Category Archives: Reviews

Hey, Hey, it’s The Monkees! – New Album “Good Times!” Review

If you would have told The Monkees back in 1965, right before the beginning of Monkeemania, that in 2016 they would record a 50th anniversary studio album and supporting it with a 50 date cross-country tour, they’d have probably given you a humble grin, laughed politely, and quickly changed the subject thinking you were “bananas.” Whether they’d have hoped it was true or not, I can’t say, but the guys have done quite well for themselves as The Monkees and as individuals with endeavors beyond the made-for-TV pop culture phenomenon.

Photo by NBC Television/Courtesy of Getty Images
Photo by NBC Television/Courtesy of Getty Images

Early on the band had nearly as many critics as they had fans, claiming that they weren’t “for real” and were an American-made carbon copy of the Beatles. Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones, Mike Nesmith, and Peter Tork have proved all of those critics wrong by continuing to be beloved household names across several generations of music lovers (I still watch the reruns every weekend!). Though each member has lived their lives being so much more than “just” a Monkee, the fact that they still warm the hearts of millions with their zany television antics and bright poppy tunes is reason enough to remind the world they never went away. They are true musicians with staying power that will resonate for another 50 years and longer.

Micky and Peter, two of the original four Monkees, are out on the road this fall promoting the newly released Good Times! album. Check (here) for a list of tour dates because they “may be coming to your town!”

Good Times!, produced by Fountains of Wayne’s bassist and movie composer Adam Schlesinger (That Thing You Do!, Music & Lyrics), is the perfect blend of pop and rock, reminiscent of the original Monkees sound while still sounding current and appealing to a new generation of listeners. A collaborative effort of old friends and new, the album features songs written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, Neil Diamond and Harry Nilsson. Even Weezer’s frontman Rivers Cuomo makes a songwriting appearance with “She Makes Me Laugh,” landing the honor of the song being the first single release. Mike Nesmith is a part of the album but is not out on tour with Micky and Peter, with the exception of a handful of shows he has chosen to join in for.

The late Davy Jones (2012) is featured on the album in a vintage vocal track on “Love To Love”, a Neil Diamond song recorded in 1969. Micky and Peter added their background vocals earlier this year and Peter recalls in the album’s liner notes, “that day in the studio, we could just pretend Davy was out getting a cup of tea or something.” The Monkees have maintained life-long friendships over the decades and were all devastated at the sudden passing of their comrade, the “Manchester Cowboy.” One of the many ways they keep Davy’s memory alive is by singing along with his vocal track on “Daydream Believer” when they perform it live. Micky refers to it as “Davy’s song” in interviews and says that it’s just not right without him.

As if to carry on an unspoken tradition, also included on Good Times! is a classic Carole King/Gerry Goffin song on the record that was originally recorded by The Byrds in 1968. With “Wasn’t Born To Follow”, Peter delivers a smooth and dreamy vocal on this very poetic and complex lyric. Since their debut, The Monkees have recorded over a dozen songs written by Carole King and a handful of co-writers, as King had a songwriting contract with music publishing giant and producer, Don Kirshner, the musical supervisor of The Monkees TV Show. These gems include “Pleasant Valley Sunday”,
“Porpoise Song” (Theme from Head), “Take A Giant Step”, “Sweet Young Thing” (with Mike Nesmith), “Sometime in The Morning”, and Star Collector.

Good Times! is sure to have your head bobbing along to the beat, and maybe even reminiscing about the good old days if you grew up in the 60’s. Or if you’re like me, an oldies lover that grew up in the early 90’s, you might find yourself wishing you could go back in time to experience Monkeemania. Either way, grab yourself a copy of the album today and pick up some tickets to a show!  I will be attending and reviewing the St. Louis date, so stay tuned!

Check out my Monkee playlist on Spotify!

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Suicide Squad Makes You Want More; Plus An Ode To Jared Leto

Last night, I saw “Suicide Squad” in 3D, which honestly wasn’t worth the pricier ticket.  I will be blunt about my opinion of the film: I am no comic book junky and I have not watched every single DC movie made, so take my review with a grain of salt.

The Joker scenes were the most enigmatic ones to watch, as expected, but they felt much too little for such a huge hype.  It’s hard to believe Jared Leto went into full-blown method acting mode for such brief screen time.

