pop Archive

Album Review: Tony Bennett – As Time Goes By

In 2005, Concord Music Group brought together all of the music Tony Bennett cut for his own label and issued a sprawling, four-plus-hour box set called The Complete Improv Recordings. That set included five reissued albums plus an assortment of previously-unreleased material. For serious Bennett fans, it’s clearly an essential purchase. For more casual fans

Album Review: Jamie & Steve — Imaginary Café

I’ve probably told the story before: growing up in Atlanta, I discovered the Spongetones‘ debut LP Beat Music in the bin of an indie record shop not long after its release. I was taken in first by the cover photos, images that clearly suggested these guys has a Beatles fixation (always a good thing in

Album Review: Vermouth — RetroFuture Pop Exotica

Being of a certain age, I remember the short-lived exotica revival of the nineties. If you blinked, you might’ve missed it: for a brief few moments in 1994, the pre-Beatles hi-fi-centric craze was all the rage. The fleeting revival had as its exemplar a band named after a cocktail, Combustible Edison. Fronted by a female

Album Review: The Cleaners From Venus – Living With Victoria Grey

I sometimes wonder if Martin Newell gets tired of all the Ray Davies comparisons. I mean, the man (Newell) has released something like thirty or forty albums (many of these on cassette, back in the 1980s) as Cleaners From Venus, Brotherhood of Lizards, and under his own name. While many of these were zero-budget, decidedly

The Chris Stamey Interview

Chris Stamey has been an important – if ever-so-slightly underground – part of the American music scene for decades. An early post-Big Star collaborator with Alex Chilton, he went on to create some of the best and most timeless music in rock/pop as a member of Sneakers, The dB’s, and as a solo artist. He’s

Capsule Reviews: January 2013, Part 6

Here’s the final — for now — of four installments in my occasional series of capsule reviews; you’ll find rock, blue-eyed soul, fusion and breezy SoCal pop. I had a huge stack of CDs deserving of review, but time doesn’t allow for full-length reviews of everything, and these were beginning to gather dust. They deserve

Album Review: A Fragile Tomorrow – Be Nice Be Careful

As baseball boffin / bowtied blowhard George Will likes to begin especially forceful pronouncements, “It is axiomatic.” What exactly is axiomatic in this case? That big-label backing does not always equal quality music, and that indie- or self-released label product isn’t always unworthy of national attention. I mention this not only to get in a

Album Review: Cleaners from Venus – The Late District

On The Late District, Cleaners From Venus (the nom de pop of Martin Newell) depart ever-so-subtly from their winsome brand of pastoral, homespun pop. Newell dials back (but certainly doesn’t wholly eliminate) his powerpop tendencies, instead focusing more on his ability to craft slice-of-life vignettes that evoke his native Anglia. As he describes it, The

Adventures with Mr Yeats: The Waterboys’ Mike Scott

The Waterboys are that curious band about which the critics and cognoscenti fall all over themselves raving (and for good reason), but that doesn’t make large ripples in the commercial music pond/marketplace. For decades now, The Waterboys – singer/songwriter Mike Scott and assorted auxiliary musicians – have made winning albums that do more than merely

EP Review: DC Fontana – Pentagram Man

With their latest EP Pentagram Man, DC Fontana have executed a deft musical left-turn. The group first came to my attention via the inclusion of the neo-Northern Soul (albeit with combo organ) “Remember Me” on Shindig Magazine’s It’s Happening! compilation. Their 2011 album La Contessa delivered the goods in a big way, landing on my