Pop That Goes Crunch!

Seven Decades Of Melodic Rock & Roll

Power Pop Delights From Somerdale

maggieSomerdale’s Shake It Maggie is the “sleeper” of the year. You might consider it, upon an initial listen on two, to be serviceable, poppy rock ‘n’ roll inching its way slowly toward AM radio success circa 1978 only to be halted, like so many others in its day, by the steamroller of disco in its commercial heyday.

This assessment would only be half right, however. Shake It Maggie is poppy rock ‘n’ roll, by design. But listen it to it a few times. There is nothing at all serviceable about it. Instead, Shake It Maggie delivers ten stellar tracks, and a reprise of the opener, that will easily propel it into my year-end Top 10.

Somerdale announces its intentions immediately on said opening track, “Take It From The Top,” which is two minutes of lovingly constructed bubblegum about blowing a chance at radio success because they’re “shakin’ like power pop, so out of style its cool.” “Waiting For You,” the next track, probably was playing on AM radio, somewhere, back in ’78.

The band cites Sloan as an influence, and this is readily apparent. Check out, for example, the chorus of “The News,” and you’ll see what I mean:


“She’s Leaving California” might be dismissed by some as garden-variety “hard rock.” Listen carefully, however. It’s actually the kind of song Patrick Pentland has penned, and sung, many times to great effect in Sloan:


Whenever I hear “Bigger Than The Universe,” I picture kids busing it to the beach singing along at the top of their lungs in unison. “The Coolest Kid In The Room” is updated, old school Power Pop of the kind The Shazam used to do so brilliantly, filled as it is with exuberance and sharp vocals. It also has cool hand-claps:


The word that comes most to mind to describe Shake It Maggie is “delightful.” And I mean that in the best sense. It brings endless smiles, even on the more serious tracks. Sometimes, can you really ask for anything more?

Get it digitally from Bandcamp for a mere seven clams, or on disk from the fine folks at Kool Kat Musik.



New Podcast: The Mixtape Show

mixtape“The Big Show” is our signature show now focusing on new (and “newish”) music. It airs every other week on Pop That Goes Crunch Radio.

We recently premiered a new weekly show, “The Mixtape Show,” whose premise is simple: 90 minutes of familiar favorites that sound great together with a single interruption at about the mid-point to flip the tape over and get you caught up on what you just heard. A description of each of the shows running on Pop That Goes Crunch Radio, including the times of broadcast, can be found here.

The inaugural episode is now up on Mixcloud. It can be heard by clicking below. The complete tracklist is found beneath the embed. Check back for new shows, weekly.


1.  Cotton Mather — “My Before And After

2.  DM3 — “Foolish”

3.  Guided By Voices — “Motor Away”

4.  The Jayhawks — “Waiting For The Sun”

5.  Sloan — “Undewhelmed (Original Hear & Now version)”

6.  Jellyfish — “Too Much, Too Little, Too Late”

7.  And The Professors — “We Are”

8.  Lannie Flowers — “Come On Girl”

9.  Kurt Baker — “Emma Stone”

10. Myracle Brah — “Love Is”

11. The Grip Weeds — “Love’s Lost On You”

12. Pernice Brothers — “Subject Drop”

13. Golden Smog — “V”

14. Shoes — “She Satisfies”

15. The Jellybricks — “Not So Old”

16. Cliff Hillis — “Keep The Blue Skies”

17. The Posies — “Suddenly Mary (Demo Version)”

18. The Autumn Defense — “Canyon Arrow”

19. Material Issue — “A Very Good Idea”

20. Phil Ajjarapu — “Sing Along Until You Feel Better”

21. The Red Button — “Cruel Girl”

22. Old 97’s — “Driver 8”

23. Hoodoo Gurus — “I Want You Back”

24. Matthew Sweet — “Girlfriend”

25. Chris Richards and the Subtractions — “Don’t Do Anything Tonight”

25. The Greenberry Woods — “Smash-Up”

The Big Show #30

bigshowOur signature hosted rockin’ pop show returned recently after a long hiatus, placing its focus squarely on new (and “newish”) music, a lot of which undoubtedly will make our year-end “best of” lists.