I understand this was pretty much an introduction to the Suicide Squad, but the story felt rushed and thrown together.  We were introduced to characters incredibly quickly and I found myself wanting to know more.

What the hell was Killer Croc’s story?  I found him to be useless and I wasn’t particularly fond of Captain Boomerang (Jai Courtney) either.  The whole Enchantress thing was just bizarre.  If they had fleshed out the story a bit, maybe it wouldn’t have felt so out of place.

Deadshot (Will Smith) and Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) were the only two who got decent screen time and back story, though still not enough for my taste.  They made an effort to sum up El Diablo’s (Jay Hernandez) story with one short scene after his silent brooding for most of the movie.

While I loved Margot Robbie’s portrayal of Harley, her on-again-off-again fake New York (Gotham?) accent mixed with her natural Aussie one shining through bothered me at times.

Overall, I found the movie entertaining for the colorful performances by Leto, Robbie and Smith’s natural ability to carry any movie.  I just wish the script was written better.

AN ODE TO JARED LETO

Everyone knows I’m a huge Jared Leto fan.  Like most women my age, I was introduced to Jared as the hot guy who “leans great” in My So-Called Life.  While yes, I thought Jordan Catalano was beautiful and misunderstood, it wasn’t until I became a 30 Seconds To Mars fan in the 2000s that I actually fell for Jared.

There was something amazing, vocally and lyrically about him that I hadn’t experienced with any other music artist.  His adventurous spirit, the fact that he was a self-admitted dreamer, and vegan-ish ways have pulled me in deeper.

And while many criticize him for his method acting or think he is some Hollywood jackass, I found the one thing he truly has in common with Catalano — he is misunderstood.

Or maybe I’m just smitten and have made him into my own fictional character.  Either way, the Jared Leto I choose to love is smart, pithy, gorgeous in even the least likely styles (who else could pull off puke pink pants and a green coat?), dedicated, and truly lives life to the fullest.  And probably the biggest turn on is, he doesn’t give a F about what anyone thinks.

Maybe you hate him, maybe you met him, but like most celebrities, all we have is an image we choose to believe about them combined with what the media would like us to believe.  To that, I say, fall in love with characters, and worry about the reality when it directly involves you or the world negatively.

Enjoy this slideshow of the many looks of Jared Leto!

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98 Degrees Heats Up Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium with My2K Tour!

That's My Jam! Radio's Sandy Lo + Kindell Moore with 98 Degrees, O-Town, Dream + Ryan Cabrera
That’s My Jam! Radio’s Sandy Lo + Kindell Moore with 98 Degrees, O-Town, Dream + Ryan Cabrera | Photo Credit: Courtney Christian

By Sandy Lo

In Nashville, the Ryman Auditorium is a place of musical worship — a legend in itself.  However, the Ryman doesn’t always bring on that good old pop music we sing along to when no one’s listening.  Last night though, it was definitely brought!

Hearing 98 Degrees sing Britney Spears — or any song really — is enough incentive to see this tour, but add on a few other throwback artists, and you’ve got yourself a party on memory lane!

Opening the show was former P. Diddy backed girl group, DREAM.  Remember “He Loves U Not”?  If you were like me, a teenager in high school when that sassy jam came out, you were creating dance moves to it and singing into a hairbrush.

While Holly, Diana, Melissa and Ashley have been gone from the scene for quite some time, they still had the crowd jumping with dance hits like, “This Is Me”.

Next up was Ryan Cabrera, the pop-rocker who was hot for a few minutes in the early 2000s with songs “On The Way Down” and “True”.  While many things have changed since then, Cabrera’s hair feels like a throwback to the “yellow thorn”, which is what Drew Lachey called brother Nick’s frosted tips from the ’90s.

By the time O-Town hit the stage, the crowd was ready for some man band action.  Let’s face it, we all love a good ole boy band!  While O-Town didn’t receive the praise Backstreet Boys or *NSYNC did, mostly due to their “Making The Band” roots, these guys can hold their own.

Trevor, Erik-Michael, Jacob and Dan are truly at ease on stage — dancing, singing and taking selfies — it makes you wonder why these boys don’t receive more credit.  O-Town performed hits “Liquid Dreams”, “We Fit Together” and “All Or Nothing” along with some newer tracks off their 2014 album, Lines & Circles.

