All posts filed under: News


MOVIE REVIEW: “THE DAMNED – Don’t You Wish That We Were Dead”

When I first heard that a documentary had been made about The Damned, I was absolutely chomping at the bit to see it.  My love and respect for this band is well known to all and sundry; listening to, reading about and hearing The Damned has always been a constant joy for me.  And thinking that someone had finally taken the time and care to make a film was both a moment of celebration and the thought of “this is long overdue”.  I’ve always felt that The Damned were deserving of so much more of the spotlight, the accolades, the financial rewards that the other bands from that first punk rock wave/class of ’76 seem to have been reaping in the last few years.  Every time I turn around, I hear in commercials and soundtracks the Pistols or Clash or Buzzcocks, etc.  – and I begrudge none of them for gaining their well-deserved place in our culture.  But The Damned, who had an endless amount of talent and a catalog of splendid music, never seem …


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 …



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,” …



In what seems to be a never ending river of sad news from the music world, Popdose has learned that Paul Kantner, singer/guitarist/songwriter for ’60’s psychedelic legends Jefferson Airplane (and their ’70’s sequel band, Jefferson Starship) has died at the age of 74.  The cause was multiple organ failure after having suffered a heart attack earlier in the week; he’d been in ill health for the last few years. With Jefferson Airplane, Mr. Kantner pioneered what became known as the San Francisco sound in the mid-1960s, with such hits as “Somebody to Love” and “White Rabbit.” The Airplane was known for the vocal interplay of singers Marty Balin, Grace Slick and Mr. Kantner, the “psychedelic blues” developed by guitarist Jorma Kaukonen and bass player Jack Casady and the LSD-spiked, ‘60’s-era countercultural/revolutionary themes in their lyrics.



In yet another blow to the music world, Eagles co-founder Glenn Frey died today in New York at the age of 67; this was reported on The Eagles’ website.  He’d had intestinal problems during the latter part of 2015 and had surgery in November; his condition apparently deteriorated quite rapidly over these last few days. Frey co-wrote and sang most of The Eagles’ hits, including “Take It Easy,” “Lyin’ Eyes,” and “Heartache Tonight”; he also co-wrote “Hotel California” and “Desperado” with band co-founder Don Henley.



Popdose is very sad to report that legendary artist David Bowie has died at the age of 69 after an 18 month battle with cancer.  The singer, who just turned 69 on January 8th had also released his most recent album, Blackstar, on the same day.  Bowie was to be honored with a concert at Carnegie Hall on March 31 featuring the Roots, Cyndi Lauper and the Mountain Goats. He currently has a musical, “Lazarus,” running Off Broadway. Born David Robert Jones, Bowie’s career spanned more than 50 years, taking off in the early ’70’s with such hits as “The Man Who Sold The World” and “Space Oddity”.  A chameleon, Bowie changed his image with each album during his heyday and is credited as being one of the leaders of the “glam-rock” movement.


Review: Kurt Cobain – Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings (Deluxe Edition)

Kurt Cobain’s first solo record – recently released 21 years after his 1994 suicide and paired with a suspect “documentary” film project of revisionist mythmaking and iconography – is a jumbled, scraping-barrel-bottom mess of an affair. It’s not to say that, for die-hard fans, there are not things to like about it. There are moments of, I’ll go so far as to say, genuine beauty. The opener “The Yodel Song” shows how easily Cobain could toss off a Nirvana-style melody without giving a second thought, and tunes like “The Happy Guitar” make you feel like, alone sometimes, Cobain genuinely just had a good time making music, even if – maybe especially if – there was no audience to intrude sans himself. And, yes, the acoustic take on “And I Love Her” and the instrumental “Letters To Frances” are sweet. But for every engaging moment (an epic “Do Re Mi,” a frequently bootlegged “Sappy” demo, the Melvins-ish “Reverb Experiment”) there’s a lot of grime. The scattered montages and audio collages, while interesting ephemera, are dated sonically and haven’t aged …


BREAKING NEWS: R&B legend Allen Toussaint dies at 77

New Orleans musical cornerstone Allen Toussaint has died at the age of 77 in Madrid, Spain.  The award-winning artist was known for songs like “Working In The Coalmine”, “Southern Nights” and “Fortune Teller”. He suffered a heart attack shortly after coming off stage at Madrid’s Teatro Lara on Monday night;he was found in his hotel and resuscitated – but suffered a second heart attack en route to hospital.


