All posts filed under: Popdose

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E.P. REVIEW: KARYN KUHL BAND, “The Stars Will Bring You Home”

This six-song e.p. is simply delicious.  Karyn Kuhl’s been part of the New Jersey scene for quite a while (I used to see her when she was in a great Hoboken band called Gutbank – track down their Coyote Records release from ’86!); these days, she’s doing her own thing with The Karyn Kuhl Band.  This tight 4-piece includes James Mastro, guitarist extraordinaire (and owner of the incredible Guitar Bars in Hoboken – when in the area, check them out); Mr. Mastro is also the producer who gives this E.P. a clean, sparse sound that resonates with every instrument and makes Ms. Kuhl’s voice just reach right into you.  Alternating from soft to warm to sultry, this is absolutely, devastatingly good. “Sad Eyes” has a dark quality about it, yet in its semi-bleakness, the guitar figures weaved in gives the song an emotional uplift; a sweeping solo in a country vein counters the swampiness of the underlying keyboard; the deep/heavy rhythm section which is easily recognizable as tight from the first beats is stellar.  And …

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ALBUM REVIEW: CHARLIE FAYE & THE FAYETTES, s/t

The first thing that immediately strikes you when you listen to this first album from Austin-based Charlie Faye & The Fayettes is the vintage AM-radio production; a very warm ’60’s feel that works perfectly in the poppy-soulfulness of the Motown vibe.  Or if, you’re like me,  you can imagine some of these songs being lost Northern Soul classics.   But be assured, these three ladies are of and in the here and now and it’s a joyful sound coming out of my speakers that makes me enjoy this album to no end. Think about this – amongst the players on this album include Pete Thomas (yes, him) on drums, Tony Gilkyson on guitar, Roger Manning on keyboards – and so on.  The three Fayettes:  Charlie Faye on lead vocals, Betty Soo and Akina Adderley on some remarkably silky harmonies have a pretty strong pedigree on their own and this is one of those happy combinations of performers that strike the right balance. Now as for the music itself, which are all original compositions – beginning with …

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POPDOSE VIDEO PREMIERE: THE MONKEES, “Me & Magdalena”

And here it is – the third new song from the forthcoming Monkees album, Good Times.  Unlike the uptempo poppiness of the prior two tracks, “Me & Magdalena” is a beautiful, somewhat mournful contemporary piece written by Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie.  The most powerful element of this song, melody and structure aside, is the beauty of the harmonies supplied by Michael Nesmith and Micky Dolenz – this track is a perfect reminder why The Monkees were such skilled vocalists and 50 years later, it hasn’t changed a bit. Enjoy… Good Times will be released on Friday, May 27th, 2016 http://www.monkees.com/  

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ALBUM REVIEW: PARQUET COURTS, “Human Performance”

There is a sudden buzz about Parquet Courts, especially with this new release, their 5th, Human Performance.  I usually stay blissfully unaware when it comes to New York bands (because of my disdain for The Strokes, etc. – those that never represented New York as far as this native is concerned) thanks to the deluge of nauseating hipsterdom and mediocre pseudo “new wave revivalists” or whatever bullshit they call themselves this week.  Nonetheless, the word of mouth from friends who I trust and respect led me to seek this one out and give it a try.  And being that they’ve been at this now for six years, there must be a ripening. Having said that, the first track, “Dust” caught me by surprise – quite pleasantly.  I was struck by the Wire-like manner of the song – a singular riff with taut rhythm and short verses repeated; hypnotic and interesting.  The title track, “Human Performance” has shades of Lou Reed (around Loaded) but vocally, I hear Warren Zevon’s delivery.  Musically, it has again, Wire’s structure …

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ALBUM REVIEW: THOSE PRETTY WRONGS, s/t

You may be tired of me saying “I’m not going to pretend to be objective”, but what’s the point of a review if you’re not being honest?  We’ve already been treated to no less than four songs (one of which, “Fool Of Myself”, the flipside to the debut single, “Lucky Guy” is NOT included on this album, surprisingly), so now we get to enjoy the other seven tracks that make up this debut, self-titled album. And “enjoy” is the key word.  The music Those Pretty Wrongs makes is enjoyable, warm, heart-filling, soulful pop with acoustic flavors and harmonies – and I can ask for nothing better.  I don’t need to give you the background on Those Pretty Wrongs – you know it’s Jody Stephens and Luther Russell and you know their histories.  So let’s focus on the here and now. “Ordinary” – well, there’s no way around it.  It’s going to be familiar, because there is a unquestionably a Chris Bell-like presence.  And it’s beautiful – listen to those harmonies and the guitar arrangement, with …

