All posts filed under: Reviews



“Light Shines Through” is an original holiday song performed by Deena & Jon Fried (from The Cucumbers) with the Hoboken Holiday All-Star Band featuring Julio Fernandez (from Spyro Gyra) (lead guitar), Ed Fogarty (guitar), Gary Frazier (bass), Dave Stengel (drums), Tom Vincent (mandolin), Annalee Van Kleeck & Abbe Rivers (background vocals). The song has become part of the fabulous annual Hoboken Holiday Banding Concert for several years. Most importantly, the song is available on iTunes, spotify and cdbaby with all proceeds going to benefit the Community Foodbank of New Jersey. I can’t think of a better reason to stop, listen, think and then buy a download of this track.  Not only is it a great and warm piece of music, but it’s for one of the most necessary reasons I know of.  So please enjoy “Light Shines Through” and let it become part of your holiday tradition.


ALBUM REVIEW: JARED RABIN, “Something Left To Say”

Call it what you will – “alt country”, “americana” and any amount of hyperbole, but Jared Rabin’s debut solo album, Something Left To Say, is wonderful.  This Chicago singer-songwriter, who previously played in Falldown, has issued one very fine and complete piece of work. The melodic structures are just right, while the arrangements and vibe of each song fits perfectly, along with a top notch production.  From the moment the album begins with the title track, there is a warmth and deep feeling that immediately draws you into listening.  Slide runs and soulful organ undertones paint this song as a perfect start, leading into the more rocking “Eight Trips Around The Sun”, which has an upbeat vibe with sweet harmonies on the chorus and “A Memory Forever” reminds me in some ways of a Neil Young-flavored piece. “Not Heart Broken” is another standout; 12-string strokes help color this with some tasteful solo punctures in between the verses; “Nothing I Can Do” is pure down-home country with a slightly Celtic edge and nice fiddle fills and …


Welcome To Pittsburgh #7: The Turbosonics – Tres Gatos Suave

Inconsistencies, dagnammit! I want to really, really like, to love, to adore The Turbosonics‘ new CD, Tres Gatos Suave, a meaty slab of surf from one of Pittsburgh’s mightiest purveyors of the form. But, for every track like opener “Ricochet,” a real classic 60s rocker, there’s a dud like the trying-too-hard-to-be-Floydian “Meat Slicer From Outer Space.” For every surprise like the Motorheadish “Black Spoon Fuzz,” these guys take some cringe-worthy, culturally inexcusable missteps. (Really? Sampling Pulp Fiction in “Dune Burger?” What is this? Sloppy homage a la 1994? I can tell just by listening to your songs that your surf cred runs deeper than THIS!) ((Grumble.)) Oh yeah, right, WELCOME TO PITTSBURGH!!! Where was I? Broke my consternation. O yeah. Now, I like The Burghersturbosonic. The trio’s first disc was sadly overlooked and, though ’twas a little rough in spots, it showed tremendous promise. Live, these guys can be mean. And don’t mess with bassist Keith Caldwell. Man will spout some social justice your way! All in all, the new disc is a step in the right direction. Closer “Marcellus Waltz” (With …


ALBUM REVIEW: McAlmont & Butler – The Sound Of…McAlmont & Butler (1995, reissued 2015)

Even the best laid plans never quite work out as expected. When David McAlmont first met Bernard Butler in London’s Jazz Café in 1994, both were still reeling following acrimonious splits—McAlmont’s dream pop duo Thieves had just broken up and Butler had left Suede during the recording of the band’s sophomore LP, Dog Man Star—and  neither wished to enter a new musical marriage: the initial plan was only to record a pair of songs for a single and create what Butler described as a “perfect moment in pop”. That their collaboration immediately resulted in the majestic, transcendent “Yes”—inspired by Dusty Springfield’s “I Only Want to Be With You”—and the sprawling, soaring “You Do” threw bit of a spanner in the works: why stop at a single? Why not record a full album? With a bit of prodding from industry types, the pair returned to the studio to complete nine more songs and assemble enough material for an album that was never meant to be in the first place. By The Sound Of…McAlmont & Butler‘s release, ten of its eleven songs (“The Right Thing” was the lone …


