It would take a stadium-sized record store to inventory at least one copy of every album and single produced in a given year (at at least three Amoeba Records locations). So much music gets released these days, its impossible to keep up. I recently deleted 36,000 unread e-mails from my inbox, most of those were pitches about new artists or new releases, the rest were sales offers from Target and Venus. 2017 was an especially release-heavy year from artists who already own considerable real estate on my CD shelf. Still, a few artists broke through the clutter — most of them I’ve already featured on Popdose, the rest, you’ll meet below.

To be honest, I could probably spend the rest of my days just listening to my Prince records and all of the gold that is being mined from his Vault. But, still, there’s nothing quite like the rush of discovering something new, something that hits you deep in the soul hole. I still remember the shivers of experiencing Kate Bush, Pulp, Nada Surf, Interpol, Neko Case, Cait Brennan, and the Ocean Blue for the first time.

When I hear something new that clicks, I’m always happy to premiere a track or write up a review; but I rarely get the opportunity to circle back and see how things have changed for these artists since we first met. So, here we go…


Pacific Radio

Location: Los Angeles

First Impression: Popdose New Artist Spotlight January 23, 2017

Pacific Radio, perhaps the most killer rock act en route for arena stardom since The Killers, had one hell of a good 2017. Their debut album Pretty, but Killing Me just came out last week, but they’ve been steadily thrusting killer singles upon the planet all year. Good old fashioned songs about chicks (“Katie”), cars (“Camaro”) and places to get busy (“Kitchen Table”).

Pacific Radio (L2R): Joe Stiteler (Bass), Joe Robinson (vocals/guitar), Hyke Shirinian (drums) and Kyle Biane (guitar)

POPDOSE: What was one of your favorite moments — in the studio, on tour or from anywhere within your rock star experience — from 2017?

Joe Robinson (Guitar and Lead Vocal):  I was sitting in the backstage artist area at BottleRock alone in my space tights and gold chains charging my phone and having an ice cream sandwich after our mid-day show. A nice older woman approached me and asked if I played to which I modestly said, “yes”. She offered me weed and said she was the “weed momma of the festival”. Tom Petty played the night before and I asked if she hung out with him at all, she said she was there for him. That’s the closest I’ll ever get to Tom Petty, his festival weed lady, after we played the same festival, and I’m ok with that.

Joe Stiteler (Bass):  Watching Hyke crush drums all day at the legendary Conway Studios.

Kyle Biane (Guitar):  Walking on stage at BottleRock Napa Valley was pretty rad. We had an early time slot, so the chances of an empty field for an audience were very real. It was pretty cool to climb up those stairs to the stage and see a crowd of people waiting for us.

Hyke Shirinian (Drums):  Wow what a huge question. I kinda agree with everyone.. and to sum it up for me.. it was all a phenomenal experience and it’s tough to choose just one moment as my favorite!

Breaking through such a cluttered musical landscape can be a huge challenge, did you have a Mary Tyler Moore Theme moment this year where you realized, “We’re going to make it after all”?

JR: We did a smaller industry show with a bunch of these epic indie/pop/synth bands. We were literally the only band without a red Nord and tracks. I watched the crowd as the other bands emotionally whispered over arpeggiated synths and “hey-ho” choruses. This is what the crowd was used to. We weren’t that. We were the energetic, guitar kicking rock and roll. We were either going to crash or kill. We killed. So much so that a music editor from a major magazine managed through the crowd of new fans to tell me to “keep doing what I just watched, don’t change a thing”

JS:  There’s some pretty cool analytics available these days, where we’re able to see people in different cities, cities that we’ve never played, and they are listening to our music.  And there’s this radio station in Ipswich England showing love too!

KB:  We were on tour and a friend called me. He, who was also on tour, was staying at some random family’s house for the night in Portland. It sounds weird but lodging on an indie tour is always an adventure. Anyway, they were sitting in the dining room and listening to music when suddenly Pacific Radio came on. The family went on to say how they were fans and had been following us. Having random people start to hear your music was a pretty good sign to me.

HS:  I don’t believe in those types of moments anymore. There’s a saying my father used to say, “Drop by drop you create a lake.” That’s of course translated but you get the point.

What’s your plan for world domination in 2018?

JR:  Keep doing it. Shows, tours, records.

JS:  It’s definitely gonna be the year of the light show, masterminded by our producer/photographer/videographer, Eric Weaver.  Just wait.

KB:  Tour West, Tour East, Tour Central, Tour Europe, and record another record.

