Personal Picks

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:

Austra, "Home" - Unlike the scads of other popular songs about "home" lately, this one does not involve a banjo. Toronto-based Austra has a new album of goth-y, Pagan-ish dance pop coming out this summer, and this jam is the first single from it. Enjoy!

Generationals, "Spinoza" - This band has a way of changing form all the time -- they do electronic pop, they do doo-wop-sounding stuff, but this one's just a straightforward rocker. They're coming to town later this month, too!

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Andy Mulkerin Austra Generationals Morning Mix The 9:13 Buzz

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).

J Mascis and Sharon Van Etten, “Prisoners” - We could use a new John Denver in this era of snarkiness. Denver’s simple, optimistic, pro-environmental acoustic songs still must resonate profoundly, judging by the bevy of musical hipsters who stepped forward to lend their voices to the new “This Music is You: A Tribute to John Denver.” From Jim James’ pretty singing on My Morning Jacket’s cover of “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” to Old Crow Medicine Show’s twangy “Back Home Again,” to Brandi Carlile and Emmylou Harris harmonizing winsomely on “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” there’s plenty here to make you appreciate Denver’s songwriting. Dave Matthews, Kathleen Edwards, Lucinda Williams, Josh Ritter, Mary Chapin Carpenter and a surprisingly restrained Train also make memorable contributions. I was most intrigued by the guitar saturated cover of “Prisoners,” a 1972 track on the same Denver album as “Rocky Mountain High,” performed here by the tantalizing pairing of Sharon Van Etten and Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis.

Meeting of Important People, “Innocents Abroad” - The Pittsburgh garage-pop trio already is getting WYEP spins for their new single “Keep Your Eyes on Me.” The entire album, due out April 9, offers solid songcraft. I picked this track as a prime example of their multi-dimensional, accessible sound. I had the vocal hook stuck in my head all weekend (complete with the layered “whoa-whoa-o-o” harmonizing). I like how at the 2 minute mark they kick into another gear, then at 2:16 take things to an even louder, rawer level with cymbals bashing, and guitar slashing, which soon subsides back to that simple and catchy vocal hook. Way to represent, guys!

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J Mascis John Denver Meeting of Important People Morning Mix Scott Tady Sharon Van Etten The 9:13 Buzz
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 (talking to us from Israel via Skype!), contributing writer to Billboard & Relix Magazine.

In case you missed it, here is what he played with commentary by Justin:

Phosphorescent, "Song for Zula" - The first single from Phosphorescent's latest album, "Muchacho," is this totally beautiful track called "Songs for Zula." Matthew Houck's voice is creaky and broken, and it sounds perfect against the song's soft, swirling sounds. Granted, this is a change for Houck, who has made his name on dusty country rock. Some risks are well worth taking.

Young Galaxy, "Pretty Boy" - Tight, catchy, concise — it's pop's newest sensation, Young Galaxy! Wouldn't the world be better if that were true. No, this act won't become radio darlings, but this track is a lovely, affecting little piece of hard candy from a band that's been at it since 2006.

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Justin Jacobs Morning Mix Phosphorescent The 9:13 Buzz Young Galaxy

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:

Tristen, "No One's Gonna Know" - This is the single that you got if you helped back this Nashville singer/songwriter's recent Kickstarter project. I've been a Tristen believer since her last one, Charlatans at the Garden Gate, came out and I saw her at Stage AE two years ago. Her new stuff is less country, more synth-y, but has the same core pop songwriting featured.

The Features,"This Disorder" - Another Nashville act, because I'm a theme-oriented guy. This band has been starting to get some Buzz; thanks to the drunk Vanderbilt grad student I met at Gooski's a couple years ago who mentioned them as a Nashville band I should know. He was right!

Two bonuses: In this week's paper, I write about the new split LP from The Red Western and Grand Piano, two quality locals. Worth a try:

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Andy Mulkerin Grand Piano Morning Mix Red Western The 9:13 Buzz The Features Tristen

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).

Girls Names, “Pittura Infamante” - A slinky bass and drum beat and Johnny Marr-ish guitar groove yields to some shoegazer groovy-ness with a nice, icy keyboard on this single from a sophomore album released last week by the Belfast, Northern Ireland post-punks. They’re serious fellows; hence a song named for a style of Italian Renaissance era art meant to defame scoundrels, criminals and political cheats.

Big Scary, “Phil Collins” - You should’ve seen the look on Cindy’s face when I told her I wanted to play “Phil Collins.” Don’t worry: That’s just the song title by this Australian indie-pop, male-female duo who have toured with Florence + the Machine and Gotye. The vocals are chill, but you can’t get too relaxed with those waves of reverb-drenched guitar that keep crashing into the melody.

