All posts filed under: Reviews

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ALBUM REVIEW: ARVIDSON & BUTTERFLIES, s/t

Rife with the twang of 12-string Rickenbackers galore, harmonies, melody and swinging beats – this is the embodiment of Arvidson & Butterflies and their self-titled debut album.  What makes this a bit more interesting is that this six-piece band hails from Gothenburg, Sweden, where Roger Arvidson is a veteran of the scene there for many years (most notably, having been with The Remains – no, not that Remains!); here, he showcases his knack for writing clean, crisp and flawlessly hummable power-pop anthems and his crack bandmates are as deft at fleshing out these songs as he is at writing them.  Picture a mix of The Byrds, Petty, Twilley, a little Big Star/Teenage Fanclub and you’ve got it.  Interestingly, amongst his influences include The Who, Paul Weller and The Undertones (scores major points with me, unsurprisingly). “Tired Of Running” opens the album at a frantic pace – 2:29 of shimmering Ric riffs, tight harmonies and a 1966-kind of vibe, with delicious fills of guitar and Hammond B3; “Lights Go Out” has that kind of pop sweetness …

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE WAY DOWN WANDERERS, s/t

  For a band that’s only been together since 2013, this first full-length album from The Way Down Wanderers belies the brief nature of their existence.  An album filled with the richness of American music on numerous levels, I would have said on a guess that this was the work of seasoned players from the Grand Ole Opry. The exhilarating fiddle fills and banjo runs on the opening cut, “Dead Birds” is just a fragment of what makes this album an instant eye opener. The vocal harmonies can induce chills; the upbeat nature of the melody makes you pay attention and you know this is bound to be more than just pretty good; subsequently, “Sweet Morning Vision” is a little more subdued but has a classic country feel, although it does pick up tempo and bursts into country pop (NOT in the modern sense, thankfully) and “Circles” is in the same vein – classic country melodies, lyrics that are painted by longing and loss, dramatic yet hopeful – a high point of this album (and …

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ALBUM REVIEW: JONAS MARTIN, “The Color Scheme”

This sophomore solo effort from Dallas native Jonas Martin is an interesting melding of pop, blues-y vibes, classic rock and groove – and it’s a good mix.  The Color Scheme is highly-tuneful, carefully constructed so that the different styles mesh and flow; really, a well-thought out piece of coherent work. The complexity of “Design A Better Yesterday” made this, for me, the album’s standout track – a slow groove of world-weariness, a strong melody and hook and various movements; “Life Obsessed” is an inspired album opener with its claustrophobic rhythm, hypnotic keyboard pattern and funkability and “Because Love” has a modernized Harry Nilssson/George Harrison feel with the frenetic piano body and that flanged Harrisonized guitar sound after the first chorus.  It’s the clever nuances that make this album so meaty – there’s a lot to pick out of the recipe. “Wannabe”, which we’ve included here, is the lead track before the album’s release and has that classic piano-boogie-rock vibe, but very sparse (piano, bass, drum, acoustic guitar and very subdued, production-wise) until the song’s mid-point, …

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POPDOSE EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE: THE TEMPERANCE MOVEMENT, “White Bear”

Popdose presents the premiere of the full album by the U.K’s The Temperance Movement, White Bear.  This is the band’s sophomore effort; 9 new tracks played with a lot of firepower and gusto – heavy, yet melodic and driving. If letting you hear this album in all its glory isn’t enough, we’ve also added the Popdose premiere of the video for the title track, “White Bear”. So give yourself a chance to be drawn into the world of The Temperance Movement. White Bear will be released Friday, July 15th, 2016 www.thetemperancemovement.com

This is a license granted by Nate Hastings (photographer) to The Stray Birds (band):

This license covers this image of the band captured in Exeter, New Hampshire on June 18, 2016 featuring the band standing beside a barn.

This license grants the band non-exclusive use of this image for use online and in print for paid and unpaid advertising of the band’s music, appearances, tours and recordings only.  

This license will be active for a period of one year from the date of payment.  It may be renewed, revised or cancelled by mutual agreement between the photographer and the band.

No third-party edits to the image is permitted other than cropping for appropriate sizing for the medium.  No additional uses are permitted without obtaining the photographer’s written permission.  

