All posts tagged: Music

Salt-N-Pepa with En Vogue. Can you guess the song?

CONCERT REVIEW: FLOW 93.5 Throwback Birthday Bash featuring Salt-N-Pepa, En Vogue, Maestro, Fat Joe and Choclair, TD Echo Beach, Toronto, ON, September 27, 2015

FLOW 93.5 has long been Toronto’s pre-eminent R&B/hip-hop radio station, but in recent years it has begun to tweak its format to move away from contemporary/Top 40 hits in favour of a classic hip-hop format. The FLOW 93.5 Throwback Birthday Bash—I’m still unclear as to why a station launched in March 2001 would celebrate its birthday in late September, but feel free to chime in with an answer in the comments—was certainly a reflection of that shift to “All The Best Throwbacks,” featuring a lineup of classic acts headlined by En Vogue and Salt-N-Pepa. Kicking things off on Sunday afternoon was Choclair with a brief set that closed with a medley of hooks from standout hits from the 90s (“Hip Hop Hooray,” “Shimmy Shimmy Ya”) and a short rendition of his debut single, 1999’s “Let’s Ride.” Choclair was generally well received by fans who made it out to the sand-filled venue before sundown, but it was a bit disappointing to watch him finish with an abbreviated version of what remains to this day his biggest …

POPDOSE PREMIERE: Lyndzie Taylor, “What Do I Know”

Every once in awhile, a strong female vocalist comes along who, besides having the chops to carry some truly radio-ready anthems, adds her own voice to a list of lady rockers along the lines of Joan Jett and Pat Benatar. If that seems like high praise, then you obviously haven’t hear Lyndzie Taylor. Migrating to Los Angeles when she was young, Taylor began pursuing her musical dreams while still in high school. Her upcoming release, Phoenix, is her second full-length album. Where her earlier efforts have included a bit of introspection, her latest release is all rock. “My music is loud, bold, and in your face,” says Taylor. “It felt good to match my creative expression with my personality in the studio.” Single “What Do I Know” carries the trajectory where female rock stars of the 1980s left off. “If there’s one thing I’ve learned that’s true, it’s that when the pushing comes to shove, you can’t rely on anyone but you,” sings Taylor, flavoring her lyrics with feminist credos, which, at a time when Top 40 …

ALBUM REVIEW: Mark Kraus, ‘The Story of Everything’

Okay, honesty time. I love music probably more than anything else in the entire world, and it’s no secret that my tunage of choice is typically that which is a half-century old. Many of the artists I write about here on Popdose are not that, but I see them as being rare exceptions to my preference. Mark Kraus, however, is probably the best stepping stone between the two; his raw, stripped-down, no-frills brand of music is refreshing in the way your favorite old record is. It doesn’t pretend, because it doesn’t have to. It’s appropriate, then, that the first single from his new album The Story of Everything is entitled “Put an Old Record On.” See, Mark and I have something in common already! The song itself is the jewel in the crown of this album. Emotive, beautiful, and haunting, its melody is augmented with simple strings and poignant percussion. Frankly, the same could be said about the rest of the album. The bounciest it gets is the title track, with its finger-picked backbeat and “You …

ALBUM REVIEW: Slim Loris, ‘Love and Fear’

Although Slim Loris hails from the land of Ikea and Abba, the Swedish quartet embraces a lot of universal influences, many of whom are of interest to my regular readers. We’re talking 1960s British Invasion, classic rock, and even another genre of music that’s close to my heart: 1990s alternative. That’s not to say that their sound sounds dated. Not at all. In fact, Slim Loris somehow combines the best parts of all of these things and rolls them into one modern-sounding, unstoppable record. Love and Fear, the band’s sophomore release following 2011’s Down to Earth, finds the band in a good place, just coming off of a tour across the UK, including an appearance at Liverpool’s world-famous Cavern Club, last year. Album opener “Never Danced Sober” embraces a pop backbeat reminiscent of bands like the Searchers, while the rawer feel of “Higher” showcases the band’s introspective side. “Sparkling Sun” conjures some Revolver-era Beatles, “Violet Haze” features a sparkling, catchy guitar riff and playful lyrics, and “Better Than I” shows off the band’s CSNY-like harmonies, proving that …

