All posts filed under: Popdose

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ALBUM REVIEW: JIMKATA, “In Motion”

Very much in that new vein and crop of ’80’s-influenced synth-pop comes the third release from Ithaca, New York’s Jimkata, a trio who know that part of the key to success for that particular sound is the skill and art in writing a memorable pop song.  And this album has plenty.  From the moment the album begins with the aptly-titled “Wild Ride”, you know you’re in for something good.  Not quite wild, per se, but catchy and memorable, which is what counts. “Build Me Up” has a bubbly sweetness about it, which dispels the notion that electronic-based music is cold and mechanical; if anything, there is a very obvious warmth and sense of purpose in the lyrics.  “Ride The Wave” has a crisp guitar riff that directs the song, with neatly taut drums and builds an intensity to the “orchestrated” chorus, which has a “spacey” feel; “In The Moment” switches directions and gets funky with a groove and straight dance beat (quite good) and subsequently, “Innocence” also has that get-down vibe (not too distant from …

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Review: Tortoise – The Catastrophist

Tortoise’s The Catastrophist, the mighty Chicago jazz-rock outfit’s first record in seven long years, will leave longtime listeners – after 25 years, there are many – in two minds of themselves. First off, there’s some solid material herein and that’s easy to notice. Why? Well, part of it’s obvious. In 2010, take it away Thrill Jockey PR people, “the group was commissioned by the City of Chicago to compose a suite of music rooted in its ties to the area’s noted jazz and improvised music communities.” End there for now. The spark lit quite the fire and tracks like “Shake Hands With Danger” and “The Clearing Fills” reveal the band in fine form. Stand-out “Shake Hands With Danger,” seemingly straight-forward with all of its slinking underbelly, stirs up quite a racket, indeed. Elsewhere, however, they can sound mediocre. Or, better put, mediocre on Tortoise terms. Here I’m looking at lazy genre twists like the vaguely surf-and-sway “At Odds With Logic,” which, while interesting, seems too obvious for the band to wrestle. Elsewhere, the band falls back …

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E.P. REVIEW: THE DUTCHESS AND THE FOX, “Every Night”

The first thing that makes you sit up and take notice of the opening track to The Dutchess And The Fox’s debut E.P., the title track, “Every Night” is singer Andrea Diaz’ breathy and tingling vocals, along with the haunting piano of Joe McGinty (sometime keyboardist for The Psychedelic Furs and regular at Joe’s Pub).  Every Night has five songs of a deep, dark, cinematic nature.  This is serious, refined music and powerful. Aside from the dramatic texture of “Every Night”, the melody is simple and heartbreakingly beautiful.  “Half Face Man” is a bit more uptempo with a raunchy sax carrying the undertone with very subtle percussion to keep the song taut and free from becoming kitsch-y; “St. Vitus” has a sweet, gentle texture with a nice touch of what sounds like oboes and vibes to elevate the melody.  “Blue River” is a perfect title that paints the track like a running stream of strings and keyboards in a waltz-like dreamy state and “Vice and Virtue” is as close to modern Gershwin as I can …

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All Hail The Legends of Et cetera

Every time I see something like Selena Gomez’s flat, tuneless, speak/sung SNL performance and think to myself, “seriously, THIS is the crap the kids are listening to these days!”, someone else comes along, kicks my ass, and makes me believe that the children are indeed the future… well, if we don’t fuck it up for them by electing some douchebag like Trump or Cruz. It shouldn’t matter that singer/songwriter/guitarist Serena Miller and her band, Legends of Et cetera, are still in high school, their music is pure, and it rocks. Their story, high school plot line and all, is truly worth telling, so here goes. They crushed their set at WTMD’s Baltimore Band Block Party and their song, ‘Give Up The Ghost’ is on regular rotation at the station. The station recently set them up with a gig at the airport of all places (see it on their facebook page). ‘Ghost’ deserves to be a national hit, the guitar line hooked me first and it’s been thundering out of my stereo ever since. When I picked up, Coyote, their …

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POPDOSE EXCLUSIVE VIDEO PREMIERE: WESTERN STAR, “Fireball”

Popdose is extremely pleased to present the premiere of Western Star’s official video, the title track of their debut album Fireball.  This fine band from Baltimore, who we introduced you to in early December, is heading out on the road for several upcoming dates: March 1st:  Frederick, MD – Guido’s Speakeasy March 2nd:  Athens, OH – Smiling Skull March 3rd:  Eaton, OH – The Stable Bar March 4th:  Chicago, IL – Reggie’s March 5th:  Kansas City, MO – Davy’s Uptown March 6th:  Lawrence , MO – Jackpot Music Hall So sit back and enjoy the balls-out rock & roll of Western Star… http://www.starsandcards.net/

