pop Archive

Album Mini-review: Bell X1 — Arms

File next to: Talking Heads, Crowded House Because of the wide array of styles explored on Arms, the record sometimes feels more like a mixtape than an album. “Fail Again, Fail Better” sounds like a half-finished collaboration between Paul Simon and David Byrne. The electronically-textured “Bring Me a Fireking” is vaguely reminiscent of Neil Finn’s

Hundred-word Reviews for Nov./Dec. 2016, Part 10 of 10

Two weeks of capsule reviews wrap up today with the final five. The Well Wishers – Comes and Goes Style: powerpop Jeff Shelton is the Well Wishers. And he’s quite prolific: I think I’ve seen at least four of his albums come across my desk. He’s part of that breed that writes and plays everything

Hundred-word Reviews for Nov./Dec. 2016, Part 9 of 10

Gary Ritchie – Poptimistic Style: powerpop Melodic, good-natured powerpop is the order of the day on Ritchie’s new album. Musical touchstones include the obvious ones (Beatles, Raspberries, Romantics) and some perhaps less obvious ones (he reminds me a good bit of Donnie Iris). There’s always room on my shelf for some quirk-free rock ‘n’ roll,

Hundred-word Reviews for Nov./Dec. 2016, Part 7 of 10

Farewell Milwaukee – FM Style: heartland jangle-rock Jangling guitars, good-timin’ harmonica, well-worn chord changes … those are the key ingredients in the musical recipe for this album. Familar echoes of John Mellencamp, R.E.M., Gin Blossoms are found throughout the thirteen tracks. But there’s more at work, too: “Figure You out” has a nice southern soul

Hundred-word Reviews for Nov./Dec. 2016, Part 5 of 10

Today I take a look at five DVDs, all of which should be of interest to aficionados of 1960s pop culture, and all available only from The Video Beat. National Bandstand & Dig We Must (DVD) These two programs were broadcast on Australian TV in November 1965 ( the 48-minute National Bandstand, subtitled “The New

Hundred-word Reviews for Nov./Dec. 2016, Part 3 of 10

Five more quick reviews of archival/reissue material. Three of today’s five are from Grammy-award winning label Omnivore Recordings. One of these days I’ll write liner notes for one of their fine releases; I just know it. Meantime, I’ll review the ones that I dig (which, as it happens, is nearly all of ’em). The Beach

Sweet Claudette: What We Learned at Bird Camp

On their 2013 For the Birds EP, Sweet Claudette successfully blended classic country and Americana, delivering six original tunes in an intimate, homespun style that focused on their vocal strengths. But on Whiskey Drunk on Puppy Love, the Asheville foursome has taken a giant leap forward, incorporating Stax and Motown textures into the mix, creating

Album Mini-review: Allyson Seconds — Little World

File next to: Anton Barbeau, Corner Laughers Pop music has long featured engaging artists who don’t write their own material. Going back to perhaps the greatest of them all, Frank Sinatra never wrote a song in his life. Linda Ronstadt‘s long and successful career was built in large part upon her canny choice of material.

Album Mini-review: Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox — The Essentials

File next to: Buddy Rich, Either/Orchestra On paper, it seems like an inspired concept: assemble a top-notch band that can play anything, bring together a wildly varied collection of contemporary songs from a variety of genres, and recast those songs in the styles of yesteryear (hot jazz, swing, etc.). And it works just as well

Of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes Lives in the Moment

Operating just under the radar of the commercial pop landscape, of Montreal nonetheless makes undeniably catchy – if not truly mass-market oriented – pop music. Originally part of the Elephant 6 Collective that spawned Neutral Milk Hotel, Elf Power and Apples in Stereo, of Montreal moved beyond that scene to develop into a vehicle for