All posts filed under: Music

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E.P. REVIEW: SWEET CRUDE, “Critters”

4 highly enjoyable songs from this New Orleans collective; Critters is their 5th overall release and a highly polished collection of songs.  Big, lush, dramatic and thunderous wouldn’t be off the mark and the use of French makes it a nice and clever touch. “Laissez les Lazy” is catchy – a synth riff drives the track with big, echo-ey vocals that use call-and-response; it’s upbeat and joyful (really, all four songs are but this one in particular) and has a danceability about it.  “Isle Dans la Mer” is an almost-classically arranged piece with its strings; it could be part of a theatrical production (there’s a lot going on in this track!); two vocals overlap and then heavy rhythm on the chorus which veers into French; “La Cheminee” rolls along at a near zydeco pace and is light and fun – subsequently, “Mon Espirit” is the most restrained of the 4 songs.  Heavy on rhythm and opening in a stripped-down fashion with just vocals. An interesting sound; an interesting approach.  This E.P. is serving as the …

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ALBUM REVIEW: GREG HUMPHREYS ELECTRIC TRIO, “Lucky Guy”

The warmth of this album can’t be understated.  North Carolina native turned Brooklyn transplantee Greg Humphreys (late of the glorious Dillon Fence) has now formed a new band, Greg Humphreys Electric Trio, and released a very fine album of eight new songs that stand out upon first listen. The title cut is more than enough to sink your teeth into with its intricate guitar flutters and upbeat shuffle; certainly, the rhumba-like feel and mandolin brings a liveliness to the track but the silky vocals and tight harmonies makes this shine immediately.  “Sayin’ What You Mean” is dreamy; ethereal, soulful and at flashes, jazzy.  Sadly gentle and yet meaty with its arrangements.  “Golden Bone”, on the other hand, has that swampy kind of balls out riffage that I love – the kind you could expect from The Black Crowes or more recently, Luther Dickinson but even then, at the song’s mid-point (this is an instrumental), a pastoral break comes and the song goes from minor to major – like clouds parting after rain – and then …

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ALBUM PREMIERE: LOVESPEAKE, “DNA”

We’re going to do something a little different – rather than a straight review, we’re going to premiere for you the debut album from Norway’s Lovespeake.  And if giving you all ten songs isn’t enough, we’re also including their video for “DNA”. Very ’80’s in their groove and production, the overall feel is warm and breezy – really, a perfect album for the start of the summer season.  Tracks like “DNA”, “Sundive”, “U” and “Can You Feel The Love?” are all ripe to be the soundtrack at the beach. If you like (or love) the ’80’s, you’ll be glad a band like Lovespeake are around.  They’ve done their homework and studied well.  Elements of Scritti Politti, China Crisis, Heaven 17 and The Style Council (!) color this collection of songs just right. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED DNA is available now https://www.facebook.com/lovespeake/?fref=ts  

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ALBUM REVIEW: RYAN CASSATA, “Shine”

Crisp, crunchy pop would be an accurate description of Ryan Cassata’s newest release, Shine.  This 22-year old Long Island native has already issued four full-length albums since 2011 and now, he’s breaking new creative ground with this 10 track collection that runs the gamut of pop styles. Starting with the slightly wry “We’re The Cool Kids” (“…we’re changing things and we’re leading this movement; we’re gonna prove it that we’re the cool kids…”), which sounds like a mix of Green Day and The Pixies, you’re immediately drawn into the sheer catchiness of the song; “Check Engine” feels like a spoof of modern pop with electro-drum track and rap/sung and the subject matter (to me) seems like a gripe about the struggles of a middle-class suburban teen (which is quite funny) as “Sunrise Highway” is just impossibly great with its tight and galloping rhythm and slaughter/buzzsaw guitars, punctuated by horn charts in classic pop-rock style.  “Man In The Mirror”,  the old Michael Jackson composition, gets a gentle, sympathetic acoustic treatment which gives a genuine poignancy to …

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POPDOSE EXCLUSIVE VIDEO PREMIERE: DAVID NYRO, “Happiness”

