Tuesday, October 31, 2006

CD of the Day, 10/31/06: Champagne Francis-I Start to Daydream

From the first hooky chorus of "Old Vampires", the leadoff track from Champagne Francis' sophomore release I Start to Daydream, you know you're in for power pop goodness, and the rest of it doesn't disappoint. CF are from New York City, but they sound like they hail from somewhere more sunny like California or Georgia, as they have kind of a west coast pop meets Athens, GA jangle feel. Although neither are from California or Georgia, the closest analog I hear is a combination of The Merrymakers and The Connells.

The first five tracks on this disc are as good as any you'll hear this year, capped off by the rocking "Burned to the Ground". The rest aren't exactly chopped liver either, especially "High Comedy" and the jangly "Walter". Listen at myspace here, sample more tracks at CD Baby, and buy it at Not Lame. You'll definitely get a kick from this Champagne.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Damnwells are Damn Good.

I'm not going to write a full-blown review here, but I just want to point out The Damnwells' latest disc, Air Stereo, is really, really good. Damn good, I would say. Allmusic's review of the disc describes their sound as "somewhere between alternative country and alternative rock", and it's an apt description. The songs on this disc, which has grown on me over the last few weeks on random iPod play, are almost uniformly melodic, and I'd say they'd appeal greatly to fans of Del Amitri, Guster and The Gin Blossoms.

Since it's on a well-distributed (if not major) label, the disc can be found pretty cheaply used ($5-$6) on the Amazon marketplace. Four tracks from the disc are streaming at their myspace page. They're on tour right now with The Fray, so check em out when they come to town.

CD of the Day: 10/20/06: Lolas-Doctor Apache

Yes, boys and girls, the new Lolas disc is out, and Tim Boykin & Co. are back with another instant classic power pop album. When I saw the disc appear on CD Baby recently, I clicked on "add to cart" without even listening to the samples, so confident I am in this band to deliver the goods, and they didn't let me down.

Things start off with near-perfect jangle and harmonies of "Eye Eye". I should be comparing other bands to the Lolas than vice-versa, but this track might be the best Teenage Fanclub track they'll never record. "The Laurie Song" sounds like it could have come right off Revolver; "Me and Barbara Stanwyck" hails from Tories/Jellyfish territory (and I love its Disco Tex & The Sex-O-Lettes name drop); "Staying Inside" is 2:46 of textbook power pop; "The Selfish Song" effectively adds some new wave synths to the mix, and while "Nobodeh" may serve as the obligatory ballad, it's a damn good one. The disc closes as it begins, with the title track another perfect jangler, although a bit slower and contemplative in the Dylan/McGuinn mode.

The only place I'm seeing this disc for sale now is at CD Baby, although the Not Lames and Kool Kats of the world will surely have it soon. Sample it there as well (if you're not quite ready to buy on spec like I was), and you can stream "Eye Eye", "Barbara Stanwyck" and "Staying Inside" at their (somewhat hard-to-find) myspace page. Expect to see this fairly high on my next update of the top 33 1/3 of the year (which might just be my year-end top 100 since we're late into October).

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Alpacas are Orgling on eMusic.

The LEO disc, which hits the street today, is also on eMusic as of this morning, along with an extra bonus track ("Money & Music").

Monday, October 16, 2006

Monday roundup.

We'll start the work week off with a handful of discs that are worth checking out:

The Lava Province-Strangeway. The Lava Province is actually SoCal's Laurens Vernot; the assumed name is probably a good idea, since the actual one sounds like a wine ("Yes, I'll have a bottle of your Laurens Vernot"). But perhaps it's appropriate, as his debut disc Strangeway will warm the palate of any power pop connoisseur, as it contains some vintage-sounding rock and pop tunes. It's not purely power pop, but it's not purely rock either. Standouts include the title track, "Back Here Again", "Let It Go On" and "Can't Keep Me Away". CD Baby | MySpace

The Atlantics-The Atlantics. The other day, we told you about The Ladies & Gentlemen, and about how they skillfully recreated the late 70s new wave/power pop sound. Well, here's the genuine article in the form of The Atlantics, who rocked the Boston area from 1976-1983. This disc is a collection of 13 tracks they committed to tape at the time, which finally get a proper CD release. It's high-quality material, and a great lost treasure. CD Baby | Not Lame | MySpace

