All posts filed under: Popdose

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SINGLE/VIDEO PREMIERE: THE MONKEES, “She Makes Me Laugh”

How can you not love this?  It’s The Monkees – it’s brand new and it’s as “classic Monkees” and catchy as the day is long.  Penned by Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo and from the forthcoming new album Good Times, this pop-masterpiece has all the right elements – riffs and hooks, melody, great vocals from Micky Dolenz and an overall wonderful vibe. Unlike the comebacks of the ’80’s and the ’90’s that The Monkees made, this new track is exactly what you want to hear from these masters of pop.  And knowing that Micky, Mike and Peter are still here to deliver makes me very glad to still be a fan after 50 years. Good Times will be released on Friday, May 27th http://www.monkees.com/

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VIDEO PREMIERE: Those Pretty Wrongs, “Never Goodbye”

When Burger Records released the “Lucky Guy”/”Fool Of Myself” single last year, I was thrilled to share it with you here.  Now, the first official video from the upcoming self-titled debut album is here as well. If you don’t know, Those Pretty Wrongs is a collaboration between Jody Stephens of Big Star, etc. and Luther Russell of The Freewheelers and they make some incredibly great music together – as warm and soulful as one could hope for.  If your appetite hadn’t been whetted last year, perhaps it will be now with this, a wonderful track called “Never Goodbye”.  Watch and listen.  Mainly listen.  And then go buy the debut album.  Then we can talk about it later… Enjoy! Those Pretty Wrongs will be available as of Friday, May 13th 2016 http://www.thoseprettywrongs.com/

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ALBUM REVIEW: BOB HILLMAN, “Lost Soul”

Popdose first (re)introduced you to Bob Hillman a few months ago with the video for “Big Sur”.  Now, the first full, new album from Bob Hillman in a decade – and produced by legendary singer/songwriter Peter Case – Lost Soul, is out and available and it’s a scorcher.  No frills, no soft soap, no funny business – this is all meat-and-potatoes, straight from the gut and done with skill. Going right for the kill, the album opens with the pointed “I Think I’ve Taken Enough Shit From You This Year” and it’s one of the best fuck-you songs I’ve heard in a long time.  Sometimes, you have to say what needs to be said with no room for misinterpretation and this song says it all; “Overnight Failure” looks at why a relationship goes south and “Big Sur”, as I’ve said before is sweet, wistful and filled with a perspective and maturity.  The very wryly tongue-in-cheek “I’ll Replace You With Machines” is another great swipe – presumably this time, about former bandmates who push you over …

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Video Premiere: Trapper Schoepp – Ogallala

I’ve always been obsessed with songs that mention my hometown of Omaha and it seems songwriters are obsessed with mentioning Omaha in their songs. Waylon Jennings, Tom Waits, Gary Louris, Bob Seger, Moby Grape, John Prine, Counting Crows, They Might Be Giants and numerous other artists have all name dropped Omaha. It’s time to add Wisconsin native Trapper Schoepp to the list, with his song about another city in Nebraska, “Ogallala” from his new LP, Rangers & Valentines.  Ogallala, Nebraska: Population 4,737. Where is Ogallala? If driving on I-80 West to Colorado or East to Omaha, you can’t miss Ogallala, or maybe you can – if you blink. When exiting the interstate at Ogallala, you’ll notice roads named Stagecoach Trail, Pony Express Lane, Chuckwagon Road and Prospector Drive. Within minutes, you quickly get a view of the town’s history. What do you do if you’re a touring band and Mother Nature forces you to exit in Ogallala? Well, you write a song about it. From Trapper himself: ‘Twas the week before Christmas and I-80 was coated in black ice. We were in the middle …

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ALBUM REVIEW: UP THE CHAIN, “The Prison Break”

What had begun as a vehicle for singer-songwriter Reed Kendall’s solo project has now developed into a full band – a rollicking trio from Philadelphia featuring Noah Skaroff on a mean-walking bass and Kirby Sybert on skins.  Up The Chain have a new album, The Prison Break, and this sounds like what a good old-fashioned rock & roll trio should sound like. Kicking off with “Kelly Green”, which is a neat neo-psychedelic opening montage of drone, feedback, some radio snippets and segueing into “Crumbling The Stone”, for some reason, I felt/heard touches of Buffalo Springfield, especially in the harmonies and some of the riffs (nice use of 7th as well); “Sidecar” is a down-home slice of boogie and as catchy as any of those early rock records you listened to when you were a kid in the ’70’s and “Departed Trains” has a cool Chris Isaak-like feel with its heavy reverb and minor chord structures – it’s also a great “cinematic” track as it has atmosphere and visual lyrics.  “Globe”‘s church organ with echo/delay guitar …

