All posts filed under: Featured


CD Review: Now That’s What I Call Halloween

It’s so interesting that I was asked to review Now That’s What I Call Halloween, a definitive, all-encompassing compilation of Halloween songs, scary film score highlights, and other soundscapes from the makers of the Now That’s What I Call Music series. It’s the perfect thing to throw on at a Halloween party or when trick-or-treaters are coming and going, and I know a thing or two about the proper way to celebrate Halloween. You see, I invented the word spooktacular. But actually, you know what? That’s neither here nor there. My personal achievements and lasting, priceless contributions to the vernacular have nothing to do with Now That’s What I Call Halloween. This is about the album, which joyfully and wonderfully celebrates this Halloween season, a season defined by jack-o-lanterns, pumpkin-flavored everything, and clever neologisms that combine a well-known superlative word with a word that describes the Halloween season. Here’s a bit of what you will find on the Now That’s Call I Call Halloween compilation, which is, in a word, and I have no choice here, …

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Stream The New Nat Jay EP (A Popdose Premiere)

Last year, Vancouver’s Nat Jay crashed the Cheryl Cole, Taylor Swift and Charli XCX party on my Top Pop Albums of 2014 list with her stunning debut album, All I Think When I Wake Up. This album is nominated for Pop Album of the Year at the 2015 Western Canadian Music Awards happening later this month. To celebrate her nomination and help a wounded nation heal from the Avril Lavigne/Chad Kroeger split, Jay releases an encore EP, Quiet Dreams, on September 8th. Among the EP highlights, two acoustic versions of songs from the album, plus ‘Something This Way Comes’, a duet with Hey Ocean! lead singer, Ashleigh Ball, and a lovely rendition of Pat Benatar’s ‘We Belong’. “There’s an intimacy in an acoustic performance that can be extremely moving for the audience, and as a listener, this has always been my favorite kind of music to experience,” said Jay at the EP’s completion. “It was exciting to see these songs come to life in such a quiet and simple setting. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and I was lucky to be …


First Listen: Renee & Friends – Gather Round featuring Lisa Loeb

Renee & Friends is just that. Renee Stahl and a bunch of her friends writing and recording songs with producer Rich Jacques for her new album Simpatico.  Her circle of friends on this album include Lisa Loeb, Maya Rudolph, Glen Phillips of Toad The Wet Sprocket, Colin Hay, Caspar Babypants, Molly Shannon and Jeremy Toback – her partner in crime from Renee & Jeremy. Simpatico will be released August 28th. First listen: ‘Gather Round’ featuring Lisa Loeb is the lead track off of Simpatico.  All tracks on the album are originals, except Renee & Maya Rudolph covering ‘Starfish and Coffee’ by Prince, which you can stream via SoundCloud. And Molly Shannon’s song “Happiness” is from the musical “You’re a good man, Charlie Brown.” You can pre-order the album straight from their website:

Jim Gaffigan Show Cast

Impastor and Jim Gaffigan Turn TV Land into the New HBO

TV Land, once Cable TV’s Cousin Oliver, has gone all Marsha, Marsha, Marsha seemingly overnight. Their latest one-two punch, The Jim Gaffigan Show and Impastor, rival the best comedic fare on HBO and Comedy Central and just might be the best two scripted series on TV this summer. The Jim Gaffigan Show Gaffigan mines his irreverent family-themed adult stand-up routine to fuel his first headline series (after a solid two year run with a supporting role on TBS’s My Guys). Ashley Williams (How I Met Your Mother) is perfectly cast as the fictional Jeannie Gaffigan; the real Jeannie serves as a show producer and writer. The Fat Dad/Hot Wife combo is a sitcom staple; what makes this one more believable than the rest is the fact that semi-fictional Jim and Jeannie work as well on screen as the real ones do off screen. Raising five kids in a 2-bedroom New York apartment is a fertile premise, with the Big Apple cast as a supporting character (reprising her role from Sex and the City). Adam Goldberg plays Jim’s BFF ‘Dave’ no differently than every other time ‘Adam …

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Trans TV: The Big Debate About “I Am Cait” and “I Am Jazz”

