powerpop Archive

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: Redd Kross — Third Eye

Redd Kross’ Third Eye was released mid-September 1990. Notwithstanding the pop singles charts (then topped by a Latin dance pop ditty called “If Wishes Came True”), the rock scene was dominated then by acts like Jane’s Addiction, Gene Loves Jezebel and the ubiquitous and gruesome “Joey” from Concrete Blonde. Into that relatively dour and joyless

Utopia’s Adventures Continue (Part Four)

Continued from Part Three… Redux ’92: Live in Japan (1993) Six years after disbanding, Utopia surprised most onlookers by regrouping for a run of concerts in Japan. The shows were well-received, and a live recording was released on compact disc and video the following year. “I look at that video,” Sulton says, “and I think,

Utopia’s Adventures Continue (Part Three)

Continued from Part Two… Utopia (1982) Meanwhile, Rundgren, Wilcox and Powell had continued without Sulton, adding bassist Doug Howard as they began work on a new album for Network Records. The new-wave flavored Utopia featured some of the band’s strongest songwriting to date. “It was a very collaborative period,” says Wilcox. Once Sulton came back

Utopia’s Adventures Continue (Part Two)

Continued from Part One… Ra (1977) The most durable Utopia lineup now in place, the band made a concerted effort toward internal democracy. Or at least as much of a democracy as possible when the group included Rundgren, a star with his own separate record contract. “It was as democratic as any marriage is democratic,”

Utopia’s Adventures Continue (Part One)

In 2018, one of the unlikeliest reunions in rock history became a reality. Todd Rundgren’s Utopia – or at least three-fourths of its 1980s lineup – came back together for a two-month tour, one that would survey the band’s musical journey from a groundbreaking progressive ensemble to a more conventional (yet distinctive) melodic rock band.

Hundred-word Reviews for August 2018, Part 1

Time for some more hundred-word reviews. These days, I’m busier than I’ve ever been, so the only albums to make the cut for review are ones I consider remarkable, special in some significant way. So please consider all of these as recommended titles. Oytun Ersan — Fusiolicious When a release explicitly advertises itself as fusion,

Multiple Discs, Multiple Artists (Part 2 of 2)

Picking up where I left off last time, here’s a look at more multi-disc archival/reissue sets. The Posies – Dear 23 The Posies made a lot of great music before and after their second album. But I’d argue they never made anything as scintillating as Dear 23. The duo of songwriter-singers Jon Auer and Ken

Sloan: A Question of Balance

Canadian rock foursome Sloan is unusual in the context of popular music: the band has been together for more than 25 years without a single change in its lineup. Even more remarkably, all four members of the Toronto-based group sing, play multiple instruments and compose songs. And it’s no leap of logic to observe that

Album Review: The Eyebrows — Volume

Here’s the thing about powerpop: it’s either very good or hopelessly bland. There’s seemingly no middle ground; artists working in the idiom either knock it out of the park – see Badfinger, Gladhands, Greenberry Woods – or the results are faceless and shamelessly imitative. Happily, Charlotte N.C.-based trio the Eyebrows succeed on Volume, their debut