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2018-04-24T10:56:10.152Z
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From the opening notes of singer/songwriter/guitarist Arkansas Dave’s debut album, you’re first thinking “am I listening to an old Molly Hatchet record?” but quickly, you realize there’s a lot here to offer, not retreads of Southern rock.  Horns, arrangements, big, backing vocals, keyboards – it’s a bold and exciting stew of sounds so you can dismiss any biases immediately.  The Austin-based, Arkanasas-raised multi-instrumentalist showcases his natural penchant for blues and soul (with tinges of gospel and country) on this first collection of thirteen songs, recorded in just eight days (!).  It’s also more than noteworthy to mention that most of the instruments were recorded at the legendary Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, along with members of the equally-legendary studio house band, The Swampers. Like I stated, “Bad At Being Good”, the album’s kickoff track, is a beefy, balls-out sonic attack with an eye-opening sound and a freewheeling vibe; “On My Way” is down-home, modern blues with that soul punch and “Think Too Much” is a swampy, well-produced piece that sounds radio-friendly and pumps and throttles in a very Stones-y manner.  “Chocolate Jesus” is a tongue-in-cheek pseudo gospel piece about the joys of candy (!) with a New Orleans funeral style brass backing; “The Wheel” is the album standout – jazzy time signatures, crisp guitars and textures along with...
If you’ve ever wanted to know what Wanda Jackson duking it out with Shirley Bassey in an alley while Rosanne Cash, Sharon Jones and Amy Winehouse egged them on sounded like, look no further than Sassafrass!, the terrific new album from New Zealand’s Tami Neilson that’s coming out on June 1. That Neilson is channeling so many strong women isn’t an accident. As she says in a press release, the record is the “mouthy lovechild of the current social climate and my own experiences as a woman, mother and daughter. It’s also my attempt at challenging a society that doesn’t yet treat women equally in order to shape a better future for my children.” Brimming with attitude and a retro sound, Sassafrass! is a showcase for Neilson’s powerhouse voice, with 11 killer songs to match. She comes roaring out of the gate with the first single, “Stay Outta My Business.” The lyrics are an angry jab at the patriarchy, but backed by the Hot Rockin’ Band of Rhythm — Joe McCallum (drums), Mike Hall (bass), Brett Adams (guitar) and Neil Watson (guitar and pedal steel) — and a horn section, it’s also a rollicking, swinging soul stomp. Of the others, she touches upon rockabilly (“Kitty Cat”), torch songs (“One Thought of You”), country balladry (“Manitoba Sunrise at Motel 6,” written the day that Glen Campbell died), exotica (the double entendre-filled “Bananas”). “Smoking Gun” takes aim at the Harvey Weinsteins...
METAL DAD: THE BOOK IS AVAILABLE NOW. COLLECTS YEARS 3 & 4! Click here. METAL DAD shirts! Click here to get yours.
METAL DAD: THE BOOK IS AVAILABLE NOW. COLLECTS YEARS 3 & 4! Click here. METAL DAD shirts! Click here to get yours.
METAL DAD: THE BOOK IS AVAILABLE NOW. COLLECTS YEARS 3 & 4! Click here. METAL DAD shirts! Click here to get yours.
As I’ve written many times in this column, soul can come from anywhere and in a variety of forms. This week I’m featuring a multiracial band from England that scored two of the most indelible hits of the ’60s. The Foundations featured horn players from the West Indies, a few white British musicians, and a Sri Lankan. They were certainly racially diverse but that wasn’t their only distinction. The lineup was also diverse in terms of the ages of the members which ranged from the 18-year-old drummer Tim Harris to the 38-year-old sax player Mike Elliott. The rest of the lineup included sax player Pat Burke, trombonist Eric Allandale, guitarist Alan Warner, bass player Peter Macbeth, keyboard player Tony Gomez, and lead vocalist Clem Curtis. The Foundations got together in London in 1967. Things weren’t easy at the beginning. They ran a place called the Butterfly Club where the cooked, cleaned, slept, and rehearsed. They derived their name from the basement rehearsal space in the club. Their break came one night when they were playing at the Butterfly and a record dealer named Barry Class came in. Class liked what he heard, signed on as the Foundations manager, and got them an audition with Pye Records. Tony McCauley was a producer and songwriter at Pye and he was looking for a new act. He had written a song with his partner John Macleod and when he heard the Foundations he thought that the song just might be right for them. That...
