All posts filed under: Music


Welcome To Pittsburgh #8: Horehound/T-Tops/Del Rios/Old Dream – Gooski’s, 1.08.16

Welcome to the firecrackers-strapped-to-your-Rust-Belt column “Welcome To Pittsburgh,” as today we find ourselves entranced by stars yet lamenting another fine night of noise at the Polish Hill dive bar/cheap beer institution Gooski’s. It’s been a week and change now and we just barely got sober enough to write this ourselves. Well, there was no clear frontrunner or headliner bathing in Gooski’s familiar blue and blood-red neon lights the other night, as a four-band bill of Pittsburgh troublemakers stormed the stage. While Popdose favorites T-Tops drew down the curtain in truly rollicking, drunken fashion with a handful of new songs and a shitload of energy, Horehound and Del Rios held their own and then some with sets full of venom and vigor, not to mention enough metallic and hard-rawk vitriol to keep the crowd knocked back on its heels. Old Dream opened the night with an enveloping set of trippy guitar loops, deceptively quiet glue. Del Rios’ songs like “Blood River” show why these guys are straddling an interesting intersection of the hard-rock, punk and metal scenes here …



The first – and most striking thing – upon first listen to Brian Cullman’s The Opposite Of Time is how much he reminds me of Lloyd Cole (one of my musical heroes) – both vocally and in his lyrical style.  So right there, he won me over.  And the comparison is, by no means, a bad thing.  For someone described as a “rock music Zelig” (now THAT’s a reference!), it would be safe to say he has, indeed, been something of a chameleon.  He’s been a music journalist, producer, performer with his debut album, All Fires The Fire and friend to such luminaries as Iggy, Robert Quine, Nick Drake and the (recently-late) Giorgio Gomelsky.  And now on this, his sophomore effort, Cullman paints some dynamic musical portraits, both lyrically and structurally. There is a lot of delicious diversity on here; for example, “Time If There Is Time” immediately gave me shivers as it’s a perfect melding of both Chilton and Bell – think “Thirteen” or “You And Your Sister” with gorgeous acoustic guitars and subtle, …



In yet another blow to the music world, Eagles co-founder Glenn Frey died today in New York at the age of 67; this was reported on The Eagles’ website.  He’d had intestinal problems during the latter part of 2015 and had surgery in November; his condition apparently deteriorated quite rapidly over these last few days. Frey co-wrote and sang most of The Eagles’ hits, including “Take It Easy,” “Lyin’ Eyes,” and “Heartache Tonight”; he also co-wrote “Hotel California” and “Desperado” with band co-founder Don Henley.



Sparse, clean and yet filled with color and feel, Delusions, the new album from Seattle native (and current Chicago resident) Andy Metz covers the musical canvas quite brightly.  Considering this is Metz’ first new album in seven years, it shows he hasn’t lost his knack for writing a melody and offering up interesting lyrics. His dry, workman-like voice has a touch of humor – certainly on the darker or at least more tongue-in-cheek – and works perfectly on a song like “Evil” (“…oh, I’m evil and I hope you run away…”), with a simple singalong tune carried by keyboards; “Take My Heart” has fine harmonies, crisp acoustic guitar figures and the melody suits the lyrical content (“…take my heart/take my soul/for the last time/’cause I ain’t given them out no more…”) and “Guns” is one of the more “tense” and tight numbers – certainly a poignant piece at this particular moment in time – and the delivery is a clever mix of singing and rapping the verses.  “Santa Fe” is melancholic and gentle; “I Might …


