Saturday, April 29, 2006

Breaking eMusic news!

Eugene Edwards' My Favorite Revolution was added this morning to eMusic, so there's no excuse not to have one of the best power pop albums of the decade any more.

The Edwards is part of a whopping 1000+ albums added to eMusic today. I'm only on the "E"s, but I couldn't wait till I slogged through 'em all to pass on this news.

UPDATE: Another disc we featured here, The Meadows, was also added today.

Also added is The Vanity Project, the solo effort from Barenaked Lady Steven Page, who collaborated with Stephen Duffy. Gotta love an album with that much "Steve" involvement.

And one more is the debut release for Popium, a great Swedish power pop band in a modern vein.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Still alive.

But extraordinarily busy lately. And with the UPS man about to deliver one of these to me at any moment, I will be seriously distracted this weekend.

But here are a couple of discs worth your time (and money):

The World Record-Guitars Forever
. Really, really good power pop from Tallboy Records. Sample/stream it here.

The Fire Apes-S/T EP. Released on Kool Kat's own label, this is great 60's inspired power pop. Go to their site, and click on "listen" to sample.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

New Fred Track.

Fred (the band, not the man), off of last summer's fine power pop release Sound Awake, has a new track out on their myspace page titled "First Card". It's a bit out of left field; as they describe it, it's "1940s jazz meets Emerson Lake and Palmer meets Stone Temple Pilots." Listen for yourself.

Not Lame's Buffalo Springfield Tribute.

The legendary Buffalo Springfield wasn't exactly a power pop band, but they're getting the tribute treatment from Not Lame and some of the more "roots pop" oriented artists like Walter Clevenger & the Dairy Kings, The Grip Weeds, The Riffbrokers, Jeff Larson, The Windbreakers (Tim Lee & Bobby Sutliff), et al.

Five Way Street is the name of the album, and Not Lame is giving it the red carpet treatment, complete with a media player streaming the entire disc plus all kinds of freebies and treats for those who pre-order. They're also offering up an mp3:

Burned-Walter Clevenger

Check it all out here.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

CD of the Day, 4/23/06: Rooftop Suicide Club-Always Like This

With as much as I listen to, sometimes I don't give discs a full listen or enough of a chance or otherwise in some manner overlook some quality releases. Normally my listening consists of stuff I've acquired the last 4-6 weeks on shuffle play, but every weekend or two I fire up all 16,000 songs on shuffle on my ipod, which I was doing this morning. About a dozen songs in, I hear this incredible track that doesn't sound familiar. Who is this? I get up and go over to the stereo, and it's Rooftop Suicide Club's "If I Could Tell The Truth". And then I remember the album from last year, and iTunes even said I last heard this song on December 1. Guess I must have not been paying attention or something.

Anyway, RSC is a power pop band out of New Bedford, Mass., and they're on the best-named label I've seen around: Stop, Pop & Roll. They do a good job of melding numerous well-known power pop influences - they have a modern sheen about them not unlike Rooney or Fountains of Wayne, but also remind me a lot, especially in the harmonies, of Teenage Fanclub. Leadoff track "The Bones That Kept Me Alive" is a good example of this dynamic, combining guitar crunch with a heavenly chorus. "Plea For My Life" is another that would fit nicely on a TF album, and aside from the plaintive synthesizers, "Our Ride" sounds like a lost Posies track (or perhaps something from a Ken Stringfellow solo disc). I love the lyrics of "Indie Girl", a plea to a hipper-than-thou girl in which our narrator begs her to drop the posing and trade in her Dashboard Confessional for some Air Supply, complete with horns that sound borrowed from Beulah's The Coast Is Clear. And then nearly buried at track #12 is the aforementioned "If I Could Tell You The Truth", which starts off with a Figgs-like guitar opening but quickly moves into highly melodic territory. With Teenage Fanclub in mind, the song almost sounds like a cross between "Neil Jung" and "What You Do To Me".