Use of images will be credited to “Nate Hastings” whenever practical.

ALBUM REVIEW: THE STRAY BIRDS, “Magic Fire”

This fifth album from Lancaster, Pennsylvania’s Stray Birds is aptly titled Magic Fire – it  has that certain something special about it.  From the moment the opening notes hit your ear, you know this band hit the golden “thing” – the un-defineable quality/timing/vibe that artists can never accurately describe – you only know that they offered a piece of themselves that will now be part of you onward.  The warming combination of heavenly vocal harmonies, soulful melodies and pure American instrumentation makes this album an instant play-on-repeat for me. Starting with the gospel-like “Shining In The Distance” and the gorgeous vocals, you can’t help but feel uplifted; “Third Day In A Row” is a child-of-Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, with the arrangement and occasional 12-string Ric-sounding punctuations; “Sabrina” is a dynamic hoedown with a tasty, propulsive acoustic guitar riff running  through the verses and “Radio” has that very ’70’s (what else?) radio-friendly feel – that summery, laid-back kind of Southern/gentle California sound that permeated the airwaves as you drove through the heat.  “Hands Of Man” …

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ALBUM REVIEW: JPNSGRLS, “DIVORCE”

This sophomore effort from Vancouver outfit, JPNSGRLS (pronounced “Japanese Girls”) trades a bit in the guitar fire-power sound of bands like Arctic Monkeys, The Libertines or The Hives – add to the notion of doing this after losing a founding member; their original lead guitarist quit after completing the recording of this album, aptly titled Divorce.  Nonetheless, this isn’t an album of dirges, rather, it’s a powerhouse of riffage. Starting with “Oh My God”, there’s a lot of energy and punch with interesting slightly off-time signatures; “A Girl From A Different Dimension” has a sonic wallop and scratches at being more dissonant but maintaining a pop-py framework and “Bully For You” has a heavier, quasi-’70’s rock feel.  “Circus” is a slower, quieter track that explodes at points into a Pixies-like cacophony; “Gap Year” has a new wave-y feel and one of the album’s highest points and “19 Pound Baby” closes out the collection with a 100 m.p.h. that sounds and feels like it’s about to go off the rails at any given moment. Eleven songs …

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ALBUM REVIEW: GIRLS ON GRASS, s/t

This quartet who call Brooklyn home are not what one would expect from the borough’s “indie scene”; rather, they’ve got their own interesting thing happening.  Girls On Grass’ debut album, eponymously titled, is ripe with crisp riffs, twangy guitars, a delicious production/sound that mixes country and power pop in a way I haven’t heard and enjoyed in years. In a lot of ways, singer/guitarist Barbara Endes’ vocals remind me of Vicki Peterson of The Bangles/Continental Drifters, which is a big part of their appeal and the harmonies don’t sound too far off from The Bangles’ trail.  Opening with “Father Says Why”, you instantly get a chill from those first guitar licks and the rhythm section kicking in with an almost ’60’s vibe; “Too Young” is a tongue-in-cheek rave up, mixing Bo Diddley rhythms at the outset, countrified riffs and a strident rhythm (the rhythm section of drummer Nancy Polstein and bassist Dave Mandl is a joy to listen to); “What They Wrought” is slower, brooding – a country-style ballad with semi-psychedelic riffing for good (very …

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CONCERT REVIEW: Maxwell, Massey Hall, Toronto, ON, July 5, 2016

Back in 2009, when Maxwell’s critically acclaimed BLACKsummer’snight marked the singer’s return following an eight-year hiatus from the music industry and served notice that he remained a stunningly singular creative force, it seemed reasonable to expect that the next installment of a planned trilogy would be forthcoming shortly. Well, it took seven years before the release of blackSUMMER’snight—an eternity in pop music terms—but, judging by the rapturous reception the singer received from a nearly sold-out Massey Hall on Tuesday night, absence has only made the hearts of his fans grow fonder. After regular tour opener Ro James was a disappointing no-show, Maxwell’s eight-piece band—in what’s becoming a bit of a trend in 2016—took the stage to a Prince song (it was “Let’s Go Crazy” for the Dixie Chicks a few weeks ago, “Kiss” on Tuesday) and settled into a luxurious, steady groove. A dapper Maxwell—fitted grey suit, slim grey tie, sunglasses—soon joined them, and it immediately became abundantly clear that the Brooklyn native had not lost one step since his last Toronto visit at the …