Jupe Jupe

Location: Seattle
First Impression: Right Here
Jupe Jupe: My Young (vocals, synths), Bryan Manzo (guitar), Jarrod Arbini (drums), Patrick Partington (guitar) photo by Lord Fotog

I discovered Jupe Jupe during my Popdose hiatus where I spent the summer writing about Prince for the Diffuser Prince 365 series. I was immediately swept in by the gorgeous synthscapes and retro 80’s new wave stylings. The whole stunning album helped scratch the itch between the release of last year’s Complete Music remix album by New Order and this year’s The Punishment of Luxury by OMD; two bands Jupe Jupe would fit nicely on a concert bill with. Mining the new wave sound is nothing new, but the bands that make it work — Interpol, A Projection and now Jupe Jupe — make it feel instantly familiar and yet totally fresh and modern.

POPDOSE: OK, love the music, dying to know what the name means. 

Patrick Partington (guitar): My (Young, vocals and synths) and Bryan (Manzo, guitar) came up with the Jupe Jupe name because in Austin, where they met, the lazer/zap effects used in electro music were called “joop-joops,” because of the sound they make. People have also told us that “jupe” means “skirt” in French, so our name actually means “skirt skirt” as well.

Favorite moments on 2017:

PP: One of the highlights was listening to the songs take shape at Red Room Recording, the studio we used in Seattle. We worked with Matt Bayles—our amazing producer, engineer, and band “drill sergeant” (“No—play it again, but BETTER!”). Many of the bands he’s worked with in the past are pretty heavy (Mastodon, He Whose Ox Is Gored, Murder City Devils), so we think our post-punk/new-wave sound was a cool opportunity for him as well. Hearing the final versions from Ed Brooks at Resonant Mastering and Levi Seitz at Black Belt Mastering were great moments for us too, especially after months and months of writing, rewriting, and refining the tunes. Plus, this album was our first experience with vinyl, so we were pretty naïve on the nuances of vinyl mastering and production. And of course, finally getting the shipment of records was cause for celebration!

Mary Tyler Moore moment:

PP: Releasing Lonely Creatures and having it make the top 30 list of most-added albums to US college radio in its first week was huge for us. It also charted in the NACC (North American College & Community Radio) for several weeks following the September release. And we received some nice props for our video of the single, ‘Faith in What You Hear,’ which was produced by our friend Erik Foster from the Seattle band Dirty Sidewalks. It had some great exposure on Electrozombies, Vanyaland, Pure Grain Audio, and other music sites. Our album is entirely self-released, so getting the attention definitely blew us away!

World domination in 2018:

PP: In early January, we’re playing the fifth annual Big Ass Boombox festival in Seattle, featuring tons of cool local bands during a free two-day, all-ages showcase held at the Crocodile. For the past several years, they’ve always packed the place out and it’s a terrific way for groups to get on people’s radar. Each band plays a short 20-25 minute set, and the changeovers are super-quick, so folks get to see a bunch of great music without a lot of waiting around. After a few more shows, including the 13th annual Dancing on the Valentine leukemia benefit (which is a Pixies cover night this time—it changes each year), we plan to go back into the studio and cut a few new songs, hopefully for release in the near future. World domination? Maybe not, but we hope it gets us closer!

The Gray Vines

Location: New Jersey

First Impression: Popdose New Artist Spotlight January 23, 2017

Back when Popdose premiered the video for “Just to You”, Jake Hoffman (Guitar/Vocals) declared “I know I’m something, but maybe I’m nothing new”. The song provided the perfect soundtrack to smash things and rage against the machine as Trump was sworn into office. Since we last spoke, the band is down 50% in original members (with the departure of bassist Jill Deegan), but is now thrice as powerful with the addition of Casey O’Connell (Bass/More Vocals) and Jordan Bowen (Drums/Even More Vocals).

Favorite moments:

Jake Hoffman: We all really enjoyed playing this one particular house show this winter. It was held in an attic. It couldn’t have been more than 35 degrees up there. Gigs like that can go either way, but the crowd that night was perfect. Everyone wanted to move around and work together to keep the place warm. It was one of those gigs where you feel connected to everyone in the room and despite so many ways the night could go wrong, its held together by a thread and winds up being magic.

Mary Tyler Moore moment:

JH: We haven’t thrown our hats in the air just yet, but it’s a particularly special feeling when you’re playing your fifth basement show and the crowd sings along to some of your un­released songs.

World Domination:

JH: We have a few secrets up our sleeves, but I think our goal is to simple pound the pavement and play as many great shows as possible. By the end of the year, hopefully we’ll be playing some nice places…if we don’t all burn up by then. ­­

Beth // James

Location: Austin, TX

First Impression: February’s Five Most Freaking Fantastic F Yeah Bands

Pictured Left to Right: Beth, James

Don’t hate them ‘cuz they’re beautiful. Jordan James Burchill and Mikaela Beth Kahn are easy on the eyes and their music is oh so sweet on the ears. While the nighty news was filled with loud, angry and ugly headlines, the lovely tunes flowing from deep in the heart of Texas proved to be the perfect antidote.