As POPDOSE’s resident non-gender conforming correspondent, I thought it was high time to weigh in on this fabulous summer of Trans television: I Am Cait (E!) and I Am Jazz (TLC). What started off as a traditional television review (this is POPDOSE after all) turned into a more personal exploration leading to the question, Should Caitlyn Jenner be THE voice of the transgender Community? TV in and “on” Transition TV has come a long way since men in dresses were the punchline (M*A*S*H, Bosom Buddies) or Trans characters were relegated to that of serial killers or murder victims. Let’s not even talk about soap operas where female actresses are revealed as trans! in a shocking plot twist. I hear CBS’s Big Brother has a trans contestant this season, but that’s just a stunt. Let’s talk about people who are actually doing something positive. This summer, we’re being treated to two reality shows about budding icons in Trans culture. They have a lot in common; redundant titles (technically Jazz claimed the “I Am…” bit first), trans topics (“coming out” and “day in the life stories”) and captivating leads …


Popdose Vinyl Giveaway: Diary of A Teenage Girl Soundtrack

The fine folks at Rhino Records are set to release the original soundtrack for the film Diary of A Teenage Girl, set in 1976 San Francisco, starring Kristen Wiig and Alexander Skarsgard. The record will be released, Friday August 7th (same day s as the movie which is getting great reviews) and Popdose is proud to offer a poster  & vinyl giveaway for the wonderful collection of songs from HEART, Nico, The Stooges, and Television. Plus, an original track from Nate Heller ft. Amber Coffman from Dirty Projectors. Track list: Dreamsong (feat. Amber Coffman) – Nate Heller Looking For The Magic – Dwight Twilley Band Dreamboat Annie – Heart Wrap Your Troubles In Dreams – Nico Next Plane To London – Rose Garden Precious Star – T. Rex Crying Laughing Loving Lying (2006 Remastered Version) – Labi Siffre It It’s Good To You (It’s Good For You) – Barbara & The Browns Roll Away The Stone – MOTT The HOOPLE Down On The Street – The Stooges A Fool In Love – Frankie Miller See No Evil – Television …


Review: Big Lazy – “Don’t Cross Myrtle”

Stephen Ulrich and his jazz/rock noir band Big Lazy will take up residency at the renowned Brooklyn joint Barbes starting in a couple short days and there seems like no better reason to take a second glance at the 2014 gem of a record that slipped below our radar here at Popdose, that comeback kid LP, the group’s first outing since 2006, Don’t Cross Myrtle. All you really need to know about Myrtle is that it’s the trio’s best record to date and that’s saying a goddamn lot. But better sounding than “Skinless, Boneless?” More killer than “Tel Aviv Taxi?” Hu-f**in-zzah. The entire thing, like the group’s whole twisted back catalog, is a story of intersections: the intersection of rockabilly and icy-smooth menthol smoke, the intersection of surf music and David Lynch films, that of jazz and beatnik composition, that of big-sky country possibilities and film-noir endings. It’s all in there for the picking. Dive right in. Album-opener “Minor Problem,” with its vaguely Afro-Cuban grooves and lurching upright bass, is menacing, the evil twin to …

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10 Essential September New Releases for Kids of the Eighties

For jaded hipster Millennials and their streaming services, September 2015 will be just another month of the year, a time to wander aimlessly through millions of songs and hundreds of commercials. For record collectors, especially whose who grew up in the 1980’s or love 80’s music, September 2015 just might be the greatest month in world history. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many blockbuster releases hitting the shelves, if it weren’t for Gerry Galipault’s comprehensive and addictive new release calendars on Pause and Play, I would be completely lost. Let’s tear open his calendars and dive on in: September 2 Against Me! • The Libertines • Public Image Limited Against Me! • 23 Live Sex Acts Since coming out as transgender in the pages of Rolling Stone, Laura Jane Grace has risen from being unfairly tagged as a “major label sell out” to the much-deserved status as a national icon. Best of all, Grace is finally being recognized as one of the era’s top songwriters and performers. With an Emmy nomination under her …


CONCERT REVIEW: U2, Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON, July 6, 2015

