Friday, January 24, 2020

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: PET SHOP BOYS/HOTSPOT

PET SHOP BOYS
HOTSPOT

1.24.20

In the Pop Music industry, longevity is a rare thing indeed. Most big-selling acts are in the spotlight for two to five years before sliding off the radar and fading into the shadows. Some acts split up and are never heard from again. Others lose a few members and spend the rest of their careers playing county fairs. And then you have an act like Pet Shop Boys, a British duo that formed 39 years ago and have been crafting hit records since 1985. And thankfully, they show no signs of abandoning the music world anytime soon. And for that, we should all be grateful…

Friday, January 17, 2020

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: BRIAN SIMPSON & STEVE OLIVER/UNIFIED


BRIAN SIMPSON & STEVE OLIVER
UNIFIED

1.17.20

On paper, musical collaborations always seem to work. In the studio or on the stage, not so much. The intentions might be good, but ultimately, the music is uninspired and forgettable. From Rock to Jazz, Hip Hop to Country, collaborations are normally inspired by mutual respect between artists. However, bad chemistry, ego, or record label interference can sink the ship faster than a torpedo from a nuclear submarine. On the other hand, there are some collabs that exceed expectations. When magic happens, we really need to pay attention. Thankfully, UNIFIED, the 2020 release from Brian Simpson and Steve Oliver is a grand success! While this isn’t their first walk in the park together, it is a reminder that two talents can come together as one and create something new and exciting.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

SPAZ reviews the ULTIMATE DOLLAR box set!


DOLLAR
ULTIMATE DOLLAR
(Cherry Pop/Cherry Red Records)

Available NOW!


Whether you are aware of it or not, British Pop duo Dollar changed the course of ‘80s Pop music.

Yeah, that’s a pretty bold statement, but just hear me out…

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

SPAZ reviews THE WEEKLINGS' third album, 3!




THE WEEKLINGS
3
(Jem Records)

1.17.20


While the definition of ‘Power Pop’ may be in a constant state of flux on social media, the music associated with that term continues to thrive in the real world…

Monday, January 13, 2020

OSCAR Update: "Stand Up" - from the HARRIET soundtrack - receives an Academy Award nomination!

TERENCE BLANCHARD
HARRIET
(Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

NEWSFLASH:
"Stand Up" - from the highly-acclaimed HARRIET soundtrack - has received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song!

While not billed as a ‘super hero’ movie, HARRIET most certainly deserves that designation. Based on the life of slave-turned-abolitionist Harriet Tubman, the movie tells the story of a woman whose courage, ingenuity, and tenacity freed hundreds of slaves and changed the course of history. Directed by Kasi Lemmons, who wrote the screenplay with Gregory Allen Howard, HARRIET stars Cynthia Erivo as Tubman alongside Leslie Odom Jr., Joe Alwyn, and Janelle Monáe. A film about Tubman has been rumored in Hollywood for years and has now finally made its way to the big screen.

Friday, January 10, 2020

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: ALEXANDRA SAVIOR/THE ARCHER

ALEXANDRA SAVIOR
THE ARCHER

1.10.20

Sometimes, an artist can just waltz into the music business and achieve massive commercial success within a year or two of their first recording session. That, however, is a rare occurrence. In all actuality, it can often take years of disappointment, detours, and mistakes before forward motion is achieved. Even then, commercial success isn’t guaranteed. The journey always begins with talent but luck is also a big part of the equation. The road to stardom is littered with true talents that have never caught a lucky break. Thankfully, Alexandra Savior made it through successfully, albeit with a few bumps in the road…

Thursday, January 9, 2020

SPAZ presents THE BEST CDs OF 2019!

This list consists of the 40 best full-length CD albums released in 2019.  Why just CDs? Because that is what I listen to... I know that vinyl is all the rage, but I'm sticking to my old school ways. Gosh, I remember the good old days - four years ago - when vinyl was considered 'old school'. Man, I'm getting old! For the record (pun intended), many of these titles are available on vinyl!

Anyway, I did not focus on EPs (three to four songs) or mini-albums (five to eight songs). However, I must admit that one EP and one mini-album were just too good to ignore so they made it!

My list of CDs started with 103 titles. I had to whittle that down a bit and ended up with 78. Then, I had to go over that with a fine-toothed comb in order to cut it down to the 40 you see below. I was originally going to go with 20 titles but I knew that'd be too difficult...

My criteria for every release on this list started with, "How does it make me feel?" From there, I had to base it on how many times I originally played it, how many times I went back to it later, and how it made me feel when I played it as I compiled this list. 

I had to be honest. I know I may offend a few FB friends with some exclusions (and even a few inclusions) but what you see here is what moved me the most. And guess what? There are so many releases I did NOT hear this year.  I peeked at a few lists tonight AFTER I compiled mine and realized just how out of touch I am with many of my music journalist friends. But variety is the spice of life so I say check out all the unfamiliar titles on every list in order to get a well-rounded view of this great big world of Pop music! 

So, here we go...