Monday, December 28, 2015

Craig Dobbins - The View From Here, a PopJunkie album review

If there is power in understatement, than Craig Dobbins’ masterful The View From Here, is easily one of 2015’s most powerful instrumental albums. With nary a superfluous note to be found within its runtime, The View From Here is an unhurried, almost casual listen that relies more on melodies that sink in with every repeat playing rather then technical pyrotechnics designed to dazzle on first listen but diminish soon after.

The album manages to do what many all-instrumental affairs can not; take its listeners on a journey, the same way that the finest voice-led albums can. Starting with the charming Jojobean, the album builds over the course of its story. Many of the songs are comprised of solo nylon-string guitar but at various points, electric guitars, steel-string acoustic guitars, violin and other acoustic instruments provide a gentle bed of sound that helps propel the songs along their intended path.  

After years of teaching others the intricacies of finger-style guitar - Dobbins is acknowledged as an expert on the styles of Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed - Dobbins focused on his own muse and produced the finest album of his career and easily one of the best instrumental guitar albums of 2015.

The View From Here is also available in a highly recommended deluxe edition containing a book of photos and guitar transcriptions of every song on the album for those fleet-fingered pickers who want to tackle playing these tunes. No easy feat!

For more on Craig Dobbins, visit

Monday, November 30, 2015

Kung Fury - The Popjunkie Review

Kung Fury - The Popjunkie Review

If you make a movie which lampoons B-Movies, does that make your creation a C-Movie?
Can a Triceratops become a cop on the Miami police force?
Is it possible for an 80’s arcade game to come to life Transformer style and kill people?
Can Hitler show up in 1985 Miami steal someone's (very large) cell phone, call the police department and begin shooting at the receiver so that the bullets travel through the phone, killing the Police chief on the other end - as well as all of the remaining officers in the room?
If you find that you will not sleep tonight without knowing the answer to any of these questions, then you must not miss Kung Fury - the zaniest, most over-the-top 30 minutes you can hope to experience.
This short film tells the story of the titular hero, the cliched “burnt out cop”, who is called back into duty to stop Hitler from time traveling into 1985 to take over the world with his ancient and magical Kung Fu powers. How to stop him? By traveling back to 1945 by way of a computer hacker who can “hack time”.  
Kung Fury packs so many gags within its scant run-time, it's amazing that they were still able to tell their story! The first 90 seconds alone would take paragraphs to describe. Hell, the first 3 seconds had my attention when the production company's logo splashed across the screen! The name? Laser Unicorns, of course!
The movie must be seen to be believed but let's whet your whistle with some of the plot points that run rampant in Kung Fury: Thor, dinosaurs, time travel, Hitler as a Kung Fu master, hot cave girls and a hero that is created by being struck by lightning. And then bitten by a cobra.
Yeah, it's a must see. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Popjunkie's Smokey and the Bandit Collection: Part 6

Popjunkie's Smokey and the Bandit Collection: Part 6

Who remembers the Laser Disc? Who know, size of a vinyl record but looked like a CD... that played movies!
Well, quite a few LD's were released for SATB, all with different artwork. Here is the first LD entry for the first film.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Miles Mosley - Upright Bass Brigade

Miles Mosley - Upright Bass Brigade

Miles Mosley is the perfect embodiment of the modern bass player – sonically adventurous, can adeptly play a wide array of musical styles and is well-versed in social media networking. With such trademarks, it is not surprising that while Miles plays the upright bass, his vision for the instrument – and the role of the bass in general – is a bit “forward-thinking”:

“I think all of us, as bass players, are in tune with the fundamentals of a lot of different kinds of music. There’s no reason for us not to be leaders, be sidemen, be composers… The music industry’s changed so you have to change with it. It’s not as easy to be a one trick pony. You used to be able to do that! You can still but I find more comfort in having different irons in the fire. It’s not about being a jack-of-all trades. It’s actually about having different facets of your career.”

Recently on tour with Natasha Agrama – daughter of bass legend, Stanley Clarke – Mosley came to the Aguilar Artist Loft to discuss his use of effects to create bold new soundscapes, the challenges of amplifying the upright bass and his love of the “Aguilar sound”.

To read the Q&A portion of the interview, click here.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Vintage Trouble's Rick Barrio Dill - Here Comes Trouble!

“It’s funny, they say that you have your whole life to write the first record and then 6 months to work on the second but for us, it was the opposite! I don’t think we stopped at all since that first gig which happened three weeks after we all got together and became a band!”

Vintage Trouble is one of my favorite bands out there today so I was happy to interview my friend, bassist Rick Barrio Dill, for the cover of Bass Musician Magazine.