Just wow. The new self-titled LP from Reno’s Rob Ford Explorer, out earlier this month, is a potent gem, a heady amalgamation of jazz fluidity and math-rock specificity, and a roar-from-the-rooftops collection on par with some of the best you’d hear from similar outfits like Hella or American Don-era Don Caballero. This pair is the most imaginative duo, by far, you’ll hear this year. How to describe Cameron Sax’s inimitable guitar sound on this too-short seven-track? Rubbery like jelly and fixated on confounding every time signature it meets. Borrowing a page from a bassist like Les Claypool or guitar-composers like Mylets – though those comparisons somehow feel oddly reductive – Sax finds musicality in the bent spaces between notes. (This was evident on the 2016 digital single “Fucky.” It is more evident now.) At times, you feel like he’s just sliding bridges and refrains up and down the neck of the guitar without strumming, it’s that smooth. And drummer Greg Lewis? On a track like the impeccable “Wait … Is Aphex Twin My Daddy?” he adds a slitheryiness to the proceedings that gets right underneath your skin. When the duo is joined, as it is on the closing “Things I Used To Believe,” by a bass player, some of the movements echo PAK’s genre-defying work and, when they catch fire, sound like Tortoise on cocaine. The fact that Rob Ford Explorer packs this much punch (and that punch is made of Nevada moonshine, for the record) into about 15 minutes...
As Saleeha, the Australian-born, Vancouver-based Max Buchanan makes meditative, slowly unfurling soundscapes that, surprisingly enough, do not echo or mime fellow Vancouver-based ambient artist Loscil. I say surprisingly because, as ambient music goes, the five tracks on Saleeha’s new Come Wander Through The Pale Dark have a similar mission to Loscil: namely, painting narratives with expansions of sound. But, while Loscil navigates with subtle electronics and textured sound-beds, Saleeha aurally paints with a deep river of tracks that are pretty well-heated, the sentience oft provided by borderline-Earth-style, wall-of-sound guitars. What’s even more surprising, though, is the little treasures Buchanan buries throughout the proceedings, which come to define its finest moments. Yes, I like the swells and washes of a song like “Ecstatic Crescent,” but the thing that sells the proceedings is that careful placement of a lost voice, behind a drone-veil, three-quarters of the way through it all. It’s like he’s beckoning to you through the noise he has created. (He toys with the trope throughout, also efficiently with reverb guitars and a trace of piano on “Sun Harmonic.”) By the time we reach the phantom-haunted “Gentle Light,” the third track and a ballad of sorts with almost none of the record’s defining drone-work, Buchanan sounds positively naked. Mission accomplished, indeed. Closer “Through The Pale Dark” marries the drone work of the first half of the record with the plaintive lost-balladry of “Gentle Light” and while the result isn’t stunning – it’s a little pale (no pun intended), too imitative...
Radio City With Jon Grayson & Rob Ross:  Episode Sixty Sixty shows is no small number; a lot of thought and work goes into assembling these podcasts and you can rest assured, Jon and Rob take this very seriously, while trying to make you laugh at the absurdity of our modern world. In this installment, which is an intense (yet thoroughly engaging) conversation, Jon and Rob move flawlessly through topics that affect us all – whether it’s locally, nationally or internationally.  In just one week, so much has gone on.  So make yourselves comfortable and settle in for a masterpiece, including Trump’s continued descent/implosion; the surprising New York Mets; the wonderful new autobiography by musician Chris Stamey; attacking Syria, while Paul Ryan runs away from the Senate; several losses in the entertainment world; Huey Lewis’ unfortunate situation, plus a very different “In Our Heads” – you will not want to miss one moment of this show. For this, make a small meal, pour yourself a nice drink or coffee and prepare to be enlightened, provoked (in the positive sense) and most of all, to think.  Jon and Rob bring a lot to the table – and this episode of Radio City… is proof. Radio City With Jon Grayson & Rob Ross:  Episode Sixty
Ugh. The new Melvins record, I am sad to report, dear reader, is a bit of a trainwreck. It’s not that Pinkus Abortion Technician, out Friday on Ipecac, lacks ideas. For the first time, the band appears with two bassists and, while the concept is interesting – “It could be an acid-trip metal version of Tortoise!” – the muddy mix and lack of sonic depth on most of the songs make it feel gimmicky. The respective talents of Redd Kross’ Steve McDonald and Butthole Surfers’ Jeff Pinkus, bottom enders who both have taken turns as Melvins “members,” are lost on listeners here. Again, it’s not for lack of ideas. “Embrace The Rub” goes for lo-fi punk thrills; “Don’t Forget To Breathe” toys with the loose-limbed rubbery-ness of Melvins Lite’s bassist Trevor Dunn; hell, the dirgy “Prenup Butter” and “Flamboyant Duck,” for some reason, lead with acoustic guitars. But, for all the experiments, and these clearly are attempts to put some spin on Melvins’ formula fastball with Butthole Surfer-isms, the group comes up short. On the Butthole Surfers’ cover “Graveyard,” one of several points of Butthole Surfers departure, the guitars burn but Crover’s drums are buried deep in the muck and mire of it all. Even a cover – the record is nearly half covers – of The Beatles’ “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” a live staple, doesn’t really do much to live up to Melvins standards, despite a spirited and noisy departure at the close. If Melvins wanted to make...