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BOOK REVIEW: GARY SHAIL, “I Think I’m On The Guest List”

I’m not someone who would ever think to buy and read an autobiography by an actor; it’s usually not in my crosshairs of interest for reading when it comes to non-fiction.  Even reading autobiogs by rock musicians is a difficult and daunting task – I think I only ever liked one.  But every now and then, you stumble across something that just looks and sounds interesting and intriguing, so you move out of your comfort zone. Such is the case with I Think I’m On The Guest List, written by British actor Gary Shail.  I’ve known about Mr. Shail as he is one of the stars of (conceivably) my all-time favorite movie, Quadrophenia.  Because I hold that film so personally and by happenstance, finding out that he’d written his own story, I thought “this could be interesting.”  I bought a copy and I have to say, with no other criteria to go on, I’m glad I did. More often than not, celebrity autobiographies are filled with the kind of bluster that makes me inevitably hate …

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POPDOSE VIDEO PREMIERE: BOB MOULD, “Hold On”

There are very few “current” artists around who can actively make me want to watch their latest videos.  Bob Mould is, indeed, one of them.  And this latest video from Patch The Sky, “Hold On” is one of the catchiest tracks from this fine LP – as well, the theme of his spirits leaving his body are a carry-forward, conceptually, from the last video, “Voices In My Head”. Listen and enjoy – it’s a great track and an equally entertaining video. Patch The Sky is available now. Bob Mould is currently on tour.

‘Citizen Kane’ and the Ukraine: Jim Wellman’s Strike Back at the Media

I’ve been lucky enough to get the chance to write about artists with a social conscience that fit into the tradition of mid-’60s folkies by broadening the masses’ awareness of what’s going on in the world. Singer-songwriter (and founding member of the Brand New Heavies) Jim Wellman is no different, using his new album, Dawn to Dusk to bolster social issues. According to Wellman, “The album is social commentary but viewed through perspectives of human psychological evolution and analysis of mass communication and propaganda. The core of the work is the understanding that Man lives in a world of amazing technological development, but is still encumbered with medieval forms of government by representatives who serve mainly the interests of the elite.” We wanted to know more about what inspires Wellman (including how Citizen Kane apparently inspired this collection of songs), so we sent him five burning questions. Here’s what he said. 1. Your album is heavy on the social commentary. How did the events in Ukraine in 2014 inspire and inform your music and lyrics? The …

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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 …

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ALBUM REVIEW: Chris Bolger, “No Promises”

Chris Bolger is another of those amazing musicians whose name you’ve heard but can’t understand why he’s not in the stratosphere of stardom.  Well, no worries – his newest album, No Promises is filled with prime cuts of meaty power pop – of the glorious riff-laden, Rickenbacker twang and rich harmonies – and you will have your appetite filled nicely with this sonic blast of damned fine rock and roll.  To sweeten the pot, amongst the players who grace this fine release include (once again) super-drummer Dennis Diken, bass master Graham Maby and the everywhere guitar hero, James Mastro. Opening with the ridiculously catchy and instantly classic “Easier”, my first thoughts were that it was a great, lost Van Duren track (on the order of the Are You Serious? period); that familiar, delicious sound of a Rickenbacker carries this track along with the singalong harmonies; “Souls Turn Blue” feels like one of those great AM radio-friendly singles from around 1971 (!) and the title track, “No Promises” is a tender and melancholic acoustic piece, driven …

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ALBUM REVIEW: BUTCH YOUNG, “Mercury Man”

Butch Young has been one of those names on the scene for a long time – you know you’ve heard of him – you know you’ve heard his music and yet…  But now, with Mercury Man, you should be able to say with solidity and clarity, “yes, I do know Butch Young – isn’t “One Foot In” amazing?” and the like.  A native son of Wayne, New Jersey who once played in the splendid-pop band In Color (where his bandmate was the always-wonderful Nick Celeste and producer was the other-always-wonderful Richard Barone), Mr. Young relocated to California and has been doing his thing out there since. Mercury Man is one of the most solid, cohesive pieces to come into my consciousness and it’s an instant guide for how to write a bold, brilliant pop song.  Except he delivers twelve of them.  Saying they’re Beatlesque may sound overplayed but just with the two opening stunners, “Mercury Man” and “Persephone”, these are glorious post-’68 pieces of orchestrated brilliance – a little Lennon and a little Harrison.  He …

