AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: THE MYSTERY OF THE BULGARIAN VOICES/BOOCHEEMISH

While many musicians can wring emotion out of their instrumental weapon of choice, there’s no denying that the most emotional instrument of all is the human voice. The song’s melody and lyrics mean nothing if the voice does not connect with the listener. A notable example would be Gospel Music – the soaring voices of a church choir can melt the heart of the most hardened atheist. However, the best example belongs to The Mystery Of The Bulgarian Voices, a female choir that has mastered the art of the voice… and I don’t use the word ‘art’ lightly here. The sounds these voices make are soul-stirring and heartbreaking in equal measures.

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: SOFI TUKKER/TREEHOUSE

Although there is a dark side lurking beneath the surface, the music of Electronic duo Sofi Tukker is upbeat, fun and adventurous. While the duo’s music is aimed for the feet, there’s certainly a lot to wrap our head around. But before we get ahead of ourselves, let me introduce you to Sophie Hawley-Weld and Tucker Halpern AKA Sofi Tukker. Their name may evoke the spirit of legendary stage/screen/radio icon Sophie Tucker, but this duo’s music is world’s away from the original Sophie’s bawdy burlesque. Sofi Tukker’s two-year journey to their debut album, TREEHOUSE, has included a Grammy nomination, loads of great press and a coveted iPhone 7 commercial spot. Other artists toil away in obscurity for years, anxiously awaiting their time in the spotlight. However, Sofi Tukker’s combination of Pop smarts and luck have put them on the fast track to the front of the line.

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: RITA COOLIDGE/SAFE IN THE ARMS OF TIME

Rita Coolidge has been an important piece of Rock’s tapestry for nearly 50 years. She’s been a muse, a mover and shaker, a songwriter, a performer, a humanitarian, an artist, an author and an icon ever since she was ‘discovered’ by Delaney & Bonnie all those years ago. From backup singer to uncredited songwriter of one of Rock’s greatest songs (she co-wrote the piano coda for Derek & The Dominos’ “Layla,” yet has never received proper credit) and from solo artist to wife of Kris Kristofferson, Rita has been a part of nearly every important musical movement since her arrival on the scene in 1969. She even scored many solo hits including her warm and wonderful interpretation of Boz Scaggs’ “We’re All Alone.” When she stepped away from the solo spotlight, she formed Walela, a Native American trio with her sister Priscilla and her daughter Laura Satterfield.

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THE TOY DOLLS: The Chancellor reviews the 5CD set, THE ALBUMS: 1983-87

Looney tunes, indeed!

The chaps in The Dickies have a wicked sense of humor and The Adicts know how to have fun as well… but The Toy Dolls are the true court jesters of Punk Rock. So, if you are looking for a good time, you can either call one of those phone numbers written on the bathroom wall or you can do the right thing and hustle on down to your local Pop shop and grab THE ALBUMS: 1983-87, a delicious five CD box set that gathers together the first four albums by The Toy Dolls as well as a fifth disc of rarities!

Led by the always excitable Olga (AKA Michael Algar), The Toy Dolls has gone through several line-up changes over the years but they’ve never lost the spunk ‘n’ spittle that made them so fun when they released their debut album DIG THAT GROOVE BABY in 1983. While some may have thought of the band’s music as a parody or a humorous homage to Punk, there’s no doubt that Olga and the boys are true Punk rockers. However, they just chose to take Punk – and everything else for that matter – a lot less seriously than everyone around them. This debut includes classic tracks like “Glenda And The Test Tube Baby,” “Dougie Giro,” “Up The Garden Path,” “Stay Mellow”, the title track and “Nellie The Elephant.” While some may be put off by the over-the-top goofiness of the band’s approach to Punk, their catchy melodies and exceptional musicianship cannot be denied.

Two years later, the band released A FAR OUT DISC, another hook-filled Punk fiesta. Highlights include “My Girlfriend’s Dad’s A Vicar,” “We’re Mad” and so many others.  IDLE GOSSIP was released in 1986 followed a year later by BARE FACED CHEEK. On both albums, Olga leads his crew through some thrilling and entertaining Punk nuggets. No matter what, The Toy Dolls’ music was always refreshing, exciting and inspiring. The first album may be their most popular full-length but the band are always reliable when it comes to making great records and each and every one of these albums needs to be experienced.