It’s no secret how much Popdose likes Lisa Said.  And it should come as no surprise that this first E.P. with her new band, Piramid Scheme, is on par with the releases we’ve reviewed here.  A crisp five songs, Get Rich Quick Too has all the elements of what makes Ms. Said’s music so good, except in a band scenario, it has even more punch. “Bandwagon Jumping Machine” is a stellar opener, with a galloping riff and rhythm; Ms. Said’s sultry vocals buried in the mix to add an air of mystery and ripe with melody; “No More, Anymore” is what I like to think of as “super rock” – power pop with an extra wallop.  It’s a hypnotically swirling number with clean riffs and a pulsing rhythm.  “Next Hero” reminds me of New Adventures In Hi Fi-era R.E.M. – a godwash of guitars that quiet down and then build up into an explosion of heaviness; “Regular Guy” (which we premiered here) is the closest to a “Lisa Said-style” track – very Lou Reed-ish, filled with texture and, again, melody, which Ms. Said delivers so well and “Pay2Play” is the E.P.’s magnum opus – veering into Lush/My Bloody Valentine territory at moments but...
We’re raising the ante in this month’s installment of What’s THAT Supposed to Mean? — this month’s singer is a fictional version of an important historical/theological figure, Judas.  Erm … no … that’s Judas Priest. And Jack Feerick already did that sight gag on a thoughtful piece on Judas here at Popdose, where we’ve apparently covered everything already. Anyway, we’re talking the original Judas.  Not quite … well … OK, let’s go with that. That’s Carl Anderson, who played the role of Judas in the original Jesus Christ Superstar film and continued to play the role on various tours, the last with Skid Row’s Sebastian Bach as Jesus, until his too-soon passing in 2004. (Bach wrote a moving tribute.) Technically, he wasn’t the original singer in the Judas role — Superstar was first released as a concept album featuring Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan as Jesus and Murray Head (yes, One Night in Bangkok Murray Head) as Judas. It’s not exactly original to point out that Superstar is a much deeper exploration of Judas than it is of Jesus. One quibble I’ve often had with Superstar, even in the mind-blowing live production NBC aired Easter Sunday, is that we get...
A worthwhile history lesson:  Wreckless Eric is Mr. Eric Goulden. His recording career began in 1977 with the enduring “Whole Wide World”.  He was one of the original Stiffs, alongside Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, etc.  He released three brilliant albums and several singles between 1978 ad 1980, all beloved by me.  He then sidestepped the mechanics of fame and became Britain’s premier underground household name, much loved and often underestimated. However… Construction Time & Demolition is the culmination of over forty years of touring and recording – a life of hardship, creativity and getting away with it. Loud, dissonant, lyrical, sometimes gently melodic, Construction Time & Demolition is cogent music for desperate times.  It’s also one of the finest things he’s done in a career filled with some very high moments. Opening with the moody and melancholic “Gateway To Europe”, it’s the perfect lyrical painting, filled with imagery, melody and a very on-the-one late ’60’s arrangement, full of punchy horns; “The World Revolved Around Me” is also on the more sedate side, but has a jazzier touch mixed with some angular guitar sounds and sonics and “They Don’t Mean No Harm” harkens back to Mr. Goulden’s earlier days (big, full production and catchy as all get-out) and could easily sit next to “Reconnez Cherie” or...
METAL DAD: THE BOOK IS AVAILABLE NOW. COLLECTS YEARS 3 & 4! Click here. METAL DAD shirts! Click here to get yours.
METAL DAD: THE BOOK IS AVAILABLE NOW. COLLECTS YEARS 3 & 4! Click here. METAL DAD shirts! Click here to get yours.
I am not kidding when I say that I have over 150 suggestions for this theme that I can use in future shows. And that’s now; when the time comes to do a sequel show, I will have even more. The show’s title speaks for itself: these are songs with numbers in their titles, run through my strange Midwestern Angiophile filter. Lots of early MTV material here, but at the same time, lots of stuff from other eras as well. Bands making their Dizzy Heights debut this week include Wire, Stereophonics, Robert Plant, Bob Marley, Brewer & Shipley (had to do it), The Clash (!!!!!), George Thorogood, Jack White, The Plimsouls, Prince (!!!!@%^&*@%^&$), Robert Plant, and one band that I would like to keep secret until the very end. But that’s enough clues about what lies ahead. Thank you, as always, for listening.
