Monday, March 31, 2008


Thanks for all the get well wishes out there - I'm just about recovered from what turned out to be bronchitis. I plan to have a review up tomorrow and get back to a normal routine. And in about a week or so, I should have the best of the 1st Quarter of 2008 up.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Sick day.

Sick as a dog right now (as well as my 3 kids), which is why there haven't been any new posts since Thursday. I'm hoping to get a new review up tomorrow. In the meantime, here is Fountains of Wayne's "Sick Day", set to scenes from The Office:

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thursday free mp3: Higgins-"Yes I Know"

Higgins is a NYC power pop band that put out a pretty good disc in 2006 (Dear Higgins), and have a new album coming out later this year. From their press release: "The guitar heavy A-side "Yes I Know" will appear on the album later this year. Close your eyes and you might hear some Ray Davies, some Beach Boys, some of Zeppelin's rhythm section, some Mike Bloomfield guitar, some McCartney, some Zombies; and all kinds of good good stuff."

It is quite a good tune, and you can grab the mp3 for free here:

"Yes I Know"

CD of the Day, 3/20/08: Scott's Garage-Scott's Garage

It's always interesting to consider the various subgenres of power pop, which I tend to define pretty broadly. There are many distinctive styles within the genre, and one of them is what I call "Southern power pop". Its practitioners usually do come from the South, and the operative sound is usually a mix of jangle and roots rock. You can hear it in bands like R.E.M. (in their less atmospheric offerings), Let's Active, The Windbreakers (including Bobby Sutliff and Tim Lee solo), and my usual rule of thumb is that if it the record sounds like Mitch Easter and/or Don Dixon was involved, it's Southern power pop. And one of the better examples of Southern power pop you're going to hear all year comes courtesy of the self-titled debut of Scott's Garage, hailing from (naturally) the South, specifically Richmond, Virginia.

Scott's Garage is led by Scott Baird, the drummer and vocalist (just like fellow Southerner Terry Anderson), and the disc is one melodic delight after another. "She Means Everything" is the leadoff track, and it encapsulates the Southern power pop sound: crunchy guitars, jangle, and more hooks than a meat locker. "Girl" is another great rocking track, sounding like The Smithereens had they come from South Carolina rather than New Jersey. "Nothing Left to Say" reminds me of Girlfriend-era Matthew Sweet, and "Some Day Some Way" has a bit of an Eagles/"Already Gone" sound. The slower numbers are excellent as well, with "Fading Away" and "Tell Me Why" standing out in particular. This one may just make me top 10 of the first quarter of 2008 list I plan to unveil in the next couple of weeks.

For those who don't need the physical CD and want instant gratification, the full disc is available in mp3 format at the bargain price of $5 at the CD Baby link below.

CD Baby | MySpace

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

CD of the Day, 3/19/08: The Goldbergs-Under The Radar

About a year and a half ago, The Goldbergs truly were under the radar. Out of nowhere, Andy Goldberg's debut Hooks, Lines & Sinkers came across as one of top power pop albums of 2006. As a result, at this point The Goldbergs certainly are on the radar of any savvy power pop fan; so while the followup to Hooks, Under The Radar, may not take anyone by surprise, there's no sophomore slump in evidence here.

Picking up where its predecessor left off, Under The Radar is 11 winning tracks of power pop in the style of Marshall Crenshaw, Eugene Edwards, Badfinger and Nick Lowe. Also like its predecessor, there are no weak tracks, but some are more equal than others: opener "Please Won't You Please" with its anthemic-yet-poppy final 60 seconds or so; the Michael Carpenter-like "Fool The Sun"; the lovely sway of "Water Blue"; the Merseybeat-influenced "Better Times"; and "I'm a Hero (Waiting to Happen)", which sounds like it could have come from Edwards' My Favorite Revolution. Hearing a followup of this quality is quite gratifying - it leads me to believe Andy Goldberg has become the type of power pop artist that will reliably release quality albums every couple of years for the foreseeable future.

If you're going to (quite sensibly) pick this disc up, make sure you do so at Kool Kat, where you also get a 5-disc bonus CD with 4 outtakes from the Under The Radar sessions (better than most folks' intakes) plus a cool cover of "Somewhere Over The Rainbow".