ALBUM REVIEW: SKY PONY, “Beautiful Monster”

This seven-piece (!) Brooklyn-based outfit comes with a Broadway/theatre pedigree, as it’s driven by Kyle Jarrow, an Obie-award winning writer and his wife, lead singer, Lauren Worsham, who’s a Tony award nominee.  Usually, I’m a bit put off by “theatre rock”; it’s usually too pompous for its own good; too bombastic and same sounding – all technique and no heart – but this – this is GREAT. Opening with an angular, choppy guitar that just grabs you on “The Watcher”, the track has an early ’80’s pop feel, with its synth lines and overall structure but is an immediate favorite.  The vocals are strong; the harmonies on the chorus are tight and damn, this is already really good.  I can easily imagine this fitting into the playlists of the wonderful, late-lamented WLIR radio.  “Regret It In The Morning” carries the same driving thrust; a propulsive bass line, melodic and catchy; “Doctor” motors along in a manner reminiscent of Howard Devoto’s “The Rainy Season” – a sculpted, dramatic and powerful piece and “Vampire” has neatly off-kilter …


E.P. REVIEW: JENN VIX (Featuring John Ashton), “Strange Buildings”

Over this last year, Rhode Island’s Jenn Vix has offered up two very fine single tracks that Popdose has had the pleasure of introducing you to.  Now the Rhode Island native serves up a terrific five-song e.p.; this time, she’s aided and abetted by legendary guitarist John Ashton of Satellite Paradiso and formerly of The Psychedelic Furs.  The combination of crunchy guitars, strong melodies and some highly danceable beats add up to a great offering of songs. The first track, accompanied by a video, is the highly tuneful “The Woman With No Fear” – powerful, interesting lyric and a sultry vocal that carries the song perfectly, especially on the chorus; “Don’t Let Go” has a pure early-’80’s kind of electro-dance feel with some sharp guitar stabs that fill the track and “Let Me In” carries me right back to the club days of my youth – I can imagine hearing this on the late, great WLIR.  Ms. Vix’s voice is a wonderful instrument on its own; warm and embracing, yet cooly sexy and it’s evident …



It’s become something of a rarity in these last two decades or so to hear the story or motivation as to the writing of songs; it’s a lost art, and in many ways, has become trivialized in the go-go-go/no attention span era that we’re living in now. I’m not one who passes by an opportunity to hear the backstory of a song.  And it’s been a long time since I heard one as gripping as the writing and recording of Loveland Duren’s recent single, “Johnny Boy”.  If you read my previous review of the single, you have an idea.  However, in this very special video, filmed beautifully by Elder drummer Ian Duren, you get the full scope of the how and why.  Vicki Loveland and Van Duren tell the story with love, reminiscence and a great deal of heart. If you haven’t heard the song before, here’s your opportunity to fall in love with it and let it become a part of you – but first, take five minutes to understand the making of “Johnny …



These five songs are a good introduction to Patrick Breen, a New York City-based singer-songwriter who’s been making the rounds for a few years.  More Than Magic is his recorded debut and his sound is a mix of smooth and laid-back; tuneful and embracing. “Easy Feeling” gives you a good indication of how refined his sound and his voice is; some very tasteful guitar and a fine production brings the listener into the vibe; “Winds Of Change” has a soulful feel with its horn punches, Hammond organ and backing vocals and “Too Late” is acoustic driven – both by piano and guitar. All in all, a very satisfying listening experience.  Relaxing, skilled and some very refined songwriting.  Looking forward to hear what Patrick Breen does next. More Than Magic is available now


BOXSET REVIEW: THE WHO, “The Track Singles, 1967 – 1973”