There are a couple of mp3s to grab:

Our Ride

but unfortunately "If I Could Tell You The Truth" isn't one of them. The good news, though, is that the entire album is available on eMusic, which also serves as the best place to sample it. Not Lame has it for sale. Normally I'd be linking to their myspace page for samples, but they have some newly recorded demos on the site which I have yet to listen to (but I will be). And remember, as is pointed out on their label site, The Rooftop Suicide Club is a band. It is not an actual club. Please do not commit suicide.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Still more Mead.

The slow-motion rollout of David Mead's Tangerine continues on his myspace page, as we advance to track #9 in anticipation of next month's release date. The latest track to be streamed is "Hallelujah, I Was Wrong", a nice uptempo number and one of the better tracks I've heard off the album so far ("Chatterbox" is tops in my book). Go check it out.

Friday, April 21, 2006


I've always thought listening to music was a religious experience.

CD of the Day, 4/21/06: Shane Searles-Pop/Rock

NYC's Shane Searles certainly has the bloodlines - he's the nephew of Mike Love and distant cousin of Brian Wilson. And he certainly doesn't shy away from his heritage, as the opening track of his solo debut Pop/Rock (catchy title, eh?) is a cover of "God Only Knows".

But it isn't a note-for-note cover; it's an amped-up version that sounds like it was re-imagined by Weezer. Pop/Rock runs the gamut of power pop styles: "Freak Show" is "modern" power pop a la Rooney and Waltham; "Basement Window", one of the album's catchier tracks (and reprised in a "lounge mix" as a bonus track), has a Barenaked Ladies sound; the more midtempo "Lady Jade Eyes" (my favorite track) almost sounds like a lost Brendan Benson track; "Outta My Head" veers into Jellyfish/Checkpoint Charley territory, and "All The Way" is pub-rock reminiscent of The Figgs.

Wade into the streams at his myspace page, where you can hear the four of the tracks mentioned above, and sample the rest (including the "God Only Knows" cover) at cd baby, where of course it's available for purchase. Kind of like the professional athlete whose father was a ballplayer, Searles has the power pop/rock fundamentals down cold here.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

CD of the Day, 4/19/06: Third Floor Story-Lonely City

It seems like we've had a run of Aussie bands lately with the Neil Finn/Michael Carpenter sound, and darned if Third Floor Story doesn't sound like another one of these. The difference is that these guys don't hail from Down Under - they're from London.

Unlike most albums, which are front-loaded, Lonely City actually gets better as it goes along. While the title track and "Your Love" are nice enough to start, the real highlights are a couple of tracks on the back end. "Always Dragging Me Down" is a quality piano ballad with a swelling chorus that reminds me a bit of Coldplay's "The Scientist", "Drifting" is a catchy rocker that clocks in at 2:14, and closer "Park With The Big Trees" might be the best of the lot, a midtempo number that would fit in snugly on either a Neil Finn album or the new David William we've raved about on this site (and which got some love from Not Lame last night as well)

Here's an mp3:

Lonely City

And head on over to their myspace page, where you can not only stream four tracks from the album (including "Park With The Big Trees"), but you can download them as well. The CD is available for purchase (and further sampling) at CD Baby.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Calling all ELO fans!

Check out L.E.O. This side project of the fine power pop band Bleu has just posted four tracks to its myspace page. I'll let them speak for themselves:
L.E.O. is a power-pop-collective..a recording project that began as a tribute to the idiosyncratic genius of Jeff Lynne and the Electric Light Orchestra it has become a Traveling Wilburys-esque creative outlet for a gang of like-minded musician/ was originally conceived by Bleu and includes the diverse talents of Andy Sturmer (Jellyfish), Mike Viola (The Candy Butchers), Jason Scheff (Chicago), Steve Gorman (The Black Crowes), Matt Mahaffey (Self), John Fields (big-time pop-producer), Tony Goddess (pApAs fritAs), Hanson, Eric Barao (The Cautions), Scott Simon (The Argument), and Paula Kelley, among others.

here's some information about each track:

1- Goodbye Innocence
written by bleu and andy sturmer
(intro by maclaine diemer)
vocals - bleu and andy sturmer

2- Distracted
written by bleu and mike viola
lyrics by bleu and alex scutro
vocals - bleu and mike viola
background vocals - hanson

3- Make Me
written by bleu and mike viola
vocals - mike viola
background vocals - jason scheff, ducky carlisle and bleu

4- Nothin' Will Ever Change
written by bleu
vocals - bleu

All of these songs are from the forthcoming "Alpacas Orgling" release due in the near distant future in 2006.
After listening to the tracks, it's less a slavish imitation of classic ELO than an homage to late period ELO/solo Lynne (although "Make Me" is clearly influenced by "Do Ya"). This is a definitely a project with some potential.