VIDEO PREMIERE: The Not-Its! – Dance With Me

photo credit: Mike Hipple Seattle’s The Not-Its! ask a simple question with the title of their new record: Are You Listening? If you’re not, you should be. After a rare 2 year break between records, The Not-Its! are back with a vengeance, full of absurdly catchy pop-punk grooves. Despite an incredible burst of creative energy – releasing their 6th record in 7 years(!) – The Not-Its are not short on ideas. The band’s sharp and witty lyrics with strong vocals by lead singers Sarah Shannon (Velocity Girl) and Danny Adamson are on full display with Are You Listening? Songs like “Grandad is a Spy” “Don’t Fear The Dentist” and “Traffic Jam” (which channels Rocket From The Crypt) are just a blast of energy. Popdose is proud to premiere the video for the first single, “Dance With Me”. The multi-plane video was directed by Chris Looney (who provides insight on the creation process) Are You Listening? will be released on February 19th and is available for pre-order from Amazon or straight from the band. Starting February 3rd you can pre-order the …


If You Like Reggae, I Promise You’re Going to Love Nesbeth’s New Single

When I was in my mid teens I was obsessed with Bob Marley. SHOCKER. But unlike every other Midwestern white kid who bandied the term “rasta” about with no clue what it meant, sported the colors of Jamaica, or bragged about how much weed they’d smoked, I was purely in it for the music. (And, let’s be real, those kids were definitely showing off baggies full of oregano.) Even now, I’ll randomly hit on a reggae station while I’m driving and do some jammin’. But it’s hard to find the same good-quality island music without it being overprocessed by Auto-Tune or hijacked by some scantily clad pop star. Enter Nesbeth, whose head-bopping brand of reggae is sure to sway even the stanchest squares. His new single, “My Dream,” features those same infectious riffs and word plays that first drew me to Marley, while the accompanying video transports the listener to a better (and warmer) place — and island paradise complete with cracking coconuts. What more could you want? Check out the video for Nesbeth’s “My …



My immediate thought was “this sounds like something off File Under:  Easy Listening” (the second Sugar album) – and there’s nothing wrong with that.  It’s Bob Mould – it’s new, and I can pretty much say there’s very little he can do that I won’t like or enjoy.  Most importantly, it’s Bob doing what he does best and that means that some things are right in the world. Taken as the first track off his new album, Patch The Sky (due from Merge Records on March 25th), it’s a strong, emotive and guitar-laden track which mixes Mould’s mastery of acoustic with crunchy guitars and of course, melody.  And as always, he has the blinding rhythm section of Jason Narducy on bass and Jon Wurster on drums to keep it kicking hard, even when the reins are slightly pulled back. Give a listen – watch – enjoy and get ready for Bob Mould’s next masterpiece.  Look for Bob Mould on tour this spring…



Now this is really something – since forming eight years ago, Sultans of String’s music has hit #1 on national radio charts in their native Canada, and have received multiple awards and accolades, including two JUNO nominations, 1st place in the ISC (out of 15,000 entries) and two Canadian Folk Music Awards while head honcho Chris McKhool was awarded a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for his work in creating community through music. Over the years, this group has shared stages and recording studios with renowned guests like Paddy Moloney and The Chieftains, David Bromberg, Alex Cuba, and Ken Whiteley with other  collaborations yet to be announced. On their new release, Subcontinental Drift, Sultans of String serve up a blend of ragas, reels and rumbas. Fiery violin dances with rumba-flamenco guitar, atop unstoppable grooves laid down by bass and percussion and some very powerfully moving vocals. Acoustic textures with electronic embellishments, which create deep layers of sound. Throughout this album, they are quite ably aided by featured guest sitar master Anwar Khurshid (whose music appeared in …

Lipstick Junkies BW

Oh Canada! Here Come The Lipstick Junkies

If the Lipstick Junkies new song, ‘Build Me a Box’, gets stuck in your head for days, don’t blame me. Blame Canada! Blame Canada! The Toronto trio’s new EP was recorded by Al Connelly and Sam Reid of the Juno Award-winning and Grammy-nominated band, Glass Tiger. For fans of HUGE pop songs from the Eighties, let’s let the awesomeness of that sink in for a moment… Now if this post can’t get Canadian enough, Bryan Adams sings back-up on that Tiger track. OK, back to business. Fun and games is part and parcel for the Lipstick Junkies who take their name from a Red Hot Chili Peppers song (2011’s ‘The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie’). They have performed around southern Ontario, from London to Montreal, including appearances at Canadian Music Week, Indie Week and Ryerson Radio, and have opened for acts like Walk Off the Earth and Organ Thieves — never heard of those bands? Ask a Canadian! If you think I mock Canada here, you could not be further from the truth. I love Canadian music. From …