So now we’re on boxset number three – the period that truly defined The Who, as they transitioned from “pop” band to “rock legends”.  After their one year stint with Robert Stigwood’s Reaction Records, managers Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp went to Polydor Records and were granted their own label – not just as a showcase for The Who, but to sign and nurture new talent.  In the big picture, they were a remarkable success, gracing the world with The Jimi Hendrix Experience (who actually did have the first Track single release), Thunderclap Newman and The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown.  Still, the label’s focus was on The Who and their run got off to a rousing start with the forever gorgeous and chill-inducing “Pictures Of Lily” backed with John Entwistle’s dive-bomber bass-driven “Doctor, Doctor”. In this box, you get 15 (yes, that’s right – fifteen) 45’s, all re-cut/remastered and sounding as explosive and as powerful as they did upon first release.  And you have a veritable “Who’s Greatest Hits” package:  “I Can See For …



How I missed this on its release in early 2014 is beyond my comprehension, but after seeing them a few nights ago on PBS’ “Music City Roots:  Live From The Factory” and having been given a copy of this album, I sat down and had a fine time working my way through the eleven stellar tracks.  This Texas-based duo of Anthony Trube (vocals/keyboards) and Anthony Farrell (vocals/guitars) share the songwriting duties and have been a force since they first met up in the late ’90’s. Having put out three albums between 2004 and 2011, they wound up signing to the reactivated Ardent Music for a 3 album deal in 2013; this disc, Accumulator, is the first fruit of that union.  Kicking off with the first single and video, “What’s On Your Mind”, it’s fitting that this track sound so reminiscent of the Hi Records sound, circa the Al Green/Willie Mitchell era of successes; “Soul Navigator” gets right to the Memphis heart of the matter with Steve Cropper-styled guitar runs and a tight rhythm that immediately …


Review: Frog Eyes – Pickpocket’s Locket

You’ve got to hand it to Canadien Carey Mercer, the principal performer-songwriter behind the baroque pop outfit Frog Eyes, whose Pickpocket’s Locket LP is licking ears these days around these parts: he is nothing is not diverse. Owner of a truly elastic set of vocal chords he uses to over-enunciate phrases to the point of the dramatique, Mercer also has knack for almost consciously anti-band multi-track recording. This was evidenced on previous recordings, where he buried the listener in layers of sound. As the project Blackout Beach (find it), where he obsessed over the lost love of the mystical “Donna” in majestic song cycles, Mercer was more than a half-step removed and isolated, sometimes to the point of iciness. The electric guitars were occasionally alien-estranged and stripped bare. It is with a state of shock, then, that I report that Pickpocket’s Locket is a kind of antithesis to Blackout Beach’s Skin of Evil LP – a warm, inviting record filled with plaintive strings, organ, pedal steel and vibraphone and, more importantly, one that is impossible to …



With all the recent talk and writing about the return of the original Zombies, touring and performing their 1968 masterpiece Odessey & Oracle, I thought it might be nice to break down the album that would have appeared afterwards, had it been released. Everyone knows that The Zombies had already called it a day before Columbia Records even released Odessey & Oracle; how Al Kooper championed it and cajoled the heads of Columbia to issue it (finally) and how “Time Of The Season” became a massive – but fluke – hit in 1969.  Once this happened, The Zombies were in demand again but Colin Blunstone, Hugh Grundy and (the now sadly deceased) Paul Atkinson were tending to other matters.  Rod Argent and Chris White took the reins and headed into the studio to record a “follow up” single for “Time Of The Season” – Chris White at the producer’s helm; Rod Argent handling keyboards and lead vocals.  Joining them in the studio were Bob Henrit on drums, Jim Rodford on bass and Russ Ballard on …

The Bluebonnets Band


This terrific video – and fantastic song – hit the net a few days ago.  Now Popdose is proud to share with you the newest video and latest track from Austin, Texas’ own BlueBonnets.  Just in case you didn’t already know, this sprirted, hard rocking and dynamic sounding foursome is driven by guitarist/singer Kathy Valentine, once of The Textones and The Go-Go’s and bassist/singer Dominique Davalos. An entertaining video (how often do you get to say THAT anymore), it features an appearance from Jimmie Vaughan, a 1940 Mercury and a Flying V being wielded the right way (where have I seen that young lady with the yo-yo?).  And once this video has whetted your appetites, be on the look out for the next BlueBonnets album – you’re not going to want to miss it. So sit back and enjoy:



