All posts filed under: Music

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ALBUM REVIEW: HUNGER, “For Love”

This Vienna, Austria-based trio firmly have their roots in the synth pop of the early-to-mid ’80’s,  but that doesn’t necessarily make them revivalists or that it’s a bad thing.  On For Love, their debut release, while most of the make-up is, indeed, synth-pop, there’s also a certain amount of “current” sounds – enough to keep the listener’s attention.  The key to this album is simply this – synthesized or not, these songs have melody and structure. Yes, the opening track, “Amused” instantly takes you back to 1982 (and for me, the halcyon days of WLIR radio, here in New York).  Close your eyes and you can hear it wedged between The Teardrop Explodes and China Crisis; it’s something that certainly tugs at my nostalgic side and the fact that it has a catchy chorus only sweetens the listening.  “Gold” sounds like a bit more now, with a strong dance groove and some nice harmonies – it should be noted that vocalist Lucas Fendrich is a very good singer; strong and confident sounding.  “Evermore” has a …

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Popdose’s Ridiculously Late Summer of 2016 Music Roundup

Before we review a bunch of stellar new records, let’s have a quick recap of the year: fireworks, hangover, Bowie dies. Frey dies. Prince dies. Vanity, George Martin, Merle, Prince Be, Alan Vega oh fuck it, who has time to listen to NEW music? Any why the rush to review it the week it comes out? Albums are not like movies. Movies provide 2 hours of entertainment and then we hit the food court and get on with our lives. Albums become part of our lives. At best, they help us better experience the highs and lows of being alive. At worst, they wind up in the used album bin. And after listening to crates of classics for the past few months, I’ve reached the catharsis of tragedy. Life goes on as new artists and potential classics present themselves to heal the pain of lost legends. As shitty as 2016 has been for all the goodbyes, it has been one hell of a year for stirring hellos. So, here we go… onDeadWaves onDeadWaves is a new duo …

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ALBUM REVIEW: BIG EYES, “Stake My Claim”

This Brooklyn-born band, led by singer-guitarist Kait Eldridge has a punchy, crisp sound, full of high energy, guitar driven pop in that classic late ’70’s/early ’80’s post-punk vein.  Good production and a tight rhythm section give Stake My Claim, their third effort, a great feel.  It also helps that the songs are well-constructed and catchy. The title track kicks off the collection and is 100 m.p.h. before it comes to a quick and sudden stop, going into “Behind Your Eyes” which is infectious – and it has to be said, Ms. Eldridge’s vocals are warm and embracing (think of a less-raw Joan Jett) and her guitar sound has a great crunch to it; “Just Not Right” is a little slower but again, an instantly catchy number that goes into full throttle in the middle – she certainly knows how to write a song and also to keep it in economic time.  “Leave This Town” is a “visual” track – you can imaging a movie in your mind to the lyrics; “When You Were 25” is …

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ALBUM REVIEW: WAITING FOR HENRY, “Town Called Patience”

This sophomore effort from Waiting For Henry is the perfect elixir to a hot, uninspiring summer – breezy, melodic and guitar-laden end-to-end.  The New York/New Jersey-rooted band has hit stride and helping to give the songs even greater impact is the production work of the legendary Mitch Easter, as it was recorded down at Easter’s Fidelitorium in Kernersville, North Carolina and has the mark of some of Easter’s best know and most acclaimed work (especially Reckoning). The wall of guitar sound gets proceedings underway with the heavy but gripping “Musconetcong”; aside from the fiery solo, the delicious acoustic guitars can be not only felt but heard along with some very well-placed harmonies; “Gutterball” sounds like a manic, runaway train revisitation of “Driver 8” that goes at breakneck speed but leaves you beating out the rhythm along the track; “Flipclock” is more sedate and subdued but has a feel that makes this one of the album’s standouts – and listen for those multiple harmonies and “Palms” is simple, down-home new country – the right amount of …

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BOXSET REVIEW: ALCATRAZZ, “The Ultimate Fortress Rock Set” (6 CD set)

A brief history of one of the better heavy bands of the early ’80’s – and one which even captured my imagination (having been a fan of Graham Bonnet when he was in Rainbow):  Alcatrazz were formed in 1981 (allegedly in Graham Bonnet’s garage) and recorded three studio and one official live album before spiltting in 1987. They reformed in 2006, trading under the moniker of ‘Alcatrazz featuring Graham Bonnet’, mainly to tour Japan, but also played some gigs on the West Coast. A further version, Escape from Alcatrazz, toured Japan last year. These six discs are for hardcore Alcatrazz fans since it contains the entire studio output, plus various live offerings both on CD and DVD, and numerous bonus tracks and rarities – some available for the first time. here The anthology kicks off with the classic debut album, released in 1983, No Parole for Rock and Roll, which has a predictably negative history of its own, due to the record label’s problems (Rocshire, distributed by RCA). The line-up for this release was (ex-Rainbow …