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Big Scary Girls Names Morning Mix Phil Collins Scott Tady The 9:13 Buzz

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 (talking to us from Israel via Skype!), contributing writer to Billboard & Relix Magazine.

In case you missed it, here is what he played with commentary by Justin:

Haim, "Falling" - I played this for my girlfriend today, and she said, "If I wanted to listen to a girl version of Michael Jackson, I'd just listen to any number of Michael Jackson songs." Fair enough. But this breakout all-girl group made waves last year for their mix of indie pop and straight up R&B (with a little gentle folk thrown in). "Falling," I predict will be their breakout single - it's too catchy for you to listen just once.

Youth Lagoon, "Dropla" - I played this band early in 2012 as a 'slept-on album of 2011.' A year later, YL is back with the second record, called "Wondrous Bughouse." First single "Dropla" is a beautiful piece of bedroom pop - appropriate for all those music writer-y words that are used for bands like Beach House: gauzy, hazy, dreamy, etc. Give this one a chance, though - some haunting lyrics and a great melody from a could-be indie star.

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Haim Justin Jacovs Morning Mix The 9:13 Buzz Youth Lagoon

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:

Dawes, “From A Window Seat” - Speaking of harmonies, Dawes has some too. The LA band favors the Laurel Canyon folk sound associated with the likes of Crosby, Stills & Nash and Jackson Browne. This is the tuneful first single from a third album, “Stories Don’t End,” coming April 9.

Bad Books, “It Never Stops” - Kevin Devine and the Manchester Orchestra were pretty good on their own. Put them together and you end up with this — an indie pop song with glorious harmonies, great lyrics and some sonic kick. What’s it all about? Devine says it deals with his transition of his native Brooklyn into a hipster haven. The band plays Mr. Smalls on Feb. 17.

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9:13 Buzz Bad Books Dawes Morning Mix Scott Mervis

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:

Paint Branch, "Brighton Beach" - Q and Not U was a huge deal in my young life; one of the most important bands in my life ca. 2001-02. The guys from that band have done a few different things since; I think Paint Branch, which just released its debut album, may be my favorite. It features John Davis and Chris Richards, who, if anyone asks you, is also the pop music critic for the Washington Post these days.

The Apache Relay, "Sets Me Free" - When I saw this band by accident a couple years ago, I thought they had an Avett Brothers Lite thing going on, albeit very well-done. I really like what I'm hearing on their new album, American Nomad, though; they're showing a bit more complexity. If you dig it, note that they play at Stage AE on March 9. It'll be worth it.

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Andy Mulkerin Apache Relay Morning Mix Paint Branch The 9:13 Buzz

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).

Joy Ike, “Everything You Have” – I like Ike. How could you not? Pittsburgh soul-pop singer Joy Ike is upbeat, intelligent and can flat out sing. She’s got an ear for hooks, too, evident on this single from her third full-length indie release, “All or Nothing,” which she will introduce Sunday with a show at the New Hazlett Theater. I like this song’s message, as Joy vows not to let possessions and objects rule her life. She’s answering to a higher calling.

Donora, “Under the Lights” – Imagine if Karen O joined the Go-Go’s. Yeah, yeah, yeah that would sound fabulous. And it might sound a little like this effervescent cut by local indie-pop trio Donora. Their new 5-song EP, “Play Nice,” arrives Tuesday. Singer-guitarist Casey Hanner & the two Jakes (her drum-playing, music sampling brother Jake Hanner and bassist Jake Churton) are gearing up for an East Coast and Midwest jaunt before gigging at the prestigious SXSW music festival in Austin. Donora has scored key song placements recently, such as the plucky piano melody from their “I Think I Like You” jazzing up the latest Nationwide Insurance commercial. Another previously released Donora song, “Champion,” was used in the second episode of the current season of “Glee” (Gleeks will remember the scene, where Rachel spots Brody doing crunches in the park, as he’s listening to headphones.) You can catch Donora Feb. 16 at Brillobox.

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Donora Joy Ike Morning Mix Scott Tady The 9:13 Buzz
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 (talking to us from Israel via Skype!), contributing writer to Billboard & Relix Magazine.

In case you missed it, here is what he played with commentary by Justin:

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, "We No Who U R" - The Australian master of macabre is back after his 2-album swoop into ragged rock'n'roll with his side band Grinderman. With the Bad Seeds, Cave makes more subdued, darker, theatrical pop. This track is the first single off the new album "Push the Sky Away," also out next month. My early pick for best album cover of 2013. What a bad guy.

Frightened Rabbit, "Dead Now" - This band of brooding Scots has branded a sound perfect for being very sad and drunk and alone. Perfect for the morning drive to work! This is a track from their latest album, "Pedestrian Verse," out in February.

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Frightened Rabbit Justin Jacobs Morning Mix Nick Cave The 9:13 Buzz

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