Friday, September 29, 2006

Not Lame Podcast.

I'm sure many of you already check it out, but if you don't, make sure you listen to latest Not Lame Podcast posted the other night. I have all of the discs listed except the Frenzy, and although I haven't featured any of them on the site, they're pretty much all good stuff, especially the track "The Royal Standard" from Corin Ashley. And the Russell Crawford is a yet another fine disc (actually an EP) off the Michael Carpenter-produced Aussie Power Pop assembly line.

Chris von Sneidern on eMusic!

eMusic today has added pretty much the entire Chris von Sneidern catalog, so it's time to use those downloads or buy some booster packs. I'm counting six discs, including his most recent, last year's California Redemption Value. CVS has been one of power pop's leading lights over the past decade, but if somehow you've missed out on him, head on over and start sampling.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Song of the Day.

Some of you may have noticed on my latest top 33 1/3 of 2006 that there was a disc I hadn't really mentioned that appeared on the list. That disc is Pop Is Art's Epiphany, and its closing track "Smile" is my new Song of the Day (more like Song of the Month, or Song of the Quarter considering how often I've updated it) on the Absolute Powerpop myspace page. It's a really, really great track and reminds me quite a bit of "Mr. Blue Sky". And needless to say, Epiphany is an outstanding disc as well.

You can buy it and read more about it at Not Lame, and if you'd like to listen to the whole disc, you're in luck, because the disc is available on Weedshare. I'm not going to get into explaining the whole Weedshare concept, but for those unfamiliar, the bottom line is that you can download the entire album and play each track three times. After that, you'll have to buy the downloads to keep listening. In whatever format you end up buying or not buying it, it's still a great chance to sample the entire thing. But do make sure you sample it.

Pernice update.

Just a reminder that Live a Little, The Pernice Brothers' best album since their 2001 masterpiece The World Won't End, is due out this coming Tuesday, and if you've ever been a fan or half-fan of them, this is definitely one worth picking up. All but three of the tracks are streaming in their entirety over at their site (just click on listen for the pop-up window). I'd peg it in terms of overall sound and songwriting quality as splitting the difference between The World Won't End and their almost-as-great debut, 1998's Overcome by Happiness.

Meanwhile, here's a video for one of the more perfect pop songs of the young century, "Working Girls (Sunlight Shines)", the leadoff track from The World Won't End, and the very first Pernice Bros. song I heard. This copy off YouTube is a tad choppy in the video department; if you want a higher-quality version, the same Pernice site link above has it, just scroll to the bottom.

New power pop blog!

I urge you all to check out and bookmark Powerpopaholic, a fairly new power pop blog run by a gentleman named Aaron who reviews recent power pop releases on a 1-10 scale. It's always great to see another power pop blog.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

CD of the Day, 9/26/06: Bryan Estepa-All The Bells and Whistles

Here we go again - another high quality pop disc from Australia, another one produced by Michael Carpenter - I tell you these reviews almost are starting to write themselves. The man with the tunes this time around is Bryan Estepa, and his solo debut All The Bells and Whistles is most definitely worth your acquaintance.

Estepa's sound can't quite be pigeonholed. The opener "By The Window" has enough honky tonk in it to pass a possible lost Grateful Dead/Band track, while "Your Best Night" is classic midtempo pop, much in the vein of his producer. The real triumph here is the 6-minute pop gem "Western Tale", which betrays a Beach Boy influence but also throws in handclaps, backing female vocals, and that's just the first three minutes. "Come Around" and "Sunshine" are wonderful ballads, and "Cars & AM Radio" and "Room Next to You" are high-quality alt-country tunes. In short, there's something here for everyone.

"By The Window" and "Your Best Night" are streaming at his myspace page, while the rest can sampled at CD Baby, where it can be purchased as well as from Not Lame and Kool Kat.

UPDATE: Now available on eMusic.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Weekend video.

Here's one of my favorite Neil Finn songs, complete with a giant woman straight from 50's sci-fi:

Thursday, September 21, 2006

eMusic Flood.

eMu added 680 titles today, and among them are several that are worth your allotted downloads:

Once For Kicks-In The Dollhouse. Bruce at Not Lame: "Like a combination of the best of Sloan, Superdeluxe for sure, a dash Fountains Of Wayne wrapped in some of the more recent sounds of The Fastbacks playing classic Guided By Voices pop stuff, New Pornographers with a bit more fuzz(think Nirvana on a Raspberries fix or something like that!) and The Model Rockets." Yeah, it's pretty good.

