September 2010

JP, Chrissie and The Fairground Boys debut release is called “Fidelity!”.  It's a concept album about an older woman’s relationship with a younger man.  This musical journey was shared with the audience at The New Hazlett Theater stage Tuesday night.

For about one hour-and-fifteen minutes, 59-year old Chrissie Hynde and 31-year old JP Jones brought the audience into their relationship.  The Fairground Boys provided the bass, guitar, drums and backing vocals.  There was no looking back to The Pretenders, only looking forward.  Ms. Hynde exhibited great energy on vocals, guitar, harmonica, and tambourine and more than kept pace with the younger Mr. Jones on vocals and guitar. Their 15 song set (including 3 songs during the encore) was heavy on tracks from “Fidelity!”.  They performed a song that did not make it on to this CD “You’re the One That I Should Have Married” along with a cover of the 1969 Moby Grape song “Murder In My Heart For the Judge”.  They finished the night with a song about Christmas.  It will be interesting to hear a follow up.  Will it be more like a Fidelity!: Part II or will they find other muses for their inspiration? Opening the show, with a 40-minute 9-song set ,was Massachusetts singer-songwriter Amy Correia.  Ms. Correia was joined on stage only by a guitarist.  She performed more than half the songs from her current fan-funded release “You Go Your Way”.  She went back to her first album “Carnival Love” for “Blind River Boy”.  In the middle of the set she performed a cover of The Animals “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” (which was written for one her heroes Nina Simone) .  Rounding out her time on stage, Ms. Correia did an a cappella version of “Love Is” from her sophomore release “Lakeville”.

Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host

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 Relix Magazine, AOL's and Pittsburgh's City Paper In case you missed it here's what he played: Mark Ronson, "Somebody To Love Me" - This is one of the best tracks from Ronson's new "Record Collection" album that came out yesterday. It's a dancey, synth-y, 80s spin on his retro-soul sound he perfected with Amy Winehouse. Totally an in-your-car, shameless sing-along. Drink Up Buttercup, "Young Ladies" - These dudes are nothing short of insane. Like, actually crazy. Their live show involves trashcans, tribal chanting and playing in the middle of the crowd. Listen to this Beatles-gone-evil psychedelic track and it'll all make sense. Lohio, "Leave the City, Leave your Room" - Easily one of Pittsburgh's best bands, Lohio is releasing a new EP, "Family Tree," this week. This track encapsulates their growing sound — beautiful harmonies, fun melodies, Sufjan-esque orchestration and, as always, Greg Dutton's light, folky voice. If the world is a good and fair place, Lohio will blow up something spectacular. Justin Rutledge, "Be A Man" - One of my favorite country-folk finds of this year. Guy's got a great, wounded-heart type voice, and his songs are equally as deep. Plus, what a fantastic name!

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 (plus a bonus song): Black Angels, "Telephone" - Even though I vowed not to embrace any more bands that start with the word Black, this Austin psych-rock band is too good to ignore. I always love songs, like "Telephone," that sound like they could have been on the "Nuggets" box. The album also expands on this idea with Doors and Stooges influences. One caution: as a live act, the band needs something more than a frontman that clings to a keyboard. Maximum Balloon, "Communion" - Dave Sitek, the brilliant guitarist and producer for TV on the Radio, indulges his poppier instincts on this debut album with such guests as Kyp and Tunde (from TVOTR) and David Byrne. Here, Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs takes front and center on a cool hypnotic dance track. Robert Plant, "Silver Rider" - Robert Plant could be cashing in right now on a Led Zep reunion tour, but for some reason — perhaps to spare his vocal cords — he chosen to reinvent himself as an Americana artist. He makes a bold, tasteful choice here with a song by slowcore band Low that finds guitarist Buddy Miller exploring his inner Neil Young.
Check out Dr. Dog's sweet new video for "Shadow People" (from Shame, Shame):