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ALBUM REVIEW: KAREN HAGLOF, “Perserverance And Grace”

2014′ s Western Holiday was a stunning solo debut from guitarist-turned-oncologist-turned guitarist again, Karen Haglof.  Recorded in Brooklyn’s Cowboy Technical Services Recording Rig – run by guitar legend Eric “Roscoe” Ambel and produced by another legend, Steve Almaas, the songs were just an out-and-out rock & roll marvel.  So it come to be that now, Ms. Haglof’s second album, the deftly-titled Perseverance And Grace is about to be unleashed to the public and I would say has surpassed its predecessor (!).  Part of it may be due to working in different atmospheres – Cowboy Rig, Mitch Easter’s Fidelitorium in Kernersville, North Carolina and Old Colony Mastering in Boston – and add the continuing of working together with the same core players (Ms. Haglof on guitar, Mr. Almaas on bass and guitar and Mr. C.P. Roth on drums and keyboards) to give it that even-more seasoned sound (plus, special guest vocalist Liza Colby does not hurt at all…). Take one listen to the title track and you can easily understand why – it’s a thumper of …

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POPDOSE VIDEO PREMIERE: KEVIN SEKHANI, “Carol Ann”

Popdose is pleased to present Kevin Sekhani’s video for “Carol Ann”, from his 2015 knockout album, Day Is Done.  A warm, catchy and sweet tune – as pure American as you could want – Sekhani’s performance is dynamic and embracing.  Once you hear the song (let alone watch the video), it should propel you into wanting to listen to the entire album. Enjoy! Day Ain’t Done is available now http://www.kevinsekhani.com/

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BOOK REVIEW: JOE BIEL, “Good Trouble”

A gripping and fascinating read – this is the author’s own story.  And Joe Biel is not just an author – he’s a survivor of alcoholic reality, the do-it-yourself punk lifestyle, the owner and founder of Microcosm Publishing and a person with Asperger’s syndrome.  A heavy load, indeed, but this wonderful book is filled with some very high highs and some despairing lows. For someone who has endured a great deal of turmoil (not of his own doing, either at the hands of others and his disease), Biel tells the story in a very matter-of-fact, lighthearted way because the gist of this is:  one way or another, triumph over tragedy even if it’s with your own endless devotion to working at it.  And work he did, starting Microcosm as both a punk label and ‘zine.  Not all the tales are sad; some downright hilarious moments of typical adolescent punk fuck-ups and foibles are part of the stew, but the most powerful moment comes when he tries to convey his pain at being mocked, especially by …

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ALBUM REISSUES: THE FEELIES, “Only Life” and “Time For A Witness”

I’m pretty sure that I won’t be saying anything new or different about The Feelies – I’m sure it’s all been said before since the short summation about this band is that they’re great; they’ve always been great and are not only great, but legendary.  Nevertheless, their back catalog from A&M Records has now been lovingly re-issued by Bar/None; both albums – 1988’s Only Life and 1991’s Time For A Witness also come with download cards for bonus tracks, more recently recorded, and liner notes by Rick Moody and Michael Azzerad, respectively.  So although that’s more than enough to buy both, a few thoughts on the actual music… “It’s Only Life” is about a sweet a melody as you can ask for and a perfect way to open an album; the inevitable Lou Reed-styled vocal delivery can’t be overlooked but it fits the song’s mood and those little guitar fills shimmer; “Too Much” has a quasi-psychedelic and hypnotic feel; “Deep Fascination” is one of those wonderful pieces of dream-pop from the era and “Too Far …

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ALBUM REVIEW: VAS, s/t

I’ve written about and shared with you music over the last few months from a wonderful new band, VAS (originally known as “Elder”).  We premiered three tracks previously and now Popdose is happy to be the first to bring to the national stage the self-titled debut album from VAS.  I once said that this band’s sound is built around great slabs of soundscapes that are dramatic and lush – and that not only holds true, but is shown/heard to greater effect with these new songs that are unveiled.  Most importantly that this is a young band who already have a great, intuitive sense of sculpting a melody and will, undoubtedly, go from “already very good” to “predictably great” in not too long a period of time. The track “Vipers” is a perfect example – starting quietly and subdued with a tautly understated guitar/rhythm/keyboard that immediately builds up in a dramatic manner with a hypnotic guitar riff and then exiting on a quiet piano/vocal fade; “Soda Pop”, which was their introductory bow, has a swirling keyboard …

