Thursday, October 17, 2019

Mid-October Roundup.

Jordan Jones-Jordan Jones. Apparently LA's Jordan Jones released this self-titled debut on cassette last year, but it wasn't until Sweden's Beluga Records picked it up for wide release earlier this year that it was noticed in the power pop scene. I start off with this bit of housekeeping because it's going to end up pretty high on my 2019 list despite its origin. This is the kind of debut that keeps obsessives like myself forever on the prowl for new music, poring over release lists and CD Baby or Bandcamp new releases, and Jones has come through with quite a set of tunes here. Jones' high-register voice comes in somewhere between Ken Sharp and Jeff Whalen, and so does his high-register power pop. Opener "Wrote You a Song for Me" is a clever, catchy number which makes you weep for those who won't get to hear it, "Understood" is a high-tempo rocker that's pop-punk-adjacent, "No Makeup" is a song as pretty as the girlfriend the lyrics are directed to, and naming a new song "Be My Baby" would normally be presumptuous but Phil Spector would probably enjoy Jones' namesake. There isn't a weak track here, and it's great to see a young artist keeping the power pop flame alive.


The Mike Benign Compulsion-Bygones. Mike Benign & friends return with another quality collection of thinking man's power pop. His albums always sound like the answer to question "What if Elvis Costello was an American indie popster in the 21st century" and the leadoff track "Beauty & Pedigree & Bank" has just the right mix of cynicism and melody to be a winner, while "Bonafide Americans" is an Elvis C-like takedown of our addled president. "Let it Be or Let it Rain" uses the two classic rock tracks in its title to take on the boomer generation, while other standouts include "These Heroes" (which doesn't spare Generation X) and the Lennon-esque "Olivia Rainmaker". What a concept: power pop with lyrics worth listening to as well as the music.


Dan Israel-Social Media Anxiety Disorder. Minneapolis singer/songwriter Dan Israel has been one of the more reliable roots pop/rockers out there over the last couple of decade and his latest (complete with an album cover that's an homage to K-Tel) is another sturdy collection. "Be My Girl" blasts out of your speakers with its horn section and Rockpile-like sound, "125" is groovy psych-pop that recalls Steve Earle's "Transcendental Blues", and "Just Can't Take It" pays tribute to 80s snyth-pop (and is catchy as hell). And those are just the first three tracks. Also worth a listen: the folk/rock of "Might as Well Be Me", "Another Day" which also channels Elvis C, and the rollicking "Alright".


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