This installment runs the gamut with contributions from long-established artists (Teenage Fanclub, Cotton Mather, The Anderson Council) to recent faves of this site and Pop That Goes Crunch Radio (Nick Piunti, Ryan Allen and His Extra Arms, The Legal Matters) to lesser known artists releasing interesting melodically driven music (Swanning, Starry Eyed Cadet, Ette). Kurt Baker makes an appearance fronting the closing track by Bullet Proof Lovers, whose seven-track self-titled album gets a full-court press from those purveyors of real rock ‘n’ roll at Rum Bar Records beginning October 7, 2016.

The full track list appears after the embed.


1.  Ryan Allen and His Extra Arms —  “Alex Whiz”

2.  Nick Piunti — “One Hit Wonder”

3.  Somerdale — “She’s Leaving California”

4.  The Persian Leaps — “See Me Unaware”

5.  The Person & The People — “I’ve Seen This Place”

6.  The Kickstand Band — “Stay Inside”

7.  Cotton Mather — “Candy Lilac”

8.  The Anderson Council — “Girl On The Northern Line”

9.  Hurry — “When I’m With You”

10. Andy Klingensmith — “Madeline”

11. The Junipers — Esmeranda

12. Teenage Fanclub — “The Darkest Part Of The Night”

13. The Legal Matters — “Don’t Look Back”

14. The Homewreckers — “In America”

15. Rob Clarke and The Wootones — “End of The End”

16. Erik Voeks — “She Loved Her Jangle Pop”

17. Cheap Star — “Into Your Arms”

18. Fast Cars — “Do You Really Want More”

19. Fernando Perdomo — Stay With The Friends

20. The Sons Of Mod — “I Think You’ve Heard It Enough By Now

21. The Above — “Just Can’t Forget About That Girl”

22. The Monos — “Pop Heart”

23. Starry Eyed Cadet — “Worlds Collide”

24. Swanning — “Swanning”

25. Ette — “Attack Of The Glam Soul Cheerleaders Parts 1 and 2”

26. Bullet Proof Lovers — “She’s Gonna Leave”

The Legal Matters Lay Down Some Sonic Truth

conradThe release of the follow-up by a band responsible for the single best long-player in a prior year is cause for great expectation. Even if the prior album ascended to a career-best apex that could never again be approached, the follow-up would at least be “very good” barring unforeseen circumstances. Not to worry in the case of The Legal Matters, however. The band’s new album, Conrad, is at least as good as their self-titled debut, which captured the top slot on my year-end list of the finest albums of 2014. Time will tell if it is even better than the freshman effort.

That Conrad is something special is apparent from the first few seconds of the lead track, “Anything,” whose simple, comforting guitar intro announces immediately that you are in very good hands. The layered vocal harmonies that kick in first at the infectious chorus of “Anything” — and which appear in ways expected and unexpected throughout Conrad — serve as separate instruments that augment the superb musicianship that characterizes the entire album.

The production on Conrad is also first-rate. Listen to “Anything” twice. First, listen in the center of the mix, as if the song was playing on a standard-issue car stereo as you negotiate rush hour traffic. Then, put on headphones and listen actively to  the individual components as they weave around each other forming a more complex tapestry of sound:

This attention to detail, particularly as it generates unexpected twists and turns, shines throughout Conrad. The next track, “I’m Sorry Love” builds drama and tension for its first three-quarters of a minute, only to cut the impending doom with a playful, almost music hall-like break. “Minor Key” continues the yin-yang, promising darkness by title but delivering brightness by sound.

Although Conrad plays largely in the mid-tempo playground — about which there is absolutely nothing wrong — the band does cut it loose on occasion. “Short-Term Memory” is nearly three-minutes of riffs and harmony, accented by a tasty guitar solo. “She Called Me To Say” is quite sneaky — structured acoustically and sung by Andy Reed with his characteristically sweet vocals before deciding its really a crunchy guitar rocker.

In the end, its these unexpected things that make Conrad so endearing and relentlessly interesting. “Lull And Bye,” the tenth song in the set, is but a minute of gorgeous harmonizing and a simple piano. Its totally out of left field, and absolutely brilliant.