MOVIE REVIEW: “The Jam – About The Young Idea”

Thrilled to see that the Showtime network has sought fit to broadcast the British documentary, The Jam – About The Young Idea, as it’s high time a sizable audience could see/hear/learn about the most important band to come out of the 1977 punk/new wave explosion and be barely known in the United States.  The Jam were a particularly British phenomenon and 33 years after their split, new audiences/new generations are finding out about them.  Which means that a whole new audience in the United States may pick up on this incredible band. I’m not going to waste time giving you their history, etc. – that’s what this very well-done documentary does and I think does it smartly and in an interesting manner.  It’s told in the band’s own words, uses archival footage of The Jam (including some songs that have not been previously heard) and speaks to various people – friends of and fans of the band, amongst them, noted actor Martin Freeman (Fargo, The Hobbit, etc.) and writer Paul Abbott (Shameless – both U.K. …


REVIEW: Richard Buckner – “The Hill” (Reissue)

Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology turned 100 a few days ago, and Merge Records marked the occasion by re-releasing the oft-overlooked indie-folk gem it inspired, Richard Buckner’s majestic homage, 2000’s The Hill, which puts more than a baker’s dozen of Masters’ pen-and-ink story-biographies to song. There are plenty of ways to get to Buckner’s Hill. And plenty of ways to dig your hands into the soil of it all. But, plain and simple, this Buckner record, in particular out of his lofty canon, is not a hill but a mountain, a singular accomplishment among many. Backed occasionally lushly but more often sparsely by Calexico core Joey Burns and John Convertino, Buckner strikes a semblance of quiet desperation as he breathes life into 18 of Masters’ pseudo-obituaries/confessions, making them more like living, breathing rough drafts then final nails in coffin lids. It’s exciting, even enthralling stuff to hear. Buckner has his hook in you from square one; and he knows it. The work-song spiritual “Ollie McGee” is downright devastating. Two songs later, “Julia Miller” will knock you …



From Dw. Dunphy and Rob Ross: Via a tweet from Yes/Asia/Buggles keyboardist Geoff Downes, reports say that Chris Squire, the legendary bass guitar player for prog-rock giants YES, has died at the age of 67.  It had been announced in May that Squire was undergoing treatment for leukemia.  He had been living with his family in Phoenix, Arizona. There is so much commentary about who is and is not Yes, meaning the vast arsenal of players who have been with the band all these years. The one constant was Chris Squire, bass player. His style is regularly regarded as “dirty” or “meaty.” For a band that is often regarded as arty – too arty sometimes – or pretty and orchestral, Squire was the dinosaur that kept the rock firmly in play in their progressive rock. To hear that he has passed today is profoundly sad. It is like removing one of the heads from Mount Rushmore, a feat his bass playing alone could have accomplished. If you need further convincing, I advise you to consult …

Groundbreaking New York City Music Series Expands to Los Angeles

Three years ago, New York City-based musician and promoter Aleksi Glick got the idea to merge upcoming bands with a unique, untapped venue — a hostel. Partnering with Hostelling International on the Upper West Side, Glick strove to give his fellow music-makers a home uptown, a section of Manhattan that had sorely been lacking in places to play. After pulling together a group of his friends to help with booking, promotion, and graphic design, Glick formed Newer Sounds, and developed both a concert series and guitar series, which has drawn in performers from all over the world. Now, Glick has partnered with longtime music business consultant and founder and curator of Numinous Music, Craig S. Hyman, to expand this burgeoning enterprise to the Left Coast — more specifically, Hostelling International in Santa Monica, CA. Why Santa Monica? As Glick explains it, he recognized a similar problem in the beach town as was present on the UWS. “There are also countless musicians in Los Angeles and not enough good and fair venues,” he explains. “Santa Monica is …


New Video: Julien Sagot, “Docteur C”

Perhaps best known as percussionist for Polaris Music Prize winners Karkwa, Québec’s Julien Sagot has been making a name for himself of late with his sophomore solo LP, the brazenly eclectic weird-pop masterpiece Valse 333. Coming on the heels of Valse 333‘s Juno Award nomination in the Best Francophone Album category is the album’s latest single, the loopy, jittery “Docteur C”, which is accompanied by an equally spooky video that should delight fans of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s surrealism and Michel Gondry’s handmade in-camera effects. You can stream or purchase Valse 333 and its predecessor, 2012’s Piano Mal, on Bandcamp.


