All posts filed under: Music

POPDOSE PREMIERE, Charlie Haley, “Today”

It’s every rock band’s worst nightmare. No, not talking about the power cutting out just before doing a show in front of a room full of A&R reps. An accident — a tour van accident, to be precise. The kind that would shake even the most brazen lead singer into a complete tailspin. Last year, singer-songwriter Charlie Haley and his bandmates were driving down the highway when their van’s cruise control shaft got stuck and the breaks just plain cut out. If that doesn’t strike enough terror into your heart, they were also in a construction zone going about 90 MPH. Thankfully, Haley’s quick thinking saved their lives –he shifted the van into neutral and pulled out the key, ending the dramatic saga. That near-death experience led Haley to pen “Today,” a rock ‘n’ roll-infused jam that perhaps sardonically begins, “Life is moving way too fast” and continues through all of the proverbial eye-opening resolutions one might have after such a traumatic experience, promising that “it starts today.” Equal parts touching and inspiring, it’s a …

index

BOOK REVIEW: JOE BIEL, “Good Trouble”

A gripping and fascinating read – this is the author’s own story.  And Joe Biel is not just an author – he’s a survivor of alcoholic reality, the do-it-yourself punk lifestyle, the owner and founder of Microcosm Publishing and a person with Asperger’s syndrome.  A heavy load, indeed, but this wonderful book is filled with some very high highs and some despairing lows. For someone who has endured a great deal of turmoil (not of his own doing, either at the hands of others and his disease), Biel tells the story in a very matter-of-fact, lighthearted way because the gist of this is:  one way or another, triumph over tragedy even if it’s with your own endless devotion to working at it.  And work he did, starting Microcosm as both a punk label and ‘zine.  Not all the tales are sad; some downright hilarious moments of typical adolescent punk fuck-ups and foibles are part of the stew, but the most powerful moment comes when he tries to convey his pain at being mocked, especially by …

Dionne Warwicke and Spinners

Soul Serenade: Dionne Warwicke and Spinners, “Then Came You”

Yes, you’re reading that title correctly. For a few years in the ’70s, Dionne Warwick added that ‘e’ to the end of her last name because her astrologer convinced her that that ‘e’ would add balance to her name, and bring her good fortune. By 1975 Warwick realized that alteration of her name had been a mistake, and went back to the spelling that the world was familiar with. Another strange thing about the label credit is that the Spinners are just credited as Spinners, without the definite article before their name. Name changes aside, when Dionne Warwicke and Spinners got together with legendary Philly Soul producer Thom Bell in 1974, the result was pure magic, not to mention a huge hit.

Folk Duo Oakes and Smith’s Legendary Roots in 5 Songs

I love folk music. New folk, old folk, it doesn’t matter. But I will admit that there is good folk and great folk, the kind that steals the show at Newport and breaks into the mainstream. That kind of folk is rare, but when you find it, you want to shout about it. Enter Oakes and Smith, a Berkshires-based duo based in folk but unafraid to incorporate any musical spice they feel would enrich their sound. Their new EP, Between the Earth and the Sky, is as much a tribute to old-time great as it is carving a new path for the next generation of folkies. Hearkening back to legends like Simon and Garfunkel (in more than just a name), Joan Baez, and Joni Mitchell, their sound is as harmonic and gorgeous as anything on vintage vinyl. So we just had to probe Robert and Katherine (Oakes and Smith, respectively) for five songs that influenced them. Okay, maybe we were fishing for song recommendations from the folk pros. Either way, they didn’t disappoint. Here’s what they said. 1. …

overgrowth

5 Songs That Inspired the Otherworldly Talent of Robert Nix

“No, I won’t go with the flow, because if I do, I’ll end up where everybody else goes.” Those are probably the most descriptive and autobiographical words taken straight from Robert Nix’s lead single, “Won’t Go With the Flow” from his new album, Blue Moon. Self admittedly inspired by music from a plethora of eras and venues, he’s created a subgenere all his own, with a blend of rock, New Wave, indie, and a bit of psychedelia all his own. (If you with Talking Heads would have collaborated with early Syd Barrett, you’re in luck.) We were dying to find out more about how Nix invented his infectious sound, so we asked him for five influential songs that inspired him. Here’s what he said. 1. “Magical Mystery Tour,” The Beatles The energetic opener to the Beatles’ psychedelic masterpiece of an album and probably some of the first music I ever heard courtesy of my sister’s vinyl record. This album in particular made its way into my bloodstream — I never did get off that bus, it seems. 2. “Strange Days,” …

feelies_onbench600-600x300

ALBUM REISSUES: THE FEELIES, “Only Life” and “Time For A Witness”

