New Vinyl: Concrete Blonde, “Rosalie” b/w “I Know The Ghost”

Published on December 6th, 2012 in: Current Faves, Feminism, Music, Music Reviews, Reviews |

By Cait Brennan


From their circa-1980 Dream 6 post-punk bona fides to their genre defining alternative rock gems like “God Is A Bullet,” “Joey,” “Ghost of a Texas Ladies Man,” and “Everybody Knows,” Concrete Blonde has made an enduring career of mixing the sacred and the profane, the earthy and the unearthly, a mosaic assembled in light and blood. Now 30 years into a truly iconoclastic career, singer/songwriter/bassist/artist Johnette Napolitano makes her home deep in the Mojave desert, and the ghosts of Joshua Tree haunt all seven inches of the group’s eminently cool new white vinyl spinner “Rosalie” b/w “I Know The Ghost.”

The limited edition 45 was originally pressed for the band’s 2011 Texas Halloween tour, and now a handful of the records are available at the band’s Official Website.

“She wraps herself in firelight, and dances in the sand like a ghost,” Napolitano sings on “Rosalie,” all low and mournful like a lost coyote. It’s a great country-infused old west tune, the kind you’d spin at midnight on Dia De Los Muertos. The flip side, “I Know The Ghost,” is a rave-up that hearkens to the band’s punk roots, buzzing with the kind of Madame Wong’s energy that only authentic survivors of the era could conjure.

Both tunes feature founding Concrete Blonde guitarist Jim Mankey (ex-Sparks, and himself a Joshua Tree resident) and drummer Gabriel Ramirez-Quezada, one of the brothers in LA rock en español standouts Maria Fatal and a ten year veteran of Concrete Blonde. The disc was recorded at Stagg Street Studios in Van Nuys with the band’s rock-steady engineer Anne Catalino. Videos for each of the songs are in the works.

The band is about to launch an East Coast tour, kicking off at Boston’s Sinclair Music Hall on Dec. 12 and heading to NYC’s Irving Plaza (12/13), Asbury Park’s Stone Pony (12/14), Washington DC’s 9:30 Club (12/17), Carrboro, NC’s Cat’s Cradle (12/18), Atlanta’s Variety Playhouse (12/19), Chicago’s Park West (12/21) and Minneapolis’ Variety Theatre (12/22). The band will also perform on WXPN Philadelphia’s “World Café Live” radio show on December 15.

One of the most unique and enduring bands of the alternative rock era, Concrete Blonde is still getting it done with passion and fire. These “songs of the spirits of the desert” are a welcome reminder of the band’s strength and Napolitano’s singular voice.

Music Review: Gemma Ray, Island Fire

Published on September 25th, 2012 in: Current Faves, Feminism, Music, Music Reviews, New Music Tuesday, Reviews |

By Julie Finley

gemma ray island fire cover

I stumbled upon Gemma Ray a few years ago by taking a listen to her album, Lights Out Zoltar!. It was actually her second full-length album, but the first I ever heard of her. That album was rock-solid, and mighty impressive.

So, its only natural that I’ve followed her career somewhat. I am no expert on Ms. Ray, but I do know this: She writes and performs her own music. She isn’t some pretty face template with a producer and bankroll. Granted, Gemma does have a pretty face, but there is clearly more going on with her creatively, compared to the many other current female performers she has been compared to. Her skills are even impressing fellow musicians who actually have some taste and skills themselves.


20/20, 20/20 and Look Out! Reissues

Published on September 4th, 2012 in: Current Faves, Music, Music Reviews, New Music Tuesday, Reviews |

By Cait Brennan

Before Pete Townshend even coined the term, power pop has been competing for oxygen—airplay, respect, dollars, a place in history—with bloaty classic rock. Virtually every interminable flatulent hour of every ponderous wanking jam-band guitar solo on every tiresome, self-indulgent, derivative, larcenous, mystic-hokum junkie 1960s blues-rock “gods” album has been catalogued, compiled, reissued, remixed, remastered, etched into 180 gram virgin vinyl, and shoved into soul-deadening collectible box sets like the rigor mortis museum pieces they are. Meanwhile, some of the most vital music of the rock era, made by great power pop, New Wave and American hard-pop bands, sits forgotten in zombie record label vaults, as the iron oxide tape slowly peels away to dust.

Thankfully, there are still some boutique record labels, run by actual music lovers instead of actuaries, willing to raid those vaults and bring forth musical treasure. So it is with Real Gone Music’s lovingly assembled reissue of 20/20’s acclaimed Portrait albums, 20/20 and Look Out!, two records that helped redefine American rock music at the turn of the 1980s. And they sound as vital as ever.


Assemblog: April 20, 2012

Published on April 20th, 2012 in: Assemblog, Blu-Ray, Books, Copyright/Piracy, Movies, Music, Trailers, Video |

dick clark assemblog 042012
Dick Clark: 1929 – 2012

Today I’m introducing a new feature on Popshifter, the Assemblog: a collection of what has captured my attention this week, pop-culturally speaking.