(Hat tip to Anna Borg of Tallboy Records [Eugene Edwards' label] for bringing this to light on the Audities list.)

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Weekend Roundup.

Here are a few albums that I've been meaning to give a mention to that aren't strictly "power pop":

Rod Davies is another Aussie, and his 2005 album Turn The TV On has been described as Elvis Costello meets Neil Finn. The album is informed in spots by Davies' views on the Iraq War, but manages not to be preachy. Side note: Davies is the singer on Australia's version of "Dancing With The Stars".

MySpace | Sample/Buy

NYC's Derek James released Stray last summer, and it's pop/rock with a modern feel to it. "Summer" and "Ain't No Thing Is Perfect" are the standouts here. Although I'm not a big fan of Dave Matthews and Jack Johnson, I can see this disc appealing to their fans as well.

MySpace | Stream | Sample/Buy

OK Jones' Push/Pull is an Americana-rooted album with the pop sensibility to appeal to our readers here. Think Ryan Adams, The Jayhawks and The Straw Dogs. "Besides Fall In Love" and "Broke and Lonesome" are standouts. Note: the tracks on MySpace can be downloaded as well.

MySpace | Sample/Buy

Friday, April 14, 2006

CD of the Day, 4/14/06: The Slides-The View From Here

The Slides are from Down Under - Brisbane to be specific - and they follow in the footsteps of fellow countrymen like Michael Carpenter, Chris Murphy and Simon Morel in bringing us pure pop goodness. There's also a hint of their colleagues across the Tasman Sea, Neil Finn and Crowded House.

The View From Here is an excellent debut, and the jangly title track gets things off to a great start; "Not Alone With You" has the Finn/Crowded House sound down pat, and "Higher" has some of the 80s pop sound in the vein of Murphy's Elbow Room. But just when you have them pegged, they pull out their best Fountains of Wayne impression on "Jenny Please Don't Answer Your Phone", and wrap up things in fine fashion on the pretty ballad "...and Back to You".

Start with their myspace page, which streams all of the tracks mentioned above except "Jenny", and you can sample the rest and buy at cd baby. The View From Here is that Australia is fast becoming the hottest spot on the planet for quality pop.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

eMusic Freebie.

Popping up today on eMusic is a free 6-song EP by a band named Greenwalk. I can't find out anything about them on Google, or a myspace page, but I downloaded the tracks and they're not bad. Kind of a "modern" sounding power pop outfit, along the lines of Weezer, Fountain of Wayne, etc. If you're an eMu subscriber, grabbing it is a no-brainer given the price.

CD of the Day, 4/13/06: Eugene Edwards-My Favorite Revolution

Many, if not most, of you are familiar with this record, as it's been out for nearly two years now and has garnered a lot of praise. So this post is addressed to those of you who are unfamiliar with this cd, as it's my duty to inform you that you've been missing out on one of the better power pop records of the decade.

Based out of LA, Edwards can best be described as the love child of Elvis Costello and Marshall Crenshaw. He has the driving power pop sound of EC circa his late 70s classics, and Crenshaw's gift for melody and traditional pop song structures. There are highlights aplenty on this album, but several stand out in particular. Opener "Your Own Nightmare" might be the best of the lot, with a melody straight out of Crenshaw's first album and the lyrical bite of EC. Edwards tells the past-her-prime subject of the song that "I'm keeping track/of all the things you said you'd never do" and observes that "between silence and a drink/well you just take the fifth". "Congratulations My Darling" is another that's reminiscent of the Crenshaw debut, mixed with an early Beatles sound; "All About You" would make Nick Lowe smile, and "Telling That Lie Again" has a chorus you won't be able to get out of your head.

