Thursday, March 30, 2006

New Doug Powell music on the way.

The term "pop genius" gets thrown around a lot, but in my opinion the label is an appropriate one for Doug Powell. If you're not familiar with his music and you regularly read this site, you're definitely missing out. As the AMG bio I linked to states, he's cut from the Todd Rundgren/Andy Partridge mold. I'd add Jeff Lynne in there as well. Unfortunately for us, Doug has decided to leave the music biz, a sadly common occurrence when the quality of talent isn't equated by a quantity in sales. Still, he's left us an outstanding body of work, and his fans are going to get a new release before he goes, Four Seasons.

Four Seasons will be an oddities collection, containing a 4-song Japan-only EP (Venus DeMilo's Arms), two songs from an aborted album, a song he wrote for Ringo Starr, and most interesting of all, five songs he wrote for The New Cars when he was involved in that project. It's due in May on Paisley Pop. But if you want to hear four of those New Cars songs, you don't have to wait until May - they're streaming at his site. And my preliminary take on them (from listening once or twice) is that they're outstanding, and Powell does an expert job of sounding like Ric Ocasek. Collectively, they impress me more than "Not Tonight", which was pretty decent in its own right.

You'll have to click the "next track" button three or four times to get to the New Cars songs, but if you haven't heard the stuff from his other albums that's streaming, listen to those as well, including a selection from the great Swag album, a pop supergroup that included Powell, Cheap Trick's Tom Petersson, the Mavericks' Robert Reynolds, and ex-Wilco drummer Ken Coomer among others, as well as my favorite Powell track "Cul-de-Sac", from his Lost Chord album.

If you're looking to get into Powell after all of this, or just need to catch up, his two most recent proper solo albums (including The Lost Chord) can be found at eMusic here, as well as Swag's Catch-All.

(hat tip to Hersh Forman of the Audities list for bringing the Four Seasons release to attention)


Arthur said...

I've never been a fan of Mr. Powell. My uncle even played guitar with him for awhile, and I think he's been able to get me almost every CD of Doug's for free. But I'm just not interested. I try to like him, but I just can't. The songs aren't catchy, the vocal is an Andy Sturmer knock-off. I like most power pop, but when I hear Doug described as a genius, it makes me shudder.

Brian said...

I respect your opinion, but was it absolutely necessary for you to be so negative? Just because you don't like Doug doesn't mean that others won't. Next time your uncle offers you a disc by Doug, tell him to give to someone that will appreciate it! And don't feel the need to knock someone just because you don't agree with the opinion expressed on the blog - let the potential listener decide for themselves.
Personally, I like Doug's work a lot, and while I understand your comparison with Sturmer I don't agree that he sounds like him. Genius? No. Talented? Hell, yes!

Arthur said...

I never said that people were wrong for liking him. I know a lot of people that do. I've just never understood why. I wouldn't have posted anything in the first place, but I felt like a second opinion was needed.

As for the Sturmer connection, my uncle had mentioned it to him when they first met, and I remember him saying something about Jellyfish being a big influence.

At least we agree that he's no genius. I guess that's really what bothered me the most.

Kevin Reeves said...

I just heard about Doug Powell over on the Jellyfish discussion list called Jelly-l. Being such a Todd Rundgren fan, I'm saddened that it took me this long to hear about Doug. I will definitely be checking out his solo albums and other projects. On another quick note, I just released my album entitled "It's About Time." It's very much in the vain of Jellyfish, Queen, Elo, etc. Head on over to and check out the clips. Would love to hear your feedback. Have a great day.

Kevin Reeves

Anonymous said...

I beg to differ with the original poster and even with Doug Powell's eloquent defender.

Doug is most certainly an unqualified songwriting genius. Any careful study of his body of work will indicate that in spades. He is endlessly inventive, both melodically and lyrically, making him a unique and singular voice in the songwriting landscape.

I'm fond of saying that Doug is probably the single most highly under-regarded American songwriter of his generation. Full stop.