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE MONOCHROME SET, “Cosmonaut”

The long and storied career of The Monochrome Set, which first began in 1978 has been rejuvenated/reactivated several times, most recently in 2010 and have been releasing new music since – which leads us to the latest, Cosmonaut.  There’s never been an accurate description (or really, pigeon-holing) for their sound, although rather than label them, I’d look at them as artistic contemporaries of Wire, The Fall and so on).  Sometimes New Wave, sometimes neo-psychedelic, sometimes moody and abstract, The Monochrome Set have always simply defied terms. This thirteenth album opens with an eerie theramin intro to the title track, with a very ’60’s soundtrack throttle and familiar Rickenbacker 12-string riff; “Suddenly, Last Autumn” has – again – a very ’60’s feel (think “Secret Agent Man”) with roller-rink organ punches, “Squirrel In A Hat” is very Stranglers-like – quasi-psychedelic with its organ and jazzy guitar and “Put It On The Altar” is a mix of pop and soulfulness, with female backing vocals and has “radio friendly” written all over it.  “Tigress” has a lazy, summery feel …

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POPDOSE VIDEO PREMIERE: DAVE NACHMANOFF, “One Black Swan”

A few months back, Popdose introduced you to Dave Nachmanoff, the philosopher turned guitarist, who has been axe-man to Al Stewart for many years.  Mr. Nachmanoff recently released the very complex, deeply personal concept album Spinoza’s Dream, based around the philosophies and words of the great philosophers. We’re pleased to now present to you Dave Nachmanoff’s newest video from the album, “One Black Swan”.  Kind of funky, heavy on groovy but deep in thought – this track is one of the standouts from this now-acclaimed collection. Please enjoy! http://davenach.com./index/

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ALBUM REVIEW: RUBY DEE & THE SNAKEHANDLERS, “Little Black Heart”

This Seattle-based band has been at it for 14 years and this new album from Ruby Dee & The Snakehandlers, Little Black Heart, is a definitive statement.  Aside from the sheer joyfulness, sexiness and bawdiness of their rockabilly-meets-Memphis-meets-Americana-meets Western swing, et al twang, it’s got its serious side, as this is an album born of a near tragedy.  Eight years ago, Ruby Dee had a devastating scooter accident that caused significant brain injury and trauma; she was, in many ways, forced to almost start over from scratch.  It’s a testimony to her courage and willfulness to be able to regain the ability to write songs (let alone do everything else that was crucial to her life) and resume her “other” career (she’s been a successful restauranteur in Seattle as well).  Recorded in Austin and kicking hard, this album sounds as raw as it feels in a great, natural way. “Not For Long” announces the band with a drum roll that, indeed, kicks in a classic swing style, complete with sax punches, Gretsch-sounding reverbed twang, slap …

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ALBUM REVIEW: MICHAEL LOGEN, “New Medicine”

This new release from Lewisburg, Pennsyvania native Michael Logen is, to say the least, quite impressive.  New Medicine is filled with serious, thoughtful lyrics and lush musical structure that makes it an album to be listened to and savored as a whole.  As his upbringing was in the Mennonite community, Logen’s use of spirituality and religious imagery comes into play as does the feeling of introspection and solitude; in many ways, this is a lonely person’s kind of album. Opening with the piano-based “St. Christopher”, its story is that of someone on the road who, indeed, needs the guidance of the patron saint of travelers.  A powerful start to this collection, which leads into the album’s first single, “Ready Or Not”, which is immensely catchy and is seen as a “sing-along redemption story”.  “Breaking Your Own Heart,” written by Logen and his friend, Jennifer Hanson, was recorded by Kelly Clarkson on her album, Stronger.  That album went on to win a Grammy for “Pop Album Of The Year” but here, you hear a stripped-down acoustic …

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ALBUM REVIEW: KELSEY WALDON, “I’ve Got A Way”

This is just too good.  Pure country magnificence in the grand traditional sense, with lyrical firepower and vocal skill – Kelsey Waldon, if you haven’t heard her before, is something special.  I’ve Got A Way, her sophomore effort, is filled with songs about life, love and one’s own quest for solidity within one’s self and in the outside world.  Eleven tracks with two nods to the greats by way of covering Bill Monroe and the Gosdins, this album sparkles. The opening track, “Dirty Old Town” just brings you right to the joyful sounds of pedal steel runs and delightful twang with an upbeat number and her voice, which is indescribably sweet.  “All By Myself”, the video (included here) and centerpiece is about strength and stands out as a thesis statement for the rest of the album, if not for life in general. In Ms. Waldron’s own words, it’s not about her, “it’s about everyone, and isn’t a lecture or sermon, but a statement: power is inside of each of us.”  “False King” is just a …

