All posts filed under: Music

Velvet Crush Press Photo

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.

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE VALERY TRAILS, “Chameleon Bones”

This third album was made over two continents and there’s been a lot of living from the three members that make up The Valery Trails.  Originally based in Brisbane, Australia, lead singer/guitarist Andrew Bower pulled up stakes and moved to Houston, Texas.  Somehow, the band has soldiered on and this new nine-track collection is the result.  Reminiscent in many ways of the late ’80’s sound of Fender Jazzmasters and some fuzz (think a toned-down My Bloody Valentine or a poppier Dinosaur Jr.), it’s a crisp gathering of songs that have melody and throttle. “OK” is just that – tuneful, catchy and wholly memorable; “Cordless” is that perfect balance between the popsmithy and the noisy, but is a controlled chaos and the title track, “Chameleon Bones” is one of those delightful curiosities – slower, poppy, radio friendly and slightly enigmatic.  “Fall Around” is another in that classic, sludge-y vein with heavy rhythm guitar but swirling riffs – a not-as-tidy Teenage Fanclub; “Hide (Cannot)” is a wonderful acoustic-bodied piece with some emotionally charged synth lines and “Change …

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VIDEO PREMIERE: FABLE CRY, “Dead Or Alive (For Now)”

I’m really not sure how to describe this – it was explained as “theatrical scamp rock”  and what that is, I have no idea.  But nonetheless, this is a quirky and different kind of video than we’ve shared with you as of late, so take a look and a listen at this band from Nashville – not your standard Southern fodder. The album the track originates from, We’ll Show You Where The Monsters Are is available now, so Popdose introduces you to Fable Cry…: http://fablecry.com/

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ALBUM REVIEW: ARVIDSON & BUTTERFLIES, s/t

Rife with the twang of 12-string Rickenbackers galore, harmonies, melody and swinging beats – this is the embodiment of Arvidson & Butterflies and their self-titled debut album.  What makes this a bit more interesting is that this six-piece band hails from Gothenburg, Sweden, where Roger Arvidson is a veteran of the scene there for many years (most notably, having been with The Remains – no, not that Remains!); here, he showcases his knack for writing clean, crisp and flawlessly hummable power-pop anthems and his crack bandmates are as deft at fleshing out these songs as he is at writing them.  Picture a mix of The Byrds, Petty, Twilley, a little Big Star/Teenage Fanclub and you’ve got it.  Interestingly, amongst his influences include The Who, Paul Weller and The Undertones (scores major points with me, unsurprisingly). “Tired Of Running” opens the album at a frantic pace – 2:29 of shimmering Ric riffs, tight harmonies and a 1966-kind of vibe, with delicious fills of guitar and Hammond B3; “Lights Go Out” has that kind of pop sweetness …

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POPDOSE EXCLUSIVE VIDEO PREMIERE: AMY GUESS, “10 Times Out Of 10”

Popdose is pleased to present the new single and video from Las Vegas songstress/siren, Amy Guess.  “10 Times Out Of 10” is a highly infectious, catchy, enjoyable and danceable piece of pop that you will not be able to get out of your head once you hear it. Said Ms. Guess about the song, “”10 Times Out of 10″ is a love song, about my man, I wanted a song all about him, our ups and downs and how through it all I’d never want to be anywhere but here. He’s been around through everything and makes everything possible for me, throughout our long relationship and all the hardest, darkest moments, happiest or craziest of times it has always been him and will always be him.” Undoubtedly to be applied universally.  Now listen, watch and enjoy! http://amyguess.com/

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Eliot Sumner Claims Her Family Name on 2016’s Most Triumphant New Album