New on Popshifter this week: a spoiler-free review of Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon’s remarkable The Cabin in the Woods and praise for Who Cooks For You?, the latest release from Johnny Headband.


I Hate You Like Family: Sibling Rivalry In Pop Culture

Published on January 30th, 2012 in: Issues, Movies, Music, Oh No You Didn't |

By Aila Slisco

When the often-quoted W.C. Fields famously said “never work with children or animals,” he might have done well to add “or siblings.” Anyone with a sibling knows that there is an often thin line between love and hate when it comes to relations between brothers and sisters. Sibling rivalry has probably been around as long as siblings have, although it rarely reaches the Biblical proportions of Cain murdering Abel. When it happens in pop culture, even comparatively mild disagreements are amplified and the drama is put on display for all to see.

Seven Songs From The Seventies

Published on December 5th, 2011 in: Dancing Ourselves Into The Tomb, Issues, Music, Staff Picks |

By Less Lee Moore

japan obscure alternatives
Japan’s David Sylvian tries to forget.

How to sum up a decade’s worth of music in one list? Bubblegum, country, disco, glam, power pop, punk, post punk, new wave, rock & roll, heavy metal, rap, show tunes . . . the ’70s had all of that and more.

Rather than trying to squeeze in every style that the 1970s presented, I picked seven songs that represent some of the decade’s most compelling—and perhaps unexpected—musical offerings.

The most interesting thing about this list is that I didn’t know about these songs until after the 1970s were over. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad one, but I just followed my instincts.

Way Out Sounds: Roger Joseph Manning, Jr. and Synths That Defined The Seventies

Published on December 5th, 2011 in: Dancing Ourselves Into The Tomb, Issues, Music |

By Ayan Farah

Multi-instrumentalist, singer, and songwriter Roger Joseph Manning Jr. is renowned for the melody-rich, intricately arranged compositions his fans have latched onto throughout his nearly 25-year musical career. In each of his diverse band projects (Jellyfish, Imperial Drag, The Moog Cookbook, TV Eyes, Malibu), his ongoing collaborations with Beck, as well as his stellar solo efforts (2006’s The Land of Pure Imagination and 2008’s Catnip Dynamite), what remains constant is Manning’s unshakable ability to create very complex yet highly enjoyable music that is punctuated by his keyboard wizardry.

roger manning graphic

His indelible mark in the world of keyboards is embodied by his innovative use of vintage analog synthesizers, while his vast collection of those instruments over the years has cultivated a greater proficiency, intimacy, and almost encyclopedic knowledge of his primary instrument of choice. ” I did a lot of treasure hunting”, explains Manning. “I spent a lot of time in the early Nineties looking for stuff. I was quite the addict for those antique keyboards.”

Invisible Hand, S/T

Published on April 5th, 2011 in: Current Faves, Music, Music Reviews, Reviews |

By Less Lee Moore

invisible hand cover

At first the name Invisible Hand conjured images of some kind of Scooby Doo villain. Discovering that the lead singer and songwriter is named “Adam Smith” (yes, his real name) made me laugh; hearing the band’s music did, too. Invisible Hand isn’t a joke band, though they are clever, both musically and lyrically. They’re also incredibly fun and addictive.


Sparks Donates Income From Online Store Sales To Japan Tsunami Relief

Published on March 15th, 2011 in: Music |

sparks shopping mall

Posted by Less Lee Moore

From Sparks Management:


Ron and Russell have, like all of us, been deeply moved by the devastation caused by the earthquake and the tsunami in Japan. They have many friends in Japan and have enjoyed some wonderful times in the country.

At the moment the situation seems overwhelming and the challenges facing the Japanese people and the authorities appear insurmountable. But in order to try, in some small way, to help we would like to do some fundraising—Sparks’ style.

Until April 30th 2011 the Sparks Mart will become “The Shopping Mall Of Love.” The income received by Sparks from sales in the Sparks Mart store will be donated to the Red Cross Japan Tsunami Appeal.

Please go to, click on the wallet to the right of the typewriter and then “Sparks Mart.” Please shop generously!

Thank you for your support.

Kind regards,
Sparks management

Foetus, Hide

Published on January 30th, 2011 in: All You Need Is Now, Current Faves, Issues, Music, Music Reviews, Reviews |

By Less Lee Moore

“Don’t ask me any questions you don’t want the answer to.”
From “You’re Trying To Break Me”

At the risk of beginning a Foetus review with reference to another, I will do just that. If Sparks, the uncategorizable band composed (mostly) of brothers Ron and Russell Mael, can be said to make music that is practically theatrical, then Foetus, also known as JG Thirlwell, makes music that is downright cinematical.

And you know those annoying people who claim to despise movies that make them think? Those people will never appreciate JG Thirlwell. Sometimes it feels exhausting trying to figure out all his references and nods and motifs, especially when he keeps his true self so close to the chest. But for those of us who love listening to his music over and over—digging and pondering, delving deeper and deeper into it—the payoff is outstanding.