On Thursday May 20, 2010, Colonizing The Cosmos PACKED the WYEP Community Broadcast Center and played an amazing set. Check out the recording from that night on the recently posted Third Thursday podcast. It's on your Mp3 player or listen below. More photos here.
Wednesday June 1,2010 (Today!) marks the debut of The 9:13 Buzz, a brand new segment on The Morning Mix. 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 news songs and share some insight. First, we welcome Andy Mulkerin of Pittsburgh's City Paper
In case you missed it here's what he played with commentary by Andy (plus two bonus songs):
Poison Control Center “By The Wave” - This is from PCC's second full length 'Sad Sour Future'. The band is from Ames, Iowa and is on well respected indie label, Afternoon Records. Andy says: "This song has a very '90s indie sound – the verses sound like David Berman (Silver Jews) could have penned them, the airier chorus vocals sound like Mercury Rev. This is one of those unsolicited CD sends I get on my desk that actually pan out; I've been listening to the album non-stop lately."
Beach House “Zebra” - Baltimore-based Beach House is a duo that concentrate on dreamy pop music. This is from their second release Teen Dream. Andy says: "I liked Beach House's last album, Devotion, but I wasn't sure if they could maintain the quality for another full-length; Teen Dream proved me wrong. It's more lush, more mature, and I hear they're touring with a full band now, which makes me, as a drummer, happy."
Aloha “Search Light” - Aloha began summer 1997 in Bowling Green, Ohio. The four members of Aloha are scattered across the eastern half of the country, but spend most of their time making music together. Andy says: "I wrote about Aloha's new album, Home Acres, when they came through town in April; they never fail to disappoint. Tony Cavallario is a top-notch lyric writer, and a former Pittsburgher to boot!"
Retribution Gospel Choir “Hide It Away” - From of Duluth, MN, RGC plays short, driving songs that often start out poppy melodic and then turn into psychedelic improv and drum & bass-heavy dub. Current members of the band include, Alan Sparhawk and Steve Garrington- both are also in the band Low. Andy says: "On the whole, Retribution Gospel Choir's new album is so-so; there are a number of tracks that are basically studio silliness, and a few that just don't appeal to me. But a few – including “Hide It Away,” are amazing power pop tunes that should be on everyone's driving mix."
Eli "Paperboy" Reed perfects an OUTRAGEOUS sound similar to James Brown or Sam Cooke. Check out the video for the smokin' lead track on his forthcoming release Come and Get It, out August 10th on Capitol.
Recommended if you like: Amy Winehouse, Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings
A musical genre that can be acoustic and introspective. Driven by the simple craft of songwriting. It’s all about the song. From the troubadours in the 1970’s through today, singer-songwriters are still keeping it real. Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Jackson Browne, Van Morrison, Leonard Cohen, Cat Stevens, Tom Waits, John Hiatt, Morrissey, Randy Newman, Shawn Colvin, Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Warren Zevon, Norah Jones, Brandi Carlile, Paul Simon, just to name a few [Feel free to insert your favorite singer-songwriters name here].
Join me Memorial Day weekend on May 30th during the Sunday Mix from 2p-5p for a salute to the Singer-Songwriter. Where the Music Matters, 91.3 WYEP.
Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host
This was shot by a fan (it's actually not bad quality!) at Madison Square Garden on Friday. Band of Horses were opening for Pearl Jam- they invited Bridwell on stage to fill in for the part of Chris Cornell on Temple of The Dog song, "Hunger Strike". Results: Bridwell nails it. Oh man.
You Gotta Hear This features an inside look into a new release you may have missed, hosted by Cindy Howes. Nik & The Central Plains are a great Pittsburgh band. Their self-titled debut features the masterful songwriting of Nik Westman. His meandering lyrics and dynamic folky vocals give you that back porch summer-time feel. Fans of The Shins, The Kinks and Pavement would enjoy.... You can hear a review and clips from the self-title debut on the latest YGHT.
YGHT is also heard on The Music Lab.
The format: Each of the five songwriters shared stories about their original songs and then performed them. Then, each songwriter chose a song they wish they had written, talked about why they selected it and then performed it.
As one of the hosts, Joe Grushecky began the evening with "I Remember It" from 2002's “Fingerprints”, following up with "Don't Give up the Ghost" and "Talking to the King” from "End of the Century" (which was ironically released in 1992). "Talking to the King" came to him in a dream - he found Elvis Presley looking into his fridge.
