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WYEP has been proud to support the Pittsburgh music community for decades and in 2015 we were pleased to further extend our enthusiasm by instituting The Local 913, a weekly on-air highlight of a new local release. The Local 913 has been a great way to throw a spotlight on local talent, along with our monthly local music happy hour: The Local 913 Live. These five releases are the best of the best in our town for 2015. We encourage you to support each one of these fine hometown musicians!

*** WYEP’s Top 5 Local Acts for 2015 ***

1. Brooke Annibale The Simple Fear (Brooke Annibale)
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Fear can be a complicated emotion when its root source is unclear. When layers of self-doubt, uncertainty, and miscommunication are peeled away, the truth tends to be relatively simple, and universal. Brooke Annibale explores and demystifies complications of the heart, drawing from personal insight without becoming overtly confessional. She uses concise, reserved language to express the frustration of waiting for an overdue apology, or the gentle acceptance of a relationship’s lost potential. Her spirit lifts with the hope of redemptive love. Annibale’s beguiling folk-based melodies reveal glimmers of pop and country. They unfold in subtle ways—a lone guitar is joined by piano, strings emerge, and percussion enters almost imperceptibly. Annibale’s vocals have a sweetly smoky, enigmatic quality, but her songs clearly depict the human experience. (RMW) 

2. Billy Price & Otis Clay This Time For Real (Vizztone)
BILLY PRICE
Local mainstay Billy Price has known Otis Clay, the Mississippi-born soul and R&B legend (and Blues Hall of Fame inductee), since the early 1980s. The two have recorded a few songs together over the years, and they decided it was time to record a full album. Blues guitarist Duke Robillard signed on to produce it; and the result is an entertaining romp through a variety of soul classics and other choice material. Robillard and his band provide crisp backing, and the Roomful of Blues horns keep the energy level high, but it's Price's and Clay's expressive voices that steal the show. (MS) 

3. Donora Ha Ha Heart (Rostrum)
DONORA
The nearly decade-long run of Donora’s catchy, bright, indie-pop continues on the band’s fourth effort titled Ha Ha Heart. The trio completely engulfed themselves in the creative process by diving into drummer and producer Jake Hanner’s newly created home studio in Gibsonia. The space worked in bringing out the band’s energy in a more complete form than previous efforts. Ha Ha Heart is filled with bouncy and catchy riffs, shiny choruses from Casey Hanner, and a 60s meets modern-electro pop collection of songs. The home-studio process is captured with a handmade booklet documenting the album with lyric pages, stories and production notes. (KS) 

4. Cold Weather When Waking (Cold Weather)
COLD WEATHER
Chamber indie folk Cold Weather has a gentle touch that might just knock you over with their delicate, yet intense album When Waking. Frontman Mark Ramsey’s vocals not only have a similar tone to Elliott Smith, they also have that emotional delivery where is seems like he’s not actually going to get the words out. Producer Jake Hanner, who has been the production master-mind of the indie-pop Donora, shows his versatility when working with Cold Weather, adding his magic touch here and there. He lets Ramsey and the rest of the band set the tone for this fantastic album. (CH) 

5. Mariage Blanc No Autobiography (Mariage Blanc)
MARIAGE BLANC
“Welcome to sunny… Pittsburgh?” Visions of 1960s Laurel Canyon don’t come to mind when pondering the Steel City, but local “melancholy pop” band Mariage Blanc have successfully summoned the feelings of a lazy afternoon in the California mountains on their new record “No Autobiography.” Lush instrumentation complements the subdued, lilted, sometimes whispered singing of a band that has aged like a fine California wine. Mariage Blanc demonstrates that, while rock and roll may be for the kids, the maturity and refinement that comes with age sounds incredibly compelling. (JS)

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Every Wednesday at 9:13 am, one of WYEP’s trusted music experts joins me (Cindy Howes) on The Morning Mix to play a couple favorite new songs and share some insight. Today we welcome Sarah Wardrop from WFUV in New York!

In case you missed, it here’s what she played:

The Suffers, "Stay" - Although "Stay" was released on an EP earlier this year, it's worth featuring a new-ish track today to spread the word that there is a full-length, debut album from The Suffers coming in early 2016. This 10-piece Houston band is fronted by the electric Kam Franklin, and the retro-soul side they wowed Letterman with in March is only part of what they do. There's R&B, hip hop and cumbia mixed in, and you get a taste of a slower groove with this track.

Martin Courtney, "Airport Bar" - Real Estate vocalist and guitarist Martin Courtney is stepping out solo (for now) with his debut album, Many Moons. It's out at the end of this month, and its sweeping, melodic warmth, winding guitar lines and lush arrangements make for a perfect Fall soundtrack. The closing song "Airport Bar" has a setting much less pastoral than its sound, but in Courtney's hands, the combo works (and might improve your next airport bar experience).