Earlier this year, Eliot Sumner quietly released Information, one of the loudest, most ambitious, most exhilarating and inventive rock/pop albums of the decade, let alone the year. And I had no idea it was sitting on my hard drive until last month. Such are the perils of being a music blogger with an overactive downloads folder. After one listen, I promptly rushed out and bought the CD. And her last album too. And such begins our story… There’s a moment every music fan longs for when they buy a new album at the store, bring it home, struggle to remove the @#$%*ing plastic wrap and security sticker, and pop it into the CD player, cassette deck or turntable. If you’re already saying — um, but what about streaming? — I say you are killing the music industry, but hey, who am I to stop you from reading this? #lovewins Back to my story — there is a moment when you realize you are listening to something truly special, something fresh, something exciting, something that will likely …

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE WAY DOWN WANDERERS, s/t

  For a band that’s only been together since 2013, this first full-length album from The Way Down Wanderers belies the brief nature of their existence.  An album filled with the richness of American music on numerous levels, I would have said on a guess that this was the work of seasoned players from the Grand Ole Opry. The exhilarating fiddle fills and banjo runs on the opening cut, “Dead Birds” is just a fragment of what makes this album an instant eye opener. The vocal harmonies can induce chills; the upbeat nature of the melody makes you pay attention and you know this is bound to be more than just pretty good; subsequently, “Sweet Morning Vision” is a little more subdued but has a classic country feel, although it does pick up tempo and bursts into country pop (NOT in the modern sense, thankfully) and “Circles” is in the same vein – classic country melodies, lyrics that are painted by longing and loss, dramatic yet hopeful – a high point of this album (and …

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POPDOSE EXCLUSIVE SONG PREMIERE: MICHAEL COLTON, “Fever Dream”

 The past is all too present on “Fever Dream,” the swinging country rock reflection on good love gone bad offered by singer/songwriter and guitarist Michael Colton, from his upcoming release, California Blue and Popdose is pleased to bring it to you.  The album displays Colton’s blend of storytelling, straightforward tunefulness, and incendiary guitar work. Colton’s recent live appearances include SXSW, The Sundance Film Festival, and Los Angeles’ House of Blues. According to Colton, “’Fever Dream’ is a greasy Bo Diddley bit of country rock with hints of Little Feat. The song is about that first love that ended in total disaster. Even years later, when you think of that time, it’s like you’re looking through a haze at a trainwreck. It all seems like a dream.” Decide if that sounds familiar…  it usually is.  Let this one in your head. http://michaelcoltonmusic.com/

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ALBUM REVIEW: JONAS MARTIN, “The Color Scheme”

This sophomore solo effort from Dallas native Jonas Martin is an interesting melding of pop, blues-y vibes, classic rock and groove – and it’s a good mix.  The Color Scheme is highly-tuneful, carefully constructed so that the different styles mesh and flow; really, a well-thought out piece of coherent work. The complexity of “Design A Better Yesterday” made this, for me, the album’s standout track – a slow groove of world-weariness, a strong melody and hook and various movements; “Life Obsessed” is an inspired album opener with its claustrophobic rhythm, hypnotic keyboard pattern and funkability and “Because Love” has a modernized Harry Nilssson/George Harrison feel with the frenetic piano body and that flanged Harrisonized guitar sound after the first chorus.  It’s the clever nuances that make this album so meaty – there’s a lot to pick out of the recipe. “Wannabe”, which we’ve included here, is the lead track before the album’s release and has that classic piano-boogie-rock vibe, but very sparse (piano, bass, drum, acoustic guitar and very subdued, production-wise) until the song’s mid-point, …

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POPDOSE EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE: THE TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT, “White Bear”

Popdose presents the premiere of the full album by the U.K’s The Temperance Movement, White Bear.  This is the band’s sophomore effort; 9 new tracks played with a lot of firepower and gusto – heavy, yet melodic and driving. If letting you hear this album in all its glory isn’t enough, we’ve also added the Popdose premiere of the video for the title track, “White Bear”. So give yourself a chance to be drawn into the world of The Temperance Movement. White Bear will be released Friday, July 15th, 2016 www.thetemperancemovement.com

This is a license granted by Nate Hastings (photographer) to The Stray Birds (band):

This license covers this image of the band captured in Exeter, New Hampshire on June 18, 2016 featuring the band standing beside a barn.