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SINGLE REVIEW: NEZROK, “Beach People”

Can it get any better than this one track by Chris Korzen, who performs under the alias of Nezrok?  Well, yes – an album’s worth in this vein would, indeed, be a joy to listen to.  I’ll tell you later who some of the luminaries are who help make this three-minute power-pop masterpiece an instant classic.  But first, the facts… You can’t want or ask for better than this – and I have to admit, I almost let this one slip through the cracks – damn glad that I didn’t.  Catchy, slightly melancholic, wonderfully clever and obtuse lyrics and the vocals…  Sweet harmonies all around, wrapped in some deft guitar playing and tight, taut drumming.  Would it be fair to say that there’s maybe a pinch of my beloved Big Star in the influence?  Fuck yes. But here’s the obvious – aiding and abetting Mr. Korzen are the one and only Van Duren on vocals, Chris Bolger from R. Stevie Moore’s band on guitars and bass and the always-incredible Dennis Diken of The Smithereens on …

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E.P. REVIEW: STEREO OFF, “The Long Hot Winter”

Quite a dynamic mix of influences and sounds on this second effort from New York’s Stereo Off.  The Long Hot Winter is five songs of diversity, melody and some of the best production standards I’ve heard in years.  The balance and mix of everything is just right – guitars, drums, a throbbing bass, crisp vocals and bubbly synthesizers make a heady stew and gets you in its grasp immediately.  It has that vintage sound but the quality is in the now. Starting with “Hotel Mirror”, my first impression is an updated take on what The Human League were doing back in 1982; subsequently, “Automated” made me think of the better tracks by the League’s counterparts, Heaven 17 – audioscapes with funky guitars and multi-layered vocals.  Do I wax nostalgic?  Indeed I do, and enjoying every musical morsel this young band offers.  “Supercooler” spins it in a different direction; heavy on the drums and faster on the tempo in a mixture of Wire/Gang Of Four styles (albeit less abrasive) and “Redesign” rolls it all together, especially …

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BREAKING NEWS: JEFFERSON AIRPLANE CO-FOUNDER PAUL KANTNER DIES AT 74

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.

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POPDOSE EXCLUSIVE SINGLE PREMIERE: MORGAN ST. JEAN, “Drown”

This new single is an eye-opener from Morgan St. Jean, who is currently enrolled in the Popular Music Program at the University of Southern California and studying under the likes of Patrice Rushen!  Ms. St. Jean’s sound is a well-tempered mix of pop structure mixed with some very deftly-placed theatrical flourishes; the song “Drown” is, indeed, quite a dramatic piece in a 3-minute, very radio friendly track.  The sound; the production is of high quality and her voice can induce chills in the best possible way; it’s sultry and achy and you can feel the emotion coming across very clearly. We’re also including the video to her last single and video, “Addicted” as a bonus, so you can enjoy even more. Check it out and stay tuned as Morgan St. Jean continues to release two more stand-alone tracks in the coming early months of 2016! http://morganstjean.com/index.html

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POPDOSE VIDEO PREMIERE: SOFIA TALVIK, “Starwalker”

Popdose is pleased to premiere the latest video from the talented and multi-faceted singer-songwriter, Sofia Talvik.  Taken from her acclaimed (deservedly so) album, Big Sky Country, this is a re-working of an old Buffy Sainte-Marie track and is one of the richest, image-laden pieces Ms. Talvik has delivered yet. Enjoy the video; enjoy the music and if you haven’t yet purchased the album, what are you waiting for? Big Sky Country is currently available Photo by Jonas Westin http://sofiatalvik.com/

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Album Stream: Angela Perley & The Howlin’ Moons’ Homemade Vision

POPDOSE has been listening to Homemade Vision, the second album by Angela Perley & The Howlin’ Moons, nearly round the clock for the past month. Spin after spin, the Michael Landolt-produced rocket ride soars higher onto my eventual Best Albums of 2016 list (their previous album, Hey Kid, landed high in my 2014 round-up). Thankfully, you don’t need to wait a year to hear my fancy pants aging hipster music critic review of it, take control and Rock & Roll right now. Stream it below — for a limited time — to give yourself a taste and then pick it up on iTunes or Amazon (digital). Want a CD? You should, I’m an old school (circa 1985), high fidelity guy myself. Get it direct from Angela’s store right here. While it’s easy to get lost in her midnight eyes or swoon over her signature vintage dresses and hats, don’t for a minute think this is a one woman show. Chris Connor (lead guitar), Billy Zehnal (bass) and a Spinal Tap’ian rotation of drummers help Perley deliver the goods on record and on stage …

