Silhouette Rising Tribute Fallen Bandmate with Uplifting “Technicolor”

The first time I heard this track, I immediately liked its positivity and uplifting melody and message. I mean, consider some of the rough-and-tumble music out there today; this is practically an anomaly. Then, I learned the reason there’s a seconds-long clip tacked onto the end of its video of Boston musician Cameron Liberatore strumming and singing the basic melody of what would become Silhouette Rising’s “Technicolor.”

In 2014, Liberatore was in a terrible car accident in Nashville and, since then, has been on a long and arduous road to recovery. His bandmates in Silhouette Rising, talented as they are noble, are calling it quits with one final release, the Happiness III project of which “Technicolor” is a track. Joined by guests including Tye Zamora (formerly of Alien Ant Farm) and Howi Spangler of Ballyhoo!, the band seeks to realize Liberatore’s musical vision since he, himself, cannot right now.

“Technicolor’s” beautiful message to take the ordinary and make it extraordinary is inspiring, even without the heart-wrenching back story. In its video, the band takes turns performing good deeds, like paying for a stranger’s coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts and giving a cute pup a treat. The song itself is a driving, power-ballady track with stellar harmonies that’s a bit throwback, but feels right at home on the indie scene today. Where other songs of this ilk might feel contrived or superficial, this one is wholly authentic.

Check out the video for Silhouette Rising’s “Technicolor” below!

MaWayy’s “Wrong” is the Cure for Your Summer Hangover

Touted as a quintessential summer song, MaWayy‘s pumping, beat-fueled track “Wrong” could more likely be described as a summer hangover song. And since we’re all rebounding from the long weekend, it’s the perfect time to throw on a song that has all the attributes of a perfect summer song (simple-yet-catchy melody, beach-perfect synth work, ear-worminess), yet has lyrics that belie a bad decision.

Developed over a collaboration spanning the globe, “Wrong” is the brainchild of Emmy-winning composer Brian Wayy and Iranian electronic musician Masoud Fuladi, or Caspian Beat as he’s better know. Though the two have never met IRL (as the kids say), their apparent chemistry on this track is its hallmark.

Underscored by a video that lulls the viewer into an intoxicating location (Santorini in the Greek isles) with a quintessential “music video girl,” Swedish model Bella Cirnski, at first glance, it’s a basic punch-up over a summer fling where the singer “don’t need your love, I need the rush.” As the song and video continue, however, it’s obvious that it’s an internal war over a bad decision made during a holiday far removed from the real world. The video ends with an appeal over text (“She didn’t mean anything to me”) that goes unresolved, proving that what happens during summer doesn’t always fade away when fall arrives.

Check out the video for MaWayy’s “Wrong” below!

Your Labor Day Weekend Jam is Here Courtesy of Matt LeGrand

If you’re looking for a jam that reinforces loving yourself in the midst of heartbreak and anguish, you’ll want to add Matt LeGrand‘s “All Good” to your Labor Day weekend playlist. Its Drake-meets-Nick Jonas vibe makes it the perfect kiss-off to summer, while its video, shot on a single day in Miami, is an everlasting testament to sunny days both literally and figuratively.

Where many songs agonize over breakups, “All Good” celebrates the opportunity to focus on oneself after a relationship ends. Written by a team in Atlanta, LeGrand told the New Nine that he likes “to think that the song found me. It came to me at a time in my life where everything it was saying just made so much sense to me…. The song’s about being okay with yourself.”

This rising artist obviously recognizes catchy, Top 40-worthy material when he hears it, and his rendition of this ultra-trendy pop song will be dancing in your head all day. Check out the video below!

REVIEW: astrid & Rachel Grimes – “Through The Sparkle”

Man, that’s devastating! If the reverb-drenched guitar on this record’s second track doesn’t move you to tremble with tears, then the soaring strings on “M1” surely will.

Pianist/composer Rachel Grimes follows up her best-of-2015 The Clearing solo outing with the magnificent Through The Sparkle, a seven-song collaboration with the French chamber ensemble astrid, out today digitally, on CD and on vinyl through U.K.-based Gizeh Records. This thing’s gotta be heard to be believed.

Striking, again, with some of her finest work, Grimes’ piano flashes more contemporary flourishes than the heart-wrenching Romanticism of her landmark years with Rachel’s, everyone’s favorite post-classical ensemble. While there are still gentle, lulling notes – I’m looking to the album-closing “Le Petit Salon” and, again, the epic “M1” – Grimes’ metronomic figures on “The Herald en Masse” and “Mossgrove & Seaweed” positively pulsate with life, lending a record laced with restraint loads of emotional force.

