All posts filed under: Music

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E.P. REVIEW: RUEN BROTHERS, “Point Dume”

This four song E.P. is a very strong introduction to England’s Ruen Brothers, Rupert and Henry Stanshall.  Shades of Scott Walker, Roy Orbison and spaghetti-western twang permeate these songs with no sense of contrivance; rather, these are well-crafted songs with a classic feel in a modern setting.  Dramatic, sometimes over-the-top but not irritating – and filled with melody and catchiness. Of the four songs, “Motor City” kicks hardest with a mid-’60’s kind of grooviness; heavily bass driven and crisp guitars along with bold arrangements.  “Vendetta” has a Box Tops kind of feel (!) with punch; “Summer Sun” screams Gene Pitney in a powerful, now sense with a tremendous chorus and “White Lies” has a lot of texture and is (arguably) the most radio friendly of the tracks. All in all, a very solid, coherent premiere from this duo.  Also interesting, as they’re British, but sound very American, which I can appreciate.  Good start for the Ruen Brothers. RECOMMENDED Point Dume is available now http://www.ruenbrothers.com/

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ALBUM REVIEW: WRAY, “Hypatia”

Let’s get this straight right off the bat – this is very, very good.  Shimmering guitars and melodies; hooks and a clean, crisp sound.  This young trio from Birmingham, Alabama (no, not Birmingham, England, funnily enough!) who call themselves Wray, have taken the more melodic side of the old British “shoegazer” ethos and made it much enjoyable and palatable on Hypatia, their debut album.  Keep in mind, this is a sound I’m very fond of by nature (as I was in my teens going into the mid-’80’s), so it makes it even more pleasurable that this record brings back good memories and the joy that a young band is exploring this style for themselves. With the opening track, “Below”, I can sense the haze of the heavily chorused Jaguar, strumming through the broad chords that fill this piece – which sets the table for “Giant”.  This particular number comes right from the Seventeen Seconds handbook – murky, enigmatic but instead of minor chords and a dark vibe, this is much more strident and buoyant – …

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POPDOSE SINGLE PREMIERE: THE BISHOP’S DAREDEVIL STUNT CLUB, “The Woman Who Got Old”

Outstanding track from this Chicago power-pop that is a damned good sign of things to come.  Offered up as a free track on their Bandcamp page, this is a taster for their upcoming new album, the cleverly-titled Don’t Buy This Album (to be released one track at a time for free!). Hooks, melody and harmonies galore, this is a great way to end 2015, as it’s being touted as a “New Year’s song”, which I’ll take any time. Below is the link to the song, the band’s website and a video from a few years ago to give you a greater introduction to this very fine band.  I’m looking forward to what comes next… http://bishopband.com/ https://thebishop.bandcamp.com/track/the-woman-who-got-old

Hot Off 2014’s ‘Sunken City,’ Mleo Returns With New Single

If you’re a music fan of a certain age (ahem, I’m talking about my age), you cherish the alt-rock of your youth. Sometimes I long for the the mid-90s top 40 with Soundgarden, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and their ilk. Ah, those were the days. That’s why when a band like Mleo and a song like “Ridiculous” comes along, it’s all the more exciting. These LA natives take that sterling sound and infuse it with just enough pop to make it palatable and modern. So, here’s my challenge to you: listen to “Ridiculous” below and try not to seek out their full album, 2014’s Sunken City. My guess is that you’ll be to enchanted to stop your Googling fingers. For more Mleo, find the band on Facebook.