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): Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, "My Terrible Personality" - This track from the middle of the band's new release, Let It Sway, is a fun mid-paced number with the added appeal of a "Go!" breakdown in the middle. What's there to say, really? It's just catchy. Mariage Blanc, "Move On" - This local band has always danced on the line between upbeat and introspective, between Beulah and Elliot Smith. This is from their new LP, to be released next month. Watch out for my piece on them in your City Paper in a couple weeks! Darker My Love, "Split Minute" - This is an L.A. band with a weird pedigree: the drummer used to be in that Hellcat streetpunk band The Distillers, and two of the other members have backed up Mark E. Smith in The Fall. Darker My Love is about as far from those bands as possible -- with a laid-back California rock vibe, they're reminiscent of American Beauty-era Dead, perhaps, or later Byrds. Marianne Dissard, "Les Confettis" - This is probably my favorite track on Dissard's latest, Paris One Takes. She takes the French take on rock a little further, incorporating Americana sounds into her tunes. Frenchicana? Sure.
Colonizing The Cosmos
“Sonic production” is a term coined by music critics to describe music that capitalizes on our fascination with space. It conjures up all the vast mystery of the cosmos, of our yearning for answers, of our sense of otherworldliness, our desire to chase the final frontier, the excitement of new technology. It describes music that transgresses our worldly expectations, music as sleek and barren as the cold metal of a spaceship floor. And sometimes it just means lots of reverb and effects pedals. Whatever it is, don’t expect it from Colonizing The Cosmos. The local Pittsburgh band, who’s kicking off Rock The Block next week, released their first full length album earlier this year, called “The First Frontier.” Here’s a video a live studio performance of “Dear Citizen.” Despite the name and comparisons to The Flaming Lips, CTC makes music remarkably grounded in loyalty to folk instrumentation. Starting as a two-piece and growing to six (sometimes more), CTC sounds like a band of studio folk musicians: well mixed layers of guitars, banjos, a trumpet and backup singers. And the musicianship really shows in the video. It’s a welcome change of pace in folk, a compromise between trends of “me-first” production and lo-fi production. On "The First Frontier," each instrument fills its shoes modestly, yielding a well-rounded and satisfying sound. Vocally, CTC falls somewhere between The Shins and Eels, catchy but not without a hint of quirk. There’s something otherworldly about the album, but no single sound or style will step up and take credit. There’s a slyness to the production, irony in the catchiness, intelligence in the delivery. And yet, CTC is not “sonic.” They’re not trippy, or psychedelic, or freak folk (or my favorite, NASA-core). CTC makes honest folk music with a tinge of self aware irony, that music so seemingly audacious can be so anchored in a time-honored folk style. CTC has likely not yet hit their prime, but its a very strong start. Colonizing The Cosmos opens for Alejandro Escovedo at Rock The Block, September 18th in Bedford Square at 8pm. Tickets available at
Cloud Cult are nothing if not prolific. The Minnesota band just finished up their eighth studio album, Light Chasers, which is set to hit stores on September 14th. Light Chasers picks up right where Owl and Bear favorite Feel Good Ghosts (Tea-Partying Through Tornadoes) left off, exploring the relationship between the human experience and the unknown. Frontman Craig Minowa took some time out from tea-partying through tornadoes to talk to us about loss, the environment, and what the band has in store for us in the future. Continue Reading....
Video for "Always" from Junip. José González seems like he's got a pretty swell sense of humor. This video is highly entertaining!! Full album from Junip (Fields) is out on 9/14/2010 (next Tuesday)

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): Ryan Bingham & the Dead Horses, Junky Star - Now that he’s an Oscar-winning songsmith, Bingham can’t swoop under the radar. Yet, “Crazy Heart” success didn’t make him sell his soul, judging by this artistically bold album released Aug. 31. Sparse melodies evoke the wide-open spaces of the Southwest where the 29-year-old ex-rodeo bull-rider was raised. Native American-sounding kick drums, jolts of slide-guitar and Bingham’s wisdom-worn vocals paint an absorbing if not overtly commercial landscape. Shonen Knife, Perfect Anthem - Japan’s legendary pop-punk girl-band Shonen Knife just released the English-language versions of its latest album, “Free Time,” and 2007’s “fun! fun! fun!”  That latter title perfectly describes this single. Kurt Cobain was a big fan, you know, once saying about Shonen Knife, “When I finally got to see them live, I was transformed into a hysterical 9-year-old girl at a Beatles concert.” See Shonen Knife Sept. 24 at the 31st Street Pub in Pittsburgh. K.T. Tunstall, Tiger Suit - This third studio album is a crucial one for the diminutive Scottish singer with the mighty vocal pipes. There’s nothing on here that’ll get as much radio or movie soundtrack action as her 2004 rookie album’s twin hits, “Suddenly I See” and “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree.” But give “Tiger Suit” grows on you after a few listens, owing to Tunstall’s feisty lyrics and singing, and imaginative, occasionally techno-ish rhythms.