Sunday, August 29, 2010

EPs Gone LP.

Today we feature a pair of full-lengths that consist of previously-released EPs plus about five new songs. Although it's not a practice I'm fond of, the music here is good enough the second time around, and those who missed out on the EPs will want these full-lengths.

The Offbeat-In Love Field. First, I'll cut and paste from last year's review of To The Rescue, whose five tracks are repeated here:
The Year of the EP continues as another outstanding one comes down the pike, this time from the Brit popsters The Offbeat, whose self-titled debut last year was a real treat. If you liked that disc, then you'll love this EP as it serves up more of the same Merseyside, early Beatles pop without being too retro. "She Can Make the Sunshine" lives up to its name as glorious sunshine pop, "Someday Somehow" uses the "Bo Diddley" beat to nice effect, and "Blue Sky" is jangly goodness.
How about the new tracks? They're worthy additions to the Offbeat canon. Among them, "Where is the Girl?" is a moody Beatlesque number in the vein of "For No One", "Word to the Wise" has a George Harrison jangly vibe to it, and "A Love to Last" channels Billy J & The Dakotas. If you missed the EP, don't miss out here.

CD Baby | Official Site | iTunes | eMusic

Michael Gross & The Statuettes-Telepath. Early this year upon the release of their EP Impulse & Exports, I wrote "I can wait for a full-length if Gross & Co. are content to crank out a top-notch EP every six months or so." In essence, that's what they've done, adding six new tracks to I&E to make up their debut full-length. Here's what I had to say about the EP:
Gross & Co. have further refined their heartland-rock-with-a-touch-of-Americana sound. The noirish "Keep Driving" sets the tone with its late-period Replacements rock style, and the moody yet urgent "On and On" is equally outstanding. And for those familiar with Gross and his earlier solo disc Tales From a Country Home, he offers up a full-band version of that disc's "No Good", and it's anything but.
As for the highlights from the new tracks, "When the Curtains Come Down" is a fine soft/loud rocker, the fast-paced "You Can't Go Home Tonight" will leave you breathless, and "Real Gone" earns the 'Mats comparison again. Again, this is a fine introduction to Gross & Co. if you don't already have the EP. Or just pick and choose your downloads if you do.

Official Site | MySpace | iTunes

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Midweek Roundup.

Lazy Susan-Places That Made Us. Aussie power pop has been berry, berry good to us over the last decade, and Lazy Susan has been a mainstay in that scene since the turn of the century. Places That Made Us is their fourth album, and would it surprise you to find out it's produced by Michael Carpenter? I didn't think so. This is a real gem, from the moody Neil Finn-esque opener "Easy Targets" to the raved-up "Find Me a Way Back Into Your Heart" to the epic ballad "Responsibility of Love" to the punchy power pop of "Somewhere" and the McCartney-in-boogie-piano-mode styled "Sore Losers". Great stuff, and you can spend the next 45 minutes or so listening to it in its entirety on Lazy Susan's Bandcamp page. Kool Kat is offering up it up with a bonus disc deal as well.

Bandcamp | Kool Kat | MySpace | iTunes

The Shamus Twins-Garden of Weeds. The Shamus Twins have been kicking around the periphery of the power pop scene since their debut disc in 2004, appearing on a few IPO compilations, while Shamus Twin Tim Morrow released a solo disc, Back to Delton, in 2008. But they're back in a big way with their second full-length, Garden of Weeds. Morrow is joined by Jerry Juden, and they have a sound that mixes heartland rock with power pop. The standout tracks here are "You Know My Name", a melodic, snarling rocker that does not include the phrase "look up the number", the jangly "Life is Strange", the harmony-drenched "Ain't Letting Go", and the hooky "Did You Have to Change". Have a cigar and congratulations, it's Twins!

CD Baby | MySpace | iTunes

Monday, August 23, 2010

Well Wishers do ABBA!

Had a very busy week and plan to get back to normal posting this week, but for now I give you Jeff Shelton and The Well Wishers covering ABBA's "Knowing Me, Knowing You":

And Jeff has offered up an mp3 of this track (which was also covered by Marshall Crenshaw on his live album My Truck is My Home) as well.

Friday, August 13, 2010

CD of the Day, 8/13/10: Edward O'Connell-Our Little Secret

Washington DC hasn't exactly been a hotbed of power pop, but it's getting there. Lately we've heard from Vegas With Randolph and The Secret Pop Band, and now we have Edward O'Connell. You can't judge a CD by its cover, but in this case you know you're dealing with someone who has an appreciation for classic power pop as the cover is an homage to Nick Lowe's seminal Jesus of Cool (retitled Pure Pop for Now People in the USA so as not to offend delicate American sensibilities). And while it would be hyperbole to say O'Connell's Our Little Secret is another Jesus of Cool, I can say that it honors the legacy of the Lowe classic and is one of 2010's best power pop releases to date.