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

EP of the Day, 3/18/08: Calico Brothers-God Left Town

Janglers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but $8! New Zealand's Calico Brothers are here, and they've unleashed God Left Town, a 6-song EP that's the best jangle pop I've heard around these parts in quite some time.

"Hundred and One" hooks you in from the start, touching all the aural pleasure centers, coming across as one of the best tracks George Harrison never wrote. From the opening slide guitar through the jangly 12-strings and the "aahhh" harmonies, it's 4:05 of pure bliss. The more languid title track follows, reminiscent in style of compatriot Neil Finn. "Do What You Have to Do" bounces back with more jangle and is a hooky delight, as is "Poor Little Girl". "Love You and Leave", meanwhile, is more Lennonesque (the piano-based melody reminds me of "God") than Harrisonesque, but works quite well on those terms, and the ballad "Blown Up Heart" closes things in Beatle-y fashion.

Best $8 you'll spend so far this year, and there's a early leader for 2008's top EP.

CD Baby | MySpace | SonicBids (stream all 6 tracks)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Monday Roundup.

Three discs to start the work week:

The Rollo Treadway-The Rollo Treadway. It's not every day you get an album about the kidnapping of a couple of children in what seems to be the soundtrack to some kind of film noir rock (pop) opera. But that's essentially what the self-titled debut from Brooklyn's The Rollo Treadway is about, and if you can get past the unusual subject matter, you've got a disc of beautifully realized Brian Wilson/Wondermints/60s-70s sunshine pop. Key cuts: "Kidnapped", "Dear Mr. Doe" (shades of The Association), "Charlie". Kool Kat | MySpace

Tim Morrow-Back to Delton. Back to Delton is solo debut of Californian Tim Morrow, who used to be one half of The Shamus Twins, a band that put out a fine disc in 2004 and have been featured on various Not Lame compilations. Here he offers up 22 - count 'em, 22 - tracks of Tom Petty-styled pop/rock, which also bring to mind artists like Rich McCulley and in the poppier moments, Bill Lloyd. Key tracks: "Yesteryear", "One Way Out", "You Better". CD Baby

The Squires of the Subterrain-Feel The Sun. Three things in life are certain: death, taxes, and great psych-pop discs from The Squires of the Subterrain. The New York band's fifth disc is a must-get for fans of XTC/Dukes of Stratosphear, and just about any band that's appeared on a Nuggets compilation. Key tracks: The breezy "Concerning Helen White", the McCartneyesque "Mrs. Jones", and "Alexander Mannequin". CD Baby | MySpace

Friday, March 14, 2008

CD of the Day, 3/14/08: Dave Dill-Follow The Summer

With the weather beginning to warm and the daylight lasting longer (at least in most of the world), it's the perfect time for a new release from Dave Dill. His previous disc, 2005's See You In The Sunshine, was a real treat, and Follow The Summer may be his best yet. Falling somewhere between Brian Wilson/Wondermints and Jon Brion on the pop continuum, Dill has the art of sunshine pop down to an exact science.

Rather than go track by track myself, whoever wrote up the summary at his CD Baby page did a better and more thorough job than I could do, so I'm going to quote:

“Perfect There” features Dill’s innate ability to balance exemplary songwriting with highly creative instrumentation. The song features a surreal acoustic guitar blended with a rhythmic, dream-like synthesizer acting as percussion with a “time” feel that is immersive and mesmerizing. One of the most experimental sounding of all of Dill’s songs, “Perfect There” is an atmospheric jewel and features his ability to easily switch from varying musical styles with ease.

“Never So Beautiful” is a pop masterpiece and features soft harmonic vocals, a strikingly complex arrangement of instrumentation and a vibrant melodic energy akin to Brian Wilson’s “God Only Knows”. This song best represents Dill’s perceptive production skills and features a subtle, yet sunny mandolin artfully balanced with a vintage Rhodes piano and soaring vocal choruses.

“Hide and Seek”, is one of three songs co-written and co-produced with Derek Holt, who wrote the hit classic rock ballad “I Love You”. “Hide and Seek” is a gorgeous palette of Dill’s soothing vocal style, honeyed Harrisonesque slide guitar, and prominent melodic percussion. Holt’s exceptional skills as a co-producer on this track are quite apparent, as this song is undeniably strong in its genuine emotional tone and incorporates an intriguing lyrical story line that is also evident in Holt’s beautiful, timeless track, “I Love You.”