Popdose is pleased to bring you the exclusive premiere of up and coming Seattle-based singer songwriter David Nyro’s video for “Happiness”—one of several songs he’ll be debuting in the coming months. The song, mastered by Tom Coyne (Adele, Beyonce), with its immaculate production and soulful, unabashedly emotional tone, hearkens back to the classic song craft of the 60’s and 70’s but still retains a modern edge.  The video has a dark elegance evocative of the song’s reflective themes.  It’s a fully realized, thoughtful and melodic piece that bodes well of what’s to come from David Nyro. Please enjoy “Happiness” http://davidnyro.com/home

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ALBUM REVIEW: FREDDY & FRANCINE, “Gung Ho”

Sometimes a romantic relationship can lead to great art…  and sometimes the end of that relationship can lead to even greater art.  But when a fractured professional couple get back together, at least to make music, it can be amazing.  And that’s the case with Gung Ho, the newest release from Freddy & Francine (who are really Lee Ferris and Bianca Caruso).  Having parted and spending considerable time apart, this new offering is quite a staggering collection of songs. Acoustic guitars abound; stellar production – warmth and depth is the first thing you pick up on at first listen.  The opening track, “If You Want Me” is a seamless blending of the voices of Ferris and Caruso, with clean guitar figures and a deep, resonant rhythm section – a masterful building of tension and melody combined; “Tryin’ Hard To Love You” has delicious guitar slides in the intro while Caruso’s vocal is both cool and impassioned in this country-fied track and “Father’s Daughter” will send shivers down your spine as you listen to the harmonies, …

3Bubble and J. Gray Present Hip-Hop for Pop Lovers

Most people are surprised to learn I like hip-hop. Let me clarify — I like certain kinds of hip-hop that appeal to my pop sensibilities. Growing up with artists like the Black Eyed Peas and Outkast was the perfect time for me to indulge and get to know this diverse sector of music. Perhaps that’s what makes 3Bubble and J.Gray so appealing — that melding of dyed-in-the-wool hip-hop with a melodic edge certain to attract listeners of every ilk. Because of their diverse sound, I knew there had to be more lurking beyond the surface, so I asked these two Houston artists to talk about five influential albums and songs. Take a gander below, and be sure to check out their new full-length release Live From the Pentagon, out now. 1. Room For Squares, John Mayer Hearing this song for the first time sparked the desire to go out and explore other artists from different genres. You feel soul accents throughout that resonate from where we come from but you also connect with him, the artist. …

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ALBUM REVIEW: CIARAN LAVERY, “Let Bad In”

This sophomore effort from Irish singer-songwriter Ciaran Lavery has an aura about it twinged with a sweet melancholia – and that is its strength; its secret weapon.  And it’s not not your standard singer-songwriter fare, either.  What you may project or expect isn’t what you get and that makes it even more interesting and worth the exploration. As Let Bad In begins with “Sonoma”, a brooding piano piece, you’re immediately jolted out of its hypnotic and gentle spell as it’s only two minutes long and then goes into “Okkervil River” with its electrobeats and samples, which is a neat and cleaver offset to the somewhat cryptic lyrics.  “The Show” is no less dark, but yet has an upbeat-ness about it and is catchy with an (you guessed it) Americana feel – slightly countrified with a sweeping, yearning melody; “Return To Form” is radio-friendly and walks the very fine line between danceable pop and Americana with its acoustic body but heavy beats and “Tell Them All” is a stripped down confessional with acoustic guitar that yields …

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E.P. REVIEW: HEMMINGBIRDS, “Half A Second”

  From the glorious musical garden known as Chicago comes this new 4-song E.P. from Hemmingbirds.  This trio has been around for a while – 4 overall releases (2 albums; this is their second E.P.) and they waste no time in going for the jugular. From the first throttle of the guitars on the opening track (which is also the title cut) you get upbeat tempos, melodic lines, a deep rhythm section with heavy pounding drums (which I love) and catchiness all around.  “Mess Of Things” is a wash of guitars and textures along with effects (like the sound of scratching vinyl) and showcases the “quiet/loud/quiet” blueprint very well.  “Stay” is a riff-driven piece that has groove (listen to that bass line) and a very Edge-oriented guitar along with stop-on-a-dime breaks that few bands pull off with such clean precision while “Lover, You’re Out There” is the surprise – a slow, very dramatic piano-based piece that musically reminds me of The Beatles’ “Free As A Bird” in some places – the use of a cathedral …