For a group that once loudly and proudly proclaimed that they were reapplying for the job of best band in the world, U2 have faced their share of humbling challenges in recent months: a widely panned deal with Apple that confused and angered iTunes users, a new album released to decidedly mixed reviews (sorry, Rolling Stone!), a bicycle accident that required major surgery and hampered the album’s launch, and a tour that got off to a rather unsteady start. In some ways, the backlash against Songs of Innocence‘s release has been so strong to now merit its own backlash—and may have helped to turn into unlikely underdogs a band that can claim to have sold more than 98 percent of all tickets to 68 arena dates through the end of 2015. While U2’s power as a live draw seems largely undiminished, they went through great pains in the lead-up to the iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE Tour to emphasize that they had no intention of settling comfortably into a rock middle age of filling arenas to play crowd-pleasing-but-rote greatest-hits sets that would include …

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Popdose Premiere: Last Days of April, “Oh Well”

Don’t let the Swedish passports fool you, Sea of Clouds by Last Days of April, out last week on Tapete Records, is not your typical Robyn or Max Martin confection. Imagine a slow simmering skillet of indie rock-fueled deep country Americana, seasoned by Tom Petty, sad Beck, Fountains of Wayne, My Morning Jacket, the Ravonettes and David Lynch. Clouds is the band’s 9th album across a prolific 20 years. Led by singer Karl Larsson, Last Days of April decamped to Atlantis Studios in Stockholm and recorded the entire album to analog tape in two and a half days. The result is a cohesive and magnificent listen. Take a peek inside the studio for the POPDOSE world premiere of album highlight, ‘Oh Well’: While ‘Oh Well’ is a quieter affair, there is plenty of thunder to be heard elsewhere, most notably the guitar solo that crescendos ‘The Thunder & The Storm’: Get Sea of Clouds on CD and vinyl or on iTunes and Amazon MP3. For the newly enlisted fans of the band, this summer also marks the 10th anniversary of Larsson’s hit ‘Off a Cliff’, presented …

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Sarah Cracknell, Adam Lambert, FFS Lead June Bloom New Releases

Forget Christmas or “Christmas in July”, most of the year’s top new albums arrive this month to a record store (way to go!), digital retailer (sure why not?) or streaming service (you are killing the music industry) near you. Sarah Cracknell • Red Kite Her name might not ring a bell, but her voice will flood your memory holes with 20 years of effervescent post acid indie house dance pop singles dreamily sung through her day job in Saint Etienne. For the second time in as many decades, Cracknell leaves bandmates Pete Wiggs and Bob Stanley in the train station to cut off on a solo holiday. 1997’s Lipslide (and companion EP, Kelly’s Locker) were charming if unmemorable affairs, but Red Kite (out this week on Cherry Red) is much more lush and ambitious and easily ranks high among her best work (for the record, I am more of a Finisterre man than team Foxbase Alpha). The dreamy waltz, ‘On The Swings’, whisks you out of London into the English countryside, Oxfordshire to be exact, where Red Kite was …


Artist Vs. The Artist — Le Petit Prince Rides Again

Troy Gua isn’t the first artist to run afoul of the Artist currently known as Prince, we all remember that dancing toddler who was served with a Cease & Desist letter in 2007. However the wet towel snap of the law stung a little bit more for Gua for he had been an ardent fan of Prince for close to 30 years at the time (read SPIN‘s account of the drama). Gua’s work(s) of art, Le Petit Prince, featured a 1/6th scale marionette of the musical super genius posed in re-creations of landmark Prince album covers, video moments and film clips. The project went viral, gaining fans around the world including ?uestlove of the Roots who frequently wears an LPP shirt while DJing and sported one of Troy’s custom-made  ‘<3’ emblems on his lapel the night Prince played Fallon. You would think that Prince would be honored, but we all remember, Prince has similarly refused to grant “Weird Al” Yankovic permission to parody his songs for years. Under the protection of the law, Weird Al …

(Exclusive Coverage) Prince performs onstage during his "HitnRun" tour at Sony Centre For Performing Arts on May 19, 2015 in Toronto, Canada.

