Pittsburgh

WYEP

WYEP has been proud to support the Pittsburgh music community for decades and in 2015 we were pleased to further extend our enthusiasm by instituting The Local 913, a weekly on-air highlight of a new local release. The Local 913 has been a great way to throw a spotlight on local talent, along with our monthly local music happy hour: The Local 913 Live. These five releases are the best of the best in our town for 2015. We encourage you to support each one of these fine hometown musicians!

*** WYEP’s Top 5 Local Acts for 2015 ***

1. Brooke Annibale The Simple Fear (Brooke Annibale)
brooke
Fear can be a complicated emotion when its root source is unclear. When layers of self-doubt, uncertainty, and miscommunication are peeled away, the truth tends to be relatively simple, and universal. Brooke Annibale explores and demystifies complications of the heart, drawing from personal insight without becoming overtly confessional. She uses concise, reserved language to express the frustration of waiting for an overdue apology, or the gentle acceptance of a relationship’s lost potential. Her spirit lifts with the hope of redemptive love. Annibale’s beguiling folk-based melodies reveal glimmers of pop and country. They unfold in subtle ways—a lone guitar is joined by piano, strings emerge, and percussion enters almost imperceptibly. Annibale’s vocals have a sweetly smoky, enigmatic quality, but her songs clearly depict the human experience. (RMW) 

2. Billy Price & Otis Clay This Time For Real (Vizztone)
BILLY PRICE
Local mainstay Billy Price has known Otis Clay, the Mississippi-born soul and R&B legend (and Blues Hall of Fame inductee), since the early 1980s. The two have recorded a few songs together over the years, and they decided it was time to record a full album. Blues guitarist Duke Robillard signed on to produce it; and the result is an entertaining romp through a variety of soul classics and other choice material. Robillard and his band provide crisp backing, and the Roomful of Blues horns keep the energy level high, but it's Price's and Clay's expressive voices that steal the show. (MS) 

3. Donora Ha Ha Heart (Rostrum)
DONORA
The nearly decade-long run of Donora’s catchy, bright, indie-pop continues on the band’s fourth effort titled Ha Ha Heart. The trio completely engulfed themselves in the creative process by diving into drummer and producer Jake Hanner’s newly created home studio in Gibsonia. The space worked in bringing out the band’s energy in a more complete form than previous efforts. Ha Ha Heart is filled with bouncy and catchy riffs, shiny choruses from Casey Hanner, and a 60s meets modern-electro pop collection of songs. The home-studio process is captured with a handmade booklet documenting the album with lyric pages, stories and production notes. (KS) 

4. Cold Weather When Waking (Cold Weather)
COLD WEATHER
Chamber indie folk Cold Weather has a gentle touch that might just knock you over with their delicate, yet intense album When Waking. Frontman Mark Ramsey’s vocals not only have a similar tone to Elliott Smith, they also have that emotional delivery where is seems like he’s not actually going to get the words out. Producer Jake Hanner, who has been the production master-mind of the indie-pop Donora, shows his versatility when working with Cold Weather, adding his magic touch here and there. He lets Ramsey and the rest of the band set the tone for this fantastic album. (CH) 

5. Mariage Blanc No Autobiography (Mariage Blanc)
MARIAGE BLANC
“Welcome to sunny… Pittsburgh?” Visions of 1960s Laurel Canyon don’t come to mind when pondering the Steel City, but local “melancholy pop” band Mariage Blanc have successfully summoned the feelings of a lazy afternoon in the California mountains on their new record “No Autobiography.” Lush instrumentation complements the subdued, lilted, sometimes whispered singing of a band that has aged like a fine California wine. Mariage Blanc demonstrates that, while rock and roll may be for the kids, the maturity and refinement that comes with age sounds incredibly compelling. (JS)

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Kim Shattuck
Iconic indie rock band The Pixies recently reunited and began touring again. Their original bassist, Kim Deal, however, quit the band about a month before their tour began. That didn't slow The Pixies down, though. They recruited former Muffs bassist Kim Shattuck to fill in on the low end and things were going pretty well.

Recently, we learned that Shattuck was abruptly fired from the band rather unexpectedly. Nobody really knew the reason as to why Shattuck was discharged from her duty, but now we do. In a recent interview with NME, Shattuck explained that the band asked her to leave for "being too enthusiastic". It all stems from a concert at The Aztec Theater in Los Angeles where Shattuck found herself so worked up with joy that she decided to launch herself from the stage into the crowd of adoring fans. Shattuck remarked to NME, "I know they weren't thrilled about that," she said. "When I got offstage, the manager told me not to do that again. I said, 'Really, for my own safety?' And he said, 'No, because the Pixies don't do that.'"