Lowe is an influence here, as well as other power pop/classic rock touchstones such as The Byrds, Big Star, Elvis Costello and Tom Petty. "Acres of Diamonds" opens the album in an assured fashion, a jangly midtempo rocker that's instantly likable. "I Heard it Go" is another winner, a roots rocker that channels Marshall Crenshaw, and "Partially Awesome" and "Happy Black" have the lyrical snarl and the Beatlesque feel of Elvis C tracks circa the period he collaborated with McCartney.

Elsewhere, the uptempo "With This Ring" raves on, the gentle, jangly "Pretty Wasted" makes nice use of Jill Read's harmony vocals, "Your Ride is Here"'s title conjures Warren Zevon's "My Ride's Here" and resembles Zevon in balladeer mode, and the clever and catchy "The Hardest Job in the World", another Elvis C-inspired tune. The most impressive thing about this album is the uniform quality of the tracks - not a bum steer among the 13, including the ones not highlighted above. Definitely in my top 10 for 2010 so far, and it should be in yours.

CD Baby | Official Site

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Midweek Potpurri.

This post will be my clearinghouse for a bunch of releases that have caught my ear, and may catch yours, but which I don't plan to go too in-depth on.

Johnny Monaco-Breathe. The former Enuff Z'Nuff guitarist follows up his 2007 disc Overrated with this collection of demos. A bit rough around the edges but a few gems are in there, including "It's Not Right" and the title track. CD Baby | iTunes | eMusic

Misfit Kid-EP. Back in June, we featured Mark Ivantich's first Posies-inspired EP, Hellway to High, and he followed that up with another EP that's a bit more odds-and-sods with an acoustic version and a Christmas song throw in but worth the price of admission for "Everlasting" and "My Wave". Put the two EPs together and you have a pretty darn good album on your hands. CD Baby | iTunes | eMusic

Teenage Rasputin-Here Comes Irregular. Love the title, a pun on a classic Replacements tune. The tunes ain't too bad either, as this Long Island band's debut EP draws from the 'Mats as well as Guided by Voices and Husker Du for their raucous yet melodic sound. "Dust" snarls out of the gate, "Suburban Stars" rocks with grace, and the easygoing "399 BC" recalls solo Westerberg. CD Baby | iTunes | eMusic

Third Rail Boot-EP. This band from my neck of the woods (Tampa) has put together a nice collection of Americana/roots rock on their debut, and it deserves a listen. "September" and "Pen & Paper" are the highlights here. CD Baby | iTunes | eMusic

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Weekend Roundup.

Travis Elliott-Swan Dive. A couple of Americana/roots-rock releases on tap here today, the first of which is the debut EP from Virginia singer-songwriter Travis Elliott. Things start off strongly with "Release", a slow-building rocker that recalls Ryan Adams and Alejandro Escovedo in places followed up by the Tom Petty-esque title track, but the disc really hits its stride with the midtempo "Waking Up", a melodic number not unlike The Wallflowers and Minibar. The rest of the EP ain't bad either, and in a nice touch Elliott gives way to Marianna Bell on the haunting ballad "Miles Away". A worthwhile debut.

CD Baby | MySpace | iTunes | eMusic | Listen at Bandcamp

The Del Toros-Come Down. This Oklahoma band has drawn comparisons with the aforementioned Mr. Petty and Wilco, and they have the tuneful chops to go with their rootsy sound to justify those namedrops. The tracks to listen to here are "Hi-Hat Blues", an anthemic rocker; the wonderfully jangly "Nineteen"; the (pardon the pun) dreamy "Insomniac", which sounds like Elliott Smith in a roots band; and the hypnotic "Song", which recalls AbPow favorite Wiretree. An ear-catching effort from The Del Toros, and that's no bull.

CD Baby | MySpace | iTunes | eMusic | stream at official site

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Midweek Roundup.

Joel Streeter-Matador. San Francisco singer-songwriter Joel Streeter might be one of pop's best-kept secrets. He debuted in 2005 with the excellent Hear Me Out (which predated this site by a year) and now is back five years later with Matador. Drawing on a variety of pop styles, Matdaor has something for just about everyone. The opening title track recalls Neil Finn and Crowded House; "Drive Away" is reminiscent of pre-Spain Josh Rouse, "Baby Your Time's Here Too" has a hint of Noel Gallagher, and "Man of the Hour" is punchy power pop a la Jim Boggia. With one pop gem after another, this Matador is no bull. Olé!

CD Baby | MySpace | iTunes | eMusic

Miracord-In Water. Fans of psych-pop and 60s-influenced Brit Pop will definitely want to check out Oklahoma City's Miracord and their debut disc In Water. Drawing from influences ranging from Syd Barrett to The Beatles, those who loved the Pale Hollow disc from a couple of years ago will want in here. "New Religion" opens the disc in fine fashion, catchy yet trippy, and other standouts include the rocking "Borrowed Memories", and the gentle acoustic ballad "Industrial Love". A must for classic rockers, and apparently it's available as a free download at CD Baby (link below) where it's listed at a price of $0.00.

CD Baby | MySpace | iTunes | eMusic