Friday, 21 April 2017
As a long time Weezer fan, the last few years have provided diminishing returns. I compare them to Cheap Trick in that you wait excitedly for every new album and you are told in advance that it's a real return to form. What you get is actually one or two killer songs accompanied by a load of disappointment.
Rivers Cuomo always seems to provide far more away from the band and the Scott And Rivers follow up to the 2013 debut is stunning. Murphy and Cuomo together offer something very different to their respective bands, Allister and Weezer.
This is J Pop, sung in Japanese and it's outstanding. There's the odd departure into ska and even rap, but largely it's great great pop and in Doo Wop, they have come up with one of the best Power Pop songs of 2017.
Normally, I'd direct to you where you can listen to and find it. However, I got hold of this via Japan from who I know rather than what I know. It is available on i-Tunes Japan here. As soon as I know of more availability I'll tell you. However I can't hold back on telling you how much that I am enjoying the album.
Wednesday, 19 April 2017
Bands have released individual songs throughout the year regularly, particularly in these Bandcamp days. The Bishop's Daredevil Stunt Club took this a few steps further. They decided to record produce and release one new song per month until the latest album was complete.
Each song was made available as a free download and the resultant album is now complete and again available as a Free Download. This may be a fairly unique strategy but the result is a really cohesive offering from the Five Piece Chicago Outfit.
The vibe is Angular Power Pop set somewhere between the late 70's to mid 80's. Miscast has as many words in it as a Bates Motel era Sparks song, Rare Bird has a great Psych Pop keyboard riff that breaks into Funk.
The opener, Have You Met You is a ringer for The Darkness, yet Just Drive could be A Flock Of Seagulls. Upstairs should be something on the Creation label. Succumb To Your Blues is in BMX Bandits or Postcard territory. What's It To You could be Fiction Factory.
The Woman Who Got Old takes me back to sweaty Northern clubs in the early 90's, great twee pop. The whole album is a pleasure to listen to and very much like the Lemmo album, it's the sort of album that you don't hear these days.
The album is not following any current trends and that makes this even more listenable to me. I get sent a whole lot of stuff and you probably can guess that it follows one of three patterns, lots of it done badly. So when you hear an album that grabs your attention, you should tell everyone, because there aren't too many around. What's more this costs the sum total of 0 pence.
You can listen to and download the album FREE here. The Bishop's Daredevil Stunt Club are also playing at the upcoming IPO Chicago Bash (sic) on 23 April. You can see the full Chicago schedule here.
Tuesday, 18 April 2017
Buttercup are back with their first album for seven years and they've been much missed. The trio of Erik Senden, Odie and Joe Reyes are joined by the Navaira brothers of Los Bandeleros fame. Album number seven is everything that the band always promised to be.
For something that was recorded from live studio takes, Battle Of Flowers is surprisingly cohesive, all 12 songs intertwine beautifully and most importantly it rocks, letting up infrequently when the band need to come up for air.
It's not all noise though, there is some great Pop present here on the likes of Vicious Rewind and the wonderful, Don't Go It Alone. These are interludes though, great intervals until the band break out again.
68 Playmate is like Lou Reed fronting a great Psych Band, Let It Drop opens the album in rocktastic form, like a Mitch Easter soundscape, it's great. Gud Girls is even better, the gem on the album. Open On / Shut Off is more of a nod to the Art Rock that they've been noted for in the past.
The problem maybe for Buttercup in the past is that maybe they've been caught between two stools. Are they Jangly, are they art rock? It's also fair to say that San Antonio Texas hasn't been the centre of the musical world, perhaps it should be.
On Battle Of Flowers, Buttercup have not only offered up their best album, but it has purpose. This is a proper album, an album you listen to from start to finish. There will be tracks that stand out, but each listen offers up something different. It may be their best ever, but it is certainly better than most around.
You can listen to and buy the album here.
An album that I've been waiting on for a few months is released on 28 April. This is more of a heads up than a full review. That full review will replace this when I can add a few more tracks for all to listen to.
Following on from 2014's superb Illustrated Bird, comes Kits & Cats And Saxon Wives. I'm fortunate enough to have the full album and it's been on repeat at ASH Towers. Fantastic Psych Pop with the emphasis on Pop.
We know that Michigan is currently the centre of Power Pop and Andy Reed adds another production to his growing admirable list. The Ann Arbor trio expand on what they provided on Illustrated Bird. All three are multi instrumentalists and offer up great harmonies comparable to the likes of The Legal Matters.
The album is available for pre-order and as you order you get the wonderful, Sinking Feeling, which features Molly Felder of Swan Dive as a guest vocalist. I can't praise the album enough, it's poptastic.
You can pre-order the album here.
Michael Lemmo's solo album last year, 3:13, was a fine thing indeed. For someone born in Pennsylvania and living in Los Angeles, the album was surprisingly UK sounding, very Bowie late 70's.
For someone who is a guitar prodigy, that album is strikingly moody and mature. If you have never heard the album, you should head over to the bandcamp page. Lemmo is now his band and the resulting album is here with us.
That late 70's feel has now moved into the 80's. If you are still looking for that Bowie comparison, Outta Line is more Nile Rodgers era. Riffs are angular. Dance Song is the biggest example of this, but London could be Inxs.
The guitar work on his debut isn't lost here, there's a fine solo on Ashley, different than a lot that is around. Philadelphia has a real mid 80's, even C86, feel. The album is at it's best when it rocks out and the back third certainly does that.