The Village Green-S/T EP. They've just put out a full-length, titled Feeling The Fall, which is OK but a bit trippy-sounding. Much tighter-sounding and much better is their EP from late last year, which makes its bow on eMu. Aside from the Kinks-dropping name, other influences they sport on this EP include T-Rex and Oasis. Had I compiled a best EPs of 2005 list, this would have been right up there.

Patty Hurst Shifter-Too Crowded on the Losing End. These guys from North Carolina are carrying on the tradition of a more rocking version of alt-country, kind of like the times when Whiskeytown really did sound like The Replacements and not a vehicle for Ryan Adams' solo career. This release from earlier this year is highly recommended.

Other notable adds include the 10th anniversary deluxe edition of The Presidents of the United States of America's debut disc (OK, you might not want to blow all 26 of your downloads on this, especially all the bonus track demos. But you can still grab "Lump".); Available Light, the latest from folk/pop singer/songwriter Willy Porter; and the 2002 debut album of indie popsters The Spectacular Fantastic.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

CD of the Day, 9/20/06: Ryan Coughlan-Are You Having a Good Day?

With its sun-setting-over-the-beach cover and its largely acoustic sound, Aussie Ryan Coughlan's Are You Having a Good Day? could be dismissed on first glance (or first listen) as a Jack Johnson knockoff. But closer inspection reveals a great pop record that is (as the self-provided descripton on CD Baby calls it) "disturbingly catchy" and which approaches the grace of another similar album that was one of my 2005 favorites, Graham Cousens' Living Room Sessions.

Coughlan starts off things off winningly with "Love Song", a very catchy number which wouldn't have been out of place on fellow Aussie Bob Evans' Suburban Songbook. The real standout here, though, is "A Good Day", which sounds like it could be a massive hit if the right TV show featured it, or right US record label executive heard it. It's almost an answer song to the Daniel Powter smash "Bad Day" and is cut from the same cloth. Other tracks worth checking out are "Butterfly", "What's Bugging You?" the slightly-more-rocking "1964", and the oustanding closer "My World".

CD Baby is place to go to listen to this disc, and of course to buy it if you're so inclined. There are a few mp3s here, although from the sizes described, they're either clips or very-low-bitrate full tracks.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

He's a Renaissance Man.

That Bob Evans, not only does he have the #1 disc of the year on our site, but he makes a mean pork roast and mashed potatoes as well:

Where does he find the time?

Weekend roundup.

Here a few releases I've been meaning to tout over the past few weeks or so:

Rubber Clown Car-Make The Noise. Are you sick of emo? How about some emu? (check the cover) For those who like their power pop leavened by whimsy, this disc will be right up your alley. Here's an mp3 to sample:

Home In The Suburbs

You can also download "Living in Luxury" and "Vanity Affair" from their myspace page. I'll let them speak for themselves here to describe their sound: "a mixture of XTC, Bob Mould, the Damned, the Who, and Matthew Sweet.. the Beatles on Quaaludes". Maybe some Barenaked Ladies in there as well. You can buy the CD here.

Marty Rudnick-More Songs About Cars and Girls. With a title like this, you know what you're getting, and Mr. Rudnick delivers the power pop goods in classic fashion. And helping him deliver them in classic fashion is Michael Carpenter, who never produces (or records) a bad album. Sample his wares at his myspace page, and you can order the album directly from his label for $10 shipped.

Brindley Brothers-Filled With Fire. DC's Luke & Daniel Brindley aren't power pop in a pure fashion, but quality roots and Americana-based pop. Or simply "pop/rock". As the Washington Post put it, the Brindleys display "a natural ease with material that runs the gamut from Wilco-esque alt-country to bright Marshall Crenshaw-style pop and most shades of catchy song craft between." Judge for yourself - they have some mp3s available from their site:

Rise Above
Man on Fire
Late Summer

Additional tracks are streaming at the site, and the disc itself is available at CD Baby. If you'd rather stream than download, here's their myspace page.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Oh, Canada!

Two Canadian bands are in for a mention today.

First, Winnipeg's Novillero makes a bow on eMusic today with their fine 2005 release, Aim Right for the Holes in Their Lives. If I had to describe them in one sentence, I'd say they're a cross between compatriots AC Newman/New Pornographers and the Ben Folds Five with some indie rock sensbility. Definitely head over to eMu and take a listen.

And more excitingly, we're only days away from the new release by Sloan, Never Hear The End of It (at least in Canada; the US release will probably be months/years away, but I'll get my grubby little hands on it before long). Although I haven't mentioned it in this space much or often, Sloan is one of my all-time favorite power pop bands, and I've been meaning for months to write about how Navy Blues might be one of my 10 (if not 5) favorite records of the 90s. Anyway, there are a couple of tracks from the album streaming at their myspace page, and they sound pretty damn good.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

New on eMusic.

