Thursday, June 29, 2006

New power pop blog.

Javi from Madrid, Spain has a new power pop blog up called "Power Pop Lovers". It's in both Spanish and English (the English version is at the bottom of each post), so check it out.

Meet The Comfies.

The Comfies are a four-piece band out of Nashville who were formerly known as Harper, having been forced to change their name by this mean-looking dude from Australia. But to paraphrase Shakespeare, a Harper by any other name would sound as good, so the Comfies it is.

I recently came across these guys on the compilation Rich Creamy Paint and Friends, to which they contributed two tracks while still known as Harper. It was "Don't Waste My Time", a 5 1/2-minute mini-epic that starts as a piano-based ballad and builds into something more, which made me take notice and start digging around for more. This track kind of reminded me of Fresh Mowed Lawn, while their other contribution, "Mystery" is a rocking number a la Superdrag that clocks in at just over two minutes. So right off the bat I noticed their versatility.

Further investigation found that they're signed to Livewire Recordings, home of another similar band I featured recently, The Rewinds. They don't have an album released yet, but there are four new tracks that can be found at their myspace page, including the outstanding "Your Sunshine", "Ascent Summer" and "Good Example" (I can take or leave "Medicine"). The Superdrag part of their sound is more evident on the first two of these tracks, and since John Davis has found Jesus, this might be the closest you'll get to new SD music.

In the meantime, it'll be worth your while to pick that RCP & Friends disc, it's only $7.97 at CD Baby (plus it's part of their $5 sale if you buy two others eligible for it); the other contributors (RCP, The Foxymorons and Jetpack) are all bands I recommend as well. And when The Comfies actually release a proper CD, I'll be sure to note the event.

By the way, I hope they don't mind being featured on a blog called "Absolute Powerpop". Frontman Ben Harper (no, not that Ben Harper) has said:
I hate the word "power-pop." I don't want to be lumped in with Fountains of Wayne and stuff like that. I like to think that we're '60s-influenced modern indie rock. Sixties and '70s influences. The Beatles and early Bowie and things like that. about "sonically-propelled pop"?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

CD of the Day, 6/28/06: Mike Barnett-Nowhere Tennessee

OK, I've built up a bit of a backlog of good discs that I need to start blogging about, and over the next several days I hope to get several posts up. This one I've come to be inspired to blog about much the way I have for many others: by having it pop up randomly on the iPod.

I'm speaking of Mike Barnett's Nowhere Tennessee, a somewhat unassuming but quite tuneful sophomore effort from this Missourian. Barnett has a real interesting sound; it's kind of a mix between classic 70s-style British pop and rootsy American pop. So at times here, like on the opener "I Hope", he sounds like solo George Harrison (Barnett in fact had a song titled "George Harrison" on his 2003 debut Shoes & Gadgets, and "I Hope" reminds me of "Devil's Radio"), and there's also a Joey Molland/Badfinger influence working here as well. But at other times, he sounds like a poppier Steve Forbert on the title track and "My Fault, My Bad". Other influences/similarities I hear are Bobby Sutliff, Tom Petty, and Walter Clevenger.

If Barnett has his own website or myspace page, he's keeping them pretty well hidden, so I'll direct to you to the CD Baby page for Nowhere Tennessee here. I don't see the album on any of the digital download services, but Shoes & Gadgets can be found on eMusic (haven't checked that one out personally yet, but I will be). My recommendation here, though, is to go Nowhere fast.

We interrupt the lack of blogging... bring you my favorite Badfinger tune, performed live by the boys (OK, they're lip-syncing):

By the way, that's none other than Kenny Rogers introducing the band (the clip came from his syndicated variety show in 1972).

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Jon Brion demos.

Jefitoblog has managed to come across about 20 Jon Brion demos, all of which are available for download in mp3 format. One of the commenters at the blog had this to say about the demos: "The last six tracks are from 95, the rest are from 91. The tracks “Strings That Tie You Down ” and “Not Ready Yet” were also played live by The Grays but never recorded by them. The latter is of course his version of the track he cowrote with E, and E’s version is on the first Eels album Beautiful Freak. Breakdown Lane is co-written with Aimee Mann." This is a great find.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Everybody wants to be Neil Finn these days.

Maybe it's me, but lately I've seemed to notice a plethora of singer/songwriters (many of whom are from Australia/New Zealand, but Britain will suffice) that sound like Neil Finn clones. Now mind you, that's not a bad thing - Finn has a great sound, and many of these acolytes have released very good to outsanding discs. Previously, I've noted David William and Fran King, and here are three more that I've come across recently.

