pop Archive

Album Mini-review: Andrew Joslyn — Awake at the Bottom of the Ocean

File next to: Pet Sounds era Beach Boys, Sufjan Stevens, Neutral Milk Hotel Seattle area composer-arranger-violinist Andrew Joslyn has made a (slightly underground) name for himself lending his myriad talents to the work of other, more high-profile artists. He has worked with Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Pedro the Lion’s David Bazan and Mark Lanegan, among

Empire Strikes Brass: Everyone Loves a Parade

Empire Strikes Brass managed quite a feat in its first five years as a group. The 10-plus-piece band worked diligently on a grassroots level, playing benefits and street festivals, and became a household name in its hometown of Asheville without releasing an album. When the group finally entered the studio it recorded not one but two

Regina Spektor’s Creative Odyssey

Regina Spektor readily concedes that she has a somewhat unusual biography. Born in 1980 in what was then still the Soviet Union, Spektor emigrated to the United States at age 9; her Jewish family was fleeing discrimination in Russia. By that time, Spektor was already 3 years into her piano studies, but she was forced

Quick Takes, Part Two

More quick-take reviews … Pop Co-op – Four State Solution Making an album via file sharing – instead of the old-fashioned method of gathering in a studio – is now a well-established practice. The title of this set refers to the approach used to make it. Steve Stoeckel’s name will be familiar to pop connoisseurs;

Quick Takes, Part One

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, these days I spend the majority of my time writing for print publications. Altweeklies across the USA, music and entertainment magazines in the U.S. And abroad, and so on. But I continue to receive CDs for potential review, and while I’ve had to make the “gatekeeping” more stringent, I

Album Review: Attilio Mineo — Man in Space with Sounds

A breathlessly earnest announcer welcomes the listener to the record as a wonderfully evocative orchestra creates an instrumental backdrop meant to evoke outer space. With the help of some gee-whiz electronic studio effects – heaps of reverb, percussion that suggests a much more accessible Edgard Varese – the listener is transported to a sonic world

Album Review: Tom Glazer & Dottie Evans — Space Songs

This curio from 1961 was originally created to serve as an instructional record for children. The word that immediately comes to mind when hearing the vocals and instrumentation is “ginchy.” And while I’ll readily concede that “ginchy” is not a real word, it somehow seems to encapsulate the vibe of Space Songs. It’s easy enough

Coffey Talk: A Chat with Guitar Legend Dennis Coffey (Part 2)

Continued from Part One … Dennis Coffey was part of a new venture, the Producer’s Workshop, led by legendary Motown bassist James Jamerson. As he recalls in Guitars, Bars and Motown Superstars, “Motown had already got rid of its staff producers who were hitless, so the remaining producers continued to develop their ideas during the

Coffey Talk: A Chat with Guitar Legend Dennis Coffey (Part 1)

The 2002 film Standing in the Shadows of Motown introduced viewers to The Funk Brothers. That name – originally coined by session drummer William “Benny” Benjamin – was retroactively applied to a large and loosely-defined group of musicians responsible for a staggering amount of the pop music that came out of Detroit, Michigan in the

Postmodern Jukebox: Breathing Old Life into New Classics

It’s one of those inspired ideas that leads listeners to wonder why someone hadn’t thought of it before: take modern-day hit songs, and recast them in the styles of yesteryear. That’s the winning approach of the fiendishly creative – and prolific – Postmodern Jukebox. The brainchild of New York City pianist and arranger Scott Bradlee,