Outta Line and 1989 are real up and at 'ems and this showcases Lemmo's talent most. These lead up to the closer, the anthemic Alright. Outta Line is an album that gets better and better as it progresses, it certainly isn't an infuriating front loaded affair.
The production won't be to everyone's taste, it is very mid eighties, but that's no bad thing. I listen to so much poorly done Psych and Americana, that it's refeshing to hear something like this again, particularly when it's so well done. I like this album a lot.
You can listen to and buy the album here.
Tuesday, 11 April 2017
It's no exaggeration to say that I've been waiting for this album for three years, ever since that debut mini album Bipolar Love. I hold Greg Ieronimo with the same esteem that I do Jason Falkner and Matthew Sweet. He's better at Pop than Sweet and writes better choruses than Falkner.
April is way too early to talk about albums of the year, but Never Leaving California is up there already, the three years wait has not ended in any disappointment whatsoever. With 14 songs, it's as though he's been ensuring that the wait has been worthwhile.
The 14 songs showcase just how varied his material is. From the Weezer of Wasted, the moodiness of Make It Out to the Psych Pop of High Up Here. Beautiful Disaster is all harmony, it might just get picked up by a boy band.
Ieronimo is at his best when he rocks a bit more though. Rewind is a cracking opener, very Cotton Mather. You Love Me is jaunty Summer Pop, a stormer of a song. reminiscent of a 70's TV Show Theme, Outta Sight is so Fountains Of Wayne. King Terrible is almost Grunge.
I just can't find a chink in the album. It's a splendid affair and in Best Day Of Our Life, we may also have the best song of the year. I can't recommend Never Leaving California enough, every one of the 51 minutes counts.
This is one of those albums that you will be telling everyone about. You'll be willing it on to sell and sell and sell. There's been some fantastic Power Pop releases in the past couple of weeks. This is without doubt the best. Let's not make it one of those albums that we talk about in a decade with an incredulous look that it didn't sell more.
This is why I love Power Pop. You can listen to and buy the album here.
Although I'm known for Power Pop, I have a sort of secret life as a lover of all things Prog. To be honest, you'd be surprised how many Power Pop Big Wigs have the same Prog Tendencies, we talk about King Crimson a lot.
Portland Oregon's Last Giant give me the best of both worlds, they border on a sort of Prog Pop and it's wonderful. Their second album, Memory Of The World is a real rockathon, riff heavy, but those riffs thunder.
It really is hard to label them, that Prog is evident on Inventory, but Drastic Plastic is like Stone Sour doing New Wave. There's tons here to appeal to everyone, shades of Southern Rock, Budgie, Man, Bad Company.
In The Calm could be Black Sabbath, Coverz has a fine metal riff, All The Same could be Glam Metal. The album only slows down temporarily on the final track, Saint Paul, but that can't help itself and keeps breaking out.
With all these references, you might expect an album that's all over the place. Surprisingly it isn't in the slightest, it's really cohesive. The band hit a riff and flog it to death and that's what is so enjoyable about the whole thing.
Don't expect to sit still, there'll be a lot of head nodding to this. It reminds me of one of those great 70's Rock albums with hints of 80's Rush without all those bloody keyboards. Memory Of The World is an absolute stomping affair.
You can listen to and buy the album here.
Sunday, 9 April 2017
Robyn Gibson's band The Junipers are from Leicester and I don't know what it is about the city, but it seems to produce Jingle Jangle bands of the highest order. I've always been a fan of Diesel Park West and The Junipers are in the same mould. If you've never heard of them, you should chastise yourself and head off and grab their two albums.
Bob Of The Pops Volume 1 is an album of covers and what's more it's absolutely FREE. The album is as jangly as you'd expect from Mr Juniper, but the song selection is inspired. I'm particularly glad to see Nick Heyward's He Doesn't Love You Like I Do, an underrated gem from an underrated album.
Elsewhere, you'd expect to see some Teenage Fanclub, but not necessarily Slow Fade and Did I Say. The Power Pop nod is there with They Don't Know and the obligatory Lennon and McCartney, again Nowhere Man is a much wiser choice than the usual Hide Your Love Away.
It's also fantastic to hear The Dentists and Wire's Outdoor Miner and Honeybus's How Long is something that I don't recall being performed too often. The influences build up with The Rutles' With A Girl Like You.
The Springfields' Island Of Dreams is better than the original and there's even the theme tune to Laverne and Shirley. There's even one of Gibson's own songs to round things off. The spoof Top Of The Pops album cover is inspired, not the usual suggestive female pose and I definitely want one of those cardigans.
Well done Robyn! You can download the album free here and you can discover more about The Junipers here.
Cupid's Carnival - Everything Is Love
Although the album's cover might lead you to expect some Psych Pop, Everything Is Love is very much Beatlesque and when it's not, it's very much in that late 60's melodic pop that we know and love.
Cupid's Carnival used to be Cherrystone who released the excellent Our Life in 2008, although London based, the sound hails from further North. Girl with it's George Harrison like slide is so Beatles, I Was The Boy and Summertime are Badfinger to a tee. Sunny Days is an ELO patische, a sort of Mr Blue Sky II, very much in L.E.O. territory. There's even a cover of Whiter Shade Of Pale with Matthew Fisher on Hammond Organ.
Edison Lighthouse, Christie and some of the better mid 70's Pop Rock bands spring readily to mind, the whole album is a blast. The Right Time is perhaps a bit too Oasis for my liking, but Everything Is Love is great Summer Pop.
This seems the type of album that would do great business on Bandcamp. Strangely it's not present put you can find details of how to pick it up here.
