Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Some more eMu's.

A couple of more discs of interest that have just been added to eMusic:

Fran King's Beautification. This one was #52 on the best of 2006 list (it seems like every week one or two more from the list get added), although going back and reading my original post on the disc I see that it was really a 2005 release and shouldn't have been on it. Oh well, it's the music that matters, not the year, so hop on over and download it.

Also added is the brand new disc from Steven Mark, Racing Grey. For those familiar with his previous releases, Aloneaphobe and Distraction (both of which are also available at eMu), this is more of the same high-quality densely produced Lennonesque pop, albeit with some social commentary in tracks like "Paris Hilton Generation" and "God on High".

Right on Brother!

Larry at This Is What We Do Now has a great post up extolling the genre of power pop, and he's kind enough to praise this blog by name. My favorite passage is this:
I've heard all the criticisms: The lyrics are vapid, the songs repetitive, there's not enough layer and depth, the music's too happy, etc. Those who don't enjoy it always employ a holier-than-thou "Well it can't be good if it actually has discernible hooks, gets lodged in your head immediately, makes you want to sing along and doesn't drearily plod along for four to six minutes" attitude. Apparently happy music = bad music in the indie world.

I've never listened to music to be challenged or find some sort of deep, hidden meaning. I couldn't give a flying fuck what a band has to say. If I want to be intellectually stimulated I'll pick up a book, watch Jeopardy or do the Times crossword. When it comes to music, all I care about is getting a song stuck in my head and making me want to play it over and over again until I get sick of it.
Amen, brother.

Updates & Miscellany.

By way of follow-up on some earlier posts, and some other things that I've been meaning to mention over the week or so since I last posted:

* I made reference a few weeks ago to a new David Grahame album becoming available through downloads from his official site. It now turns out that Grahame is only releasing individual tracks as he completes them, and not only are they going for $2 a pop, he's not making any previews of them available before purchase so as to preserve the surprise element. This business model of Grahame's has created quite a lengthy discussion on Audities, with the general consensus being that it's too steep a price, and even those who feel they could justify spending $2/track are put off by the lack of ability to sample the tracks. It is kind of a "pig in a poke" type of setup here, especially with Grahame's hints of a departure from his earlier sound. If anyone here has heard the tracks, please post a comment with your take on them, and if by some reason you're reading this Mr. Grahame, feel free to send me the mp3s on a promo basis and I'll be glad to write up my thoughts on them. :)

UPDATE WHILE PREPARING THIS POST: Apparently bowing to semi-popular demand, Grahame has made samples available. After listening to the five 20-30 second snippets, I'm not detecting that radical a change in his sound, with the exception of "The Slide", which has a horn section and sounds kind of bluesy. The others sound nice enough, assuming the snippets are representative of the tracks as a whole. I'm a bit more tempted to shell out the $2, but I'm not quite there yet.

* Contrary to earlier reports, Derby is not imminently releasing their sophomore disc, Posters Fade. It will probably be out later this year, according to their publicist. Nevertheless, the three new tracks are still playing on their site (click on "music") and I remain eager to hear the rest.

* I'd be remiss not to mention that Jason Falkner has a new disc out, but only in Japan. It's titled I'm OK, You're OK, and if you want it now before it gets a US release (if ever), Kool Kat has it for $32. I may have my power pop membership card taken away for saying this, but I've never really gotten into Falkner that much. It's not that I dislike his music, and maybe it's also due to his very spotty track record of solo releases, but for whatever reason his stuff has never jumped out at me. I'll certainly be glad to give the new one a listen, but not for $32.

* Not Lame put up some new discs today, and one of them looked particularly interesting: This Is Grand Atlantic, by the Australian band of the same name. Although this new full-length is not available yet on eMusic, their EP Smoke and Mirrors (which features several of the same tracks on the full-length along with a cover of Abba's "The Winner Takes It All") can be found there.

* Speaking of Not Lame, they've also rolled out the red carpet for the new disc from The Well Wishers, How I Won The War. So head on over and listen away. You know I'm stoked for this, since their previous release, Under The Arrows, was my #5 disc of 2005. I just got the disc in, so I'm not ready for a full report yet, but it sounds like more of the same goodness.