The title track, “Follow the Summer/Pink Skies” is a beautifully orchestrated pop/rock ballad that features a melodious blend of harmonic vocals, artful instrumentation, and sensually poetic lyrics. The overall “feel” of the song is an artfully composed nature inspired lullaby, as the song seems to follow the slow, steady rhythmic motion of ocean waves.
Not mentioned here is the fine "Miss America", a highly melodic midtempo track, and the somewhat rocking "Happily Ever After".

This one's a must get for fans of sophisticated sunshine pop, and as a side note, three tracks were co-written and co-produced with Derek Holt of the Climax Blues Band. To that, I'd say this is one they certainly did get right.

CD Baby | MySpace

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

CD of the Day, 3/11/08: Michael Gabriele-A Puppet's Palace

It kind of goes without saying that we love most things Beatlesque here at Absolute Powerpop. So when Michael Gabriele's A Puppet's Palace came along, it was right up our alley. The debut CD from this Rhode Island artist is going to be music to the ears of fans of David Grahame, Emitt Rhodes, George Prentice and even reminds me in places of Neall Alcott's Rittenhouse Square from last year.

The upbeat "Party for Love" opens things, followed by the mid-period Beatle-sounding "Hi". Other higlights include the Shazam-like "A Candle Burning", the Wilburyish ballad "Inside", and the jangly "Imagine What This Girl Could Do". If any of this sounds moderately appealing to you, get on over to the links below.

CD Baby | MySpace

Monday, March 10, 2008

CD of the Day, 3/10/08: The Pinder Brothers-Ordinary Man

If the name Pinder rings a bell somewhere in the back of your mind, it's for a good reason: Mike Pinder was a founding member of The Moody Blues. Aside from his fine work in that legendary band, he also gave the world two sons, Matt and Mike, who have gone on to form The Pinder Brothers. Putting the "pop" into power pop, the brothers Pinder are back with their second disc, Ordinary Man, and fans of Mitch Linker, Jeff Larson, Kyle Vincent, The Rembrandts and other artists who place sweet melodies and harmonies paramount are going to enjoy this one quite a bit.

The Pinders are based in California and the opening track "Dear Diane" is the kind of near-perfect sunny California pop that will hook you in from the get-go. "Hold Me Tonight" almost sounds like classic Swedish pop like The Merrymakers or The Tangerines, and "Waves Crash" is a silky smooth tune. "Oh Woman" is old-school balladry not unlike early Beatles classics like "If I Fell" and "And I Love Her", while "Inside Me" is midtempo sweetness. There's really not a bad track here, and you pop sweet tooth will thank you. Now what are those Lodge and Heyward kids up to?

CD Baby | MySpace

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Another video.

Ah, good ol' YouTube, the crutch for the lazy/busy blogger. Here's an overlooked power pop classic from another Canadian act, Sam Roberts. Although Roberts' 2003 debut We Worn Born In a Flame is more classic rock than power pop, he did manage to record one true power pop gem, "Don't Walk Away Eileen". Click on this, and try not to get whiplash from bobbing your head:

Friday, March 07, 2008

Friday Video: Sloan-"The Rest of My Life"

Sloan's been one of my favorite power pop bands for many years now, but I have to say that I vastly prefer their 90s output to what they've done this decade. In fact, Navy Blues would rank in my top 20 (if not top 10) discs of the 90s.

As for their 00s stuff, I thought Never Hear The End of It was a fine artistic achievement, but the only song that jumped out at me after multiple listens was "Fading Into Obscurity". And here's the only song I'd take from 2003's Action Pact to make a compilation, but what a fine track it is:

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Freebie Time!

The Not Lame Blog is offering up 15 free mp3s from the Not Lame catalog, including some from power pop luminaries like Michael Carpenter, Doug Powell, The Shazam, and - well, just go see for yourself.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Where You Are From.

So where are you, the Absolute Powerpop reader, from? Of course I mean "you" collectively, not individually, as I'd like to think most of my readers are aware of their own surroundings.

