All posts filed under: Music


The Popdose Mixtape: Labor Day 2015 Edition

Welcome to the annual Labor Day mix, where we kick back, listen to some tunes about economics and labor, and consider the situation of the American worker. The story is much the same as in past years — Joe and Jane Lunchpail are still mostly gettin’ boned by a system rigged exclusively to benefit multi-millionaires, known in political circles as “the donor class” — but there are some signs that a cultural shift may be going on. Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, whose dark-horse campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination has centered on themes of economic inequality, has proved surprisingly strong in the polls, and his early successes (in tandem, no doubt, with the increasing national prominence of Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren, who has become one of Capitol Hill’s most outspoken voices of economic populism) have pushed working-class issues to the forefront of the conversation. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton, the early favorite for the nomination, had been widely seen as uncomfortably close to Wall Street; but she has pivoted toward advocating policies that would benefit working families, …

Heather Bond

Popdose Premiere: Heather Bond, “Some Other Lover”

If you’ve been Jonesing for a Sarah McLachlan fix without all the depressing caged animal misery that often goes with it, Nashville’s Heather Bond is here to whisk you way into a fluffy white cloud of lush, romantic, guilt-free piano pop. Her simmering full-length debut, So Long (out September 18th, 2015), was produced by Grammy-award winner Matthew Odmark of Jars of Clay. The title track is a slow-burn stunner that would fit nicely into your “me time” and/or “getting over you” playlist. Considering she lives in the home of country music, perhaps Bond can ask a neighbor to whip up a Nashville remix with a lil steel guitar to get this single on the radio. Bond’s lovely vocals take center stage throughout the affair, backed by a delicate piano here and a string section there. She delivers dreamy songs to cozy up to on a rainy day with a strong coffee, a good read and nowhere to go. POPDOSE was particularly fond of the rhythmic flourishes on ‘Some Other Lover‘; the crackling drum, entwined with waves of Bond’s stacked vocals and a Sia-sized piano build, it’s quite the rush. So Long is …


Album Review: Darlingside, “Birds Say”

This Massachusetts-based quartet has something different to offer and a very refined sound that makes this new album, Birds Say, a joy to experience from end to end.  Touches of classical music, traditional folk and skillful song structures are the order of the day. “The Ancestor” opens the collection in a very delicate and choral manner that I haven’t encountered in a long time; very warm melody and a group vocal.  “White Horses” is quiet, brushed along by banjo runs played softly and majestic piano and stunning harmonies a la CSN & Y make this an early high point; “Go Back” is another dynamic vocal exercise with some nice uptempo guitar strumming and is as catchy as all get out and the album’s title track, “Birds Say” has some very fine acoustic picking. “The God Of Loss,” with its mournful violin, is another standout and sung in a group manner instead of harmonies; “Do You Ever Live?” has a Turtles-like vocal delivery and although it’s musically minimal, it has a quasi-psychedelic feel and “She’s All …


Album Review: HUGElarge, “HUGElarge”

The last time I heard two men play with the intensity of a full-bore “band” was Mike Watt and George Hurley doing the music of my (and their) late, beloved Minutemen – until now.  Robert Malta (guitar and vocals) and Matt Norelli (drums) are the “two man power trio” that comprise HUGElarge and they erupt with this debut album of familiar and well-loved covers from the ’60’s and ’70’s.  Even the album art has a coolness that fits alongside the music contained within. Since this album is filled with highlights, the one that grabbed me most is “Who’ll Be The Next In Line”, a most favored Kinks song to me – stripped down to the bare bones and balls – brief and slammed out with gusto; The Standells’ “Sometimes Good Guys Dont Wear White” has a nice feel and a bitchin’ slide guitar solo; The Charlatans’ (by way of Buffie Sainte-Marie) “Codeine” gets a heavy, bluesy treatment and has a lot of emotion in the delivery and Johnny Thunders’ “Born To Lose” has a 100-m.p.h. …


What’s THAT Supposed to Mean?: R.E.M., “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?”

