New Music

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:

Cults, "Abducted" - Continuing with the ‘60s girl-group theme — last month I played the Love Me Nots — this is a New York duo that takes a cooler, more ethereal approach with plenty of reverb. Madeline Follin provides the white-hot vocal, backed by her boyfriend Brian Oblivion (who took his name from the David Cronenberg movie "Videodrome"). It’s only appropriate that the song begins like it’s on a faraway AM station before launching its sonic explosion. Thematically, it leads nicely into ...

Pump Fakes, "Heal" - A band is only as good as its influences, which makes the Pump Fakes pretty good. The Pittsburgh band, which has been bouncing around since the mid-’00s, isn’t going to win a lot of points with the Pitchfork crowd, but if you love Stonesy rock ’n’ roll, they deliver. In fact, this soaring midtempo heartbreaker practically sounds like a long-lost Stones track, with a soulful vocal by Patrick Maloney.

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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):

The Cynics, "Circles Arcs and Swirls" - This track comes from the venerable Pittsburgh garage-rock band's new album, Spinning Wheel Motel. The record shows the band's range -- from all-out distorted rock to jangly Byrds-style power-pop. This song belongs in the latter category.

Haley Bonar, "Raggedy Man" - Haley Bonar is a talented and congenial young lady from Minneapolis; this is from her new record, Golder. She's also got a pretty neat Pittsburgh connection, which you can learn about when you read my interview with her in this week's City Paper!

Pujol, "Black Rabbit" - Pujol is the project of Nashville's Daniel Pujol. They've got the aesthetic of the new wave of garage (Jay Reatard, Thomas Function) but Pujol's writing is the best I've heard from that crop. This song has a video here, featuring a girl with a flaming hula hoop. My summer jam so far.

Des Ark, "Bonne Chance, Asshole" - Des Ark is the name of any number of permutations of musicians centered around North Carolinian songstress Aimee Argote. Her first record was an all-out rocker in 2005; since then, she's put together a few demos and splits, but this is technically her official follow-up -- a much softer, more epic record, but equally emotional.

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The fifth edition of the Songwriters Spotlight, took place Saturday night at The New Hazlett Theater.

Hosted by Joe Grushecky and Rick Witkowski. The guest songwriters this time were EMay, Greg Dutton (Lohio) and Melinda.

The format: Each singer-songwriter performs a few 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; like you’re in their living room for a songwriter’s roundtable. One of the topics during the evening was what came first during the writing process: the music or the lyrics; in some cases the answer was the title.

Mr. Grushecky offered "Le Ann" (East Carson Street) for his wife who was in the audience, "Homestead” (American Babylon) which he co-wrote (lyrics) with Bruce Springsteen (music) in 1993-94, "Labor of Love" (American Babylon), along with his cover of Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love", featuring EMay on accordion. It was the first time he performed that Elvis song. Mr. Grushecky also related a story about almost getting fired from his day job, since he took time off to record with Mr. Springsteen.

Mr. Witkoswki sang a “piece for hire” from the Current TV show “Bar Karma” - "Reap What You Sow". In talking about songs that wrote themselves, he said an example was “Vitamin L” . He covered The Beatles “All You Need Is Love”; the first time performing this Beatles song.

EMay performed "Upon a Mountain" (with Mr. Grushecky on harmonica), "Don’t Lock the Door”, along with a cover of a song written by local musician, Rob Gray.

Greg Dutton choose a Lohio song “We’ll Hide Ourselves Underneath” along with a new song in the process without a title. Mr. Dutton did a stripped down version of The Flaming Lips “Do You Realize” as his cover.

Melinda’s songs included "Leave Your Key" and "Don’t Be Sweet" with a cover of “Me and Bobby McGee”, the first song she sang for an audience when she was a teenager.

The final group number was Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" with the audience accompanying the talented singer-songwriters each time on the chorus.

I look forward to future installments and discovering more local singer-songwriters.

Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host

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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):

Ben Shannon, "Break on Through" - This Nashville-born, Pittsburgh-based artist launches his debut album with a catchy Jason Mraz-meets-Citizen Cope-ish slice of plain-spoken pop. The lyrics are aimed at the commitment-phobe in us all: "You saw her in a coffee shop/sippin' on a double shot/Typin' something slow on a silver laptop/She was looking real hot/Wanna give her what you got/You think once, you think twice/and you think 'I think not.'"

My Morning Jacket, "Outta My System" - The indie-rock, somewhat psychedelic jam band's last three album's made my year-end Top-10s. The jury is still out on their latest, "Circuital," which began streaming for free more than a week ago. This song is the one that caught my ear the most during my first few listens. The lyrics are profound but simple; the overall production is, dare we say, cute. I'm going to trust Wikipedia, which reports "Outta My System" was written for -- but rejected by -- the upcoming Muppets movie. Must have been the drug reference.

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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, City Paper and Relix Magazine

In case you missed it here's what he played (plus bonus songs):

Dawes, "If I Wanted Someone" - This California band is a perfect mix of CSNY, Jackson Browne, The Band and assorted other totally awesome classic rock acts, and they do it without any irony or nostalgia — just great songwriting, amazing lyrics, perfect harmonies and killer guitar solos. I totally hate this band, if you couldn't tell.

The Antlers, "Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out" - Pretty much the opposite of sunshiney Dawes — The Antlers just released "Burst Apart," the spooky, minimalist and ice cold follow up to their epic, much beloved "Hospice." The band is great at creating a mood; frankly, I hope they remain about as popular as they are now. It's hard to imagine a sell-out crowd at Smalls getting down to this. Best appreciated with headphones, or when lost in the woods.

Bon Iver, entire album "Bon Iver" - It's really a beautiful record, and completely different than the now-classic "For Emma, Forever Ago." Also, it leaked a month early, so you can likely find it online pretty easily... not that I'm suggesting you do.

My Morning Jacket, entire album "Circuital" - This one drops May 31. It's weird and awesome, and you should totally buy it. The title track alone makes my brain turn into a July 4th sparkler.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Okay, I dare you to watch this live version of "Last Night I Dreamed of Television" by Jeffrey Foucault and not wanna hear more:

I know, right? Wow. That song is included on his upcoming release Horse Latitudes (out May 3rd on Signature Sounds). Currently living in Western Massachusetts, Jeffrey's released a few other albums prior to this, but none have been so striking to me as this one. His voice, band (including lovely harmonies from his wife, Kris Delmhorst), lyrics and overall tone will shake you into submission. This album is totally on my best of 2011 list.

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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.

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