Shoes are that curious breed: a powerpop band that’s consistently lauded critically, but that makes only occasional modest commercial inroads. They’ve been plying their trade – catchy, muscular, hook-filled rock with stellar vocal harmonies – since the mid-1970s. The band seemed poised for breakout fame – possibly as the Next Big Thing after The Cars
Powerpop has always seemed to have its evangelists – the ones who shouted across the rooftops about the transcendent power of their chosen genre. Jordan Oakes was responsible for the (now highly-sought-after) Yellow Pills compilations; Bruce Brodeen ran the venerable Not Lame label – devoted almost wholly to powerpop – for a decade and a
Nick Lowe had a growing (if still somewhat underground) reputation in 1979. As a producer — mostly for Stiff Records — he had worked the boards on stunning a number of high-profile and successful albums, including ones for Graham Parker, The Damned and Elvis Costello. Lowe had already made a name for himself as bassist
The 1980s and 90s saw the rise of a rock subgenre/movement dubbed the “paisley underground.” Populated by groups who bowed at the altar of mid-period Beatles and the other finer psych-rock of that era, many of these groups were called to task by critics for their (some said) too-slavish devotion to the sounds of old.
“We wanna play your high school,” announces their MySpace page. This one gave me a real chuckle (and not the condescending kind, either). From the leadoff drum beat of “Take Me Home” (ripped from the Bay City Rollers’ “Saturday Night” and any number of sports cheers) to the faux-snotty vocals that recall Redd Kross, the
In September 2006 I talked with Tommy Keene about his early brush with success, his new record Crashing the Ether, his disdain of genre labels, and much more. While it started out as an interview, it quickly became a conversation. In our lively and wide-ranging talk, we covered a great deal of material. He gave
NOTE: The full text of my 2006 conversation with Tommy Keene is here. It’s like he never left. In fact he didn’t.Tommy Keene’s first major release, 1986’s Songs From the Film was a minor hit on college radio; many saw him then as pop/rock’s Next Big Thing. While his critical stature has never been in
DISCOGRAPHY Todd Rundgren Runt (Bearsville) 1970 The Ballad of Todd Rundgren (Bearsville) 1971 Something / Anything? (Bearsville) 1972 A Wizard / A True Star (Bearsville) 1973 Todd (Bearsville) 1974 Initiation (Bearsville) 1975 Faithful (Bearsville) 1976 Hermit of Mink Hollow (Bearsville) 1977 Back To The Bars (Bearsville) 1978 Healing (Bearsville) 1981 The Ever Popular Tortured Artist