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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.


New Music


1 2 3 Andy Mulkerin Courtney Barnett Sharon Van Etten The 9:13 Buzz The Morning Mix

2014 has been interesting and varied in Pittsburgh music. New venues, labels and bands emerged to create a diverse and vibrant music community that continues to surprise and inspire us. These five acts are among the elite in our city. Please get out there and see their shows and buy their records. Music is a huge part of what Pittsburgh is and it's exciting to be a part of the ever evolving music scene. Make sure you catch two hours of the best in Pittsburgh music 2014 on WYEP's Local Year in Review; airing New Year's Eve and New Year's Day on 91.3!

*** WYEP's Top 5 Local Acts for 2014 ***

1. The Early Mays
The Early Mays (Bird On The Wing)

TheEarlyMaysPROMO (1)

 The Early Mays are three talented writers, singers, and instrumentalists, coming together on a masterpiece of a debut album. It is clear that the folk trio— Judith Avers, Emily Pinkerton and Ellen Gozion—carefully crafted each other’s songs by adding emotionally stirring harmonies and delicate folk instrumentation (banjo, fiddle, and organ). While playing together for the first time at a late-night Christmas Eve service, they realized the full potential of future collaborations, thus forming The Early Mays. Using crowd funding to source their self-titled debut, the group brings traditional and original material to spectacular life. This is more than a band that writes and performs songs; it’s a group of serious musicologists who have studied the folk genre all their lives. It’s a rare combination of knowledge and talent. (CH).

2. Chet Vincent & The Big Bend
Unconventional Dog (Wild Kindness)


Formerly focused on folk and alt-country, Chet Vincent & the Big Bend’s Unconventional Dog is blasting, blues-powered rock and roll at its finest. It sounds as if Cracker’s David Lowery were fronting The Black Keys. Front man, Chet Vincent has taken a step back from the mix to give his all-star band more of a showcase on this home-recorded album (at the drummer’s parents’ Point Breeze mansion). There are hints of the old-time Country Chet with songs like “Three Hens.” Most tracks are dense with swirling layers and effects that drive home raw, dark emotions such as songs like “Doubter’s Blues” and “She Sold Me Out.” (CH)

 3. Kai Roberts
Carnegie Café (Kai Roberts)

Kai Roberts PROMO

From its old-school influence to its message about dealing with mental health issues, there’s a lot to love about rapper Kai Roberts’ album Carnegie Café. After taking leave from Carnegie Mellon in order to deal with chronic mental issues, Roberts turned to music to cope with an extreme anxiety and panic disorder. The album he created was born out of poetry that expressed Roberts’ thoughts and frustrations about college life—a reflection that could serve as reference for many struggling college students. The execution of his positive message is a homerun with stellar R&B style production, guitar work, and smooth vocal delivery. (CH)

4. Essential Machine
Underneath the Earth (Silver Seed Records)

Essential Machine PROMO

This Greensburg family band continues to mature and perfect its whimsically folk/pop sound on its third album, Underneath the Earth. This time around, husband and wife RJ and Karen Dietrich have added guitarist Matthew Kilroy and occasionally their son Roby J to the lineup. Essential Machine has also managed to capture the spirit of its live show on tape, which is often a difficult task for many recording artists. The earnest production, poetic lyrics, and breezy melodies make the record flow and call to mind Mumford & Sons, The Breeders (on the quieter tracks) and Belle & Sebastian. (CH)

5. 1,2,3
Big Weather (American Hermitage Records)


How do you review this album? It’s over an hour long, and has unusual spoken word and instrumentals based around an array of characters experiencing various types of big weather. The traditional songs on Big Weather are fantastic, with traces of Cat Stevens, Devendra Banhart, and some kind of perfectly freaky rock and roll, thanks to Nic Snyder’s raspy falsetto, displayed on songs like “When The Levee Broke at the County Fair.” It’s an album that hangs in the fringes for fans of rock music. The band is tight, yet experimental as this sophomore record pleases, but challenges the listener. (CH)


Music News


1 2 3 Chet Vincent & The Big Bend Essential Machine Kai Roberts the Early Mays The Morning Mix Year in Review


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.

The Baseball Project, “Box Scores” - With baseball fever rising high again in Pittsburgh, I had to play a brand-new one by The Baseball Project, a collective of seamheads whose roster includes R.E.M.’s Peter Buck and Mike Mills, and Steve Wynn of The Dream Syndicate. All their songs are about baseball legends and peculiarities of the National Pastime. Saw them perform at the 3 Rivers Arts Festival a few years ago, and they almost single-handedly renewed my interest in Major League Baseball with their collection of folk songs, Americana, and Bo Diddley-beat-ish baseball ditties. This one is about the simple joys of reading baseball box scores. The March 25 release also includes a quirky song about former Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis, and the day he purposely aimed beanballs at the starting lineup of the Cincinnati Reds.

1, 2, 3 “When the Levee Breaks at the County Fair” - The goldfish escape; the funnel cakes are ruined, and the Tilt-a-Whirl tilts in a way it shouldn’t after the climactic action in the title of this amusing tune off the May 27 double-album from 1, 2, 3 -- the low-fi/garage-rock Pittsburgh band that’s earned praise internationally from the likes of Pitchfork, Consequence of Sound and The Guardian. 1, 2, 3 lyricist Nicolas Snyder says he was inspired by 70’s dystopian movies and strange weather occurrences – like the Japanese tsunami and a tornado that ripped through his aunt’s Pennsylvania house. The band recorded storm sounds through a screen door in a house outside Monroeville, and used primitive instruments, later adding classic vinyl sampling and spoken-word interludes that are some of the album’s best philosophizing.


Music News


1 2 3 Scott Tady The 9:13 Buzz The Baseball Project The Morning Mix
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