The New Investors Channel Psych-Pop Gods in New Single “Atún”

If you’re wondering, atún means tuna, and yes, it does have something to do with the New Investors’ premier single. As the band, which hails from Copenhagen, explains, the song was inspired by a set at the Cavern Club in Liverpool when drummer Kristian Karup noticed what appeared to be an audience member eating a tuna sandwich. Karup called out, “Tienes un boccadillo con atún?” (“Do you have a tuna sandwich?”). At first, the audience was silent. I mean, when’s the last time you’ve heard tuna used as stage banter? Finally, another guy responds with “Pero no hay!” (“But I don’t have any!”). And apparently, that lack of tuna is what led to this tune(a). Although the New Investors are native Danes, they chew up and spit out an American surf-rock sound that would make Dick Dale proud. Melded with shades of psych, bossa nova, and a touch of jazz, “Atún” hints at what’s to come on the band’s debut album, out this August. Check out the video below, and watch out for the tuna sandwich cameo amid …

REVIEW: Nick De La Hoyde, “The Longest Way”

The disparity that exists between modern musical content and the real lives of its listeners is a very real problem. Lorde, for one, has been an outspoken critic of privilege in hip-hop lyrics, most notably documented in her smash hit “Royals.” The conundrum still stands, though; how is it possible to be invested in a genre with subject matter that’s just plain unrelatable? Enter Nick de la Hoyde, a 21-year-old rapper/singer hailing from Australia (a hotbed for the up-and-coming hip-hop crew of the moment). After moving to Brazil to become a football (that’s in European terms, not American) player, de la Hoyde became disenchanted with his dream and found that putting his emotions to words was therapeutic. Thus, his hip-hop career was born. Since then, his profile has exploded with thousands of new followers on Instagram and Twitter, amassing over just five months. What’s the attraction? Could it be that this largely DIY artist (until recently, anyway) struck a chord with the populous; that his subject matter details the roller coaster of broken dreams and …

ALBUM REVIEW: John Helix, ‘Chronic Happiness’

Though upon first listen it’s evident that a whole host of influences came together to create the artist known as John Helix, the San Diego-based singer/songwriter himself uses Weltschmerz — a German word literally translated as “world sorrow,” or, in this case, a sense of romantic ennui. On Chronic Happiness, Helix’s second album recorded in his “man cave” studio, he explores the theme from the perspective of a sociological philosopher. What does it take to achieve happiness in today’s socially connected world? How many anti-depressants to successfully pull us out of everyday misery? Overarching these heady elements is, of course, the music. Helix makes no secret that Elliot Smith is the star of his influence, immediately evident on the title track, with its echoing, reverb-laden instruments and pleading vocal. Throughout the album, the tracks fluctuate from the truly beautiful (“Up This Time”) to lush (“Psychotropic Dreams”) to lumbering (“Conceptual Whistling”). Chronic Happiness never veers too far into the rock ‘n’ roll arena, but that doesn’t seem to be Helix’s style. Instead, he keeps it breezy and easy, and crafts …

MUSIC REVIEW: Blunda, “Surrender”

You’ve probably never heard of Andy Blunda, but I guarantee you’d recognize his work. Lately, he’s been a mainstay in the television world, composing scores and themes for hot reality shows like Showtime’s Polyamory, Storage Wars, and American Hoggers. His roots, though, lie in classical training and serving as a sideman in a number of ’90s and 2000s outfits, including one of my favorite bands of the era, Fastball. Now, Blunda is expanding his solo repertoire after releasing his second EP, Messages, last year. “Surrender” finds him pouring his heart and soul out within his North Hollywood home studio, channeling his inner demons into a song that’s both ethereal and tinged with a rock backbone. One can almost hear the catharsis as the song progresses, Blunda’s multi-instrumental background allowing him to mastermind most of the arrangement (though he’s joined here by Luke Adams). Yet, for all of its dreamlike qualities, there’s something universal and attractive about “Surrender” that, for sure, leaves the listener wanting more. Hopefully, we’ll get it.

