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Seven Decades Of Melodic Rock & Roll

Archive for the tag “60’s pop”

Best LPs Of 2016 — Part 1

a1483495219_16We decided to add context to out annual “best of” lists instead of simply providing long lists with no discussion. So, our look at the Best 30 LPs of 2016 will come in three installments.

Because good music does not necessarily hue to annual time periods, our list contains a couple of late-2015 releases that, in actuality, are 2016 LPs to us. By the same token, late-2016 releases will need to wait until next year.

As always, some of the distinctions here sit on a rather fine line. Each of the albums of our list, however, is highly recommended.

Without further adieu:

30.  Andy KlingensmithFantasy Island: On his first longplayer, Klingensmith applies contemporary rhythms to his basic psych-folk template to great effect. Listen and buy here.

29.  Colman GotaTape: Gota’s hook-filled adult guitar rock reminds us that the phrase “alt rock” did not always induce eye rolls. Sample and buy here.

28The WeeklingsStudio 2: The New Jersey-based band’s second stellar collection of Beatles-inspired rockin’ pop with spot-on harmonies, Rickenbacker guitars, sweet ballads and an ode to Chuck Berry. Sample and buy here.

27.  Butch YoungMercury Man: Young takes his inspiration from the later-period Beatles. The right doses of horns and orchestration add drama to his complex melodies. Sample and buy here.

26. Ed RyanRoadmap: Ryan’s old-school Power Pop never wears old or thin. These ten rockin’ pop tracks are guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Listen and buy here.

25. Gretchen’s WheelBehind The Curtain: Lindsay Murray’s second longplayer is more rocking than last year’s Fragile State, which also made our year-end list. Get this, though, for her voice, a beguiling mix of strength and fragility. Listen and buy here.

24.  Mimi BetinisMusic Sounds: This is one of more varied albums on our list, as Bitinis effortlessly mixes and matches classic pop and rock stylings over this thoroughly enjoyable eleven-song set. Sample and buy here.

23.  Steve IsonOn The Way Up: Ison’s sound is rooted in British singer-songwriters of the late-60s and early-70s, with indelible nods to Bowie and Donovan. There is not a bum track to be found. Listen and buy here.

22.  Cheap StarSongs For The Farrelly Brothers: This one sit in decidedly late-period Teenage Fanclub territory, with layered acoustic guitars and restrained harmonies. The version of the Lemonheads “Into Your Arms” found here might even top the original. Sample and buy here.

21.  Diamond Hands — S/T:  Not a single song on this eleven-track, hook-and-jangle-heavy romp through various 60’s rock styles reaches the three-minute mark. Is this retro? Hell yeah, and that’s a very good thing when laid down by the four capable hands that comprise this Los Angeles-based duo. Listen and buy here.

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Great New Music Abounds: The Big Show, Season 2, Show 5

The Big Show This action-packed episode of The Big Show is overflowing with new music. Of particular note are three artists whose songs, albums (or both) are destined to find their way onto my year-end lists for 2015:

Love Axe kicks off the show with “Only Gonna Tear You Apart,” a hook-filled track, with a bit of “call and response harmonizing,” from their wonderful South Dakota long-player — one of the finest albums released so far this year.

Propeller’s “You Remind Me Of You” made my Top 30 songs list last year. Their new single, “Wish I  Had Her Picture,” may be the band’s best song to date, with its sweet and smooth vocal harmonies nicely complimenting its bouncy rhythm. Look for this one in my Top 10 for 2015; its that good.

Nick Piunti’s Beyond The Static LP somehow manages to up the ante on 13 In My Head which, in retrospect, could very well have been my favorite long-player of 2013. “Head In The Clouds” is third song from Static to be played on The Big Show. Its a pitch-perfect, mid-tempo guitar rocker punctuated by Piunti’s typically fabulous vocals.

But, wait, there’s a whole lot more great new music for your listening pleasure in this season’s fifth show.

The Kurt Baker Combo tear the roof off the house with a blistering live version of Leiber and Stoller’s “Love Potion No. 9.” Dot Dash infuse their immensely catchy “Rainclouds” with a bit of old school punk rock swagger to great effect. Los Breakdowns deliver traditional Power Pop via the late-70’s with “Off The Record” from their wonderfully titled LP, Rock ‘N Roller Skates.

A bunch of 60’s styled rockin’ pop is featured prominently in the fifth show. Those mad scientists of the four-track recorder, Dr. Cosmo’s Tape Lab, check in with some 60’s swing on “Time Enough For Love.” Grab a cocktail by the pool with this one. Roger Houdaille, recording as Plastic Macca, takes the lo-fi 60’s approach in a decidedly different direction with the rocking and rollicking “Art” from one of his two recently released LPs. Smile Factory, a “pop collective,” contribute perfectly updated British Invasion pop on “There She Is.” The Zags deliver some understated 60’s-styled pop with subtle psych undertones on “Messin’ Around” from their rather tasty, recently released self-titled LP.

