Submitted by [email protected] on March 30, 2011
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): Golden Dogs, "Long As You Like" - The sweet, seductive voice of Jessica Grassia carries this playful pop tune from a Toronto band performing April 3 at Mr. Small's Theatre. The full-length album, "Coat of Arms," is out on April 26. The Cars, "Sad Song" - Don't be alarmed by the title. This peppy comeback single from The Cars is a pure delight, hearkening to the Boston band's pre-MTV days and songs like "It's All I Can Do," "Touch and Go" and "Dangerous Type." The Cars' album, "Move Like This," arrives May 10; the first studio effort featuring Ric Ocasek in 24 years. Also been digging this week: Edwyn Collins, "Losing Sleep" - Released last September in the U.K., where it made a few "top album" lists, "Losing Sleep" finally got its proper U.S. unveiling this week. Mature, accessible lyrics and nifty power-pop guitar make the case that the Scottish artist deserves more than just "one-hit wonder" status here in The States (Remember his Bowie-esque 1994 tune "Girl Like You"?) Guest appearances include The Smiths' Johnny Marr and Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos and Nick McCarthy. Over the Rhine, "Infamous Love Song" - This hubby-wife folk duo from Cincinnati specializes in songs that unfold with quiet grace emphasizing the soft, elegant voice of Karin Bergquist. But Bergquist can belt out a smoldering torch tune, too, as she does to stirring effect on this six-minute-35-second standout track from Over the Rhine's new album, "The Long Surrender." They play Mr. Small's on April 1.
Submitted by [email protected] on March 23, 2011
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 Billboard Magazine and Relix Magazine In case you missed it here's what he played (plus two bonus songs): Okkervil River, "The Valley" -The lead off track from the band's sixth album, "I Am Very Far," due out in May. It falls right in line with Okkervil's best song, "For Real," with it's jackhammer pulse and serious tension. Some folks hate on Okkervil for being too pretentious, but forget about the wordy lyrics ? dudes make great, catchy, emotional rock'n'roll. The Felice Brothers, "Fire at the Pageant" - Don't turn off the lights; this tale of a burning down building comes complete with a bunch of children shouting. The Felice Brothers have always had a macabre streak, but this tune, off of the upcoming "Celebration, Florida" album takes the cake. Pains of Being Pure at Heart, "Belong" - I really didn't like this band... until this song, really. Their indie-pop was too cute, or twee, or whatever for me. But this song, off their upcoming second album of the same name, adds some guitar heft and crunch to the mix. Sounds like, as so many have already said, an early 90's Smashing Pumpkins song. Not as awesome, but few could be. Peter Bjorn and John, "(Don't Let Them) Cool Off" - Remember "Young Folks"? Of course you do. You loved it when you first heard it, then started to hate it after the 8,000 time. Well, forget about that whistle-happy song ? PB&J are back, and kinda sound like a real rock band! This song, from their upcoming "Gimme Some" album, is a catchy rock romp.
Submitted by [email protected] on March 16, 2011
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: Paul Simon, "So Beautiful or So What" - Far from a relic, Paul Simon has been a huge influence on Sufjan Stevens, Iron and Wine and other neo-folk artists. But when was his last great album? You have to go back to 1990's "The Rhythm of the Saints," the follow-up to "Graceland." After that, he got mired in the "Capeman" and made a pair of disappointing albums in the '00s. With "So Beautiful or So What," Rhymin' Simon has regained his sense of rhythm and songcraft. Finally, we have songs with hooks, like this passionate title track that comes with a killer funk riff. It's one of the best albums you'll hear from a 69-year-old. J Roddy Walston and the Business, "Brave Man's Death" - This is basically my favorite new band, and it happened within a week. Heard the CD, the band's second one, and saw them along with a crowd of about 50 people at Stage AE. Was blown away by both. J Roddy Walston is a piano-pounding frontman from Tennessee with a passion for Jerry Lee Lewis and a touch of absurdist Southern gothic. In concert, he did a Little Richard cover ("Lucille") and sang like Jerry Lee on "Don't Break the Needle." This song, a sprawling narrative, is a little more rootsy Americana, but you get the idea. You can file this band with the Avett Brothers, the Black Keys, or even the Black Crowes.
Submitted by [email protected] on March 9, 2011
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 a bonus song): Thao & Mirah (feat. Tune-Yards), "Eleven" - This fun, weird track is our first look at the forthcoming record from these two indie songstresses, each well-known in her own right. (Cindy note: album comes out on 4/26. Click the above link for an informative article on the duo who are also personally involved) Ennui, "The Battle I'm In" - A new track from the somewhat amorphous local atmospheric outfit; this song is on the record they're releasing March 18 at Brillobox. This holds up the more pop-oriented end of their oeuvre. Dum Dum Girls, "He Gets Me High" - Good driving-down-the-road music from the California band; slightly disaffected vocals and fuzzy production make this straightforward rocker reminiscent of Dinosaur, Jr.