Almost Charlie-Loving Counterclockwise. This German band certainly has an interesting backstory, which explains the band name:
To this day, musician/composer Dirk Homuth and lyricist Charlie Mason have never met. Yet they have still developed a successful creative songwriting collaboration via the Internet.
Gimmicks aside, this is a strong collection of dreampop in the vein of Belle & Sebastian, Kings of Convenience and others with a similar sound. Apparently, they've formed a more proper band and have a new disc coming out early next year, tracks from which are the ones featured at myspace. CD Baby | MySpace

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Brewing up some good tunes.

Walter Clevenger probably needs no introduction to most of you (and for those of you who don't know him, that's what Google is for), and he runs the Brewery Records imprint. Brewery has two new discs out: The Tickets, and Sugar Mountain's In The Raw. The former is a lost power pop band from the late 80s and early 90s, and it's just great stuff, while the former is a new band who bring the rock in the tradition of the Stones, Faces, Crowes and Georgia Satellites. Not Lame has a super special on both, complete with full streaming of both discs. I know I can't stop listening.

Friday, October 13, 2006

"New" Mike Viola & Candy Butchers at Not Lame.

Two new Mike Viola-related releases are being featured over at Not Lame for pre-order. One is "Making Up Time", a collection of ten unreleased Candy Butchers tracks, and the other is a CD release of Viola's "Just Before Dark", an acoustic live gig that was released only on vinyl last year.

Both discs are streaming in their entirety, so head on over and listen. Personally, I can take or leave the acoustic disc, but the Candy Butchers disc really sounds good.

Video of the Day: Sloan-The Rest of My Life

While I continue to try to digest the 30 tracks on their brand new release Never Hear The End of It (in random rotation on my ipod, nothing has really jumped out at me yet), here's a video for "The Rest of My Life", the standout track from their previous release, 2003's Action Pact:

CD of the Day, 10/13/06: The Ladies & Gentlemen-Ladies and Gentlemen...

Chicago may be dealing with an early season snowstorm at the moment, but they've had their own blizzard of rocking new-wavy power pop to deal with for a while now, in the form of The Ladies & Gentlemen and their debut album Ladies and Gentlemen....The Ladies & Gentlemen (at least we know they spend more time on their music than titling their albums).

These guys have the classic high-energy new wave/power pop sound down just right, always sounding like they're ready to party like it's 1979. The Cars come to mind as an obvious antecedent, but they're a bit rawer and less stylized than Ocasek & Co. Standouts on the disc include "I Wanna Thank U", which has a "Stacy's Mom"-ish feel to it, in the same manner FoW were influenced by the Cars on that track; the opener "Nobody Home"; "Had Me at Hello", which takes a 90s catchphrase and adds some 60s harmonies to their late-70s sound; and the melodic "I Luv U, I Hate U".

The best thing about all of this is that you can listen to the entire album streaming at their site (click on "music"), so you don't have to take my word for it. And if you like it, it's ready for the buying at CD Baby.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Major label stuff I'm enjoying.

About 99.9% of the posts on this blog are focused on independent power pop; my primary focus is discovery of new or underpublicized acts, not as a review of all things power pop-related. Nevertheless, once in a while I feel compelled to tout some label releases of people you've probably heard of.

First off is Sean Lennon's Friendly Fire. I thought his first solo release, Into The Sun, was pretty mediocre, but I've consistently enjoyed this one. The sound here is somewhere between Jeff Hanson ("Elliott Smith on helium") and Elliott Smith himself. Of course since Elliott Smith's sound is derived in large part from solo John Lennon, you could just say that Sean is imitating his daddy. Regardless, the songs for the most part are really good, especially "Dead Meat" and "Parachutes".

Next is Ta-Dah, the sophomore (and somewhat sophomoric, but in a good way) effort from The Scissor Sisters. If "Take Your Mama Out" was one of your favorite songs of 2004 (it was for me), you'll like almost all of this disc, as the implied Elton John influence of the debut becomes an overt Elton influence (he helped pen one of the disc's standouts, the hit "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'", and "She's My Man" is a close cousin to "I'm Still Standing"). If you came of age in the late 70s (or even if you didn't), and didn't hate disco but appreciated some of its better efforts, then the Scissors are for you.

