Tuesday, November 28, 2006

CD of the Day, 11/28/06: Buva-All This Humming

Buva is LA's Tom Wolfe, and All This Humming, his full-length debut, is a keeper. His 2003 EP Daydream created a bit of a splash, and All This Humming lives up to the promise of the EP.

This is high-quality softer (not quite soft) pop, and Wolfe's vocals sound like a cross between Matthew Sweet and Eric Matthews. Sonically, the music's in there as well, similar most to Sweet's balladry with some (much) lighter orchestral touches than Matthews. The first five tracks, in fact, comprise the best collection of this sort of pop that you'll hear all year, with "Heart Don't Say" and "Rolling By" particular standouts. Those five are followed by the bright jangle of the uptempo "Something That I Need to Hear", which hints at what the album might have sounded had Wolfe decided to go with power in his pop (as he did a bit more on the EP), and "Look Ahead" while have others wondering about all that humming coming from you when you sing along to its irresistible "ba-da-ba" chorus.

Despite a release date of February 6, 2007 being trumpeted on the CD Baby page and his myspace page, you can buy the disc now at the Baby, and catch a few tracks at both myspace and his site.

New eMusic.

The new Figgs disc, Follow Jean Through The Sea, bows on eMu today - these guys have rocked us for years, and the new one is no exception.

Also, we featured Voxtrot a while back, and another of their EPs, Mothers, Sisters, Daughters & Wives is now available.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just want to wish all my readers a Happy Thanksgiving Day (whether or not you reside in the USA), and want to give thanks for the following (aside from my lovely wife and three wonderful boys):

* All of my readers. With so many sites out there, I appreciate all of you who take the time to visit Absolute Powerpop and who inspire me to continue to post.

* The artists. 99% of the discs I feature on here are from independent artists, many of whom have day jobs and who are releasing music for the love of it, and not under any illusions of fame and fortune. I thank you all for the blood, sweat and tears that go into making your discs and for the hours of listening pleasure that I (and hopefully most of my readers out there) have received.

* Bruce at Not Lame and Ray at Kool Kat. Without these guys, power pop on the internet as we know it doesn't exist, and the work they do to bring us artists and their music that we'd never know about otherwise can't be recognized enough.

* David Bash and International Pop Overthrow. These shows speak for themselves. Although I haven't been able to attend (it's tough to drop the kids, my business and everything else to jet across the country; how about an IPO Tampa someday?), anyone who can get the kind of power pop lineups together for these shows deserves our thanks.

* And to everyone else out there spreading the power pop gospel.

Happy Thanksgiving!

More power pop bloggery.

A gent named Kevin runs two fine power pop sites that have actually been around for a while. Many of you may know Power of Pop, a fine web site with power pop reviews and related stories; by some oversight, I never linked to it over on the right. That oversight has been remedied. What I did not know was that he had a separate power pop blog, with the same title. There's some good stuff there, "blurb-o-ramas" noting recent power pop releases, and some interesting interviews (Doug Powell, The Scallions, among others of recent vintage). And kudos to Kevin for pinpointing the true reference/influence of Chris Brown (of Now That You're Fed power pop fame, not the rapper Chris Brown) as Lindsey Buckingham.

New Blue Cartoon!

Not Lame has all the details, including a stream of the full album. If you know Blue Cartoon, you know this is exciting; if you don't, you should.

CD of the Day, 11/22/06: The Alice Rose-Phonographic Memory

The Alice Rose is a band from Austin, Texas, whose lead singer/main songwriter is a dude named JoDee Purkeypile. For those old enough to remember the Smuckers commercials, all I can say is that with a band led by a guy named JoDee Purkeypile, you know they have to be good. The operative style here is melodic pop with a touch of an "indie" sound, and they should have broad appeal to both the indie and pop crowds. Influences to the sound range from Jon Brion to Squeeze to The Beatles to 80s British pop.

Among the highlights: "Light Up" is an atmospheric rocker with a graceful melody; "Save Me" has a Lennonesque feel, almost as if "Hey Bulldog" was slowed down a notch or two; "Lamplight" is oustanding power pop; "Ocean" has an anthemic Coldplay-like sound; "All Over Your Body" is absolutely Beatlesque; and "West" falls into the Jon Brion/Michael Penn camp.

If you want to check them out, they can be found at the usual suspects: MySpace and CD Baby. Would an Alice Rose by any other name sound as sweet? Find out for yourself.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

CD of the Day, 11/21/06: The Goldbergs-Hooks, Lines & Sinkers

Wow. Let me say that again: Wow. This one came out of nowhere. I noticed it last week on Kool Kat's weekly new release email, and it sounded intriguing. Before I could get around to sampling it and checking it out, Andy Goldberg sent me an email offering up a promo copy. I said bring it on, and after listening to it today, my jaw dropped at how good it is. This is perhaps the most fully realized power pop debut since Eugene Edwards' My Favorite Revolution a couple of years ago.

