Thursday, May 24, 2012

Two for Thursday, 5/24/12

Drobinko-Drobinko. This band with a Ukranian-sounding name is actually the New York band formerly known as Joe Lies, who had a nice 2005 debut. They gave up the name to avoid confusion with other bands with the "Joe Lies" name and are back as Drobinko. Whatever you want to call them, they've released a fine album of Green Day/Weezer-styled power pop that's a little less bratty and a little more mature than you might expect from this subgenre. Girls are the usual subject here, and the top tracks are "Karina" and "Kelsey Grammer's Daughter" (which may or may not be based on a true story). And the largely acoustic "My Own Way" works as well.

CD Baby | iTunes

Bryan Dunn-Sweetheart of the Music Hall. Austin's Bryan Dunn fancies himself somewhere between George Jones and George Harrison, and on his third disc he hits that mark with a pleasing blend of roots rock, power pop and country. "New Mercedes" opens things with some hard-driving pop/rock in the vein of Tom Petty, while the languid title track has a Wilco feel (except for the melancholy trumpet). Elsewhere, "Marlene" is a playful number replete with accordion and clarinet, "Audio/Stereo/Radio" is pure power pop with its stacatto guitars and sing-along chorus and "Six Black Horses" recalls Gram Parsons. If you're looking for an album where each song doesn't sound like the one that just came before it yet is consistently enjoyable, this is the one.

CD Baby | iTunes

Friday, May 18, 2012

EP Friday.

John Lefler-Shout Fire. Dashboard Confessional's lead guitarist is back with his second solo outing after 2009's excellent Better by Design, which placed at #15 on my 09 year-end list. Shout Fire picks up where the full-length left off in the quality department, beginning with the outstanding title track, a driving slice of power pop with enough commercial sheen to have been a lost 80s hit. "The Good Life" is a beautiful Neil Finn-esque ballad, while "Shelter in Place" recalls The Gin Blossoms. All six tracks in fact have their merits, and Lefler should be near the top my year-end EP list this time around.

CD Baby | iTunes

The Stanleys-Always. This Aussie band makes an impressive debut with this 4-song EP. The title track is a fine example of their Fountains of Wayne/Weezer-inspired power pop, but even better is "What Are We Gonna Do?", which features a 70s bubblegum feel not unlike The Raspberries. Elsewhere, "Kid's Gonna Rock" sounds like you'd expect it to, and "My World" is almost contemplative as it rocks, kind of like an early Smithereens track. Can't wait to hear what these guys do next.

CD Baby | iTunes

Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday Roundup.

The Roseline-Vast as Sky. Colin Halliburton resurrected his alt-country band which released two quality albums in the mid-00s and it's great to have them back. They offer tuneful Americana, somewhere between the Pernice Brothers and Whiskeytown, and the new disc has plenty to offer. Opener "Back of My Mind" has a nice Jayhawks feel to it, and "You'll Be Fine" makes use of female harmony vocals in the tradition of Gram Parsons/Emmylou Harris through Ryan Adams/Caitlin Cary. Elsewhere, the title track is as majestic as its title, "Flowers on the Cheap" rocks a bit, and "Young Things" - my favorite track on the disc - boasts a Wilco/Autumn Defense-like melody with a memorable chorus. This is Grade-A "popicana", so if your interests lie in this genre this one's a must.


Jared Lekites-Star Maps. Lekites' 2010 debut EP caught my year with its Brian Wilson-meets-John Lennon sound, and his first full-length builds on that promise while leaning a bit more on the Brian Wilson side of the equation. "Too Far Gone", with some nice harmonies from K.C. Clifford, is a pop delight with that California sound, while "Star Map" wouldn't sound out of place on Wilson's "Smile". "Along the Lines of Love" is a gorgeous piano-based ballad, "For Lack of a Better Heart" reminds me of an old Joe South tune, and "Girl Don't Tell Me" makes nice use of Laurie Biagini on vocals to sound like a lost 60s classic. With the new Explorer's Club album not living up to the promise of their debut, this is the album to get this year for fans of this sound.

CD Baby | iTunes

Friday, May 04, 2012

CD of the Day, 5/4/12: Didn't Planet-We're Going Nowhere

You're reading this site for one reason: to discover new music. But you're not representative of the music-consuming population as a whole. Most people take comfort in the familiar, and when out on the town they'd rather hear covers of known songs than original compositions. This is the dilemma for bands like Boston's Didn't Planet, who have a creative knack but need to make ends meet by playing covers. We're Going Nowhere is their lament, a concept album about a cover band. Like last year's excellent concept album by Meyerman about playing in a power pop band, it's great tunes that hold the concept together and ultimately make it more than the sum of its parts.

Didn't Planet's sound here is somewhere between Fountains of Wayne and Weezer, with the just the right amount of smartass those bands are known for. This becomes readily apparent as the album opens with the band's reworking of the Fat Albert theme as a way of introduction. For those of a certain age, hearing "na na na, gonna have a good time" brings back the memories. The driving "Maryann(e)" recalls the poppier side of Green Day; the title track rocks while detailing their plight, and it's almost obligatory that a power pop album of this kind have a track called "California".

Although its first 40 seconds are a recording of a voicemail, "Bitter" is one of the album's highlights - a power ballad of sorts that asks "have you ruined any new songs recently?". Elsewhere, "Over You" and "Adam" are highly melodic rockers, and the country-inflected "Someday I Might" closes out the album in wistful fashion. It's nice to see ambition meet execution, and these guys have learned enough from playing those covers to make a sound of their own worth covering.

CD Baby | iTunes

Listen at Spotify