Finally, like many I thought that the Strokes' 2001 debut, Is This It, was a great disc despite all its affectations, and like many I've thought their subsequent two discs were largely crap. So it was with some trepdiation that I listened to Yours to Keep, the solo debut of bassist Albert Hammond Jr. But it was a pleasant surprise, much more in the power pop vein than the "new wave" influence in (what was at one point) the Strokes' sound. Right now, it's UK-only, but it's worth seeking out.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Comfies on eMusic!

Well, that didn't take long. The Comfies EP which I raved about a few days ago is now on eMusic. Great chance to snap it up for the equivalent of $1.75.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

New at eMusic.

Nothing earthshattering this morning, but a couple to mention:

El Goodo-S/T. I mentioned this one way back in the first few days of the site when it appeared on Not Lame. It's very retro-sounding, with kind of a Mamas & Papas-type feel. There were links to a few free mp3s in my original post, so check those out first if you're interested.

And Normal Happiness, the latest from Robert Pollard (who seems to put out a new album every month), is available, although eMu isn't a great outlet for Pollard, since his 1:15 tracks cost you one download just the same as someone else's 4-5 minute song.

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Alpacas are Orgling at Not Lame.

It's almost time for the unleashing of one of the top power pop albums of the year: L.E.O.'s Alpacas Orgling, the "supergroup" Bleu has put together to record a "lost" ELO album. I don't have much more to add from my previous posts on the album from earlier in the year when it was slowly unveiled on myspace, but now that I have a promo copy of the disc (rather than captured myspace streams), I can tell you that it's a sonic delight as well, fitting for the densely produced Jeff Lynne sound it pays homage to.

So what I'm essentially saying here is "BUY IT!", and now you have a place to plunk down your cash: Not Lame, who has one of their patented ultrasupermegaextravanganva bonus offers in connection with the disc, which of course features a media player streaming the entire album. Best $14 + shipping you're going to spend this year. The pre-sale offer ends October 17, the street date of the disc, so don't waste any time pulling the trigger.

EP of the Day: The Comfies-Close to Me

We're all about follow-up here at Absolute Powerpop, and some of you may remember a few months ago I touted a band called The Comfies, but they had only released a couple of tracks on a compilation disc (when they were known as Harper) and hadn't had their own disc out yet.

Well, as you can tell from the title of this post and the pretty picture above, they do now, the EP Close to Me, which has an official street date of this Tuesday, October 10. Only two of the tracks ("Medicine", "Your Sunshine") were familiar from their earlier myspace offerings, so I'll highlight the "new" stuff. The title track is a great slice of power pop, and I emphasize the "power". I threw the Superdrag comparison around quite a bit in the previous post, and it continues to apply. They're also reminiscent of their label mates The Rewinds, and just might be joining them and bands like Edmund's Crown in the burgeoning subgenre of "Southern power pop". "That's What She Gets" follows the title track, and it's another melodic gem, a midtempo number rocks yet has a Posies/Teenage Fanclub to it. "In My Room" isn't a cover of the Beach Boys classic and doesn't sound like Brian Wilson at all, but it's yet another great midtempo track (that rocks in the middle eight), and features some nice female harmonies. There's really not a bad track on this EP, and the acoustic one-and-a-half minute track "Dear Miss Anderson" is a nice coda.

Check out "Close to Me" as well as the two older tracks at their myspace page, and you can order it here for the reasonable price of $6.98. I won't be surprised to see it popping up at Not Lame and Kool Kat before long as well. It's gratifying to see that my instincts on these guys were right, and they've come through with a true EP of the Year candidate.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

New release Tuesday on eMusic.

A few notables added this morning:

Pernice Brothers-Live a Little. You know where we stand on this one. Download it.

Also added were two Rainbow Quartz releases, one from an old standby and another from a new band. The vets are psych-poppers Outrageous Cherry, and Stay Happy is their new one.

The other is the self-titled debut of The Summer Wardrobe, who describe their sound as "ambient Southern rock" and who have "been compared to bands such as Pink Floyd, the Church, Mercury Rev and Luna", "yet has its own unique sound that draws from a diverse panoply of influences".