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 Scott Mervis of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Special thanks to Brian Siewiorek for filling in for me!!!

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

Ponderosa, "Navajo" - With a name like Ponderosa you expect a country band on the bottom of a Kenny Chesney festival. Not the case. This band, produced by Dave Fridman (Flaming Lips), is more in line with a Fleet Foxes or Band of Horses, as it demonstrates on this dynamic track.

Ian Hunter & The Rant Band, "When I'm President" - At a ripe old 73, the former leader of Mott the Hoople still sounds fired up here, as he takes on the 1 percent, with Who-like synths and vocals that nod to Dylan. The album is due on Sept. 4.

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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:

Beachwood Sparks, Sparks Fly Again - Nice little country-rock ditty from the California band -- it's got that early-'70s California sound. This song has an American Beauty-era Dead vibe; there are other tunes on the record that are reminiscent of Gram Parsons. Their new record, The Tarnished Gold, is out now on Sub Pop.

Dirty Projectors, Swing Lo Magellan - This is the title track of the eclectic art-pop band's latest album. Parts of the record are loud and rowdy; this song is quiet, stripped-down and sweet. One of my favorite albums of 2012, and their show at Small's was one of my favorite shows this year, too.

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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):

Antlers, "Drift Dive" - The Antlers can be found "Undersea," the well-chosen title of the Brooklyn indie-rock band's new 4-song EP, which has a watery, dreamy, ambience. Hawaiian pedal steel and Pete Silberman's floating,hypnotic vocals give this lead-off track a Sigur Ros-ish feel. The slow, steady buildup of intensity leads to a satisfying finish.

The Gaslight Anthem, "Mullholland Drive" - Brian Fallon's urgent singing and earnest lyrics are the high-octane fuel for this New Jersey band's punk-edged, blue-collar rock. The single off their fourth studio album is "45." Check out this deeper album cut, with lines like "I used to drive you all around with the radio on" and "In the deep, dark parking lot pressed up against my car/With your hands around my neck I felt the pounding of your heart." Remind you of some other Jersey rocker?

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

In case you missed it here's what he played with commentary by Justin:

Passion Pit, "Cry Like A Ghost" - Passion Pit loves to play with opposing forces: ecstatic, jubliant synth pop sounds mixed with wildly personal and often depressing lyrics. Uppers and downers. Weddings and funerals. Stuff like that. But the result is some really compelling music — and the band's second album, Gossamer, is the best thing they've done to date. This is my favorite track on the record. I hope Cindy plays it twice just so you can hear it again. Whata you think, Cindy? Give the people what they (are about to) want! (Ha ha! - Cindy)

Fang Island, "Asunder" - Also a band that works with jubilant, celebratory sounds, but without so much falsetto and hip-hop beats. These dudes create a guitar hurricane of joy. Whatever that means. I wans't a huge fan of their debut — too much guitar acrobatics, not enough actual songwriting — but their follow up, Major, is much more grounded with catchy, well-written songs. Definitely a band to watch out for.

Bonus Track!

The xx, "Angels" - Everybody stop what you're doing! Seriously, quit it! The xx released a new song! I figured after two dancey, happy tracks, I'd suggest this exercise in melancholy. It's a beautiful first release from the British trio's upcoming album, Coexist, out in September. The band nearly took over the indie music world when they first broke out a few years back — Coexist is primed to push them further. Google or YouTube this, smoke a cigarette somewhere cold, and enjoy.

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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:

Dead Sara, "Whispers and Ashes" - Why go to Warped Tour every year? It's fun to crowd surf in a 100-degree parking lot! No, the reason is that you can find a hidden gem on one of the smaller stages. This year, it was Dead Sara, an LA quartet led by front-woman Emily Armstrong, who combines a siren voice with a fierce stage persona. Some of the songs are heavy, like a punk Zeppelin or a grungier Sleater-Kinney. This one sounds a bit more crafted for a more pleasant radio station. For something more ear-damaging, do check out the explosive single "Weatherman"

Karl Hendricks Trio, "The Adult Section" - In the midst of converting Paul's CDs into his own Sound Cat Records, acclaimed indie artist Karl Hendricks found time to record his ninth album, another blast of noisy guitar-rock with his wry lyrical touch. The title track, he says, carries the theme about "the conflict between our desires ... and our responsibilities."