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ALBUM REVIEW: PINK MEXICO, “Fool”

This latest offering from Brooklyn’s Pink Mexico (a ponderous name) is Fool, an album of heavy, fuzzed-out guitar rock that has some fine vocals (complete with  harmony) and melody.  Something of a tasteful cross between Mudhoney and My Bloody Valentine, if I had to draw comparisons.  Economical but never droning or sprawling, the songs hit you hard and fast. “Buzz Kill” comes in and out and has a catchy tune; “Lime Tree, What’s Wrong With Me?” and “Dumbfuck” are interchangeable but not in a forgettable manner, rather they seem to play off one another as parts 1 & 2, which I think makes them even better and more likable – and the vocals are deliberately undermixed, so it gives the tracks an ethereal quality and mystery.  “Forgetting Everything” is acoustic driven, as “pop” as you can get with harmonies galore, handclaps and an absolute high point.  “Concave Brain” has a surf-type feel; “Unhinged Bones” is a clean, ’60’s hypno-riff which explodes during the choruses and “Rake” is another harmony-laden and another album high point. All …

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BOOK REVIEW: BRIX SMITH-START, “The Rise, The Fall & The Rise”

This is now the second time I’ve had the pleasure of reading an autobiography of someone who’s career I’ve followed and/or admired and finding the story to be refreshingly honest and free of the usual pitfalls of victimization, “woe-is-me”-isms or patting one’s self on the back that autobiographies always tend to do.  This very lengthy, strongly detailed and incredibly moving story belongs to Laura Salenger, who is known to most of the world as Brix Smith (or now Smith-Start), the guitarist/songwriter for The Fall, and foil to the maw of the legendary and irascible Mark E. Smith, as well as being his ex-wife.  Ms. Smith-Start has done quite a lot; lived many lives in her 53 years and frankly, considering some of the living hell she’s been through, it looks like time has been good to her – she’s as stunning now as she was when we first heard her name and saw her appear with The Fall. Amongst the shocking and downright painful recollections contained in Ms. Smith-Start’s book begins with her tumultuous childhood …

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SINGLE REVIEW/POPDOSE EXCLUSIVE: THE CYNZ, “Endgame”

It’s been a while now since New Jersey stalwarts, The Cynz, have issued something new – which is no surprise, being that they’re constantly playing out live.  And like its predecessor (“Right To Your Grave”), it’s a major leap forward.  Tight and taut, highly catchy and melodic – I expect to hear this on “Underground Garage” as one of the top songs of the summer.  Everything about this is right – it has motor, beefy rhythm and a fantastic production. So buckle up and sit back for the newest offering from The Cynz – and catch them live if you haven’t yet.  You’ll be in for a thrill ride. “Endgame” is available now https://www.facebook.com/The-Cynz-102647236485548/      

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BOXSET REVIEW: PAUL MCCARTNEY, “Pure McCartney” (various editions)

  What can you really say that hasn’t already been said about Paul McCartney?  This isn’t some “rock critic” trying to dissect the now 46-year solo career of the greatest (still living) pop musician of all time; this is simply an assessment of a very fine, albeit flawed, comprehensive compilation of the man’s works, picked by him. I plumped for the 4-disc, hardcover book edition of Pure McCartney and it is, indeed, quite a treasure trove that goes from 1970’s McCartney all the way to 2013’s New.  Of course, I find it flawed because aside from some glaring omissions which are personal favorites, he did leave off several essential tracks (certainly “My Brave Face” or “This One” from 1989’s Flowers In The Dirt should have been here or “Hope Of Deliverance” from 1993’s Off The Ground could have found a spot).  Nonetheless, according to the press release: ‘”Me and my team came up with the idea of putting together a collection of my recordings with nothing else in mind other than having something fun to …

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE ANDERSON COUNCIL, “Assorted Colours”