The Move - Magnetic Waves Of Sound
Here he goes talking about The Move again. When I look around at all this music gathered over the period of 40 years plus, it all stems back to The Move and Sparks. In fact when Tez goes into one of her grumbles about the CD Wallpaper, I blame Roy Wood. Whilst the rest of St Helens were listening to Mud and Shang-A-Langing, this was my life.
The Move have been compiled to death, compilations seem to appear annually and so the Best Of is not that extraordinary. There's been some effort adding the likes of Cherry Blossom Revisited and What, but The Move to me are Looking On, Feel Too Good and The Girl Outside.
The real joy though is the DVD. The full Colour Me Pop Broadcast plus the Beat Club performances of Brontosaurus and When Alice Comes Back To Farm. Cherry Red's Esoteric offshoot generally do a good job of these reissues. I'm particularly looking forward to the upcoming Patto stuff. My one gripe here is that the 1971 footage isn't included and that's been around in great quality on Bootleg for years. Everyone should see Down On The Bay from that.
You can buy this CD and DVD set at Cherry Red's website here and everywhere else.
Who Killed Nancy Johnson - The Cops and Robbers EP
Reading based Who Killed The Nancy Johnson have released their debut EP and it's particularly good. Although you can hear Garage Rock influences, the thoughts of late 70's New Wave spring to mind.
They hit a riff and it's a loud one. The Ruts and The Rich Kids plus the better Manc Bands of that era are nodded at. However, these four songs could easily be on Tsar's second album. The spirit of Indie is alive and well and you can imagine the band are a pretty hot live act with some interesting covers.
All four songs are ace, but Stay Out Late appeals most to me, very 70's UK Wave and all the better for it. You can listen to the EP here and buy it for the ridiculously chap price of two quid.
Deacon Blue - Live At Glasgow Barrowlands
On such a poptastic Blog as this that celebrates the new and undervalued you would be surprised to read about Deacon Blue. A lot of UK Pop from the 80's is either rubbish or sounds incredibly dated. So you cherish those who extended beyond the electronic drums. That list includes Nik Kershaw, Nick Heyward, ABC and of course Deacon Blue.
Those first three albums stand up with anything else around snd Dignity stands up as one of the finest singles. When you listen to this great live set of 27 songs, you realise just how many great songs they were responsible for and that you know. Ricky Ross has a fine set of pipes and although they've never been particularly hip, they are particularly good.
You can buy this Double CD and DVD set for just over a tenner everywhere.
Friday, 7 April 2017
The Sugarbush label had a tremendous 2016 and 2017 is proving even better. Keep You Safe is an absolute revelation. I listen to so many harmonies and riffs that it's refreshing to hear something so mellow and magnetic.
The Breretons are based around brother and sister, Marc and Charlotte Brereton. It's easy to note them down as Folk, the album will appeal though to Buckingham Nicks or Laura Marling fans. Charlotte's voice is simply stunning.
The nearest comparison I can think of is Christine McVie, but at times Annie Haslam springs to mind. It's not all about the female vocal though, when Marc takes his turn, I'm reminded of John Martyn.
His vocal on Locked Up rocks the six piece up a bit and is accompanied by a great background vocal that is very Fleetwood Mac. Fake could be Kris Kristofferson and Rita Coolidge. I Think I May, I Think I Might could be Sandy Derry era Fairport Convention.
The album is at it's best though when it gets moody and Charlotte's voice is at the forefront, particularly on Beat and When We Were Young. That Voice is truly a splendid thing, wonderfully broody.
I'm not sure that I would have listened to this if it had not appeared on Sugarbush. The label has such a mark of quality now that I will automatically play anything that is released. I'm so glad that I did, Keep You Safe is a beautifully made album. I can't wait to hear more in the future.
You can buy the album here.
It's fantastic to see that The Secret Goldfish are back and a shame that it's took nearly 17 years to finish their third album, Petal Split. One of Scotland's finest have been well worth the wait, the album is an absolute joy.
You always felt that the band would have been on the Postcard label but for their ages and there is of course, the C86 connection with Fizzbombs. This is however Pop at it's finest. The influences are present Orange Juice, Aztec Camera, at times as though Teenage Fanclub are fronted by Sarah Cracknell.
They can get noisy though and there is that early Garage Rock that they could do. But overall it's the Suzanna Hoffs like vocals of Katy McCullars that make this such a great listen, particularly when it jangles on songs like Good Kissers.
The Riffs on opener, O Pioneers are Power Pop Heaven and there are two inspired covers. Vic Goddard's Outrageous Things is made far more optimistic and the moody cover of Edwyn Collins's Ain't That Always The Way is inspired.
It's really wonderful to have the band back. Summer Pop with depth, there is not nearly enough of this around. Please don't take so long with the next one.
You can listen to and buy the album here.
Queen had released their album, The Game in 1980. It was a pleasant enough pop album, particularly after the mish mash of the previous album Jazz, but there weren't too many surprises as four of the ten songs had been released as singles ahead of the release.
In the downtime from touring that album, Roger Taylor recorded his first solo album in Montreux. In the late 70's I had put together a cassette mix of Taylor's one song per Queen album, adding the I Wanna Testify 7 Inch Single. It was a great listen, his stuff was very different to the rest of Queen's output.
There was a simplistic beauty to his songs. The likes of Tenement Funster, Drowse and the B Side, A Human Body provided a really enjoyable listen, no bombast at all. Fun In Space continued that trend, the most notable difference to his Queen output was that there was a lot of synths present.