Courtesy of the nifty pie chart below from SiteMeter, I see that unsurprisingly the lion's share of readers come from the USA, but coming in at a respectable #2 with over 15% is Spain. This too is not a big surprise, considering how well the power pop scene thrives there. I have no doubt that on a per capita basis Spain is the most power poppin' country in the world. After that, the final third is taken by mostly various European nations, but I couldn't help but notice a 1.0% share for Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (a/k/a Libya). Are you reading, David Bash? I think you have a new IPO location.

CD of the Day, 3/5/08: Ike-Where to Begin

Philly's Ike has been one of the more consistent power pop acts of the decade, with two fine studio discs and a live disc on their CV. But things took a turn for the band recently as one-half of its primary creative team (popmeister Cliff Hillis) parted ways with Ike, leaving John Faye in charge. As a result Ike has been reinvented in Faye's image, which means more rock and less pop. Faye, former frontman of the Caulfields and solo act The John Faye Power Trip, has crafted a disc that definitely rocks more than its predecessors but doesn't sacrifice melody in the process.

The new sound of Ike is apparent right off the bat with "The End of the Rope" and "We Like Sugar". The Cheap Trick-style power chords and crunchy guitars are there in full glory, and "Whites of My Eyes" follows in Bon Jovian fashion. Although the guitars still crunch in "Atomic Rose", things lighten up a bit to reveal a more conventional power pop sound, and "A Curse Is Not Enough" would have fit in easily on previous Ike releases. Other highlights include "Say Luvva" (try getting that chorus out of your head), the power ballad "Carried Away", and the inspiring title track, which closes the disc.

The verdict:

CD Baby | MySpace

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

CD of the Day, 3/4/08: Ted Lukas-Misled

It's always nice to write about a homeboy. Ted Lukas hails from Tampa, Florida, and is local power pop/alt-country royalty thanks to a resume that includes work in the great 90s band Barely Pink and more recently, the fine alt-country band Hangtown (whose most recent EP is an excellent listen, by the way). Now Lukas is out with his second solo disc, Misled, and it bridges the gap between his two chosen genres with great skill.

"OK with Everything" lets you know that everything will be OK on this disc, as Lukas fires up a rocker that's in the Matthew Sweet meets Steve Earle department; in fact, Lukas' vocals sounds like a cross between Earle and Terry Anderson (he of the Yayhoos and the Olympic Ass-Kickin' Team). The standout track is "Hearts Like Mine", a midtempo rocker with an easy melody and a hint of jangle. Elsewhere, "I Can't Believe" boasts a fresh, poppy chorus; the title track is an excellent roots rocker; and "Static Reaction" closes the disc in fine Pettyesque fashion. No hometown boost needed here - I'd recommend this disc even if Lukas were from Timbuktu or Togo instead of Tampa.

CD Baby | MySpace

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Sunday Roundup.

A few discs for your weekend consideration:

The Celebrity Orphans-The Celebrity Orphans. This band from Seattle had me at "Hello". Actually that's the first track from their 9-song self-titled debut, and the lean to the more indie rock side of power pop. Other standouts on the disc include "You Got Nothin'" which has kind of a Supergrass-meets-Steve Earle sound (don't ask, just listen), the ballad "Every Charm", and the Spoon-ish "Carcrash". A promising debut. CD Baby | MySpace

The Humming Field-The Humming Field.
If you enjoyed The Hope Trust or The Incurables, a couple of similar discs I touted late last year, you'll definitely want to check out the debut from Massachusetts' The Humming Field. They share the same amalgam of Brit-Pop and Heartland Rock with smoky-sounding vocals with those acts as well as bands like Minibar and The Wallflowers. Standouts include the rocking "I Didn't Know", "Nothing But Alone", the Teenage Fanclubesque "Air So Empty", and "Running Blind". Fine, fine disc. CD Baby | MySpace

Cameron Dobb-The Ride.
This Vancouver singer-songwriter is a real talent. Self-described as the love child of Ben Folds and Tom Waits, there's truth-in-advertising there as his raspy voice is put in service of some great piano-based pop. "Hurricane" comes off just like that, with its insistent "Short People"-like piano chords, while slower numbers like "Justine" and "Safe" bring back fond memories of the Randy & The Bloody Lovelies disc I enjoyed so much a couple of years back. Other highlights include "Bee Sting" and the Folds-like "Sally Anne". Definitely a "Ride" worth taking. CD Baby | MySpace