This is rock and roll, the right way – the way we first experienced it as kids – songs about women, life, aggravation – at a breakneck pace and full-on throttle.  Such is the new album from Denver-based trio, The Yawpers.  Filled with energy, drive, sonic assaults and some great howling vocals, courtesy of singer Nate Cook. Starting with the opening track, “Doing It Right”, a classic rave-up with some monster slide guitar runs and what sounds like an acoustic guitar gone electric and haywire – leaves you breathless!  “Deacon Brody” is another speed-of-light pounder, thumping along and grinding the strings in desperate riffage; “Beale Street” is an elegant, mandolin and fiddle driven hyperdrive fest that makes you pound your foot along but then turns clever little grooves on the end of the verses and “Tied” is, although more subdued, dark and menacing with those twanging acoustic guitars unleashed. “Kiss It” is a whirlwind of fast pace, swirling melody, classic boogie and explosive moments; “3 A.M.” has a minute’s worth of a hypnotic, dense opening …



Twenty years old, still a student and my God, what a songwriter and singer.  Julien Baker of Memphis, Tennessee unleashes her solo debut album, Sprained Ankle, and this is one that will turn your head immediately, make you sit up, take notice and LISTEN CLOSELY. Stark and stripped down with just her guitar playing and vocals, it’s ethereal and warm and lovely; the melodies are sweetly soothing and refined in their simplicity.  But her lyrics are a complete contrast to the music – songs of pain; addiction; spirituality and questioning – totally from the heart and drawn from her own experiences – this is an old soul with a life lived, it seems, several times.  And yet – she’s only 20 years old. One of the most desolate tracks that grips you is “Brittle Boned”; her voice is other worldly and angelic; her harmonies chill-inducing as the song builds up with light drum thumps and a climax of softly strummed guitars.  “Everybody Does” is an acoustic track that features her vocal gymnastics and shifts from …



Jeffrey Foucault has been around for a while; two albums with a project called Cold Satellite and four solo albums.  This latest effort, Salt As Wolves (the title taken from Othello, of all places), is his fifth and it’s an exercise in pure American musics – country, Americana, blues – lyrically rich, literate and pure.  The production is clean and crisp and yet, the arrangements, while full, are stripped down perfectly – all meat, no fat. Beginning with “Des Moines”, you immediately get the feel, which is critical – to be able to connect with this collection from the first guitar strums; “Rico” has some fine blues-y swamp-style picking with delicious reverbed twang and “Left This Town” is Americana-pop (if you think of Mellencamp at his peak – circa Scarecrow – this would be a good approximation) – soulful, thoughtful and wholly embraceable.  “I Love You (And You Are A Fool)” is mournful yet sweet (the perfect contradiction) – quintessential country and a most tasteful, simple guitar solo; “Jesus Will Fix It For You” is …


E.P. REVIEW: Zeke Duhon, S/T

Warm and languid, Zeke Duhon’s sound is the perfect complement to the encroaching cold.  And the six songs that make up this debut E.P. fit the mood.  Layered and textured, the quality of the production brings this collection to a higher level from where it is from being just a gathering of well-written/constructed songs. The standout “Gravity (Time To Run)” has a slow, embracing feel, mixing space and lushness; “Best Mistake” starts quietly and shifts to an upbeat chorus (trading on the “loud/quiet/loud” device) and “Everything” builds from the first, restrained guitar “clips”, expanding into a grand but melodic modern pop tour-de-force. The single “Faith And Hope” is an acoustic, singalong style track, more on the singer-songwriter style with subdued guitar runs and piano body; “Gravity (Time To Run)” is a wash of atmospherics and some very deft accompaniment and “Hold Fast” is another pop run, albeit subdued, which makes the song work with great effect. This Tulsa, Oklahoma native (now Nashville-based) gives six stellar performances that shouldn’t be overlooked – this kind of late-year …


CD REVIEW: The Moment, “The Only Truth Is Music”

