Even though you might not recognize his name, you are more than likely familiar with the work of Chris Butler. While his studio work with Tin Huey, Richard Lloyd, the dBs and other bands might have passed some of you by, you will most certainly recognize his higher profile recordings with The Waitresses. Chris Butler was the guitarist and songwriter for the Akron, Ohio-based quirky New Wave outfit and was responsible for penning their hit single “I Know What Boys Like,” as well as their theme song to the cult TV series Square Pegs and the perennial holiday favorite “Christmas Wrapping.” What some may not realize is that while his most high-profile band may have split in 1984, Chris Butler has continued to create experimental music that is entirely unique and charmingly quirky.
AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: XXXTENTACION/SKINS
XXXTentacion was one of modern Hip Hop’s most controversial figures. In his short life – he was shot and killed at the age of 20 in June, 2018 – he achieved more fame and infamy than most rappers twice his age. Active on the Hip Hop scene for just a handful of years. XXXTentacion – real name Jahseh Dwayne Ricardo Onfroy – left behind a small but beloved catalog of what some have referred to as Soundcloud Rap. Essentially, Soundcloud Rap is a lo-fi movement that relies on heavily distorted bass and intentional lack of polish in the sound. While that description may work well with XXXTentacion’s contemporaries, it certainly only describes a small portion of what X’s sound was all about.
AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: ROCKABYE BABY! LULLABY RENDITIONS OF TOM PETTY
When Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers released their self-titled debut album in 1976, there were no indications that Petty would become one of the most important and successful figures in American Rock ‘n’ Roll for the next four decades. Initially lumped in with the Power Pop movement, Petty was eventually embraced by FM rock programmers and by the time of the band’s 1979 album DAMN THE TORPEDOS, he was a bona-fide Rock ‘n’ Roll star. Over the course of his career, he became one of the biggest selling music artists of all time, shifting more than 80 million in the process. Not only did Tom Petty win multiple Grammy and MTV awards, he also received a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame and was inducted – with The Heartbreakers – into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2001. Apart from all that success with his band as well as a solo artist, he was also a member of Pop/Rock supergroup The Traveling Wilburys (with George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne). Not bad for a skinny kid from Gainesville, Florida with big dreams…
AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: MAJOR LAZER/ESSENTIALS
First things first: Major Lazer is not a person. But to say that Major Lazer is a ‘band’ is a bit of a misnomer because, to be honest, Major Lazer is a phenomenon! The Dance Music trio features producer Diplo and DJs Jillionaire and Walshy Fire aided by a cast of talented collaborators. Officially formed in 2008, Major Lazer continually reinvents itself with each release, adding in new influences, moving older inspirations to the fore, and shuffling them all together with ease. While a line-up of one producer and two DJs may lead some to assume that this is a Rap/Hip Hop trio, it must be said that Hip Hop is only one slice of this pie. In a sense, Major Lazer don’t cater to any audience – the members focus on what moves them. Thankfully, the music of Major Lazer has also moved millions of bodies all across the globe. If there’s any act out there who could make the universe groove, it may as well be Major Lazer!
AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: DONNY OSMOND/ONE NIGHT ONLY
Sixty years ago, the journey began. From the humble barbershop beginnings of The Osmond Brothers quartet (Merrill, Jay, Alan and Wayne) in 1958 up through their Pop/Rock success in the early ‘70s with lil’ brother Donny on board, The Osmonds were far from a boyband created for teens and tweens. All throughout their career, their appeal has reached audiences of all ages. They wowed America during their appearances on The Andy Williams Show in the ‘60s and they’ve never really left the public eye since then. Who can forget their string of hits in the early ‘70s? On top of that, Donny’s solo career was equally successful. And we can’t talk about The Osmonds without mentioning the Donny & Marie Show. Or Jimmy Osmond’s career as a singer and clever businessman. Even when things got tough in the ‘80s, they would always bounce back. Their message of love and family permeated everything that they did. Regardless of what musical trends have come and gone over the last six decades, the Osmond family are still standing, still entertaining, and always moving forward while remaining proud of their legacy. They have a devoted fanbase that has stuck with them through thick and thin. And let’s be honest, the world would be a darker place had it not been for the Osmond family’s unwavering desire to bring joy into the music business.
LARKIN POE: An EXCLUSIVE Q&A
VENOM & FAITH:
An EXCLUSIVE Q&A with LARKIN POE’s Megan and Rebecca Lovell.
SPAZ: Your album VENOM & FAITH is ready for release. How are you feeling about how the album turned out and the reaction you’ve had so far?
MEGAN LOVELL: Thus far, the response to VENOM & FAITH has been incredibly positive. We feel very fortunate to have a supportive and openminded fanbase; as we have continued to grow and shift over the years, honing our sound, our fans have been willing to make the musical journey of Larkin Poe with us.
AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: LAURA JANE GRACE/BOUGHT TO ROT
Whether or not you immediately recognize her name, musician/author/activist Laura Jane Grace has been on the international music radar for over two decades. As leader of Punk outfit Against Me!, Laura has blended honesty, Punk, audio blunt force trauma and Rock ‘n’ Roll into a fiery brew. Originally hailing from Gainesville, Florida, Laura and her Against Me! mates may not sound like the Rock legends that emerged from her hometown – Tom Petty and The Eagles’ Don Felder and Bernie Leadon to name a few – but she has certainly become a force to be reckoned with.
Shake ‘n’ Pop: BILLY BREMNER’s Singled Out reviewed!
Rockpile remains one of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s most respected but commercially overlooked bands. In terms of credibility, how could you go wrong with a band featuring Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, Billy Bremner and Terry Williams? While Rockpile recorded albums that were credited to either Edmunds or Lowe, they only recorded one proper studio album under their collective name – 1980’s SECONDS OF PLEASURE – before the band split up. Nick and Dave continued their successful solo careers while Terry joined Dire Straits. The band’s secret weapon – guitarist/vocalist Bremner – also pursued a solo career as well as working with The Pretenders (that’s him playing lead guitar on “Back On The Chain Gang”), Shakin’ Stevens, and many others. He did appear on Lowe and Edmunds’ solo albums as well. While not as high profile as his former bandmates, Bremner has released four solo albums over the years and worked with a multitude of other artists. Often overlooked on his own merits, the best of Billy’s solo material has finally been compiled on the excellent SINGLED OUT collection courtesy of RPM/Cherry Red.
AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: EXO/DON’T MESS UP MY TEMPO
K-Pop is one of the most popular genres in music today. And if you have no idea what K-Pop is, you really haven’t been paying attention. In a nutshell, K-Pop – an abbreviation of Korean Pop – originated two decades ago in South Korea and combines smooth R&B, sparkling Dance Music, pulsating Electro and shimmering Pop into one perfectly produced package. While the K-Pop landscape is littered with both male and female artists, boy bands dominate the genre. While artists like N*Sync, Backstreet Boys and One Direction kept the U.S. market interested over the past two decades, K-Pop’s popularity began to rise. In the last few years, K-Pop has infiltrated the U.S. market and bands like BTS and Super Junior have taken the charts by storm. One of the most beloved and respected K-Pop groups today is EXO, an eight member Korean-Chinese group that features the multi-million selling solo artist Lay as a core member. Lay is making his EXO return on DON’T MESS UP MY TEMPO after two years on his own.
AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: WILLIAM SHATNER/SHATNER CLAUS
“Christmas: the final frontier. This is the musical voyage of William Shatner. Its holiday mission: to explore strange yule music. To seek out and inject new life into old traditions. To boldly go where no Shatner album has gone before. This is SHATNER CLAUS!”