Submitted by [email protected] on March 3, 2011
Ari Hest came to Pittsburgh Wednesday night to kick off his Sunset Over Hope Street tour. The new Sunset Over Hope Street CD released only a day earlier. Ari Hest performed 16 songs, plus a 2 song encore in about a 1 hour and 25 minute set. It was funny to hear Mr. Hest refer to songs in his catalog that were less than 10 years old as an “oldie”. The new songs were just that, new to him and the audience, as his CD was just officially released the day before. His third song in was the title track of the CD Sunset Over Hope Street. We were also treated to such new songs as: Until Next Time (technically an oldie from 2008 when Mr. Hest wrote and recorded a song once a week for 52 weeks, releasing them on his website to his fans on each Monday that year, leading to the 2009 release of Twelve Mondays) which got new treatment; A Good Look Around; One Track Mind (Mr. Hest played the solo version); Swan Song and as part of the encore an acoustic version of Business of America (a very timely song which has the memorable line “Oh that’s the system at work, Everybody’s a jerk”). The “oldies” included: Reason to Believe, Morning Streets, The Weight, Anne Marie (a song about an old ex-girlfriend that he loves to sing), When and If, Ride the Break (Mr. Hest substituted his current touring vehicle a Ford Explorer for the Honda Civic and substituted Pittsburgh for St. Louis but just couldn’t find something to rhyme with Pittsburgh), Bird Never Flies (the audience was invited to sing along on the lines “I won’t give you up, bird never flies”), the wicked I’ll Be There; Cranberry Lake (he invited an audience member to come up and sing with him and Karen did a great job!) and ending the set with probably one of his best known songs Dead End Driving. The final song of the evening was inspired by Norah Jones I’ve Got You; which highlighted Mr. Hest’s vocal range. Mr. Hest was joined on stage by the very talented Doug Yowell on drums and percussion. I was probably watching Mt. Yowell more than Mr. Hest (who was alternating between guitar and keyboards). Mr. Yowell was doing amazing things, including looping the music while providing sweet backing vocals. The duo managed to sound almost like a whole band, thanks to Mr. Yowell’s magic. The set was fresh. Mr. Hest was engaging, sharing stories about his songs old and new. This was not just a dress rehearsal the first night out in front of a live audience. The new material really was combined well with the more familiar older tunes. I read a review on line of Sunset Over Hope Street, in which Mr. Hest’s voice was compared to Springsteen and Marc Cohn. When I told the woman next to me at the show that I had a copy of Sunset Over Hope Street; her first question was whether it sounded like Twelve Mondays or Mr. Hest’s older material. My response was that it sounds like a better Ari Hest. I’ve never fully understood the comparisons of Mr. Hest to other artists. He writes well constructed mid-tempo songs about his life experiences. He has a dry sense of humor that is reflected in the ironic twists his lyrics sometime take (“I’ll be there to make you miserable”). Twelve Mondays was my favorite CD of 2009. I believe Sunset Over Hope Street will make my best of 2011 list; maybe even find itself on the top spot. We still have 10 months worth of new releases to look forward to this year. Opening was singer-songwriter Ali Klaren. She is a transplanted Pittsburgher. She plays guitar and was joined on stage for a few songs by Miguel Hernandez. He’s a lefty who played flamenco guitar solos that garnered appreciative applause from the audience. Ms. Klaren’s 6-song 30-minute set included: Fall, Closer and Blood of Everyone, which highlighted Mr. Hernandez on guitar. Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host
Submitted by [email protected] on March 2, 2011
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: Drive-By Truckers, "Weakest Man" - There's guitar grinding, for sure, but more than ever the Georgia-Alabama rockers make sure you pay attention to the compelling, twisted tales they're telling on the band's 9th studio album, "Go-Go Boots." There's stories about a cop kicked off the force; Thanksgiving dinner with a most dysfunctional family and a preacher who pays $1,500 to have his wife killed, only to get his comeuppance in the end. This track, "Weakest Man," is one of the most straight-forward ones -- a love-gone-sour song set to an old-fashioned country two-step. (Stick around for the accordion solo.) "It's easy to love a thing so warm and soothing that gets you through the night so tenderly," vocalist Mike Cooley says, before deciding to split, dejectedly noting that "surviving you don't make me stronger than the weakest man who ever turned you down." The Seedy Seeds, "Verb/Noun" - This fresh Cincinnati trio's title track starts with an exuberant indie-rock gait that gains speed with a few bursts of electro-pop until halfway through the song -- bam! -- here comes the banjo. Swirling strings, an exchange of male-and-female vocals... there's just a lot going on, much of it subtle, and all somehow making sense. Having drawn comparisons to Freelance Whales, the Seedy Seeds have another song, "Earned Average Dance America," that was named NPR Song of the Day. Check 'em out Wednesday night at Brillobox in Bloomfield.