Hope Silverman

Hope Silverman of NYC grew up actually wishing she could work in a real live Record Store. The wish was manifested beginning with a long stint at CBGB's Record Canteen where Johnny Thunders called her "sweetheart", and then carried on through many colorful years at HMV and Virgin. Her retail journey culminated in running Rough Trade Shop in NYC. She currently works her music muscle by both kicking out the occasional record on her tiny label 80N7 and flexing hard at her nerdy music blog showcasing the under-appreciated, underrated and undiscovered in the glorious pop universe. https://pickinguprocks.com

Apr 022020
 

SteveReidell_Dukejenn champion the blue album
2020 marks the 40th Anniversary of Genesis’s true breakthrough album, 1980’s Duke. It was their first album to hit #1 in the UK as well as their highest charting album in the U.S.to that point. It also featured their first top 20 single in the states, infectious unrequited love opus “Misunderstanding”. But enough of the facts, I’m about to say something controversial so all of you prog rock purists might want to look away for a second. Here goes…

I think Genesis got better once Peter Gabriel quit the band.

Significantly better.

Once detached from the confines of Gabriel’s cryptic conceptual costumed creations, the melodic impulses of the remaining band members, Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks, Phil Collins and Steve Hackett (he until 1977) were finally able to run unencumbered and free. This of course meant they could fulfill their destiny as the the glorious pop-prog hybrid behemoth gods they were always meant to be.

From the very first release after Gabriel’s departure, 1976’s A Trick of the Tail, the sonic shift was in full effect, its songs possessing both a brevity and succinctness that had only ever been hinted at on previous albums. The lyrics became more relatable, the emotions were no longer obscured by arcane imagery. Most significantly, there was a hearty head nod to pop. Over the years there’s been a bit of a disagreement between the purists who prefer the Gabriel-helmed version of the band and the pop fans who love PHIL, as to which version of the G-Men is better (in broad strokes, it sometimes breaks down as older fans vs. newer fans and, yes, men vs. women). As a member of the latter demographic, I can say that my personal disagreements with other Genesis-loving nerds have consistently, predictably unfolded in this fashion (all in good humor, though, I swear). I think the stretch of studio albums sans Gabriel, released from 1976-1983, represent Genesis at their absolute creative peak. And I just want to offer up one last factoid: Duke, one of the poppiest, most personal, never-met-a-radio-it-didn’t-like albums they ever made, is keyboardist Tony Banks’s absolute favorite Genesis album.

And so with that, meet Steve Reidell.
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Mar 242020
 
norah jones patience

Ah “Patience”. Duff gently counts us in, thereby triggering the most tolerable and endearing bit of whistling in the history of rock, courtesy of Axl Rose. Yes, if there is one Guns N’ Roses song can help provide a salve during tough times, slow things down if your brain is racing and set you to imagining you are sitting in a hotel with your pet snake watching Axl undulate during better times, it’s “Patience”. While the video is a total timepiece that verges on self-parody (yet remains completely, utterly awesome) it never overshadows the innate sweetness of the acoustic ballad from 1988’s eternal and infamous G N’ R Lies EP. Continue reading »

Mar 182020
 
jason isbell lee ann womack

Music Moments, a new compilation to benefit the Alzheimer’s Association, features an assortment of artists doing handpicked covers as well as originals. While it’s full of interesting cuts from the likes of Sting and Sharon Van Etten amongst others, two tracks particularly stand out.  

The first comes from Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires, who offer up an absolutely sublime version of John Prine’s dusty and delicate “Hello In There.” The song originally appeared on Prine’s 1971 self-titled debut and couldn’t feel more powerfully poignant than it does at this moment in time. Prine is one of Isbell’s favorite songwriters and not only does he feel that “Hello…” is “pretty perfect as songs go” but that it actually serves a higher purpose. “It motivates the listener to just be a better human, that’s ultimately the best thing we can ask of each other,” he says. It’s lovely, reverent performance and may result in a few tears wandering out of your eyes involuntarily. Continue reading »

Mar 172020
 

Some covers are more equal than others. Good, Better, Best looks at three covers and decides who takes home the gold, the silver, and the bronze.

jackson browne

Aloha!

1982’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High is, without a doubt, one of the greatest teen movies ever to exist. Both insanely funny and powerfully poignant, it bestowed the world of pop culture with gifts beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. Jeff Spicoli “learnin’ about Cuba and havin’ some food.” Damone’s 5-Point Plan of guaranteed seduction (Point # 3: “Act like wherever you are, that’s the place to be”). Terrifying taskmaster Mr. Hand. The well-deserved tribute to the intoxicating scent of dittos (ask your parents). It’s a movie that has transcended time in unimaginable ways.

It also drove home that when you are a teenager who can’t express your true feelings, rock ‘n’ roll can help you out. The Fast Times soundtrack is as crucial a part of the movie as the unforgettable characters within it. Case in point: Friday night at the shopping mall is packed with as much excited anticipation as New Year’s Eve in Times Square, thanks to the Go-Go’s’ “We Got the Beat” scoring the scene.

Yet as great as that moment is, no song captures the spirit of the film better than its de facto theme tune, Jackson Browne’s sublime “Somebody’s Baby.” Sweet, anxious, and consumed with infatuation, it was the biggest hit of Browne‘s career, hitting the pop Top 10 in the summer of 1982.
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Mar 042020
 
lume swim good

Originally appearing on his stellar 2011 mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra, Frank Ocean’s romantically fatalistic R&B groove “Swim Good” qualifies as a bit of a modern day classic. It’s a vivid pop epitaph, describing his last ride in a Lincoln Town Car, with endless heartbreak as both his driver and passenger – with a little Tyler the Creator thrown in for good measure. It somehow manages to be both dramatically dark and empowering, a song perfectly built for solo listening. Continue reading »

Feb 202020
 
graham norwood this womans work

Just from the title and photo alone, you already know too much. In a perfect world, the ideal way to hear San Francisco based singer-songwriter Graham Norwood’s stunning take on Kate Bush’s 1988 classic for the first time would be to close your eyes and hit play without any knowledge of Norwood’s name or what he looked like. Then after you were inevitably blown away by the performance you could open your eyes and enjoy the added surprise of of finding out Norwood was the performer. Continue reading »