Thursday, August 20, 2015

Mid-August Roundup.

Caddy-The Better End. Swede Tomas Dohl is back for his first album in several years as Caddy, and it's another glorious collection of Teenage Fanclub-by-way-of-Brian-Wilson-inspired power pop. Choice cuts: "Here it Comes Again", "Something About Carina".

Kool Kat | iTunes

The Labradors-Hate Summer EP. Italy has been the home of some power pop we've featured here before, most notably Radio Days, and here are Milan's The Labradors with a rocking 4-song EP that recalls Superdrag as well as their aforementioned compatriots. The whole thing's only 12 minutes so instead of reading me writing about, just give it a listen below.


The Key Frames-Monophone Heart EP. This Toronto band is known for its Big Star-meets-Blue Rodeo sound, and most of the tracks on this EP are quality rootsy tunes. But then there's "Tidal Wave", one of my favorite songs of the year and a dead ringer for a lost Sloan track from Patrick Murphy.


Andy Bopp-21213 EP. The erstwhile frontman of Myracle Brah returns with another solo EP, which unlike some of his previous EPs that delved in genres like 50s rockabilly, is more in line with his former's band contemporary power pop sound. The rollicking "Broken Ties" is a standout, as is the bright pop of "Hello". Bopp til you drop with this one.


Tuesday, August 04, 2015

They're back!

Two power pop artists who were big in the previous decade but haven't been heard from in ages are back this week.

Cloud Eleven-Record Collection. Rick Gallego returns for his first record as Cloud Eleven since 2006's Sweet Happy Life. And listening to Record Collection, you'll never know nine years passed by as it's another collection of Gallego's diverse pop stylings. In fact, the title is apt as it sounds like Gallego mined his record collection for inspiration here, from the Beatlesque title track (with a "Penny Lane"-style horn opening) to "The Mystic's Mistake" and "As You Are" (the kind of dreamy pop found on Sweet Happy Life) as well as Bacarach-ian "Too Soon Was Yesterday" and the more traditional power pop of "High as the Rising Sun". And there's a track titled "Indian Guru" that sounds exactly like you think it would. You'll definitely want to add this to your, um, record collection.

iTunes | CD Baby

The Small Square-The Small Square. While Cloud Eleven may be a recognizable name in the power pop community, you may not know The Small Square. But you probably do know the guys who make up the band, Paul Chastain, the primary creative force behind Velvet Crush, and John L. Richardson who's played and worked with Tommy Keene, Gin Blossoms, and Joey Molland/Badfinger. It's been over a decade since the last Velvet Crush album but this album will fill the VC-sized hole in your collection, if not your heart. There's plenty to enjoy here: The melodic midtempo opener "So Low", the Velvet Crush-like power pop of "Dream Faker (Open Your Heart)" and "Otherwhile", and the dreamy psych-pop of "Enough to Know". An excellent collection, and another power popper back in the fold.

iTunes | Bandcamp

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Weekend Roundup.

Zugzwang Netural-The Faded Promise of a Rise and Rally. A "zugzwang" is a situation in a game (typically chess) in which you're put at a disadvantage regardless of which available move you make. In the case of the new EP from Zugzwang Neutral, the only zugzwang move would be NOT giving their sophisticated pop a listen. The sound here is a blend of Michael Penn, Rob Laufer and a less-British-sounding Pugwash, from the graceful opener "Broken Wings" to the midtempo gem "Less to Say" through the standout closing track "Ghost Town".

iTunes | Stream EP here

Mark Pountney-Mark II. Liverpudlian Mark Pountney's second album is his first that caught my attention, and it's a fine, tuneful collection of various Britpop styles. Leadoff track "Tell Me Why" isn't a cover of the Beatles classic, but embodies their sound and spirit, as does "Time to Find Her" which channels the mid-period Fab Four with a subtle "I Feel Fine" guitar lick. "Just Can't Seem to Get You Off My Mind" is a piano ballad that's Hollies-esque, and the also-piano-based "Love in the Morning" has a solo Lennon feel while the trippy closer "Dream" owes a debt to Oasis.

iTunes | Listen at Spotify

Saturday, July 04, 2015

July 4 Roundup.

Some quick hitters on this Independence Day (ironically they're mostly Britpop):

Michael Collins-Last Laugh. He hails from NYC, but Collins sounds like he's from London with this album of bouyant Britpop, and "What Does it Take to Walk Away?" might be the catchiest, most joyous song I've heard this year. Definitely summer-appropriate. iTunes

Chris Cole & The Circus-Still Rolling With the Times. Speaking of Britpop, here's Britpop from an actual Brit. Cole's sound here belongs in a mix with the latest Noel Gallagher album, and highlights include the anthemic "To Find Peace in This Place", the fine "Got to Let Her Go" and the title track which recalls Oasis' epic "All Around the World" if it hadn't been stretched out to seven minutes. CD Baby

Gordon Weiss-It's About Time. After a 7-year absence (perhaps referenced in the album title), Gordon Weiss is back with the followup to Sum of its Parts, another collection of sophisticated, intelligent pop in the vein of Elvis Costello and Wilco. The standout tracks here are "The Ugly Inside", the theatrical "The Great Imitator" and the rocking "Thanks I Get". Bandcamp

Zach Vinson-How We Spend Our Days EP. Nashvillian Zach Vinson's sound is high energy piano pop in the vein of Bens Folds and Kweller, while vocally he resembles fun's Nate Ruess but without that Ruess's bombast. Or in other words, it's very reminiscent of Ruess's old band, The Format, especially on tracks like "You're the One", "Home" and "Something About the Way". iTunes

Thursday, June 25, 2015

CD of the Day, 6/25/15: Reno Bo-Lessons from a Shooting Star.