The Pixies have filled the void left by Shattuck's firing by bringing on A Perfect Circle bassist Paz Lenchantin.

The Pixies will stop in Pittsburgh on January 25th. We'll just have to wait and see who's going to be in the rhythm section by then!

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The last time MGMT performed in Pittsburgh it was 2007 and their debut record, Oracular Spectacular, wasn't even out.  Needless to say Pittsburgh was long over due for a concert.

MGMT is a neo-psychedelic band that formed at Connecticut's Wesleyan University in 2005.  Their debut record sky rocketed them in world wide fame.  However since 2007's Oracular Spectacular, MGMT has somewhat been on the chop block.  Their sophomore release, Congratulations, didn't have the "radio friendly" reception that Oracular Spectacular did (although I love it).  Their latest record, MGMT, has been met with a mixed reaction due to it's musical experimentation.

I myself had not listened to much of MGMT's self titled album.  I told myself before the concert I would be perfectly content with their performance if I heard any combination of "Electric Feel," "Weekend Wars" and "Of Moons, Birds & Monsters."  I was basically hoping to hear as much from MGMT's first two records as possible.

Shortly after taking the stage MGMT opened with "Flash Delirium" and then quickly jumped into one of their "big 3," "Time To Pretend."  Two songs into the set the entire crowd was hooked and along for the ride.  MGMT didn't just play great music, they brought out a visual experience with them as well.  A few songs into their set, frontman and singer/guitarist Andrew VanWyngarden proceeded to film the band and audience on stage on a video camera.  Before I could even determine the purpose of the camera I notice everything being filmed was being projected on screen behind the band.  Everything projected was put through a trippy and psychedelic filter.  It was one of the coolest and most visually stimulating sights I had ever scene.  It looked like something straight out of the '60s.

As I said noted before, I wanted to hear "Of Moons, Birds & Monsters" live.  And by god did MGMT do that. No. They completely blew it out of the water.  An already nearly 5 minute song turned into a 10 minute ambient and psychedelic masterpiece.  I was truly impressed by the musicianship displayed by MGMT through their show.  They didn't just come out and play their music.  They blended their already creative songs with improvisation and experimentation.  One might even say MGMT's live "jamming" reflects the musical style of their most recent album.

MGMT continued to play a Oracular Spectacular heavy set.  After they wrapped up with one of my personal favorites "Weekend Wars," they proceeded to start their 12 minute epic, "Siberian Breaks."  The crowd was in awe.  I'm not going to lie, that may been my favorite part of the night.  MGMT through the crowd a curveball with that one (one that was gladly caught I might add). MGMT then proceeded to play (arguably) their biggest hit "Electric Feel" and a few newer tracks before heading off stage for the first time.

A giant cowbell is pushed on two stage shortly after MGMT leaves the stage.  For those who did not know, MGMT had a photo competition via Instagram.  The winner got to play the cowbell on stage while MGMT performed "Your Life Is a Lie."

The background turns back on to the same visuals from the very beginning of the show.  MGMT emerges on stage with both the concert winner and former touring member Grand Buffet and plays "Your Life Is a Lie."  The two cowbell players were both funny and enthusiastic.  VanWyngarden jokingly exclaimed, "Now that's how you play the cowbell!" after Buffet and the contest winner left the stage.  MGMT then continued to close the show out with, "Congratulations."

It was Hunter S. Thompson that once said, "Buy the ticket, the ride.  And if it occasionally gets a little heavier than what you had in mind, well...maybe chalk it off to forced conscious expansion."  Now I'm pretty sure Mr. Thompson was not talking about an MGMT show.  However,  if I had to some up MGMT's performance in a few words I would refer to the above quote."

I went into MGMT's show expected to hear mainly new material and hopefully a few good older tracks, the traditional "new album tour" setlist.  Their show couldn't have been any more different than what I expected.  I was legitimately impressed and blown away by their performance.  They went the whole nine yards.  If MGMT is coming to a venue near you do yourself a favor and attend!

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“He was like a god walking amongst mere mortals. He had a voice that could make a wolverine purr and suits so fine they made Sinatra look like a hobo.” Yes this quote is describing Ron Burgundy, but Bill Lawson (narrating voice) may as well have been talking about Mayer Hawthorne’s performance at Altar Bar.