Breaking Band: Banta Fits The Fashion and Breaks The Mold

Decades after its Sunset Strip heyday, Los Angeles has no shortage of hot new bands on the rise. Phases (featuring the Like’s Z Berg), Halo Circus (featuring Allison Iraheta, one of American Idol’s most talented expats) and Echo Park’s Banta are well poised to break out nationally as 2016 picks up speed. Imagine if Rumors-era Fleetwood Mac truly went new wave in the early 80’s — that’s just about the sound Banta brings to ‘Someday’, a single from their promising full-length debut, Dark Charms. Banta is Sharaya Mikael (Lead Vocals/Guitar), Alathea Reese (Keys & BGV’s), Dan Perez (Lead Guitar), Jon Marcu (Drums) and Steve Grohne (Bass). The group unveiled their debut EP in 2014, recorded with producer Andrew Stonestreet, and began playing shows around Los Angeles, including the Buzzbands LA Showcase at Echo Park Rising and opening slots at The Satellite and The Troubadour. Dark Charms was pieced together over several sessions in Portland and Los Angeles with Stonestreet and producers Andy Brohard and Ryan Castle. “I can’t believe this album is actually finished,” Sharaya Mikael said via her rep. “It was such a long process. …


EhOR: Triumph’s radio-friendly hard rock filled arenas

Editor’s note: In this installment of EhOr, Jay Kumar looks back at Canadian power trio Triumph, who used a combination of hard rock and showmanship to put together a successful, if sometimes under the radar, career. Big riffs. Booming drums. Hot solos. Anthemic choruses. Upbeat lyrics. Endless touring. Lights, lasers and pyro. From a hard rock standpoint, Triumph had it all. It wasn’t enough to translate into big-time U.S. success like their compatriots Rush, but the band made its mark on AOR radio and as a successful arena rock touring act. The power trio first formed in 1975 in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga, where drummer/vocalist Gil Moore and bassist Mike Levine were looking for a guitarist to round out their band. They joined forces with Rik Emmett, who had been playing in a band called Act III. Moore and Levine were already very business-savvy and had lined up a number of gigs before Emmett joined. Moore wrote blues-based hard rock songs, while Emmett’s contributions had more of a prog-rock feel with classically-inspired guitar parts. …



Some performers have a way with re-imagining and interpreting a song; some know how to give a great song a greater canvas; some can take a mediocre song and make it worth its weight in gold.  Such were the skills and talents of Eva Cassidy, who died 20 years ago after a brief battle with melanoma.  Recorded in January of 1996, she would be gone just a mere ten months later.  She’d released only two albums’ worth of recorded music in her lifetime, but her posthumous Songbird album topped the British charts in early 2000. This “new” album, Nightbird, is a 2 CD containing Ms. Cassidy’s entire performance at Blues Alley jazz club in her native Washington D.C. on January 3rd, 1996 – exactly 20 years ago.  31 tracks, including 8 previously unreleased songs.   And the range of songs, eras and feel is something very special.  Two songs into this album, her rendition of Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” is the first to really strike me; subdued, sparse with clean sounding guitars and her voice …



Popdose is very sad to report that legendary artist David Bowie has died at the age of 69 after an 18 month battle with cancer.  The singer, who just turned 69 on January 8th had also released his most recent album, Blackstar, on the same day.  Bowie was to be honored with a concert at Carnegie Hall on March 31 featuring the Roots, Cyndi Lauper and the Mountain Goats. He currently has a musical, “Lazarus,” running Off Broadway. Born David Robert Jones, Bowie’s career spanned more than 50 years, taking off in the early ’70’s with such hits as “The Man Who Sold The World” and “Space Oddity”.  A chameleon, Bowie changed his image with each album during his heyday and is credited as being one of the leaders of the “glam-rock” movement.

