Both Schell’s “Past Present Future” and Steffey’s “Reality Jockey” are so choked with infectious melodies and killer hooks, that for one panicked moment I thought, “They’re using up more than their fair share.”
Serious music scholars all, the Smithereens distilled their musical loves into something that ultimately sounded like nobody but them. Diken points to Gary Lewis and the Playboys as an influence; it’s worth noting that the studio cats who played on those records—immortal pop tunes like “Count Me In” —included Leon Russell and drummer Hal Blaine.
The entirety Scales’ “Sinner-Songwriter” EP is a repudiation of not only expectations derived from his famous lineage, but any expectations lingering from his previous musical incarnations (he’s taken a somewhat veering path to arrive at where he is now, including a stint as folk-rocker Briar Rabbit).
While the band’s newer music continued to sell, there was little doubt that the fans who paid top dollar to see the group live were there to hear the hits of yesteryear. Acknowledging that reality is the fact that Fleetwood Mac’s most recent album release is 2003’s “Say You Will.”
Imagine if the Chicago Bulls of the Michael Jordan era that won six NBA championships were being paid at levels lower than mediocre teams and you have a sense of why the players of the CSO took a vote on February 13 to “overwhelmingly” authorize a strike on March 10, after nearly a year of fruitless contract negotiations and after six months of playing under the terms of a 2015 contract that expired in September.
Chris Greene Quartet isn’t the first music act to drop a surprise album; over the past several year’s we’ve seen out-of-nowhere releases from everyone from Beyoncé to Wilco. As a marketing gimmick, it’s got something to recommend it; you can’t really listen to “PlaySPACE,” for instance, without ending up wanting to go see CGQ …, well, play SPACE.
For more than a decade now, the band—as ever, led by Gary Brooker—has enjoyed a consistent lineup, and has toured widely. And in 2017, the almost-unthinkable happened: Procol Harum roared back with a new album.
Bradlee’s musical approach is deceptively simple: take mainstream pop hits of today and recast them in the style of earlier pop forms. Leveraging the well-established axiom that a good song transcends genre, the group (featuring a rotating cast of top-notch vocalists) breathes new life into pop songs that one might have thought past their sell-by date.
Bobby McFerrin’s vocal virtuosity is still a jaw-dropping wonder; in “Circlesongs,” he and his a cappella ensemble Voicestra run a gamut of grooves, including call-and-response with the audience.
The pieces in this concert have been selected for their musical excellence and demonstrated compositional craft, not out of any desire to paint a contemporary portrait of the nation; and it’s not like the composers are particularly concerned with this either. But it’s hard not to be inspired by the sheer range of works and composers in the “Discover America” canon.