Friday, September 28, 2012

Weekend Roundup.

Scott Warren-Dyed in the Wool. The former frontman of Signal Hill Transmission is back with his second solo album after 2009's fine Quick Fix Bandage. As I mentioned in that review, Warren never likes to make the same album twice, and here he veers from Bandage's popicana to a more indie pop sound not unlike a psychedelic Shins or Jo Dee Purkeypile's The Alice Rose. "Divisible/Indivisible" opens with a spry melody buoyed by Janelle Williams' trumpet and some well-placed whistling while "When She Comes Around" sounds like Paul McCartney if he were a 21st century indie popper. Elsewhere, the pretty melody of "When in Rome" and the "la-la-la" chorus of "Sinking Feeling" (which also features the "shooby-do-wa" refrain from "Revolution 1") help these two tracks stand out from the rest. And closer "Tongue-Tied" might be the best of the lot with its halting melody and bells and whistles that make it sound like a lost track from Wilco's Summerteeth. Another winner for Warren.

CD Baby | iTunes

The Lazy Suns-The Lazy Suns EP. This is the latest from Mark Clayton & Co., who were known as "Mark Clayton and The Lazy Suns" a couple of years back when I gave them I a brief shout-out on this site. The new EP is a enjoyable melange of power pop meets Americana, somewhere in the general direction of Tom Petty and The Wilburys. Opener "Bundled" is straight-up country rock, "Last Train Home" is top-shelf jangle pop and "Start All Over" closes with the guitar solo from Badfinger's "No Matter What". And the final track "Troubled Sea" is a sing-along sea shanty that was featured on the TV Show "The Deadliest Catch" and sports The Hooters' Eric Bazillian on hurdy-gurdy. So there's quite a bit to enjoy here if your tastes run into this sub-genre.

CD Baby | iTunes

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Two for Tuesday, 9/18/12

Sitcom Neighbor-Charm. LA's Sitcom Neighbor is a three-piece band led by John Murphy, and their second release (I missed 2007's eponymous debut) is a power pop delight that falls somewhere between The Posies and XTC. Opener "Amphetamine" belies its title with a languid pop melody and featuring a memorable acoustic guitar hook, "The Satisfaction of Love" comes across as a less quirky Colin Moulding XTC tune, and the midtempo "Let it Go" makes great use of its wordless backing vocals and twisting melody to recall Abbey Road-era Beatles. Elsewhere "Buy Your Farm" and closer "Darlene" find the band in a more rocking mode without sacrificing melody. An impressive record, and now I need to seek out the debut.

CD Baby | iTunes

Los Angelfish-Welcome to Los Angelfish. Last year Tim Culling had my second favorite EP of 2011 with Goodbye Western Sun, and here he returns with Michael Fink as Los Angelfish, serving up more of the roots-inflected pop/rock we enjoyed last time around. Opener "Winning Score" recalls vintage Paul Westerberg, while the piano-based "You Can Only Try So Hard" has a Wilco feel to it. Other standouts include are the bluesy "You'll Fly Away" and the Tom Petty-style closing rocker "Every One Knows". If Culling caught your ear last year, you'll definitely want to grab this one.

CD Baby | Soundcloud (all tracks)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Upcoming power pop.

I'm firmly convinced 2012 has been a far better year for power pop than 2011, and here come two more upcoming releases that will be vying for a top spot on a very competitive year-end list.

First up is the long-awaited return of David Grahame, who hasn't put a proper full-length album since 2004's DT & The Disagreeables, but has now teamed up with Lane Steinberg for a project titled - you guessed it - Grahame Steinberg. It's due out next month, and below is a 10-minute sampler of all the tracks. It almost works a medley unto itself, and it stands to be the most interesting power pop collaboration since Seth Swirsky and Mike Ruekberg got together:

Also back for the first time in several years is The World Record, last heard from with the great Guitars Forever in 2006. They're making up for lost time by giving us an 18-track double "album", also available in 23-track form on LP, due on October 9. To whet your appetite, they have a 7-track sampler up for your listening pleasure. Andy Creighton & Co. sound just as good as ever (EDIT: here's the full album now for streaming):

Friday, September 07, 2012

Friday Roundup.

Tim Husty-A Step Back. Pennsylvania's Tim Husty released this album at the very tail end of 2011, but I'm going to count it as a 2012 release. I mention this only because A Step Back is likely to end up fairly high on my year-end list as Husty has managed to make retro sound fresh in an effort that should appeal to fans of Marshall Crenshaw, Eugene Edwards and Gentleman Jesse. Whether it's the pre/early-Beatles rock'n'roll of "Be All Mine", "I'm Done" (complete with Lennonesque harmonica) and "Who's to Blame" or the more sophisticated pop of "She is Loved" and "Linear Man" or the epic Jimmy Webb-like closer "Goodbye", Husty has 60s pop down cold, almost like a one-man Red Button.

CD Baby | iTunes

Jason Karaban-Shift. LA's Jason Karaban returns with another quality album of singer/songwriter pop/rock that's of a piece with his earlier work featured on this site. Opener "Misplaced" is a richly-produced, anthemic tune that recalls Coldplay at their best, "Succeed 101" (originally released as a single) manages to be both breezy and melodic, and the driving "Tumbleweeds" finds itself in Tom Petty territory. But the real standout here - especially for us power poppers - is "Devil That I Know", a track co-written with Toad the Wet Sprocket's Glen Phillips that's the catchiest thing he's released and deserves to be a hit somewhere.


Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Midweek Roundup.

Ruby Free-Introducing Ruby Free. Ruby Free is Maple Mars' Rick Hromadka side project team-up with wife Lisa Cavaliere, and it's a sonic return to those carefree 1970s days when spouses like Paul & Linda McCartney, Richard & Linda Thompson, Sonny & Cher, and (non-spouses) Gram Parsons & Emmylou Harris would record laid-back classics. Opener "Bongos & Beards" is a wonderfully chirpy opener with a McCartneyesque melody, the jangly "Slow Parade" has just the right psychedelic touch, and the piano psych pop of "Good Company" would have fit right in on Wings at the Speed of Sound. "Tiny Stars" borrows the famous Motown bass line in service of a catchy melody, and closer "One Last Song" with its ethereal melodies and strings closes things in appropriately epic fashion. The album is a wonderful evocation of a subgenre we didn't realized we missed. And yeah, there's also a song here called "Sonny & Cher".

CD Baby | iTunes

Steven Wright-Mark-Plastic World. NYC's Steven Wright-Mark is back with his first release since 2008's Sideshow Freak, and he picks right up where he left off with his Matthew Sweet-meets-Elvis Costello blend of singer-songwriter pop. "I Wanna" bolts out of the gate with a swagger that's both mission statement and an electric power pop number, "Almost Summer" channels Fountains of Wayne, and Wright-Mark shows off his sardonic sense of humor with "My Friends Are Trash". Elsewhere, "Lean" sounds like a lost Tommy Keene classic, and closer "Your Name" might be the best pure pop on the album. It's Steven Wright-Mark's plastic world, and we're all living in it.