I’m pretty sure that I won’t be saying anything new or different about The Feelies – I’m sure it’s all been said before since the short summation about this band is that they’re great; they’ve always been great and are not only great, but legendary.  Nevertheless, their back catalog from A&M Records has now been lovingly re-issued by Bar/None; both albums – 1988’s Only Life and 1991’s Time For A Witness also come with download cards for bonus tracks, more recently recorded, and liner notes by Rick Moody and Michael Azzerad, respectively.  So although that’s more than enough to buy both, a few thoughts on the actual music… “It’s Only Life” is about a sweet a melody as you can ask for and a perfect way to open an album; the inevitable Lou Reed-styled vocal delivery can’t be overlooked but it fits the song’s mood and those little guitar fills shimmer; “Too Much” has a quasi-psychedelic and hypnotic feel; “Deep Fascination” is one of those wonderful pieces of dream-pop from the era and “Too Far …

12513985_1729754407253666_4971278184288749982_o

ALBUM REVIEW: VAS, s/t

I’ve written about and shared with you music over the last few months from a wonderful new band, VAS (originally known as “Elder”).  We premiered three tracks previously and now Popdose is happy to be the first to bring to the national stage the self-titled debut album from VAS.  I once said that this band’s sound is built around great slabs of soundscapes that are dramatic and lush – and that not only holds true, but is shown/heard to greater effect with these new songs that are unveiled.  Most importantly that this is a young band who already have a great, intuitive sense of sculpting a melody and will, undoubtedly, go from “already very good” to “predictably great” in not too long a period of time. The track “Vipers” is a perfect example – starting quietly and subdued with a tautly understated guitar/rhythm/keyboard that immediately builds up in a dramatic manner with a hypnotic guitar riff and then exiting on a quiet piano/vocal fade; “Soda Pop”, which was their introductory bow, has a swirling keyboard …

5 Songs That Inspire Musician and Social Commentator Vince Grant

When I first told you about Vince Grant almost a year ago, he’d just release his album, My Depression Is Always Trying to Kill Me, a heady title that’s sparked a conversation about mental illness that’s severely overdue and warranted. Now, his new video, “Oceans II,” takes a track from that album and translates it into a visual that’s compelling and demonstrative of both the music Grant makes and the movement he’s spearheading. We wanted to delve further into his musical processes, so we asked him to tell us about five influential songs and were pleasantly surprised to see some of our own faves in there also. 1) “Heroes” by David Bowie To me, this is one of the most emotionally powerful songs ever written. The musical hook and melody combined with the poignant, poetic lyrics is nothing short of epic. Love the way the track builds in both sound and emotion, and it’s something I try to achieve in my songs as well. Bowie starts off singing in subdued fashion, but by the end he is almost screaming in …

Edward Rogers 2 pc Melani Rogers

POPDOSE EXCLUSIVE VIDEO PREMIERE: EDWARD ROGERS, “Denmark Street”

Popdose is pleased to present the premiere of “Denmark Street”, the first official video from Edward Rogers’ latest album, Glass Marbles (reviewed here on Popdose).  Denmark Street was London’s version of Tin Pan Alley in the ’60’s and the stark, haunting melody fits hand in hand with the vintage images floating by with the lyrics. A story in song is always a good thing, but here, the history lesson learned, courtesy of Edward Rogers, makes it even more poignant.  Sit back – watch, listen and enjoy. Glass Marbles is available now  

Mould

ALBUM REVIEW: BOB MOULD, “Patch The Sky”

