Album Review: Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs – Under the Covers, Vol. 2

Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs both have deserved reputations as excellent pop artists with impeccable taste in influences. Both came to commercial and artistic maturity in the 80s: Sweet as a solo artist, Hoffs fronting The Bangles. Both have hip cred with important musical scenes; The Bangles were part of the “Paisley Underground” movement in

Album Review: Isaac Hayes – Hot Buttered Soul (reissue)

I’ve written fairly extensively on about the work of Isaac Hayes. A latecomer to his catalog, I really only discovered the man’s music around the time Ultimate Isaac Hayes: Can You Dig It? came out in 2005. Since then I’ve delved deeper into his work, especially the 70s material. While Hayes is sometimes characterized

Progressive Nation Act IV: Dream Theater

I like progressive rock, especially the British/European varieties. Those seem informed more by European folk, music of the Middle Ages, and classical, yet with plenty of power and bombast leavened by subtlety. The American variants have never moved me as much. So while I really dig acts like Yes, King Crimson, Gabriel-era Genesis and lesser

Album Review: Gary Lewis & the Playboys – Complete Liberty Singles

When I was presented with an opportunity to listen to and review The Complete Liberty Singles by Gary Lewis and the Playboys, I jumped at the chance. I knew Lewis’ hit singles from my childhood and AM radio, and I own a brief best-of (Gary Lewis’ Golden Greats) on vinyl. That disc was filled with

Album Review: thenewno2 – You Are Here

Have you ever found yourself listening to Electric Arguments, the 2009 album by The Fireman (also known as Paul McCartney and Youth), and said to yourself, “I wonder what it would have sounded like if George Harrison had gone a similar route”? Yeah, me neither. But if you were to ask such a question, the

Album Review: Dennis Diken with Bell Sound – Late Music

Good music is always more than the sum of its parts. Let’s say you’re interested in making a pop record. And by pop, here I mean pop in its classic sixties sense (hell, I mean most things in their classic sixties sense, but stay with me here). Let’s say, too, that you have enough cred

Review Teaser: Dennis Diken with Bell Sound

Smashing! I just went to the mailbox and found my advance copy of the new album by Dennis Diken with Bell Sound. Diken is — among other cool things — drummer for the Smithereens, but this is his first up-front outing without that group. Featuring heavy friends familiar to powerpop fans (Jason Falkner; Probyn Gregory

Seven New Album Reviews

Doing my level best to erase the backlog of albums slated for review, I’m pleased to offer up some thoughts on no less than seven recent releases. They include: Phil Manzanera’s 801 – 801 Live Collectors Edition Creedence Clearwater Revival – The Concert (reissue) Creedence Clearwater Revival – Covers the Classics (compilation) Matthew Sweet &

Interview Teaser: Ian Anderson

Several months ago I was fortunate to score a phone interview with Jethro Tull‘s legendary leader/founder, Ian Anderson. Our talk came at the tail-end of  long day for the UK-based flautist/vocalist, but he graciously spoke with me for more than an hour. Our wide-ranging conversation covered the creative process, the ups and down of the

Porcupine Tree: The Incident

This is big. UK progressive rock quartet Porcupine Tree will release their latest album — a 2CD set called The Incident on September 15. A sampler from the album is available on the group’s myspace page. For melodic, intelligent rock in 2009, you can’t do better than Porcupine Tree. (Read my 2007 interview with PT’s