Radio City With Jon Grayson & Rob Ross:  Episode Fifty Nine A new intensity and depth is now surging the direction forward of Radio City… and this 59th instalment is no exception as Jon and Rob offer you an aural feast – so much talked about and so much for you to think about!  The boys dissect why New York magazine only knows how to go hard and heavy on Donald Trump and give tips  on raising gender-fluid children with parents (!); the return of “Jersey Shore” – why was this a cultural phenomenon?  plus a quick T.V. roundup, including the new seasons of “Billions”, “Silicon Valley” and “Ash Vs. Evil Dead”; “Homeland” has picked up momentum and thank God for “Tosh.O”; Chris Smither’s new album; tension in Brooklyn after a police shooting; Movie Pass to join up with Moviefone, plus “In Our Heads” and EVEN MORE! You really do get more than your money’s worth – and time well-spent with every new show produced.  So give yourself a gift – listen in! Radio City With Jon Grayson & Rob Ross:  Episode Fifty Nine http://popdose.com/wp-content/uploads/Carrie-Anne.mp3 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...
We lost one of the greats when Yvonne Staples of the Staple Singers died this week. Rest in peace. Funk. The term means different things to different people. James Brown was funky. So is Parliament Funkadelic. Last week I told you about Chuck Brown. He was funky. But Miles Davis was also funky, and so is Chaka Khan. So what is funk? Well, I suppose the answer is that it’s in the ears of the listener. The bottom line is that if you hear a song and it gets you moving, it’s probably funky. Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson knew a little something about funk. He was born in Houston and his early guitar heroes included T-Bone Walker and ‘Gatemouth’ Brown. His grandfather, a preacher, gave Watson his first guitar on the condition that he wouldn’t use it to play the “devil’s music.” Watson agreed but didn’t live up to his end of the deal. He was still a child when he played with such Texas guitar notables as Albert Collins and Johnny Copeland. Watson’s parents separated in 1950 Watson and he and his mother moved to Los Angeles. He was 15 years-old at that time. Once there, he began playing and winning local talent shows. He played jump blues with Chuck Higgins and Amos Milburn, and made his first recording, as Young John Watson, for Federal Records in 1952. He adopted a new middle name after seeing the film Johnny Guitar in 1954. Known for his outrageous showmanship, Watson was an innovator on...
The cello weeps and sows and soars, and so it goes with Randall Holt and his Inside The Kingdom of Splendor and Madness, which gets the CD/cassette re-release treatment April 20 from Self Sabotage Records. Holt, an accomplished cellist, traffics in the kind of moody, cinematic, classical soundscapes that oft define Godspeed You! Black Emperor, which is appropriate, given the fact that the Austin-ian has collaborated with the Montreal-based collective. But while GY!BE’s song-suites also depend on Efrim Menuck’s saw-buzzing guitars or epic, throttling crescendos, Holt’s compositions on Kingdom are trembling, naked things – cello snapshots where even the percussion, if it could be called that, is provided by strings. Holt is no experimentalist, however, in the vein of Alder & Ash, whose addictive, pedal looped strings belie angst and penitence. Holt is mournful, somber, to a T – ethereal, funereal. His compositions would do justice to a black-and-white film exploring the underbelly of the open road, or an abandoned mill, or a scorched forest. His work is melancholy and steeped in a longing kind of nostalgia, with the occasional Romanticism giving way to the nuanced post-classical flourishes explored by the likes of the violist Christian Frederickson, whose work fits alongside this well. The songs themselves show a great range of narratives, even if their palate is drawn from similar shapes and colors. “What Hope We Have, What Hope We Haven’t” is slow, meditative and struck with dread, and all-too-perfectly titled. “Labyrinths (and other writings),” on the other hand, has moments...
It goes without saying Chris Stamey is one of my favorite songwriters/musicians.  Having fallen under the spell of The dB’s from 1981 onward, the band he formed in New York in 1978, I’ve followed Mr. Stamey’s career and have enjoyed every album he’s released, both with The dB’s and solo.  He’s also the driving force behind the (incredible) “Big Star Third/& Friends” live performances that have appeared sporadically over the last 8 or so years.  Now Mr. Stamey has written his autobiography and it’s not your typical story. In many ways, the manner of Mr. Stamey’s book, A Spy In The House Of Loud:  New York Songs & Stories (a clever play on a classic dB’s track that ISN’T a Chris Stamey song) is comparable to his songwriting style; it’s measured and thoughtful; it has imagery and flow with a mixture of intellect and very sophisticated yet never pretentious humor.  It’s a book that’s warm, fun and deeper than what you may expect.  It’s not one of those “I was born in…” stories that just tell a direct (and sometimes, flat) tale.  This is a compendium of Mr. Stamey’s life in conjunction with songs and experiences – the how, when and where he wrote some of the more-beloved tracks in his formidable canon.  While Chris Stamey (or The dB’s) are not (criminally)...