Although nominally a band, it's pretty much all Andy Goldberg here, and the comparisons that leap to mind are several: Marshall Crenshaw, Michael Carpenter, Walter Clevenger, the aforementioned Mr. Edwards, and to head back to the 70s, Badfinger and Nick Lowe. Normally at this point of the review I tout the top tracks on the disc, but I really can't do that here as all ten are nearly equally outstanding. So head on over to The Goldbergs' myspace page, where you can download and/or stream three tracks. Then pop on over to either Kool Kat (where they also reacted with "Wow!") or CD Baby (where as always you can sample the rest) and pick it up. Although I want to listen a few (dozen) more times before ranking it, all I can say right now is that Bob Evans and Supraluxe need to be looking over their shoulders.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Big Bob Evans news!

That's big news about Bob Evans, not news about someone named Big Bob Evans.

Anyway, Suburban Songbook, the #1 disc of 2006 to date here at Absolute Powerpop, is finally available worldwide, albeit through iTunes. There's no album discount, meaning that the 12-song disc is $11.88. It's still worth every penny (and then some). For those without an iPod, you can still get the disc by downloading iTunes and buying it through the iTunes music store. You can then copy the 12 tracks to a playlist and burn a cd from it. This also gives you the option to rip the burned CD to straight mp3s if you're using a non-iPod mp3 player.

So while it may take a wee bit of effort from the non-iPodders out there, I don't want to hear any more complaining about selecting a #1 disc that was only available in Australia.

New at eMusic.

A few items of interest were added today:

* Sunflower, a 2-song "EP" from The Meadows. Their self-titled debut was featured on this site. I haven't listened yet, but it appears that "This Is a Call" is a Foo Fighters cover.

* A reissue (or digital reissue) of the Gigolo Aunts' first album, Flippin' Out. These guys, who have been around for what seems forever, have finally called it quits and have recently released a compilation of covers, b-sides etc (including an interesting "hidden" track acoustic cover of "Cum On Feel The Noize") called The Pride of Potsdam, available at Kool Kat.

* Nigel Clark's 21st Century Man. Clark used to be the frontman for 90's Britpoppers Dodgy, and his solo debut here is quality singer-songwriter pop somewhere in between Neil Finn and Brian Wilson.

As always, even non eMusic subs can listen to the samples at these pages.

CD of the Day, 11/20/06: Pat Buchanan-St. George

This one's been out since last December, and with its late-in-the-year release, I probably gave it short shrift for my year-end list. So I'll do my best to remedy overlooking it by giving it a plug today. Buchanan isn't a true power popper, but he isn't a completely wimpy soft popper either; he's simply just a great pop craftsman.

St. George is his second solo release (he was once in The Idle Jets), and it kicks off with the gorgeous ballad "Sweet Amnesia", which you won't be forgetting. For me, the highlight of the disc comes in the middle with two great mid-tempo rockers, "Halo" and "We'll Talk". "The Same Tree" is another gem as well.

Get the disc at Not Lame, sample it at CD Baby.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

CD of the Day, 11/19/06: Grapeland-Reality Show

Grapeland are a two-piece from Sweden who bill their sound as "Swedish Americana", and their own comparisons of their music to Tom Petty and REM are pretty much in the ballpark. I would put them in the "roots pop" category as well, but however you want to classify them, the key element here is that they have the tunes.

The title track starts off the proceedings, and it's a great americanarocker. "Pretty Ones" follows with a bit of a "Queen of Hearts" melody to it, "Phobic Phil" sounds like it could have come from a Warren Zevon album, and "Bric-a-Brac", my favorite on the album, reminds me of Walter Clevenger crossed with REM.

The album can be bought and sampled at CD Baby, while four of the tracks can be streamed (or downloaded) from their myspace page, including "Reality Show" and "Pretty Ones". If roots rock/pop is your bag, add Grapeland to your cart.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

New LeDrew!

Just got this email from Not Lame:


Over the summer you picked up either(or both) the Brothers In Stereo or Andrew Ledrew's "Ladies Lookout" from Not Lame. Brothers In Stereo is two brothers w/ the last name 'Ledrew" and now Chris has just released his first solo record in Canada and we wanted to let you know about it.

