November 10, 2010 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 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.
November 8, 2010 by [email protected]
If you dig bluegrass the fast-twanging, heavy stomping, whiskey-swilling party music of Appalachia, being in Pittsburgh this fall is a good choice. Just last month, bluegrass titans Yonder Mountain String Band sold out Mr. Smalls. This Thursday, rising stars Greensky Bluegrass hit the Rex Theater. If you missed Yonder, Greensky is your best bet for a taste of bluegrass this season. Since winning the Telluride Bluegrass Festival in 2006 as relative unknowns, the Michigan-based band's been collecting fans in peers like Railroad Earth, Tony Rice, the legendary Sam Bush and, of course, regular-folk music lovers. While Yonder Mountain String Band, Old Crow Medicine Show and Railroad Earth may own the bluegrass game right now, Greensky's looser, laid-back approach makes for a perfect liquor-sipping show. Check them out at The Rex, Thursday, Nov. 11. Contributor Justin Jacobs posted this concert preview.
Tags:
Posted in
November 3, 2010 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 (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.)
October 27, 2010 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 Relix Magazine, AOL's Spinner.com and Pittsburgh's City Paper

In 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.
October 20, 2010 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 (plus some bonus songs): Sufjan Stevens, The Age of Adz. - The critically adored indie-folk singer delves deeper into electronica here. His swirling, spacey synth blips are grounded by bass that'll rattle your fillings. Multi-layered melodies with abrupt time changes provide a strong counterpoint to his simple ruminations on love. I singled out the 5-minute love-gone-wrong song "I Walked" with its emotionally delivered line, "At least I deserve the respect of a kiss goodbye." We've all been there. The Drums, The Drums - OK, that's not the most original band name (What, was The Guitars already taken?) But you still gotta love the rookie effort from this Brooklyn indie-surf-pop band. Their pop is unabashed, highlighted by lush harmonies as you'll hear on my chosen track, "Down by the Water." The Drums list among their influences The Smiths and the Shangri-La's of "Leader of the Pack" fame. I'm also digging... Avett Brothers, Live Vol. 3 - One of the best live acts around, captured at its banjo-pluckin', foot-stompin', folk-punk finest. Who says sensitive love songs can't be fun?
October 13, 2010 by [email protected]
Marc Cohn's latest release is Listening Booth: 1970.  The Kent Stage became our listening booth Tuesday night, as Mr. Cohn gave a reflective and emotional performance in front of what could be considered a hometown crowd. During the nearly two-hour show Marc Cohn moved from playing the piano, to the guitar (he's a lefty like Jimi Hendrix) to standing alone center stage to sing.  Mr. Cohn soulfully feels the music he writes.  He also surrounds himself with a small, talented band which includes his long time guitarist, Shane Fontane (whose resume includes playing with Bruce Springsteen and playing for Presidents of the United States). Mr. Cohn played a variety of songs from all of his studio albums Marc Cohn (1991), The Rainy Season (1993), Burning the Daze (1998), Join The Parade (2007), and Listening Booth: 1970 (2010).  Known as a singer-songwriter, ironically his highest charting CD to date is Listening Booth: 1970, from which Mr. Cohn sang and provided a commentary on his cover versions of  "The Letter", "The Only Living Boy in New York"  and "Into the Mystic". I've only had the chance to see Mr. Cohn in concert four times since his career began and I'm always amazed that he manages to come up with different arrangements.  His music tends to be reflective and he continues to breathe new life into his songs.  He is also very appreciative of the fans who support his music. Cleveland is Mr. Cohn's hometown.  Many of his songs contain references to places around Cleveland and the weather (clouds, rain).  Mr. Cohn's most recent release looks back to music from 40 years ago and being in Kent, OH he remembered the events that took place at Kent State University in 1970. He even reflected on the attempted carjacking in Denver in 2005 when he got shot in the head (something Mr. Cohn does not often talk about.)  His stories continued as he shared how his Grammy award winning song (Best New Artist) "Walking in Memphis" came to life, giving most of the credit to the real life Muriel (who plays piano every Friday at the Hollywood.) It was a family reunion for Mr. Cohn, as his three brothers were in the audience.  Mr. Cohn came out to do an encore with a cake in his hands, candles lit.  We sang happy birthday to his brother Al, who will be turning 70 this week.  The evening of music came to a fitting end when Mr. Cohn sang "One Safe Place" and then he, his brothers and his band all took a final bow. Opening the show with a 30-minute set was an 18-year-old singer-songwriter from the Jersey Shore named Cara Salimando. She reminded me of the singer Jewel, just needs some polish.  She plays the keyboards and ukulele.  It was a nice touch that she offered a free 3-song CD EP of her music. Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host
Posted in
October 13, 2010 by [email protected]
Cool new video featuring JJ Grey and Mofro along with Toots Hibbert on "The Sweetest Thing".  JJ Grey & Mofro are coming to Pittsburgh on Friday, November 19th at Mr.Smalls.