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POPDOSE EXCLUSIVE VIDEO PREMIERE: EDWARD ROGERS, “Denmark Street”

Popdose is pleased to present the premiere of “Denmark Street”, the first official video from Edward Rogers’ latest album, Glass Marbles (reviewed here on Popdose).  Denmark Street was London’s version of Tin Pan Alley in the ’60’s and the stark, haunting melody fits hand in hand with the vintage images floating by with the lyrics. A story in song is always a good thing, but here, the history lesson learned, courtesy of Edward Rogers, makes it even more poignant.  Sit back – watch, listen and enjoy. Glass Marbles is available now  

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ALBUM REVIEW: BOB MOULD, “Patch The Sky”

There’s always a certain amount of expectations when a new release comes out from a long-established artist that you’ve admired over the span of time and I will grant you, it’s not always fair – certainly to the performer nor to yourself because, of course, you’re bound for a letdown sooner or later.  Bob Mould is one of those musicians who I come to expect the unexpected from for a lot of reasons.  Mostly because it isn’t fair.  But what I do expect – if nothing else – is consistency.  And on Patch The Sky, his 12th solo album, starting after Husker Du with two and resuming after Sugar in full, there is no lack of consistency, coherence and (I know this word gets used a lot when referring to Mould) catharsis.  Of his more recent return to louder guitar/faster tempos, the sound and production of this album is possibly one of the best he’s done yet, so it shows at 55, he’s still reaching and stretching, rather than resting on his laurels or legend. …

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ALBUM REVIEW: GRAYSHOT, “Borders”

This Minneapolis trio, consisting of two brothers, Aaron (guitars/keys/vocals) and Christian (bass/keys/vocals) Ankrum and Reese Kling (drums) deliver their sophomore effort and I’m liking what I’ve heard – once again, trading on the warm soundscapes of ’80’s synth-pop and veering but never plunging into modern theatre-pop/rock, which is Borders‘ saving grace. “Far From Me” has all the right textures of a great lost China Crisis track – something out of 1982 in all the ways I appreciate – pure ’80’s synth; “Echo” is a little more modern pop friendly, but has enough restraint that it remains a quality song and doesn’t go into bombast and “Opposites” is a sharp, taut, pop song with a capital “pop” (and this track shines with great production) – easily has hit potential by its radio-friendly timbre.  “In Control” has some shades of Joy Division (because of its tempo) but the melody is bright, which would lead it more to a New Order-influenced piece; “Mystery” is another excellent and interesting track, as it starts as an acoustic-strummed number but then …

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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 …

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POPDOSE VIDEO PREMIERE: THESE PEACHES, “So Glad”

This great new video and track comes from Chicago’s These Peaches; “So Glad” is the latest focus from the album Almost Heard The Ocean, which was released in October.  Primarily the vision of Rich Klevgard, this band has a poetic and melodic sense that balances perfectly and this track obviously fits the idea of warmth (which the images and theme of the album exudes). Sit back, watch and let yourself be carried by the waves of music on this terrific track – as supplied by the very fine video below: Almost Heard The Ocean is currently available https://thesepeaches.bandcamp.com/album/almost-heard-the-ocean

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E.P. REVIEW: VANESSA FORERO, “From The Uproar”

This British-born (with Colombian lineage) singer songwriter makes her initial bow with a self-financed E.P. called From The Uproar.  Five songs deep, this is a wonderfully rich collection of songs that immediately leave you wanting more.  Having had another two lives as a composer for television and movies AND as a best-selling author in Britain, it’s nice to see she’s putting herself in the spotlight with her incredible voice and melodic sensibilities. “Heaven Knows” has a hypnotic acoustic riff, rooted in South American flavors but has all the elements of radio friendliness; “Same Boat” is a rollickingly warm, catchy piece – again, employing the “native” feel of her Colombian roots; “I’ll Be Wrong Again” is a sweet and emotionally touching piece with its delicate melody and lyrics of a broken heart.  “Raven” is a vividly colorful piece; Ms. Forero’s vocals shine by showing her (quite dynamic) range and “Anhela” is sung in Spanish and is slow, silky and simply lovely. Every now and then, it’s a pleasure for me to get out of my usual …

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ALBUM REVIEW: EAST OF VENUS, “Memory Box”

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,” …