CD of the Day, 4/25/07: Holmes- Stop Go

Who is Holmes? Is he one-half of the crime-fighting team of Holmes & Yo-Yo? (Man, I'm really dating myself with that reference) Is he the legendary detective Sherlock? Katie's brother? Nah - Holmes is actually LA's Roy Shakked (I guess "Holmes" scans better than "Shakked", although if he wanted to keep his own name he could have called his project "Shakked Up"), and his full-length debut Stop Go is one of the more engaging power pop productions of this soon-to-be-one-third-over year. Mixing in pop influences as varied as Ben Folds, Jeff Lynne (one of the current incarnation of ELO's cellists plays on the disc), Jellyfish, The Beatles, and maybe even a dash of Beck, he still manages to create an organic enough pop sound that in six months' time I'll probably be referring to some other artist as Holmeseque.

The piano is Holmes/Shakked's primary instrument, although he doesn't use it in as dominant a fashion as, say, Folds. The opener "Five Days a Week" (Beatles nod?) rocks along with a poppy punch that recalls The Argument, while "Wake Up", his signature track which anchored his self-titled EP of last year, is a delight that crams in more "na na na"s in 3:23 than "Hey Jude" did in 7 minutes. You'll go, not stop, with the title track, which bounces along like "Getting Better" with a more rocking guitar riff.

He can do the slow stuff too, as piano-and-acoustic-guitar ballad "Prove Me Wrong Again" proves, with its Penn/Brion/Dolieslager sound. Other highlights include "Grey World", which has enough Harrisonesque slide guitar and orchestration to come off as a combination of a typical Jeff Lynne/ELO ballad with Badfinger's "Day After Day"; "Be Alone", a more "modern"-sounding track that has handclaps galore, and "Nevermind", another lushly orchestrated ballad. Even the closing instrumental "Daydream No. 57" isn't bad, and I hate instrumentals.

MySpace | eMusic | Kool Kat | Not Lame

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

CD of the Day, 4/17/07: Duane Dolieslager-The Opposite of Optimist

It's kind of fitting that I chose today to feature Duane Dolieslager's The Opposite of Optimist as the CD of the Day, as today also marks the release of two Michael Penn releases: one, a best-of, and the other a re-release of 2005's Mr. Hollywood Jr. 1947 (our #4 disc of that year) with bonus tracks. Why is it fitting? Because Mr. Dolieslager has managed to put out the nearest approximation to a new Michael Penn album with this disc, and had earlier received raves for his cover of "I Can Tell" from the online-only Penn fan tribute Look What The Fans Drug In.

Optimist opens with "Mad Dash For The Door", the kind of dense yet melodic Revolver-influenced rocker that Penn perfected with "Try" from 1997's Resigned. Following is "Carousel", a brilliant reflective midtempo number that recalls Penn classics like "Out of My Hands" and "Whole Truth". "Like Day & Night" is another uptempo rocker in the vein of "Evenfall" and "On Automatic", as I continue my quest to compare each of these tracks to those of Penn's. Oh, and did I mention "A Long Trail of Enemies" reminds me of "Bunker Hill" crossed with "A Bad Sign"?

Elsewhere, the jaunty, somewhat baroque "Nowhere In Record Setting Time" has a strong Jon Brion/Jason Falkner/Jellyfish influence, while "Nothing's New" is more straightforward pop/rock in the style of The Wallflowers. All in all, an outstanding disc, and have I made it clear that if you like Michael Penn, you'll love this album?

CD Baby | MySpace

Today's eMusic goodies.

First off, an exciting new release from Kool Kat shows up immediately on eMu: Fooling April's In The Now. According to Kool Kat, "their well-produced, keyboard-led brand of pure, radio-friendly pop will immediately appeal to fans of The Argument, The 88, Ben Folds, Crowded House, and even Steely Dan!" If you prefer the disc, and want the exclusive 4-track bonus disc, get it from the Kat here.

Also, a couple of Rainbow Quartz releases make their eMusic bow. One of them is one readers of this blog will be quite familiar with, The Mellowmen's Tomorrow's Sound Today. We were all over this one last year when it was an import (it was#45 on the year-end list), and now it's gotten a domestic USA release through RQ. Don't pass this one up if you had up until now.

The other is the truly retro-sounding The Shake and their aptly titled disc, Trippin' The Whole Colorful World. This is vintage Rainbow Quartz, with that 60's/Nuggets/Psych/Garage sound that many of their bands are known for.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Personal note.