BREAKING NEWS: Legendary producer/songwriter Kim Fowley dead at 75

After a long battle with bladder cancer, legendary record producer Kim Fowley has died.  This news comes via Billboard. Throughout his career, Fowley stepped in and out of popular music’s limelight, making a name for himself in the 1960s with a string of pop singles with a cultish lean and later managing the ’70s punk girl group the Runaways — the band that introduced Joan Jett to the rock world. For the last few years, Fowley had a weekly radio show on Little Steven’s Underground Garage channel (heard on XM/Sirius) and continued to broadcast even from his hospital bed. The video below is one of the first recordings Fowley was responsible for; the music was his closing theme every week at the end of his show.


BREAKING NEWS: John Fry, founder of Ardent Studios, dies in Memphis

Ardent Studios founder and legendary producer John Fry has died. The man who gave a base of operations to the band that became Big Star passed away less than one week after Grammy Award-winning John Hampton, who was a long-standing member of the Ardent Studios family, died after a lengthy illness. Sources at Ardent Studios confirm Fry died on Thursday morning. He was 69 years old.

British Invasion 50th Anniversary Tour Adds Shows, Peter Asher

The incredibly popular 50th Anniversary British Invasion Tour that circulated along the East and West Coasts last fall is returning for another go-round this spring. Featuring hitmakers from across the pond including Billy J. Kramer, Chad & Jeremy, Denny Laine, Mike Pender of the Searchers, and Terry Sylvester of the Hollies/Swinging Blue Jeans, this leg will also add Peter Asher as emcee and sixth headliner. So far, dates span the East Coast and the Midwest, hitting areas and venues bypassed last fall. Those who caught the tour can attest that it’s truly one for the ages, with a lineup unlike any in history. To say it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event is a severe understatement; it’s simply unmissable, plain and simple. Not only is this a veritable who’s who of one of the most important movements in music history, but each and every artist is still in top form, making the whole show a non-stop, high-energy extravaganza. As if I haven’t hammered the point home enough, if you skip this one, you’ll be sorry. The full list of dates …

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CD REVIEW: Sarah Jaffe – Don’t Disconnect

There’s a set of lyrics on the new Sarah Jaffe record, out with much anticipation next month, that sums up the whole over-produced and uneven affair. “Most people tell you they’re different / Most people tell you they’re onto something new,” she coos on the third song, “Some People Will Tell You.” “I do what most people do.” Sad. And too true. Jaffe no longer seems interested in art and heartache or, for that matter, the art of heartache; she now belongs to the rubber-stamped and homogenized masses. Jaffe’s self-released debut EP and the follow-up, 2010’s Suburban Nature, were understated, passionate and almost majestic glimpses of a singer-songwriter cutting her milk-teeth. Her modus operandi then largely impregnated most songs with acoustic guitar and a quivering lead vocal that accentuated the emotive punch of her lyrics. It truly was riveting, headline-churning stuff. 2012’s The Body Wins was a departure, one that in some ways felt logical given her pop-leaning career trajectory, and found Jaffe exploring more atmospheric and electronic terrain. It was a hit-and-miss affair. In …


INTERVIEW: Chris Besinger of STNNNG

Let’s try, okay, to be objective for a moment. STNNNG, a Minneapolis art-punk quintet with its heart on its sleeve and a roar in its throat, is the best thing to come out of Minnesota since Todd Trainer. There; eat it up. The band’s debut, Dignified Sissy, which is now in 10th anniversary territory, was blistering and brilliant stuff, a bombastic and invigorating statement of purpose. It demonstrated, with razor-cutting precision, that the band members didn’t embrace guitar squalor, brain-scratching lyrics, and off-kilter time signatures so much as they bounced around them. Wild stuff. Find it. Every few years a gem has followed, cementing the excitement. 2013 brought us Empire Inward, the group’s first outing with indie iconoclast and engineering superstar Steve Albini working the board. They’ve never sounded so good. Popdose recently got the chance to sit down with Chris Besinger, the band’s vocalist, to set straight the record. What follows is a black-box recording transcript of that conversation. POPDOSE: Hi, Chris. STNNNG: Hi, Justin. POPDOSE: So, you just returned from touring Europe? STNNNG: …