There’s always a certain amount of expectations when a new release comes out from a long-established artist that you’ve admired over the span of time and I will grant you, it’s not always fair – certainly to the performer nor to yourself because, of course, you’re bound for a letdown sooner or later.  Bob Mould is one of those musicians who I come to expect the unexpected from for a lot of reasons.  Mostly because it isn’t fair.  But what I do expect – if nothing else – is consistency.  And on Patch The Sky, his 12th solo album, starting after Husker Du with two and resuming after Sugar in full, there is no lack of consistency, coherence and (I know this word gets used a lot when referring to Mould) catharsis.  Of his more recent return to louder guitar/faster tempos, the sound and production of this album is possibly one of the best he’s done yet, so it shows at 55, he’s still reaching and stretching, rather than resting on his laurels or legend. …

Grayshot_Magno

ALBUM REVIEW: GRAYSHOT, “Borders”

This Minneapolis trio, consisting of two brothers, Aaron (guitars/keys/vocals) and Christian (bass/keys/vocals) Ankrum and Reese Kling (drums) deliver their sophomore effort and I’m liking what I’ve heard – once again, trading on the warm soundscapes of ’80’s synth-pop and veering but never plunging into modern theatre-pop/rock, which is Borders‘ saving grace. “Far From Me” has all the right textures of a great lost China Crisis track – something out of 1982 in all the ways I appreciate – pure ’80’s synth; “Echo” is a little more modern pop friendly, but has enough restraint that it remains a quality song and doesn’t go into bombast and “Opposites” is a sharp, taut, pop song with a capital “pop” (and this track shines with great production) – easily has hit potential by its radio-friendly timbre.  “In Control” has some shades of Joy Division (because of its tempo) but the melody is bright, which would lead it more to a New Order-influenced piece; “Mystery” is another excellent and interesting track, as it starts as an acoustic-strummed number but then …

glenn-morrow

BAR/NONE RECORDS: It Was 30 Years Ago Today – Honestly!

Today marks the 30th anniversary of the newly opened Bar/None Records labels shipping its first release, catalogue number AHAON 001. This was the self-titled debut album by Rage To Live, a band led by label founder Tom Prendergast’s good friend, Glenn Morrow, formerly of The Individuals and “a” – the first band to call Maxwell’s home base (the other 3 members of “a” became The Bongos). Rage To Live managed to get on MTV for a moment and garnered some commercial radio support but never got out on the road, because of family and day job commitments. Instead, Glenn managed to convince Tom into making him his partner. His first contribution was a band he’d discovered in a wild and woolly Brooklyn neighborhood with the quaint appellation “Williamsburg,” the act having an even more unlikely name: “They Might Be Giants.” Strangest of all, the band were a huge, immediate success and Bar/None was off to the races! Prendergast recently came across ledger entries that show some of the costs involved with setting up an independent …

12802879_1143430542356123_429233193083978132_n

POPDOSE VIDEO PREMIERE: THESE PEACHES, “So Glad”

This great new video and track comes from Chicago’s These Peaches; “So Glad” is the latest focus from the album Almost Heard The Ocean, which was released in October.  Primarily the vision of Rich Klevgard, this band has a poetic and melodic sense that balances perfectly and this track obviously fits the idea of warmth (which the images and theme of the album exudes). Sit back, watch and let yourself be carried by the waves of music on this terrific track – as supplied by the very fine video below: Almost Heard The Ocean is currently available https://thesepeaches.bandcamp.com/album/almost-heard-the-ocean

VanessaForero1

E.P. REVIEW: VANESSA FORERO, “From The Uproar”

This British-born (with Colombian lineage) singer songwriter makes her initial bow with a self-financed E.P. called From The Uproar.  Five songs deep, this is a wonderfully rich collection of songs that immediately leave you wanting more.  Having had another two lives as a composer for television and movies AND as a best-selling author in Britain, it’s nice to see she’s putting herself in the spotlight with her incredible voice and melodic sensibilities. “Heaven Knows” has a hypnotic acoustic riff, rooted in South American flavors but has all the elements of radio friendliness; “Same Boat” is a rollickingly warm, catchy piece – again, employing the “native” feel of her Colombian roots; “I’ll Be Wrong Again” is a sweet and emotionally touching piece with its delicate melody and lyrics of a broken heart.  “Raven” is a vividly colorful piece; Ms. Forero’s vocals shine by showing her (quite dynamic) range and “Anhela” is sung in Spanish and is slow, silky and simply lovely. Every now and then, it’s a pleasure for me to get out of my usual …

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

ALBUM REVIEW: EAST OF VENUS, “Memory Box”