As I’d said previously, when this album and signing was announced, if it wasn’t obvious that The Anderson Council has been one of New Jersey’s best kept secrets, well now, it won’t be… This band, who has been around since 1999 with their deliciously crisp modern take on classic mid-’60’s psychedelic pop and late ’70’s Mod has now signed to Marty Scott’s legendary Jem Records label and Assorted Colours is the first fruit of this new partnership. It’s a “primer” of several previously released tracks from their first three albums plus some new tracks for good measure.  The new tracks have been produced by another New Jersey neo-beat-legend, Kurt Reil of The Grip Weeds and together, they’ve fashioned this (incredibly) fine collection of songs. Meaty and bouncy, a song like “Sitting On A Cloud” is ripe with 12-string Rickenbackers, harmonies, perfect pop structure and sends you into an immediate nostalgia trip of how/when bands knew how to craft songs – and thankfully, that’s what The Anderson Council are here to do. “Girl On The Northern …

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E.P. REVIEW: SWEET CRUDE, “Critters”

4 highly enjoyable songs from this New Orleans collective; Critters is their 5th overall release and a highly polished collection of songs.  Big, lush, dramatic and thunderous wouldn’t be off the mark and the use of French makes it a nice and clever touch. “Laissez les Lazy” is catchy – a synth riff drives the track with big, echo-ey vocals that use call-and-response; it’s upbeat and joyful (really, all four songs are but this one in particular) and has a danceability about it.  “Isle Dans la Mer” is an almost-classically arranged piece with its strings; it could be part of a theatrical production (there’s a lot going on in this track!); two vocals overlap and then heavy rhythm on the chorus which veers into French; “La Cheminee” rolls along at a near zydeco pace and is light and fun – subsequently, “Mon Espirit” is the most restrained of the 4 songs.  Heavy on rhythm and opening in a stripped-down fashion with just vocals. An interesting sound; an interesting approach.  This E.P. is serving as the …

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ALBUM REVIEW: GREG HUMPHREYS ELECTRIC TRIO, “Lucky Guy”

The warmth of this album can’t be understated.  North Carolina native turned Brooklyn transplantee Greg Humphreys (late of the glorious Dillon Fence) has now formed a new band, Greg Humphreys Electric Trio, and released a very fine album of eight new songs that stand out upon first listen. The title cut is more than enough to sink your teeth into with its intricate guitar flutters and upbeat shuffle; certainly, the rhumba-like feel and mandolin brings a liveliness to the track but the silky vocals and tight harmonies makes this shine immediately.  “Sayin’ What You Mean” is dreamy; ethereal, soulful and at flashes, jazzy.  Sadly gentle and yet meaty with its arrangements.  “Golden Bone”, on the other hand, has that swampy kind of balls out riffage that I love – the kind you could expect from The Black Crowes or more recently, Luther Dickinson but even then, at the song’s mid-point (this is an instrumental), a pastoral break comes and the song goes from minor to major – like clouds parting after rain – and then …

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ALBUM PREMIERE: LOVESPEAKE, “DNA”

We’re going to do something a little different – rather than a straight review, we’re going to premiere for you the debut album from Norway’s Lovespeake.  And if giving you all ten songs isn’t enough, we’re also including their video for “DNA”. Very ’80’s in their groove and production, the overall feel is warm and breezy – really, a perfect album for the start of the summer season.  Tracks like “DNA”, “Sundive”, “U” and “Can You Feel The Love?” are all ripe to be the soundtrack at the beach. If you like (or love) the ’80’s, you’ll be glad a band like Lovespeake are around.  They’ve done their homework and studied well.  Elements of Scritti Politti, China Crisis, Heaven 17 and The Style Council (!) color this collection of songs just right. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED DNA is available now https://www.facebook.com/lovespeake/?fref=ts  

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ALBUM REVIEW: RYAN CASSATA, “Shine”

