May 2011

Since 2006 Danish producer/beatmaker Robin Hannibal has been behind such diverse projects like Quadron, Boom Clap Bachelors, Bobby and Owusu & Hannibal. Catch him on Dubmission this weekend discussing the new Boom Clap Bachelors' electronic soul-pop EP, Mellem Dine Laeber. Tune in This Saturday late night after 1am for an interview Robin Hannibal. The Dubmission airs each Saturday, after Keller's Cellar on 91.3fm WYEP and from 1am until 5am.

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, City Paper and Relix Magazine In case you missed it here's what he played (plus bonus songs): Dawes, "If I Wanted Someone" - This California band is a perfect mix of CSNY, Jackson Browne, The Band and assorted other totally awesome classic rock acts, and they do it without any irony or nostalgia — just great songwriting, amazing lyrics, perfect harmonies and killer guitar solos. I totally hate this band, if you couldn't tell. The Antlers, "Every Night My Teeth Are Falling Out" - Pretty much the opposite of sunshiney Dawes — The Antlers just released "Burst Apart," the spooky, minimalist and ice cold follow up to their epic, much beloved "Hospice." The band is great at creating a mood; frankly, I hope they remain about as popular as they are now. It's hard to imagine a sell-out crowd at Smalls getting down to this. Best appreciated with headphones, or when lost in the woods. Bon Iver, entire album "Bon Iver" - It's really a beautiful record, and completely different than the now-classic "For Emma, Forever Ago." Also, it leaked a month early, so you can likely find it online pretty easily... not that I'm suggesting you do. My Morning Jacket, entire album "Circuital" - This one drops May 31. It's weird and awesome, and you should totally buy it. The title track alone makes my brain turn into a July 4th sparkler.
Ben Sollee returned to Pittsburgh in support of his recently released CD Inclusions. The music on Ben Sollee's CDs sound lush, rich.  With 3 young and talented musicians on-stage, that robust sound and more was duplicated at Club Cafe Wednesday night.  Joining Ben Sollee (vocals, cello, guitar):  Phoebe Hunt (formerly of The Belleville Outfit) on vocals, violin and bass with Jordon Eillis on drums and percussion.  I was simply amazed at how electrifying the music was and how it filled the room and yet the concert was still very intimate. The show began with Ben Sollee singing Carrie Bell a cappella.  The set was heavy on the new music from Inculsions, which has only been out on the streets for a little over a week.  I've only had the chance to preview the new CD, and hearing the songs live for the first time, makes me want to listen even more closely to the CD.  Can I add again how amazed I am that the songs really come to life during a live performance - you can see the passion and how the musicians are feeling Ben Sollee's music. Close to You, Embrace, The Globe, Bible Belt, and Electrified were among the songs performed from Inclusions.  There was It's Not Impossible (Boys Don't Cry) and How to See the Sun Rise (also featured in the TV show Weeds) from Learning to Bend. From his project with Daniel Martin Moore (Dear Companion) Mr. Sollee sang Try.  I've seen Mr. Sollee perform a couple of times and I was reminded how beautifully he plays the cello when he intros his songs with an extended instrumental.  Ms. Hunt treated us to one of her own tunes Fly On.  It didn't seem like Mr. Sollee wanted the music to end, even after an hour and forty-five minutes.  For the encore, everyone on stage, including Sean Rowe, huddled around one microphone to sing and then the final song, a cover of Cat Stevens Wild World, which got the audience to join in on the singing. Ben Sollee with Phoebe Hunt and Jordon Ellis performed a Studio Session at WYEP earlier in the day, electrifying the space with music. Opening was singer-songwriter Sean Rowe.  He reminds me a lot of Darrell Scott.  He played about a 45-minute set, using a couple of different guitars (which he could finger-pick very well).  His newest CD is Magic and we heard a few tasty tunes like: Jonathan, Wet (which mentions Pittsburgh, and Mr. Rowe was happy to sing it here), Old Black Dodge, Time to Think and American.  He included a cover of a Tom Waits song (Jesus Gonna Be Here) and ended with a cover of a Richard Thompson tune, both of which really suited his playing and singing style.  I am a new fan of  Sean Rowe's music. Barb S. - Sunday Mix Host

