Here it is; Bored In Pittsburgh’s favorite local tracks from the past year, arranged in no particular order. You can check out this handy user’s guide if you want to locate a specific track or artist.
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Part Two found here
Take Me With You – The Mercy Fight
The Mercy Fight sounds like a dystopian TV battle-to-the-death for the prize of student loan forgiveness. “The Mercy Fight” is actually a track from the 80’s-worshipping group Take Me With You. A synth-heavy jock jam for the modern indie kid, it’s got everything you need for a training montage: booming drums doused in gated reverb, menacing interludes, and a soaring call-and-response chorus. Frontwoman Elizabeth warns, “Only one goes home tonight,” and her bandmates chime in, “Are you ready?” With this song at your back, you could easily win the fictional Mercy Fight and get that loan forgiveness. Let the games begin.
Sierra Sellers – Cookout
Over the past few years, Pittsburgh R&B fans have grown familiar with the warm neo-soul croon of Sierra Sellers. This summer, they got to hear her spit bars, too. On the too-cool-for-everything single “Cookout,” produced by local staples Charlie Scott and Nice Rec, Sellers brushes off the toxins with an effortless flow, murmuring, “You know broken trust hit you like a Uzi do/That’s why I’m in the cut, chilling with a chosen few,” before bringing the hammer down in the chorus and officially rescinding some invitations to the Cookout. For Sellers, revenge is best served hot on the grill, with a tasty bassline on the side.
Molly Alphabet – For The Birds
Country singer Molly Alphabet went full Beatles on “For The Birds,” channeling the music hall jaunts of the band’s latter days. Atop an easy Schmaltzville shuffle, complete with strings and organ, Alphabet tells the tale of Mary Anne, a woman who sounds almost as lonely as Eleanor Rigby herself; she takes the time to build a little house for a bluebird, only to have it reject her attention. Alphabet gently admonishes her protagonist, “You’ve got to feed the birds for you/And not for the birds.” It’s a kitschily poignant reminder to make sure that your own cup is full before turning your attention to someone else’s, a slice of self care that works just as well here as it would on Abbey Road.
C.Scott – Venus (ft. Hubbs)
Producer/bassist C.Scott seems to pop up in the credits of every Pittsburgh release, no matter the genre; the dude is everywhere. It’s only proper, then, that he shares the spotlight with Penn Hills rapper Hubbs on “Venus,” the highlight from Scott’s October release, Phase Shifting. Overtop Scott’s cosmic boom-bap instrumental, carried by a dusty drum loop and sci-fi samples, Hubbs goes full fourth dimension, referencing celestial beings, demons, and the Matrix, but keeps one eye fixed on the “Draco wars” of Earth. A heady, retrofuturist collaboration from two of the city’s best.
The Petals – Mercy Kill
The switch-up that The Petals pull halfway through “Mercy Kill” is one of the most satisfying musical moments of this entire rotten year. Let’s set the scene: things have been shambling along at a jangly, lackadaisical waltz’s pace, and then, all of a sudden, frontman Aaron Sheedy jacks up the distortion on his guitar and the band charges into a 4/4 power pop anthem. Sheedy belts out, “Swiiiiiiiim awaaaay to the shoreline,” like a Yinzer Simon Neil, and you can’t help but get swept up in the current from that point on. A rousing fist-pumper of a track.
Livefromthecity – Whoa!
In March, Livefromthecity tweeted, “No bullshit, I really think I’m the best rapper in Pittsburgh.” In September, he made the kind of all-encompassing statement that backs up such a bold claim. “Whoa,” could be anything; a victorious shout, an exclamation of wonder, a warning to slow down, or a simple ad-lib. On “Whoa!” it’s all of these things. Overtop a trunk-rattling, bass-boosted instrumental (produced by Cooxie Berriana), Live uses his rich baritone to celebrate his successes and reflect on his struggles, pouring up libations while remembering the stench of burnt crack and the sight of dead bodies. “Whoa!” is the rare attempt at a whole-city anthem that actually delivers; sometimes the shortest phrases do the most work.