A brand-new album from early ’80’s British Mod revivalists, The Moment, is cause for celebration.  One of the best of the “second wave” to the Mod rebirth, The Moment had a good run from their heyday of 1983 to 1990, releasing a slew of singles and one album while appearing on one of Countdown Records’ splendid compilations.  Now they’re back, with a new drummer, but someone quite familiar to the Mod scene, Brett “Buddy” Ascott, the anchor for (my favorite) ’79 Mod heroes, The Chords. The Only Truth Is Music is a spectacular return to form and then some.  Tight, danceable, rockin’, melodic and a touch soulful – from the beefy horns, clipped guitar and instant classic quality of “Captain Insanity” to the driving “LOY”, a dozen tracks are there for you to savor.  “She’s A Modern” has an early ’70’s kind of boogie feel with a slash-it-up guitar and great harmonies; “Penelope Wood” has a lovely acoustic guitar and minor-chord/haunting desperation to it, enhanced by the appropriately dramatic production while “You Get What You …


DVD REVIEW: “Amphetamine Reptile – The Color Of Noise”

A lengthy and, at times, wildly entertaining look at the (long time) Minneapolis-based label/arbiters of “noise core” or whatever you care to call it.  The Color Of Noise chronicles – at detailed length, which gives great insight into Amphetamine Reptile’s story – the foundation and rise to this label and its founder, ex-U.S. Marine, Tom Hazelmyer.  Done with a great deal of humor, the label, Hazelmyer and the history unfolds an important link to the mid-’80’s rise of “American Underground” and what was to follow throughout the early ’90’s. By establishing AmRep as an outlet for his own outfit, Halo Of Flies (which had been turned down by several labels), it opened the door to many other groups who would gain a great deal of traction:  The Melvins, Helmet, Helios Creed, The Cows and so on.  Aside from a musical forum, AmRep also helped shape its own sense of style with the graphics and designers employed to do the album covers and poster art, none more famous than Frank Kozik. Aside from the necessary factual …


E.P. REVIEW: Huntertones, s/t

Brisk, cool, breezy – kind of the right sound for the encroaching autumn season.  Formed in Columbus, Ohio and currently based in Brooklyn, The Huntertones have a feel that I very much like, right from the get-go.  Beefy horns, a groove; a vibe that encompasses funk and a clean sound that heightens the quality of the performances, all instrumental (the theme of this week!). Jazzy/fusion carries the opening cut, “Rumpus Time”, which indicates a good time feel (a word that will come up frequently as that’s what this music is about); “Welcome To The Neighborhood” slows the groove down but not the jam and it’s a smooth transition.  “Delirious” kicks in with some milky bass and the horns just shine throughout this slightly off-time piece and “Hip Mr. Hampton” has an infectious loop-styled groove with a human beat box sound (!). All in all, a very impressive release – I look forward to hearing more from this very fine and skilled outfit.  Quality players win me everytime. Huntertones s/t E.P. will be released on Friday, …


It can be a difficult prospect – reviewing an instrumental album.  You try to look for emotions and imagery without the assistance of lyrics to guide you along.  However, this album is not hard to sink your teeth into.  Glenn Mercer, the singer/guitarist of the legendary Feelies has released Incidental Hum, his first collection of instrumentals (and second solo album).  And this has nothing short of a great feel and a lot of motor. Playing all the parts and taken from the germ of an idea, earlier on in Mr. Mercer’s career, he sought to do something unpredictable and experimental/improvisational.  In that manner, he has succeeded.  This could almost be taken for a soundtrack to an unreleased film; it has atmospherics, weirdness, power and a great deal of width that could fit any scene.  Case and point, “Twenty Nine Palms” has that spaghetti-Western vibe; a cover of Brian Eno’s “Here Come The Warm Jets” is given a fine treatment; “Kara Sea” is a balance between sound and percussion and “Mobile” just powers along. This is …


DVD REVIEW: ADAM ANT, “The Blueblack Hussar”