Long Strange Trip: Ajay Mathur on His New Genre-Bending Album and Jamming With Jimmy Page

In recent years, Americana has become all the rage with foreign-born artists like Mumford & Sons chewing up and spitting out what traditionally was localized to the United States. In that same vein, meet Ajay Mathur, an Indian-born musician now residing in Switzerland. His unique sound takes Americana and blends it with some ’60s-caliber psychedelia for a new album that’s as much a treat for the ears as throwing on a 180-gram Zeppelin reissue. (For those who like that kind of thing.) Recently, we had a chance to pick Mathur’s brain about said album (entitled 9 to 3), his songwriting process, and, to stick with the Zeppelin theme, jamming with Jimmy Page. POPDOSE: Your music certainly holds a lot of world influence with diverse instruments like the sitar, though it also has a distinct Western flavor and recalls bands like Led Zeppelin and artists like Tom Petty and Bob Dylan. Who are your influences, and how did you go about blending together this intriguing sound? AJAY MATHUR: Thank you for having me here. Yes, that’s true. …

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ALBUM REVIEW: The Rockabye Baby Series

I was raised in the era of Beautiful Music, a radio format more commonly known as Muzak (although the company programmed other formats, and other people provided Beautiful Music). It was a soft, melodic sound designed to be background music, often heard in elevators and waiting rooms. It was usually based on popular songs, stripped down of any discordant notes and played on string instruments. It lacked percussion; it lacked soul. Beautiful Music was on the air from 1959 until the early 1980s, when it was largely abandoned. Not entirely, though: for some reason, there is enough demand that a few stations still program it, such as WQEZ in Birmingham, AL or the SiriusXM Escape channel. As a child, I was forced to listen to Beautiful Music. It was a staple at home and in the car. My father knew every Beautiful Music station in Ohio and Pennsylvania, so there wasn’t even respite on road trips. No one wanted to carpool with us. I thought Beautiful Music was gone for good, but then the Rockabye …

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2015: ANOTHER FINE YEAR!

So it’s the time of the season, when I get into that reflective mood and begin working my way backwards over the year’s music, books, movies, etc.  And 2015 was equally as rich as 2014 was, so I thought I’d share some of what I feel are the highest of nearly-innumerable high points over these last twelve months.  I acquired quite a lot of music – some purchased, some sent for review; I saw as many shows as my schedule would allow and read as much as my free time would give – which, of course, also means that my own new album is slower in coming along than I’d hoped (actually, it’s just stalled at the station for the time being), but it’s worth it.  And this year-end review is to help turn some of you on to these good/great/amazing things, in case you hadn’t heard about them previously.  So let us begin: TOP 3 ALBUMS FOR 2015:  these were the three albums that I listened to most often, after their respective releases.  There …

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EhOR: Max Webster brought weirdness to the mainstream

Editor’s note: In this installment of EhOR, Jay Kumar examines the career of Canadian prog-rockers Max Webster, who could never escape the shadow of their friends and tourmates Rush. The mid-1970s were an interesting time for music. The big dinosaur rock acts were getting bloated, disco and punk were taking root, and soft rock ruled the airwaves. But in Sarnia, Ontario, a different sound was emerging. Formed in 1973 from the ashes of several Toronto-area bands (Zooom, Rock Show of the Yeomen, Family at Macs and Sally and the Bluesman), Max Webster was formed by singer-guitarist Kim Mitchell and bassist Mike Tilka. The name was inspired by Jethro Tull’s idea of using the name of someone who was not in the band; Tilka has said in recent interviews that the name was taken from his old band Family at Max (which featured future Genesis touring guitarist Daryl Stuermer) and their tune “Song for Webster.” Augmented by drummer Paul Kersey and keyboardist Jim Bruton, the band started out doing Who and Jethro Tull covers in local …

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The Twenty-First Day of Mellowmas: Keepin’ Mike’s Chirst in Chirstmas

Jeff: Holiday traditions, Jason. Everyone celebrates them differently. Jason: I personally like to drink gasoline straight from the pump, which I never did before Mellowmas. It’s a new-ish tradition. Jeff: Really? I thought that was the fifth night of Hanukkah. Jason: Could be! Every day of December blends together for me now. But you’re right. Everyone has different holiday traditions. Jeff: There are lots of songs that presume we all celebrate the holidays pretty much the same way, you know? Sleigh rides and jingle bells and snowmen and all that stuff. Jason: Sure. Caroling out in the snow. Jeff: I think it’s important to take a step back once in awhile and listen to a song that reminds us each family has its own special holiday traditions. Jason: Like watching a Christmas movie on Christmas Eve? Or something else nice like that? Jeff: Sure! Or even spelling “Christmas” as “Chirstmas.” Jason: Wait, what? Jeff: You know, Chirstmas! Good old Chirstmas. Jason: Wait, is THAT what all those lawn signs say? “Keep Chirst in Chirstmas?” Jeff: …