This says nothing of astrid multi-instrumentalist Vanina Andreani, whose violin wraps its fingers around Grimes’ ephemeral melodies in much the way Christian Frederickson’s viola did in Rachel’s. Guillaume Wickel is brilliant on bass clarinet, drummer/percussionist Yvan Ros does a fine job anchoring the melancholy, and didn’t I already mention the eerie repercussions of Cyril Secq’s guitar? This ensemble, featuring Grimes, seems to have a beautiful way of making even the most composed moment seem instinctive, lending a gentle humanity to the proceedings.

There are less “classical” and more “post-classical” moments on the record, too, like the haunted “The Theme,” which starts with an emotive bass clarinet figure and kalimba, and expands, more often through the space between notes than the notes themselves, with an electric guitar right out of Hotel2Tango in Montreal. Or there’s “Hollis,” which punctuates Grimes’ refrains with more kalimba, subtle bass, and a shuffling, jazzy backbeat before descending into a field of mathy beeps that could be summoned from piano and, maybe, a Fender Rhodes.

The whole record is breathtaking gossamer – definite year-end-list material.


REISSUE REVIEW: CHRIS BELL, “I Am The Cosmos” (expanded 2-disc set)

So there have been a few occasions where I had been asked to write about Chris Bell’s I Am The Cosmos album – and I’ve done it.  Having bought the Ryko version when it was released in 1992 and then the Rhino Handmade edition in 2009, it could be said I’m rather fond of this album.  Now – once again – the good people at Omnivore Recordings have remastered the original album and have expanded it even further – with 10 more tracks added on from the 2009 reissue; two of these tracks make their first appearance on CD.  And it’s all done simply out of a very deep love and appreciation for this artist’s all-too-brief works.  The need for this music –  this man’s music – needs to be heard and to be available.


Simple.  Listen once.  There are many, many songs one can take to heart but without question, you will completely be absorbed by the power; the emotion in these songs.  “I Am The Cosmos” itself will stop you in your tracks upon that first listen.  Majestic guitars, otherworldly production, melodic on so many levels and vocals that reach deep inside anyone with a soul, this song defies description. “Better Save Yourself”, while a straight-up rocker carries a very weighty spiritual message, as does “Look Up”, which will reduce you to tears – if you don’t believe in a God, you will come very close to feeling it when you hear it – it’s just that beautiful. “You And Your Sister” is the other heart-stopping, heart-rending track; the harmonies between Chris Bell and Alex Chilton are on a higher plane than those they did with Big Star.  “Speed Of Sound” is an exercise in melody, structure and meeting the balance between music and lyrical deftness.  But I’ll stop there as I don’t want to give too much away, especially if you haven’t heard this album before.

I can only think (as so many have) what may have been for this talent, especially if these songs had seen the light of day while he was still alive.  All the tracks, including the ones that had been previously unaired, are worth more than their weight in embraceable pop genius.  Yes, there’s a lot of hyperbole that many have offered but it isn’t empty rhetoric.  Every warm, loving, even worshipful word written and spoken about Chris Bell and I Am The Cosmos is true.  And if you don’t believe, the proof is right here for you to experience.  It really is that simple.


I Am The Cosmos will be released on Friday, September 15th, 2017

Soul Serenade: Dinah Washington & Brook Benton, “Baby (You’ve Got What It Takes)”

It’s terribly sad to watch the unfolding tragedy in Texas. The images on television are all the more horrifying when they come with the knowledge that any of us could be in the same dire situation as the people there at any time. If you are compelled to help, as I was, there are a variety of charities that you can donate to. Personally, I chose All Hands Volunteers but the decision to give and where to direct your donation is entirely up to you. And if you’re not in a position to give, add your thoughts and prayers to those of millions of other people. There’s no telling what we can achieve when we work together.

Two of the biggest stars of the 1950s and 1960s were Brook Benton and Dinah Washington. Benton, who grew up in South Carolina, had Top 10 hits with songs like “It’s Just a Matter of Time,” “So Many Ways, “Kiddio,” and “The Boll Weevil Song.” Washington, from Alabama, scored with songs like “I Wanna Be Loved,” “Teach Me Tonight,” “Unforgettable,” and her Top 10 smash “What a Difference a Day Makes.”