What can one say about someone who was as entertaining and enjoyable as Adam Ant; when he and the (second version) Ants came upon these shores in 1980 with “Antmusic” and “Dog Eat Dog”, it was impossible not to get a kick out of those songs.  Their look was different; they had a certain charm, style and playfulness about them and they knew how to write a catchy hook.  While Ant’s moment in the sun faded by the late ’80’s, I always sing along whenever any of the Ants tracks (or “Friend Or Foe”) comes on the radio. Over the last five or so years, Adam Ant has found himself unfortunately in the British headlines at times, due to what has been found to be emotional problems (I’m trying my best to be diplomatic and sensitive to what the man has gone through).  Somehow, starting in 2012, he decided to try and stage a comeback in England.  During this comeback period, filmmaker Jack Bond began filming Mr. Ant as he prepared to do shows, rehearsed …

Film Review: “Bridge of Spies”

Steven Spielberg has made defining movies about the Civil War (Lincoln) and World War II (Saving Private Ryan and Schindler’s List) but the Cold War eludes his grasp in Bridge of Spies, his fourth film to star Tom Hanks. Structured around the construction of the Berlin Wall, Bridge of Spies ends, metaphorically and too easily, with its fall. Lacking the urgency of Munich (2005) and its forward-thinking topicality, the film is more of a museum piece, closer in effect to Amistad (1997). It is, to be sure, a very handsome exhibit. Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski’s preferred blown-out style of lighting transforms actual locations and the fabrications by Adam Stockhausen (The Grand Budapest Hotel) into splendid period sets, a chess board for spy games that begin in 1957 Brooklyn. Spielberg’s command of


MOVIE REVIEW: “Northern Soul”

Northern Soul is a 2014 British film directed by Elaine Constantine.  Set in 1974, it’s about two Lancashire teens, Matt and John, whose lives become intertwined are changed forever by their mutual love of obscure American soul music and the dance scene (near cult) of the time, which became known as “Northern Soul” (since most of the the clubs that craved this music were in the north of England).  While the movie tends to use some predictable (not bad, just predictable) plot lines, the real star of this movie is the magnificent sounds heard within. Simple tale:  listless school boy Matt meets up with John, who is an avid Northern Soul fanatic.  Taking his cues from John, Matt begins to not only obsess over Northern Soul but immerses himself so deeply and embraces every element, that he formulates a plan to become a D.J. along with John.  Various ups and downs occur, but the focus on the music – the replicated style of dancing along with fashions – makes this thoroughly enjoyable. About the music …


ALBUM REVIEW: PAUL McCARTNEY, “Tug Of War” (reissue)

A few things to get right out there:  I love this album.  I love Paul McCartney – from McCartney until this one.  This was the last album of his that I bought with anticipation, excitement and not feeling like he was mailing it in.  I grew up loving The Beatles and McCartney was always/will always be my hero.  And even though this album has one bona-fide piece of shit, the excruciating, god-awful torture known as “Ebony and Ivory”, I still think it’s one of his best overall albums.  And in a pedantic, roundabout way, this is his first “real” solo album –  McCartney and McCartney II don’t count; it’s him playing all the parts.  Ram was a “Paul and Linda McCartney” release.  And then came Wings.  This is Paul’s first titled album under his own name with other musicians and it’s a power-play goal. Set the table with the fact that it’s co-produced by George Martin.  Amongst the players, Ringo is in house, Eric Stewart of 10cc, Carl Perkins…  So that’s enough to have your …


DVD REVIEW: “He’s A Bully, Charlie Brown”

Another in Warner Home Video’s inspired Peanuts re-release series, this special, which originally aired in 2006, carries an important (albeit done gently) message – especially in the current climate.  In He’s A Bully, Charlie Brown, Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang learn the valuable lesson that sometimes you have to stand up for yourself and those you care about when someone takes advantage of you.  It’s a very good and wise first step towards educating a child about the very real dangers of bullying.  This release is also tied in with National Bullying Awareness Month, which is October. The story follows most of the Peanuts gang to summer camp, where Rerun Van Pelt (Linus and Lucy’s little brother) meets an antagonistic boy named Joe Agate.  Rerun has become determined to learn how to play marbles after finding his grandfather’s prize collection and winds up losing them when Joe Agate pretends to teach Rerun but in reality, plays him and takes them in an unfair first match. Charlie Brown, who is history’s loveable loser, becomes angry …