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Since I didn’t do this last year, I’m throwing my hat in with every one of the fine folks here at Popdose as 2014 was one of the most interesting, diverse and fruitful years – especially musically.  So rather than pontificate on the “why”, etc., I’m going to jump right in with both feet and revisit some of the music, et al., that stood out for me from January to now…: Albums by “new(er)” artists: LITTLE CHIEF:  Lion’s Den This wonderful, solid piece of work is the debut album from a recently-formed band out of Fayetteville, Arkansas.  I was immediately drawn into its warm, almost-understated production; the sharp on-pointness of the harmonies and the lushness of the arrangements.  Rarely have I ever been so moved immediately but Lion’s Den has lived with me from the first listen. JIMMY STEPHENS JR & THE BLUES CITY ROAD DOGS:  Road Ready The most explosive, pure rock & roll album to enter my consciousness in years.  Jimmy Stephens, Jr. is as fine a singer, songwriter, bass player (and guitarist) …

ALBUM REVIEW: The Workers, ‘Totem’

As synonymous with the New York every-man music scene as a protagonist in a Billy Joel Song, Dan Greenwald’s Workers have been a mainstay on the local scene for over a decade. A three-time ASCAPlus Popular Award, Greenwald has nothing to prove and no one to answer to; the Workers’ new EP, with a trio of tracks reminiscent of the Beatles, REM, Elliot Smith and a mishmash of other alt-rock favorites finds him and his band — along with master mixologist Will Hensley (Coldplay, Electric Ladyland Studios) — in top form and ready to rock. Over Totem‘s trio of tracks, Greenwald explores a couple of heady themes. On the pop-infused “Death Race,” he tackles drugs and driving (one in the same, really), while “Boomerang”‘s lovely pedal steel backdrop provides a dreamlike frame for lyrics of independence and the fear of never achieving your full potential (“nothing slows the march of time / and I’ve yet to yield my prime”). But it’s lead single “Big Time” pairs heart-wrenching words to a Talking Heads-esque tune as Greenwald relates what was, …

ALBUM REVIEW: The Society Islands, ‘The Big Sleep’

Sometimes when an artist is nondiscriminatory with his or her influences, the result is unfocused, muddy, and downright confusing. Many feel compelled to use a whole spice rack of ingredients when thoughtfully mixing and matching would service their music and lyrics in a far better way. Cologne, Germany-based Boris Rogowski believes there’s no such thing as a bad influence, yet it’s clear that in his new release, The Big Sleep, no matter if the influence is good or bad, it’s been carefully integrated and, in some cases, upgraded. In the vein of digitally based artists like Gotye and Daft Punk, Rogowski, who was a founding member of psycho pop quintet Die Sonne, relates his own dreamlike vision and generates possibly the most aptly named album ever. Under the guise of The Society Islands, Rogowski takes the listener on a journey bordering on consciousness and something catatonic. Is it a dream, or is it something darker? Opener “Square 1” is a catchy, rhythm-driven pop tune cloaked in analog effects, just for good measure. Of course, not everything on The …

Star Wars Episode VII is coming. What else do you need? ( photo)

24 current reasons to be thankful in 2014

Sure, the government’s a mess, the environment is spiraling out of control and American cities are actually burning. But that doesn’t mean we can’t take time to consider some of the reasons we all have to be thankful. So everyone, please put down your torches and pitchforks long enough to appreciate the following blessings: 1) Your job doesn’t require you to balance anything on Kim Kardashian’s big shiny butt. 2) You’re not married to Robin Thicke, probably. At least not anymore. 3) Statistically, if you get pulled over by a police officer you still have a very good chance of not being shot to death. No matter what Nancy Grace says. 4) You’re not on Nancy Grace. 5) You’re not a Red Sox fan. Oh, you are? Er, sorry. 6) You weren’t in the last “Expendables” movie. Oh, you were? Er, sorry. 7) You didn’t let yourself get too attached to “Selfie.” 8) Your professional success doesn’t rely on cooperation from the Republican Party. 9) You didn’t have everything riding on that damn Benghazi report. 10) You …