Check out the interview - Here Come Trouble! - by clicking here. You can also follow this link: 

#VintageTrouble #RickBarrioDill #BassMusicianMagazine

Friday, July 31, 2015

My Musical Diet

As I sit here on the R train grooving to The Human League's 1981 opus Dare, I can’t help but think how funny it is that lately I have been so deeply ensconced in the sounds of the New Wave era. Yet again. Coming from me, this is not an earth-shattering statement as those who know me, know of my undying love for the music of that synth-filled, frilly-shirt wearing New Romantic era. But even from an early age, my musical diet as it were, was unusually broad. I use the word "diet" when discussing my musical tastes because it perfectly sums up my point and, being Italian, everything could - and should - be equated with food.

Here it is: eating a balanced diet is much better for you than if you limited your food intake to just a few items all the time. No surprise there really. Kale is great for you but if leafy greens were ALL you consumed, aside from the fact that you would be shockingly regular, you probably would be left wanting a bit more. But that is how listening to music is for me. Sure, I love the music of David Bowie but my spiritual well-being would suffer if my entire music listening career consisted of nothing more than "The Thin White Duke". Although one could certainly do much worse!

This is the cyclical nature of my music listening experience. Because I have diverse tastes which range from the mainstream to content that is slightly more "fringeoid" (a word I love thanks to Frank Zappa), I tend to go on certain kicks every few months. I always reach back in time and discover an artist that I perhaps overlooked in the past but who somehow speaks loudly to me in the present. More recent "finds" for me have included the music of Donna Summer, Lionel Richie, Miles Davis' late 60's period, and Kiss. Yes, at 43 - I joined the Kiss Army!

But even with these new obsessions, I also tend to rediscover old favorites constantly. I have literally heard Duran Duran's 1981 debut album thousands of times but lately, it is as if I'm hearing it for the first time. Of course, there are also the times when Duran is the last band I want to hear because at that time, I might be wrapped up in the 'Countrypolitan' sounds of Kenny Rogers or Dolly Parton. Perhaps I'm lost in the brutality of Metallica, the epic funk of Prince and Rick James or the works of Puccini and Ravel. And then there was that time when I spent a year pretty much absorbing the entire catalogue of Jerry Reed. Time very well spent I might add. My soul still thanks me for that!

My point here? Simple. Like your Mother used to say, "eat everything on your plate". Or, "I don't care if you listened to some of your B.B. King, listen to all of it. Drink your Beethoven and don't forget your Black Sabbath or you won't get your Pink Floyd for desert"!

So, what are we listening to today?

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Brent Rusinow (Allen Stone) - Soul to Solo

Listening to the elastic, soulful grooves of the Allen Stone band, it’s hard to believe that bassist Brent Rusinow began his musical journey in the somewhat more rigid world of classical music. But growing up with a guitar-collecting father in the house, the lure of the Rock n’ Roll world became too great and eventually young Brent was strumming along to Beatles records. “That led me down the path of playing guitar,” Rusinow says, “until I was caught up in the ‘two guitar and a drummer’ conundrum when I was about 13 years old. Luckily, my dad also had a bass laying around!”

Fast forward to today and Rusinow is now a seasoned member of Stone’s band; his bass solo spotlight being one of the many high points of the live show. Celebrating the release of the new album Radius, we recently caught up with Brent to discuss his formative years, his Aguilar rig and the value of learning songs, “from the bottom up”.

To read the Q&A portion of the interview, click here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Nate Query - Beautiful World

Can you recall the last time, during a conversation about music, where you exclaimed “I love that video”? They still make music videos?

Well, here we are in 2015 and The Decemberists – the cerebral pop outfit from Portland, OR - have made one of the funniest, most clever music videos in years. Riffing upon late-70’s music programs from Europe and featuring Nick Offerman of the hit show Parks & Rec, the irony of this clip is the fact that Make You Better is one of the most poignant, touching songs on the band’s superb new album, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World.

Shaping up to be one of the top albums of the year,What a Terrible World… features bassist Nate Query covering a wide variety of stylistic ground; from the fuzz-drenched chaos of A Beginner Song, to the propulsive pop stylings of Calvary Captain to the country-style groove of Anti-Summersong. And that does not include his melodic upright work!

We recently spoke to Query between legs of their current tour about the creative process behind the new album and his work with his prolific side project, Black Prairie, which features many of his fellow bandmates from The Decemberists.

To read the rest of my interview with Nate, click here.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Popjunkie’s Smokey and the Bandit Collection: Part 5

Popjunkie’s Smokey and the Bandit Collection: Part 5

Here is an odd piece from my collection – a T-shirt given to the crew of Bandit 2.
Is it an official item? I wondered the same thing but I got it cheap enough, so I bought it. It certainly is an old shirt, so maybe it is ‘official’. The shirt is actually really small – although it does not look like it in the pics.
To see more photos of this item as well as others of my Bandit collection, check out my public Google drive folder by clicking here.
‪#‎burtreynolds ‪#‎smokeyandthebandit #brift 

Friday, March 13, 2015

Wojtek Pilichowski - My Aguilar Artist Interview

Wojtek Pilichowski - My Aguilar Artist Interview

In today's age-obsessed musical climate, it is surprising for a new artist to emerge over the age of 22. And by 25, those artists are looked at as industry veterans! But occasionally, we are lucky enough to have a musician hit the circuit whose sound and style are already "fully-formed" through years of honing their craft. In the case of Polish bassist Wojtek Pilichowski, his rise to prominence in the bass-playing community comes after more than two decades of performing, recording, teaching and good, old-fashioned, "roll-up your sleeves and get dirty" practice.