BREAKING NEWS: Legendary blues-rock guitarist Johnny Winter dead at age 70

Once again, Popdose is saddened to report on the passing of another music legend:  guitarist, singer and music producer Johnny Winter has died at age 70. Winter rose to fame in the late 1960s and ’70s with his performances and recordings that included producing his childhood hero Muddy Waters. “I love blues. I don’t mind a little rock and roll, too, as long as it’s blues-based rock and roll,” he told Guitar World in 2010. He was the older brother of Edgar Winter — also a music legend. Winter’s representative, Carla Parisi, confirmed Thursday to the Associated Press that Winter died Wednesday in a hotel room in Zurich. A Facebook note says “his wife, family and bandmates were all saddened by the loss of one of the world’s finest guitarists.” He had been on an extensive tour that took him to Europe for his last performance Saturday at the Lovely Days Festival in Wiesen, Austria. He performed in May at the annual Jazz Fest in New Orleans.


BREAKING NEWS: Tommy Ramone, the last of the “original” Ramones, passes away

Popdose is sad to report that Tommy Ramone, aka Thomas Erdelyi, the last surviving member of the original Ramones died today at his home in Ridgewood, Queens. He was 65 and had been in hospice care following treatment for cancer of the bile duct. The time of death was 12:15pm. Claudia Tienan, his partner of 40 years, asked Andy Schwartz, former editor of NY Rocker (among many other things) to make the announcement of his passing. Tommy and guitarist John Cummings (Johnny Ramone) first got together in a high school garage band called the Tangerine Puppets. When The Ramones formed, he was supposed to be their manager, but ended up becoming the drummer from 1974 to 1978 and producing several of their albums. Tommy was always considered the most “normal” Ramone.  


NEWS: A Fragile Tomorrow Signs Deal With MPress Records

A band that I’ve reviewed, written about, talked about and will continue to champion, Charleston, South Carolina’s A FRAGILE TOMORROW, has just inked a multi-album deal with MPress Records.  The band will begin working on their fifth studio album shortly. Their 2012 album, Be Nice Be Careful, was produced by Ted Comerford and Mitch Easter at Easter’s Fidelatorium Studio in Kernersville, North Carolina.  Their new single, “Waning” is due to be released on July 15th, 2014.  Look for a recent interview I did with Dominic and Sean Kelly coming up very soon. You can read about their signing here: And learn more about the band here:  


ALBUM REVIEW: The Bongos, “Drums Along The Hudson” (special edition re-issue)

So there’s this band I like and have written about a few times.  You may have heard about them by now – The Bongos.  This album, Drums Along The Hudson, is ranked by me in the Top 10 of “Most Important/Influential Albums Ever” – I’m not going to pretend to be objective and over-analytical about this record.  I have played it countless times over the 32, 33 years I’ve had it.  My vinyl edition on PVC/Jem has white grooves in it; the Line Records CD pressing from Germany was of so-so quality and the Cooking Vinyl edition was nice but gone almost as quickly as it hit the market.  This is an album that is very near and dear to me.  It inspired me in countless ways. Now…  this beloved album is back where it belongs – re-issued with beautiful packaging and liner notes by Matt Pinfield – on Marty Scott’s Jem Recordings, the reborn label that first gave us The Bongos in the U.S.  It’s only fitting and brings everything full circle – re-released …


MATTHEW RYAN, “An Anthem For The Broken”

“An Anthem For The Broken” by Matthew Ryan, is now officially available for downloading.  As was first reported last week, Ryan was releasing this song in order to try and raise funds to help his friend, John Anderson, who is struggling with the cruelty of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).  All donations will go to help Mr. Anderson’s family, who has been devastated by watching the disease take its toll and the costs incurred. Here  is the official link: PLEASE:  buy this single.


SPECIAL SINGLE RELEASE: Matthew Ryan, “An Anthem For The Broken”

Matthew Ryan, who is set to release his newest album, Boxers, in the upcoming months, has announced a special single release to come out on Wednesday, February 26th.  “An Anthem For The Broken” is for a very worthy cause; it is to help aid/benefit Ryan’s dear friend John Anderson, who is in a cruel battle with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), most commonly referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”.  This nightmare disease is a heart breaker and the toll is heavy for the victims and their families.  Mr. Ryan has stated that the single will be available for purchase at the “minimum of $1 (with the option to pay more). Every dollar, minus the small distribution fees that Bandcamp automatically extracts, will go directly to John and Amanda Anderson to help lighten their load.”