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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

In case you missed, it here's what Patrick played:

Eternal Summers, “Gold and Stone” - “Gold and Stone” is the title track from the Virginia-based trios’s upcoming fourth album out on June 2nd. They've spent most of their career crafting jangling, psychedelic tinged alt-rock in the vein of the Stone Roses and the the La’s, and “Gold and Stone” is just an excellent example of that style. Lead singer Nicole Yun boasts a ghostly version of Dolores O'Riordan's (The Cranberries) voice, and ushers along the beautifully simple guitar parts and wordless vocal melodies to a series of satisfying crescendos. The group stops by the Smiling Moose on Thursday, May 7.

Tanlines, “Slipping Away” - The Brooklyn-based dance-pop duo Tanlines make music that's perpetually ready for the summer, and they seem to always have a habit of releasing music in the spring months, presumably allowing listeners enough time to get their barbecue playlists ready. And now, they've just dropped "Slipping Away," the second single from their upcoming sophomore release Highlights (out May 19) and it's one of the group's best tracks to date: a shimmery, new wave blast of summery pop tinged with a hint of melancholy (aka, Tanlines' wheelhouse). They'll be in town on June 26 at Mr. Small's.

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Oscars

Joey Spehar and Cindy Howes review and talk about the nominations for Best Original song at this years Oscars. Listen to the audio:

Joey and Cindy Review Oscar Best Orig Song Noms 2015 by Cindy Howes on Mixcloud

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2014 has been interesting and varied in Pittsburgh music. New venues, labels and bands emerged to create a diverse and vibrant music community that continues to surprise and inspire us. These five acts are among the elite in our city. Please get out there and see their shows and buy their records. Music is a huge part of what Pittsburgh is and it's exciting to be a part of the ever evolving music scene. Make sure you catch two hours of the best in Pittsburgh music 2014 on WYEP's Local Year in Review; airing New Year's Eve and New Year's Day on 91.3!

*** WYEP's Top 5 Local Acts for 2014 ***

1. The Early Mays
The Early Mays (Bird On The Wing)

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 The Early Mays are three talented writers, singers, and instrumentalists, coming together on a masterpiece of a debut album. It is clear that the folk trio— Judith Avers, Emily Pinkerton and Ellen Gozion—carefully crafted each other’s songs by adding emotionally stirring harmonies and delicate folk instrumentation (banjo, fiddle, and organ). While playing together for the first time at a late-night Christmas Eve service, they realized the full potential of future collaborations, thus forming The Early Mays. Using crowd funding to source their self-titled debut, the group brings traditional and original material to spectacular life. This is more than a band that writes and performs songs; it’s a group of serious musicologists who have studied the folk genre all their lives. It’s a rare combination of knowledge and talent. (CH).

2. Chet Vincent & The Big Bend
Unconventional Dog (Wild Kindness)

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Formerly focused on folk and alt-country, Chet Vincent & the Big Bend’s Unconventional Dog is blasting, blues-powered rock and roll at its finest. It sounds as if Cracker’s David Lowery were fronting The Black Keys. Front man, Chet Vincent has taken a step back from the mix to give his all-star band more of a showcase on this home-recorded album (at the drummer’s parents’ Point Breeze mansion). There are hints of the old-time Country Chet with songs like “Three Hens.” Most tracks are dense with swirling layers and effects that drive home raw, dark emotions such as songs like “Doubter’s Blues” and “She Sold Me Out.” (CH)

 3. Kai Roberts
Carnegie Café (Kai Roberts)

Kai Roberts PROMO

From its old-school influence to its message about dealing with mental health issues, there’s a lot to love about rapper Kai Roberts’ album Carnegie Café. After taking leave from Carnegie Mellon in order to deal with chronic mental issues, Roberts turned to music to cope with an extreme anxiety and panic disorder. The album he created was born out of poetry that expressed Roberts’ thoughts and frustrations about college life—a reflection that could serve as reference for many struggling college students. The execution of his positive message is a homerun with stellar R&B style production, guitar work, and smooth vocal delivery. (CH)

4. Essential Machine
Underneath the Earth (Silver Seed Records)

Essential Machine PROMO

This Greensburg family band continues to mature and perfect its whimsically folk/pop sound on its third album, Underneath the Earth. This time around, husband and wife RJ and Karen Dietrich have added guitarist Matthew Kilroy and occasionally their son Roby J to the lineup. Essential Machine has also managed to capture the spirit of its live show on tape, which is often a difficult task for many recording artists. The earnest production, poetic lyrics, and breezy melodies make the record flow and call to mind Mumford & Sons, The Breeders (on the quieter tracks) and Belle & Sebastian. (CH)

5. 1,2,3
Big Weather (American Hermitage Records)

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How do you review this album? It’s over an hour long, and has unusual spoken word and instrumentals based around an array of characters experiencing various types of big weather. The traditional songs on Big Weather are fantastic, with traces of Cat Stevens, Devendra Banhart, and some kind of perfectly freaky rock and roll, thanks to Nic Snyder’s raspy falsetto, displayed on songs like “When The Levee Broke at the County Fair.” It’s an album that hangs in the fringes for fans of rock music. The band is tight, yet experimental as this sophomore record pleases, but challenges the listener. (CH)

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Fans of My Morning Jacket have a a lot to be excited for in the future despite a relatively quiet year for the band. In a recent interview front man Jim James has revealed that they are currently working on a new studio album. "We are going to some cool new places and just enjoying playing music together as a band" said James when pressed for details on the album. The new album has a tentative fall release date.

