Though I currently live in Los Angeles, New York is my adopted home. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t actively miss it several times a day. Sometimes, even seeing it portrayed in films and TV is enough to send me spiraling down a nostalgic rabbit hole and contemplate a move back. But, of course, that’s the rose-colored-glasses views. As Valerie Ghent sings in her own love letter to the Big Apple, “love or hate the city, but it’s where I was born,” which is basically how most New Yorkers feel: It’s the best and the worst but it’s ours. Ghent is a longtime musician who, interesting to legacy music nerds like me, once was the keyboardist/vocalist and engineer for Ashford & Simpson. A native of Soho/Greenwich Village, “New York City Streets” is a stripped-down ode to Ghent’s hometown that benefits from its sparse arrangement. Every lyric, every reason she digs those dirty, grimy, never-ending streets is clearly intentional. And her enthusiasm is enough to make you love them, too. The video itself takes viewers around the five boroughs: from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Unisphere in Queens to Little Italy and beyond. It’s a true celebration of the diversity that New York packs into a ridiculously limited amount of square miles. Ghent’s tour definitely gave me all the feels and for anyone else with even a tiny bit of affinity for NYC, I’m willing to bet it’ll make you appreciate this strange, magnificent place a...
I still remember the CD. My Mudhoney collection was fairly impressive in ’93, having dug deep into the band’s Sub Pop soil, but the disc I found at Vintage Vinyl, Jack’s or wherever I was buying records at the time was of special interest: it was a live bootleg. Hearing a band live – or hearing a live recording they had no control over releasing or not releasing – can be a sacred act, and live recordings, at their best, illustrate what an outfit sounds like at its most organic. That anonymous Mudhoney disc, a self-titled outing sometimes referred to as A Fulminant Live Act In Early Summer 1992, was good. And it give me a sneak peek into the Mudhoney live shows I was, then, too young to attend. Enter LiE, short for “Live In Europe.” Out today on Sub Pop, the band’s once and future home, the not-limited, not-bootlegged live disc assembles some recent thrashings of Mark Arm & Co. and, for Mudhoney aficionados, it’s pretty essential stuff.  It’s viciously performed and carefully recorded. In short, it’s a good disc. But that’s where I stop. Yes, songs like “Get Into Yours,” off 1989’s Mudhoney, and “Judgement, Rage, Retribution and Thyme,” off 1995’s My Brother The Cow, are blister-inducing. The closer, the epic “Broken Hands,” off Every Good Boy Deserve Fudge, is wonderful. But, it’s not an introduction to the band’s best work – nor its best lineup: Lukin snatch – or a must-have addition to the catalog. As grunge goes, it...
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Broadway, it’s cold outside. Come indoors, then, and enjoy two first-rate musicals, one a revival, the other an Off Broadway transfer. The revival, Once on This Island, hails from 1990, when it received eight Tony nominations on its way to becoming a repertory favorite. For this remounting set designer Dane Laffrey has transformed Circle in the Square into a Caribbean paradise, worse for wear after a fierce storm. The parallel to Puerto Rico in its present crisis is unmistakable, but fantasy, and tragic romance, is the subject here, not politics. Come early and enjoy the in-character comings and goings of the cast, which includes a live chicken and goat. Currently represented as well on Broadway with Anastasia, veteran composers Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty based this show on Rosa Guy’s 1985 star-crossed romance My Love, My Love, which was rooted in The Little Mermaid. But this isn’t Disney, and instead island flavorings are added to Romeo and Juliet. The storyline is simple: Ti Moune (Hailey Kilgore), a peasant girl from one side of an island, rescues the well-born Daniel (Isaac Powell), driving during a storm from the other side, from a car crash. But the embroidery, expressed mostly through song, is complex. The crash was arranged by one of the island gods, as a test to see if love is stronger than death. The guileless Ti Moune, who herself was rescued...
(Archive.) Sunday, January 1, 2017 As we begin the new year, the ranks of Roscoe’s Basement are kind of beat up. Craig is walking wounded pending his hernia surgery, and my left arm is still in a heavy cast while the bone grows in around the titanium plate and screws that now hold my elbow together. And while our respective prognoses are good in the long term, the back end of winter promises to be pretty rotten. I’m feeling especially sorry for myself. My car is still off the road until I can amass the funds for a full brake job, so I’m knocking around the house with nothing to do but brood. The usual personal drama — money trouble, the prospect of disability, a dear friend caught up in a nasty legal proceeding — is only compounded by the existential horrorshow of national politics. My brain is revving at full speed, but I find it nearly impossible to work. I’m not quite losing my marbles, but I am in imminent danger of misplacing them for a few weeks. The menfolk of my people do not fare well in captivity. My old man had chronic back trouble, and once when I was a kid, he spent a stretch that seemed months long pancaked on...