This license grants the band non-exclusive use of this image for use online and in print for paid and unpaid advertising of the band’s music, appearances, tours and recordings only.  

This license will be active for a period of one year from the date of payment.  It may be renewed, revised or cancelled by mutual agreement between the photographer and the band.

No third-party edits to the image is permitted other than cropping for appropriate sizing for the medium.  No additional uses are permitted without obtaining the photographer’s written permission.  

Use of images will be credited to “Nate Hastings” whenever practical.

ALBUM REVIEW: THE STRAY BIRDS, “Magic Fire”

This fifth album from Lancaster, Pennsylvania’s Stray Birds is aptly titled Magic Fire – it  has that certain something special about it.  From the moment the opening notes hit your ear, you know this band hit the golden “thing” – the un-defineable quality/timing/vibe that artists can never accurately describe – you only know that they offered a piece of themselves that will now be part of you onward.  The warming combination of heavenly vocal harmonies, soulful melodies and pure American instrumentation makes this album an instant play-on-repeat for me. Starting with the gospel-like “Shining In The Distance” and the gorgeous vocals, you can’t help but feel uplifted; “Third Day In A Row” is a child-of-Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, with the arrangement and occasional 12-string Ric-sounding punctuations; “Sabrina” is a dynamic hoedown with a tasty, propulsive acoustic guitar riff running  through the verses and “Radio” has that very ’70’s (what else?) radio-friendly feel – that summery, laid-back kind of Southern/gentle California sound that permeated the airwaves as you drove through the heat.  “Hands Of Man” …

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VIDEO PREMIERE: Swerve’s Baby Blue is a Backwards Love Story

You figure, all romantic relationships can only end in one of two ways: death or a break-up. ‘Baby Blue’ by Los Angeles indie rockers Swerve looks at a love affair in reverse. Whereas Christopher Nolan’s Memento and Seinfeld’s “The Betrayal” (the one with Sue Ellen Mischke’s wedding in India) laid out scenes in reverse, in this clip the footage itself plays backwards. “Baby Blue is the story of a relationship, told and filmed in reverse,” said lead vocalist Greg Mahdesian. “Throughout the whole thing I’m the mistral or bard, witnessing and recounting the entire story.” Casey Baird (drums), Ryan Berti (guitar) and Brandon Duncan (bass) round out the band, delivering a perfect summer pop song for fans of Marshall Crenshaw, Matthew Sweet and the Gin Blossoms. The clip was conceived and produced by Backwards Car Films; directed by Alex Gardels with cinematography by Justin Moore. Max Benton and Claudia Santangelo show a lot of star potential as our doomed couple. With any luck, they will find love again — together or with new partners, in future Swerve clips. …

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ALBUM REVIEW: JPNSGRLS, “DIVORCE”

This sophomore effort from Vancouver outfit, JPNSGRLS (pronounced “Japanese Girls”) trades a bit in the guitar fire-power sound of bands like Arctic Monkeys, The Libertines or The Hives – add to the notion of doing this after losing a founding member; their original lead guitarist quit after completing the recording of this album, aptly titled Divorce.  Nonetheless, this isn’t an album of dirges, rather, it’s a powerhouse of riffage. Starting with “Oh My God”, there’s a lot of energy and punch with interesting slightly off-time signatures; “A Girl From A Different Dimension” has a sonic wallop and scratches at being more dissonant but maintaining a pop-py framework and “Bully For You” has a heavier, quasi-’70’s rock feel.  “Circus” is a slower, quieter track that explodes at points into a Pixies-like cacophony; “Gap Year” has a new wave-y feel and one of the album’s highest points and “19 Pound Baby” closes out the collection with a 100 m.p.h. that sounds and feels like it’s about to go off the rails at any given moment. Eleven songs …

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Haley Reinhart and Allison Iraheta Come Back Swinging