New music is rounded out by Caddy, making its second consecutive appearance on The Big Show, with the beautiful and swaying “Bring It Back” from an upcoming LP, and by The Surf School Dropouts whose “Should Have Known Better” features sparkling harmonies and a slinky, instantly memorable guitar riff. The entire twenty-seven song tracklist can be found below the embed. Crank up the volume, and check out Pop That Goes Crunch radio, streaming the finest in melodic rock n’ roll 24/7.

Tracklist:

1.  Love Axe, “Only Gonna Tear You Apart”

2.  Plastic Macca, “Art”

3.  Los Breakdowns, “Off The Record”

4.  Dot Dash, “Rainclouds”

5.  The Electric Mess, “There’s Nothing You Can Do”

6.  The Zags, “Messin’ Around”

7   Propeller, “Wish I Had Her Picture”

8.  Smile Factory, “There She Is”

9.  Caddy, “Bring It Back”

10. David Bowie, “I Dig Everything”

11. Lisa Mychols, “Its As Easy As 1, 2, 3”

12. Nancy Sinatra, “I Move Around”

13. Josh Woodward, “The Rival Within”

14. Elliott Smith, “Let’s Get Lost”

15. Brandon Schott, “Fire Season”

16. Surf School Dropouts, “Should Have Known Better”

17. Scott Brookman, “She Smiled At Me”

18. Dr. Cosmo’s Tape Lab, “Time Enough For Love”

19. Kurt Baker Combo, “Love Potion #9”

20. The Woggles, “I Got A Line On You”

21. Generation X, “Ready, Steady, Go”

22. Chris Church, “Absolutely Nothing”

23. Nick Piunti, “Head In The Clouds”

24. John Holk & The Sequins, “If She Were You”

25. Carousels, “For You (Sha La La)”

26. The Rooks, “Music Sound Sensation”

27. Cliff Hillis, “End The Telemarketing”

What’s New At Pop That Goes Crunch Radio

Record Player

Lots of new music has been added at Pop That Goes Crunch radio in recent weeks. Here’s a run down of some finer pieces of new melodic pop blasting over the airwaves 24/7 for your listening pleasure.

Jonathan Rundman, Look Up: Rundman’s long-player, released last week, is equal parts rockin’ pop and acoustic folk. The brightly colored uptempo tracks are foot-tapping, sing-along exercises driven by Rundman’s fine sense of melody. “The Science Of Rockets” gets my nod for best in class:

Gretchen’s Wheel, Fragile State: Nashville-based artist Lindsay Murray got the attention of Ken Stringfellow with her cover of a Posies track. She snagged Stringfellow to produce her debut long-player released under a moniker that pays homage to a classic Schubert song. Fragile State is at once assured and, well, quite fragile, with its atmospheric production enhancing the spaces in Murray’s compelling compositions. There is a whole lot going on here, with elements of jazz, Americana, and a dashes of electronics here and there, each complimenting Murray’s gorgeous vocals:

Mothboxer, We’re All Out Of Our Minds: Mothboxer made the Top 10 on my lists of the best albums and best songs of 2014, so word of three new songs by the band — the other track also appears on the Sand The Rain long-player — was a big deal hereabouts. And they do not disappoint, delivering yet another stellar collection of 60’s-based pop with psych undertones that never sounds anything other than thoroughly contemporary. The entire EP, along with oodles of other tracks by the band, will be spinning in regular rotation for quite some time:

The next three long-players came out a bit too late in 2014 for adequate consideration on my “Best Of” list, but each were worthy competitors and are nevertheless in the mix for 2015.

The Hangabouts, Illustrated Bird: Peaceful easy feelings abound on this collection of thirteen slices of flawlessly executed melodic pop that will soothe the savage soul, or at least tame the savage commute. If Illustrated Bird feels unassuming and breezy on its first listen, hit the repeat button and take notice of the thoughtful, often clever, songwriting and sharp playing that runs throughout the album from start to finish. Oh, and try to get this one out of your head:

The Yorktown Lads, Songs About Girls And Other Disasters: What to make of an album sporting a song called “Cool Shoes, Bro”? How about that it is so much fun that you’ll find yourself bopping along happily to three-minutes of self-doubt called “Sick Of Me”? Or that you’ll wish you could find yourself flummoxed by the kind of writer’s block that results in the creation of a song as unrelentingly catchy as “Something To Write About”:

If the long-player doesn’t serve up quite enough fun with melody, also check out the four songs on the Lads’ recently released $200 EP. This one — about a busy and undoubtedly multi-tasking record label owner/jewelry maker/law school employee — will rattle around your head for quite some time, as well:

The Sharp Things, Adventurer’s Inn: This marks the third studio release by these Brooklyn-based purveyors of fine symphonic pop in less than two years. The elements that made the prior two long-players so compelling are present here in big servings, as well — soaring string arrangements, sophisticated, ornate 60’s pop stylings, Perry Serpa’s soulful lead vocals, perfect time-keeping by the late Steven Gonzalez, and big group harmonies. Put the three releases — Green Is Good and The Truth Is Like The Sun being the other two — into one big playlist, press play and drink in a singular musical achievement created over a short time period:

So, that’s just a peek at some of the fine new music spinning in regular rotation at Pop That Goes Crunch radio. Tune in frequently. You may hear you next favorite song.