In 1960, Benton and Washington collaborated for the first time on a song written by Benton along with Clyde Otis and Murray Stein. “Baby (You’ve Got What it Takes)” raced up the Pop chart to #5, and reached #1 on the R&B chart. The record remained atop the chart for a remarkable ten weeks and became one of the biggest R&B songs to be released in the 1960s. The song itself had an even longer history, spawning cover versions by duos like Jerry Lee Lewis and Linda Gail Lewis, Kevin Mahogany and Jeanie Bryson, Martha Davis and Ivan Neville, Van Morrison and Linda Gail Lewis, Charlie Louvin and Melba Montgomery, and Nellie McKay and Taj Mahal.

Brook Benton - Dinah Washington

Benton and Washington weren’t done as a duo, however. Also in 1960 the pair released “A Rockin’ Good Way (To Mess Around and Fall in Love).” The song, also written by Benton and Otis, along with Luchi de Jesus, was initially recorded by Priscilla Bowman two years earlier. Bowman was backed by noted doo wop group the Spaniels on the record. Like “Baby (You’ve Got What it Takes),” “A Rockin’ Good Way” shot to the top of the R&B chart, and was a Top 10 Pop hit. In 1983, Shakin’ Stevens and Bonnie Tyler had a U.K. hit with their cover of the song.

Benton’s chart career cooled a bit after his two hit duets with Washington but he came roaring back in 1970 with his #4 smash “Rainy Night in Georgia.” Unfortunately, it was his last big hit, and he passed away in 1988.

1960 was a huge year for Washington. In addition to the two hits with Benton, she scored a #24 hit that year with “This Bitter Earth,” and reached #30 with “Love Walked In.” The following year, “September in the Rain” ran up the Pop chart to #23. With the exception of “Where Are You?” which reached #36 in 1962, Washington’s days on the upper reaches of the charts were over. A year later, at the age of 39, she was dead as a result of a drug overdose.

The Popdose Mixtape: Labor Day 2017 Edition

Welcome once again to our annual revue of hard-hitting songs for the hard-hit people on the wrong side of the class divide — the laborers, the men and women who fuel the engine of American productivity for the purpose of funneling money upward to those who own the means of production.

If that sounds like Communist rhetoric to you — well, you’ve probably been hearing more of that since last we met. In the wake of a crucial electoral defeat for a Democratic party that’s spent the last four decades drifting steadily rightward into neoliberalism, corporatism, and public-private partnerships, honest-to-Engels leftist economic theory is going mainstream again. The Democratic Socialists of America — not a political party in itself, but an organization that does advocacy and action to empower working people and break the corporate hold on politics — has seen its membership triple in the last year alone. Media outlets like Jacobin magazine and the Chapo Trap House podcast have promoted class consciousness and economic solidarity to new and engaged audiences. Socialist policies that would have once been unmentionable in our political landscape — free college, Medicare for all, even universal basic income — are pushing their way into our national discourse by virtue of massive popularity.

Why should you care? Because the weekend off that you’re enjoying — not just the long holiday, but every mandated two-day rest period, every week — only became the standard after socialists took to the streets and demanded it, and paid the cost in blood. Your eight-hour workday? Same deal. Overtime pay, safety inspections, coffee breaks, workplace first-aid kits and eyewash stations, even paid holidays — all the results of collective action, either through union negotiation or socialist agitation. All the perks of comfortable middle-class employment, in other words.

This is how it must be. Because money speaks for money, and capital is power; and power concedes nothing except under force.

And there are forces — still! — who begrudge you your eight hours each day to do as you will, your two days a week of rest. Who resent your ability to be idle; who resent that they should have to assume responsibility for your safety on the job. They would take it all away, if they could. And they are, inch by inch — with the rollback of every protection, every regulation, every guideline that protects the American worker from rank exploitation.

Their control of our elected government is nearly complete.

It will fall to us, the working men and women, to resist them; to defeat them; to institute sane economic policies that put people ahead of profit; and to make of this nation a fit place for human beings to live and thrive and labor.

And y’know? I like our chances.

Select individual tracks provided for reference only; as always, we encourage you to download the full mix (1:17:20) for best enjoyment, and support the artists by purchasing their music.

Collect ’em all!