I am certain that everything Bob Dylan does is very humorous to Bob Dylan. The Victoria's Secret Ad? Playing the keyboard at concerts? Those are knee-slappers for old Bobby D. Take a gander at this recent blog post where Bob clears the air about what really happened with China. Hilarious! The ending is my favorite part:

"Everybody knows by now that there's a gazillion books on me either out or coming out in the near future. So I'm encouraging anybody who's ever met me, heard me or even seen me, to get in on the action and scribble their own book. You never know, somebody might have a great book in them."

What!?!? LOL, Bob! You are a comedian through and through.

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: The Love Me Nots, "He Doesn't Share Well" - As a rule, I'd rather not be driving around Sunday nights between 10 and midnight, but when that happens, it's a treat to flip on Little Steven's Underground Garage on that rock station up the dial. He focuses on '60s garage- and psych-rock and the bands that were influenced by it. Arizona band The Love Me Nots are a perfect fit, rocking hard with a fat, distorted guitar tone and Spector-style girl pop. The local connection is that the band, which just released "The Demon and the Devotee," features former Pittsburgher Bob Hoag (The Breakup Society) on drums. Ezra Furman & The Harpoons, "I Killed Myself But I Didn't Die" - For years, indie-rock bands played down the importance of lyrics to the point where a lot of people didn't even care about them anymore. With this Chicago band, which just released "Mysterious Power," the words jump out and demand your attention. But it's far from easy-listening singer-songwriter stuff. The Harpoons rock with noise and clatter, like on this song which recalls such indie greats as The Pixies and Pavement.
In December 2010 I was asking myself who is Jann Klose? After having the opportunity to interview him via email for the WYEP Music Blog I was able to answer that question and after seeing him in concert for the first time, I became even more aware of his music.  On Friday the 13th I again had the opportunity to experience the music of Jann Klose. Jann Klose on vocals and guitar along with Lars Potteiger on keyboard, accordion and backing vocals performed original music for an hour at Club Cafe.  Mr. Klose even treated us to a few new songs, like The Kite.  Most of the songs were from his most recent release Reverie:  Mother Said Father Said (by request), Question of the Heart (usually with a harp, but this time with keys) Doing Time, Watching You Go and Hold Me Down.  The final song was an extended version of All These Rivers, when Mr. Klose invited Colter Harper and Preach Freedom back to the stage.  Mr. Klose has an engaging stage presence and is a talented songwriter. Two members of Rusted Root began the early evening of music.  Colter Harper on baritone guitar and Preach Freedom on percussion and vocals.  Mr. Freedom sang covers of Bill Wither’s Sweet Wanomi and Use Me along with a cover of Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On.  There was also Unity and Identity. Very entertaining, 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 Andy Mulkerin of Pittsburgh's City Paper

In case you missed it here's what he played with commentary by Andy (plus  bonus songs):

Man Man, "Bangkok Necktie" - This is from the new album, Life Fantastic, from the Philly-based band. The record is, on the whole, quite pleasant and energetic; this was the song I could find that didn’t have swears in it.

Secret Cities, "Always Friends" - This is from Strange Hearts, the new album from this Midwestern three-piece psyche outfit. It’s got their signature muddy baroque sound, but is upbeat and has elements of old rock steady to it.

Poison Control Center, "Porcelain Brain" - Longtime Buzz listeners know I like this Iowa-based band a lot. Their new album, Stranger Ballet, comes out next month, and this song – a Silver Jews-sounding rocker – is on it.

Bare Branches, "Kids in Love II" - This Butler-based band issued a solid album, Haunts, earlier this year. There’s something nostalgic to me about the band’s guitar sounds and Christopher Wagner’s Ian Curtis vocals.

The Solo and Low Down Tour brought Stephen Kellogg and Tift Merritt to a sold-out Club Café on Cinco de Mayo.

