Pop That Goes Crunch!

Seven Decades Of Melodic Rock & Roll

Archive for the tag “80s”

Late Summer Roundup, Volume 3

The calendar, and the weather, says it’s still summer. So here’s the third installment of my roundup of some of the finest tuneage to find its way to my digital desk over the past few months. This time, the focus is on the more rocking end of the spectrum.

Mono In Stereo

Mono In Stereo, Long For Yesterday: Back in the summer of 1984, I combed the traffic-clogged streets of Los Angeles working as a car messenger. College radio was my constant companion. The Minutemen, Husker Du and The Replacements ruled the airwaves, and brought order to those mean streets.

Those days have long since left the rear-view mirror. However, Mono In Stereo, a four-piece band out of Rockford, Illinois, has managed to capture the Spirit of ’84, and has sprinkled it brilliantly over twelve quite fine tunes that run the gamut from blistering punk rock assaults, to pounding anthems that shout their way out of the speakers, to mid-tempo reflections on the past, the present and the future, to Americana-tinged Power Pop, and more. The band calls its approach “Midwest Punk,” and cites its influences as ranging from “Springsteen to Mould, Earle to Costello.” It’s an apt description.

The band lays its cards on the table in the opening track, the rousing “Late Night Confessor” which tips a hat to The Dead Boys’ “Sonic Reducer,” before veering off in its own direction. The pounding title track will have you yelling out its chorus in no time. “What We Sang” is a paean to doing what you love, knowing that others out there certainly feel the same way:

The mid-tempo, “Woke Up In Haight,” has the band showing off a more expansive sound aided, in part, by some sneaky piano supplied by the seemingly ubiquitous Kris “Fingers” Rogers. “Bakersfield” is an eminently catchy Power Pop romp with a country backbone. The closing track, “Another Man’s Time,” is a quiet rumination on crime, punishment, family and mistaken identity:

Long For Yesterday is overflowing with hook-filled, guitar-based rock ‘n’ roll that knows no real boundaries. That’s how the best did it back in ’84, and that’s how Mono In Stereo’s influences do it as well. You can get this timeless music via Bandcamp. You will be glad you did.

Travel Lanes

Travel Lanes, Let’s Begin To Start Again: This four-piece band out of Philadelphia also digs deep into the history of American rock ‘n’ roll, spiking its catchy tunes with liberal doses of R&B swagger, Americana and seeming bar band sloppiness. Travel Lanes, however, is no amateur act. Accomplished playing is instead the order of the day, lifting Let’s Begin toward the head of the class.

Low, crunching guitars and Frank Brown’s menacing vocals let the listener know immediately that the field trip at issue in the opening track, “Class Trip,” might not be the kind of happy event normally associated with elementary school. The next track, “In The World,” lightens the festivities considerably, with its memories of a “summer so sublime.” “Little Out Of Love” sports a mellow, melodic vibe with 70s’s country undertones. “100th I Told You So” is melodic rockin’ pop at its finest. It would climb the charts in alternate universe:

The band returns to darker themes on a couple of slower, largely acoustic Americana tracks,”The Year” — the one where “everything fell apart”– and on the “Death,” both of which are standouts. Hope is not entirely lost, however, as the band quickly serves up the sweet, upbeat “Cream Soda.”

If there are any bum notes, or boring filler, anywhere on Let’s Begin To Start Again, these ears were unable to detect them. Get this highly recommended longplayer from the good folks at Kool Kat Musik.

 

The Big Show, Season 2, Show #7

The Big Show

The seventh installment of the second season of The Big Show is another really, really big show — another 30 rockin’ pop tunes streaming your way for more than 90 minutes. Here are some of the highlights, focusing particularly on lesser-known acts that deserve much wider attention:

Susan James is a Southern California-based purveyor of fine acoustic folk mixed generously with tasty baroque pop flavorings. Her recently released album, Sea Glass, is destined to make my year-end list as it features song-after-song of perfectly updated West Coast pop stylings. Show 7 features “Calico Valley,” whose jaunty tone and melodic string arrangement nicely compliment James’ gorgeous vocals as she sings about environmental mismanagement. You can get Sea Glass right here.

Trip Wire was featured previously in these pages. The San Francisco-based band’s recently released long-player, Get In & Get Out, is rock and roll as it should be, mixing elements of Power Pop, Garage Rock, and 90’s-style alternative rock. Their Bandcamp page quite aptly describes the band’s overall approach: “Our songs are short and catchy and we encourage you to listen and then move on to the next one as we do not jam.” Show 7 features one of the catchiest, and best, tracks on Get In & Get Out, the punchy “1973,” which will have you grooving to it immediately. Get it here.

Cameron Lew is the bass player, and one of the singers, in The Yorktown Lads, featured in these pages earlier this year. His debut solo album, welp, is in the finest of DIY traditions — recorded in his bedroom, featuring Lew playing a bevy of different instruments and utilizing the services of “some cheap AKG Condensor” and a “really crappy mic from the 80s.” You wouldn’t know it, though. The LP sounds quite good — I hear a lot of not-so-well recorded music, and this is not that — and serves as a nice platform for Lew to explore various melodic rock styles. Show 7 features the lead track, “Adieu,” a cool and breezy bit of late-60s-influenced pop. Get it here.

The Pacific Northwest is becoming quite a hotbed of melodic rock ‘n’ roll. Strangely Alright, hailing from the Seattle area, is the latest to push great tunes across my virtual desk. “If I Don’t Laugh I’m Only Going To Cry” builds from humble acoustic origins into an epic wall of sound, while featuring a memorable sing-a-long chorus and Regan Lane’s strong, glam-influenced vocal. You can check out the band’s body of work here.

Show 7 also features music by perennial favorites of these pages, including The Connection, Andy Reed, Sloan, The Ramones, Teenage Fanclub, and The Go-Betweens. It also features two sets of songs from the early days of “alternative” music.

As always, the entire tracklist is 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.  Hidden Pictures, “California Plates”

2.  Stereo Tiger, “Runaway”

3.  The Connection, “Treat You So Bad”

4.  Shark Tape, “Long Time Coming”

5.  Trip Wire, “1973”

6.  The Jeanies, “Amilee”

7.  Cameron Lew, “Adieu”

8.  Andy Reed, “Darlin’, You Don’t Know”

9.  Strangely Alright, “If I Don’t Laugh I’m Only Going To Cry”

10. The Reivers, “Sound And The Fury”

11. The Primitons, “All My Friends”

12. Full Fathom Five, “A Little Hope”

13. The Jangle Band, “This Soul Is Not For Sale”

14. Your Gracious Host, “If You Ever Have Your Doubts”

15. Sloan, “Carried Away”

16. Soft Picasso, “Blue-Eyed Boy”

17. Susan James, “Calico Valley”

18. The Autumn Defense, “Estate Remains”

19. Braddock Station Garrison, “Johnny Stone Stole My Girlfriend”

20. The Big Believe, “Creatures”

21. LazyEye, “Katie Jones”

22. The Ramones, “Danny Says”

23. Teenage Fanclub, “Everything Flows” (Acoustic)

24. The Go-Betweens, “Surfing Magazines”

25. The Fad, “The Now Sound”

26. The Lads, “Neighborhood Kids”

27. New Hearts, “Just Another Teenage Anthem”

28. The Beau Brummels, “Laugh, Laugh”

29. The Nashville Ramblers, “The Trains”

30. Material Issue, “I’d Wait A Million Years.”

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