Aretha Franklin

Soul Serenade: Aretha Franklin, “A Natural Woman (You Make Me Feel Like)”

Happy New Year! In 1967, Aretha Franklin released “A Natural Woman (You Make Me Feel Like)” on Atlantic Records. The song was written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin, with some help from Jerry Wexler, who also produced the single. The backing musicians included members of the legendary Swampers from Muscle Shoals — Spooner Oldham on keys, Tommy Cogbill on bass, guitarist Jimmy Johnson — along with King Curtis on sax, and backing vocals by the Sweet Inspirations and Aretha’s sisters Carolyn and Erma.

Bill Pritchard 2016

WORLD PREMIERE: Bill Pritchard ‘Saturn and Co.’

26 years after it’s release, Bill Pritchard’s Three Months, Three Weeks & Two Days, remains one of my all time favorite albums. It arrived at my college radio station, WKSR (Kent State University), just as we were playing Morrissey’s Viva Hate into the ground. Pritchard struck the same nerve as Moz without all the drama. The buoyant melodies, wry lyrics, Parisian cafe touches and Pritchard’s crisp, deep woodwind of a voice helped end the Eighties on a high note as we faced a daunting Nineties without the Smiths. ‘Nineteen’ and ‘Tommy & Co.” were the big hits, but I absolutely fell in love with the single ‘Romance Sans Paroles’. Considering this album was Pritchard’s 4th in two years, I fully expected to fill my shelves with his work in the decade to come. But the stretches between albums became greater and greater and I often found out about “new” Bill Pritchard albums years after their official release. Needless to say, I am glad to be ahead of the game with his upcoming album, Mother Town Hall — arriving hot on the heels of …



Kicked Out of Eden is only the second solo release by Javier Escovedo, who most people know as one of the founding members of The Zeros, The True Believers and one of the pioneers of the ‘70’s West Coast punk movement. Javier is one of the storied Escovedo family, including older brothers Pete and Coke Escovedo (Santana, Malo), niece Sheila E. (Prince) and of course, brother Alejandro Escovedo (The Nuns, Rank & File, Buick McKane). This new album is pop mixed with twang and rock’n’roll that remains true to Javier’s love of ‘60’s garage and ‘70’s punk. From the moment the riff to “Downtown” hits you between the eyes and kicks in with the drums and boogie-woogie piano, you’re reminded immediately why there’s such a thing as “rock & roll” – not to be confused with all its permutations.  Catchy and ballsy, it sets you off on the ride; “It Ain’t Easy” continues down the path with punchy and crisp/heavy guitars and “Beaujolais”, while slowing it down just a bit is heavier and filled with …


Old Man Canyon is really the brainchild of multi-instrumentalist/singer/songwriter Jett Pace; this is the Vancouver-based outfit’s second release and debut full-length album and on first listen, I’m immediately brought back to those days in the very early ’80’s, when I would listen to the local college radio station and those eerily-attractive keyboards would draw you in to certain tracks and artists.  A vintage sound that’s been improved upon with modern production so that it walks a better balance. Thus, “Learn To Forget” opens the album with a good amount of melody and texture that grabs me; The heavily flanged guitar on “Tomorrow Man” is a very nice touch and there’s a great deal of Lennon-esque phrasing in the vocals, but again, adding those ’80’s synth flourishes give the atmosphere on the track a lot more meat and “In My Head” makes me think of Simple Minds during their Sparkle In The Rain period.  “Back To The Start” is easily radio-friendly and could be singled out – very poppy and catchy; “I Don’t Wanna Go Out” …

Repeater 2016

World Premiere Video: Repeater ‘Never Forget’