First off, there's Aussie Shane Nicholson, who's probably the most Finn-sounding of the batch. His 2003 release, It's a Movie, has the sound down to a science, complete with the slightly nasal vocal style of Finn. Tracks like "The Best Day of the Year" and "It's a Movie" could have been easily slipped into a Finn release and nobody would have noticed. Well, he has a new one out called "Faith and Science". The new one is more of the same, only different - in certain places, Nicholson rocks out a bit more. Sample it here. It hasn't been officially released in the USA, but can be found as an import here.

Next up is another Aussie, Russell Crawford, who just released an EP titled Hearing All That's Heard which was featured on Not Lame recently. The EP is produced by Michael Carpenter, a sure sign of quality, and quality it is. And it sounds more like Finn than Carpenter, and in places is reminiscent of James Cooper's Second Season, another Carpenter production. Check out samples at the Not Lame link.

Finally, we have another release from Down Under: Tim Reid's Any Given Day. A bit more of a mellower affair than the other two (relatively speaking), it's still another batch of quality Finnpop (there's my new term). Get yr samples from CD Baby.

New Cheap Trick on eMusic.

Rockford was added this morning, and if you've ever liked Cheap Trick but soured on them lately, this is the album to get them back into your good graces.

UPDATE: Here's an amusing and brief (24 sec) animated commercial touting Rockford. The announcer voice reminds me of the guy who used to hype K-Tel albums (immortalized by Dave Thomas in SCTV as Harvey K-Tel..heh).

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Absolute Powerpop favorites on Not Lame.

Four of our CDs of the Day get front-page billing in the new batch of featured discs at Not Lame, including one of our early discoveries, Gary Henson. Also spotlighted are Mike Previti, The Rewinds and The Speeds.

And for you eMusic subs out there, among the remaining featured NL discs from tonight you can grab The Modern Skirts' Catalogue of Generous Men, Francine's Airshow and Glen Phillips' Mr. Lemons.

Oh yeah, and The Speeds' Sing It Loud can be found there, too.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

New David Doll on MySpace.

David Doll has some new songs up at his myspace page that'll be worth your time to check out. His EP from last year was one of our favorites. There's some reference on his myspace blog to a full-length that was supposed to be available at one of his gigs back in April, but I can't find it anywhere.

Some more eMusic recommendations.

All of these have been featured at Not Lame recently, and they're all worth your downloads:

* VA-Big Star Small World. This is the long-shelved (7 years?) Big Star tribute that was finally released last month. Highlights include Wilco's "Thirteen", Gin Blossoms' "Back of a Car", and Whiskeytown (yes, that's how long this has been in the can) with "Give Me Another Chance".

* Romantica-It's Your Weakness That I Want. Bruce at Not Lame was comparing this to a lost Del Amitri album, and I have to concur. Great mid-tempo stuff with a touch of Americana.

* Paul Bellows-Tape Deck Classics. Quote Not Lame: "Bellows will have fans of Bill Lloyd, Brian Jay Cline, Ron Sexsmith and Walter Clevenger excited, providing an excellent musical bridge to tide you over until releases from these artists arrive again. There`s lots of late 80`s Elvis Costello buried in here, as well."

* Epic Hero-Blacking Out The Stars EP. This was produced by Dan Wilson of Semisonic, who has been awfully busy lately (but whatever happened to Semisonic?), and it's quality modern rock.

By the way, my recent lack of posting can be summed up in two words: World Cup.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Travis Hopper on eMusic.

One of our 2006 favorites, Travis Hopper's All The Lights In The City Tonight, has just been added to eMusic.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

CD of the Day, 6/14/06: The Voodoo Jets-Supersonic

Wilton, CT's The Voodoo Jets are an interesting case. Their claim to fame is that they provide "unabashed pure power pop guitar-driven rock & roll--without the guitar". Unlike the Ben Folds Five, which also went sans guitar, it actually sounds like The Voodoo Jets are using guitars. The difference is that the Jets play the keyboards through guitar amps, and keyb meister Micah Sheveloff plays the solo parts as if he were playing a guitar.

Whatever the gimmick, it's meaningless unless the songs are quality. And for the most part the Jets come through, with a sound that's quite reminiscent of Jet, Oasis, with some Cheap Trick and Kiss throw in for good measure. Bassist and frontman Francesco Perrouna has the right mix of attitude and sneer in his voice to follow in the footsteps of these bands, similar to Foster Calhoun of The Mains, of whom we spoke recently. My favorite tracks on the disc are the opening two: "Radio" and "Wake Up", which bring the rawk.

