Sharon Van Etten

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 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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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!

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

The Both, "Milwaukee" - Who doesn't love both Ted Leo and Aimee Mann? Seriously. If you don't like them, I'll fight you. They have a new band together called The Both and it sounds like Ted Leo and Aimee Mann and so that's a good reason to love it. They play Small's on May 5, if you like seeing good things live.

Sharon Van Etten, "Taking Chances" - This is the first single from Sharon Van Etten's new album, Are We There. The big news about this album is going to be the synths, but when the full album hits your ears, I want you to listen for the tastefully done saxophones and clarinets. This particular song sounds like it could be a Beach House song; the rest of the album sounds more like a Sharon Van Etten record, I promise you.

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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).

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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New Music Personal Picks

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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:

Kathleen Edwards, "Change the Sheets" - We won't say the Canadian singer-songwriter was stuck in a rut, because her songs are usually thoughtful, passionate, pretty, sexy, etc. But on this fourth album, it's nice to see her get a little sonic makeover, thanks in part to new flame Justin Vernon (Bon Iver). You can hear their two styles at work in this atmospheric rock single.

Sharon Van Etten, "Serpents" - I didn't know much about her going into Carnegie Library Music Hall of Homestead, when she opened for Iron and Wine, but was pretty blown away after a few songs. A year later, the New York singer-songwriter is on the brink of breaking out with this Jagjaguwar debut, "Tramp," produced by Aaron Dessner of The National. This is a rather straight-forward rock song on a record that has its pleasantly off-kilter moments.

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New Music Personal Picks

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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 (plus some bonus songs):

Sharon Van Etten, "A Crime" - This is the first track from Sharon's new LP, Epic. She's one of my favorites right now with respect to simple, folky guitar-and-voice songwriting -- this is one of the more upbeat tracks from the new one, and might be my favorite.

Smith Westerns, "Weekend" - This is a young Chicago garage rock-pop band that's picked up a lot of attention in the past year or so; this track is the first glimpse of the band's forthcoming album, Dye It Blonde, coming out in early 2011 on Fat Possum.

Kelley Stoltz, "I Remember, You Were Wild" - This is a fun, poppy track from Stoltz's recent LP, To Dreamers, issued on Sub Pop. Shimmery guitars, simple harmonies and a triumphant chorus make it a nice little addition to a mix CD.

The Chapin Sisters, "Palm Tree" - This might be my favorite track from the new disc by the two-piece band of sisters, who played in Pittsburgh last week. It's a relaxed (maybe even resigned) country tune and exhibits some of their better lyrics, I think.

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New Music Personal Picks

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Andy Mulkerin Kelley Stoltz Sharon Van Etten Smith Westerns The 9:13 Buzz The Chapin Sisters
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