Friday, July 13, 2007
Some Kool (Kat) Releases.
With Not Lame now out of the record label business (and exclusively into mail order), Kool Kat Musik reigns as the premier USA power pop label, and recently they've given us three fine releases - each of which has something different to offer. I've provided CD Baby links for listening purposes, but you're best served by ordering directly from the Kat, as they have bonus disc offers for each release.
First off is my favorite of the batch, Maple Mars' Beautiful Mess, which clocked in at #40 on our YTD Top 50 List. Rick Hromadka & Co. have served up a winner here, with a sound steeped in many of the classic power pop touchstones that most of you out there have come to know and love. The title track is an instant classic and one of the top tunes of 07 with its heady mix of Beatles, Jellyfish, and glam-rock, and would have fit right in on the fine Class Three Overbite disc that's also on the top 50 list. "Butterfly Effect" and "Paralyzed" are examples of classic riff-and-amp-driven power pop in the vein of The Lolas, "Breathe Deep" is anthemic-sounding, and "Sweetest Dream" calls to mind vintage Cloud Eleven. There's even a track on here called "I'm Not In Love" that's reminiscent of 10cc.* CD Baby | MySpace
For those who dig a more "modern rock" sound, there's the latest from Fooling April, In The Now. I know it might be considered by some as an insult to compare them to bands like Matchbox 20 and Third Eye Blind, but what Fooling April manage to pull off here is the musicianship and songwriting that made these bands popular, but without the cheese and the lowest-common-demoninator mentality. In other words, they have a radio-friendly sound that would make them one of the best things you'd hear on contemporary radio today. Tracks like "Ordinary" and "The Way Back Down" capture this essence, and they even manage a sense of humor (something rare for bands in this subgenre) with "Chick Flix", something any guy with a significant other can relate to. CD Baby | MySpace | eMusic
Finally, for those into truly classic power pop, Kool Kat brings you John Wicks & The Records' Rotate. Wicks is a grizzled power pop vet, around since the late 70s, and he & his band serve up an aural trip back to that time and beyond with a set of outstanding melodic pop/rock. Standouts include "Oh Yeah!", "That Girl Is Emily", the possibly semi-autobiographical "The Lost Years", and the highly Beatlesque "We Can Work It Out".* CD Baby | MySpace
*yes, I know these are covers.