You wore a shirt of violent green and never understood, don’t f— … hey! Whoa! What’s that supposed to mean? Greatness has often sprung from the fertile soil of Athens, Ga. The Georgia Bulldogs have provided quality football, tennis, gymnastics and tailgating for generations — Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton even grew up there and went to his hometown college. It’s been a surprise hotbed of mixed martial arts, with former UFC champion Forrest Griffin honing his skills and quips out on one of the country roads that wind their way out of town. And, of course, there’s me. But more importantly, there are the bands. College radio made cult heroes of Pylon, Love Tractor, Guadalcanal Diary, Flat Duo Jets and Dreams So Real. The scene had enough staying power for Todd Snider to reference it in Talkin’ Seattle Grunge-Rock Blues, where the protagonist finally gives up on the grunge scene, shaves off the goatees, packs the van and goes back to Athens. (In later performances, he changed the destination to places like Nashville. …


Album Review: Eszter Balint, “Airless Midnight”

You might recognize Eszter Balint‘s name from the television series Louie, in which she played (during an end-of-the-season arc) the neighbor/love interest to Louis C.K.  But here, the Hungarian-born actress shows her true talent and skill as a singer, songwriter and violinist.  Airless Midnight is her second solo album – her first in a decade (!) and her third overall.  Here, she’s joined by such talents as Dave Schramm and Marc Ribot, and this album is, indeed, a revelation. Opening with “The Mother,” the slow-syrupy almost-jazz groove takes you into a dreamlike state, but picks up the pace and gets you moving; you can hear her violin punctuate verses and links to add an eerie atmosphere.  Her voice is warm, rich and embracing and sets the table for the duration of the album.  Harmonies on this album are supplied by Sam Phillips (!) and are sweet and balanced.  “Let’s Tonight It” is an uptempo rock-stomper with some tastefully dirty guitar; “Departure Song” has a country-folk feel with banjos and “Calls At 3 a.m.” is an acoustic …


Album Review: Grace Potter, “Midnight”

There are bound to be some very strong and differentiating opinions on this new solo album from Grace Potter – best known for fronting jam-band favorites Grace Potter & The Nocturnals.  I found her by way of my closest friend, whose opinion I trust completely.  She hipped me to them with their self-titled 2010 album and for someone who never paid much attention to the new generation of jam bands, this record stood out and made me a fan. On Midnight, her official second solo album, it’s nowhere near what one would expect as this album is 100% hi-gloss, danceable, radio-friendly pop.  Whether or not that alienates long-time fans who are scratching their heads, thinking Grace Potter has become a glamour-pop-diva, is immaterial.  Taken at face value, this is quality modern pop with all the right touches.  Melodies, hooks and take-your-breath-away vocals.  Keeping in mind, Ms. Potter has a drop-dead powerhouse voice and here, she just cuts and rips right through these songs with an absolute intensity and abandon. The rollercoaster ride begins with the …

Who Reaction

Box Set Review: The Who, “The Reaction Singles, 1966”

This second box set of 45 singles, restored to their original label pressings by The Who for “The Who Hits 50” series, is now playing loudly for the third time on my turntable.  Once again, Universal (the parent company of the various labels The Who appeared on) has done an outstanding job in re-releasing these most critical of singles in The Who’s history and they sound as spectacular and dynamic as one could hope for. 1966 was an important year and a crossroads/major shift in directions for the band.  Growing in leaps and bounds from the speed-fueled Mod band and their initial R&B-style, they’d already had a fair number of successful singles in the U.K. the previous year.  However, Pete Townshend  was growing confident and strong in his songwriting and the newest single, “Substitute” showcased a completely different, far more powerful sound and depth of lyrics.  But this new single wouldn’t be without its headaches.  They’d extracted themselves from Brunswick (Decca) Records, after a skirmish with a song called “Circles,” produced by now-ex-producer Shel Talmy.  …