Crisp, crunchy pop would be an accurate description of Ryan Cassata’s newest release, Shine.  This 22-year old Long Island native has already issued four full-length albums since 2011 and now, he’s breaking new creative ground with this 10 track collection that runs the gamut of pop styles. Starting with the slightly wry “We’re The Cool Kids” (“…we’re changing things and we’re leading this movement; we’re gonna prove it that we’re the cool kids…”), which sounds like a mix of Green Day and The Pixies, you’re immediately drawn into the sheer catchiness of the song; “Check Engine” feels like a spoof of modern pop with electro-drum track and rap/sung and the subject matter (to me) seems like a gripe about the struggles of a middle-class suburban teen (which is quite funny) as “Sunrise Highway” is just impossibly great with its tight and galloping rhythm and slaughter/buzzsaw guitars, punctuated by horn charts in classic pop-rock style.  “Man In The Mirror”,  the old Michael Jackson composition, gets a gentle, sympathetic acoustic treatment which gives a genuine poignancy to …

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ALBUM REVIEW: FREDDY & FRANCINE, “Gung Ho”

Sometimes a romantic relationship can lead to great art…  and sometimes the end of that relationship can lead to even greater art.  But when a fractured professional couple get back together, at least to make music, it can be amazing.  And that’s the case with Gung Ho, the newest release from Freddy & Francine (who are really Lee Ferris and Bianca Caruso).  Having parted and spending considerable time apart, this new offering is quite a staggering collection of songs. Acoustic guitars abound; stellar production – warmth and depth is the first thing you pick up on at first listen.  The opening track, “If You Want Me” is a seamless blending of the voices of Ferris and Caruso, with clean guitar figures and a deep, resonant rhythm section – a masterful building of tension and melody combined; “Tryin’ Hard To Love You” has delicious guitar slides in the intro while Caruso’s vocal is both cool and impassioned in this country-fied track and “Father’s Daughter” will send shivers down your spine as you listen to the harmonies, …

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ALBUM REVIEW: CIARAN LAVERY, “Let Bad In”

This sophomore effort from Irish singer-songwriter Ciaran Lavery has an aura about it twinged with a sweet melancholia – and that is its strength; its secret weapon.  And it’s not not your standard singer-songwriter fare, either.  What you may project or expect isn’t what you get and that makes it even more interesting and worth the exploration. As Let Bad In begins with “Sonoma”, a brooding piano piece, you’re immediately jolted out of its hypnotic and gentle spell as it’s only two minutes long and then goes into “Okkervil River” with its electrobeats and samples, which is a neat and cleaver offset to the somewhat cryptic lyrics.  “The Show” is no less dark, but yet has an upbeat-ness about it and is catchy with an (you guessed it) Americana feel – slightly countrified with a sweeping, yearning melody; “Return To Form” is radio-friendly and walks the very fine line between danceable pop and Americana with its acoustic body but heavy beats and “Tell Them All” is a stripped down confessional with acoustic guitar that yields …

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E.P. REVIEW: HEMMINGBIRDS, “Half A Second”

  From the glorious musical garden known as Chicago comes this new 4-song E.P. from Hemmingbirds.  This trio has been around for a while – 4 overall releases (2 albums; this is their second E.P.) and they waste no time in going for the jugular. From the first throttle of the guitars on the opening track (which is also the title cut) you get upbeat tempos, melodic lines, a deep rhythm section with heavy pounding drums (which I love) and catchiness all around.  “Mess Of Things” is a wash of guitars and textures along with effects (like the sound of scratching vinyl) and showcases the “quiet/loud/quiet” blueprint very well.  “Stay” is a riff-driven piece that has groove (listen to that bass line) and a very Edge-oriented guitar along with stop-on-a-dime breaks that few bands pull off with such clean precision while “Lover, You’re Out There” is the surprise – a slow, very dramatic piano-based piece that musically reminds me of The Beatles’ “Free As A Bird” in some places – the use of a cathedral …

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ALBUM REVIEW: BILLIE RAY MARTIN, “The Soul Tapes”

For someone who’s made her name in the dance world, Billie Ray Martin has A LOT of soul and it’s evident on this new album, The Soul Tapes.  A true labor of love, it took a decade for this album to be realized.  The sound is remarkable – produced by the one and only Jon Tiven, this sounds like it, indeed, came out of Willie Mitchell’s Royal Studios for Hi Records in Memphis – small wonder, since that was, in fact, Ms. Martin’s intention/vision.  And frankly, it’s an amazing vocal transformation for this German-born chanteuse to sound as American and soulful as she does. Just the opening track, “Your Ghost Is Right Behind Me” puts any questions of doubt to rest – it’s a powerhouse achievement, both sultry and heartbreaking – her voice conveys pain but at the same time, makes you ache in the best way you can.  Everything works; the gospel-like nature of the track’s feel, the backing vocals and that deadly guitar solo at the end makes you automatically feel like this …