Will the artist who emailed me about being referred by David Bash please re-send your email? I accidentally deleted it. Thanks!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

CD of the Day, 4/12/07: Class Three Overbite-Rendezvous

If you're old enough, just close your eyes and picture the scene in your head: you're sitting on the floor of a wood-paneled basement with wall-to-wall carpet and you've wearing a pair of headphones listening to the latest rock LP you bought from the local record store for $4.99. The year is 1976. Now open them. You're sitting in front of a computer listening to mp3s and the year is 2007. Either way, it works for Class Three Overbite's Rendezvous, a gem of a disc that will appeal to rockers young and old.

Class Three Overbite is the brainchild of Mike Elgert and Bradley Jendza. Elgert should be familiar to power pop fans and readers of this site; his Days Gone By placed a cool #59 on last year's Absolute Powerpop Top 100. But whereas Days Gone By was more straightforward Jellyfish/Superdrag-inspired power pop, Rendezvous is more in debt to 70s glam and "corporate rock". The opener "Milkshake" sounds like one of Tommy Shaw's Styx tracks; The title track, with almost a danceable disco beat, reminds me of none other than Kiss's "I Was Made For Loving You", their stab at disco-rock. "No Good Rotten" is my favorite track on the album, with a heavy Queen influence - but more the Queen of Brian May than Freddie Mercury, and "Life Is a Piece of Cake" is cut from the same cloth. And "What's So Funny" is probably the album's quintessential track, trading folky verses with a glam-rocking chorus.

CD Baby | MySpace

Monday, April 09, 2007

New David Grahame on the way.

David Grahame is someone I'm not sure I've mentioned before on this blog, but it's not because he isn't worthy of mention. He's a true pop genius (I mean his best-of was called Supergenius, so he has to be, right?) and out-McCartneys Sir Paul these days. Anyway, the exciting news is the photo above, the cover art for Welcome to the Dark Ages, his newest release due next month.

The catch is that it will be a download-only release available exclusively from his site. And one other caveat:

As much as I would love to satisfy the curious by posting samples, the album is so dramatically different from any of my previous solo work, that it's best left a surprise to buyers. A nice surprise.
Hmm...should be interesting.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

New Derby!

Long-time readers of the blog will know that we yield to know one in our fandom of Derby, a Portland, Oregon band who had our #1 record of 2005 with This Is The New You. So it's with great pleasure that I pass on the word that the boys are getting ready to release their second disc, Posters Fade, and that three tracks from the disc are now streaming at their myspace. "Untitled" is the best, but the other two are quite good as well, so any fears of a sophomore slump appear to be unwarranted.

Friday, April 06, 2007

More eMusic goodness.

Lots of great discs have popped up on eMusic in the last several days. First and foremost is The Fags' Light 'Em Up, which was #41 on our Top 100 of 2006. Also available is the their Self-Titled EP, which has a couple of tracks not on Light 'Em Up.

Also notable is the addition of the two releases by Paper Airplane Pilots. Western Automatic Music was #80 on the 2006 top 100 list, and "The Way It Goes" was one of my top 20 songs of the year. Also available is their debut release, The History of Flying.

If you're more inclined toward softer indie pop in the vein of Belle & Sebastian, take a listen to Hop on Pop's As Drawn by Ethan, Age 2, a fine release from a couple of years ago.

And finally, we have Texas' Deathray Davies, an indie pop band that bridges the gap between The Kinks and Guided by Voices. The Day of the Ray and The Return of the Drunken Ventriloquist are worth a listen.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

CD of the Day, 4/3/07: Everybody Else-Everybody Else

I've been waiting for a while to blog on this one, having had an advance for several weeks, but now that it's out today it's time to spread the word on LA's Everybody Else (named after a Kinks' b-side). Their self-titled debut is great high-energy, truly rocking power pop in the vein of vets like Cheap Trick and Butch Walker and new artists like The Fags, Orson and Locksley.

Great tracks abound here. The opener "Meat Market" pulls off the feat of having melody and a groove, while rocking fiercely. "Faker" and "I Gotta Run" keep the momentum going nicely, while "Born To Do" (I hear some Billy Squier) and "Rich Girls, Poor Girls" (I hear Walker) carry the flag for 80s-influenced pop/rock, while "Makeup" is an interesting amalgam of 70s R&B and 90s modern rock. They save the best for last, however, with the closer "Alone In The World", just a great power pop track with an outstanding chorus.

MySpace | eMusic | Amazon

Born To Do (mp3)