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POPDOSE VIDEO PREMIERE: BOBBY HART, “Hurt So Bad”

A legend such as Bobby Hart really doesn’t need an introduction; as a songwriter for The Monkees, Jay & The Americans, Little Anthony & The Imperials and so on.  For several decades, he (along with late partner Tommy Boyce) created some of the most memorable songs that have stood the test of time and trends and are just as wonderful to listen to today. This video for “Hurt So Bad” is from the originally-released-in-1980 The First Bobby Hart Solo Album, which was released in only a few foreign territories and then disappeared.  7a Records has now reissued this fine album, along with the video for Bobby’s own version of his smash hit for Little Anthony in 1965.  A different take, it has a groove that fits with the here and now. So sit back and enjoy! The First Bobby Hart Solo Album is available now http://www.7arecords.com/micky-dolenz-daybreak/item/56-the-first-bobby-hart-solo-album-worldwide-cd-debut

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E.P. REVIEW: DAN HENIG, “Paper Planes & Hurricanes”

This five-song E.P. from Ann Arbor native Dan Henig is a crisp, soulful and completely pleasant listening experience; it fits the time of season as it’s warm and has different elements – groove, danceability and some very mellow moments. Starting with “Hostage”, which has definitely radio-friendly polish and beats, you feel its familiarity and think this is going to be all dance-oriented, but “Crash and Burn” takes it into a smooth acoustic direction and Henig’s vocals are particularly powerful on this track.  “Habit” is another acoustic piece that’s equally mellow and yet has a cool groove about it; “Tell Me” goes right into that electro-pop feel and “Paper Plane” is softer, yet atmospheric at the beginning and building up into modern radio pop. An interesting, well-crafted mix of songs and styles.  Dan Henig is definitely a name to watch as I’m fairly certain he’ll be making an entry onto the national charts sooner than later. RECOMMENDED Paper Planes & Hurricanes is available now   http://www.danhenig.com/

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POPDOSE VIDEO PREMIERE EXCLUSIVE: BRIAN CULLMAN, “Times Are Tight”

Having very much enjoyed Brian Cullman’s recent album, The Opposite Of Time, it’s nice to be able to bring to you the latest video from the collection.  “Times Are Tight” was one of THE standout songs (in an album full of standouts) and this very clever animated video seems to fit the vibe. If you haven’t done so already, after watching and listening to this video, you seriously need to go and check out Brian Cullman’s work.  He’s that good… The Opposite Of Time is available now. http://www.briancullman.com/#brian And in the meantime, here’s “Times Are Tight”:

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ALBUM REVIEW: DAVE NACHMANOFF, “Spinoza’s Dream”

It isn’t often a concept album based around the theme of classic philosophers comes along.  However, that’s the case with this new release from Al Stewart’s guitarist, Dave Nachmanoff, Spinoza’s Dream.  Nachmanoff has a Ph.D in philosophy and here he has melded his two worlds and passions to create this interesting song cycle. “That Guy” is an upbeat opening track; poppy and with groove while “Temptation” has some definite Reinardt-esque guitar textures and “One Black Swan” has a very easy ’70’s soulful feel.  The title cut, “Spinoza’s Dream” is gentle, acoustic-bodied and airy; “No Matter How Close” does, indeed, remind me of Al Stewart’s style but has a crispness all its own and to me, “Bruise On My Soul” is possibly the album’s standout with great arrangement, harmonies and powerful (yet simple) chorus.  “The Painter” is another standout with its hooky melody; “Time Of War” has a clever structure of major to minor chords on the verses and some meaty Hammond and “All Good” closes out the collection in an upbeat, hopeful way (listen for …

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REISSUE REVIEW: J.D. SOUTHER, “Black Rose”

