Tremulis seems comfortable in his role as part of a loose federation of like-minded artists who get together when the mood and muse strike them, and don’t when it doesn’t.
A combination of Lowe and Los Straitjackets makes all kinds of sense: while Lowe is a superb guitarist and a wry storyteller, his songs benefit from the powerful yet finessed backing of an ensemble like Los Straitjackets. Pairing with Lowe means that the masked foursome gets a rare opportunity to sing backing vocals, something at which they’re quite good at but don’t do in their normal gigs.
A commercial flop in its day, “Young Loud and Snotty” has won an increasing share of devotees, regularly showing up on critics’ and fans’ lists of essential punk records. This past year, to mark the record’s fortieth anniversary, founding band member Cheetah Chrome decided to rerecord it.
The band makes what they call “gloom pop”—upbeat, catchy tunes that make you want to dance paired with lyrics about heartache and loss.
Making power pop usually means consigning one’s career to a specific corner of the pop landscape, and a comparatively small piece of the commercial pie. Sloan ignores the labels and simply goes about the business of writing catchy songs with sharp hooks.
There’s a reason why lo-fi bedroom pop is the go-to mode for music like this. It’s a solitary genre, free of producers, engineers and bandmates. And when the vocals recede in the mix, as they do on Ruins’ debut EP, it seems not even to need a listener.
All four Monkees had some background in music. All but Tork had, in fact, released solo singles. Nesmith was, and remains, a songwriter of merit, and if Dolenz couldn’t at first play drums like his fictional TV counterpart (he was a guitarist), he took lessons and learned how.
Kendrick Lamar heads our list of must-see acts, as he sails into town on the wave of both his Pulitzer Prize and his blockbuster soundtrack for the mega-hit “Black Panther” film.
What the album does, and does profoundly, is resurrect both the psychic and sonic aura of rock’s early seventies—another bitterly awful period in American history, which paradoxically provoked an outpouring of gorgeous, euphoric music. Listening to “Love in Wartime,” I was struck by its resonances to artists who haven’t crossed my mind in decades: Leon Russell, Merry Clayton, Delaney & Bonnie, Melanie Safka, Lee Michaels. There’s the same focus on rapturous melodies, infectious hooks, athletic solos; the same use of harmony and rhythm as tools of joyous defiance.
It’s a heartfelt, if somewhat breathless, recounting of the gay rights movement’s signal moments, interspersed with era-appropriate songs made famous by the kind of divas to whom gay fans refer by first name alone (Dolly, Bette, Diana, and so on).