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ALBUM REVIEW: BILLIE RAY MARTIN, “The Soul Tapes”

For someone who’s made her name in the dance world, Billie Ray Martin has A LOT of soul and it’s evident on this new album, The Soul Tapes.  A true labor of love, it took a decade for this album to be realized.  The sound is remarkable – produced by the one and only Jon Tiven, this sounds like it, indeed, came out of Willie Mitchell’s Royal Studios for Hi Records in Memphis – small wonder, since that was, in fact, Ms. Martin’s intention/vision.  And frankly, it’s an amazing vocal transformation for this German-born chanteuse to sound as American and soulful as she does. Just the opening track, “Your Ghost Is Right Behind Me” puts any questions of doubt to rest – it’s a powerhouse achievement, both sultry and heartbreaking – her voice conveys pain but at the same time, makes you ache in the best way you can.  Everything works; the gospel-like nature of the track’s feel, the backing vocals and that deadly guitar solo at the end makes you automatically feel like this …

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ALBUM PREMIERE/REVIEW: MARTIN BRAMAH, “The Battle Of Twisted Heel”

While Popdose recently reviewed the new, long-overdue release from Blue Orchids, the band led and fronted by guitarist/frontman Martin Bramah (original guitarist of The Fall), we also take great pleasure in presenting and premiering for you in full, Mr. Bramah’s newly-reissued solo album, The Battle Of Twisted Heel.  Originally released as a mail-order only item very briefly in 2008, this compiles the tracks from that CD plus a few items from an equally cult-based release from Blue Orchids, 2005’s Slum-Cavern-Jest!, giving this an 11-track fullness. While one might expect an upbeat, slightly angular pop sound as has been his trademark, you’ll find a very different affair here.  Acoustic based; a much more tradtional/folk feel and subdued – this is a low-voltage performance but highly powerful and seemingly personal.  Case and point, the emotions cast in “Stone Tumbling Stream”, with its flute figures for really coloring in the feel, is a standout track.  “The Fall Of Great Britain” (which, I admit is a very clever play on certain bands’ names…) is neo-Celtic and very Pogues-like.  “Lucybel” …

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE DANBERRYS, “Give & Receive”

Something to sink my teeth into, rich with acoustic guitars, mandolins, violins and shiver-inducing harmonies.  Although The Danberrys, who hail from East Nashville, are a band, the two main drivers are Ben Deberry on guitar and vocals and Dorothy Daniel on vocals.  The two have one of the sweetest blendings of voices and these songs are ripe with melody, emotion and pure, American soul.  This album, their fourth release, is one fine slice of Americana. Starting with “Receive”, the slow, mournful nature of the song actually turns into one of hope and uplift; the use of fiddle and subtle mandolin gives a greater dramatic feel along with the simply gorgeous harmony; “Lady Belle” is an acoustic tour-de-force with Ms. Daniel’s vocals gripping and fluid and “Long Song” is a deep country piece, raging with banjo, fiddle, mandolin and a galloping rhythm that walks straight out of the Bill Monroe school of bluegrass.  “Let Me Go” is stripped down to just two guitars and Dorothy Daniel’s echo-y and mesmerizing vocals; “Get Back Home” is possibly the …

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ALBUM REVIEW: IDENTICAL SUNS, s/t

This long-planned debut album from Identical Suns is one of those happy results of a strong Indiegogo campaign; combining the talents of Rene Rodriguez and Todd Stanton, this California and Ohio based aggregate makes a very pleasing power pop sound that has shades of The Beatles, The Raspberries and all the best elements of how to write hooky/catchy songs. Starting with “Baby I’m Down”, it’s uptempo feel makes you pay attention from the first beats; the economical guitar solo hits the mark and the harmonies and handclaps on the chorus makes it instantly classic, so you know you’re in for a good listen.  “Nothing I Can Do” is awash in acoustic guitars and a highly melodic and prominent bass line and is an early high mark; “Show Me A Sign” opens with a classic Fender Rhodes piano figure and sounds like it would have fit in on the AM radio of my youth in the ’70’s and “Emily” is a surprise in that it just comes in kicking hard, with a grinding guitar and riff, …