To sample it, start at this page at his site. It has samples from each track, lyrics for each track (check them out, they're better than you find from most power poppers), and a link to buy the album. You can also go his myspace page, and stream three tracks from the album I didn't mention, but which are great as well. I love his slogan on the myspace page: "Doing the rock that most Americans won't do."

I can't stress enough that this is really a must-have for any power pop fan out there. If somehow this one got by you, or you're new to the genre, you're in for a real treat.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

CD of the Day, 4/12/06: Geoff Smith-Geoff Smith and The Tonewheels

I'm getting a little tired of making Ben Folds comparisons. Doing a search on previous posts, I've noticed that on no fewer than 10 occasions over the two months I've been running this joint Folds has been used as a point of reference. But then I get this disc with a guy from North Carolina (check) who plays well-written uptempo piano-based pop songs (check) with a lot of energy and sass (check), and what I am supposed to do, compare him to Godsmack?

So there you have it - if you like Ben Folds, you'll love Geoff Smith (or should that be if you love Ben Folds, you'll like Geoff Smith?). Credited to either Geoff Smith and The Tonewheels (the spine of the cd packaging) or Geoff Smith with The Tonewheels (the cover), this piano man from Charlotte definitely has an excellent debut on his hands. He hits you right away with the leadoff track "Not on the Radio", an accurate take on today's music-listening zeitgeist. "Does anyone here still have a radio", Smith asks as he describes the iPod-listening legions out there "with their earbuds jammed in so far" over a Beatlesque melody reminiscent of Folds' "Where's Summer B?".
"Stuck in the Middle" (not a Stealers Wheel cover) complete with "na na naa naa"s doesn't disappoint either, and "Take Me Back" has a slinkier melody that had me thinking Randy & The Bloody Lovelies. Smith is capable of pulling off the slower numbers as well; "Rose", "Slightest Blue", and the album closer "So I'm Waiting" remain melodic without being cloying or sappy.

He has a few mp3s up at his site ("Not on the radio", indeed):

Stuck in the Middle

Here Nowhere

I don't see a myspace page for him, but you can sample the rest of the tracks at cd baby, and buy it there for a mere $9.99. With Ben Folds not even making decent Ben Folds albums these days (Songs For Silverman, bleh), it's always refreshing when someone like Smith or Justin Levinson keeps the subgenre going with good material.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Losing The Argument.

Bad news, power pop fans: The Argument is breaking up. Here is their statement, posted at their site:
To our fans:

Since you all have supported us so much in the past 9 years,
we wanted you to be the first to know that the members of
the Argument have mutually agreed to dissolve the band.
I know this may come as a surprise to a lot of people but
this is not one person's decision. This is a group decision
based on what we've accomplished as a band and what we'd
like to accomplish individually.

The four of us started in 1997 in a rehearsal space on the
campus of West Va University. And now nearly 9 years later,
we've toured 25 states, performed for thousands and
thousands of people, sold approximately 12,000 cds, ruined 3
vans and I don't even know how many shows we've played.
We've showcased privately for the CEO's of two major labels
and did countless shows for many other music industry types.
At this point, the four of us needed to make a decision for
the Argument and for ourselves individually what would be

There are too many people to thank and it would be
impossible to mention everyone, but believe me when I say
that we honestly owe SO many people in SO many places a huge
amount of gratitude.

Our remaining show schedule is below and we would love to
see you at our final shows. We will definitely keep you
posted on any future announcements and/or projects involving
members of the Argument.

Until then, thank you so much for your continued support...
Brent, Chris, Matt and Scott
the Argument
In case you're not familiar with them, The Argument has been an outstanding power pop band of recent years, with two albums and an EP under their belt (along with a great cover of the Cars' "Hello Again" that leads off the Substitution Mass Confusion tribute disc). They debuted with Your New Favorite Band, an album I have to confess I'm not familiar with (but need to seek out). In 2004, they came into their own with the brilliant Recess Serenade, which Bruce at Not Lame compared to "The Tories, Fountains Of Wayne, Jellyfish, very poppy Weezer, (and) Ben Folds". It was worthy of those names, and they followed it up with a self-titled EP that came out last summer which was more of the (quite excellent) same. We'll miss ya, guys.