From The Stacks: An Indie Pop Playlist

Stacks of Records

I have written previously that my single most used iOs “app” is Groove which, among other things, creates playlists automatically based on artist attributes in the Last.fm database. It also creates playlists based on genre “tags” appearing in that database.

One “tag” that appeared the other day on my device was “indie pop.” I gave it whirl. The results were quite good, so I took twelve of the tracks and uploaded a new playlist to the 8 Tracks site. It is embedded below, and can be heard in full, and in sequence, by clicking on the arrow in the embedded image. At 37 minutes in length, it would fit nicely on a 12-inch platter of vinyl.

What will you hear on “From The Stacks”?

There are several artists discussed previously on this site. Scott Brookman kicks off the set with “Karen,” a bit of Pet Sounds-inspired pop from his 2000 long-player, For Those Who Like Pop. 

Wondermints contribute one of their lesser-known tracks, the jaunty Zombies-inspired “Sting O’ Luv,” from the long-unavailable Bali.

One of my favorite bands, The Sharp Things, check in with the subtly soulful, “The Devil In You Sings,” from an earlier LP, A Movable Feast

The Well Wishers deliver straight-up jangly Powerpop with “Heroes.”

The Corner Laughers close the set with the ukelele-driven sunshine pop of “Chicken Bingo,” which starts with one of my all-time favorite couplets: “they asked us where we came from, we said San Francisco/they asked again, we said outer space.” You can get that one here.

Along the way, the set list includes a track by the late, great Elliot Smith and a country-inspired ditty by Hippodrome, sung by Chris Richards, who also has been discussed several times previously on this site.

Here it is:

Complete set list:

1.  “Karen” — Scott Brookman

2.  “Forever” — The Hit Parade

3.  “Sting O’ Luv” — Wondermints

4.  “Don’t Turn Your Back (Open Your Eyes)” — The Afternoons

5.  “Miles Away” — Sparkwood

6.  “Heroes” — The Well Wishers

7.  “See You In The Morning” — Kontiki Suite

8.  “The Devil In You Sings” — The Sharp Things

9.  “Smash Up” — Greenberry Woods

10. “Strung Out Again” — Elliott Smith

11.  “Caroline” — Hippodrome

12. “Chicken Bingo” — The Corner Laughers

Five Track Draw: Endless Summer

Endless SummerToday I am starting a new regular feature called “Five Track Draw.” It will focus on five melodic rock tracks that made it to my attention recently by “happenstance,” either through an internet radio service, algorithm or social media, or practically anywhere else as long as I did not purposefully cue them on a listening device.

The focus of this feature will be primarily on lesser known artists, or lesser known tracks by better known artists. The tracks may be new or old (or somewhere in between) because even old music is “new” if you haven’t heard it.

This first installment comes via internet radio. Each has a lighter feel, with The Beach Boys looming as the primary influence as summer fades increasingly further into the rear-view mirror.

Sunrise Highway, “Endless Summer”: This could easily be a Beach Boys sound-a-like, but grafting its seamless, endless harmonies onto jangly twelve-string guitars lifts this song far from the realm of the mere copycats:

Bryan Estepa, “Western Tale”: Its six-minute length is usually a red flag for me since songs should remain the three-minute range. But this is actually a couple of songs rolled into one, and moves along at a brisk pace with its soaring harmonies and production and background vocals supplied by Michael Carpenter, about whom I have written previously. The first line of the chorus — “And if the tide is high, baby move over, and over and over” — can stick in your head for days:

Adrian Whitehead, “Cailtlin’s 60’s Pop Song”: The title does not lie. This is indeed a 60s pop song anchored by piano, harmony and analog-styled production from days gone by. That makes this song about a girl “so beautiful . . . from above” very pretty without sounding like a museum piece:

Linus Of Hollywood, “Heavenly”: This one amps up the 60s sunshine pop vibe (as much as sunshine pop can be amped up) by adding a driving beat to the mix by the time the chorus kicks in. Otherwise, you get big doses of swirling multi-voiced harmonies, strings, keyboards and upper register lead vocals:

Frank Bango, “Summerdress”: Who needs autumn sweaters and winter coats when you can sing giddily for a few minutes about pretty girls in summer dresses? Bango’s circa-1978 Elvis Costello-esque vocals work nicely over the organs and strings on the most relentlessly upbeat song of this post:

You can’t go wrong with either of these sweet sounds of summer as we head through autumn.

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