The album had a Sci Fi comic theme and feel to it. It was largely what he had done previously, but fleshed out and with more attention paid. Future Management, No Violins and Good Times Are Now fitted in with what had gone before.
The other songs showcased different ideas and that's when the album got interesting. The 50's Rock and Roll of Let's Get Crazy, Airheads which sounds so City Boy and the two longer pieces. My Country (Parts I and II) is a sort of more modern Dance With The Devil and then there's the title track.
Fun In Space is a brooding moody keyboard led joy, remote from Taylor's usually upbeat offerings. The album did ok in the UK and sold little in the States despite Queen's ascendancy there at the time. Now might be the time for you to Yanks to hear the album's many merits.
Omnivore have made a really wise choice releasing this and it's not quite as good follow up, Strange Frontiers. Three Bonus Tracks are added including the A and B of I Wanna Testify which was a real rarity for a long time.
You can buy the album here there and everywhere.
Thursday, 6 April 2017
Whilst I ponce around in suit, tie and waistcoat pretending to be a Pop Empresario, I'm a little behind on reviews which will arrive here over the next few days. In the meantime my great friend Mick Dillingham has been utilised to review the current Luck Of Eden Hall album. Mick covered the band in greater detail here in our early days.
When Anything Should Happen began over 8 years ago, my main compardre was Mick. We shared similar tasted and both of us were really excited about bands who didn't get enough attention, past and present.
There are bands that I cherish and confidently know, even without even hearing a single note that any new album is going to be yet another ten out of ten classic of creative splendour. The Luck of Eden Hall's latest platter upon us and the same rules apply.
The Acceleration of Time was never going to be better than or not quite as good as what has gone before because what has gone before has always perfection You can absolutely guarantee any new release by the band is going to be equally magnificent. As of course it is just that, because with The Luck of Eden Hall it always is.
There are a lot of excellent psychedelic bands to enjoy these days but this lot are effortlessly and without doubt in my mind the finest of the lot. Brilliant songs, adventurous, masterful production and dazzling musical skills are the benchmarks here.
All this is combined with an absolute love for what they are creating and this makes the band a constant joy to behold. So what have they rolled out so resplendently for us this time you ask? Fifteen tracks of excellent acid tinged creativity opening with the guitar driven, mellotron soaked, hook laden pop perfection of Slow. It bursts out of the speakers in breathless pandemonium.
Greg Curvey and Mark Lofgren seem to have a bottomless well of melodies to call upon and as always there’s not a single moment of weakness or filler in the song department. While the band never shirk from the psychedelic riches that we love them for.
There is a progressive detail to the musicianship that subtly grows with each album as they challenge themselves to complex detailed playing of the highest order. What a wonderful listen this brilliant album is from start to finish. The Luck of Eden Hall are a truly classic combo to take to your heart and never let go.
You can listen to and buy the album here. It is also available on CD and a Special Edition Pop Up CD. Sadly both double LP Vinyl Editions are sold out now.
Monday, 3 April 2017
I have a confession to make. Michael Slawter passed me by and now I feel a bit silly. My good friend Rob at dB's Repercussion recommended him a few years ago and I'd knew and liked The Saving Graces, but I'd never followed him on from there.
Well now I have and this is a great album. Futureman Records have got a hold of it and that's always a sign of quality. So the 2007 album is now extended to 15 songs and it's a cracking listen from start to finish.
There's lots of Jangle and the comparisons to the dB's are obvious. Maybe with Slawter hailing from Winston-Salem, a Mitch Easter influence is to be expected and there is. The Spongetones' Jamie Hoover, co-produces and plays on the album and that shows too.
The songs hit a riff and ram it home. This is great melodic pop, reminiscent at times of Glenn Tilbrook or Michael Carpenter. There's hints of REM at times and it doesn't rock out often, but when it does the songs are just as good. Particularly the likes of Ticker Tape Plan.
The Queen Of All She Sees is very Mike Viola and The Crashing Down is one of those story songs that Ron Sexsmith does so well until it bursts into a great jingly chorus. The Rest Of The Day even sounds like Summer Scotish Pop from the late Eighties.
The album probably feels more at home in the mellow pop of Too Dumb For You and Leave Her Alone. But there's plenty of variance here for all and I particularly love Count To 10 which sounds like it could be on an Ian McNabb album. This is a beautifully produced album that deserves a place in anyone's home.
You can listen to and buy the album here. It's a snip at seven dollars.
For those not in the loop, Phil Seymour is looked upon as a Power Pop god. Firstly for his stint with Dwight Twilley, another Power Pop hero, up to 1978 and then his two solo albums, released in the early Eighties.
What will also appeal to people in this fourth Archive volume is who Seymour is with. Where as the first three releases were the two albums with extra stuff and a live offering, this really delves into the vault.
In the downtime between record deals, Seymour utilised 1978 and 1979 well. He played drums on Moon Martin's Shots From A Cold Nightmare, which included the original Bad Case Of Loving You and the 20 / 20 debut album. He also sang the second vocal on Tom Petty's American Girl and Breakdown.
These 1978 sessions are gems. The first five are from a session with Denny Cordell in London with Chris Spedding on Guitar. Two songs have been released before, but it's nice to have the sessions complete now.
The other nine had Steve Allen and Ron Flynt from 20 / 20 on them, so the Power Pop chops of the release grows and grows. All 14 songs are covers, although you have one from Dwight Twilley and one from Steve Allen. These were sessions for Warner Brothers in Los Angeles.