Dear American Idol, Since you’ve been gone, I’ve been thinking about your legacy. Your original premise was to take an unknown talent and usher them into superstardom. Mission accomplished in Season One, but then never again. Sure you discovered a lot of country stars, but so did Nashville Star. You minted a lot of celebrities, but so did YouTube. While you still have a better track record than The Voice, Britain’s Got Talent and X Factor UK have you beat. Did any bonafide recording artists emerge from the shadow of Simon Cowell’s giant cup of Coke? When it comes down to true originality, innovation, earphoria and albums that will sound as fresh 20 years from now as they did 15 minutes ago, in my book it comes down to four: two guys (Adam Lambert and Blake Lewis) and two gals (Haley Reinhart and Allison Iraheta). No offense to Kelly, Carrie and Chris who deliver pretty popular, but formulaic albums in their respective genres of belters, crossover country and arena rock. No offense to Jennifer and her Oscar or …

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ALBUM REVIEW: GIRLS ON GRASS, s/t

This quartet who call Brooklyn home are not what one would expect from the borough’s “indie scene”; rather, they’ve got their own interesting thing happening.  Girls On Grass’ debut album, eponymously titled, is ripe with crisp riffs, twangy guitars, a delicious production/sound that mixes country and power pop in a way I haven’t heard and enjoyed in years. In a lot of ways, singer/guitarist Barbara Endes’ vocals remind me of Vicki Peterson of The Bangles/Continental Drifters, which is a big part of their appeal and the harmonies don’t sound too far off from The Bangles’ trail.  Opening with “Father Says Why”, you instantly get a chill from those first guitar licks and the rhythm section kicking in with an almost ’60’s vibe; “Too Young” is a tongue-in-cheek rave up, mixing Bo Diddley rhythms at the outset, countrified riffs and a strident rhythm (the rhythm section of drummer Nancy Polstein and bassist Dave Mandl is a joy to listen to); “What They Wrought” is slower, brooding – a country-style ballad with semi-psychedelic riffing for good (very …

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CONCERT REVIEW: Maxwell, Massey Hall, Toronto, ON, July 5, 2016

Back in 2009, when Maxwell’s critically acclaimed BLACKsummer’snight marked the singer’s return following an eight-year hiatus from the music industry and served notice that he remained a stunningly singular creative force, it seemed reasonable to expect that the next installment of a planned trilogy would be forthcoming shortly. Well, it took seven years before the release of blackSUMMER’snight—an eternity in pop music terms—but, judging by the rapturous reception the singer received from a nearly sold-out Massey Hall on Tuesday night, absence has only made the hearts of his fans grow fonder. After regular tour opener Ro James was a disappointing no-show, Maxwell’s eight-piece band—in what’s becoming a bit of a trend in 2016—took the stage to a Prince song (it was “Let’s Go Crazy” for the Dixie Chicks a few weeks ago, “Kiss” on Tuesday) and settled into a luxurious, steady groove. A dapper Maxwell—fitted grey suit, slim grey tie, sunglasses—soon joined them, and it immediately became abundantly clear that the Brooklyn native had not lost one step since his last Toronto visit at the …

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ALBUM REVIEW: PINK MEXICO, “Fool”

This latest offering from Brooklyn’s Pink Mexico (a ponderous name) is Fool, an album of heavy, fuzzed-out guitar rock that has some fine vocals (complete with  harmony) and melody.  Something of a tasteful cross between Mudhoney and My Bloody Valentine, if I had to draw comparisons.  Economical but never droning or sprawling, the songs hit you hard and fast. “Buzz Kill” comes in and out and has a catchy tune; “Lime Tree, What’s Wrong With Me?” and “Dumbfuck” are interchangeable but not in a forgettable manner, rather they seem to play off one another as parts 1 & 2, which I think makes them even better and more likable – and the vocals are deliberately undermixed, so it gives the tracks an ethereal quality and mystery.  “Forgetting Everything” is acoustic driven, as “pop” as you can get with harmonies galore, handclaps and an absolute high point.  “Concave Brain” has a surf-type feel; “Unhinged Bones” is a clean, ’60’s hypno-riff which explodes during the choruses and “Rake” is another harmony-laden and another album high point. All …