Album Review: The Bottle Rockets, “South Broadway Athletic Club”

If you know the music of The Bottle Rockets, you know the winning formula that makes their records so good – Brian Henneman’s gang of guitar slingers play straight-ahead, no bullshit rock & roll with a pop sensibility and a pure American feel (not in a predictable or precious way).  Add to the combination of fine songwriting and playing the masterful production of the legendary/brilliant Eric “Roscoe” Ambel (The Del Lords, The Yayhoos, Roscoe’s Gang, etc.) and it’s the kind of album you get friendly with real fast. And so is the case with the latest in The Bottle Rockets’ canon, South Broadway Athletic Club – 11 fine slices of fresh guitar-driven rock.  Launching you along for the ride with the first track, “Monday (Everytime I Turn Around)”, the structure and melody grab you and strap you in – chiming guitars (do I hear a Ric 360-12?), sweet acoustic breaks, crisp drums, economically tasteful guitar solos – this has “radio friendly” written all over it and damn it, it should be coming out of every …


Popdose Exclusive Video Premiere: Church Of Betty, “I Remember You”

And now for something completely different…Twenty-five years in, Chris Rael’s group Church of Betty mixes Indian instrumentation and rhythms with a Western pop sensibility. The group’s new album Swirled World is now available and they will be taking to the road to show it off. Joining them on various stops are friends of Rael’s, Stew and the Negro Problem. (Stew is the mastermind behind the Broadway hit Passing Strange.) Also joining on a few stops will be Dublin Ireland pop sensations Pugwash. The Swirled World track “I Remember You” has been given the video treatment by media artist and filmmaker Joan Grossman. Popdose is pleased to bring you a listen to the music and a first look at this video. You can find out more about Chris Rael and Church of Betty at Rael’s website:

American Television

Hot New Rock: A Projection, American Television, the Breton Sound

The name of the site might be Popdose, but rock and roll is our lifeblood. Here are some truly exciting new bands to truly get your heart racing and blood pumping to all the right places, most notably your fists and feet. A Projection • Exit Stockholm’s A Projection takes you in the wayback machine to the early 80’s, recalling a variety of beloved post punk bands like Joy Division, a very young Cure, Comsat Angels and the Chameleons. Loads of post Millennial bands have tried this formula and a select few like Interpol have been able to make it work. A Projection takes “the sound” and makes it sound both retro and modern. Their debut album, Exit, is easily my favorite album of the year by a new artist, it’s packed full of sinister singles that crackle with urgency, energy and most importantly, addictive melodies that reward listening on heavy rotation. A Projection makes me want to dig up every cassette I made of my late 80’s college radio show. Once you get past the DeJoy Division Vu in the rhythmic hook …

Loveland Duren

POPDOSE EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE: Loveland Duren, “Johnny Boy”

This is something very special; very powerful and totally from the heart.  Memphis legends Vicki Loveland and Van Duren, collectively known as Loveland Duren, release their new single, “Johnny Boy” and Popdose is proud to bring it to you as an exclusive premiere. The writing of “Johnny Boy” began during an annual writing excursion the team takes to Gulf Shores, Alabama. On December 12, 2014, in the tiring last hours of their drive to the coast, they received a disturbing call that longtime friend and Ardent Studios co-owner/producer, John Hampton, had passed away in Memphis. Astonished and shaken, Vicki and Van sat down that evening with a guitar; the night beach sky as their companion helped the song flow out in a grieving tribute to their friend. Their first day back in Memphis, another shock: Ardent Studios founder John Fry, another good friend, also died on December 18th. The entire Memphis musical community was devastated, having lost two giants in 6 days. Mournfully, “Johnny Boy” transcended into a tribute to both men. This July, Loveland …