Not to let O-Town take all the My2K glory, 98 Degrees delivered a flawless set of hits and covers along with plenty of muscled arm candy!  Nick, Jeff, Drew and Justin even resurrected one of their old stage costumes — bulletproof vests and camouflage cargo pants!  YES!

We all gazed with dreamy fan girl faces on during pop classics “Because Of You”, “The Hardest Thing”, “My Everything”, and “Give Me Just One Night (Una Noche)”.  During “I Do (Cherish You)”, one very lucky girl was proposed to by the guys as she wore a wedding veil and they danced with her.  (Yeah, we were jealous too!)

Nick performed his solo hit, “What’s Left Of Me” followed by Jeff, Drew and Justin paying tribute to Prince.  Other covers included *NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye” and BSB’s “I Want It That Way”.  These guys truly put together a fun homage to the late 90s/early millennium music era that was much appreciated by the audience.

My2K Tour hits Greenville tonight and will run across the U.S. through the end of August.  Catch it while you can!  To help you reminisce, listen to our Millennium Pop playlist featuring 98 Degrees, O-Town, Dream, Ryan Cabrera + many more!

Photo Gallery

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LTL’s Debut Single “Brand New Day” Brings A Touch Of Nostalgia To 90s Boy Bands

About a year ago, I was checking out my friend and 98 Degrees member, Jeff Timmons show in New York City when I discovered his opening act, Larger Than Life. My friend DJ Sandra Dee was coming to the show with me and warned me that her friend, lead singer of Larger Than Life (LTL) was amazingly talented. She didn’t lie!

LTL are a tribute band that covers music from boy bands like New Kids On The Block, Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC and One Direction. Of course, their show was right up my alley. I sang along to every song they performed at the top of my lungs!

Larger Than Life’s Edvin Ortega is a fantastic front man and possesses all of the charisma a boy band heartthrob should have. If you live in the NYC area, I highly suggest catching one of their shows. You won’t be disappointed.

They’ll be at Mulcahy’s Pub on Long Island March 25th for the bar’s 2nd Annual Back To The 90s party. You won’t want to miss it!

If you’re not in New York, you can still get a piece of the LTL action. The band released their first original song, “Brand New Day” late last year. Smooth pop vocals mixed with happy lyrics you want to wake up to makes “Brand New Day” the perfect debut for the group.

“Brand New Day” will be included on the LTL’s upcoming EP. Get the song on iTunes!

Follow Larger Than Life on social media for plenty of boy band flashbacks, updates on their upcoming documentary and EP!

Facebook: facebook.com/WeAreLargerThanLife
Twitter: twitter.com/WeAreLTL
Instagram: Instagram.com/WeAreLargerThanLife
YouTube: youtube.com/WeAreLargerThanLife

Movie Watch: Grantham & Rose Starring Jake T. Austin, Marla Gibbs and Tessa Thompson

Rising young actor, Jake T. Austin, best known for his roles on Wizards of Waverly Place and The Fosters, stars as Grantham Portnoy, a troubled teen with blue hair and emo make-up, who ends up in a detention facility.  At the facility, he meets Rose Price (Marla Gibbs), an elderly woman who works there with an unknown title.

Rose takes an interest in Grantham’s well-being and begins to mentor him before breaking him loose from the detention facility to take a road trip in her flower decorated car.

While on the road, the two bicker over driving skills,  what’s right and wrong, but mostly have some good laughs.  While stopped at a gas station, Grantham encounters a beautiful girl, Wallis (Tessa Thompson) a few years older than he is.

After stealing a few items, Grantham offers Wallis a ride, much to Rose’s dismay.  The oddly matched duo now turns into a motley trio on a journey of cleaning out old baggage.

Grantham and Wallis relate to each other, offering comfort while Rose’s “tell it like it is” personality sometimes clashes.  Soon it becomes clear that the 80-year-old has secrets of her own that reveal her real motivation for helping Grantham.

With a solid storyline, and vague details, Grantham & Rose allows the viewer to put pieces together and fill in the blanks.  The movie does this while showcasing some wonderful upcoming talent in Austin and Thompson, and allowing Gibbs’ star to shine as the wise guiding force.

Grantham & Rose is now available from MarVista Digital Entertainment on Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, and OnDemand!  Check your local carriers for it.

For more info: http://granthamandrose.com

Watch the Trailer!