Now I had only listened to the Mayer Hawthorne via CD.  That being said, I had no idea what to expect from his live show.  I am not exaggerating at all when I say I was blown away by Mayer Hawthorne’s performance.

The show was packed full of energy, dancing, and even a little bit of comedy from Mr. Hawthorne himself.   Hawthorne came out onto the stage like a bat out of hell.  He was rocking a full suit and had dance moves that would even make Uncle Jesse (Jesse and the Rippers) jealous.

Another thing that I noticed almost right away was the quality of the Mayer Hawthorne’s backing band, “The County.”  This was no ordinary backing band, they didn’t just take a back seat to Hawthorne’s vocals and simply play this music as is.  Their performance included a magnitude of impromptu jams and solos (for each respected musician’s instrument) in between and during nearly every song of Mayer Hawthorne’s set.

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Mayer Hawthorne didn’t just lay down the law vocally, he also played guitar for nearly half of the time too, also participating in jams with The County (which was another awesome surprise for a first time Hawthorne goer myself).  Now the quality and soundness of Hawthorne’s music wasn’t the only highlight of the show.  Mayer Hawthorne’s stage presence was outstanding.  His performance was packed full with dancing that had the entire Altar Bar moving and grooving.  It was nearly impossible not to be swaying back and forth and clapping your hands to the beat of the music.

Hawthorne also took a minute out of his set to notice the abundance of cell phones and camera’s in the crowd.  Hawthorne decided to solve the “cell phone issue” himself by having both a comical and impromptu photo session for the crowd.  Immediately after the “photo session,” Hawthorne stated, “Now that you all have got your pictures.  Let’s keep the phones put away. Enjoy what’s in front of you.  We don’t need to live through Instagram.”  Hawthorne’s mini speech was met with a roaring applause and he immediately got back to business.

After playing a set full of hits including “Henny & Gingerale,” “The Stars Are Ours,” and “Her Favorite Song,” Hawthorne still had one more trick up his sleeve.  After a moving cover of Nancy Wilson’s “May I Come In,” Hawthorne announced that the crowd would be a part of a music video.  A circular multi camera contraption was then brought out on the stage to film.  The crowd was already going crazy the entire show, but Hawthorne’s final encore was electric, not a single person was idly standing.

Mayer Hawthorne’s show was definitely one for the record books; he brought out his full bag of tricks.   Before Mayer Hawthorne’s performance, I was a casual listener, now I'm a full on fan.  If you are looking for a night packed full of grooving and some outstanding soul pop, go see Mayer Hawthorne!

 

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Michael Franti's career in music began with a strong political bent.  The music was powerful, but not necessarily friendly to children's ears.  In recent years, however, with his band Spearhead, Franti has embraced an ethos of peace, love, and joyfulness.

No song in the Michael Franti & Spearhead catalog embodies this joyful feeling more than "The Sound Of Sunshine".  They lyrics speak of finding happiness even in hard times.  With lines like, "Yo, yo, here we go /I want to go where the summer never ends /With my guitar on the beach, there with all my friends /The sun so hot and the waves in motion /And everything smells like suntan lotion" it's hard not to feel the warmth of summer even on the coldest of days.

Today's Cool Kids selection was chosen by Dave Panasiuk, owner of Dave's Music Mine - a record store on Pittsburgh's South Side.  Dave and his wife Michelle have a daughter named Rosalie with whom they share their wealth of music knowledge.  Rosalie is quite the cool kid already and will certainly be the envy of her friends one day with her massive music collection.  Dave says that Franti's music makes her dance around like no other.  He bashfully admitted that he can't resist a few moves himself when she gets going...

Watch the video for Michael Franti & Spearhead's "The Sound Of Sunshine":

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WayneToday marks the 49th birthday of Wayne Coyne (lead singer of The Flaming Lips). I mentioned it on the Morning Mix today and got this great listener email from Paul in Pittsburgh:

"You were mentioning that it was Wayne Coyne from the Flaming Lips’ birthday and he was born in Pittsburgh.  His parents were from the Troy Hill section of the North Side (the little plateau above the Heinz plant).  My older sister was a very good friend of his aunt and used to see them play at their restaurant/bar on Mt Royal Blvd in Shaler, around 20 years ago, when they were still up and coming.  When they played the East Coast they would swing through and play there.  My sister also said Wayne is a very kind and generous fellow."

Nice!!! Take some time to listen to a fellow Pittsburgher today on his birthday :)

--- Cindy

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Cindy Howes Pittsburgh The Flaming Lips Troy Hill Wayne Coyne
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