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Archive for the tag “60s”

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.

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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.

New And Noteworthy Nuggets By The Jeanies, Trees and Timber and The Fad

The Jeanies

Here’s a short rundown of new and noteworthy rockin’ pop nuggets that came across my virtual desk in recent days.

The Jeanies: “Amilee”/”Bad Side”: The Jeanies’ 2014 self-titled debut long-player nicely captured old-school Power Pop, with occasional nods to traditional rock ‘n’ roll, a stick or two of bubblegum and a whole lot of vintage 70’s sonics.

That recipe is in fine form on the band’s recently released digital single. “Amilee” is a muscular rocker about romantic perseverance even when she’s “slippin’ through my hands, again.” The flip side, “Bad Side,” is a slower, jangling r&b number featuring Joey Farber’s sweet, strong vocals and a very cool guitar flourish at about the 2:10 mark:

“Amilee”/”Bad Side” is highly recommended, and makes the band’s sophomore long-player highly anticipated. You can get the single, along with an early acoustic demo of “Amilee,” right here.

Trees and Timber, “Good Is In The Graveyard”/Official Music Video: Great rockin’ pop emanates from the Pacific Northwest these days, and Trees and Timber is among the region’s finest purveyors of the form. The band’s 2014 release, Hello My Name Is Love, is a stellar collection of pop tunes enlivened by occasionally biting humor.

The release of a fun music video for “Good Is In The Graveyard,” a rather catchy track from Hello My Name Is Love, presents a good opportunity to spread the word about a band that is deserving of attention. You can explore Hello right here. You can watch the video for “Good Is In The Graveyard” directly below:

The Fad, The Now Sound: This is not new at all. Its a collection of lost tracks recorded more than  three decades ago by “a three-piece Mod/Power Pop group who often dressed in ‘Star Trek’-type outfits” and whose 6 song EP was unfortunately “marred by the fact that their producer strong-armed them into speeding up the vocal tracks to almost Chipmunk-like speed.”

Sounds absolutely horrible, right? It’s actually one of the coolest things you will hear this year. Kool Kat Musik has resurrected 12 songs by the band, slowed the vocals to normal speed and unleashed this authentic bit of Mod revivalism on the unsuspecting. This is hip-shaking, head-bopping stuff. Try, for example, to sit still through “The Now Sound.” It’s physically impossible:

The same thing can be said about most of the tracks on this thirty-five minute collection. There is nothing even remotely innovative or groundbreaking here, but who cares? This is just good, clean fun from a bygone era of sharp, immediate and “to the point” songcraft. Start bopping along to “Broken Hearts” right here, and jump over to Kool Kat Musik and get The Now Sound.

Aerial And Edward O’Connell Release Two Of The Best Longplayers Of 2014

I have the pleasure today of reviewing two of the finest longplayers of 2014.

AerialAerial, Why Don’t The Teach Heartbreak At School: Aerial is a three-piece band from Scotland that produces authentic West Coast Pop of great variety, stunning quality, occasional clever wit and consistently gorgeous harmonies. Although the band last released an album in 2002, the long delay has hardly diminished its skills.

The festivities begin with “Cartoon Eyes, Cartoon Heart,” which adds a bit of fuzz to the basic pounding pop approach. The title track is a sing-along, clap-along, bop-along slice of teenage heartbreak and regret. “Japanese Dancer” inserts some call-and-response into a paean to the girl of the title who dances on the street clad in kung fu slippers while brandishing a plastic whistle. “Great Teenager” imagines how great teenage life could really and truly be —  if the teenager was actually in his late-20s.

Those are each rockin’ pop songs. Aerial, however, also delivers the goods rather nicely on the more introspective tracks.

“Dear Anna” amps up the harmonizing alongside its basic plea seeking a second chance to explain. “Where Are You” slowly builds tension for a minute-and-a-half before becoming a full-fledged rocker, and back again. The collection closes with “Wave Goodbye To Scotland,” a relatively quiet track about how the love for a person can trump the love for a place.

Why Don’t They Teach Heartbreak At School is a shoo-in for my year-end “best of” list. It’s the perfect accompaniment to a long and otherwise boring commute to and from work. Buy it from Kool Kat Musik — right here — and also get a previously unreleased CD of 4 demo tracks.

Check out the band doing an acoustic version of the title track right here:

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Edward O'ConnellEdward, O’Connell, Vanishing Act: O’Connell creates smart, unaffected guitar-based rock that sounds instantly familiar upon its initial listen. His recently released long-player, Vanishing Act, has a timeless quality to it, as it if could have been released in 1969, 1979, 1989 — well, you get the point. Although nothing on Vanishing Act advances the march of western civilization, O’Connell nevertheless delivers twelve expertly crafted pop tunes that make perfect use of the occasional string, keyboard, horn or pedal steel to add texture and a full, rich sound to the basic guitar-bass-drums approach.