Everyone wanted to work with Seymour in the early Eighties including Phil Spector, he was marked for great things. However, similarly to his time in the Dwight Twilley Band, he suffered from labels going bust.
In 1984, he joined the Textones and during a tour in 1986 he was diagnosed with Lymphona. Returning to Tulsa for extensive treatment, he scaled down his work considerably, eventually passing away in 1993.
He leaves behind a legacy with his solo albums and those two Dwight Twilley albums showing how influential he was in the Power Pop scene, in particular the bands that came out of New Wave. There's not a lot of streaming stuff around to allow me to post songs from this excellent collection. So I've embedded Looking For The Magic from the album and also his most famous solo song.
This album can be bought from Ray at Kool Kat here or at your usual online emporium.
With IDHAS taking off as it has, I've been pulled in different directions, all very welcome of course. This has also applied to what I've been listening to, so it's really nice to be back on familiar territory with New Jersey's The Modulators.
When Power Pop hit New Wave, the scene became a joy for me. So many great bands, The Records, The Beat, The Knack, The Plimsouls, Marshall Crenshaw etc offered up great sub 3 minute songs with hooks and choruses.
The Modulators can be compared to any of those names. Maybe a bit more jangle, certainly nodding more to Merseybeat than Big Star or Badfinger. The trio had been around since the Early 80's, but their only album from that period, Tomorrow's Coming, appeared in 1984.
Three singles had appeared before this. Ray at Kool Kat made the album available again and then a completely surprising follow up of new recordings in 2015 on Try Try Try, Try Try Try is still available from Kool Kat with a bonus disc. Tomorrow's Coming's reappearance on New York's Manufactured Recordings Label is really good news.
The sound is very much that 80's sound, vocals upfront with hooks aplenty. It's very much in the mould of The Knack in particular, but there are departures. If You Let Her Go could be Aztec Camera, Own Little World is a much later 60's vintage sounding.
There's a load of stuff here for those who already have the album. The singles are added to the original 9 Track album. Also present are 13 (count 'em) demos. This is simply great Pop from a trio that could easily hold their own with the names that released more albums.
You can listen to and buy the album here.
Sunday, 2 April 2017
Boston based Peter Buzzelle has previously offered up two really good albums, To Telescope and Museum Of. Both contained well crafted Power Pop, plenty of hooks and choruses. Both were fine albums, comparable with what a lot of the Power Pop crowd were doing.
However, the past couple of years have seen him hooking up with The Academy and there being an indication of more crunch coming to the sounds and songs. Devil Love emphasises that beautifully, it's a cracking album.
The sound is so much bigger, the production clearer and the album as a whole rocks. The space is filled with guitars. The album stands fair and squarely in Matthew Sweet territory and that's what we've been missing in the past few years.
Cleverly written songs that suddenly twist with a hook at times a la Jason Falkner. There's Big Star or The Posies comparisons on I'll Never Give Up, even Jackson Browne on Wing Of A Dove and maybe even The Jayhawks on Best Friends.
Those three songs close the album and somewhat slow it down from what it's best at which is when it riffs. Black Raven could be a prime time Matthew Sweet song. What We Got has a Teenage Fanclub Riff over what could be a Postcard label song.
The gem though is the opener, Down By The Seashore, unexpected twists mean it starts like Jonathan Richman before breaking into a real chorus stomp and Summer Pop. Peter Buzzelle has come up with an ace album. It's a great listen across all 11 songs.
You can listen to and buy the album for a bargain 7 dollars here.
Friday, 31 March 2017
Jeff Rosenstock has been around a while now. The move from Brooklyn to Hollywood may have seemed to mellow him, but his following won't believe that. He's the Ska Punk Icon that was one of the first in with the Pay What You Want album.
He's also a great lyricist and that has got lost in his shouty past. So it's easy to accept his third solo album as going for a bigger market, but if you've paid attention to what's gone before, Worry is a national progression.
So he may come across as Jim Carroll fronting Green Day and there is some of that, but this album, more than any in his past, probably represents his influences more than any other. There is the odd bit of shouting at times, but the melody and the riffs shine through any of that.
Long term fans will love Bang On The Door and Planret Luxury plus the ska of Rainbow, but it's when he gets into New Wave and Power Pop that it gets more interesting. Then you note the lyrics more and more.
There's more here about Indie Pop than Emo, loads of singalong stuff like While You're Alive. Staring Out The Window Of Your Old Apartment could be the ballad on a UK 70's Glam Rock album. It's an ace song.
This is a great album. Some will say Jeff Rosenstock has sold out, others will say he's grown up. As an outsider, I look at what's in front of me and Worry is a fine affair. There's enough to interest the old and much more to gather up the new.
One of the better albums that I've heard this year. 17 songs is a lot to get through, but at 38 minutes, the album is just the right length. You can listen to and buy the album here.
I have only one problem with Thorncraft Cobra and that's the name. It conjures up images of Melodic Metal and long and loud guitar solos, not the note perfect Pop Rock that they actually offer up. Their second album follows on beautifully from the debut, Count It In.
It's hardly surprising because the duo consist of ex Brown Eyed Susan, Billy Zimmer and Tammy Glover, known more for her time in my beloved Sparks. The Distance comes across somewhere between a more melodic The Eagles and the mid 70's UK bands that we know and love.
They are their best when the melody and harmonies meet and Fade To White is a perfect example of that. No One Believes her sounds so Jason Falkner whilst Caught In Between could easily appear on a Stealers Wheel album.