Reno Bo returns with his first album since 2009's Happenings and Other Things, and it's a gem. While Happenings just made the top half of my best of 2009 list at #47, Lessons from a Shooting Star will easily eclipse that ranking come the end of the year as the ex-Mooney Suzuki and Albert Hammond Jr. guitarist has crafted one ringing power pop anthem after another this time around. "Sweetheart Deal", the first single (as singles go in 2015), is a shoo-in for a best-tracks-of-2015 list, coming off like Brendan Benson fronting Cheap Trick. "How Do You Do" follows with no letup in quality as Bo throws some keyboards in the mix and some excellent slide guitar work from Sadler Veden for a track that reminds me of the ones Jeff Lynne once produced for Dave Edmunds, and the driving melodic rocker "Just Say Go" lives up to its title. Next up, the midtempo "Strange Maps" gives the listener a chance to catch his/her breath without sacrificing any melody, and the melancholy "And I Know She Did" captures the classic Big Star sound. These five tracks would be worth the price of admission alone, but then you have "The Brighter Side" (co-written with the aforementioned Benson) which is another melodic marvel, the Beatlesque rocker "Sleeping Sun", the classic rock of the title track and the Oasis-like closer "Somewhere There's Something". Power pop doesn't get much better than this.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Two for Thursday, 6/18/15

Wade Jackson-Whiskey Alpha Delta Echo. Both a nod to Wilco's famous album as well as the spelling of the artist's first name in the phonetic alphabet, Whiskey Alpha Delta Echo is the second album from Aussie musician Wade Jackson, and it's quite simply one of 2015's best so far. The allusion in the title is apt, as the sound here is Big Star-meets-Wilco with its melodic minor-key rockers with a twinge of Americana (Austrliana?). After the moody opener "Dark Mirror" (which answers the question "What would The Smithereens sound like as a folk-rock band?"), we're treated to the jangly "Valentine's Day" and the trio of "Catch My Eye", "Coming Back" and "Carolina", all of which invoke #1 Record-era Big Star, with "Coming Back" perhaps my favorite track of the year. This album really hits the sweet spot between power pop and Americana, and my next step is checking out Jackson's back catalog.


Brian Jay Cline-Trick Photography. Trad-rock-popper Brian Jay Cline is back with his first album since 2009's Nashville Tracks, and fans of Marshall Crenshaw, Walter Clevenger and Bill Lloyd are going to want to check this one out. Leadoff track "Zoo York City" is Cline's tribute to the Big Apple and sounds like a lost Willie Nile track, while "New Tattoo" has the pub-rock feel of a Nick Lowe or Graham Parker. Elsewhere tracks like "High Horse" and "Counterclockwise" are classic Cline and if you have any of his other albums in your collection, this one's a must-add. (Incidentally, the ReverbNation playlist embedded below includes Cline's entire catalog as the first ten songs are from Trick Photography and the rest are his other songs in alphabetical order)


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

What I've been enjoying lately.

A quick look at some of my favorite releases over the last month or so:

Steve Robinson & Ed Woltil-Cycle. Tampa Bay's premier folk-poppers team up for one of 2015's best, a graceful and melodic collection of tunes that bring the pastoral side of XTC to mind. ["Love Somebody"; "Hello, Hello (We're Back Again)]. iTunes

Phil Yates & The Affiliates-No Need to Beg. Top-notch power pop that reminds me of Ken Stringfellow ("Burn it Down, Bernadette; "The Grass is Always Greener") (P.S. That's Lizzie Borden on the cover) iTunes

Stereo Tiger-Two Weeks. More great power pop from Michigan, like Mike Viola fronting Rooney. ("Magic Balloon", "Runaway")

The Weightlifers-St. Paul EP. Adam McLaughlin & Co's third EP (and first in seven years), and it's of a piece with the first two - thoughtful, moody, and melodic. ("High Drama"; "Man of Constant Sorrow"). iTunes | Spotify

Supraluxe-Morphine Creek. This is their best since the 2006 debut, the record which helped inspire me to start this blog. Lives up to their self-description of Elliott-Smith-meets-Big-Star. ("Circles"; "La La L.A.") iTunes

Jimmy Haber-Joy Acid Pact. Orlando rocker Haber delivers the goods with his shiny, vaguely psych power pop with a populist edge to it. ("Once I Strung 'em Up"; "Bad Day to Be Me") iTunes