'd All the Time Go" - These Philly boys are the success story of the year - the band's been toiling around playing mid-level venues for almost a decade, but with this year's Shame, Shame, they're finally among indie's elite bands. This is my favorite jam from that album. Cee-Lo, "No One's Gonna Love You" - The man behind "Fuck You"/"Forget You" cut a cover of the best Band of Horses song this summer, and this version hit the internet (with a very NSFW video) by storm. Unfortunately, the version on Cee-Lo's new album, The Lady Killer, is kinda lame, but no matter — this cut is utterly gorgeous and haunting. Who knew the best song of the year wouldn't come from an album at all? I was drawn to albums from all different genres this year - there wasn't one trend that resulted in the most great music. Here's Justin's Top 10 Albums of 2010: 10. Sharon Van Etten - Epic 9. Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles 8. Baths - Cerulean 7. LCD Soundsystem - This is Happening 6. Twin Shadow - Forget 5. Dr. Dog - Shame, Shame 4. Kanye West - My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy 3. Corinne Bailey Rae - The Sea 2. Janelle Monae - The Archandroid 1. Suckers - Wild Smile Just barely missed the list: Big Boi - Sir Lucious Leftfoot, The Son of Chico Dusty Local Natives - Gorilla Manor The Arcade Fire - The Suburbs Tame Impala - Innerspeaker Liars - Sisterworld
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 (plus a bonus song): Atlantic/Pacific, "Patters" - Lush vocal harmonies and looped instruments highlight the softly alluring sound of this Brooklyn indie-folk duo, recently featured on The World Cafe. They remind me of a mix between '80s Aussie rockers The Church and solo artist Aqualung. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, "Nowhere" - This never-before-heard song was believed to have been lost in 1979 when the band was moving its box of studio tapes daily to avoid the possibility they'd be confiscated as part of a record label lawsuit against Petty. Recorded for the band's breakthrough "Damn the Torpedoes" album, the original studio version was discovered recently, and added to the brand-new Deluxe Edition of the album, along with another never-before-released '79 tune, "Surrender." The band's Byrds influence is evident here. Bryan Ferry, "Olympia" - When I grow up, I want to be as cool as Ferry. The ex-Roxy Music frontman sounds as sophisticated as ever on this album that has both a vintage and contemporary appeal. He enlisted some impressive help, including David Gilmour, the Scissor Sisters, Flea, Nile Rodgers and Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead, as well as former Roxy Music mates Brian Eno, Phil Manzanera and Andy Mackay.
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): Sharon Van Etten, "A Crime" - This is the first track from Sharon's new LP, Epic. She's one of my favorites right now with respect to simple, folky guitar-and-voice songwriting -- this is one of the more upbeat tracks from the new one, and might be my favorite. Smith Westerns, "Weekend" - This is a young Chicago garage rock-pop band that's picked up a lot of attention in the past year or so; this track is the first glimpse of the band's forthcoming album, Dye It Blonde, coming out in early 2011 on Fat Possum. Kelley Stoltz, "I Remember, You Were Wild" - This is a fun, poppy track from Stoltz's recent LP, To Dreamers, issued on Sub Pop. Shimmery guitars, simple harmonies and a triumphant chorus make it a nice little addition to a mix CD. The Chapin Sisters, "Palm Tree" - This might be my favorite track from the new disc by the two-piece band of sisters, who played in Pittsburgh last week. It's a relaxed (maybe even resigned) country tune and exhibits some of their better lyrics, I think.
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 (plus a bonus song): Peg Simone, "Mirst & Avel" - Deb Catanzaro was the guitarist for Pittsburgh punk bands The Pleasure Heads and Wormhole before taking on this alias for her more quietly seductive solo stuff. The essential piece on her new album, "Secrets from the Storm," is the opener "Levee/1927," but, at 22 minutes, it hardly fits any radio format. This song is still a pretty good representation of her currently Zeppelin-y mindset. Bad Religion, "Avalon" - There's no reason why this California punk band, currently celebrating its 30th anniversary, couldn't be in rotation somewhere up the dial. Bad Religion is a steady, solid presence on the punk scene, and 15 albums in, it's still churning out hard-nosed songs with little in the way of frills. Ke$ha, "We R Who We R" - After one tedious 12-hour workday last week, this song on continuous repeat was somehow the antidote. As d-d-dumb trashy music goes, it doesn't get much better than this. (Apologies to Greg Graffin to Deb C. for this unlikely association.)
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 Relix Magazine, AOL's Spinner.com and Pittsburgh's City PaperIn case you missed it here's what he played: The Heavy, "That Kind of Man" - The word "heavy" in music usually describes some gutteral, brutal metal music. But somehow, this English band makes funky soul music that is undeniably heavy too, albeit in a much, much different way. This track came out in 2007, but The Heavy retooled it and yes, made it heavier, for an EP that just dropped last week. Pomegranates, "Skull Cakin" - My favorite band you've never heard of. Dudes are from Cincinnati and make fun, arty dream pop. This jam, of their new album "One of Us," out yesterday, is the rocking-est thing they've ever done, but it's still weird and wonderful. Dr. Dog, "Nobody Knows Who You Are" - A new Dr. Dog song! Everybody rejoice! The Philly pop-classicists have been releasing new songs online, and this one is too good. I'm admittedly a total fanboy, but Dr. Dog can do no wrong. Download this for free here. Twin Shadow, "Castles in the Snow" - Being the latest band made famous by the Internet (thanks, Pitchfork!) usually warrants some sort of snarky, underhanded insult, but I don't have anything bad to say about Twin Shadow. Dark and catchy, 80's-reminiscent dance songs., not unlike The Cure. They stopped at Brillobox last month, and a buddy of mine kept yelling for "In Between Days." Not nice, but very funnny.