Neil deGrasse Tyson: Down to Earth Astrophysicist

Astrophysics applies principles of chemistry and physics to the study of astronomy in a quest to better understand the universe. It’s heady stuff, and can be intellectually intimidating to the casual observer. Luckily, the world’s most prominent astrophysicist is Neil deGrasse Tyson, who holds a doctorate in the field and also happens to be one

Album Review: The Bye Bye Blackbirds — Take Out the Poison

The Bye Bye Blackbirds’ fourth album, 2015’s We Need the Rain was characterized by a seeming desire to exemplify the best of what makes powerpop appealing while moving beyond its relatively confining parameters on some of the album’s material. While We Need the Rain was an excellent record, the presence of those twin goals made

Album Review: Gel-Sol — Horse Head Bookends

It’s inevitable: the first thing one notices about Horse Head Bookends, the latest album from Andrew Reichel (d/b/a/ Gel-Sol), is its stunningly original album artwork and packaging. The vinyl LP is housed in a black, die-cut sleeve with a front window that serves as a frame for a 12×12 full-color art. There’s a collage for

Jimmy Webb: A Consummate Tale-spinner (Part 4 / Conclusion)

Continued from Part Three… Over the years, several recording artists have chosen to record entire albums of nothing but Jimmy Webb songs. Johnny Rivers was the first to do so, on his 1967 album Rewind. Also in 1967, The 5th Dimension recorded 16 Webb originals, spread across two albums. The following year, Irish actor-turned-singer Richard

Jimmy Webb: A Consummate Tale-Spinner (Part Three)

Continued from Part Two… Webb thinks he knows why the songs-and-stories format works well for artists who have been around awhile. “It becomes easier with age,” he says. “I remember being in my teens and twenties and performing, and having absolutely nothing to say. Because [at that age] you don’t have much in your head.

Jimmy Webb: A Consummate Tale-spinner (Part Two)

Continued from Part One… “It’s an enviable position to be in,” Webb says, “when you have an artist coming to you – like Mr. [Frank] Sinatra – saying, ‘I need a song for my next album.’” Ol’ Blue Eyes recorded at least three Webb songs, including “Didn’t We” and “Whatever Happened to Christmas.” The latter

Jimmy Webb: A Consummate Tale-spinner (Part One)

Jimmy Webb is a pop music treasure. Viewed in terms of numbers and statistics, he’s among the most successful songwriters of all time. His songs have been recorded by more than 850 artists (more than 80 recorded covers of his 1967 composition “MacArthur Park”). His songs have hit the American Top 100 more than 30

Matisyahu’s Strategy of Risk and Reward

Once playfully describing himself as a “Chassidic reggae superstar,” Matisyahu is a difficult-to-classify musical force. And that’s by design: with roots in reggae, hip-hop and Jewish tradition, the beatboxing singer makes music that smashes genre classification. Across his six albums – beginning with 2004’s Shake off the Dust … Arise and through his brand new

Matthew Sweet on Tomorrow and Thereafter

Nearly six years passed between the release of Modern Art, Matthew Sweet’s 11th album, and 2017’s Tomorrow Forever. In the interim, the songwriter-guitarist released a third album of covers with Susanna Hoffs, moved back to his native Nebraska, and embarked upon a Kickstarter crowd funding campaign to finance his latest album. And while the 17-track

Matthew Sweet: Tomorrow is Here (Part 2)

Continued from Part One… Crowd funding an album is a new experience for Matthew Sweet, and so far it’s been a very positive experience. The campaign for Tomorrow Forever took in nearly twice its target amount of $32,000. But Sweet says that the raw numbers are a bit misleading. “I did really well in what