The other host, Joe Witkowski said that he was now big with the 3 to 6 year old age group thanks to Nick, Jr. and we sang along on "Happy". Witkowski also did a song that he and his wife wrote with Ann Wilson of Heart in mind. She did not end up recording "The Last Heartbreak", but B.E. Taylor did.
For Karl Mullen (Carsickness, The Ploughman's Lunch) "Love Don't Walk Away" was his first choice. On the second go round, Mullen told a long story about a 13-hour train ride to record a folk album and then couldn't remember the lyrics, so he sang "Family Life" before going back to "True Romance". Mullen lives in Philadelphia now (via Dublin, Ireland) and in 1976 was a fixture at The Electric Banana.
Margot B.'s soulful songs all had one-word titles "Cool", "Timeless" and "Complete". She resides in New York City and had much praise for The Boogie Hustlers.
Jon Belan (of Gene the Werewolf) was introspective, selecting songs from Gene the Werewolf's debut EP. He sang "Superhero", "Light Me Up" (title track) and "I've Got the Love" (which became the 6th song on the EP; even though they recorded 12 songs, this was a new song written just for the EP).
Then the spotlight was put on a song that each songwriter had wished they had penned.
Joe Grushecky choose a Muddy Waters song "Champagne & Reefer". Karl Mullen selected an Ewan MacColl (father of the Kirsty MacColl) song from 1949 that was recorded by among others, The Pogues and Johnny Cash that reminded him of Pittsburgh, "Dirty Old Town". Margot B. went to the Top 40 for "Breakeven" by The Script which she said gives her the chills no matter how many times she hears it. Jon Belan performed a Pink Floyd Song "Wish You Were Here". The Beatles were again the choice for Joe Witkowski.
The final group number was another Beatles song. "Hey Jude", in which the spotlight shown brightly on Joe Belan as he sang and played the piano.
There was then a standing ovation for the songwriters. It was another wonderful two hours of great live music.
Also check out the post Singer-Songwriters Shine... for my review of the January 2010 Songwriters Spotlight.
The next Songwriters Spotlight will be held September 25th.
Barb S. – Sunday Mix Host
New local music featured on WYEP’s The Local News during the month of June. Podcast it or tune in to The Local News (Mon-Thurs @ 9 PM). These tracks begin airing on Monday May 24th and will posted to the 'cast very soon. Lemme know what you think of that Cry Fire song- WOWZA.
Joy Ike - "Like A Picture" Rumors
The sophomore release from Pittsburgh's piano playing sweetheart, Joy Ike. Joy's wonderfully engaging on her records, on stage and in person. You would be hard pressed to find a nicer person- plus she's a tremendously talented performer. Her fans proved that she was #1 by voting her "Best Solo Artist" by City Paper two years in a row and this new CD, "Rumors" was fan-funded. Although she has a different sound, Ike has the potential to gain a Tori Amos-like devotional fan-base at a regional or even national level (she was recently featured on NPR!). Joy's music would appeal more to fans of Ingrid Michaelson, Elliott Smith and Josh Ritter.
Small Cities - "Hit My Door" Jackson Purchase
My favorite new Pittsburgh band- they are six members and 2.5 doctors strong. Small Cities emulates a classic southern rock sound reminiscent of The Band, Gram Parsons/Emmylou Harris and Tom Petty. You can trust you're in for something good when all the guitars are Rickenbacker guitars (even the bass). There's some sweet southern charm going on here as well, four members moved to Pittsburgh from Kentucky (specifically to start this band). Their live shows are a really exciting experience- you can see them for free at WYEP on Oct 21st for Third Thursday.
Cry Fire - "The Spark" If I Don't See You Again
Listen. I tried to fight the urge to like this album.... I can't- it's so good and smooth and I don't even care to tell you all about it. Cry Fire doesn't care what cool hipsters think about them, either! This is from their press release: "Where a lot of current groups shy away from clean production, strong vocals and classic lead guitar work, Cry Fire tastefully embraces all these elements." And how! This record is good start to finish. It is further made great by backing vocals from well-known regional country singer, Katie Orlofske. Embrace it! Feel good about life!
Round Black Ghosts - "Thick As Thieves" Line Up
Round Black Ghosts features former members of Waking Matthew and other local bands of the past. While I enjoyed their previous release, they've developed in a few ways on their new CD that's been in the works since January 2009. Titled Line Up, it features stronger songwriting from Aaron Shafer, who shines with his Jay Farrar like vocals. This record will further increase their already strong presence in the local music scene.