CONCERT REVIEW: Prince & 3RDEYEGIRL, Sony Centre for the Performing Arts, Toronto, ON, May 19, 2015 (11:00PM show)

Well, he owed Toronto this much! No, Prince Rogers Nelson does not really owe anything to anyone, of course, but after speculation and confusion over two rumoured shows at Massey Hall last November that never happened and sent hundreds of disgruntled fans home after waiting in the rain for hours, there was an almost palpable feeling of anticipation and excitement as more than 3,000 concertgoers filled the Sony Centre on Tuesday for Prince’s second sellout show of the night, perhaps sensing that the singer would try to make up for that disappointment. Prince and 3RDEYEGIRL (which includes Toronto’s Donna Grantis on guitar) took the stage shortly after 11:30pm, opening with an 8-minute “reloaded” version of “Let’s Go Crazy” that included some heavy blues riffing and a nod to the Edgar Winter Group’s “Frankenstein”. While his powerful trio of backing singers and the audience did the heavy lifting on vocals during “Raspberry Beret” and “U Got the Look”, Prince seemed happy to let his fingers do most of the talking, coyly asking, “Can I play my guitar?” during the …

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The Spectacular Spectacular Trans Mission of Isley Reust

Isley Reust is a force of nature. While most everyone in Hollywood is a multi-hyphenate of some kind (writer/producer/model) with an off-resume day job, Isley is making waves on several fronts by thrusting her art and herself into the world.  She’s an activist for the LGB and Transgender communities, the title subject of a film to come out next year, and the guitarist for a new band, Spectacular Spectacular, that is prepping a summer tour up the West Coast and Canada. Isley was also featured in the AOL series, True Trans, hosted by Laura Jane Grace of Against Me! Hayden Black, the writer/director/co-star of Goodnight Burbank (Laura Silverman, Dominic Monaghan), urged me to check out Spectacular Spectacular’s first single, ‘Orange Juice’ after he lined up the band’s music to appear in his upcoming animated series, Gen Zed. “Isley’s music is just phenomenal so when she offered Gen Zed an exclusive track, all of us here just flipped,” said Black. “Gen Zed, which is coming out later this year, is the first animated series to feature a …


VIDEO PREMIERE: Boh Doran – ‘Rainbow’

After building firm, yet humble roots in the Midwest, soulful indie pop singer-songwriter Boh Doran headed East and formed Milly Beau. Four capable years later, it was time for a fresh start. Boh packed her bags for the West Coast to start a solo career and began working with Jon Kaplan (New Politics, Ingrid Michaelson, A Great Big World) and Ethan Mentzer (The Click 5). Her solo debut EP will be released later this year on Big Stuff Records. The stop-action video for her infectious first single ‘Rainbow’ was directed by Titantic Sinclair  who has also worked with Børns, Mars Argo, Stepdad and others. ‘Rainbow’ is available now via iTunes. You can find Boh on select Midwest tour dates in May with The Damnwells. St Louis The Firebird w/The Damnwells 5/14 Chicago Double Door w/The Damnwells 5/16 Minneapolis Icehouse w/Devata Daun 5/17


Record Store Day Founder Responds To Popdose Op-Ed

My POPDOSE op-ed on how to build a better record store day turned into a bit of a lightning rod when Salon picked it up and added an incendiary new headline. In both forums, many people shared part of my opinion and others said I have it all wrong. One reader pointed me to an article by (no not that) Chris Brown that put the number of RSD titles on eBay in perspective with total titles offered and sold. Another called me a curmudgeon, which is more charitable than many of the other insults hurled my way from people who likely didn’t ready beyond the headline or lead. If the founders of Record Store Day responded to interview requests from every blogger with an opinion, they would have no time to plan the event. But since we got the Salon bump, they welcomed my offer to share their perspective. So with that, here’s an unedited Q&A with Michael Kurtz, Co-founder, Record Store Day and Chevalier de Ordre des Arts Et Des Lettres, France. POPDOSE: We agree on the intentions of Record Store Day — …

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Why Record Store Day 2015 Should Be The Last

People have been griping about eBay since the beginning, but there are many more reasons why we should save our independent record stores by abolishing Record Store Day. As a kid, I never wanted to be an athlete. That’s why I became a record collector. Long before the Internet, local Cleveland-area record stores like Wax Stacks, Record Exchange, Chris’s Warped Records, Time Traveler, Peaches and Record Revolution were the places to discover bands and scenes from around he world, connect with kindred spirits and turn on or get turned onto life changing music. And then, with Record Store Day, record collecting became a highly competitive full contact sport and endurance event. You know the drill: Arrive at 4:00 AM on a blustery April morning and STILL not be the first in line. Incur the wrath of your line mates when you dare take a pee break in the nearest Starbucks or alley. Endure the stench of men who have not showered or likely left their parents’ basement in months. Get pushed around by hired goons and their extended family …