This is one of the few shows where I catch a groove and ride it all the way to the end. One of the advantages of keeping my mouth shut, I suppose. What groove is that, you ask? One of the widescreen variety. These are big songs, ones that build until they explode. And, what should come to the surprise of no one, the show is entirely UK acts, with one group of Aussies. And we have a Popdose premiere! Simple Minds have a new album, Walk Between Worlds, coming out February 2, and I play a song from the album here. Kind of amazing how revitalized the band has been of late. Artists making their Dizzy Heights debut this week: Dave Edmunds, Clearlake, Codeine Velvet Club, Coldplay, The Soundtrack of Our Lives and, inexplicably, Doves. How on earth did that take over a year to happen? Thank you, as always, for listening.
As the 1960s transitioned to the 1970s soul music began to transition too. The sweet sound of Motown soul began to give way to something deeper, something harder, something funkier. Of course, funk had been around for awhile, primarily in the form of James Brown who had already been putting forth the funk for a number of years. But suddenly he began to get some company. In the early ’70s, Brooklyn was a hotbed of musical activity. There was even a “Brooklyn sound” and one of its proponents was a band called the King Davis House Rockers. The band recorded a couple of singles, 1967’s “We All Make Mistakes Sometimes” and “Rum Punch” in 1972 but they went nowhere. Three members of the band, guitar player Richard Thompson, and sax players Bill Rissbrook and Carlos Ward did go somewhere, however. Somewhere else. They formed a new band that they called Madison Street Express. New players were drafted to fill out the lineup including bass player Louis Risbrook (who later took the name Jamal Rasool), percussionist Dennis Rowe, drummer Terrell Wood, and vocalist Barbara Wood. The new band hooked up with a producer named Jeff Lane and made a deal with a production company called Roadshow Records. Their first recording was “Do It (‘Til You’re Satisfied,” a song that was written...
Radio City With Jon Grayson & Rob Ross:  Episode Forty Seven On this forty seventh (!) installment of Radio City…, Jon and Rob have no shortage of material or topics to discuss; items that will surely provoke you and make you think.  Or musical items you may want to add to your own collections.  Hear here as they talk about the Jeff Beck at the Hollywood Bowl DVD, celebrating his 50 years in music; the self-titled debut album from Chicago’s Lucille Furs; a terrific new E.P. from The Get Ahead, Mind Is A Mountain; the not-storm snowstorm; E.P. from The Get Ahead, “Mind Is A Mountain”, Trump’s 2018 opening Tweets and so much more. Why listen to any other podcast?  This has all the elements and rationality you could ever hope for or need. Leave it in the very capable hands of our heroes – they’ll get you to your next destination with no funny business. Radio City With Jon Grayson & Rob Ross: Episode Forty Seven The podcast will be on the site as well as for subscription via iTunes and other podcast aggregators. Subscribe and let people know about Radio City, as well as Popdose’s other great podcasts David Medsker’s Dizzy Heights and In:Sound with Michael Parr and Zack Stiegler.    
Jaguwar began life as a trio, formed in Berlin, Germany by Oyèmi and Lemmy in 2012. Their drummer Chris signed up in 2014 to complete the current line-up; to date, they have released two EPs and have taken their wall of sound (heavily “shoegaze” influence – think My Bloody Valentine, Lush and Curve influenced noise pop) on to countless shows in the U.K., Denmark, France, Serbia, Germany and beyond. This first full-length album, Ringthing is a shimmering, energetic reverberating, crashing monolith of an album. Jaguwar sway from combining sweet pop figures with white-hot amphetamine noise to sounding like a serendipitous encounter between Husker Du and Ride. “Noise & detail” is how the band describes their soun, which would not be wholly inaccurate. Starting with the frenetic “Lunatics”, it’s an enjoyable sensory assault; you want, need and like gripping onto the bar of this musical roller coaster as it takes you up and down with no restraint; “Skeleton Feet” is another pulsing track that opens with an exquisite sound of guitar scrapes that can be likened to a melodic pane of glass breaking and falling in tune; “Slow And Tiny” uses a cacophonous soundscape in the background of an otherwise breakneck tempo that reminds one of running through a nightmare – haunting yet...