Here's the info:

Chris Ledrew - Stronger Man
Price: $15
URL: http://www.notlame.com/CDLEDREW2.html

2006 solo album from one half of the awesome Canadian jangle-duo Brothers In Stereo, whose album on this site is a `must-hear` without question. Chris and Andrew LeDrew each have their own solo albums(Andrew`s is "Ladies Lookout") and here Chris asserts a confident step into his own brand of jangled up pop, but "Stronger Man" has a more rootsy, un-dappled strain of Laurel Canyon roots-pop. Fans of Michael Carpenter, take note, as well as Tom Petty and Lloyd Cole. The sound of dusty, alt-ish country tinged pop highlighted by gorgeous harmonies, one moment sparse and understated, the next building to a triumphant roar of churning drums and jangled-up guitar. LeDrew blends soothing melodic lines with layers of acoustic and electric guitars strummed urgently, heartfelt lyrics, the just-right-amount of jangle in the guitar and the instinct to know when it might be getting a little too laid

back to kick into a slightly more rocking gear. A refreshing dose of intelligent rock music that does not sound like anything particular but, at the same time, warmly familiar. Very nice cover of Gerry Raferty`s "Right Down The Line". Extremely Highly Recommended!
Regular readers of this site will know that I've become a big fan of the LeDrew brothers, with Andrew's Ladies Lookout my #3 disc of the year so far.

Four tracks from Stronger Man are available for download on his myspace page, and the rest can be sample at CD Baby. On first listen, it sounds like another winner.

You can read about Chris's hard-to-find first solo disc here.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Today would be a good day...

..to get an eMusic subscription. They added a massive number of CD Baby titles today that include many great discs that have been featured on this site in the past several months. (By the way, eMu is cutting the # of monthly downloads on each of its price plans in one week, but there's still time to lock in yearly subscriptions at the original plan rates, which can come to about 18 cents a track. The list in this post alone can keep you going for several months on the 40-download plan!)

First off, though, they added the new Saul Zonana disc, Love Over Money. As Bruce at Not Lame puts it, "Filled w/ the splendorous guitar, high energy hooks and expressive vocals found, the music falls into the schooling of such artists like Matthew Sweet, Rick Altizer, Michael Penn, Candy Butchers, Doug Powell , the Dotted Line and Greenberry Woods. It`s the type of power pop that would be right at home on most FM rock-oriented radio stations if radio played decent music."

And here are the rest:

Dave Stoops-Spill Your Drink. Bruce again: "Man, this album is so friggin` cool! Dave Stoops merges the a most interesting web of connection of cool, varied pop stylings with a most distinctive vocal style that evokes primo cool. Stoops sounds a lot like Karl Wallinger of World Party(and like Chris Bailey from The Saints), a very good thing and, in fact, much of the material sounds like the long, lost World Party album that fans have been waiting for the last 15 years or so."

Gary Henson-The Coast Is Clear
. One of the very first discs we spotlighted on the site, and you can read all about it here. #27 on our current top 33 1/3 of 2006.

Kit Ashton-Blindsided EP. My favorite EP of 2006 to date. Here's my full take.

Mike Schmid-The High Cost of Living (A Love Story). Featured this one back in May as part of a singer-songwriter series.

Parallax Project-Perpetual Limbo. I don't think I mentioned this one on the site, but many power poppers will remember this one that came out almost a year ago to the date. Just missed my best of 2005 lists, and here's Bruce yet again: "But you`ll hear echoes, vague, happy reminders of not only Cherry Twister(naturally) but The Nines, Redd Kross, Splitsville, Raspberries, Shoes and early 70`s AM Radio summer hits(think Gallery, First Class and Gilbert O` Sullivan, for those in the know)."

Patrik Tanner-Soft. I briefly blurbed this one earlier, and to save a link, here's what I wrote: "This is a 2004 release I picked up early last year, and it's a good one. With an album titled "Soft", you're kind of know what you're getting. And Tanner delivers the goods - this is quality singer/songwriter pop. My favorite track is the Beatlesque "Hello Tomorrow", complete with chimes at the end."

Rick Altizer-Blue Plate Special. If you don't know Rick Altizer, start Googling and find out. I think we featured his Dum Dog Run project, but his solo stuff is compelling as well. This one from a few years back is a good a place to start as any.

Sheboygan-S/T EP. Great 4-song EP, check 'em out at their myspace page.

Stingray Green-Hard Numbers. Stingrays may be getting a bad rap these days, but these veteran Minneapolis power popppers put out a fine album that I overlooked earlier this year.

The Everyday Things-Lighten Up, Francis. From it's adoption of a classic line from Stripes to the fact it was produced by Jamie Hoover and released on Not Lame's own label, you can't beat this batch of punchy power pop in the vein of The Figgs, The Romantics and The Plimsouls.

The High Score-We Showed Up to Leave. As Splendidzine put it, "They`ve got Superdrag`s keen sense of melody, Sugar`s propensity for lacing pop songs with blistering riffs and a GBV-ish sort of ragtag charm".

The Humbugs-Twist The Truth. Bruce sez: "The Humbugs sound a lot like Tommy Keene playing with REM, Swan Dive and the poppy side of The Kennedys, a unique sound. There`s hints of Prefab Sprout, Crowded House, Aimee Mann, more modern day Pretenders and Trashcan Sinatras, as well."