If it wasn’t enough that John David (J.D.) Souther’s debut self-titled album was a stunner, then it shouldn’t come as any kind of surprise that his sophomore effort, Black Rose, was a masterpiece.  Originally released by Asylum Records in 1976 and produced by Peter Asher (of Peter and Gordon fame, etc.), this now-expanded 17-track edition recently re-released by Omnivore Recordings breathes new life into this vibrant collection. Featuring the likes of Linda Ronstadt, Glenn Frey, Don Henley, David Crosby, Joe Walsh and Art Garfunkel amongst others, the original ten tracks shine brightly on their own – a brief but powerful piece like “Simple Man, Simple Dream” or a slow country-soul epic like “If You Have Crying Eyes” which features the heavenly voice of Ms. Ronstadt and a string section.  “Bang My Head Against The Moon” is a neatly upbeat groover; “Baby Come Home” is another of those “great lost Eagles tracks” since Souther was very much the unsung 6th Eagle; “Black Rose” is a perfect example of mid-’70’s mellow and there isn’t anything wrong with …

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ALBUM REISSUES: THE CUCUMBERS, “The Fake Doom Years”

I suppose I could go on and on as to why you should immediately download (buy it first, dammit  – these people have families and homes!)  The Cucumbers’ newly released digital compilation of their entire Fake Doom Records output from the ’80’s, the aptly titled The Fake Doom Years.  Start with the fact that these are great, classic, clever pop songs with a sense of humor, intellect, natural-ness, charm and heart.  One of the most wonderfully striking things about The Cucumbers was their unpretentiousness, which came across clearly.  Once you’re immersed in the songs, you’ll understand immediately how good this band was. Coming from the legendary Hoboken scene, The Cucumbers, driven by Deena Shoshkes and Jon Fried, first struck a chord with me by way of their highly-infectious single “My Boyfriend” around 1983 or so – I can remember hearing it on the radio and thinking, “yes – neat – cool”.  I saw them a few times at various venues (including, of course, Maxwell’s).  But here are the facts – this compilation has 19 tracks; …

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POPDOSE VIDEO PREMIERE: THE MONKEES, “You Bring The Summer”

And as quickly as we premiered “She Makes Me Laugh”, here now is another brand new track from The Monkees’ forthcoming album, “You Bring The Summer” – this one written by Andy Partridge of XTC.  A stunningly perfect/apt track for the oncoming warm weather and an exercise of pop magnificence, it’s classic Partridge executed by a classic Monkees performance.  Small wonder – Partridge has always been a fan of The Monkees. It makes you wonder “can this album get any better”?  You bet. Good Times will be released on Friday, May 27th, 2016. http://www.monkees.com/

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THINKING INSIDE THE BOX SET: Cherry Red Producers Tell All

  Long before Prince’s death, fans were wildly discussing if and when the vast contents of his audio library – the legendary vault – would be officially released. While former labels, associates, band members and distant relatives jockey for position as the estate ambles through probate, one can only hope they archive, release and celebrate his work as well as London’s Cherry Red Records has been doing for years in a wide variety of musical arenas. Box Sets are nothing new; from the bloated “scrape the archives” cash-ins that just about every major artist puts under the Christmas tree to focused niche sets like Nuggets and Children of Nuggets. Cherry Red has been digging gold out of the 1970s and 1980s alternative underground they way Nuggets celebrated psychedelia. A few years ago, they released the stunning 5CD set, Scared to Get Happy: A Story of Indie Pop 1980-1989. The set brilliantly restored more than 100 tracks that in many cases were never issued on CD or digital platforms, or if they were, they weren’t prominent …

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ALBUM REVIEW: BLUE ORCHIDS, “The Once And Future Thing”

Once upon a band called The Fall, Martin Bramah was the original guitarist in this most important and seminal Manchester group.  But the overwhelming directing fist of Mark E. Smith dictated otherwise and Bramah left along with original keyboard player, Una Baines, to form The Blue Orchids.  While The Blue Orchids have had their stops and starts over the last 37 or so years, Bramah has seen fit to reform the band with a new line-up, a series of re-issues and a brand new album, The Once And Future Thing.  And for someone who’s been around for as long as Bramah has, he still has a lot of the youthful energy that makes this a fun and interesting listen. Opening with the very mid-’60’s/garage-y “Good Day To Live”, things are off on a very high level; catchy and driving, with the right dash of snarling punk-y vibes for good measure.  “Jam Today” has a late-period Kinks feel and is equally catchy and “Motorway” definitely harkens back to Bramah’s days with The Fall (think “Bingo Master’s …

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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 …