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ALBUM REVIEW: MODOC, “Automatic + Voluntary”

The opening guitar attack of Modoc’s new album, Automatic + Voluntary, wakes you up like a splash of ice cold water – sounding like Mission Of Burma, then spinning into a perfectly executed glam-styled chorus.  So that bodes well for the sophomore effort for this band who originally hail from Muncie, Indiana but have since relocated to Nashville.    Catchy, taut, driving and powerful – there’s very little room to catch your breath; this is all a very good thing.  What’s more is that this full-bodied aural assault is coming from a three-piece, but they make it sound fuller and fatter.  Chops, well-crafted songs and harmonies are certainly the order of the day here. As I said, the first warning shots come straight from “Black Eyed Lover”, which is an inspired choice for the album opener; “Kids On The Run” starts off with a descending guitar figure which sounds oddly like The Beau Brummels’ “They’ll Make You Cry” but then picks up intensity and throttle and “Always The Same”, while a slightly slower tempo is tense …

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ALBUM REVIEW: BRIAN CULLMAN, “The Opposite Of Time”

The first – and most striking thing – upon first listen to Brian Cullman’s The Opposite Of Time is how much he reminds me of Lloyd Cole (one of my musical heroes) – both vocally and in his lyrical style.  So right there, he won me over.  And the comparison is, by no means, a bad thing.  For someone described as a “rock music Zelig” (now THAT’s a reference!), it would be safe to say he has, indeed, been something of a chameleon.  He’s been a music journalist, producer, performer with his debut album, All Fires The Fire and friend to such luminaries as Iggy, Robert Quine, Nick Drake and the (recently-late) Giorgio Gomelsky.  And now on this, his sophomore effort, Cullman paints some dynamic musical portraits, both lyrically and structurally. There is a lot of delicious diversity on here; for example, “Time If There Is Time” immediately gave me shivers as it’s a perfect melding of both Chilton and Bell – think “Thirteen” or “You And Your Sister” with gorgeous acoustic guitars and subtle, …

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BREAKING NEWS: EAGLES CO-FOUNDER GLENN FREY DEAD AT 67

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. http://www.eagles.com/

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ALBUM REVIEW: ANDY METZ, “Delusions”

Sparse, clean and yet filled with color and feel, Delusions, the new album from Seattle native (and current Chicago resident) Andy Metz covers the musical canvas quite brightly.  Considering this is Metz’ first new album in seven years, it shows he hasn’t lost his knack for writing a melody and offering up interesting lyrics. His dry, workman-like voice has a touch of humor – certainly on the darker or at least more tongue-in-cheek – and works perfectly on a song like “Evil” (“…oh, I’m evil and I hope you run away…”), with a simple singalong tune carried by keyboards; “Take My Heart” has fine harmonies, crisp acoustic guitar figures and the melody suits the lyrical content (“…take my heart/take my soul/for the last time/’cause I ain’t given them out no more…”) and “Guns” is one of the more “tense” and tight numbers – certainly a poignant piece at this particular moment in time – and the delivery is a clever mix of singing and rapping the verses.  “Santa Fe” is melancholic and gentle; “I Might …

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VIDEO PREMIERE: The Not-Its! – Dance With Me

photo credit: Mike Hipple Seattle’s The Not-Its! ask a simple question with the title of their new record: Are You Listening? If you’re not, you should be. After a rare 2 year break between records, The Not-Its! are back with a vengeance, full of absurdly catchy pop-punk grooves. Despite an incredible burst of creative energy – releasing their 6th record in 7 years(!) – The Not-Its are not short on ideas. The band’s sharp and witty lyrics with strong vocals by lead singers Sarah Shannon (Velocity Girl) and Danny Adamson are on full display with Are You Listening? Songs like “Grandad is a Spy” “Don’t Fear The Dentist” and “Traffic Jam” (which channels Rocket From The Crypt) are just a blast of energy. Popdose is proud to premiere the video for the first single, “Dance With Me”. The multi-plane video was directed by Chris Looney (who provides insight on the creation process) Are You Listening? will be released on February 19th and is available for pre-order from Amazon or straight from the band. Starting February 3rd you can pre-order the …

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Oh Canada! Here Come The Lipstick Junkies