The petite and feisty Tift Merritt took the stage all in black.  With a lot of energy and spunk Ms. Merritt played the guitar and keyboards.  At only 5 feet tall, she commands the stage with her strong voice and musicianship.  She performed music from her catalog that included Broken and Mixtape, a song she wrote in France, Another Country, along with a couple of new songs and Good Hearted Man from her CD Tambourine, which was Grammy nominated in the Best Country Album category.

When you see Stephen Kellogg without the Sixers, it really makes you focus on his strong songwriting skills.  I found myself listening intently to all the lyrics.  He stayed center stage, playing the guitar and harmonica with a crate nearby acting as a table holding his mugs and various harmonicas.  Mr. Kellogg, tall and slim all in black, performed for about 70 minutes with mostly a mix of Sixers fan favorites.  There was one new song 1993 that will be on the upcoming Sixers CD due out in September.  It’s another love song, about meeting his wife and starting a family.  Among the songs:  A (With Love), 4th of July, Sweet Sophia, My Old Man.  Mr. Kellogg shared some quotes about life, romance, work and success.  Ms. Merritt joined Mr. Kellogg on stage for a duet on the Kenny Loggins penned Danny’s Song.  The 3-song encore included The Bear and Satisfied Man followed by a toast to the audience.

Barb S. – Sunday Mix Host

A Note from Colin and Jenny About a month ago, we all at Decemberists HQ got hit with some pretty hard news. Jenny Conlee, our since-the-very-beginning accordion and keyboard player and all-around rad person was diagnosed with breast cancer. If you or anyone in your world has been handed a similar diagnosis, you know what a bolt-out-of-the-blue this news can be. The good news is that Jenny caught it early. And while the prognosis is very, very good for a full recovery, tackling the disease will mean some intensive treatment for our Jenny as well as a lot of important recovery time. So I'm writing this to say that, weighing our options, and with Jenny's fervent blessings, we've decided to go forward with our scheduled tour dates this spring and summer. What we know now: Jenny will very likely miss all nine of our concerts in May and June. We're all hoping that her recovery will be such that she'll be able to get back on board as soon as possible. And now, a note from Jenny: Hello to Everyone, I am very sorry to say that I will be missing a few shows coming up as I go through treatment for breast cancer. It has been great to be on tour these past few weeks. The band and crew are like family to me and have been incredibly supportive and understanding. To be making music with everyone and seeing the fans has helped me to feel more positive and keep my mind off of my diagnosis. But, alas, as the tour winds down, it is time for me to get back to reality. I will try to get into surgery as soon as I can after we return from this leg of the tour so I can begin my recovery. There are still a few unknowns out there concerning my cancer, but I am thinking positive and hope to be back on the road soon. Thanks for all of your support! See you soon! Lots of love, Jenny Thanks for everyone's understanding during this crazy time. Yours, Colin Meloy The Decemberists **************** More on The Decemberists here

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): The Smithereens, "Sorry" - No, the Smithereens hadn’t stashed their new album in a vault for 20 years, it just sounds that way. And that’s a good thing. Fuzzed-up guitar and crunchy drums and bass — British Invasion melodies filtered through East Coast pub rock — provide the vibrant backdrop to Pat DiNizio’s rich, vibrato-heavy voice. “The Smithereens 2011” kicks off effectively with this jangly, stomping single with brooding lyrics like, “Well my back’s against the wall/But I’m not afraid at all/I would like to say I’m sorry, but I won’t.” Andy Friedman, “Old Pennsylvania" - In typically off-kilter fashion, one of Brooklyn’s best and world weariest alt-country singers paints a picture of a late-fall Pennsylvania day in an old, rural town. Critical exultation for Friedman include “the king of art country” (Minneapolis’ City Pages), “art-damaged, ragged-but-right” (L.A. Weekly), “dusty, paint-splattered Americana sage” (Rochester News & Democrat) and “Ingenious originals” (The New Yorker, one of the New York publications for which Friedman has done freelance illustrations.) Indie-rock icon Sufjan Stevens once said, “I’ve always wanted to be Andy Friedman.”) See what the buzz is about May 9, when Friedman performs at Hollywood Gardens, an eclectic, TV-less bar in Rochester, Beaver County.