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Dead Sara Scot Mervis The 9:13 Buzz The Karl Hendrix Trio

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:

Friends, "Friend Crush" - Still working out my feelings on Friends' debut album, but I think I might like it. At first I took it to be pretty shallow hipster pop stuff, but there's something charming about the sincerity of the songwriting. At the very worst, this is a great summer jam.

Crocodiles, "No Black Clouds for Dee Dee" - Another one for the driving-around-listening-to-summer-songs pile. Crocodiles' latest, Endless Flowers, is a trippy garage-pop tour de force. Gem after gem after gem! Just don't take the sticker off the cover.

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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):

Nude Beach, "Some Kinda Love" - With a name like that, they had better be entertaining! Fortunately, these Brooklyn-Long Island punk-rockers are on their new album due out in August. While authentic to DIY punk, Nude Beach doesn't mask the Springsteen and Petty influences that sound-tracked their youth. This song hearkens to "Sorry Ma, Forgot to Take Out the Trash"-era Replacements.

Metric, "Youth Without Youth" - If Muse had a female singer, they might sound like this synth-hardened indie/alt-rock Canadian band. Singer Emily Haines is part of the Broken Social Scene music collective. She displays a gift for intriguing lyrics on the band's 2-week-old album, which also occasionally drifts in an Arcade Fire-ish direction.

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Metric Nude Beach 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 Isreal via Skype!), contributing writer to Billboard & Relix Magazine.

In case you missed it here's what he played with commentary by Justin:

Pomegranates, Passaway - I will love this band until they either get famous, or stop playing altogether, but I hope the first one happens. This is from Heaven, the fourth album from these Cincinnati guys. They create beautiful, exotic sounding indie pop that always seems like it could be the soundtrack to a dream you don't want to wake up from. This track is among their catchiest ever, which is a problem because many of the vocals are falsetto. Be prepared to sing along in your highest voice.

The Whiskey Holler, I Get Dreaming - This is my favorite track from the new EP, HiveSongs, by Pittsburgh band The Whiskey Holler. I may live in Tel Aviv now, but I'll be damned if I don't keep up on what's happening in my city. I love the band's sound — really scrappy, loose alt-country with a punk edge. I only wish I was back home to see them live. They play at Club Cafe June 26.

Extra Bonus:

Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Big Moon Ritual - This is the first album from Chris Robinson's (he of The Black Crowes) new solo project. And - aw shucks - it doesn't include his brother. Sure, that's kind of a dick move, but the music is absolutely great: all smoothed out, soulful Southern rock jams. Like the Allman Brothers and the Grateful Dead had a picnic on a lake with lots of beer and whiskey. Plus, his guitarist is Neal Casal from Ryan Adam's band. So I love them for a multitude of reasons.

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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:

Broken Fences, "Today It's Raining on Just You" - This duo of Morgan Erina and Guy Russo sounds like Pittsburgh's answer to the Swell Season. They met through the Acousticafe Monday night sessions at Club Cafe, but with harmonies like this, their open stage days might be behind quickly. The 12-song debut is a gem that combines gentle acoustic folk, folk-blues and full-blown melancholy rockers like this one.

FOOD, "Jesus and Johnny Cash" - FOOD is an acronym for Far Out Old Dudes, the lead dude being Ed Crawford aka eDFROMOHIO who fronted the '80s indie band fIREHOSE (with the rhythm section of the Minutemen). Crawford, who lives on Polish Hill now, takes a trip down Highway 61 here with bassist Eric Vermillion (formerly of Gumball) and drummer Mike Quinlan (formerly on the Cynics). This song comes from the debut EP "Four Pieces from Candyland" and in between fIREHOSE reunions, a full-length will be in the works.

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Broken Fences FOOD Scott Mervis 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 Andy Mulkerin of Pittsburgh's City Paper.

In case you missed it here's what he played with commentary by Andy:

Bowerbirds, "In the Yard" - This tune is from the North Carolina Americana group's latest, "The Clearing." I saw this band on tour with The Mountain Goats a few years back and they delivered live; their upcoming show at Mr. Small's is likely to be great.

Santigold, "Disparate Youth" - This is one of the few upbeat, "happy" tunes on Santi's new album, "Master of My Make-Believe." Excited to see her at Stage AE next weekend.

Pujol, "Providence" - Pujol is the Susan Lucci of the 9:13 Buzz; I think I've brought tunes by this band four times and Cindy has always had me play the other tracks I brought, and make Pujol my runner-up. Let the record show, though, that I think Daniel Pujol is one of our most talented young songwriters, and "United States of Being" is my summer 2012 album. [Editor's note- :P]

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