Serenade The Silence is one of those epics that used to end Brit Pop albums from say Embrace and the closer, Pretty Dilemma reminds me a bit of Teenage Fanclub. The Distance is a really accomplished Pop Rock album. it has everything that you need from the genre and that's the way I like it.
You can find out more details about Thorcraft Cobra and listen to and buy the album here.
We're back In Michigan, Detroit to be exact. So you'd expect something chiming with riffs and harmonies.Bonny Doon are not from that school. I've seen them labelled as Garage and Punk, they are neither of those things.
Bill Lennox's lazy vocals are a cross between Lou Reed and Tom Petty and there is a Velvet Underground on the likes of Lost My Way. His almost spoken drawl on I See You is Reed to a tee. But the band's arrangements make them stand far away from the Stooges and Strokes wannabes.
At times there's almost a country feel, but Relieved has a Motown feel to the arrangement, Summertime Friends is in Summer Pop mode. You Can't Hide is pure Big Sur, Never Been To California is almost a jam with everyone wearing their cowboy hats.
Evening All Day is again very Lou Reed like with a country twang or imagine him backed by The Heartbreakers. The vocal will not be to everyone's taste, but if you like your songs laid back and chilled, you'll love them.
It's a refreshing change at the moment to hear something grown up, less harmonies, less riffs, more of a vibe and feel. The arrangements are great, sometimes jam like, sometimes more complex. But my overriding thought after two or three listens to the album is one of contentment in hearing something that others aren't doing at the moment.
You can listen to and buy the album here. You can get the band's two EPs as free downloads there too.
Wednesday, 29 March 2017
Barcelona's Suzy And Los Quattro are back with album number four and after a slight departure with the previous pensive album, Hank, it's back to what they are best at. Faster And Louder is in Holly And The Italians territory and there is no greater compliment.
Suzy And Los Quattro are like a rocked up Rubinoos and that's no surprise as they've supported the power pop greats, plus Tommy Dunbar co-writes Matilda here. The riff quota is high here and when you note Robbie Rist adding Guitar on five of the ten songs, that's to be expected.
Here We Go Again comes across as early Blondie, PMS is almost thrash metal. Walk Away is also sped up. Everybody is more New Wave than Power Pop whilst Be With You rocks like a good 'un.
The band are at their best though when the concentration is on the melody, the riffs shine through and whilst these songs won't translate as well as Be With You in a live setting, they showcase what the band is best at.
Matilda is pure Rubinoos, Tommy Dunbar and Robbie Rist's involvement ensures that. You suspect with all the band members having Quattro surnames that they want to be The Ramones. There's nothing wrong with that at all, don't we all, but there is far more to them than that.
This is classic New Wave Power Pop comparable to the likes of The Knack and The Records and that is where they shine. I don't hear many sounding as good with original songs. This is a cracking album. Just over 25 minutes of hooks and choruses. What's not to like?
You can listen to and buy the album here. You should, at 7 Euros it's an absolute snip.
I've been meaning to review this for a while. I'd planned to post it as part of a I Do Hear A Single thing, but I haven't done one for a while and the EP deserves stand alone attention. Cavan's Paul McCann has spent time around the likes of Duncan Maitland and it shows.
The stand out song is the Power Pop Gem, Keep The Devil Within. It has all the hooks and jangles required and it's testament to Paul that the rest of the EP isn't from the same mould.
Widow Maker Blues features Majella O'Reilly and is storytelling Folk Country with banjo and all the twangs. All The Words You Say is a big ballad, very 70's, very good with a fine guitar solo. The Magician is like Jefferson Airplane in singalong mode. It's a sweeping five and a half minutes with a late 60's West coast solo.
All in all, The Magician is a really varied four track EP. Although it shows off Paul's obvious talent, the variance may confuse people as to what he's about. It's a splendid introduction, but I can't help feeling that the strength of Keep The Devil Within means that Power Pop is his true way forward.
You can buy the EP here, there and everywhere.
Leeds's Captain Wilberforce are another band that should be far far bigger than they are. There are so many Neil Finn and Crowded House fans around and you wonder why they are not also buying Captain Wilberforce too.
It's been six years since the magnificent Ghost Written Confessions and for album Number Four, Black Sky Thinking, Simon Bristoll has lost none of his songwriting excellence. The album is a perfect example of how great Pop should be made.
There seems a little more of a mellow feel on songs like Couples and You Can't Have Me which ramp up the Finn comparisons, there's a particularly great piano accompaniment on the latter. King Of Decision is McCartney Beatles Pop of the highest order.
There are hints of Psych Pop too, especially on the opener, the splendid, The Johnny Depp Memorial Cafe. Stickleback Toffee could be a soundtrack to those old Saturday Morning Cartoons. The Closing title track is pure psych and reveals a side of the band that I love, pre 60's Strawberry Psych.
Black Sky Thinking sounds much more like a band album than previous albums which you sense have been Simon Bristoll and others. The 12 songs make up a proper album, none of this download one song rubbish.
If there is any justice in the world, this album will be massive. The support of Kool Kat in the States should assist this. This is one of the most pleasant listens that I've had in a long while. I expected nothing less.
The fantastic news is that for a limited period, the album is available as a Name Your Price on Bandcamp here. You have no excuse but to head over there now.
Tuesday, 28 March 2017
The Verve Pipe are back with their second Long Player in three years and Parachute is as expected, great. The Verve Pipe are largely Brian Van Der Ark and others now, particularly since Donny Brown hasn't been around since Are We There Yet? Brown has gone on to be a session drummer of choice and seems to have appeared on most of the best Power Pop albums of the last 12 months.