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POPDOSE NEWS: JEM RECORDS SIGNS THE ANDERSON COUNCIL

If it wasn’t obvious that The Anderson Council has been one of New Jersey’s best kept secrets, well now, it won’t be… Because this band, who has been around since 1999 with their deliciously crisp modern take on classic mid-’60’s psychedelic pop and late ’70’s Mod has signed to Marty Scott’s legendary Jem Records label and will be releasing Assorted Colours, a “primer” of several previously released tracks from their first three albums plus some new tracks for good measure.  Meaty and bouncy, songs like “Sitting On A Cloud”, “Girl On The Northern Line” and ‘Pinkerton’s Assorted Colours” immediately bring back warm memories of The Creation, The Who and The Jam (!).  The Council, who have been heard innumerable times on “Little Steven’s Underground Garage” channel on XM/Sirius got together with another New Jersey neo-beat-legend, Kurt Reil of The Grip Weeds to fashion this (incredibly) fine collection of songs, which will be available as of July 15th, 2016.  Be on the lookout for a live meeting with The Anderson Council in your area soon… Review …

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POPDOSE VIDEO PREMIERE: THE MONKEES, “Birth Of An Accidental Hipster”

And…  the win goes to this Paul Weller/Noel Gallagher composition, sung mainly by Michael Nesmith, with Micky Dolenz – a slice of vintage Monkees-style and as psychedelic as The Monkees have been since “Daily Nightly”.  Tuneful, catchy, well-orchestrated and buoyant, “Birth Of An Accidental Hipster” is (in my mind) a perfect return to form. On the whole, the album is, truly, a return to form. Full album review coming soon – in the meantime, here ’tis…: Good Times! is available now http://www.monkees.com/

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E.P. REVIEW: KARYN KUHL BAND, “The Stars Will Bring You Home”

This six-song e.p. is simply delicious.  Karyn Kuhl’s been part of the New Jersey scene for quite a while (I used to see her when she was in a great Hoboken band called Gutbank – track down their Coyote Records release from ’86!); these days, she’s doing her own thing with The Karyn Kuhl Band.  This tight 4-piece includes James Mastro, guitarist extraordinaire (and owner of the incredible Guitar Bars in Hoboken – when in the area, check them out); Mr. Mastro is also the producer who gives this E.P. a clean, sparse sound that resonates with every instrument and makes Ms. Kuhl’s voice just reach right into you.  Alternating from soft to warm to sultry, this is absolutely, devastatingly good. “Sad Eyes” has a dark quality about it, yet in its semi-bleakness, the guitar figures weaved in gives the song an emotional uplift; a sweeping solo in a country vein counters the swampiness of the underlying keyboard; the deep/heavy rhythm section which is easily recognizable as tight from the first beats is stellar.  And …

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ALBUM REVIEW: CHARLIE FAYE & THE FAYETTES, s/t

The first thing that immediately strikes you when you listen to this first album from Austin-based Charlie Faye & The Fayettes is the vintage AM-radio production; a very warm ’60’s feel that works perfectly in the poppy-soulfulness of the Motown vibe.  Or if, you’re like me,  you can imagine some of these songs being lost Northern Soul classics.   But be assured, these three ladies are of and in the here and now and it’s a joyful sound coming out of my speakers that makes me enjoy this album to no end. Think about this – amongst the players on this album include Pete Thomas (yes, him) on drums, Tony Gilkyson on guitar, Roger Manning on keyboards – and so on.  The three Fayettes:  Charlie Faye on lead vocals, Betty Soo and Akina Adderley on some remarkably silky harmonies have a pretty strong pedigree on their own and this is one of those happy combinations of performers that strike the right balance. Now as for the music itself, which are all original compositions – beginning with …