Tags:
Posted in
October 13, 2010 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 some bonus songs): La Sera, "Never Come Around" - La Sera is the side project of Kickball Katy of Vivian Girls fame. This tune maintains the girl-group sound of that band, but is a little sweeter, more polished and less bored/angry than Vivian Girls. Lohio, "Family Tree" - This is the second track off the local band's new EP of the same name. It's an upbeat number with airy vocals and fun little vocal flourishes. I like the direction this band has taken! STRFKR, "Julius" - This track is from the naughtily named band's new single, a sample of its upcoming full-length to be issued on Polyvinyl. It's synth pop done exceedingly well, and, as I mentioned in the paper last week, will likely as not end up in a car commercial or something. Sun Airway, "Infinity" - This Philly band is starting to get some buzz, having been featured on the World Cafe recently. The kinda muddy, psychedelic synth/vox band is touring with Bear In Heaven and will make a stop in Pittsburgh on October 26 -- incidentally, the day of the official release of this new album.
Posted in
September 29, 2010 by [email protected]
JP, Chrissie and The Fairground Boys debut release is called “Fidelity!”.  It's a concept album about an older woman’s relationship with a younger man.  This musical journey was shared with the audience at The New Hazlett Theater stage Tuesday night.

For about one hour-and-fifteen minutes, 59-year old Chrissie Hynde and 31-year old JP Jones brought the audience into their relationship.  The Fairground Boys provided the bass, guitar, drums and backing vocals.  There was no looking back to The Pretenders, only looking forward.  Ms. Hynde exhibited great energy on vocals, guitar, harmonica, and tambourine and more than kept pace with the younger Mr. Jones on vocals and guitar. Their 15 song set (including 3 songs during the encore) was heavy on tracks from “Fidelity!”.  They performed a song that did not make it on to this CD “You’re the One That I Should Have Married” along with a cover of the 1969 Moby Grape song “Murder In My Heart For the Judge”.  They finished the night with a song about Christmas.  It will be interesting to hear a follow up.  Will it be more like a Fidelity!: Part II or will they find other muses for their inspiration? Opening the show, with a 40-minute 9-song set ,was Massachusetts singer-songwriter Amy Correia.  Ms. Correia was joined on stage only by a guitarist.  She performed more than half the songs from her current fan-funded release “You Go Your Way”.  She went back to her first album “Carnival Love” for “Blind River Boy”.  In the middle of the set she performed a cover of The Animals “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” (which was written for one her heroes Nina Simone) .  Rounding out her time on stage, Ms. Correia did an a cappella version of “Love Is” from her sophomore release “Lakeville”.

Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host
Posted in
September 29, 2010 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 Relix Magazine, AOL's Spinner.com and Pittsburgh's City Paper In case you missed it here's what he played: Mark Ronson, "Somebody To Love Me" - This is one of the best tracks from Ronson's new "Record Collection" album that came out yesterday. It's a dancey, synth-y, 80s spin on his retro-soul sound he perfected with Amy Winehouse. Totally an in-your-car, shameless sing-along. Drink Up Buttercup, "Young Ladies" - These dudes are nothing short of insane. Like, actually crazy. Their live show involves trashcans, tribal chanting and playing in the middle of the crowd. Listen to this Beatles-gone-evil psychedelic track and it'll all make sense. Lohio, "Leave the City, Leave your Room" - Easily one of Pittsburgh's best bands, Lohio is releasing a new EP, "Family Tree," this week. This track encapsulates their growing sound — beautiful harmonies, fun melodies, Sufjan-esque orchestration and, as always, Greg Dutton's light, folky voice. If the world is a good and fair place, Lohio will blow up something spectacular. Justin Rutledge, "Be A Man" - One of my favorite country-folk finds of this year. Guy's got a great, wounded-heart type voice, and his songs are equally as deep. Plus, what a fantastic name!