Van Der Ark hasn't been loitering in the interim though. Apart from The Verve Pipe, there's house concerts, his motivational speaking appearances, solo albums, even working with Jeff Daniels. I seem to remember a time when he was a sort of internet marketing guru.
The Verve Pipe are not the only band to have been involved in recording albums for children, but their two, A Family Album and Are We There Yet? are amongst the best in that field and the merchandising opportunities for artists involved in these releases are excellent.
Known to many as one hit wonders for The Freshmen, there has always been far more to them that and rather than the lazy writing from the unconverted about the rise and fall, the album quality has rarely dropped. I can only think of one iffy one, 1999's patchy self titled affair. The band are also responsible for one of the best albums that few have ever bothered to hear, 2001's Underneath.
Parachute consists of eight songs that have been digital only releases from the past year or so with two new songs available across all platforms. It's a really coherent album. Van Der Ark sounds more like Peter Gabriel these days and songs like Nothing Like Your Love and The Favourite Son could be Big Big Train.
Songs like the epic Grieve For The Girl are very different, that is a sort of Prog Americana. Fear not though, there's plenty of classic Verve Pipe present on the likes of I Can't Get You Off My Mind and The Fine Line. All in all, a splendid effort and there is far more to come from the band.
The album can be bought from the band's website here. It's also available everywhere else.
Saturday, 25 March 2017
The Bordellos hail from the same town that I do. A town that once made things and offered hope, but there's little of both these days. To give you a feeling of the town, on the drive in during the lead up to Christmas, the billboards advertise the town centres of other towns.
Whereas, I am known for all things Power Pop, particularly in the UK, The Bordellos are the type of band that I listen to away from the madding crowd. They are never going to be massive, but they are always going to be inventive and that matters far more to me.
It's really hard to pigeon hole the band and I would never try to do that. Suffice to say they are in the mould of Half Man Half Biscuit or any Martin Newell creation. Deliciously lo-fi and as you'd expect they have appeared on the Fruits De Mer label. The Megadodo label is another place that you'd hope to find them.
It's not all Indie doodling though. The three piece can venture into the Prog Rock territory of the likes of Todd Dillingham and The Bevis Frond, yet could easily be The Fall. The best example of what they can do is the wonderful Ronco Revival Sound album which can still be bought here.
The band release a great deal of their archive on their Bandcamp Page. A mix of demos, outtakes and rarities recorded over their nigh on 15 year existence can be downloaded FREE there. My suggestion would be to download everything to realise how varied and ace that they can be.
It is so out there, that not everything will appeal, but there is something for everyone and that's part of the joy of discovering great music. You can then head off and buy their commercial releases now or in the future.
The three songs here show the band's versatility. From my own favourite, a 4 Track Demo of the wonderful, Arthur Lee to the Prog Out of The Left Hand (God Complex).
You can download and listen to their archive here.
Thursday, 23 March 2017
Pub Rock has suffered a really bad press. The bands never sold that many records and were looked upon with a bit of contempt by the artists who benefited from the aftermath of that scene. Graham Parker couldn't believe what The Rumour had been playing before they hooked up being one example.
There's also the long told story that Punk killed the pompousness of Prog Rock and bands that had lost touch with their audience, but that was never the whole story. Punk did bring a DIY element to the music scene, but the reaction had already begun four years earlier. Gigs before 1972 had largely become sit down affairs where you lost yourself in the technical wonderment of the 10 minute guitar solo.
Pub Rock brought gigs back to the people. You stood up, could drink and dance and felt like you'd had a good night out. These bands may have not sold a lot of physical albums, but they are remembered lovingly by those around the time. It may have amounted to a large dose of Country Rock, but these bands became a large part of the UK New Wave that was to flourish after Punk.
Bands such as Kursaal Flyers, Ace and Kilburn And The High Roads and Brinsley Schwarz supplied New Wave joy with The Blockheads, The Records, The Rumour and Squeeze. We should not forget Flip City with the early Elvis Costello nor bands who had a great influence like Dr Feelgood and Eddie And The Hot Rods. The latter's influence on Punk and Music fans today is as great as it has always been.
Chilli Willi And The Red Hot Peppers were one of the better examples of the genre. People who once derided them will fall over themselves to tell you how great the Americana and Bluegrass is from 25 years later.
The band was formed by Martin Stone of Mod Poppers, The Action and Savoy Brown and Philip Lithman who went on to be a key part of The Residents. The duo were offered a contract to record an album following on from the impact of the Glastonbury Festival scene. Bob Andrews, Nick Lowe and Billy Rankin were borrowed from Brinsley Schwarz to record the resulting Kings Of The Robot Rhythm, released in 1972.
It was soon realised that the band needed to tour and so Paul Bailey, Paul Riley and future Attraction, Pete Thomas were recruited. This line up recorded the second album, Bongos Over Balham, in 1974 and were part of the legendary Naughty Rhythms Tour of 1975, a precursor for those Stiff Tours that were to follow.
Those two albums offer up some really pleasant Country / Bluegrass Rock.music that you can dance to. Bongos Over Balham in particular remains as good an album as it sounded then. Proper Music are doing a fine job currently of releasing long lost stuff, as well as having the likes of Ian Hunter on the label.
They were recorded at a time when the States was very much "over there". Press And Radio didn't reflect what was happening in the States and so it relied on bands to tell us, particularly Country Rock wise.