Conrad does not know a bum note over its thirty-five or so minutes. There is no wasted space, no needless repetition, just eleven songs that use the time allotted to deliver sonic truth. It hits retail October 28, with all formats — CD, LP, download — available from Omnivore Records. The LP even comes with a bonus download of a vocal-only mix of all eleven songs. Avail yourself of that. Nobody will release better vocals this year.

We’re Giving Away Three Copies Of Ryan Allen’s New CD!!

allenBasement Punk, the new long-player by Ryan Allen and His Extra Arms, is a shoo-in for our year-end Top Ten list. You can read the full review right here.

Early reviews are in full agreement.

Alan Haber wrote on his Pure Pop Radio blog that Basement Punk “takes charge with strong melodies and ace playing and never lets up.” Don Valentine wrote of Allen on his I Don’t Hear A Single blog that “[m]any of you know how I bang on about Dom Mariani and Tommy Keene, well they now have a contender and a serious one.” Powerpopaholic gave Basement Punk an “8” rating, calling it “Highly Recommended.” The Soul of A Clown blog stated that the songs on Basement Punk “create the perfect blend of melody with a bit of attitude.” Power Pop News proclaimed, “[s]imply put, Basement Punk is great rock ‘n’ roll.”

It most certainly is, and we are giving away three copies of Basement Punk on disk. Among other things, our review notes that the album’s lead track, “Watch Me Explode,” “splits the difference between Power Pop and Punk Rock — assuming, of course, that the two genres really are that different.”

Are they different? If so, how?

Tell us by sending an e-mail to popgoescrunch@gmail.com by 3:00 p.m. Pacific time on Friday, October 7, and perhaps you will walk away with a free copy of Basement Punk. There are, of course, no “right” or “wrong” answers.

In the meantime, you can stream the entire album, in full, right here.

Enough chit chat. Start entering.


State Of The Art Power Pop From Ryan Allen

a3676489916_16First impressions of new music are often misleading. The tendency to over-rate, or under-rate, upon an initial listen is ever-present. It has happened hundreds and hundreds of times over the years.

Not so with Basement Punk, the third long-player by Ryan Allen & His Extra Arms. My first reaction was that Allen delivers “one-hit-after-another.” Repeated listens confirms that Allen delivers “one-hit-after-another” — no if’s, and’s or but’s.

Basement Punk is an eleven-track, thirty-four minute romp through state-of-the-art Power Pop, with sound checks of old school punk rock, mid-60s pop rock and early-90s fuzz pop. Allen handles all of instrumentation — guitar, bass, drums, keys, percussion and lead and backing vocals — with expert execution. Mixing and mastering by the inimitable Andy Reed ensures that Basement Punk hits all the right sonic spots, particularly when played as loud as the material demands.

And it demands attention from its very first notes of feedback on the rousing, and perfectly titled, “Watch Me Explode,” which splits the difference between Power Pop and Punk Rock — assuming, of course, that the two genres really are that different. That “Watch Me Explode” works so perfectly is confirmed by the unconscious head-bopping and foot-tapping it inspires:

Album flow is often overlooked, but not here as the jangly “Chasing A Song” works as the perfect follow-on to “Explode.” In turn, it sets the table for the brilliant “Alex Whiz,” the best of set to these ears. I’m not a fan of comparisons to the work of others, but, what the heck. Put “Alex Whiz” on Teenage Fanclub’s Bandwagonesque or Thirteen and it would feel quite at home with its gentle fuzzy pop stylings:

The hits they keep-a coming.

“Basement Punks” is a spirited paean to the DIY-spirit. The sweet nostalgia of “Mal & Ange” picks up sonically and lyrically where “Alex Whiz” left off, except from the opposite perspective.  “Gimmie Some More” is a straight-up rocker that stays decidedly outside the middle-of-the-road.

Allen ups the tempo nicely on a punkier pair — “Two Steps Behind” and “Without A Doubt.” Two mid-tempo tracks, however, round out Basement Punk with aplomb and grace.

“People Factory” spikes mindless conformity with an unforgettable melody ripped from 1965. The closer, “Everything In Moderation” provides words (perhaps)  by which to live after laying down a perfect initial riff you swear you’ve heard before, but you haven’t. 