A few interesting adds to eMu today. They have a deal with Bip Bip Records, the indie Spanish power pop label, and two releases from a few years back worth noting showed up today.

First is The Pictures' Better Than Words. This is classic jangly power pop, and it includes a cover of Matthew Sweet's "Back to You". I'm queueing it up myself.

The other Bip Bip add is Art School's 3 Close Mates. This one is more mod-sounding than The Pictures, or what some would call skinny-tie pop.

The new Holiday With Maggie release, Welcome to Hope, is added as well. This Swedish band has a modern pop/rock sound and we've mentioned them on this blog before.

Finally, added today was a disc recently featured by Not Lame. Although it's more singer/songwriter/americana than power pop, David Wolfenberger's Portrait of Narcissus is a fine release, and "Vespa Girl" is pretty catchy. Wolfenberger's previous two releases were also added today.

Video of the Day.

Here's one of the top tracks from one of the top power pop bands of the 90s: The Tories' "Gladys Kravitz". Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Four new Nines.

The Nines' Calling Distance Stations is currently holding down my #20 spot for the year, although I never did get around to give it a proper writeup. It's been well-received throughout the power pop community, so it wasn't a release that I felt compelled to publicize.

What I do feel compelled to publicize, though, is a new 4-song EP of theirs titled CQDX: Transmission Files. It's an odds and sods collection including two tracks recorded during the Calling Distance Stations sessions, and is available download-only from their site for $3.99. You can try before you buy, though, as all four songs are streaming at their special myspace page set up for this release. The real keeper here is "Goodbye Janine", a gorgeous ballad.

CD of the Day, 9/12/06: The Mellowmen-Tomorrow's Sound Today

The Mellowmen are from Sweden (not to be confused with Germany's Monkeeman), and despite the album title, play a particularly tuneful brand of mid-60s-styled pop albeit with some modern touches. They can probably be best described as a cross between Rainbow Quartz acts like The Winnerys and The Sails and contemporary Swedish pop acts like The Soundtrack of Our Lives. In fact, I'm kind of half surprised that RQ hasn't signed them yet.

Things get off to a winning start with "I'm Okay", which nicely utilizes piano and a horn section to augment the basic guitar-bass-drums setup. "Out of Shape (Part 1)" follows, sounding like something McCartney would have written circa Revolver. "Make You Mine" has a bit more of a contemporary yet retro feel to it, almost reminding me in places of Ben Kweller. Other highlights include "You Better Leave Now", a great slice of British Invasion pop; the playful "Sunshine Shell", and the Brian Wilson-influenced "I Rest on Her Autumn Leaf".

Try these mp3s on for size:

I'm Okay
You Better Leave Now

A few tracks can also be streamed at their myspace page. Meanwhile, the disc is apparently only available in the US through Miles of Music, an outfit that usually specializes in Americana. And while Tomorrow's Sound Today isn't on eMusic, the EP Get Out of Shape With The Mellowmen is, which features the title track (both parts) and a couple of tracks not on the album, including the very good "It's Not My World".

UPDATE (4/25/07): Re: the first paragraph above - Rainbow Quartz did in fact pick up The Mellowmen (I think they owe me a commission on their new RQ contract), and have released Tomorrow's Sound Today (with a different cover - I liked the old one better) in the USA. And it's on eMusic here.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Still alive.

Back from a 10-day binge smoking crack and holed up at a hotel knee deep in hookers. OK, maybe it was really just a combination of a busy Labor Day weekend, a couple of fantasy football drafts and a relative lack of stuff to write about. Anyway, here's some miscellany to pass on.

* When we last left you, the Pernice Brothers were touting the pre-order of their new disc, Live a Little. Now, they're streaming about half the disc (and adding three new tracks a week, which by my count should mean the whole thing streams in two weeks) over at their official site. Just click on the "listen" button. Among the streamers is "Grudge F*** (2006)", which I had been eager to hear, especially after they claimed it out-Badfingered Badfinger. Having listened to it, it's more the Badfinger of "Day After Day" than "No Matter What", but a nice re-working, although the differences are more pronounced in the second half of the song. I've only listened to others a few times, but it's shaping up to be their best since The World Won't End, and you all know how I feel about that disc.

* All kinds of new stuff at eMusic since I last updated. A couple of new Rainbow Quartz releases are available there: The Gurus' The Swing of Things, and An Amazing Dream from The Asteroid No. 4. These two are much more trippy and psychedelic than another pair of recent RQ releases that I really enjoyed from The Sails and The Winnerys. More exciting is the fact that one of my top 20 from last year, Jim Boggia's Safe In Sound, is finally on the service.