Tags:
Posted in
September 22, 2010 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 (plus a bonus song): Black Angels, "Telephone" - Even though I vowed not to embrace any more bands that start with the word Black, this Austin psych-rock band is too good to ignore. I always love songs, like "Telephone," that sound like they could have been on the "Nuggets" box. The album also expands on this idea with Doors and Stooges influences. One caution: as a live act, the band needs something more than a frontman that clings to a keyboard. Maximum Balloon, "Communion" - Dave Sitek, the brilliant guitarist and producer for TV on the Radio, indulges his poppier instincts on this debut album with such guests as Kyp and Tunde (from TVOTR) and David Byrne. Here, Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs takes front and center on a cool hypnotic dance track. Robert Plant, "Silver Rider" - Robert Plant could be cashing in right now on a Led Zep reunion tour, but for some reason — perhaps to spare his vocal cords — he chosen to reinvent himself as an Americana artist. He makes a bold, tasteful choice here with a song by slowcore band Low that finds guitarist Buddy Miller exploring his inner Neil Young.
September 16, 2010 by [email protected]
Check out Dr. Dog's sweet new video for "Shadow People" (from Shame, Shame):
Tags:
Posted in
September 15, 2010 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 some bonus songs): Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, "My Terrible Personality" - This track from the middle of the band's new release, Let It Sway, is a fun mid-paced number with the added appeal of a "Go!" breakdown in the middle. What's there to say, really? It's just catchy. Mariage Blanc, "Move On" - This local band has always danced on the line between upbeat and introspective, between Beulah and Elliot Smith. This is from their new LP, to be released next month. Watch out for my piece on them in your City Paper in a couple weeks! Darker My Love, "Split Minute" - This is an L.A. band with a weird pedigree: the drummer used to be in that Hellcat streetpunk band The Distillers, and two of the other members have backed up Mark E. Smith in The Fall. Darker My Love is about as far from those bands as possible -- with a laid-back California rock vibe, they're reminiscent of American Beauty-era Dead, perhaps, or later Byrds. Marianne Dissard, "Les Confettis" - This is probably my favorite track on Dissard's latest, Paris One Takes. She takes the French take on rock a little further, incorporating Americana sounds into her tunes. Frenchicana? Sure.
Posted in
September 11, 2010 by [email protected]
Colonizing The Cosmos
“Sonic production” is a term coined by music critics to describe music that capitalizes on our fascination with space. It conjures up all the vast mystery of the cosmos, of our yearning for answers, of our sense of otherworldliness, our desire to chase the final frontier, the excitement of new technology. It describes music that transgresses our worldly expectations, music as sleek and barren as the cold metal of a spaceship floor. And sometimes it just means lots of reverb and effects pedals. Whatever it is, don’t expect it from Colonizing The Cosmos. The local Pittsburgh band, who’s kicking off Rock The Block next week, released their first full length album earlier this year, called “The First Frontier.” Here’s a video a live studio performance of “Dear Citizen.” Despite the name and comparisons to The Flaming Lips, CTC makes music remarkably grounded in loyalty to folk instrumentation. Starting as a two-piece and growing to six (sometimes more), CTC sounds like a band of studio folk musicians: well mixed layers of guitars, banjos, a trumpet and backup singers. And the musicianship really shows in the video. It’s a welcome change of pace in folk, a compromise between trends of “me-first” production and lo-fi production. On "The First Frontier," each instrument fills its shoes modestly, yielding a well-rounded and satisfying sound. Vocally, CTC falls somewhere between The Shins and Eels, catchy but not without a hint of quirk. There’s something otherworldly about the album, but no single sound or style will step up and take credit. There’s a slyness to the production, irony in the catchiness, intelligence in the delivery. And yet, CTC is not “sonic.” They’re not trippy, or psychedelic, or freak folk (or my favorite, NASA-core). CTC makes honest folk music with a tinge of self aware irony, that music so seemingly audacious can be so anchored in a time-honored folk style. CTC has likely not yet hit their prime, but its a very strong start. Colonizing The Cosmos opens for Alejandro Escovedo at Rock The Block, September 18th in Bedford Square at 8pm. Tickets available at www.proartstickets.org http://www.colonizingthecosmos.com/home.html
Tags:
Posted in
September 10, 2010 by [email protected]
Posted in

Pages