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ALBUM REVIEW: BIRDSONG AT MORNING, “A Slight Departure”

These Massachusetts based visionaries have created a compelling and expansive sound that is sure to broaden their fanbase.  Their interesting past and present day gigs (record producer, session musician, public broadcasting Internet director, COO of a multi-national tea import/export company) further adds to their intrigue.  Quite a heady resume for a band, no?  But indeed, this ensemble has crafted a serious, ponderous and lush piece of work that will make you stop in your tracks and pay very careful attention.  Add to the impressiveness surrounding the band that A Slight Departure was engineered by the very wonderful and talented David Minehan (he of the mighty and legendary Neighborhoods, one of my favorite bands of yore and a joy to have worked with in my other life at record labels).  While this album was initially released last year, it has now been given a 5.1 surround sound remix/reissue along with a Blu-ray disc of the corresponding videos and mni-documentary describing each song.  Alan Williams, who is the mastermind of Birdsong At Morning saw this album as …

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ALBUM REVIEW: DON GALLARDO, “Hickory”

California native and current Nashville resident Don Gallardo bows his newest album, Hickory, in the U.S., an album that drew praise when it was released in England in 2015 (four stars in Mojo) – and why we’re always late to the game with some incredibly fine music is always a mystery to me.  The songwriting and performances on this collection is stellar; a gathering of songs that goes right to the soul and mind, simultaneously. “Midnight Sounds” and its mournful organ and sax framing kicks the album off in fine, warm style; Mr. Gallardo’s voice is equally weary yet hopeful and immediately embraces you; “Banks Of The Mississippi” again employs the sound of the Hammond B3 with violin and has a slightly more sinister feel, telling tales of love gone awry (“…so much for love…”) and “Ophelia, We Cry” is an old-timey piano driven classic honky-tonk stroll – one noticeable thing is that Don Gallarrdo knows how to balance the storytelling of modern Americana and the feel, the emotion of more traditional country arrangements. “A …

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E.P. REVIEW: DANIELIA COTTON, “A Prayer”

The warmth of sounds coming from this new E.P. by Danielia Cotton cannot be understated; the slabs of structure and arrangement are sophisticated and perfectly executed.  A Prayer is only five songs, but these five tracks show how dynamic she is as a singer. Listen to the movements of “Seesaw” – it’s a dramatic and fully-realized  piece that rocks amidst the orchestral elements; choral harmonies in the background – it’s a throwback to finessed singer-songwriter rock from another generation.  “Wasted In A Prayer” has a groove but some tasty guitars and a big sound that you can easily imagine on radio – anthemic yet not pompous; “Afraid To Burn” has that unmistakable feel of “modern rock” and a subtle yet always-welcomed use of ebow-ed guitar (and her voice, I think hits perfection here).  “Anything But Ordinary” builds slowly but then breaks into a hot vibe, then back again – the back and forth of tempo is on-the-one and “A Prayer” has that unmistakable Willie Mitchell influence – soulful, passionate and joyous. So five songs may …

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POPDOSE EXCLUSIVE SINGLE PREMIERE: SPIRIT CITY, “Do What You Want”

  Utah based, indie‐pop band, Spirit City, have released their new single,“Do What You Want” which is the first track from their upcoming EP, We’re All Insane, slated for a September drop. Popdose is pleased to premiere it here, exclusively for you. “Do What You Want” reflects the idea of “carpediem.” This fun, upbeat summer song spreads the idea of following your passions and removing anything in your life that holds you back. And really, isn’t that what music is all about? Give a listen and see what you think. www.spiritcitymusic.com

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE CHORDAES, “Touch The Ground”

A bright and vibrant production; not-easy-to-pinpoint influences but hooks, structure, melodies and harmonies galore, this debut album from New York City’s The Chordaes, Touch The Ground, sounds like a very seasoned band who are studio veterans. The title track is a sophisticated, radio-friendly (which is what most of these tracks, indeed, are) song in several movements and you can hear fragments of styles ranging from The Beatles, Todd Rundgren and Van Duren with modern touches; “Get The Feeling” has a ’70’s A.M. radio feel, while musically reminiscent of The Wallflowers and is as catchy as the day is long and “Losing Control” has a very lush, almost prog-rock feel.  “One” is uptempo and textured with a neat, slightly askew piano riff; “She” is also not in standard chord structure – it almost sounds like two songs playing over each other, yet manage to make it work convincingly and “Baby Goodnight” has a big sound, with delicious acoustic guitars side by side with a subtle piano riff which yields to a 12-string Ric-sounding guitar companion. One …