Film Review: “Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton: This Is Stones Throw Records”

Initially conceived as an outlet to release the music of the late MC – and friend of label co-founder Chris Manak (Peanut Butter Wolf) – Charizma, Stones Throw Records has grown over the last 18 years to become the label of choice for hip-hop mavericks, funk weirdos and pop outcasts. In Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton: This Is Stones Throw Records, director Jeff Broadway (Cure for Pain: The Mark Sandman Story) weaves together home footage, archival clips and new interviews with members of the Stones Throw family as well as a host of hip-hop luminaries (including ?uestlove, Common, Kanye West, Mike D, A-Trak, Talib Kweli, Tyler, The Creator, Flying Lotus and Prince Paul) to tell the story of the label and several of its genre-defining releases. Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton covers a lot of ground over a brisk 93 minutes, taking us from Manak’s days as an aspiring DJ making tapes of imagined Top 50 countdowns with friend – and eventual Stones Throw co-founder – Steve Helmer (Baron Zen) to the burgeoning hub of …


Review: Cheap Trick – The Classic Albums 1977-1979

Record Store Day isn’t just in the spring anymore. The annual tradition now happens twice a year, once in the spring, and once on Black Friday. Since you’re already out spending enormous amounts of money on enormous electronic devices, seek out your local independent record store and buy some gifts for the music geek, or, let’s be honest, buy it for yourself. Because a box set is the greatest gift in the world. The record labels have put together some impressive, huge, and gift-worthy sets specifically for “Back to Black Friday” (November 29th) this year, including this lovely, limited edition, individually numbered box set featuring Cheap Trick’s first five albums remastered and pressed onto that ultra-thick, luxuriant 180-gram vinyl. (Thank you, Legacy Recordings.) Cheap Trick’s tight pop-meets monstrous rock finally sounds as important as it ought to be in the greater rock pantheon. Cheap Trick’s first five albums, in original packaging, are accounted for: the self-titled, In Color, Heaven Tonight, Dream Police, and, of course, the classic live album At Budokan. Consider for a moment that this band …


Zedd’s Music Moment Of Clarity

This audio post is probably just amazing. All the white-hot techno DJs and producers, few are more molten right now than Anton Zaslavski, better known as Zedd. Zedd’s single “Clarity” (featuring London-based female vocalist Foxes). When we entered The Fox, which is the unofficial sister-venue of SF’s The Warfield in look, decor, and size, Oliver was on, pounding the crowd with their heaviest brand of “Oliver” house music–edgy and powerful, but still very composed and endlessly sexy. What is creativity really? From a scientific perspective, creativity is your ability to think of something original from connections made between pre-existing ideas in your brain. These connections are controlled by neurotransmitters like adenosine, which alerts your brain when you’re running out of energy and reacts. This got me wondering about coffee and beer and which one would actually help me be more creative and get work done. Hopefully, this will help you decide when it’s best to have that triple shot espresso or ice cold brew. From a scientific perspective, creativity is your ability to think of something original from …


ALBUM REVIEW: Elvis Costello and the Roots, “Wise Up Ghost”

  “Now we’re in a hall of mirrors With my secret fears and terrors” –from “Come The Meantimes” by Elvis Costello and the Roots Wise Up Ghost may be the most bleak album Elvis Costello has ever released. It’s amazing, and the Roots are ideal collaborators, intertwining their sound with the melodic bile Costello spits into the mic. It’s got grooves to spare. But it is dark, and unrelenting. We live in dark and unrelenting times. Every day brings new revelations about the NSA’s warrantless access into our digital lives. The threat of chemical weapons in Syria has politicians raising war flags and citizens issuing a mildly annoyed shrug. In spite of the near-collapse of our economy and the best efforts of the Occupy movement, the rich still get richer and the poor get…children. Much of that wasn’t in the cultural landscape as this record was being made, but does it matter? Illegal wiretapping, the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, greed running rampant over the American landscape…all of this has happened before. All of this …


