Patrick Robbins

Patrick Robbins lives in Maine, where he moves through life with the secure knowledge that, as Penn Jillette said, "In all of art, it's the singer, not the song," On Wednesdays he goes shopping, and has buttered scones for tea. He is the author of the novel To Make Others Happy.

Dec 022016
 

Under the Radar shines a light on lesser-known cover artists. If you’re not listening to these folks, you should. Catch up on past installments here.

echodrone-profile

An article about the shoegazing band Echodrone begins, “Echodrone are one of those bands that I want to be horribly embarrassed to have not been aware of ‘til their fifth album and tenth year…” The writer goes on to add, “Although, apparently many of the band members are yet to even meet each other… So I’m inclined to be slightly less embarrassed… ” Indeed, the band may be based in San Francisco, where it started out as a two-man operation (Eugene Suh and Brandon Dudley), but the addition of its newest members (Mike Funk, Jim Hrabak, and Rachel Lopez) has made them a quintet that records its songs virtually, passing the music files from one set of hands to the next via Dropbox. They may not play together, but you sure hope they’ll stay together.
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Nov 252016
 

Cover Classics takes a closer look at all-cover albums of the past, their genesis, and their legacy.

Come Together Black America

Tony Rounce, the guy at Ace Records who compiled Come Together: Black America Sings Lennon & McCartney, had an easier job than most people who put together tribute albums. For one, this wasn’t an album that required all-new recordings by current bands; Rounce got to cherry-pick the best of the best from the ’60s and ’70s. For another, when the greatest songwriting team in the history of rock and roll is being interpreted by the likes of Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, and Little Richard, it’s going to be hard not to put together an excellent product.
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Nov 042016
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

Doors

When the Doors went to number one with “Hello, I Love You,” many of their fans called them sellouts. Never mind they’d already gotten to number one with “Light My Fire” the year before; this time around, the thinking went, they were out to write a hit single and leave their darker stuff behind. More than half a century has passed since Jim Morrison wrote about that dusky jewel walking across the California beach sands, and while you can count the number of people who hum “Horse Latitudes” these days on the thumb of one hand, “Hello, I Love You” has maintained its status as a much-beloved classic of the sixties.
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Oct 142016
 

Five Good Covers presents five cross-genre reinterpretations of an oft-covered song.

otis redding

Otis Redding built one of his greatest songs out of almost nothing. Guitarist and co-writer Steve Cropper explains: “‘I Can’t Turn You Loose’ was just a riff I’d used on a few songs with the MG’s. Otis worked it up with the horns in about 10 minutes as the last thing we did one night in the studio. Just a riff and one verse that he sings over and over. That’s all it is.”

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Oct 072016
 

essentials Scott Bradlee deserves a victory lap. For five years as the founder and leader of Postmodern Jukebox, he’s taken the hits of today and given them the vintage sounds of yesteryear, with the assistance of many very talented friends. His live-in-the-living-room rearrangements have earned him more than half a billion views on YouTube, all without major label support or corporate sponsorship. You would think that The Essentials, a collection of greatest hits, would be an ideal capper to this remarkable achievement.

But there’s still the sense that Bradlee has something to prove – he’s looking to place this album high on the Billboard charts as he takes PMJ on its North American tour this month. “No more talk of Postmodern Jukebox as a ‘YouTube act,’ or ‘online viral sensation,'” he says. “This is real, we’re here to stay, and we’re ready to change the music industry.”
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Sep 232016
 

Under the Radar shines a light on lesser-known cover artists. If you’re not listening to these folks, you should. Catch up on past installments here.

alexvissia

From the prairie town of Stony Plain, just outside of Edmonton, Alex Vissia found stardom in Canada performing with her two younger sisters, in venues up to and including the Olympics. After graduating from college, she turned solo; since then, she’s released two records and is working on her third, writing songs described as “grown from folksy prairie roots, distilled until clear, and carefully Rock-filtered to let just the right amount of dirt back in.”
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