Download the full mix for 2016 (1:14:42) — see details here

Download the full mix for 2015 (1:26:24) see details here

Download the full mix for 2014 (1:15:39) — see details here

Download the full mix for 2013 (1:08:31) — see details here

Download the full mix for 2012 (1:12:37) — see details here

Download the full mix for 2011 (1:20:57) — see details here

John Fahey – Come, Labor On from Yes! Jesus Loves Me (1980)

(montage with Teddy Roosevelt delivering his “Liberty of the People” speech)

Dave Edmunds – Here Comes the Weekend from Get It (1977)

LCD Soundsystem – Watch the Tapes from Sound of Silver (2007)

Act – Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now bonus track from Laughter, Tears and Rage (1988)

Gang of Four – It’s Her Factory (1979 B-side)

Exene Cervenka – Slave Labor from Running Sacred (1990)

Billy Bragg – Between the Wars from Between the Wars EP (1985)

Grace Potter – Instigators from Midnight (2015)

Johnny Warman – Here Come the Reds from Walking Into Mirrors (1981)

Martini Ranch – How Can the Labouring Man Find Time For Self-Culture? from Holy Cow (1988)

Richard Thompson – Stuck on the Treadmill from Electric (2013)

Bette Midler – Beast of Burden from No Frills (1983)

Blur – Ice Cream Man from The Magic Whip (2015)

John Cale – Mercenaries (Ready For War) (1980 single)

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Sunday’s Slave from Tender Prey (1988)

Boysetsfire – Management vs. Labor from Tomorrow Come Today (2003)

Daniel Lanois – For the Beauty of Wynona from For the Beauty of Wynona (1993)

Chuck Berry – Too Much Monkey Business (1956 single)

George Jones – Small Time Laboring Man (1968 single)

Sixteen Horsepower – Black Lung from Low Estate (1997)

Jon Boden and Fay Hield – Let Union Be In All Our Hearts (2011: from the “A Folk Song A Day” web project)

British Lions – Eat the Rich from British Lions (1978)

Kirsty MacColl – Last Day of Summer from Titanic Days (1993)

Dedicated to the memories of Heather Heyer, Chuck Berry, and Bill Paxton.

Radio City With Jon Grayson & Rob Ross: Episode Twenty Seven

Radio City with Jon Grayson and Rob Ross:  Twenty Seven…  nah, I got nothin’.  Except here they come again!

Undoubtedly, this is one of those wonderful, lengthy and absorbing conversations between Jon and Rob, where no stone is left unturned – until the next time.  Tune in and join the dialogue as our heroes pay tribute to Glen Campbell, Dick Gregory and the great Jerry Lewis; the terrorist attack in Barcelona and the insanity of Charlottesville; another week in “The Madness Of King Donald”; a very deep and loving appraisal to R.E.M.’s Fables Of The Reconstruction, plus new music from The Trongone Band and Peter Himmelman – AND, of course, “In Our Heads”.

It’s the thinking person’s show – come in and take part in the movement…

Radio City With Jon Grayson & Rob Ross: Episode Twenty Seven

The podcast will be on the site as well as for subscription via iTunes and other podcast aggregators. Subscribe and let people know about Radio City, as well as Popdose’s other great podcasts David Medsker’s Dizzy Heights and In:Sound with Michael Parr and Zack Stiegler.

Sarah Ragsdale Presents Lovely Escapism in ‘This Kiss’

These days, the world is a dark, scary place. CNN alerts spike anxiety every two seconds, and sometimes even merely waking up in the morning and turning on the news is nerve-wracking. Unsurprisingly, most people find solace in music; it’s impossible to feel nervous or panicked when listening to a fun, upbeat, wholly positive tune – even if it’s just for a minute or two.

New Jersey-by-way-of-Baltimore songstress Sarah Ragsdale‘s new single, “This Kiss” is exactly the salve needed to forgo those terrible worries for a few fleeting moments. Dubbing her unique, bouncy-piano style “Ragstime,” she recalls (sometimes literally) pucker-focused songs of the past like Betty Everett’s “The Shoop Shoop Song” and Hall & Oates’ “Kiss on My List” in this wholesome ode to love. Even the video for the song (below) extends those feel-good vibes as Ragsdale tours around Baltimore inspiring townies to bop along with her cheerful melody.

“Life is like one big romance. This collection of songs is about that romantic story called life, and the ups and downs that come along with it,” Ragsdale says regarding her new album, Whimsical Romance, out this fall. Not sure what these “downs” are going to sound like, but “This Kiss” is definitely one big “up.”