August 2010

British author Nick Hornby (High Fidelity, About a Boy, 31 Songs/Songbook) and piano man Ben Folds have teamed up on the album Lonely Island, due out September 28. It will be available as a special edition LP with short stories by Hornby (and was recorded with vinyl in mind as the preferred method to enjoy it), as well as standard edition LP, CD, or as a download. Check out the video for "Things You Think", also featuring Pomplamoose.


Mavis Staples, southern soul legend and gospel queen, will release her new album, You Are Not Alone, on September 13. It's produced by Jeff Tweedy. It's set to include covers of songs from Randy Newman, The Rev Gary Davis, John Fogerty, and Allen Toussaint (just to name a few). I hope you enjoy the video of Mavis Staples and Jeff Tweedy

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, contributing writer to Paste Magazine, AOL's and Pittsburgh's City Paper In case you missed it here's what he played with commentary by Justin (plus some bonus songs): Lissie, "When I'm Alone" - She started off a folkie, but her debut album Catching a Tiger is pretty rocking. Doesn't matter her genre, though - Lissie's got one of the strongest, most beautiful voices I've heard in a long time. Bonus trivia: director David Lynch is a huge fan and Tweeted Lissie his phone number. And now they're friends. The Thermals, "I Don't Believe You" - Unshakable proof that all rock'n'roll needs is a few chords, a lot of energy and some lyrics about how much love sucks. Plus, Thermals jams always have lots of 'Whoa's and 'Yeah's, so singing along is fun and easy. Their new album, Personal Life, is more fun than a winning Pirates game. Perfume Genius, "Mr. Petersen" - Just one man and a piano, but the whole thing seems haunted by ghosts. This is a song seemingly about an older man introducing our young narrator to Joy Division and smoking pot, as well as some far, far less appropriate things. Beautiful, but scary. The Love Language, "Brittany's Back" - This band is all about swooning romantics and the sweeping dramatics. But if you love love, you'll love The Love Language. Lost in the Trees, "Love on my Side" - This band is half folk rock, half classical music; several of their songs are simply instrumental movements played by a mini-orchestra. This tune falls way more in the former genre, though, and is a catchy, touching little ditty.

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): Jaill, "Everyone’s Hip" - This band’s first Sub Pop release just came out, and while on the whole it’s pretty solid, this is the real stand-out track. Hooky, poppy, and with an entire verse in Spanish (Does it actually mean something? Not sure.), it’s been on repeat on my MP3 player and in my head. Sambassadeur, "Days" - My friend Brian won’t stop talking about this band. And rightly so – simple pop constructions draped with lush string orchestration and a vocalist who sounds like a Scandanavian Chrissie Hynde? Yes, please! Satin Gum, "Flea Markets & Libraries" - This local band is a fun one to catch live, and writes catchy pop-oriented rock with a lot of stop-start action and time changes. I tend to think they’re going somewhere – either rising to fame or going back to the bar for another few drinks, or, most likely, both. Modern Mothers, "Allison" - There’s not much information around on this Philly-based garage-glam band, which released Berserker with the help of the venerable Bada Bing label. Their imagery and aesthetic are weird to say the least, but this song is a pop gem – starting out with a poppy Ramones/Screaching Weasel feel then progressing into a Diamond Dogs-era Bowie-style bridge.
Tune in to the Dubmission this Saturday and every Saturday late night on 91.3fm WYEP. The Dubmission is a weekly 4 hour mix of broken soul, downtempo, nujazz, house and rare grooves. This past week Scuba was in Pittsburgh for a rare appearance and Kerem was able to catch up with one of the most influential figures in the worlds of both dubstep and techno. One of the key figures in crossing the sounds of techno and dubstep, Paul Rose aka Scuba has been shaping the scene as one of the pivotal figures on the triple B axis of Bristol, Berlin and bass - running Hotflush Records in Bristol, running the Sub:stance night at Berlin's Berghain club, and bringing plenty of bass in either case. Along the way he's finding time to produce some ground shaking tracks and take them to places around the world. Tune in for the interview and music this Saturday beginning at 1am on 91.3fm and