ALBUM REVIEW: The Heavy Blinkers, “Health”

Following the releases of new albums by David Bowie, My Bloody Valentine and Justin Timberlake, 2013 might go down as the year of the unexpected comeback (your move, Dr. Dre). For lovers of lush, harmony-laden orchestral pop, the most pleasant return may be that of Halifax, Nova Scotia’s the Heavy Blinkers, whose ten-years-in-the-making Health was finally released on July 30. Fans of the group could be forgiven for having given up thinking they’d ever hear the long-gestating follow-up to 2004’s The Night And I Are Still So Young. After all, despite occasional reports of new songs and sessions as far back as in 2005, a blog dedicated to the recording of the album (which optimistically promised that Health would “be mixed and mastered by Oct 31 2008”) had last been updated in August 2008. In fact, the group was dormant for so long that Jenn Grant, who joined the Heavy Blinkers as an unknown singer following the release of The Night… and who shares vocal duties on Health with Melanie Stone and Stewart Legere, found …


Inside the Art of Outside Lands

Outside Lands came and went last weekend, blowing in and out of the Golden Gate Park with the signature stomp, rock, and dazzle that’s it’s become equanimous with since Another Planet first unleashed it upon San Francisco six summers ago. This year, the dazzle was bigger and brighter than ever, the rock louder, the stomp harder, and widespread and whimsical art lavished the weekend with a warmth and brightness that superseded the grey skies.


Album Review: Orval Carlos Sibelius, “Super Forma”

At a time when albums are teased, hyped, leaked, dissected, discarded and re-evaluated before they are even officially released, it has become increasingly rare to be able to approach one with fresh ears, no preconceptions and little baggage. Perhaps that’s why I was so pleasantly surprised last month when I came across the sounds of one mysterious Orval Carlos Sibelius just as a pair of French robots were setting the Internet ablaze with an album that seemed equal parts new music and marketing plan. Perhaps it’s also because his most recent full-length, Super Forma, offers an hour of music brimming with ideas, richly inventive arrangements and layer upon layer of ingenious hooks that demands – and rewards – multiple listens. Super Forma is French multi-instrumentalist Axel Monneau’s third release under the Sibelius moniker (the con extends to the liner notes, which are written in Portuguese) and follows a self-titled album and an EP of the kind of home-recorded folk music that suggests hundreds of hours spent listening to scratched copies of Fairport Convention or Tyrannosaurus …


IAMX, The Unified Field: The Spin Cycle Review

The next evolution of trip hop comes in the form of IAMX which is fitting seeing that mastermind Chris Corner ushered in a similar trend when his former outfit, Sneaker Pimps, paved a new electronic revolution after a void was left by Portishead and Massive Attack. On their most recent Pledgemusic-funded The Unified Field, IAMX expand their range even more to give listeners the feeling that if Dead Can Dance began in 2013, they’d probably sound similar to IAMX. But […]

Purple Suns

Purple Suns, MINES: The Spin Cycle Review

If you’re longing for the days when QOTSA was an indie band and still had that post-Kyuss fresh from the desert scent then Purple Suns is band you should definitely be paying attention to. On their latest EP, MINES, the band from Neptune (New Jersey, not the planet although their music could most certainly be classified as out of this world) lay on the rawk, pile on the grooves, and create something truly unique and wonderful. Opener “Naked Eyes” lays the groundwork […]

Fall Out Boy

Fall Out Boy, “The Phoenix”: The Viewfinder Review

Fall Out Boy is not messing around. On the latest single/video off the highly anticipated Save Rock And Roll (Due April 16th), we see how the boys ended up in so much trouble in the video for “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark (Light Em Up)”    and it is not pretty. Be warned, if you care about Patrick Stump at all, this video may not be for you. As for the song itself, “The Phoenix” still has some rousing electronics underneath but for the most part it sees […]