That pretty much sums up Basement Punk, a work of great originality steeped in familiar rock ‘n’ roll traditions. If it has any flaws, I have yet to hear them, and it easily will find a slot in my year-end Top 10. Get it right here, digitally, beginning September 30, on or disk from the fine folks at Kool Kat Musik.

And speaking of disks, we will be giving some away, real soon. Watch this space for more details.

We’re Giving Away 3 Copies Of Nick Piunti’s New Release!

piuntiNick Piunti is on a roll.

His 2013 release, 13 In My Head was one of the best long-players of 2013. The title track landed at No. 3 on our list of the best songs of 2013. His 2015 release, Beyond The Static was our third favorite long-player of last year.

Piunti’s 2016 long-player, Trust Your Instincts, hits the retail outlets on September 9. It may be his best effort yet: ten tracks featuring his increasingly sharp and incisive writing, tough and shiny guitar riffing, and the best damned vocals in the entire rockin’ pop world. Even better, Piunti is expertly assisted by some of our other faves: Donny Brown on drums, percussion and backing vocals; Andy Reed on bass and synth; and Ryan Allen on guitars, backing vocals and percussion. In reality, this is classic rock ‘n’ roll with big hooks and expert production. It is also a candidate for album of the year.

Even much better, you can win a free copy of the CD! That’s right, we are giving away three copies of Trust Your Instincts, courtesy of the fine folks at JEM Records.

Here is what you need to do:

Send an e-mail to popgoescrunch@gmail.com by 3:00 p.m. Pacific time on September 8, and answer two questions.

1. Why do you like Nick’s music?

2. What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

Be creative. The best three submissions win. We’ll announce the winners on the morning of September 9.

In the meantime, you can stream the first two tracks from Trust Your Instincts, in full.

Here’s the title track, in all of its Power Pop glory:


And, on “One Hit Wonder,” Piunti pens a tale of a music industry shooting star that nevertheless has universal applicability:


Enough chit chat for now. Get e-mailing!

Power Popsicle Brain Freeze Take 4

File Aug 27, 3 39 20 PMHere’s our discussion of five more essential tracks from the 139 track download available from the fine folks at Futureman Records, via our very good friend, the Ice Cream Man. You can get it right here, absolutely free. And, you don’t even need to give them an e-mail address. So, commence downloading. You have nothing to lose.

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Vista Blue, “Davey Got Drafted”: Vista Blue produces hook-laden rockin’ pop out of Nashville and Cincinnati. Their influences include The Ramones, Fountains of Wayne and Weezer, which tells you everything you need to know about the sound of this pounding earworm about the sorrow and the ecstasy that ensues when one pal gets the chance to make it to the big leagues, but the other does not. Baseball and Power Pop? You can’t beat that:


Braddock Station Garrison, “Forgotten Teenage Dream”: This bit of old school Power Pop by this D.C.-based band has spinning in regular rotation on Pop That Goes Crunch radio for the past year, and for good reason. Its got almost everything we love most: tasty, clean guitars, strong lead and background vocals, and a tinge of Americana:


Building Rockets, “Inverted Jenny”: The sound of Building Rockets is described as “a little like The Pixies and Wilco covering Fountains of Wayne songs while ‘Abbey Road’ plays in the background.” “Inverted Jenny” is head-boppin’ rockin’ pop featuring a perfect, slightly deranged surf guitar solo, kind of like the Pixies made semi-famous:


David Brookings and The Average Lookings, “The Basement Room”: “The Basement Room” might be the single best track on the entire Power Popsicle Brain Freeze collection. Brookings’ sharp vocals, the melodic interplay of the guitars, the propulsive yet not overpowering percussion give “The Basement Room” a great sense of movement that sounds best while speeding down the highway:


The Lost Boys, “December Forever”: The Lost Boys produce melodic indie pop in Southampton, England with a decided British feel. “December Forever” builds tension through the entirety of its short stay on your listening device, concluding with a virtual wall of sound:


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The twenty songs discussed over the pas four posts make for a fine hour-long playlist. We are not done yet. Check back soon for additional highly recommended tracks from Power Popsicle Brain Freeze.

