pop Archive

Hundred-word Reviews for September 2016, Part 5

My week-long barrage of brief reviews wraps up with these last five. Look for more soon. Professor Longhair – Live in Chicago In 1976, New Orleans legend Professor Longhair played at the University of Chicago Folk Festival. This high-quality recording documents that show, and the acoustic piano is captured wonderfully. The nuances of Longhair’s work

Album Mini-review: The Twilight Hours — Black Beauty

File next to: Todd Rundgren, Ben Folds, Matthew Sweet Minneapolis’ Trip Shakespeare was always a band apart; they never fit into most people’s idea of that city’s sound. Scintillating vocal harmonies (featuring brothers Matt and Dan Wilson) and shimmering melodies were their stock-in-trade. When they folded, Dan and bassist John Munson formed the less-quirky, more

Brian Wilson: Critics’ Pet

I recently had the opportunity to interview Brian Wilson. I also had the opportunity to write not one but two features based on that conversation (and also based on a lively chat with Domenic Priore). There’s very little overlap between the two features. so if you enjoy one, you’ll likely find the other interesting, too.

The Cowsills on Tour: Pop, American Style

As a band, the Cowsills formed in 1965. But they can make a credible claim to having been together much earlier. A self-contained group made up completely of family members – five brothers, a sister and their mom – the real-life Cowsills were the inspiration for the popular TV series The Partridge Family. All 5

Album Review: David Brookings and the Average Lookings – s/t

Power pop is a musical genre for true believers, artists and listeners alike. Relentlessly upbeat – even when the subject matter is melancholy – power pop charges ahead, determinedly uninterested in bowing in the direction of the latest current and transitory musical fashions. Sales figures aside, a lot of great music has come out of

Album Mini-review: Paul Kelly — Seven Sonnets & a Song

File next to: Graham Parker, Richard Thompson, Davey Graham Australian treasure Paul Kelly has long been recognized as a consummate songwriter; more than most others who’ve tried, he bridges the chasm between singer/songwriter, country/roots artist and rocker. In recent years, he’s moved in some rather ambitious directions, including 2014’s The Merri Soul Sessions in which

Album Mini-review: Bun E. Carlos — Greetings from Bunezuela!

File next to: Guided by Voices, Cheap Trick, Paul Revere and the Raiders In the wake of a confusing and bitter divorce from his band of many decades, former Cheap Trick drummer Bun E. Carlos has put together his first solo album. Carlos (born Brad Carlson) doesn’t sing, and he’s not a songwriter. What he

Album Mini-review: Bubblegum Lemonade — Beard on a Bike

File next to: Television Personalities, Jonathan Richman, The La’s With a simple, straightforward DIY approach, this Glasgow group named after a Cass Elliot album makes winsome, unaffected pop. Their gentle vocal harmonies suggest fellow Scotsmen Teenage Fanclub with their distortion pedals taken away. Jangling guitars and swaying melodies populate this four-song EP. Leader Lawrence “Laz” McCluskey

Emitt Rhodes: Somewhere Over the Rainbow (Part 2)

Continued from Part One … Word has it that Emitt Rhodes does like his privacy. What that means in practical terms, I am told, is that when I telephone him at the scheduled time for our interview, I should announce myself when the call goes over to Emitt’s answering machine. This I do, but Rhodes

Emitt Rhodes: Somewhere Over the Rainbow (Part 1)

In the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz, the “great and powerful” title character is revealed to be a mere mortal. And while for some viewers the takeaway of that revelation is that he’s a fraud, another point of view holds that he – like all of us in a way, really – is just