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ALBUM PREMIERE/REVIEW: MARTIN BRAMAH, “The Battle Of Twisted Heel”

While Popdose recently reviewed the new, long-overdue release from Blue Orchids, the band led and fronted by guitarist/frontman Martin Bramah (original guitarist of The Fall), we also take great pleasure in presenting and premiering for you in full, Mr. Bramah’s newly-reissued solo album, The Battle Of Twisted Heel.  Originally released as a mail-order only item very briefly in 2008, this compiles the tracks from that CD plus a few items from an equally cult-based release from Blue Orchids, 2005’s Slum-Cavern-Jest!, giving this an 11-track fullness. While one might expect an upbeat, slightly angular pop sound as has been his trademark, you’ll find a very different affair here.  Acoustic based; a much more tradtional/folk feel and subdued – this is a low-voltage performance but highly powerful and seemingly personal.  Case and point, the emotions cast in “Stone Tumbling Stream”, with its flute figures for really coloring in the feel, is a standout track.  “The Fall Of Great Britain” (which, I admit is a very clever play on certain bands’ names…) is neo-Celtic and very Pogues-like.  “Lucybel” …

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ALBUM REVIEW: THE DANBERRYS, “Give & Receive”

Something to sink my teeth into, rich with acoustic guitars, mandolins, violins and shiver-inducing harmonies.  Although The Danberrys, who hail from East Nashville, are a band, the two main drivers are Ben Deberry on guitar and vocals and Dorothy Daniel on vocals.  The two have one of the sweetest blendings of voices and these songs are ripe with melody, emotion and pure, American soul.  This album, their fourth release, is one fine slice of Americana. Starting with “Receive”, the slow, mournful nature of the song actually turns into one of hope and uplift; the use of fiddle and subtle mandolin gives a greater dramatic feel along with the simply gorgeous harmony; “Lady Belle” is an acoustic tour-de-force with Ms. Daniel’s vocals gripping and fluid and “Long Song” is a deep country piece, raging with banjo, fiddle, mandolin and a galloping rhythm that walks straight out of the Bill Monroe school of bluegrass.  “Let Me Go” is stripped down to just two guitars and Dorothy Daniel’s echo-y and mesmerizing vocals; “Get Back Home” is possibly the …

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ALBUM REVIEW: IDENTICAL SUNS, s/t

This long-planned debut album from Identical Suns is one of those happy results of a strong Indiegogo campaign; combining the talents of Rene Rodriguez and Todd Stanton, this California and Ohio based aggregate makes a very pleasing power pop sound that has shades of The Beatles, The Raspberries and all the best elements of how to write hooky/catchy songs. Starting with “Baby I’m Down”, it’s uptempo feel makes you pay attention from the first beats; the economical guitar solo hits the mark and the harmonies and handclaps on the chorus makes it instantly classic, so you know you’re in for a good listen.  “Nothing I Can Do” is awash in acoustic guitars and a highly melodic and prominent bass line and is an early high mark; “Show Me A Sign” opens with a classic Fender Rhodes piano figure and sounds like it would have fit in on the AM radio of my youth in the ’70’s and “Emily” is a surprise in that it just comes in kicking hard, with a grinding guitar and riff, …

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POPDOSE VIDEO PREMIERE: THE MONKEES, “Birth Of An Accidental Hipster”

And…  the win goes to this Paul Weller/Noel Gallagher composition, sung mainly by Michael Nesmith, with Micky Dolenz – a slice of vintage Monkees-style and as psychedelic as The Monkees have been since “Daily Nightly”.  Tuneful, catchy, well-orchestrated and buoyant, “Birth Of An Accidental Hipster” is (in my mind) a perfect return to form. On the whole, the album is, truly, a return to form. Full album review coming soon – in the meantime, here ’tis…: Good Times! is available now http://www.monkees.com/

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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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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 …