New Music

Every Wednesday at 9:13 am, one of WYEP’s trusted music experts joins me (Cindy Howes) on The Morning Mix to play a couple favorite new songs and share some insight. Today we welcome Sarah Wardrop from WFUV in New York!

In case you missed, it here’s what she played:

Matthew E. White, "Rock & Roll Is Cold" - This Virginia-based songwriter, producer and arranger released his debut Big Inner in 2012, and his new album, Fresh Blood, is due out on March 10th. Hopefully the title doesn't scare you off, because the songs showcase White's talent for building intricate-but-not-extravagant arrangements that perfectly suit his low-key vocal style. He's proving his range live too, with upcoming album release shows that are either solo or with a 30-piece band.

Courtney Barnett, "Depreston" (live at WFUV) - One highly anticipated album of the year (and not just by me) is Courtney Barnett's Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, which will be out on March 24th. The guitar-focused "Pedestrian At Best" is one preview we've gotten. Another is a song Courtney and her band performed at WFUV back in February of last year, called "Depreston." I'm very curious to hear how it ends up sounding on the album, but this version sets Barnett's clever wordsmithing in some sweet, melodic melancholy.

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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 Pop City's Patrick Bowman

In case you missed, it here's what Patrick played:

Waxahatchee, “Air" - Waxahatchee is the moniker of Philadelphia-based singer-songwriter Katie Crutchfield, who in 2013 recieved rave reviews for her sophomore breakthrough album Cerulan Salt by pairing intimate, literate, lyrics with the guitar moves and slacker atmosphere of 90s alternative rock. She returns in April with her third album Ivy Tripp, and just released the record’s debut single “Air,” which builds neatly on the success Cerulean Salt: wirey, pared down guitar parts, lyrics that sound like fractured bits from a short story, and now, a bolder sense of production, with swelling keyboard parts, and small studio touches like the space and echo she affords her percussion.

Courtney Barnett, “Pedestrian At Best” - Aussie singer-song writer Courtney Barnett first got attention stateside in 2014 with her debut official release The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas. The records’ relaxed collection of country-tinged rockers betrayed a knowing sense of cynicism and intelligence in Barnett’s songwriting that gave her music a bite that otherwise wasn’t present. For the lead single “Pedestrian At Best” from her forthcoming full-length debut, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, Barnett kicks up the energy a knotch with squealing feedback, crunchy power chords, and practically spoken word verses that grow gradually urgent as the song progresses. “Pedestrian At Best” is Barnett’s real breakthrough, a track that promises great things when the accompanying album drops in March.

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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!

In case you missed it here’s what he played with commentary by Scott:

Mini Mansions "Any Emotions" - The psych-pop band's bassist, Zach Dawes, was doing session work on a Brian Wilson record. Zach's bandmates wondered, "Gee, wouldn't it be amazing if we could get Brian to sing on one of our songs?" A few phone calls were made, and to the band's surprise Brian Wilson said "Sure thing," and the next thing they knew, Mini Mansions had a stellar guest vocal track from the Beach Boys legend. This digital single is targeted for the band's March 24 release on T-Bone Burnett's label. Mini Mansions supported Arctic Monkeys on tour dates last year, and lists among its musical friends Haim.

Keath Mead, "Polite Refusal" - The 25-year-old South Carolina singer with the curiously spelled first name lists among his influences '60's and '70s pop, The Shins and Jack White. Though it's a not-so-hidden nod to Lou Reed and "Sweet Jane" that emerges on this track from a debut album he says is thematically tied to the anxiety and loss-of-innocence that's associated with coming-of-age.

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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 City Paper!

In case you missed it here's what he played with commentary from Andy.

The Juliana Hatfield Three, "Ordinary Guy" - This band returns with its first record in over 20 years; it's a simple power-pop-meets-'90s-alt-rock tune about a topic that surely resonates with many -- shitty boyfriends. It's slightly silly, kinda serious, and just generally enjoyable. Welcome back, Juliana Hatfield Three!

Pops Staples "Somebody Was Watching" - The patriarch of the Staple Singers has been gone for over 15 years, but daughter Mavis Staples and Jeff Tweedy got together recently to breathe new life into some of his last recordings. The Mavis-and-Tweedy-produced disc will come out later this year; this is the first tune Anti- Records released.

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Every Wednesday at 9:13 am, one of WYEP’s trusted music experts joins me (Cindy Howes) on The Morning Mix to play a couple favorite new songs and share some insight. Today we welcome Sarah Wardrop from WFUV in New York!

This month, we asked Sarah to bring in her favorites from 2014. In case you missed, it here’s what she played:

The Decemberists, "The Wrong Year" - The title of "The Wrong Year" had me wary of the new year's prospects, but the sound of the song quickly put me at ease. This is Colin Meloy at his hopeful melancholy best, lightening the mood (a bit) with lilting melodies that, as the lyrics say, "won't leave you alone." A band that could always venture into concept album or rock opera territory has hit a songwriting sweet spot, and there's more to hear soon with the album What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World, due out next week.