The fifth disc here is chock full of non-album tracks including 7” version, songs from compilations and so much more. This final CD includes the ‘hit’ version of “Nellie The Elephant” that received the most airplay over here in the U.S. There’s more fun involved including the smile/dance/sweat-inducing “Everybody Jitterbug.” Crazy, cool and fun, The Toy Dolls may never get the same respect as bands like The Clash, but they certainly deserve your attention!

Look, if you prefer your Punk political and/or pretentious, go elsewhere.  If you want some hook-filled, shout-along Punk anthems with a sense of humor, then THE TOY DOLLS will satisfy all of your cravings. Ten fold. Captain Oi and Cherry Red have given us yet another set that should occupy a very sacred place in your collection!

(NOTE: The first four discs in this set represent the original albums when first released. They do NOT contain bonus tracks. However, all the bonus tracks from previous CD reissues of these albums are gathered on Disc Five).

Keep on truckin’,

Stephen THE CHANCELLOR Schnee

AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: TOM RUSH/VOICES

With this 2018 release, Tom Rush doesn’t hesitate to get back to business. Now 56 years into his career as a Folk and Blues legend, Tom may not be prolific but he sure hasn’t lost any of his passion. Like a comfortable pair of overalls or a warm blanket on a chilly night, Tom’s music may be comforting but that doesn’t mean that he plays it safe. On VOICES – the first album in his career consisting almost entirely of originals – Tom Rush presents an album that embraces the spirit of his early recordings with the maturity that time has graced him with.

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: GUIDED BY VOICES/SPACE GUN

Remember back in the mid ‘80s when practically every R&B and Pop record released seemed to be performed or written by Prince? From his own albums and singles to songs by The Bangles, The Times, Cyndi Lauper, Vanity 6, The Three O’Clock, Sheena Easton and Sinead O’Connor, Prince was everywhere. It seemed as if he was the most prolific musician and songwriter in the world for at least the second half of the ‘80s… Well, folks, indie singer/songwriter Robert Pollard’s mega prolific output over the years makes Prince look like a lazy bastard!  But unlike Prince, the fruits of Pollard’s insane work ethic is not locked up in a dark vault somewhere, never to be heard by the public. In fact, just the opposite – Pollard has released hundreds of songs under his own name as well as under the names of the many side projects he’s been involved with including Circus Devils, Boston Spaceships, Ricked Wicky, Phantom Tollbooth, Teenage Guitar, and, most importantly, Guided By Voices.

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SLOAN: Spinning Our Wheels – An EXCLUSIVE Q&A

STEPHEN SPAZ SCHNEE: 12 is just about ready to be released. How are you feeling about how the album turned out and the reaction to it so far?
CHRIS MURPHY: I’m not sure what the reaction is beyond people commenting on my Instagram account and anyone who finds themselves there is probably going to say something positive. Of course, I want to think that people care but regardless I am just happy to be creating an enormous body of work, which if people don’t acknowledge in the present, still makes me happy. I like to say we are making music for rock journalists in the future.

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: CASEY ABRAMS/PUT A SPELL ON YOU

Casey Abrams was born in Austin, Texas and eventually made his way to Idyllwild, California. This multi-instrumentalist initially made a name for himself on the 10th season of American Idol – he finished in sixth place – and judging by his 2018 album PUT A SPELL ON YOU, he’s certainly learned a lot during his long and exciting journey. Unlike many other artists who are content to find a niche or genre they feel comfortable in, Abrams mixes and matches genres as he sees fit. This is not a former American Idol contestant that is going to fall in line and churn out a variation on today’s Top 40. Nope. Casey Adams is going to do whatever he damn well pleases!

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AMPED™ FEATURED ALBUM OF THE WEEK: ALTAN/THE GAP OF DREAMS

When a dream is born from love and passion, it will never fade away.  Altan, the traditional Irish outfit, is that dream come to life.  Formed three decades ago by Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh (vocals/fiddle) and her husband Frankie Kennedy (flute/tin whistle), their shared musical vision became reality on a few duo recordings before forming a full-fledged band – Altan. Even though Kennedy passed away in 1994, Mairéad and her bandmates have continued to keep the musical dream alive. In 2018, they release the beautiful and inspiring THE GAP OF DREAMS.

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