Here are some mp3s to grab:

Big Black Machine Gun
Cold Outside
Signs of Life

You can also stream "Wake Up" at their myspace page, and the rest can be sampled (and bought) from CD Baby. So check them and listen to the voodoo that they do so well.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

A good song, yo.

I've never been a big Yo La Tengo fan - they're a bit too "indie" for me. But I do recommend this song (available here via mp3) from their forthcoming album I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass (my candidate for album title of the year):

Beanbag Chair

It's a catchy, piano-based number with "ba ba ba" backing vocals and a trombone. What more can you ask for?

Song of the Day.

Head on over to Arthur Yoria's myspace page and listen to "Something Must Be Wrong". Great, great track; I'd add it as my "song of the day" on the Absolute Powerpop myspace page, but he has the "add" button disabled. Meanwhile, if you like it, you can pick it up as part of a three-song EP (or CD single) at CD Baby. The other two songs sound pretty darn good as well from the samples.

UPDATE: An anonymous commenter has pointed us to the mp3 of the track here.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Supraluxe on eMusic!

Not sure how this got by me (I usually have the eagle eye in sifting through the new eMusic releases, but in my defense I normally do this shortly after I wake up in the morning), but Supraluxe's debut was added to eMusic this week. I know the free trial has been cut by half to 25 downloads, but this was such a great disc that the 11 downloads you'll use will likely be better than 22 downloads you'd use elsewhere (or maybe 77 downloads, if you're a dog). I know I copped out on the year-to-date rankings the other day, but I'd still pretty much say this is my #1 album for the year. So grab it you're a sub, and become one if you aren't. Of course, if you already have the laminated plastic, you can make your own mp3s.

By the way, the Supraluxe throw pillow (pictured above) makes a great Father's Day gift.


Yeah, I know I've been slacking this week, at least blog-wise (having three small boys and a business to run will sometimes do that). I hadn't mentioned this on the site before, and it's probably old news to many of you, but on Tuesday one of the great power pop albums of all time is being re-released as a 2-CD set ("The Legacy Edition") with unreleased tracks, live versions, alternative versions, the whole shebang. I'm speaking of Matthew Sweet's Girlfriend, and the best price I've seen for it so far is $17.49 at CD Universe. In honor of the re-release, here's the classic video of the title track for your viewing pleasure:

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Top 10 20 of 2006 to date (June 7 update)

It's getting tougher to make this list, especially on a month-to-month basis. I haven't listened much lately to many of the discs that have been on the list for most of the year, instead going with new stuff. So in some respects I'm feeling biased toward the newer ones instead of the early-year releases. And there is so much good stuff continually being released that I'm having a hard time weighing one against the other.

For example, I'm really digging the new releases by Monkeeman, The Vestals, Fresh Mowed Lawn, The World Record, Gregg Swann, Andrew LeDrew (technically 2005 but only heard by a few select Canadians before the last month or so), Third Floor Story and The Rewinds.

That's eight releases right there that I would rank in terms of quality with the current top 10. So i'm going to cop out here: instead of a top 10 ranked in order, I'm just going to list my 20 of 2006 so far, in alphabetical order:

Phil Ayoub-Schoolbus Window Paper Heart
Chris Brown-Now That You're Fed
Copperdown-Something True
Fresh Mowed Lawn-Fresh Mowed Lawn
Gary Henson-The Coast Is Clear
Travis Hopper-All The Lights In The City Tonight
Andrew LeDrew-Ladies Lookout
Justin Levinson-1175 Boylston
Rhett Miller-The Believer
Red Guitar-Beauty Will Save The World
The Rewinds-The Rewinds
Geoff Smith & The Tonewheels-S/T
Gregg Swann-Everybody's Got to Be Somewhere
Third Floor Story-Songs From The City
The Vestals-Songs About Girls...and Other Mysteries
David William-One Way Ticket
The World Record-Guitars Forever
Warren Zanes-People That I'm Wrong For

I'll try and have an actual ranking next time around, since it'll be at the halfway mark of the year.

CD of the Day, 6/7/06: The Speeds-Sing It Loud.

Pittsburgh's The Speeds win the truth-in-advertising award with their new release, Sing It Loud. Props to Ray over at Kool Kat for releasing this one on their own imprint - it's vintage power pop which they compare to "The Shazam, The Jellybricks, Cheap Trick, and early Rich Creamy Paint", and I'll add bands like The Rosenbergs and The Superficials to that list.