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 (plus some bonus songs): Michael Franti & Spearhead, Sound of Sunshine - Blends hip hop with a variety of other styles including funk, reggae, jazz, folk, and rock. Outspoken supporter for a wide spectrum of peace and social justice issues. Scott says: "The hip-hop-reggae-funk-rocker delivers the most upbeat and lyrically positive album you'll hear all year. Interestingly, he began recording these songs after suffering what he describes as a near-death experience that included a ruptured appendix and eight days in the hospital. Judging by the songs on this album, Franti has his priorities straight, appreciating how love, friends and family are our most valuable commodities. I chose to play "Shake It," a buoyant song that emphasizes the importance of attitude and inner beauty. ("It's not the way you looked, it's the way you shook.") Another song on the album was inspired by Franti's time spent touring with U2. It's got Edge-y guitar!" Arcade Fire, The Suburbs - Indie rock band in from Canada. This is their highly anticipated third album. Scott says: "If you're a child of the cul-de-sacs like me, or simply someone who likes intelligent but accessible indie-rock, then you'll love this Montreal band's highly touted album released on Aug. 3. It's a concept album that doesn't get bogged down by a narrative (erm... you listening Green Day?). Songs are from the point of view of an adult wistfully revisiting the suburbs where he was raised. I chose to play "Month of May," which is more revved up, and less keyboard-ish than most of the other songs, though it captures the album's lyrical essence in the verse about teenagers standing in the street with their arms defiantly folded tight. Being young and bored and unfulfilled is a heavy burden to carry, notes singer Win Butler, "But how you gonna lift it with your arms folded tight?" Good one!" Also been spinning this week: Justin Nozuka, You I Wind Land and Sea - Second release from the 21 year old singer. Scott says: "Canadian singer, with Japanese and American parents, has an emotionally gripping voice reminiscent of Paolo Nutini. His bloodlines are traced to Kyra Sedgwick and Edie Sedgwick, while his brother, Phillip, appears on TV's "Degrassi: Next Generation." Justin's lyrics, at times, are frustrating; sometimes too oblique; sometimes too basic. But put him on your radar, as this 21-year-old has a bright future." Dick Dale, Guitar Legend: The Very Best Of - King of Surf Guitar who was brought to prominence in the Quentin Tarantino film, "Pulp Fiction". Scott says: "If you loved Dick's "Miserlou" in "Pulp Fiction" -- and c'mon, who didn't -- then you should already be tempted to buy this first-ever, career-spanning release from the surf-rock pioneer. Due out Sept. 7 on the retro-minded Shout! Factory label -- the 21st century Rhino Records -- this album includes signature surf songs, rare B-sides, a fantastic cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Third Stone from the Sun" and a 1987 collaboration with Stevie Ray Vaughan on the Chantays' "Pipeline." You could play worse at your next party or picnic."
Arcade Fire just released The Suburbs and it has skyrocketed to the top of the charts beating out Eminem for the #1 spot this week. They also recently sold out 2 nights in a row at Madison Square Garden. One of the shows there was directed by none other than Terry Gilliam and webcasted on youtube. In case you missed the performance I wanted you to see the opener "Ready to Start" which is a standout track from The Suburbs. Upon watching this I think its safe to say Arcade Fire have come full circle and are one of the best bands on the planet right now.
It's summer!  A perfect evening for music as Livingston Taylor performed an entertaining 90-minute show Friday at the South Park Amphitheater. Livingston Taylor came to sing songs from his most recent release "Last Alaska Moon", pop songs like Stephen Bishop's "On and On" and some fun songs with titles like "Railroad Bill", "'I'm Not as Herbal as I Ought to Be", "The Dollar Bill Song" and "Olympic Guitar" complete with a running commentary as he played the guitar. Mr. Taylor mentioned that he flew his own plane from Boston to Pittsburgh before singing "Kitty Hawk" (his tribute song to The Wright Brothers first flight in December 1903), a song off his fall 2009 CD "Last Alaska Moon". Along with the title track,  he also sang "I'm in a Pickle" and told us how difficult it was for him to find something to rhyme with the word hope in the song "Never Lose Hope". Mr. Taylor is not afraid to go way back in time to share with us his love of well constructed pop songs.  He tried to imagine Irving Berlin convincing a producer to listen to "God Bless America" with the word foam in the lyric: "To the oceans, white with foam" Mr. Taylor also knows how to write pop songs of his own like "Carolina Day". Great stories.  Great music.  What a treat to have Livingston Taylor back in the Burgh.  Ah - It's summer! Review of Livingston Taylor's concert in Carlisle, PA, October 2008 Review of "Last Alaska Moon", November 2009 Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host
If it's August  then it must be John Mayer in Burgettstown.  Just two years ago in my review I was lamenting that Mr. Mayer needed polish; his sophisticated lyrics were not matching his performance.  Sunday night he convinced me that he was able to combine the singer-songwriter with the musician.  And he's only 32. The 120 shows since his last visit to the area have helped him to perfect his act. It was all about the musicianship.  Covers of "Ain't No Sunshine" and "Raspberry Beret" added to Mr. Mayer's ever growing catalog of music.  His seven-piece band often shared the spotlight. Mr. Mayer also showed off his expertise on various guitars. The two-hour set was well paced and made for an entertaining evening.  I hope we don't have to wait another two years to see Mr. Mayer here. Opening the show was the band Train.  As Mr. Mayer noted they are headliners in their own right and we fans were treated to a double bill of amazing music. Train's dynamic lead singer, Erie native, Pat Monahan not only used the whole stage, but ran out to the lawn for "Marry Me". Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host
Music legend Robert Plant's new release is due out in September. Plant worked with Buddy Miller producing the new effort {Buddy Miller and Patty Griffin also perform} and has some music previews and great insight into the recording of the new release in this video interview Listen up for the single "Angel Dance" on 91.3fm WYEP.