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POPDOSE SINGLE PREMIERE: EILEEN CAREY, “In The Air”

Proving that love is more inspiring than hate, award-winning country star Eileen Carey has countered recent terrorist attacks, racial violence, and global turmoil with “In the Air,” her feel-good ode to the City of Love, Paris, France. Described as “blending pop, country, and rock in a way that feels uniquely hers,” Carey was recently named the 2016 National Radio Hits Favorite Female Country Artist of the Year and New Music Weekly’s Country Breakthrough Artist of the Year. “In the Air” features champagne, limousines, movie stars, and, of course, love. “In the Air” is the first single from Carey’s fifth studio album, set for release later this fall. According to Carey, “In the Air” is a heartfelt tribute to Paris, the city she visited two weeks before terrorists killed 130 people there in November of 2015: “Paris is such a whirlwind of love, romance, and excitement that the terrorist attacks there felt personal to me. I had just visited the City of Love two weeks before. It inspired me to write a love song for two …

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World Premiere Video and Interview: Allison Iraheta + Halo Circus

A few weeks ago, Allison Iraheta and fellow Idol alum Haley Reinhart totally smoked out the POPDOSE servers when we spotlighted their triumphant new albums (read it here). When the opportunity arose to host the world premiere of ‘Nothing at All’, the brand new video from Allison Iraheta + Halo Circus, we jumped at the chance. Iraheta and her partner on stage and in life, Matthew Hager, also answered a few of our burning questions. ‘Nothing at All’, directed by Len Rosen, is a visceral performance piece that gives fans a good taste of what to expect when they hit the road for their 2016 club tour. This will likely be your only chance to see the band in venues this intimate as their popularity snowballs to bigger and bigger gigs (tour info below). ‘Nothing at All” is from the band’s long-awaited full-length album, Bunny, that dropped last month.  In addition to glowing reviews like ours, the album has already received four LA Music Critic award nominations: Best Rock Band; Best Pop Female; Best Single (Desire); and Best Video (Desire). …

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POPDOSE EXCLUSIVE ALBUM PREMIERE: SOPHE LUX & THE MYSTIC, “All Are One”

Popdose is pleased to present the premiere – in full – of the debut album from Portland, Oregon’s “Sophe Lux & The Mystic,” a solo vehicle for Gwynneth Haynes, former front person for the band, “Sophe Lux” All Are One presents a universe of visionary art-rock narratives bathed in glittery psychedelic and operatic textures. The album offers lush soundscapes of interwoven angelic choruses and soulful R&B vocal leads riding electronic keyboards that evoke both 80’s electro-pop and vintage; they sound both nostalgic and futuristic. Poetic dream worlds and alternate realities converge as Haynes’ mystic theater-of-the future unfolds. She shows herself to be a dramatic story-teller and shape-shifter who is fully possessed by the characters that populate her songs: an alien child from the future who sends a comet of love and awakening to earth (“The Love Comet”), a voodoo high priestess performing a soul retrieval (“Your Wonderland”), and a robot shaman priest preaching a new humanism (“All Are One”). All Are One will be released on Friday, August 19th, 2016 http://sopheluxandthemystic.blogspot.com/

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ALBUM REVIEW: VELVET CRUSH, “Pre-Teen Symphonies”

It’s another of those beautiful moments when the very fine people at Omnivore Recordings unleash another labor of love, because that’s what they do – everything they release has a personal touch and meaning.  And I’m not going to bullshit you – I loved Velvet Crush.  They had that thing – you know, the power-pop drive that’s sustained me for most of my musical life.  They wrote and executed great songs; were a powerhouse live, sounded great and they did one of the pivotal albums of the ugly ’90’s, the classic Teenage Symphonies To God (you know the origin of the title; I’m not going to get cutesy here). This release from Omnivore is the genesis of that album – Pre-Teen Symphonies.  And it’s a wonderful companion piece to the “actual” article.  16 tracks total – 8 demos for the album and 8 live performances.  And those demos sound just as explosive as the released versions – in some cases, maybe a bit livelier.  Case and point, the classic “Hold Me Up” is beefy and …

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Video Premiere: Secret Agent 23 Skidoo – Young Soul

Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, the King of Kindie Hip Hop, is back with a new batch for the young ones. Infinity Plus One the latest from Cactus & company was released on July 15th and featured the first single ‘Secret Superhero’. Infinity Plus One finds Skidoo continuing to push boundaries. Crafty, creative lyrics that will have you thinking, plus a groove that will keep the family moving. Popdose is proud to premiere the new video for the delightfully funky ‘Young Soul‘ 23 Skidoo is playing Lollapalooza on July 28th & 29th. Full list of shows can be found here. Stream the album or better yet, buy the album.