Over the past two years, Wojtek's reputation has grown thanks to the multitude of viral video clips showcasing his formidable slap-style skills. Yet, despite his impressive instrumental chops, it is Pilichowski's musicality that began to win over an audience all over the world, culminating with him appearing at the Bass Player Live 2014 show in Los Angeles.

To date, Pilichowski has released eight solo albums, four live albums and three live DVD's! His most recent album is the stylistically diverse INTRO, which melds his astounding slap technique with both electronic and full-band arrangements. While there are plenty of moments chock full of Pilichowski's hyperkinetic playing, these are balanced out by songs where his bass takes a supporting seat to the song itself as on Take Control, Mniej Niz Zero and his down-tempo cover of the Depeche Mode classic,Enjoy the Silence.

Let's sit down with Wojtek to get the scoop on the INTRO album and how he developed that stunning slap technique! To read the rest of the article, click here.

#wojtekpilichowski #bass #amazingbassplayers #aguilar #aguilaramplification

Thursday, March 12, 2015

My Depeche Mode Spotify playlist!

Check out Ephemera, my Depeche Mode Spotify playlist featuring non-album singles & B-sides!

Depeche Mode has a gaggle of tunes like this - many of which are fantastic - so I thought it would be handy to compile them into one, convenient playlist.

The link to the playlist can be found by clicking here 
#depechemode #newwave #spotify 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Popjunkie’s Smokey and the Bandit Collection: Part 4

Popjunkie’s Smokey and the Bandit Collection: Part 4

Here is a recent item from the great Greenlight Collectibles! This set includes the Trans Am from each of the first two films as well as a police car and for some bizarre reason, a green Jeep! I have no idea why the Jeep is in here but the set is very cool with unique packaging.
To see more photos of this item as well as others of my Bandit collection, check out my public Google drive folder by clicking here.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Popjunkie’s Smokey and the Bandit Collection: Part 3

Popjunkie’s Smokey and the Bandit Collection: Part 3

Here is an item that took some serious EBay watching to procure – the 1/87 scale Snowman truck from ERTL.
I know these can fetch over $100 now so glad I got mine when I did.
To see more photos of my Bandit collection check out my Google drive folder - here. I will be adding to this frequently, so check back often!

#smokeyandthebandit #burtreynolds #brift #vintagetoys

Friday, March 6, 2015

My Jerry Reed channel on Spotify!

Anyone who knows me knows of my deep love for the music of Mr. Jerry Reed. I also have a current addiction to Spotify, so I thought why not meld the two and create a channel dedicated to the Guitar Man himself and call it – “Pick it Son”!

I did not focus on hits or personal favorites here – as the title implies, this playlist is comprised solely of the amazing, mind-melting instrumentals that Jerry recorded. There are more out there but Spotify only has so much Reed recording available – Spotify, you better rectify!

So, click below to check out my playlist and follow it! I want to add more tracks as they (hopefully) become available. The URL for the channel is also available here.

#jerryreed #guitar #fingerpickers #amazingguitarsolos 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Popjunkie’s Smokey and the Bandit Collection: Part 2

Popjunkie’s Smokey and the Bandit Collection: Part 2

Here is something many of you may have – the 1/25 Trans Am model kit from Ertl. I had a few of these as a kid and was happy to find one on Ebay with the all of the parts, still sealed!
What is funny is that the model itself is the 1980 Turbo TA yet the box shows a ’79 on the front and a photo from the 1st film. Neither appears in the second film – which is clearly labeled on the box. Of course, the movie logo is not the classic ‘part 2’ logo so maybe this was released just before the film came out? 

To see more photos of my Bandit collection check out my Google drive folder - here. I will be adding to this frequently, so check back often!

Popjunkie’s Smokey and the Bandit Collection: Part 1

Popjunkie’s Smokey and the Bandit Collection: Part 1

I don't have a Trans Am but I do have a large collection of Bandit collectibles - most of it is vintage!
I used to think this song was just a title used in the movie but it was a real song on the soundtrack sung by Burt himself. The song was also released as a single - here is the 45 of "Let's do Something Cheap and Superficial"!
#smokeyandthebandit #burtreynolds #brift

To see more photos of my Bandit collection check out my Google drive folder - here. I will be adding to this frequently, so check back often!