The Slides-The View From Here. I really like this album a lot, and it's testimony to all the good music coming out this year that it's not on my top 33 1/3 list (but look for it on my special superduper year-end top 100 come the holidays).

Third Floor Story-Lonely City
. I like this one even more, and it's #26 on the latest top 33 1/3. Great, great disc.

Wiretree-S/T EP. This was one of the great EPs of 2005, and a must-have. I elaborate about it here. Still waiting eagerly for the full-length.

So for any of you who have eMusic out there, bookmark this post in case you still have some leftover downloads at the end of the month, and for those who don't, it's still your most cost-effective way to legally get all this great power pop.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

CD of the Day, 11/13/06: My So-Called Friend - My So-Called Friend

Boston and its surrounding areas have been a haven lately for high-energy power pop, and it's kind of fitting we salute a Boston band today with IPO Boston in full swing at the moment. In the same vein as bands like The Cautions, Waltham, and with an element of the great Boston pop band of them all (The Cars) in their sound, My So-Called Friend is worth your acquaintance if this type of power pop is up your alley.

Their self-titled debut also has the "modern rock" sound of Weezer and perhaps a crunchier Click Five. Listen for yourself at their myspace page, or at CD Baby. What impresses me about the band is that they can do more than rock - midtempo tracks like "San Diego" and "House Arrest" are highlights, and closer "The Beating of Our Hearts" is a power ballad par excellence.

The disc is also available directly from the band for a couple of bucks cheaper than CD Baby.

Another power pop blog.

I'm pleased to report to emergence of another power pop blog. Mike, who's one of our readers, has started Powerpopulist, and I urge all of you to check it out. He has lots of mp3 links, and has been posting frequently (a lot more frequently than yours truly lately).

Sunday, November 05, 2006

CD of the Day, 11/5/06: Paper or Plastic-Best of Luck to Cody James

Paper or Plastic is a piano-based power pop band out of Portland, Oregon, and they've been doing this for a few years. Their latest is Best of Luck to Cody James and it might be their best yet. Sonically, they're somewhere between Ben Folds and Elvis Costello (they covered "Blame It On Cain" on their debut disc), or perhaps what it would sound like if Steve Nieve were the front man and Elvis C were one of the Attractions.

In any event, the songs are all killer, no filler on this seven-track release. The leadoff track is piano power pop perfection with "West Virginia" (as in "you have an unescapable dependence on"); "My Reputation is Better Than Yours" wears its attitude on its sleeve; "Neckties" rocks to a great melody; "Gay Bar" ("let me take you to a") is good fun and has a 70s vibe, not that there's anything wrong with that; "Street Lights" is a midtempo marvel; "I'm Not a Bastard" is right out of the Ben Folds Wiseass playbook; and closer "For The Money" reminds me a bit of Orson.

Grab an mp3:

West Virginia

"West Virginia", "Gay Bar", "Neckties" and "Street Lights" are all streaming at their myspace page, and the rest can be sampled at CD Baby. It's also available at iTunes, which is a cheaper way to get it, especially if you grab the "West Virginia" mp3 and/or take them up on their free download offer on their myspace page.

And who is Cody James? Google says he's this guy, but for we all know it could be some local childhood friend of the band or a name they just liked the sound of. Anyone from Paper or Plastic (or who otherwise knows) can feel free to enlighten us in the comments.

UPDATE: See the band's cryptic response in the comments.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

New and notable at eMusic.

Some interesting additions today.

AM-Troubled Times. This is a re-release of the self-titled debut from AM, which was featured on Not Lame a few weeks back. It's pretty good singer-songwriter stuff, and reminds me quite a bit of Gus Black (who was once known as simply "Gus", whose 2000 album Word of Mouth Parade I highly recommend and which is available for 1 cent - plus shipping - in the Amazon marketplace).

The Blue Van-Dear Independence. These guys have been compared to a modern-day Kinks, and the comparison isn't half-wrong. Mark at The Rock and Roll Report raves about it.

Jason Collett-Idols of Exile. One of the better releases of 2005 that was finally released in the US earlier this year. I've discussed it earlier on this site, and all I can say is that if you have eMu and don't have this one yet, don't waste any more time here reading about it, get it!

It's also fast approaching that time of the year again - new Christmas releases from Aimee Mann and Epic Hero can be found on eMu as well.

CD/Video of the Day: Starter

Starter are a band from Madrid who recently released the fine disc "Through The Morning Sky". They have a real good Big-Star-by-way-of-Teenage-Fanclub sound to them, and the disc can be purchased here. You can gather up some mp3s from them:

Five Words
Clear Light
All Right

And you can stream those tracks instead plus one more at their myspace page. Here's a video for "Clear Light":