Rhiannon Giddens, "Black Is The Color" - You may know Rhiannon Giddens from Carolina Chocolate Drops, The New Basement Tapes, the latest Apple commercial, or her appearance at 2013's "Another Day, Another Time" concert which grew out of the Inside Llewyn Davis film. At the show, she impressed the crowd as well as T Bone Burnett, and he has now produced her debut solo album, Tomorrow Is My Turn (out February 10th). Her band has incorporated beat boxing with Americana sounds, and this version of "Black Is The Color" takes that combination another step, putting a traditional song Nina Simone frequently performed in the able musical hands, voice and spirit of a present day song interpreter whose future will be exciting to watch.

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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 Pop City's Patrick Bowman

In case you missed, it here's what Patrick played:

Broncho, "What" - Norman, Oklahoma proto-punks Broncho have homed in on garage rock aesthetic that melds together the work of bands like Television, The Pretenders, and The Buzzcocks. The first track off their sophomore album Just Enough Hip to be Woman swaggers with attitude, giving the impression that Broncho were a long lost act from the Lower East Side punk scene of late 70s New York.

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, "Billions of Eyes" - "Billions of Eyes" is the first single from After, the sophomore release from Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, aka Brunswick, Maine, singer songwriter Aly Spaltro. Along with acts like Angel Olsen, Sharon Van Etten, and Waxahatchee, Spaltro has infused her folky songwriting with nods from classic 90s alternative rock. "Billions of Eyes" is rife with noodly guitar lines, poppy choruses, and the sort of disaffected, surreal lyrics that recall Frank Black's weirdness from the Pixies.

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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!

In case you missed it here’s what he played with commentary by Scott. Today, Scott shares his favorites of 2014.

Favorite album:
War on Drugs, Lost in the DreamHailed as a road trip album, the scenery here is consistently pretty, dreamy and wistful, like staring out a car window on an overcast day, zipping past an unspoiled Midwestern landscape. Indie-rock coupled with a keyboard-driven ambient Americana yielding songs fitting together seamlessly, unfolding at an unhurried pace before reaching a satisfying acceleration. The Philly band's leader, Adam Granduciel, has said the lyrics were inspired by post-tour loneliness and anxiety, though his words are more reflective than angst-y.
Defining lyric: "Lying on my back, loosening my grip, wading in the water, just trying not to crack under the pressure."

Rest of my Top-10: Sturgill Simpson, St. Vincent, Spoon, Jack White, Taylor Swift, Ex-Hex, Flying Lotus, Sharon Van Etten, Ben Howard.

Favorite concert:
Paul McCartney, July 7, Consol Energy Center. - Sir Paul was amazing -- ask anyone who saw the 72-year-old legend's enthusiastic three-hour, 40-song set at Consol Energy Center. It was action-packed from an "Eight Days a Week" and "All My Loving" launch through a two-encore smoker ending with "Helter Skelter" and the Abbey Road medley.
McCartney's voice held up strong throughout a set that also featured Wings hits ("Band on the Run," "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five"), deeper Beatles album cuts "Lovely Rita" and a carnival-sounding "Being for The Benefit of Mr. Kite!" and some heartfelt musings about his mates John, Ringo and George (to whom the ukulele-led "Something" was dedicated.)

The rest of my top-10 concerts: Kaiser Chiefs, Billy Joel, Zac Brown Band/Sturgill Simpson, Black Keys, Jack White, Arcade Fire, Bruce Springsteen, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings and Sharon Van Etten.

Favorite song:
Jack White, "Would You Fight For My Love" - If we're counting their epic Letterman performance, I'd have gone Future Islands' "Season." The regular single is cool, too, and has made some other lists, including NME's No. 1. Though in 2014, I was grooving more to Jack White. The title track to his "Lazaretto" album earned lots of 'atta boys, though I prefer "Would You Fight For My Love?" for the intensity of his vocals, the thought-stirring lyrics, and its spaghetti-western cool. It's a song that I appreciate more with each listen, so I'm picking it for my No. 1. (Besides, Cindy won't let me choose Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off") :-)

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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 City Paper!

In case you missed it here's what he played with commentary from Andy.

Courtney Barnett, "Avant Gardener" - I'll go ahead and call this my favorite song of the year: I'm a lyrics-oriented listener, and Courtney Barnett is a careful lyrical songwriter. The Australian burst onto the scene in 2014 with her Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, and I'm hoping 2015 holds a Pittsburgh appearance from her, which we haven't had yet.

Sharon Van Etten, "Nothing Will Change" - While it's stuck in the back half of the record, this is, I think, the centerpiece of Sharon Van Etten's Are We There. It's a great album front to back, with some more complex instrumentation than we're used to with Van Etten, and the use of bass clarinet here in specific is wonderful. Favorite album of 2014.