Read more on My Morning Jacket and hear the Jim James interview at JamBase.

Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell have begun working on a new duet album together following the success and chemistry the two artists experienced with 2013's Old Yellow Moon. "We bring out a lot of good stuff in each other" said Crowell, "we just understood that and have to have more time to explore that". No release date has been slated for the new album.

Read more on the new Harris and Crowell album at The Boot.

Despite speculation, legendary musician Joni Mitchell has stated that Taylor Swift will never portray her on film. An adaptation for the book "Girls Like Us" has been in the works for years and many have speculated that Swift would be a perfect fit for Mitchell, "all you've got is a girl with high cheek bones" Mitchell has stated she told the films producer, "you don't have great scenes"

More can be read on Joni Mitchell's biopic at the New York Daily News.

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Kurt Coabain: Montage of Heck is being labeled the first fully authorized documentary about the life of the iconic musician and is being executive produced by Cobain's daughter Frances Bean Cobain. The Documentary which is being scheduled to air on HBO in  2015. The Film is promising to feature never before seen footage including home movies, photography, artwork and recordings as well as many Nirvana performances and even unheard original Cobain songs. The announcement of "Montage of Heck" follows the release of Cobain's 80's mix tape of the same name earlier this month.

Read more on the Cobain documentary at Wondering Sound.

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As Early as June James Blake revealed that his next album was as much as half way done and that work was progressing well. In a recent interview Blake reveals that the album is now roughly 70% done and could be released in as short as five months. Recent reports have suggested that  Blake is working with a myriad of new production techniques and that the rumored collaboration with Kanye West is still a possibility. Read more on James Blake and his upcoming projects at SPIN.

After years of being stuck in development and pre-production a film about the life of Janis Joplin appears to finally be happening. Get It While you Can  is being reported to star Amy Adams as the iconic singer songwriter, after many names have been attached to the on again off again project. With Adams officially attached, filming could begin as early as next year. Read more on the Janis Joplin Biopic at SPIN.

A recent poll in has revealed the top funeral song in Britain to be Monty Python's "Always Look on the Bright side of Life" a humorous song originally featured in the comedy groups film The Life of Brian. The poll has revealed that classical songs are on the way out in the funeral business making way for more contemporary works from film and television. More can be read on this story at NME.

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With the Exception of a best of release the band Ride has been on a nearly 14 year hiatus. Fans have decided to reunite in 2015 for  a UK tour as well as limited appearances in Toronto and New York. "We want to give the people what they want" stated front man Mark Gardener, however while there are no official plans for a new LP Gardener also has stated that it is not an impossibility, "That's not to say we Wouldn't make new music". Read More on Ride's return and their tour at NME.

Bob Marley was clear on his stance on Marijuana use and his family has decided that the time is right to launch a consumer cannabis brand under their family name. "Marley Natural" is set to launch next year and include an extensive product line including hand made accessories, cannabis infused lotions and balms as well as various cannabis strains. Marley Natural is to be owned an operated by Seattle based company Privateer Holdings. To learn more about Marley Natural visit Consequence of sound.

Lana Del Ray has new Oscar hopes after contributing two songs to the Tim Burton film "Big Eyes". The songs "I Can Fly" which will be featured in the credits of the film and "Big Eyes" which is to given a spot right in the middle of the film are Del Ray originals and the film executives expect to receive positive reactions at the Academy Awards. Read more on "Big Eyes" and Lana Del Ray at SPIN.

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Plans for U2 to have a week long residency on Jimmy Fallon's Tonight Show have been cancelled do to injuries sustained by Bono During a cycling incident. reports suggest that Bono's arm will require surgery after reportedly being broken during a bicycle spill in New York's Central Park. Despite having to cancel their week long stay on the Tonight Show there seems to be no hard feelings between the band and Fallon and U2's official website has stated "Thanks to Jimmy Fallon and everyone at the show for their understanding". U2 hopes to fulfill the Tonight Show residency at a later date.

Read more on Bono's injury and Tonight show cancellation, at NME.

Neil Young has called for his fans to boycott Starbucks products due to the company's ties with Monsanto, a company involved in a lawsuit against the state of Vermont over genetically modified organism legislation. A law was passed in Vermont requiring food producers label all foods containing GMOs which prompted Monsanto and other companies to file a lawsuit against the state. Young despite loving his morning coffee hopes that boycotting Starbucks will cause a ripple affect grabbing the attention of other companies. "Monsanto might not care what we think" says Young "But as a public facing company Starbucks does".

Read more on Neil Young's Starbucks Boycott at NME music news.

News that Jimmy Page would be doing several Book Signing events following the release of his new book Jimmy Page has had fans eagerly anticipating the opportunity to have the guitarist sign their copies. Some however may be disappointed to learn that the Signing will actually be a stamping. despite early news that Page would be signing books, official reports have indicated that Page will be using his custom stamp on all books at the events.

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