Leadoff number "Everywhere I Go" kicks things into high gear, and the title track follows with similar gusto (and a great guitar riff). Neither of these songs fool around either, each clocking in at just over two minutes. They let you catch your breath with the next track, "Sunset Drive", a dreamy ballad in the vein of Jet's "Look What You've Done" (but only better), but it's back to the rawk with the next three tracks before things slow down (ever so slightly) for the relatively midtempo "Shiver In July", perhaps my favorite track on the disc.

Here are some mp3s:

Everywhere I Go
Bad News
Sunset Drive

You can sample the rest of the tracks at cd baby, but make you sure you buy it directly from the source, where it's only $10, the lowest price around.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

New stuff at eMusic.

Another massive influx of discs to the site today. Here are some of note:

Back in March, Keef was our CD of the Day. Now it's on eMusic. It's only nine tracks, so grab it up.

Aussie power poppers Kelly's Heels are a great band that I've yet to mention on this site. Now I have, and their 2003 release Blunt Cut was added today. If you're not familiar with these guys, head on over and give them a listen.

Speaking of Aussie power poppers, Michael Carpenter is the man, and his debut record (some say his best) Baby has been added as well. If this one's not in your collection, it ought to be.

Graham Parker needs no introduction. His fine 2001 release, Deepcut to Nowhere, can now be found here.

Cincinnati's (and the Psychodots') Rob Fetters got some recent pub on Not Lame, and his 2003 release Lefty Loosey, Righty Tighty was an add. His most recent release, Musician (the one that got him the pub) is on there as well.

Friday, June 02, 2006

The Brothers LeDrew.

As most of you have probably noticed, I'm no longer doing the "New at Not Lame" or "New at Kool Kat" features. Those posts just got to be too time-consuming for me, and Not Lame didn't help matters when they went to a once-a-week, 16-at-a-time schedule. But that doesn't mean I'm going to ignore stuff they break first, and I have to rave about a couple of (literally) related discs Not Lame unearthed in the last month or so.

First up is 2003's Brothers In Stereo. The project of Newfoundland brothers Andrew & Chris LeDrew, this is jangle pop of the absolute highest order. Bruce gave it a big push over at Not Lame, but if you missed it, don't pass up a chance to check it out. Here are two mp3s from the album:

Worst Crowd
Reachin' for You

"Worst Crowd" is just one of those songs that immediately went into heavy rotation in my head. Unfortunately, I don't see a myspace page, but you can get some more samples at the Not Lame page linked above. While the disc is a bit expensive as an import at $16, this is one of those releases that I wouldn't quibble about in terms of price.

And shortly thereafter, Not Lame came across the 2005 solo release of Andrew LeDrew, Ladies Lookout, and I daresay it might even be better. Streaming samples of four tracks from the album can be found at his site (no myspace for Andrew either), and Not Lame has some samples as well. This album would have definitely been in my top 20 of 2005 had I heard it when it came out last October. It's $16 as well, but again money well spent. Perhaps those of you who are male and have children can drop some hints about these being a good Father's Day present. Or you can just treat yourself, like I always seem to do.

CD of the Day, 6/2/06: The Rewinds-The Rewinds.

The Rewinds are a band from Birmingham (Alabama, that is, not England), and their self-titled debut, due this Tuesday, is a great collection of Southern-styled power pop. They list REM and The Replacements as influences, but I also hear the dBs as well as Moonlight Towers.

The opener "New Shade of Red" has the DNA of REM and the 'Mats all over it: The opening chords jangle, leading into some Mats-like power chords. And the song itself seems to be inspired by the Mats classic "Left of the Dial", which fittingly was Paul Westerberg's tribute to college radio and REM in particular, no more so than when frontman Glenn Drennen repeats the phrase "on and on", much as Westerberg did in LotD. "Everytime" sounds like a lost dBs track; "Something Else" has a great countermelody; "Ghostriders" is one of the more rocking numbers on the disc, with a chance to be something of a modern rock hit as it has a Strokes-like sound; and then there's my favorite track on the disc, "Killing Me", a wonderful mid-tempo number with sweet harmonies. The band also lists Guided by Voices as an influence, and "Sentimental Flaw" does have that sound, although it lasts a full 3:05, making it about twice the length of the typical GbV track. All in all, it's a very impressive debut from a band with the potential to go places.

For your listening and downloading pleasure, here's a heaping helping of mp3s from their official site:

Sentinmental Flaw
Killing Me
New Shade of Red

If you'd prefer to stream, you can hear the first three at their myspace page. The album is getting decent distribution - it's available for pre-order at Amazon for $9.97.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

A legend that lasted a lunchtime.

I give you the Prefab Four's crowning musical achievement:

hat tip to Jensen Bell for digging this one up.