1,2,3, "Mile High Grass" - I'll go ahead and call 1,2,3's Big Weather release show at Brillobox -- one of only two appearances from the band this year -- my favorite show of the year. Everything was spot-on, the place was packed but not overwhelming, and the songs -- at least the ones the band was willing to play live, as they felt they could translate them correctly -- were powerful. Great release from a great Pittsburgh band I hope gets its due for this self-released album after its debut in 2011 was put out by a big indie.

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Every Wednesday at 9:13 am, one of WYEP’s trusted music experts joins me (Cindy Howes) on The Morning Mix to play a couple favorite new songs and share some insight. Today we welcome Sarah Wardrop from WFUV in New York!

This month, we asked Sarah to bring in her favorites from 2014. In case you missed, it here’s what she played:

Song: Bob Mould, "I Don't Know You Anymore" - Bob Mould's latest album is called Beauty & Ruin, and those two words fit this song well. There is beauty in this perfectly structured, 3-minute pop song (that rocks), especially when the music is paired with post-angst, kiss-off lyrics that sound like Mould made it past the ruin to know himself better than ever. I played "I Don't Know You Anymore" multiple times in a row, multiple times this year.

Album: St. Vincent, St. Vincent ("Rattlesnake") - I could have picked St. Vincent in all three of these categories. "Digital Witness" was the first song I heard from this album, and it had me hooked. I later saw a couple of shows on this year's tour, and her performances (and shredding) left me in awe. "Rattlesnake" opens the album and her recent shows, so while there's no way it could encompass the range of what St. Vincent created this year, it perfectly introduces Annie Clark's latest musical world.

Show: The Replacements at Forest Hills Stadium in Queens, NY ("Left Of The Dial") - Although I saw some great performances of new music this year, it was hard to top a band I never thought I'd get to see: The Replacements. I had the lucky chance to go to their Forest Hills Stadium show in September, which Deer Tick and The Hold Steady opened. Of course, it couldn't be the original band, but happily it was a "reunion" show that more than met expectations. Paul Westerberg and Tommy Stinson led the current line-up through a 29-song set so there are many to choose from, but in honor of the dial positions of WYEP and WFUV, I had to pick "Left Of The Dial."

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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 Pop City's Patrick Bowman

This week, Patrick brough in his favorites of 2014. In case you missed, it here's what he played:

Best Show - Sharon Van Etten, "Your Love is Killing Me" - The best live shows enhance all the things you love about the band's recorded work, and considering Sharon Van Etten's excellent 2014 sophomore record Are We There was even more emotionally devastating than her 2011 debut record, her incredible performance at Mr. Small's in late June was absolutely heart-wrenching. So, when Are We There centerpiece "Your Love is Killing Me" arrived in the middle of her live set, a track in which Van Etten howls lyrics like "break my legs so I won't run to you," it basically leveled the entire building.

Best Song - Perfume Genius, "Queen" - As Perfume Genius, singer/songwriter Mike Hadreas made his name on his first two records by crafting delicate, emotionally bare, usually piano-driven songs about heartache, spiritual disillusionment and sexual alienation. But for his third album Too Bright, Hadreas has turned the vulnerability he exhibited in his songwriting into a source of edgy power, writing compositions that vibrate with energy and confidence, displayed excellently in the blaring organ-laden lead single "Queen."

Best Song - Flying Lotus Feat. Kendrick Lamar, "Never Catch Me" - Los Angeles-based producer/DJ Flying Lotus is basically a genre unto himself, combining acid jazz, hip-hop, and cutting edge electronic music into headphone symphonies that seem infinitely complex. On his sixth solo album You're Dead, Fly Lo enlisted the Greatest Rapper Alive, fellow Los Angeles native Kendrick Lamar, to drop some light speed bars on the track "Never Catch Me," which sounds like Bitches Brew-era Miles Davis producing an Outkast Record. Fly Lo's beat is bonkers, replete with jazz guitar freak out, but Lamar's verse is damn near other worldly in its technical perfection and emotional resonance.

Best Album - Cymbals Eat Guitars, "Jackson" from LOSE - East Coast indie rockers Cymbal Eat Guitars take an expansive approach to impressionistic 90s slack rock, crafting two albums that were noodly and anthemic and ambitious and somewhat uneven. But on their third album LOSE, all the ideas they kicked around and almost pulled off in their earlier work have snapped into place, creating a constantly shifting soundscape that Cymbals Eat Guitars appear to be in complete control of. Side one, track one "Jackson" is basically a microcosm of all the best parts of LOSE: gorgeous melodies and transitions sung by lead singer Joseph D'Agostino, a deceptively dense composition, and incredible guitar and piano work.

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New Music

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