There is something I find immediately and charming about Sarah McQuaid’s voice upon first listen to her newest release, Walking Into White – it’s soothing and embracing and doesn’t sound like what can consider atypical of folk-style performers.  Although she’s U.K.-based, Ms. McQuaid hails from Chicago (!  Aha!), but her style of acoustic playing reminds me of Nick Drake’s way along with the near-huskiness of her voice (yes, yes, I know Nick Drake gets name-checked a lot and so what?  He was brilliant.  Period.).  Nonetheless, her style is very lush and expansive and makes this album something to sink my teeth into. From the opening of the stark/bleak “Low Winter Sun” to the powerhouse of “Where The Wind Decides To Blow”, this is top of the mark song execution.  Her masterful playing on “I Am Grateful For What I Have” (which has shades of Townshend’s acoustic picking style in there) is exquisite and chill inducing.  There is a thread that pulls these songs together, via soundscapes that appear at the end of each track; from …


First Listen: Renee & Friends – Gather Round featuring Lisa Loeb

Renee & Friends is just that. Renee Stahl and a bunch of her friends writing and recording songs with producer Rich Jacques for her new album Simpatico.  Her circle of friends on this album include Lisa Loeb, Maya Rudolph, Glen Phillips of Toad The Wet Sprocket, Colin Hay, Caspar Babypants, Molly Shannon and Jeremy Toback – her partner in crime from Renee & Jeremy. Simpatico will be released August 28th. First listen: ‘Gather Round’ featuring Lisa Loeb is the lead track off of Simpatico.  All tracks on the album are originals, except Renee & Maya Rudolph covering ‘Starfish and Coffee’ by Prince, which you can stream via SoundCloud. And Molly Shannon’s song “Happiness” is from the musical “You’re a good man, Charlie Brown.” You can pre-order the album straight from their website:


ALBUM REVIEW: THE BELLFURIES, “Workingman’s Bellfuries”

Passionate, rootsy rock & roll come right out at you immediately from Austin’s The Bellfuries.  This band, who’s been around for a while, have upped their game with this latest album, the cleverly titled Workingman’s Bellfuries.  A mix of that classic Texas twang, the Sun sound and rhythms that swing has to be good, right?  Right.  Let’s make that clear now.  Simply mix a little Elvis, Marty Robbins, Roy Orbison and a smattering of Buck Owens, Big Sandy and Los Lobos for good measure and that pretty much personifies The Bellfuries’ sound.  Add to that a production quality that brings you right into the late ’50’s/early ’60’s, which sounds natural and pure and it’s a “can’t miss”.  Dig? About the songs, it’s simple:  “Loving Arms” kicks off the album with a good old-fashioned swing that you, indeed, can’t resist tapping your toes to; “Bad Seed Sown” sounds like something Elvis would have recorded and “Why Do You Haunt Me?” is my favorite and the album’s standout with its Tex-Mex feel.  “Make The Mystery No More” …


ALBUM REVIEW: BIRD, “Figments Of Our Imagination”

Janie Price is the mind, voice and cello (!) behind Bird.  A London-based singer-songwriter, she now graces us with her third album, Figments Of Our Imagination.  Most alluringly about this CD is that Ms. Price plays all the instruments on the album, which was produced by Chris Kimsey (who you may know from his being behind the board for the Stones – yes, those Stones). Ten original songs; all of which have an interesting array of textures, colors and melodies.  On my initial listen, I felt a sense of (a recurring theme) early ’80’s influences – the groove; the electronic timbre – but it all works deliciously. Starting with “Girl Can’t Decide”, which is a mellow yet funky track, you can’t help but be enveloped by Janie Price’s voice and the pure pop structure – a fine beginning.  “Thrill Me” has a Berlin-like feel (think “The Metro”); dark, buoyant keyboard touches and brisk pace; “The Dare” has a brightness, offset by the tension that builds until the chorus, which lifts the song and “Stereotype” is …