If the Lipstick Junkies new song, ‘Build Me a Box’, gets stuck in your head for days, don’t blame me. Blame Canada! Blame Canada! The Toronto trio’s new EP was recorded by Al Connelly and Sam Reid of the Juno Award-winning and Grammy-nominated band, Glass Tiger. For fans of HUGE pop songs from the Eighties, let’s let the awesomeness of that sink in for a moment… Now if this post can’t get Canadian enough, Bryan Adams sings back-up on that Tiger track. OK, back to business. Fun and games is part and parcel for the Lipstick Junkies who take their name from a Red Hot Chili Peppers song (2011’s ‘The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie’). They have performed around southern Ontario, from London to Montreal, including appearances at Canadian Music Week, Indie Week and Ryerson Radio, and have opened for acts like Walk Off the Earth and Organ Thieves — never heard of those bands? Ask a Canadian! If you think I mock Canada here, you could not be further from the truth. I love Canadian music. From …

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ALBUM REVIEW: EVA CASSIDY, “Nightbird”

Some performers have a way with re-imagining and interpreting a song; some know how to give a great song a greater canvas; some can take a mediocre song and make it worth its weight in gold.  Such were the skills and talents of Eva Cassidy, who died 20 years ago after a brief battle with melanoma.  Recorded in January of 1996, she would be gone just a mere ten months later.  She’d released only two albums’ worth of recorded music in her lifetime, but her posthumous Songbird album topped the British charts in early 2000. This “new” album, Nightbird, is a 2 CD containing Ms. Cassidy’s entire performance at Blues Alley jazz club in her native Washington D.C. on January 3rd, 1996 – exactly 20 years ago.  31 tracks, including 8 previously unreleased songs.   And the range of songs, eras and feel is something very special.  Two songs into this album, her rendition of Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine” is the first to really strike me; subdued, sparse with clean sounding guitars and her voice …

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BREAKING NEWS: DAVID BOWIE DIES AT AGE 69

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.

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Honor “The Artist”, Feed An Artist, Gift Your Favorite Little Prince

Last summer, POPDOSE talked with Seattle artist, Troy Gua, about his years-long celebration of a funky lil musical genius named Prince — and the lawsuit, global press coverage and short film (pun intended) that followed. Read the full interview here. As 2016 kicks off, we reconnect with Gua to discuss his latest project, one that could land your hands on this limited edition gem of a poster (see below): What inspired the Le Petit Prince poster project? LPP for those in the know. It was an end-of-the-year Instagram app that culled your 9 most popular posts of the year and compiled them into a grid for posting. I guess it should have come as no surprise that all nine of mine turned out to be LPP pics. I posted, someone said it would make a great poster, the wheels turned. Does this mark the end of the LPP era? It’s not the end of an era, but I had concentrated on an entirely new 80’s period series earlier this past year, so I thought a compilation would make sense and …

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WORLD PREMIERE: Bill Pritchard ‘Saturn and Co.’

26 years after it’s release, Bill Pritchard’s Three Months, Three Weeks & Two Days, remains one of my all time favorite albums. It arrived at my college radio station, WKSR (Kent State University), just as we were playing Morrissey’s Viva Hate into the ground. Pritchard struck the same nerve as Moz without all the drama. The buoyant melodies, wry lyrics, Parisian cafe touches and Pritchard’s crisp, deep woodwind of a voice helped end the Eighties on a high note as we faced a daunting Nineties without the Smiths. ‘Nineteen’ and ‘Tommy & Co.” were the big hits, but I absolutely fell in love with the single ‘Romance Sans Paroles’. Considering this album was Pritchard’s 4th in two years, I fully expected to fill my shelves with his work in the decade to come. But the stretches between albums became greater and greater and I often found out about “new” Bill Pritchard albums years after their official release. Needless to say, I am glad to be ahead of the game with his upcoming album, Mother Town Hall — arriving hot on the heels of …

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ALBUM REVIEW: JAVIER ESCOVEDO, “Kicked Out Of Eden”

Kicked Out of Eden is only the second solo release by Javier Escovedo, who most people know as one of the founding members of The Zeros, The True Believers and one of the pioneers of the ‘70’s West Coast punk movement. Javier is one of the storied Escovedo family, including older brothers Pete and Coke Escovedo (Santana, Malo), niece Sheila E. (Prince) and of course, brother Alejandro Escovedo (The Nuns, Rank & File, Buick McKane). This new album is pop mixed with twang and rock’n’roll that remains true to Javier’s love of ‘60’s garage and ‘70’s punk. From the moment the riff to “Downtown” hits you between the eyes and kicks in with the drums and boogie-woogie piano, you’re reminded immediately why there’s such a thing as “rock & roll” – not to be confused with all its permutations.  Catchy and ballsy, it sets you off on the ride; “It Ain’t Easy” continues down the path with punchy and crisp/heavy guitars and “Beaujolais”, while slowing it down just a bit is heavier and filled with …