To kick off 2016 in high style, POPDOSE proudly premieres the latest video from one of our favorite bands. Ideal listening for fans of New Order, Echo & The Bunnymen and The Postal Service. There are plenty of original new wave acts (typically with at least one original member and loads of spare parts) riding nostalgia circuit. Beyond New Order, a handful, like Duran Duran, OMD and Blancmange, have found a way to recapture their magic with compelling new music (see my Unintentionally Retro Top Albums of 2015). Even fewer NEW bands have been able to tap into that signature sound with original music that looks back and still moves forward. Among them, Repeater of Long Beach, California. Their self-titled album made the Top 10 of the Best Albums of 2014. Repeater’s music might be close to impossible to find on Amazon or Google — type in the name and you need to wade through a crap load of electronics — but it’s worth seeking out. Repeater the album gets better and better with every listen. Big melodies with dark undertones. Shiny synths and shimmering guitars with …



A warm, rich sound that immediately gives you a good vibe from the opening notes.  Thus, the first cut from Matt Costa’s recent Neon Brain E.P., “Easy Feeling” does just that.  Milky, liquid guitars and soft vocals have a neo-psychedelicness about it (thinking of the slower Rain Parade tracks I’ve loved over the years) and a strong classic-pop (think ’66/’67) sensibility. Case and point, “Balboa Park” could easily have come blasting out of transistor radios at the tail end of the Summer Of Love, with its melody; “Echo In The Sea” has a certain Bookends quality with its finger picked electric guitar and exploding into a Hollies-like chorus (aside from some near-angelic harmonies towards the latter half of the track).  The title cut, “Neon Brain” is an acoustic-driven piece with (what sounds like synthesized) string arrangements, harmonies and a Donovan feel (although there were moments that recall Syd Barrett at his best); “Traveling Through Space” takes a different direction – while it has the classic pop sense, it’s far more experimental and modern sounding, but …

Notable music highlights from 2015 included the hip-hop “Hamilton;” Adele’s omnipresent “Hello;” Katy Perry’s sharks; Elvis Costello’s book soundtrack (not to mention the book); and Ryan Adams morphing into Taylor Swift. Photos: Joan Marcus/The Public Theater; Virginia Sherwood/NBC; Wikimedia Commons; Courtesy Photos.

20 2015 Music Trends That Probably Weren’t Actually Trends

After running down the best 2015 albums from classic rockers and taking a look at the rock/pop and country/rootsrecords you don’t want to miss from the past year, you’d think there would be nothing left to report. But there were a few stragglers left in my music inbox that I felt compelled to share. Herewith, then, my 2015 music notables (which is a lot nicer than saying “leftovers”). Notable Release of Live Soundchecks: Leonard Cohen, “Can’t Forget.” Cohen seems determined to officially release live versions of his entire back catalog, and good for him — his ancient baritone has developed character that suits his subject matter. Notable Odd Outbursts: Nate Ruess, “Grand Romantic.” The Fun singer’s solo debut has some fine tracks, but they tend to go off the rails when he breaks into bizarre and possibly involuntary hiccups and squawks, like he’s trying to walk into a freezing cold swimming pool. Notable Use of Sharks: Katy Perry, Super Bowl XLIX. Notable Use of Everything Else (Mentos, giant eyeballs, duct tape, Stars of David, rainbow …


ALBUM REVIEW: Buena Vista Social Club, “Lost and Found”

In 1997, Ry Cooder worked with World Circuit, a record label based in London, to record some of Cuba’s great musicians. The idea was to capture their hits of the 1940s and 1950s. That was the time before the revolution, when Cuba was a swell place for rich American vacationers. It wasn’t as swell a place for the average Cuban, which is why people supported Castro in the first place. Buena Vista Social Clubbecame a hit; it offered some of the best songs of a place and a time that was fading from American memory. It was fresh. Of course, Castro didn’t exactly make life better, and Cubans now faced one huge constraint: a trade embargo put in place by the U.S. government. The American policy was put in place with the hope that Cubans would be upset enough to overthrow Castro, but that didn’t happen This year, the Obama administration announced the lifting of some sanctions. Relations are far from normal, but Cuba is part of the zeitgeist once again. This year, World Circuit …