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Popdose’s Unintentionally Retro Heavy Top Albums of 2015

Give 50 music writers a forum to tout their top 50 albums of the year and you’ll probably see 45 or so unique bands and albums on every person’s list. You’ll immediately doubt your hipster credentials because you’ve likely never heard of 35 to 40 of the artists on each list. Every year there will also be one album that everyone’s afraid NOT to like. Typically this honor goes to Kanye West, this year it’s all about Kendrick Lamar. A lot of the artists in my 2015 list also ranked high in my 1985 or 1995 lists — or at least sound like they’re of that era. 2015 was a year of comebacks and throwbacks. Some beloved artists returned to greatness. Some new artists embraced old sounds while boldly diving into the new. So if you’re not a jaded millennial and want to discover some 2015 albums you’ll actually enjoy listening to in 2016 and beyond, let’s hop into the Delorean and crank up the Discman: 45: Against Me! – 23 Live Sex Acts! Laura Jane Grace & a relatively new lineup celebrate the …

ALBUM REVIEW: THE HOUNDS OF WINTER, “Band In A Box”

Usually, I really have a hard time with Christmas songs, mainly because a) I can’t digest Christmas for the obvious reasons and b) the songs are always the same God awful aural drek that makes me want to lock myself in the house until the season is over and I don’t have to listen to these horrible songs anymore. But for once, I’m willing to make an exception with this special release from New Jersey’s The Hounds Of Winter.  Their Band In A Box is a compendium of Christmas-themed songs that have both heart and humor.  And they’ve made this available through their ReverbNation page (see link below) – check out their version of The Three Wise Men’s “Thanks For Christmas” (and that was another pseudonym for the glorious XTC). This album has a lot of spirit and isn’t that what this time of year is all about?  Happy holidays to all! Band In A Box can be heard on the ReverbNation page below  

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DVD REVIEW: “Jaco”

There are few people I can think of who come close to the sheer/unadulterated musical genius, skill and chops of Jaco Pastorius – the nearest that comes to mind is the late John Entwistle, the bass player extraordinaire for The Who.  But Entwistle was firmly entrenched in the rock world and Jaco Pastorius was clearly from a different, more fluid musical realm.  The argument could be made that he is one of the founding fathers of what became “jazz fusion” in the 1970’s – the melding of jazz, rock and soul/funk to create a groove of its own. This brilliant documentary is a labor of love from Metallica bassist Robert Trujillo who co-produced it along with John Battsek; it was directed by Paul Marchand and Stephen Kijak,  and through the help of crowd funding, tells the story of the celebrated but tragic bass-master/legend in straightforward detail, memories and footage through family, friends and fellow players.  Among the giant names interviewed are Bootsy Collins, Sting, Herbie Hancock, Joni Mitchell, Flea and Wayne Shorter; two of Jaco’s …

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BOOK REVIEW: Ben Marshall, “The Who: 50 Years – The Official History”

With all the incredible events, programs, releases and moments we’ve been fortunate enough to see, hear and experience this year, the 50th that The Who (as we knew and like to remember them), it was only fitting and appropriate that there would be a commemorative book – an official history.  And thus, there is.  The Who: 50 Years – The Official History, overseen by author Ben Marshall and sanctioned/assisted by Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey has been released as the last piece of the puzzle. A beautiful, 320-page hardcover volume, it attempts to trace the history of the band from their beginnings as a friendship between Townshend and the late, great John Entwistle and Entwistle’s chance meeting with Roger Daltrey, who invited Entwistle to join his band.  The stories and legends are there – the beginning of the journey with other-worldly drummer Keith Moon; the changeover to Mod and becoming “The High Numbers” and the ascent, along with being managed by Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp.  The stories and legends are all well-known; there are …