Yearly Yinz 2019: Songs (Part 2)

Benji – Family Ties (ft. INEZ)

NPR proved prescient when it named Benji an “Artist to Watch” at the beginning of the year. The Homewood rapper went on to sign with Since the 80s, tour the country, and even get that blue checkmark next to his name on Instagram. “Family Ties,” a single dropped in May, warrants a mention on the strength of its second verse alone. Using a melodic machine gun flow, Benji takes stock of his conflicted feelings about his hometown and about his life (“I love my hood/I hate the streets […] I love my city/I hate the snow”). When he ends the verse with a mumbled, “We ain’t playing no games,” you believe him.


Skeletonized – Sledgehammer

Skeletonized makes completely deranged music, incorporating electro-noise, metal, punk, and free jazz into its panic-inducing cacophonies. “Sledgehammer,” the punishing highlight of the duo’s April album, We Gladly Feast On Those Who Would Subdue Us, hits more like an atom bomb that it does a workman’s tool. Don’t let the stoned introductory banter fool you; this song will snap you over its hulking knee. Like an Acacia Strain breakdown run through several busted computer monitors, the track is a glitchy, elephantine nightmare of cymbal crashes, guitar noise, and grinding synth. It will crush you into submission, but you’ll enjoy it.


Mold Farmer – The Drunkard and the Orc

Hail! This September, from the bowels of the Steel City, there emerged the Farmers of Mold, a trio of Ale drynkers who doth summon the lowest and the slowest of Doom Grooves from their instruments of percussion and string. Revel in their tales of Mead and Magick, most specifically the epic “The Drunkard and the Orc.” This brutal ballad doth last 40 ticks of the second hand beyond a dozen minutes, and the Farmers of Mold filleth its runtime with only the tastiest of Riffs. Raise thine Flagon and partake in the Nectar of Doom!


Think Good Audio – Are We asking for Too Much?

Think Good Audio’s Michael Haynes uses instrumental music to express strong emotion, and March’s Dirty Gods of Allegheny County was Haynes’s response to the murder of Antwon Rose at the hands of an East Pittsburgh police officer. At the start of “Are We asking for Too Much?”, you hear a clip of someone (most likely a police officer) complaining that people are too hard on cops; the song’s title seems to be posed in response. Immediately, a grimy, hard-hitting synth pattern kicks in, Haynes’s way of answering wordlessly with a resounding “NO.”


Buffalo Rose – Somewhere, TN

Imagine you’re driving through some bumblefuck flyover state prairie in a car that shudders every time it hits a crack in the pavement. Something pops in the engine, and the car rolls to a stop. You get out and look around at the boundless horizon…nobody in sight. You open your mouth to unleash a string of obscenities, but out of the breeze itself emerges the warm thrum of an upright bass, joined by swirls of banjo, yearning slide guitar, and a glorious three-part vocal harmony. It’s “Somewhere, TN” by Buffalo Rose, come to soothe your worries and stoke your wanderlust! The Roses position themselves here as bluegrass Kerouacs, boozin’ and loosin’ themselves across America’s heartland in search of “the heart of the big stampede.” They’re near broke and hungover, but free as can be. You stop worrying about the car and set off on foot.    


This Mortal Mountain – I am a Coffin

This Mortal Mountain released some of the most creative heavy music of any Pittsburgh act this year. “I Am A Coffin” used plodding sludge, expansive post-metal, spoken word passages, and wrathful screams to deliver righteous condemnation of an abuser. Metallic surfaces clatter and clang like jangled nerves while frontwoman Aryssa Shultz roars, “Fuck you for hallowing me!” with the might of an avenging deity. A harrowing and powerful listen that kicked off a harrowing year.   


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