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.
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
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.
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-GazetteThis 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.
~~Bruce Springsteen,from the stage the day ofter John Lennon's murderHere's the list of songs aired during our special "John Lennon: A Life in Song."
- The Beatles, "In My Life" (Rubber Soul, 1965)
- Rainbo, "John, You Went Too Far This Time" (single, 1968)
- The Beatles, "The Ballad of John & Yoko" (single, 1969)
- Tom Paxton, "Crazy John" (Tom Paxton 6, 1970)
- Blossom Dearie, "Hey John" (That's Just the Way I Want to Be, 1970)
- John Lennon, "God" (Plastic Ono Band, 1970)
- George Harrison, "All Those Years Ago" (Somewhere in England, 1981)
- Paul McCartney, "Here Today" (Tug of War, 1982)
- Elton John, "Empty Garden (Hey, Hey Johnny)" (Jump Up!, 1982)
- Christine Lavin, "The Dakota" (Future Fossils, 1984)
- Loudon Wainwright III, "Not John" (I'm Alright, 1984)
- Paul Simon, "The Late Great Johnny Ace" (Hearts and Bones, 1983)
- Paul Thorn, "Where Was I?" (Ain't Love Strange, 1999)
- Queen, "Life Is Real (Song for Lennon)" (Hot Space, 1982)
- Susanna Hoffs, "Weak With Love" (Susanna Hoffs, 1996)
- Hamell on Trial, "John Lennon" (The Chord Is Mightier Than the Sword, 1997)
- Christy Moore, "The Least We Can Do" (Ride On, 1984)
- John Lennon, "(Just Like) Starting Over" (Double Fantasy Stripped Down, 2010)
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.