When it was announced that Mastodon and Clutch would be touring North America together, many of those familiar with both bands thought, Now that’s a perfect combination. Granted, those underground-oriented metal fans with nothing but disdain for anything that flirts with the mainstream, not to mention the fans both bands attracts, might’ve thought that in a negative way, but those who actually enjoy Clutch and Mastodon were elated at the thought of the two doing a co-headlining tour, yours truly included. It’s the kind of double-bill that makes you wonder why bands like those two have never done it before.
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Mike Montali of Hollis Brown loves rock ‘n’ roll, as the band’s 2014 Record Store Day special release covering Velvet Underground tunes indicates. Hollis Brown brings together their love for Ziggy Stardust and Big Star for a step forward with their new album, 3 Shots.
Supported by a new-to-them indie label out of New York and an upcoming 40 date tour with Counting Crows, Hollis Brown has made the most of their friendships, rooted in solid rock records.
Seven albums, three bands, and 15 years into his career, Andrew McMahon continues to reinvent and reinvigorate his music.
The Southern-California singer/songwriter’s latest album, the self-titled first release of his new Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness project, was released in October of last year and finds McMahon spreading his wings into new sonic and thematic territories while retaining his penchant for deeply personal lyrics and confessional melodies.
Reinvention, though, is nothing new for McMahon, who started out fronting emo band Something Corporate before breaking off for a solo project under the name Jack’s Mannequin. McMahon recently made a change again with the release of Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness. “I think I was ready to move on from Jack’s Mannequin,” he said. “A lot of that music was so closely attached to a really difficult time in my life that spiritually I was ready to cleanse myself of that and move into a new, exciting chapter that didn’t have to be so closely attached to my cancer,” referring to his diagnosis and battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
With a newly born child, McMahon was ready to look forward and felt a new name, his own name, was a necessary step to take in his career. “I felt like I was in a new moment in my life where so many things were changing and my emotional and spiritual headspace was so much more grounded. In that it was like this is the moment to step out and say, ‘Yeah I am a guy in a band but my name is Andrew and I’d like you to hear my new songs.’”
Pop Unmuted is a podcast dedicated to in-depth discussion of pop music from varying critical and academic perspectives. On Episode 11, Scott Interrante and Kurt Trowbridge are joined by Toronto-based music blogger Bill Smith and Music and Culture undergraduate Missy Kyzer to talk about pop artists who are far into their careers and what they do or don’t do to stay relevant. We start with a discussion of Brian Wilson’s latest solo album No Pier Pressure and close, as always, with out Unmuted Pop Songs recommendation segment.
Klinger: Sometimes sitting down to talk about an album is a daunting task. Sometimes that’s because an album just isn’t sparking a conversation in your head. But sometimes it’s because you quite simply have no idea where to begin talking. That’s the case for me with this week’s album, XTC’s 1986 masterpiece Skylarking. Arising from a series of difficult sessions with Todd Rundgren (“As if there were any other kind of sessions with Todd,” say the New York Dolls), Skylarking polishes up the group’s sometimes thorny pop and creates a shimmering, technicolor gem that I’m pretty sure every critic everywhere has called “pastoral”—and for good reason. Not only does it sound wholly organic with its lush strings and instrumentation, but it also conveys an almost spiritual quality in its underlying wisdom, “Dear God” notwithstanding. Skylarking is so nearly perfect to my way of thinking that it’s hard to actually pull it apart and turn it into words.