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Popdose presents another exclusive premiere with this new song from San Francisco-based singer Jack Mosbacher.  “Ready For Something Good” is the title track from his upcoming album of the same name. His radiant sound has evolved to exude the old school power of Alabama Shakes and Leon Bridges, with the pop sensibility of Andy Grammer and Ed Sheeran. Today, Mr. Mosbacher aims to add happy elements to the next generation of soul. In his own words, “this song was my best shot at fighting whatever pessimism and fear is gripping the world right now with some small dose of optimism and hope. I so badly want 2018 to be a good year, for me and for all of us. I think we’re all so ready for something good, so I figured if I sang it over and over, I might do my small part in manifesting it into happening.” Ready For Something Good will be released on Friday, January 19th, 2018
A few years ago, I was fortunate enough to gain exposure to a variety of world music through an artist I was working with, particularly Indian melodies that were, at once, derived from Sanskrit texts but which also had a significant pop element. This amalgam made the genre accessible to those who had maybe never delved into the uber-popular but somewhat unknown body of work from Indian artists and definitely gave me deeper appreciation for those infectious sounds. In that same vein comes Dhanya, a Venezuela-born and raised artist who channels her Indian roots in varying degrees into her music. Today, I’m really stoked to share “Lesson” with you. It’s a track that calls back to Dhanya’s roots in subtle, but incredible, ways in slight variations in arrangement that tilts a bit Eastern. The result is an over-seven-minute song that takes the listener on a colorful, powerful ride across the world and replants him or her back on comfortable soil. This is an ideal place for world-music beginners to start — Dhanya is an excellent tour guide. “Lesson’s” lyrics are also deeply introspective, reflecting subtle spirituality that’s gorgeous and ultimately meaningful. “This was originally a poem I wrote,” says Dhanya, “reflecting on how life lessons can often seem like a horror movie — being swallowed up by the earth...
METAL DAD: THE BOOK IS AVAILABLE NOW. COLLECTS YEARS 3 & 4! Click here. METAL DAD shirts! Click here to get yours.
When David Letterman retired from his long-running TV show on CBS, it was the end of an era. Those who grew up on Letterman’s caustic and postmodern humor were conditioned by his wry observations and punchy retorts to see the world through his cynical eyes. There’s a whole host of comedians who say Letterman was their inspiration for getting into comedy.  However, it’s clear that whatever absurdities Dave used to mine for humorous content, have given way to a desire for substantive conversations — which might explain the beard.   Well, after a long absence from television, Letterman is back for a Netflix series that aims to put the “talk” back in talk show.  “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction With David Letterman” is that show. Letterman is without a band, without much of an opening monologue, and without a desk to sit behind. Instead, he opts for a live audience, two chairs, and a stage. That’s pretty much it for the setting. The show itself aims to be more than a showcase for Letterman’s particular brand of humor.  Instead, it’s more like Letterman is channeling Dick Cavett or Charlie Rose (before he disgraced himself)  on “My Next Guest Needs No Introduction.” Maybe that’s because his first guest was Barack Obama,...
As the world gears up for the Grammys, it seems like pop fever has swept the nation (or maybe just LA, where I live). I’m finding myself turning to some snackable, light fare in the form of ’00s and ’90s Top 40 pop more than ever, delighting in the not-too-complicated hooks and easy-going melodies. But also, I’m loving some of the new pop emerging onto the scene, largely made by independent artists. I’ve got such a soft spot for these warriors who put everything they have behind their craft — hence why, in other realms, I write essential resources for indie and DIY musicians. Today, I’ve got three awesome finds for you readers. These videos were all made by artists invested in their crafts on every level and doing an astounding job. The accompanying videos to these stunningly catchy tracks each transport listeners to a new, exciting place. Join me in going there, won’t you? “Meant to Be,” Alexa Friedman While it’s easy to get swept away by the lush visuals of a gorgeous private beach, it’s important to listen to the words of Alexa Friedman‘s “Meant to Be.” While so many pop tracks focus on superficial grandiosity, she sings about a sense of self that’s betrays her young years. It’s a crucial message for her peers who are growing up in arguably the toughest time in history — political drama, the threat of domestic and international...