This release makes me alternately happy and sad.  Happy because of who the musicians are; knowing them as well as I do from their amazing work (and actually knowing some of them) and sad because of losing one of their members before this album saw the light of day.  I take a great deal of solace in knowing that Omnivore Records has seen to preserve the legacy of East Of Venus with Memory Box, which is simply beautiful – as it will become timeless in your hearts and minds upon hearing. To give you a brief background on East Of Venus – they were (I hate having to use the past tense) Michael Carlucci (Winter Hours), Glenn Mercer (The Feelies, Wake Ooloo), Stan Demeski (The Feelies, Luna) and Rob Norris (The Bongos, Living With Elephants – who was reviewed here on Popdose). The music is a wonderful mixing and melding from all of those bands, but still is their own. The album features original material, as well as covers of The Red Buckets’ “Jane September,” …

Around the Soul of Daniel Grinberg in Five Questions

Just when you think you’ve heard everything there is to hear in pop, along comes Daniel Grinberg. His new album, Short Stories, is the kind of audio journey that takes the listener from wherever he or she is and sonically transports him or her to a completely different realm, one where speech is replaced by song and where emotions emanate audibly. If that sounds like purple prose, you obviously haven’t heard Grinberg’s stuff. (But you will at the end of this post.) It’s no wonder, then, that we were clamoring to grill Grinberg on his decision to devote his life to his music and leave behind his past in the world of tech. Here’s what he had to say. 1. Everyone has a turning point. What was it that made you say “I want to be a musician”? I don’t think anybody decides to be a musician. It is something that happen and you cannot avoid. Music is part of you, and you are part of it. It is not necessarily by playing an instrument. It is by …

PB1A7661web-e1443793635100

ALBUM REVIEW: PETER BUCK, “Warzone Earth”

Good thing I didn’t let this one slip through the cracks.  This guy just doesn’t slow down – rocking harder than before and belting out ballsy numbers as if he’d led a band all his life.  I mean, he did – except not as the frontman, but as the guitarist who influenced an entire generation.  And on this, his third solo album, the aptly-titled Warzone Earth, Buck’s taking no prisoners. “It Ain’t Killing Me” is a high octane, full-throttle rock spitter that Buck unleashes with his deadpan vocal style and it just kicks hard and fast; “World Spins Around You” features Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy’s lead vocal and is gentle and emotionally charged and “Gun Shaped Heart” is an instant Stooges-styled classic with a clever chord structure of minor chords bouncing off the poppier major notes. “Saturday Sunday Monday” has a complete Jesus & Mary Chain/Velvets feel, awash in noise and heavy fuzz and yet, by virtue of the lyrics, it’s a sad and mournful track and “I Hate My Life And The Way I Live” …

Music in Motion: How Chris Wirsig Sets the Scene in Films and Video Games

In music’s new frontier, one genre stands as what might become the hottest (and quite possibly only) way to make a living as a creator: video games. Despite Germany’s Chris Wirsig’s classical training, he’s been able to carve out a nice piece of the artistic pie for himself as the composer of music and sound effects for projects like “Alien Tribe 2,” a top-10 iPad game. Now, he’s brought his talent creating ambient and electronic sounds to the soundtrack world for the short mystery film, 20 Matches. We just had to know more about Wirsig’s diverse career and how he got into composing for video games and film. He took a second out of his insanely busy schedule and indulged us. 1. What’s your favorite thing about creating? What inspires you? I really like the whole of the creative process – from the writing of a song, arranging it, to mixing, and finishing the production. It all adds up to the creation of atmosphere and emotion in a musical piece. And I don’t think too …

12390941_10207996636654525_1853709471113494700_n

POPDOSE EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE: DAVID FAGAN, “Glorious Night”

Originally the driving force behind the Jersey Shore’s Snowball 37, this wonderful new track has been released by David Fagan, songwriter/singer extraordinaire.  The album Declasse, from Snowball 37, was a Popdose favorite, but unfortunately the band is currently on hiatus.  However, Mr. Fagan’s been hard at it, writing a slew of new material and here is one very fine sample of his newest works.  Bouncy and joyful – like a cynical Lovin’ Spoonful – “Glorious Night” is a perfect example of good time music. And because this is such a catchy track, we’re very pleased to bring it to you.  So please enjoy David Fagan’s “Glorious Night”.