Favorite Moment:

Mikaela Beth Kahn: We’ve had a lot of memorable moments in 2017! Our favorites were releasing our debut EP (All in Life) and going on tour to new places we’ve never been before. Our favorite cities (other than Austin) have been Minneapolis and Portland. We can’t wait to go back!

Mary Tyler Moore moment:

MBK: We had a local show show that we didn’t really do a good job of promoting so we thought there would be nobody there that night. But when we got to the venue, a ton of people were there to see us!! We were so surprised and it felt great.

World Domination:

MBK: Our plan for world domination consists of putting out an album in 2018, continuing to tour, and obviously cloning ourselves into a huge army to take over the world.

Holden Laurence

Location: Cleveland

First Impression: The Popdose world premiere of ‘Cover Me in Roses’

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from Phil Collins, Dave Grohl, Chris Mars, Louise Burns and the late Grant Hart, sometimes there’s more than one natural front person lurking with many bands. Laurence’s day job is playing guitar for Cleveland’s The Modern Electric, who wowed us a few years back by creating festival-quality indie films for each of the tracks on their winning sophomore outing, Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. Laurence’s full-length debut is a stunning pop masterpiece that builds upon TME’s sound and is a must-own for every fan of The Killers, The National and The Airborne Toxic Event.

Favorite Moment:

Holden Laurence: Definitely the Wild Empty Promises album release show at the Beachland Ballroom and Tavern.  It took years of hard work and growth as an artist to be able to make that album and I received an overwhelming amount of support and positive feedback from fans, friends, and family surrounding its release.  The show felt like a celebration, a catharsis, and a launching point for things to come.

MTM moment:

HL: It’s been more of a slow build than one defining moment.  Hearing my songs on the radio for the first time, receiving glowing reviews and encouragement from fans, critics, and other musicians, playing to larger audiences…  All of these little moments let me know I’m moving in the right direction.

World Domination:

HL: I’ll be finished tracking my sophomore album in early January!  I’m beyond excited about this batch of songs.  The new album is an organic extension/expansion of what I started on Wild Empty Promises.  I took the unique and interesting aspects of the first album and stretched them in new directions.  I think people are gonna dig it! As for The Modern Electric, we’ve spent the last couple months working on new material.  We’re hoping to record and release our next album in 2018.  We’ve also recently teamed up with Spirit airlines.  We get free flights in the US in exchange for being artist ambassadors, which is pretty incredible. So 2018 is shaping up to be an exciting year on both fronts!

Fernando Perdomo


Location: Los Angeles

First Impression: The Golden Hour album review by DW Dunphy

As I said in my recent best-of-2017 roundup, 10 Albums for the Buy Curious, “This is a new album for lovers of long distance dedications and bonafide classics by the likes of George Harrison, Tom Petty, Andrew Gold, America, Jeff Lynne, Todd Rundgren, Al Stewart and more. That just about sums up the majesty of listening to The Golden Hour, by Fernando Perdomo — producer of Popdose darlings Cait Brennan and Ken Sharp.  I’ll let Fernando take it from here….

POPDOSE: What was one of your favorite moments — in the studio, on tour or from anywhere within your rock star experience — from 2017?

Fernando Perdomo: Best New Artists for 2017.. 1. Dr Danny .. Lemon Twigs Keyboard Wizard goes solo with a great EP called Lay It On Me Straight he sings like Eno and idolizes the beach boys and Left Banke.. really unique stuff with so much potential. 2. Starcrawler. Arrow DeWylde is a force of nature on stage and this band really has the goods.. great rock and roll band 3. Flyte.. They have been around for a little bit but really hit it big with their full length debut .. ‘Faithless‘ may be one of the best songs I have heard in a long time.. real chills.. real emotion 4. Scary Pockets.. new funk supergroup that reimagines songs as funk tunes.. so entertaining .. goes straight to your (DELETED)

POPDOSE: Thanks! But that wasn’t the question. And I can’t print that last part. 

FP: Awe man .. I was excited to use the word (DELETED) in an interview.

POPDOSE: Let’s try this again. 

FP: I brought my (DELETED) and the rest of me out to Memphis to make The Golden Hour back in May.. and it was a sublime experience. I will never forget making this record… playing Chris Bell’s guitar through an original Big Star Hiwatt amp.. and playing their Mellotron this album is way different than my others..

Cait (Brennan) hooked me up with a good deal at Ardent (Studios in Memphis) and I planned on re recording my older songs .. I was told to write new songs and I did.. most of the songs were written jan to May .. so this is a totally 2017 album, fresh and inspired.

POPDOSE: There ya go, how about 2018?

FP: 2018 is gonna bring new projects.. new Fernando Perdomo album and some surprises .. I plan on doing exactly what I did in 2017 .. I really feel accomplished this year.