Power Popsicle Brain Freeze, Take 3

File Aug 20, 9 20 35 PMSpend a few minutes with us today s we continue our deep dive into the 100% free and legal, 139-track extravaganza put together by our pal, The Ice Cream Man, and “distributed” by the fine folks at Futureman Records. Get it right by clicking this.

Here are five more essential tracks — we are now up to fifteen — that should be spinning in regular rotation on your favorite listening device:

The Mayflowers, “Move Over”: The Mayflowers have been turning out rockin’ pop from Japan since 2003. “Move Over” gets the compilation’s festivities started with a bang as it offers serious riffs, pounding beats, and spot on harmonies. Cue it up after a late night. It will kick out the jams and melt the accumulated fog:


Merry Widows, “Password”: Merry Widows is an Australian-based band that traces its roots to the early-90s, and cites the Go-Betweens, R.E.M. and Crowded House among its influences. “Password” sounds exactly as those influences would indicate — jangling guitars, descending basslines and non-stop harmonies — and they do it quite well. “Password” also features a great tag line for the digital age — “I’ve got your metadata on my mind”:


Donny Brown, “Now You Can Break My Heart”: Donny Brown crafts meticulous pop music that is beautifully written, sung and arranged. “Now You Can Break My Heart” uses a gorgeous melody as a platform for an affecting and original take on romantic disappointment:


The Armoires, “Double Blades”: The Armoires, hailing from Burbank, California, contribute the most musically ambitious track on Power Pop Brain Freeze. Christina Bulbenko and Rex Broome sing the entire song together — their main inspiration is the New Pornographers — thus providing a unique, almost singular, voice, and the song is propelled by a relatively simple, but quite effective and memorable, piano line and an exquisite viola courtesy of Bulbenko’s daughter, Larysa. The overall effect is upbeat psychedelia. Give this one a careful listen. There is a whole lot going on:


Orbis Max, “Without Love”: This track by an “internet recording collective” is full-on, late-60s styled psychedelia, down to it its chorus of “without love, we are nothing/without peace, there will be nothing.” It also has great hooks, and a wailing guitar, to compliment its genuine trippiness:


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So, there you have it, another five stellar tracks into which to sink your teeth, each of which are highly recommended.

Check back soon for five new suggestions.


Power Popsicle Brain Freeze, Take 2

File Aug 17, 4 24 13 PMToday, your humble servant supplies a second helping of some of the finest bits of rockin’ pop spinning on the Ice Cream Man’s ginormous compilation — Power Popsicle Brain Freeze — available for zero dollars and zero cents from the fine folks at Futureman Records. You can get the 139 track collection right here.

The rules are the same as on the prior post: the order of the tracks means absolutely nothing, and the focus is on artists and bands not previously discussed in these pages.

So, without further adieu . . .

Rob Clarke and The Wooltones, “End Of The End”: This delectable slice of updated mid-60s jangle pop by this Liverpool-based band features subtle psychedelic undertones along with Clarke’s smooth lead vocals and understated background harmonies. Cue it up and bask in the late-summer breeze:

The Floor Models, “Letter From Liverpool”: The Floor Models are a “re-born” 80’s combo. “Letter From Liverpool” is bittersweet jangle about faded memories and the enduring power of familiar sounds as the years march by. It is, quite obviously, a great companion to “End Of The End,” and could even cause your eyes to moisten as it winds to its close:

The Shinks, “Golden Leafs”: All I know about this band is that they hail from Stockholm, Sweden. Whoever they are, they have released one heck of a song from deep, deep, deep in left field. The opening, simple piano medley in this swaying, mid-tempo track will grab you immediately and not let go for nearly four-minutes:

That Driving Beat, “Wishing And Hoping.” The Driving Beat is an eleven-piece band from Stockholm, playing in the Northern Soul, Freakbeat and Garage playgrounds. “Wishing And Hoping” has a cool, mid-60s cosmopolitan flair with soulful horns and even more soulful vocals:

Soulbird, “Soulwater”: Soulbird produces subtly soulful pop music, with an occasional country infusion, in London, England. “Soulwater” imparts an early-70s Southern California vibe, punctuated by barque flute stylings:

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So, there’s another five excellent tracks from Power Popsicle Brain Freeze to add to your personal playlist. Check back soon for news on another five standout tracks.

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