pop Archive

Cupid’s Arrow Hits its Mark: The Van Duren and Vicki Loveland Interview, Part One

Mention the name Van Duren to a powerpop fanatic and you’ll likely get a reply that’s equal parts gushing enthusiasm and reverent tones. While he’s not well-known among the pop landscape in general, those in the know consider his debut LP Are You Serious? (1977) in the same class as the music some of his

Album Review: Estrangers — Season of 1000 Colors

If there was a common musical thread connecting most of the several dozen acts at Hopscotch 2013, it was edginess: an approach to songwriting and performance that leaned in an outsider direction. From Pere Ubu (sort of the grand-old-men of the genre) to The Breeders (90s sensations reunited) to John Cale (avant garde giant goes

Album Review: Don Berkoski – My Kind of Music

Before his sudden and untimely passing in 2005, my friend and bandmate Dave Jones was an enthusiastic participant in a slightly offbeat pursuit. Periodically, he’d contact a select group of friends, and all would gather at his place – a singular home filled with “naked lady” lamps and other ephemera – and enjoy a Bad

Album Review: Agony Aunts – Big Cinnamon

Readers of a certain age will remember an early Saturday Night Live faux commercial for a product called Shimmer. It was, we were told, both a floor wax and a dessert topping. Silly and a bit bizarre, no? Well, I would posit that Agony Aunts‘ latest album Big Cinnamon offers up a dichotomy that is

Album Review: Maxi Dunn – Edmund & Leo

Perhaps it’s unfair – no, there’s no two ways about it: it is unfair – but if you’re a musician from Liverpool, great things are expected of you. The Beatles, Echo and the Bunnymen, Teardrop Explodes (let’s forget about Frankie Goes to Hollywood, the exception that proves the rule) all came from the city on

August Capsule Reviews

Here’s another in my occasional series of quick cuts. This time ’round I’m covering recent releases by names who’ve been around the block a few times. These are people whose work you’ll know (or will recall once I remind you) but who perhaps haven’t had a high profile of late. My self-imposed limit for each

Album Review: The Hello People – Fusion

Consider this: a band with a truly left-field visual aesthetic, one that barely managed to chart, got to cut and release about a half dozen albums in the period 1968-1975. None among their members was a household name, and the band itself never became widely known, though for a time in their later years they

Album Review: Hackamore Brick – One Kiss Leads to Another

I don’t deliberately set out to be a contrarian, but it often works out that way. One good example: like most rock critics, I count myself among the fans of The Velvet Underground. But here’s where I go all oppositional: I think their finest work is Loaded. Though I value and enjoy John Cale‘s contributions

Album Review: Tommy Keene – Excitement At Your Feet

There’s a fascinating thread that has run through my interviews with recording artists over the last several years. Not surprisingly, many of my favorite musicians are also world-class fans. And in the more in-depth conversations, talk has often turned to our shared admiration of the work of some other artist. Many of these people –

Album Review: Photon Band — Pure Photonic Matter Volume 1

Sometimes an album’s opening track is a red herring. That’s the case with “Thought Crimes (Part 1),” the first cut on Photon Band‘s Pure Photonic Matter Volume 1. While a shimmering, minimalistic band plays a simple tune in the background, we hear a lo-fi/treated recording of a little child reciting numbers. It’s strange and not