Sorry. I can’t resist the cliché. It was a swell evening of music Monday night as The Swell Season (Glen Hansard, Markéta Irglová and The Frames) returned to Pittsburgh to perform at the Byham Theatre.
The set-up was very similar to their September 2008 concert. The Frames were in a semi-circle on the stage with white back-drops and back-lighting essentially framing the performers. The front of the stage up-lighting was very effective throughout the well paced two-hour and fifteen-minute plus performance.
Irglová quietly opened the show center stage with “If You Want Me”. Hansard, talking about their drive in to town, sang the “Ohio River Boat Song”. “Low Rising” came next with Hansard sampling Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing”.
When I get a cold, I lose my voice. When Glen Hansard gets a cold, he doesn’t cancel a show, instead he takes lots of drugs and still performs at the top of his game.
During “Leave” Hansard showed no signs of a cold. Back in 2008, The Swell Season opened up with “Into the Mystic” and they didn’t forget to include it again this year, providing a stunning moment in the middle of their show.
Recently, American Idol brought “Falling Slowly” to the forefront again, but it will probably be most remembered for winning the Academy Award for Best Original Song from the movie “Once”. Hansard said “Falling Slowly” was their final song. He apparently meant before the long encore.
Hansard was talkative during the ending moments of the concert, but they still kept those heartfelt songs coming. He sang “Say It To Me Now”, after sharing a story of meeting a woman in Chicago in a hotel elevator who lost her son in the 9/11 attacks. Irglová debuted a new song called “Crossroads”. We all sang “There” on the chorus of a new song (which apparently has already has been covered and can be found on YouTube). They included a song from The Frames, with Hansard still able to give his all on the “Red Chord”. The show ended with a traditional Irish song “The Parting Glass” and an extended standing ovation.
It was just, swell.
Glen Hansard’s friend, who is now a resident of Pittsburgh, Mark Dignam opened the show with a well received 40-minute set of 7 songs and also joined The Swell Season on stage for a song during the encore.
Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host
Darwin Deez and his band have been known to break out in choreographed dance routines. To some, that alone would be worth the price of admission. But Deez is much more than just loose feet: his saccharine pop bounces around in your head and leaves you with a dizzying sugar high.
His self-titled debut was just released in April on Lucky Number Music, and it's a winner. We caught up with Deez as he prepared to embark on an opening gig for the 2010 NME Radar Tour with Hurts and Everything, Everything. Read More..
The lineup at Mr. Smalls on Tuesday night was a confusing one, with Here We Go Magic sandwiched between garage rockers Tokyo Police Club and grunge-punk band The Edukators. Here We Go Magic’s brand of psych rock was the stylistic opposite of the other two acts, and I was curious as to how they would handle their odd placement. Continue Reading...
It's been seven years since Natalie Merchant's last album (2003's The House Carpenter's Daughter). That's a pretty big gap in albums, but it all makes sense, now that she has revealed the story behind her latest, Leave Your Sleep. It's a research-based project that had Merchant digging into 19th and 20th century poetry about childhood (sometimes composed by children) from America and England. Check out the making of video and pay your respects to this incredible concept album!
You Gotta Hear This features an inside look into a new release you may have missed, hosted by Cindy Howes. Lissie is a bad@$$. She's got a ferocious cover of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" and history of spitting in people's faces. Those two facts are not related, but they're reasons to turn your head/raise your eyebrow when you get to know Lissie- a midwestern girl who's been living in the LA area for a few years. Soulful, rootsy, and a bad@$$. Update: since this podcast was made, a release date for her debut Catch A Tiger has been announced for June 21st. YES!.... You can hear a review and clips from her EP Why You Running on the latest YGHT.
YGHT is also heard on The Music Lab.
Besides having a rad hair do and hipster sensibility, Darwin Deez also makes some of the catchiest songs I heard in some time. His MO is three minute poppy songs about heartache and everyday life. Oh ya throw in some hand claps for good measure. What can I say I'm a sucker for hand claps.
His self titled debut album clocks in a 31 minutes and is jammed packed with enough sing along chorus' that you will have a scratchy throat by spin number two. His popularity has sky rocketed in the UK and its only a matter of time before the indie crowd here in the US catch Darwin fever. Have a looksee at his hilarious and oddball video for his single "Radar Detector".