Popdose is very pleased and proud to present to you the first brand new track from acclaimed singer/songwriter/guitarist Steve Barton (from the legendary band, Translator), “Before I Get Too Young”. This upbeat, delightfully spiky track is from his forthcoming 3-CD (yes, you read correctly – a triple album!), Tall Tales & Alibis. The three albums which make up Tall Tales And Alibis each have their own unique feel. Album one is filled with more upbeat songs; album Two captures a moody vibe – and is all sung in Barton’s lower register. There is a cover of “In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning” and a slow, quiet and dark version of Steve’s Translator hit “Unalone.” He plays and sings everything on these two records himself, and produced these tracks at his studio in Portland, OR. The third album is a band effort recorded in Los Angeles with a core group, specially hand-picked for these sessions. The line-up includes Dave Scheff from Translator on drums, Pete Thomas from Elvis Costello’s Attractions on drums for three of the songs, Nelson Bragg (Brian Wilson band) on percussion, Derrick Anderson (Bangles) holding down the bass spot and part of the treat is having the band play live in the studio on all cuts. So close your eyes and listen...
METAL DAD: THE BOOK IS AVAILABLE NOW. COLLECTS YEARS 3 & 4! Click here. METAL DAD shirts! Click here to get yours.
It’s been two years since David Bowie left this veil of tears. And in that two years, there’s been a lot of time to reflect on the cultural impact of his music. Whether you like early Bowie, Berlin Bowie, ‘80s Bowie, ‘90s Bowie, or albums he recorded in the 2000s until his death, it’s clear that it has been a mixed bag for an artist whose first single (“Liza Jane”) stiffed in 1964 when he fronted the group Davie Jones with The King Bees. For the new HBO documentary, David Bowie: The Last Five Years the focus is supposed to be the period from 2011-2016, but producer/director Francis Whately didn’t have much footage, interviews, or images for a 95-minute documentary, so he had to stretch. With a film like this, the compelling story is how, after a long absence, Bowie came back to recording music without compromising his artistic vision. Now, if Bowie — like people in many parts of the world — compulsively and obsessively chronicled his life on social media, there would be a plethora of material for the documentary. But, Bowie being Bowie, he went the other way. Opting for obsessive privacy, he kept any details about work on his album “The Next Day” completely secret. That meant having the musicians who backed him in the studio sign non-disclosures agreements, people who did the artwork to do the same, and even the director of the videos for the record. All of...
Before the Righteous Brothers became the megastars they would become when “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” raced to the top of the charts in 1964, brother Bill Medley wrote a song for the duo called “Little Latin Lupe Lu.” It was released as the Righteous Brothers’ debut single in 1963. It was moderately successful, just edging into the Top 50 on the Pop chart. Stardom would have to wait another year for the Righteous Brothers. The original version of “Little Latin Lupe Lu” was not the only version, or even the most successful. The latter designation would go to a band called Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels who released their cover of Medley’s song in 1966. Unlike the Righteous Brothers original or subsequent covers by the Chancellors (their 1964 version was a regional hit in Minneapolis and Chicago) or the Kingsmen (theirs reached #46 the same year), Ryder’s torrid take on the song was a bonafide hit, racing all the way to #16 on the Billboard Hot 100. Ryder came out of Hamtramck, Michigan and formed his first band, the Tempests, while he was in high school. The Tempests gained some popularity in the Detroit clubs but it wasn’t long before Ryder was fronting another band, Billy Lee & the Rivieras (Ryder’s given name was William S. Levise, Jr.). Along the way, they came to the attention of Bob Crewe whose production and songwriting credits included a number of hits for Four Seasons. The first thing that Crewe did...
Although Ori Dagan‘s “Sting of the Cactus” appears on his album of Nat King Cole homages (entitled Nathaniel: A Tribute to Nat King Cole), it’s not a tune Cole himself ever recorded… but it sounds like it sure could be. Where Cole was a bit more crooner/pop-friendly, Dagan’s scat- and jazz-driven melodies blend with his inspiration’s sounds to land somewhere in the accessible and pretty darn delightful realm. “Sting of the Cactus” is one of Dagan’s originals featured among covers and other renditions on his Cole tribute. Though, admittedly, I’m less of a jazz aficionado than many, it’s Dagan’s playful working of his arrangement and lyrics that keeps the ear engagemed and the listener tapping along. Dagan, himself, is quite a decorated artist, beating out The Weeknd, Peter Katz and others to claim the title of NOW magazine’s “Best Male Vocals” and snagging “Best Jazz Vocals” at the 2015 Toronto Independent Music Awards. Nathaniel, which was funded successfully via a PledgeMusic campaign, is what Dagan calls a “visual album,” that is, tracks accompanied by videos. The video for “Sting of the Cactus” is perhaps one of the most fun few minutes you can spend listening to music online. Hearkening back to stop-motion animation classics, the song highlights musician life in its lyrics. While the subject matter isn’t always completely positive, it’s something that Cole could have probably related to… and definitely sung about. Check out the charming video for Ori Dagan’s “Sting of the Cactus” below!