pop Archive

Album Review: Elza — Nothing’s Wrong

Combining literate, singer-songwriter approach with instrumentation that draws form trip-hop and moody alternapop, Canadian artist Elza has crafted an album of subtle beauty on Nothing’s Wrong. Elzy doesn’t possess the overly-affected vocal mannerisms so trendy these days; she sings in a straightforward, unadorned manner, and she has the pipes to pull that off with out

A Look Back at Crowded House’s ‘Temple of Low Men’

In April 1977, Neil Finn joined Split Enz, a New Zealand/Australian band co-founded nearly five years earlier by older brother Tim. Though he hadn’t yet reached his 18th birthday, Neil Finn quickly set about developing his skills as a guitarist, vocalist and songwriter. He wouldn’t write any of the music on 1977’s Dizrhythmia, by the

Mikaela Davis: Harping on a Pop Sensibility

The harp is an instrument most often associated with classical music; as a rule, its use in pop is generally limited to background orchestration in big productions. But clearly nobody explained that rule to Mikaela Davis: the pop vocalist not only plays the harp live onstage, but she writes songs on it. Davis takes advantage

EP Review: Monique Angele – Alive

Australia-based singer-songwriter Monique Angele is from Canada; her performance schedule is neatly split between the two countries. Despite its name, this EP is a studio collection. It features Angele’s gentle and expressive vocals atop uncluttered yet soaring arrangement full of piano and strings. There’s a strong melancholy feel to the string parts on “Pink Colored

Jake Shimabukuro, Plugged and Unplugged

Hawaiian ukulele sensation Jake Shimabukuro catapulted to international fame in 2006 when a Youtube video of him performing the George Harrison-penned Beatles tune “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” went viral. By that time, Shimabukuro was already well-known in his native Hawaii and in Japan; by 2006 he had released six albums in the west plus

Jordan Okrend’s Light in the Dark

Jordan Okrend manages to have it both ways. He’s a pop artist, but one who incorporates more ambitious forms into his original music without sacrificing a strong melody. The Berklee College of Music graduate recently released his third disc Dance by the Riverside, recorded at Sound Temple Studios in Asheville. In your music, how do

Album Review: The Zombies — Greatest Hits

The Zombies have a sterling and well-deserved reputation. That reputation is built primarily on three things: a couple of early singles, a final album of staggering quality, and a latter-day, 21st century renaissance in which the group finally capitalizes on those first two things, while proving it has plenty more to offer. And its that

Hundred-word Reviews for September 2018

Time once again for some 100-word reviews. Please note that I receive many albums each day for review consideration; even when allowing for the fact that 80-90% of them don’t make the cut for coverage/review, there are still far too many to cover. What that means in practical terms is twofold: (1) the only way

Album Review: John Wesley Harding – Greatest Other People’s Hits

Nearly everything one first learns about John Wesley Harding suggests the man is a smart-aleck. A folky troubadour transplanted long ago from Hastings, England to the U.S., the man born Wesley Stace adopted a stage name taken from one of Bob Dylan’s most celebrated releases. (Some years ago he also released an album that waggishly

Album Review: Brother Reverend — The Tables Turn Too Often

I think the publicist – however well-meaning he may be – was having a bit of fun when writing the one-sheet that accompanies promo copies of The Tables Turn Too Often. Sure, it’s useful to provide potential reviewers with some musical signposts, occasionally dropping of names in a RIYL (“promo-speak for “review if you like…”)