In this two disc package, you get both albums, the Chalk Farm Demos for Kings Of The Robot Rhythm, Hope And Anchor Demos and additional live recordings. It's certainly time to reassess the impact of Pub Rock and this anthology at it's bargain price is a great place to start.
You can buy the album here and everywhere.
Wednesday, 22 March 2017
Michigan appears to be the centre of the Power Pop Universe world at the moment and Your Gracious Host maintain that reputation. Tom Curless has all the hooks, but this isn't straight ahead verse verse chorus verse chorus.
Boomerang is more reminiscent of those halcyon Not Lame Days and the likes of The Shazam et al. There's certainly a more concerted guitar crunch than on the previously excellent band releases and ventures into Psych Pop.
It's the variation that impresses me most. The Psych of Some Expectations is in complete contrast to the Country Pop of Spritely. Just Like A Train jingles and jangles whilst Sun Machine could be early Dodgy.
Wake Sleep Travel could be Madchester, yet You See Right Through Me is in Squeeze Territory. Boomerang is particularly good when it lets rip on the likes of Sweetness and Never Been So Blind, both Pop Rock at it's best.
If you like your melodic rock, this is the album for you. I love it. It does take me back to those 90's days when Power Pop was gonna change the world and reminds me of America's answer to Brit Pop. There are very Brit influences, but the thing that shines through are the well written songs and the hooks.
Boomerang is a beautifully produced album and a joy to listen to.
You can listen to and buy the album here.
Tuesday, 21 March 2017
I love being surprised by music, particularly as I so rarely am. There is some great Pop around at present, be it Power Pop or Indie, you just have to root for it. You are certainly not going to fall over it or hear it on TV or Radio.
I appreciate it even more when it's close to home and so Chris Mullin's Myself Fooling Me is quite a revelation to these ears. Chris is co-songwriter for The Sums who continued from Noel Gallagher darlings Smaller.
The Sums continue to spread the spirit of Brit Pop, but the band are so electric that these stripped down solo songs caught me off guard. I can see why they wouldn't necessarily fit on a Sums album, but I'm delighted that they've finally seen the light of day.
There's a melodic rawness to all six songs and the man can certainly bring a hook to the proceedings. There's even Jazz tints on the likes of Colour Of Pain and Folk on Who Took The Beat and throughout you get surprised by an unexpected arrangement or instrumental break.
The real gem though is the closer, Myself Fooling Me. Paul McCartney worked on the song with Mullin during a One To One Jamming Session and contributed both the Mid 8 and the title. It's a haunting song with a wonderful Psych Pop accompaniment.
Chris Mullin is a busy boy with his commitments as bass player in Hurricane #1 and The Sums, but more EP's are planned throughout the year. I can't wait, this first one is exceptional. It's great melodic pop.
The EP is available from all the major download retaillers. You can also buy it from the solo Bandcamp page here.
I return to Scandinavian Pop and the output from those countries at present is stunning. The Pot Beach hail from North West Norway and they've conjured up a platter of pop joy. Comparisons will be made to A-ha and that's no bad thing, but there is far more to the band than that.
Behind the sweet Beatles Pop are some fine arrangements, again very 70's orientated, but beautifully formed. There's a melancholia that lurks under the sugared soundtrack. This is a really pleasant album.
There's something special about a band including a song written when they were 15 year olds being included because the fans demanded it, that's the case with Bloody School. It is out of kilter with the rest of the album's beautifully constructed pop/
Light In The Dark is built around a Steve Winwood like keyboard arrangement, I Love You could be written by Graham Gouldman, whilst Run Away's lazy vocal is very A-ha. No Place For Us In History is a gem, particularly the guitar arrangement.
The Pot Beach are never going to rock out with fuzz, but the up tempo Give My Soul Away comes closest. A Day Like Yesterday reminds me of Bread, Unconditional Love is one of those big 70's Pop Rock Ballads with some great orchestration.
The stand out song though is When You're Gone, it reminds me of Trickster and has a haunting solo in a stunningly good song. A Day Like Yesterday is a really fine album, an album that doesn't seem to get made in the UK any more, which is sad. but reflective of the times.
You can buy the album for download from the likes of Amazon here and the CD from CD Baby here.
It's unusual to review a debut album that will also be a final one. However the untimely death of Eric Scott dictates this and so I'm For The Flowers also becomes a tribute. 20 years in the making, Scott's songwriting partner and lead vocalist, Kim Wonderley and the band have offered up a corker of an album.
The Flywheels include the excellent John Moremen of The Orange Peels and his presence partially explains the high Psych Pop quota and that's to be celebrated. There's also a cast of outstanding helpers on this fine affair.
Scott McCaughey, Peter Buck and Roy Loney are present. It's always great to see The Smithereens' Rhythm section of Dennis Diken and Mike Mesaros reunited. The album's produced by Allen Clapp and Chris Von Sneidern, so the quality is further explained.
Wonderley's vocals are varied from the Bangles Pop of Counting To Eleven to the Texas like Pop Rock of Red Tail Lights. Let Me Take You Down is almost Country whilst I'm For The Flowers is pure Garage Psych.
Dream Of Life continues the excellent Psych Pop and you can almost envisage The Muffs on Astronaut Motel. The excellence of the supporting cast shouldn't detract from this being a Flywheels album and in particular, how strong a vocalist, Kim Wonderley is.
As well as being a fine album, this is a fitting tribute to Eric Scott. I'm sure he's rocking daily with Jimmy Silva. I'm For The Flowers demands your attention.
You can listen to and buy the album here.