Recess Serenade is available at eMusic, their myspace page is here, and all three of the discs are available from the usual suspects. I know they're breaking up, but their limited body of work is worth adding to your collection.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Some eMusic finds.

A couple of newly added ones, and an older one brought to our attention make up today's eMusic roundup.

Fielding-Fielding. A pretty good indie pop release that Not Lame featured a couple of months back. Here's their take on it.

The Rocket Summer-Hello Good Friend. Quality piano-based power pop in the vein of Jack's Mannequin, Justin Levinson and more. Not Lame speaks on this one here.

Willy Porter-Willy Porter. Quality singer-songwriter pop from 2002, brought to our attention by Bobby P. He's opened for Tori Amos, The Cranberries, Sting, Jeff Beck and Paul Simon.

Sample away over at eMu.

Friday, April 07, 2006

CD of the Day, 4/7/06: Big Kid-All Kidding Aside

Another quality late 2005 release came from LA's Big Kid, with their sophomore effort All Kidding Aside. Big Kid likes to cite Jellyfish and Jason Falkner as influences, and it's not just idle name-dropping on their part.

After a cute sub 2-minute intro, Big Kid wastes no time getting down to business with nearly perfect "When I Met The Girl". Starting with a piano intro a la Ben Folds, it settles into a great, bouncy melody that compares favorably with the best of Jellyfish. Other highlights include the TSAR/Waltham-influenced "She Won't See Me", the Weezerific "What Can I Do", and I even hear a little Jon Brion on "With a Smile".

The first three I mentioned are streaming at their myspace page, the rest can be sampled at cd baby and the entire album is available at eMusic (handy subscription link at right...heh).

Absolute Powerpop Sells Out.

Actually, I've put up a couple of eMusic banner ads (something I should have done a long time ago considering how much I've pimped eMu) over to the right (one you can't miss, another longer one further down the page). Support AbPow by signing up for 50 free downloads (you can always cancel); can't beat the price, and the downloads come to about 22-25 cents apiece once you subscribe. And you'll probably never run out of stuff to grab, as long as I have anything to say about it (just stroll through the archives and you can be set for at least a few months on the 40-track plan).

Tommy Keene interview.

There's a nice one over at Pop Matters. Check it out if you're a TK fan.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Some albums to check out.

In lieu of a CD of the Day, I'm going to take the opportunity to recommend three albums that may have been out a while, may have already been featured by Not Lame, Kool Kat, etc., and may be familiar to many of you, but deserve a shout in any event.

The Meadows-The Meadows. Outstanding songwriting on this one, would have been on my 2005 best of list had I upped it to 30 or 40. Similar to: Tom Petty, Gin Blossoms, Rembrandts, Jayhawks.

Sample | Buy | MySpace

Millicent Friendly-Downtime. Another great 2005 release that I didn't really come across until January or so. Power pop in the vein of Jellyfish, Checkpoint Charley and Sparkwood. Out of nowhere today, the song "Willow" popped into my head even though I hadn't listened to the album in several weeks. That must mean something. Sample | Buy | MySpace

Jorges-Possibly Now. Jorges is Jorge Gonzalez Grapuera, a Miamian who has the power pop thing down cold. I enjoyed this disc a lot last summer when I picked it up, and it's one 2-2.5 minute blast after another. With titles like "Underwear", "Girlfriend" and "Get a Job", you know what you're getting.
Sample | Buy | MySpace | eMusic

Beaten to it.

Coolfer beat me to posting on The Little Ones, a band on the indie side of power pop, whose Sing Song EP I recently picked up and was quite impressed with. Head over to Coolfer's site for his take on it here (with which I wholeheartedly agree), along with links to a couple of mp3s. The EP is available at cd baby.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Top 10 of 2006 (April 5 update).