The opening track, the country-tinged “My Dumb Luck,” sets the tone for everything that follows — O’Connell’s strong lead vocals alternating with plush harmonies amid a hook that will stay with you for hours. “Every Precious Day” took me back to the days of driving around college in a 1981 Honda listening to the local alternative rock station, a very good thing indeed:

“I’m The Man” ups the country quotient considerably and, in the grand tradition of a certain branch of that particular genre, repeats its basic hook –“I’m the man that she wants to kill” — several times.  The swaying title track has a slightly baroque feel, and features the backing vocals of Parthenon Huxley. Quite naturally, the collection ends with the slightly jangling rocker, “The End Of The Line,” whose pumping, sunny disposition will make your forget, or not even notice, its bleak theme and inherent sadness. It attests wonderfully to O’Connell’s songwriting chops.

Vanishing Act displays O’Connell at the top of his craft. It contains not a single bum track, and its twelve songs ultimately go by in a blink of an eye. It should be available wherever finer music is sold.

 

The Big Show #2: Summer Songs

 

Sunrise HighwayWith the calendar switching recently over to summer, the time seemed ripe to do a show devoted entirely to summer songs.

The Big Show #2 includes twenty such songs, and progresses from songs anticipating summer’s imminent arrival, to songs proclaiming the simple joys of summer to songs caught in summer rain to songs announcing the end of summer.

It concludes with Sunrise Highway singing about “The Endless Summer.”

“Summer Songs” is posted at Mixcloud, but you can hear it directly in this post by clicking on the picture, below. The complete track list appears directly below that:

 

Track List:

1.  Attic Lights, “Summer’s Coming Back”

2.  Michael Carpenter and King’s Road: “Summertime”

3.  Seth Swirsky, “Summer In Her Hair”

4.  War, “Summer”

5.  The Red Button, “On A Summer Day”

6.  Wyatt Funderburk, “Summer”

7.  The Britannicas, “(Talkin’ ‘Bout) Summer”

8.  Twenty Cent Crush, “Summer (You Know My Name)”

9.  Propeller, “Summer Songs”

10. Vegas With Randolph, “Summertime”

11. The Sunchymes, “On A Summer Ride”

12. The Daintees, “Roll On Summertime”

13. Weekend, “Summerdays”

14. Wilco, “Summer Teeth”

15. The Crush, “Summer Rain”

16. Shoes, “The Summer Rain”

17. Stephen Lawrenson, “Summer & Lightning”

18. Scott Brookman, “Summer’s Two Weeks Notice”

19. The Valley Downs, “The Last Days Of Summer”

20. Sunrise Highway, “Endless Summer”

 

The Crush Deliver Powerpop Fun For Your Summer

The Crush

The Crush is a rocking indie pop band from Seattle. I featured them previously in a round-up of songs added recently to Pop That Goes Crunch radio.

Their new EP, Future Blimps, quite fittingly dropped on the first day of Summer. It consists of five hook-filled tracks alternating between somewhat stomping garage rock and jangling Power Pop. There is nothing fancy here, just eighteen minutes of bass-guitar-drums rock and roll that flies by in an instant. Its your perfect warm weather accompaniment.

Future Blimps kicks off with a stomper, “Never Gonna Stop,” that immediately announces Kira Wilson as a vocalist with whom to reckon quite seriously. Her pipes are sassy, self-assured and powerful throughout the EP, and wind seamlessly through its many riffs and rhythms:

The next track, “Around” is sinewy, head-swaying jangle pop. “Better and Better” takes us back to the garage and serves up four-minutes plus of blues-rock riffing ripped from the 60s.

The jangle makes a comeback on “Its Love,” where the guitars vie for sonic supremacy with Wilson’s varying vocal stylings:

The EP concludes its all-too-brief stay with “Nothing To Lose,” a bit of classic 70s-styled Power Pop:

Future Blimps is not intended to set the world on fire with innovation, but that’s perfectly fine. Its just fun rock and roll, and the hooks come at you full blast. Its quite a steal, at only $3. The band even cites The Nerves as one of their influences, and you can’t beat that.

 

 

Some More New Music For A Sunday

Propeller

Another Sunday brings another five new and cool songs now spinning in rotation at Pop That Goes Crunch radio. Check them out there, and right here:

Propeller, “You Remind Me Of You”: A future dictionary could identify this song as an example of the classic Power Pop sound. Its three-minutes of hooks and harmonies designed undoubtedly to ring around in your head for days. It’s also is a shoo-in for my year-end list of the best songs of the year:

Attic Lights, “Known Outsider”: This previously unreleased track is available as a B-side to a special release of the band’s tribute to Roy Orbison, a track also spinning in rotation over at the radio station. “Known Outsider” has that peaceful easy guitar pop feeling of latter-day Teenage Fanclub, which means that you should embrace it immediately:

The Green Tambourine Band, “I’m Free”: This Scottish band creates “garage/psych folk-rock” on “vintage analogue gear.” That’s a perfect description. “I’m Free” is a bit of jangly guitar pop enhanced by Mellotron flourishes. Catch this vintage groove:

The Smoove Sailors vs. Ballard, “Piece Of The Dream:” I wrote recently about the one-man band called Ballard. Smoove Sailors is a band out of Jersey City, New Jersey. Here, the man behind Ballard, Darren Riley, says that he would write a song, such as “Piece Of The Dream,” send the band an acoustic demo “and they’d send me back a full backing track for me to put my vocals on.” That inter-continental collaboration works quite well. “Piece Of A Dream” is delightfully uncomplicated Power Pop that will cause unconscious head-bopping:

Dr. Nod, “Walking The Dog”: I know absolutely nothing about this act, except that its double-sided single was released by The Active Listener, whose blog is listed in the Blogroll to your right. That means that it will at least be interesting. “Walking The Dog” has a kind of early-90s “alt rock”/psych/noise pop feel to it and creates a nice hook out of seeming monotony:

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So there’a another five new tracks to check out on a lazy Sunday. Listen, support the artists and check out Pop That Goes Crunch radio, where the playlist has grown to more than 1,000 songs.

Sunday Round-Up From The Car Wash

Jeyllybricks

Stuck for a couple of hours at a Wi-Fi enabled car wash to see if they can remove evidence of malicious “keying” by a bunch of unruly heshers in a shopping center parking lot? That presents a grand opportunity to update you on some more recent additions to Pop That Goes Crunch radio.

The Jellybricks, “Probably Me” — Bright and shiny guitar-driven Power Pop by a favorite over at the station, who now have seven tracks spinning in rotation. Love the key line of the chorus: “something’s gotta give, and it’s probably me/there’s a hole in my chest where my heart used to be”:

Orgone Box, “Ticket With No Return” — The Active Listener blog, which is featured at the Blogroll to your right, recently released the “retweaked and perfected” digital version of the 90’s classic long-player, Centauar, on Bandcamp. I added four tracks from Centaur to the station recently, which is more than usual from one album. “Ticket With No Return” is pop-psych perfection, featuring the kind of handmade attention to detail found on such other favorites as Cotton Mather’s Kontiki:

Greater California, “The Foolish Son” — This is five years old. It deserves a whole lot more attention, particularly as summertime starts coming into view. Its beautifully constructed West Coast Pop driven by gorgeous harmonies to savor as the days grow longer:

Gen Pop, “Warm Sun” — Some jaunty, breezy guitar pop from Wisconsin. They’ve got a nine-track, name-your-price download over at Bandcamp that you should check out in full. But in the meantime, drink down the bittersweet summer drink of “Warm Sun” punctuated by some way cool glockenspiel:

Goodman, “Isn’t It Sad” — Michael Goodman creates one-man-band Power Pop with garage rock undertones from his perch in Brooklyn. The rockin’ title track from his new longplayer will have you poppin’ and boppin’ all day long:

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Well, that’s all I’ve got time to share with you today, since my vehicle is close to looking new again. After you’ve checked out these five songs, give a listen to the radio station, right here.

 

New Music Sunday: Almost Spring Edition

The Legal Matters

I’ve recently added a bunch of additional tracks to Pop That Goes Crunch radio, both new and old. Here is some of the best “new” music added over the past week, kicking off with a bit of Springtime:

The Legal Matters, “Rite Of Spring”: The Legal Matters is a “rockin’ pop project containing equal parts Chris Richards, Andy Reed and Keith Klingensmith,” each of whom is well-represented on this site and on the radio station. “Rite Of Spring” is our first taste of a long-player scheduled for a summer release. You need go no further than this to hear the best vocal harmonies of the year, set amid jangly guitars, subtle keyboards and some way cool jingle bells:

The JAC, “Love Dumb”: Joe Algeri and crew deliver a bit of perfectly propulsive Power Pop ahead of an upcoming LP. This one will have you singing along before completing your first listen:

The Sunchymes, “Mr. Buckstone”: “Checking The Weather” from 2012’s Let Your Free Flag Fly is quite a popular track on the radio station. This new slice of West Coast Pop wraps a tale of fib-telling boor in a rather pretty package, resplendent with shiny harmonies, “ba-ba-bas” and sweet mellotron flourishes:

The Zags, “Tattoo”:  This is bright and shiny Power Pop in the grandest early-70s tradition with subtle glam and garage rock undercurrents. You’ll also start singing along to this one long before its over:

Loop Line, “All I’m Waiting For”: Loop Line is two guys — one living in the U.S., the other in Japan — who created a 21-track record via file sharing. They describe their sound as “a combination of 60’s pop and 90’s indie rock, with as many vocal harmonies as each song can possibly hold.” That’s an apt description — their just released long-player, Tides, sports what seems like a thousand harmonies. “All I’m Waiting For” must have several hundred itself:

Each of these songs, along with nine-hundred others, are spinning 24/7 on Pop That Goes Crunch radio. Why not check it out?

 

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