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BOOK REVIEW: BRIX SMITH-START, “The Rise, The Fall & The Rise”

This is now the second time I’ve had the pleasure of reading an autobiography of someone who’s career I’ve followed and/or admired and finding the story to be refreshingly honest and free of the usual pitfalls of victimization, “woe-is-me”-isms or patting one’s self on the back that autobiographies always tend to do.  This very lengthy, strongly detailed and incredibly moving story belongs to Laura Salenger, who is known to most of the world as Brix Smith (or now Smith-Start), the guitarist/songwriter for The Fall, and foil to the maw of the legendary and irascible Mark E. Smith, as well as being his ex-wife.  Ms. Smith-Start has done quite a lot; lived many lives in her 53 years and frankly, considering some of the living hell she’s been through, it looks like time has been good to her – she’s as stunning now as she was when we first heard her name and saw her appear with The Fall. Amongst the shocking and downright painful recollections contained in Ms. Smith-Start’s book begins with her tumultuous childhood …

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POPDOSE EXCLUSIVE VIDEO PREMIERE: HEAVY STATIC, “Andromeda”

Toronto-based power trio Heavy Static are set to drop their newest offering, the E.P. Here Comes The Fear, but Popdose is pleased to present the premiere of the lead-off track and video “Andromeda”.   To hear about the song’s evolution, singer/guitarist Christian Patrick offers this. “There was a very clear idea when writing “Andromeda”; the song felt desolate, desperate and yet somewhat hopeful. I immediately had visions of someone floating alone in space on a mission to find a place that accepted their true self. The concept of the video had to follow the sentiment of the song – which is where I got the idea for the video. I spent a lot of time editing the shots to perfectly capture the ebbs and flows of the song – and I think it matches quite well with the music both on an atmospheric and visual level. One of the final scenes in the video is when one of the crew on the spaceship sees the alien and quips: “He looks like one of us.” That really …

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EhOR: Trooper raised a little hell, brought party rock to the Canadian masses

Editor’s note: In this installment of EhOR, Jay Kumar looks at the career of Canadian party rock purveyors Trooper. If you attend just about any professional sporting event in Canada (and many in the U.S.), there’s a good chance you’ll hear at some point a catchy little ditty called “Raise a Little Hell.” But if you didn’t grow up listening to AM and FM rock stations in Canada during the 1970s, you probably have no idea who the artist is. The Vancouver act Trooper got its start through founding members Ra McGuire and Brian Smith, who formed the bands Winter’s Green and Applejack, solidifying the lineup with bassist Harry Kalinsky and drummer Tommy Stewart. The band changed its name to Trooper in late 1973 and soon caught the eye of Randy Bachman (Bachman Turner Overdrive, The Guess Who), who signed them to his label Legend. Trooper’s self-titled 1975 debut garnered the band a couple of Canadian hits, “Baby Woncha Please Come Home” and “General Hand Grenade.” The album was filled with good-time blues-rock tunes, but …

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SINGLE REVIEW/POPDOSE EXCLUSIVE: THE CYNZ, “Endgame”

It’s been a while now since New Jersey stalwarts, The Cynz, have issued something new – which is no surprise, being that they’re constantly playing out live.  And like its predecessor (“Right To Your Grave”), it’s a major leap forward.  Tight and taut, highly catchy and melodic – I expect to hear this on “Underground Garage” as one of the top songs of the summer.  Everything about this is right – it has motor, beefy rhythm and a fantastic production. So buckle up and sit back for the newest offering from The Cynz – and catch them live if you haven’t yet.  You’ll be in for a thrill ride. “Endgame” is available now https://www.facebook.com/The-Cynz-102647236485548/