Since I last put out my Top 10 list of 2006, I haven't really picked up that many new albums that have really, really impressed me. (I do have three on the way from cd baby that have some potential, though.) While the top five remain the same, there are some changes and additions to the list, so here goes:

1. Supraluxe-Supraluxe
2. Rhett Miller-The Believer
3. Travis Hopper-All The Lights In The City Tonight
4. David William-One Way Ticket
5. Copperdown-Something True
6. Chris Brown-Now That You're Fed (An oversight in the original list).
7. Justin Levinson-1175 Boylston
8. Red Guitar-Beauty Will Save The World
9. Phil Ayoub-Schoolbus Window Paper Heart
10. Warren Zanes-People That I'm Wrong For

Dropping out: Gary Henson, The Minus 5, The Green & Yellow TV. All three of these, of course, all still outstanding albums.

CD of the Day, 4/5/06: Chris Murphy-Elbow Room

Elbow Room is the solo debut for Australian Chris Murphy (I specify Australian, lest anyone think it's Sloan's Chris Murphy gone solo. Actually, I'd love for all four of the guys in Sloan to release solo albums - maybe even on the same day, a la Kiss. But I digress.) Anyway, this Murphy has been the frontman of Murphy's Lore, a fine Australian power pop band which put out a pretty good album last year (The Universe Conspires). And Elbow Room sounds like the type of album you'd expect to hear from a lead singer gone solo: more poppy, a bit less harder-edged, etc.

In fact, Elbow Room sounds like it could have come out in mid-80s: it's the kind of slick pop that wasn't quite MOR, but wasn't exactly AOR either, kind of the power balladry of songs like Cheap Trick's "The Flame", or some of the John Waite and Steve Perry solo material. Normally, this type of stuff isn't my favorite subgenre, but when it's really well done, it's absolutely worthwhile. And Elbow Room does it really, really well. The leadoff track, "Movie Star Beautiful", is a great example. It's the type of song that could be a big, big, contemporary hit (not unlike James Blunt's "Beautfiul") if it got the right airplay or showed up in the right movie or hit TV show. "Bigger They Are Harder They Fall" and "You Take Me to Heaven" follow the same formula, and song after song on this disc has the big hooks that will stick with you days later. Murphy does mix things up a bit: on his site, he compares "Electric Chair" to Jellyfish, and it does have the XTC meets Queen music hall jauntiness to it.

The best place to dive right in is at his myspace page, where you can stream all four songs I mentioned above. Sample the rest at the cd baby page for the album, and pick it up there or at your favorite power pop online retailer. For all of you guys out there reading this (and I'm guessing demographically that's about 90-95% of you), this is one your wife/girlfriend/significant other will probably like as well.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

CD of the Day, 4/4/06: Tommy Keene-Crashing The Ether

Tommy Keene is one of the true power pop vets out there, and he has his first new album in four years out today, Crashing The Ether. Featuring help from ex-Gin Blossom Jesse Valenzuela, Crashing The Ether is a return to form and worth a pickup.

The first great track on the album is "Warren In The 60s", an ode to Mr. Beatty featuring the best mix of jangly guitars and nasally vocals this side of Roger McGuinn. The midtempo "Wishing" is another keeper, striking just the right note of melancholy. Keene rocks out on the second half of the album, starting with "Eyes of Youth" and continuing through the six-minute finale "Texas Tower #4", which albeit does descend into a bit of extended guitar wankery at the end. Check it out for yourself with a couple of mp3s:

Warren In The 60s
Lives Become Lies

The whole shebang is available on eMusic, which is also a good place to sample it in 30-second chunks. Keene is also touring with Guided by Voices' Robert Pollard, and the two of them have collaborated on an album to be released later this year under the moniker The Keene Brothers. Looking forward to that one as well.

National champions!

When I was at the University of Florida in the mid-80s, they had never even qualified for the NCAA tournament, let alone succeeded in it. To think they'd make three Final Fours and win the national title 20 years later would have almost been unthinkable. Although it's heresy in these parts, I'm enjoying this basketball title even more than the football championship the Gators won in 1996.

Power pop blogging will resume later today.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Still alive.

As alluded to a few days ago, I had a lot going on this weekend, and today is going to be busy as well, between work, baseball's opening day and my Florida Gators playing the NCAA basketball championship game tonight. Things should return to normal tomorrow.