All posts filed under: Music

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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 …

Michael Colton A Shot

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/      

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BOXSET REVIEW: PAUL MCCARTNEY, “Pure McCartney” (various editions)

  What can you really say that hasn’t already been said about Paul McCartney?  This isn’t some “rock critic” trying to dissect the now 46-year solo career of the greatest (still living) pop musician of all time; this is simply an assessment of a very fine, albeit flawed, comprehensive compilation of the man’s works, picked by him. I plumped for the 4-disc, hardcover book edition of Pure McCartney and it is, indeed, quite a treasure trove that goes from 1970’s McCartney all the way to 2013’s New.  Of course, I find it flawed because aside from some glaring omissions which are personal favorites, he did leave off several essential tracks (certainly “My Brave Face” or “This One” from 1989’s Flowers In The Dirt should have been here or “Hope Of Deliverance” from 1993’s Off The Ground could have found a spot).  Nonetheless, according to the press release: ‘”Me and my team came up with the idea of putting together a collection of my recordings with nothing else in mind other than having something fun to …

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE ANDERSON COUNCIL, “Assorted Colours”

As I’d said previously, when this album and signing was announced, 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… 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 now signed to Marty Scott’s legendary Jem Records label and Assorted Colours is the first fruit of this new partnership. It’s a “primer” of several previously released tracks from their first three albums plus some new tracks for good measure.  The new tracks have been produced by another New Jersey neo-beat-legend, Kurt Reil of The Grip Weeds and together, they’ve fashioned this (incredibly) fine collection of songs. Meaty and bouncy, a song like “Sitting On A Cloud” is ripe with 12-string Rickenbackers, harmonies, perfect pop structure and sends you into an immediate nostalgia trip of how/when bands knew how to craft songs – and thankfully, that’s what The Anderson Council are here to do. “Girl On The Northern …

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Popdose Rides Eternal: The Ultimate Roadtrip Mixtape, Reloaded

Roads can take you anywhere, but they have a funny way of bringing you around to the same spots now and then. You pass through these hubs and junctions on your way someplace new — but as you pass, you take a look around and see what’s changed. The Ultimate Roadtrip Mixtape is like that for us here at Popdose. The idea was always to provide a curated soundtrack for your long car ride, with the aim of elevating that everyday experience into the realm of the mythic — to make your ride as cool as the movies — and we seem to keep coming back to it. We’ve gotten periodic reader requests to repost these longform mp3 mixes, and as we have occasionally done so, we have also expanded the scope of the project. That’s the nature of a roadtrip, after all. Constant motion. Constant change. It’s not enough to simply revisit your points of reference. The journey is always getting longer; the scenery grows ever more wild and strange. And the trip has …

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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