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The Most Heard Tracks On Pop That Goes Crunch Radio — January 2017

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Pop That Goes Crunch Radio plays the best of seven decades of melodically-based rock ‘n’ roll. You can tune-in by clicking the “Listen Live” headphones wherever you seem them on this site. We can also be heard on the Tunein and StreamLicensing apps.

The tracks that garnered the most listens in January 2017 are a nice snapshot of what we play commercial-free, 24/7:

1.  Andy Reed, “I Love A Long Goodbye” (Relay Vol. 1, 2015)

2.  Aerial, “Japanese Dancer” (Why Don’t They Teach Heartbreak At School?, 2014)

3.  David Brookings And The Average Lookings, “The Basement Room” (S/T, 2016)

4.  Pernice Brothers, “Weakest Shade Of Blue” (Yours, Mine & Ours, 2003)

5.  The Autumn Defense, “Winterlight” (S/T, 2007)

6.  Chris Richards and the Subtractions, “Thirteen” (That Covers That Vol. 1, 2012)

7.  Dave Caruso, “Champion” (Cardboard Vegas Roundabout, 2014)

8.  The Idea, “Private World” (Pop Matters (Various Artists), 1995)

9.  Wondermints, “Out Of Mind” (Mind If We Make Love To You, 2002)

10. And The Professors, “Turn Of The Century Recycling Blues” (Our Postmortem, 2013)

Thanks for listening.

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Best LPs Of 2016 — Part 3

a3676489916_16We conclude our rundown of the Best LPs Of 2016 with the best of the best. Also, be sure to check out the list of five other 2016 longplayers deserving of a listen.

10.  The Cleaners From VenusLast Boy In The Locarno: Martin Newell returns with twelve tracks of great stories, intriguing character studies and winsome nostalgia surrounded by deft melodies and the usual assortment of unexpected twists and turns. Listen and buy here.

9.  Trolley Caught In The Darkness: Trolley distills the entire history of psychedelic — and psych-inspired — rock ‘n’ roll into this blistering twelve song set. Listen loudly and buy here.

8.  Cotton MatherDeath Of The Cool: This one summons the spirit, depth and quality of Kontiki, one of the greatest albums of the 1990s. That’s all you need to know. Sample and buy here.

7.  SomerdaleShake It Maggie: The guys in Somerdale are proud proponents of a style of music — Power Pop — that is “so out of style, its cool.” And this is certainly one of the coolest records of the year — ten proper tracks, and a reprise — recalling the days when radio was king. Listen and buy here.

6.  Tuns — S/T: Chris Murphy of Sloan, Mike O’Neill of The Inbreds and Matt Murphy of The Super Friendz join forces to release perhaps the greatest unassuming record ever released. This one delivers nine perfectly conceived rockin’ pop songs expertly executed. Sample and buy here.

5.  Teenage FanclubHere: How does one compose a pithy sentence about a release by an all-time favorite? One doesn’t. Just sample and buy here. You’ll get the point.

4.  Coke BeldaNummer Zwei: This late-2015 release is a delight from beginning to end, mining all manner of classic pop styles amid sharp songwriting and musicianship and beautiful production. Listen and buy here.

3.  Nick PiuntiTrust Your Instincts: Piunti is a perennial on these pages, and this release does not disappoint as he delivers ten stellar examples of some of the finest rockin’ pop on the planet. Listen and buy here.

2.  The Legal MattersConrad: State of the art pop from the Fab Three, with a little help from their friends. Sample and buy here.

1.  Ryan Allen and His Extra ArmsBasement Punk: The sheer energy packed into these eleven tracks takes Basement Punk to a photo finish victory. Allen’s often quite personal songs soundcheck the great pop rock of the 60’s through the 90’s in a manner that remains contemporary and fresh. Listen and buy here.

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Bubbling Under

A few other albums released in 2016 deserve some love, as well:

Tommy and the RocketsBeer And Fun And Rock ‘n’ Roll: What the Ramones might have sounded like had they grown up in a Southern California beach community and had Danish roots. Listen and buy here.

Bill ShaouyThe Other Town: Shaouy operates as kind of a one-man XTC. Check out “Christopher Walken Told Me,” in particular. Sample and buy here.

Starry Eyed CadetPlaces We Don’t Belong: A sharp update of 80’s dream pop stylings. Listen and buy here.

Rob Clarke And The Wooltones, Are You Wooltoned?: Need a fix of 1966? Listen and buy here.

The Jeckylls, The One I Want, The One I Need: Siting at the crossroads where Mod and Power Pop meet. Listen and buy here.

Best LPs of 2016 — Part 2

a1972111786_16The countdown continues with a discussion of the “middle ten” on our list of the best longplayers of 2016.

20.  HurryGuided Meditation: This Philadelphia-based trio lets it fly with shimmering, jangly guitars, dreamy atmospherics and clean harmonies over nine spot-on tracks evoking the easy days of summer. Listen and buy here.

19.  Ray Paul Whimsicality: Paul hits all the right notes as he puts a slightly contemporary gloss on the basic British Invasion sound over seven original compositions, and three covers including the Manfred Mann classic, “Pretty Flamingo”.  Sample and buy here.

18. The ArmoiresIncidental Lightshow: The Amoires offer a kaleidoscope of sound over twelve tracks that touch upon baroque pop, psych pop, jangle pop and Power Pop, among other subgenres. The harmonies of Christina Bulbenko and Rex Broome, as well as the musicianship, are superb throughout. Sample and buy here.

17.  The Well WishersComes And Goes: Once again, Jeff Shelton releases hit-after-hit of timeless, crunchy, instantly recognizable — and quite comforting in these uncertain times — rockin’ pop. Listen and buy here.

16.  DropkickBalance The Light: This Scotland-based band releases some of the most consistently engaging takes on the peaceful and easy Southern California guitar rock of the late-60s and early-70s. Sit back and let this one calm frazzled nerves. Listen and buy here.

15.  The JunipersRed Bouquet Fair: The Junipers are purveyors of the most elegant pysch pop, and Red Bouquet Fair combines the psych and the pop masterfully over twelve transcendent tracks. Listen and buy here.

14.  Nada SurfYou Know Who You Are: The flowing, layered guitar strums supported by rhythms that alternate between the pounding and the deceptively restrained make this a top accompaniment for speeding down an open highway. Sample and buy here.

13.  Arvidson & Butterflies — S/T: This is pure pop for people in the know, as Arvidson and pals deliver twelve singalong excursions into all manner of 60s-influenced pop rock. Listen and buy here.

12.  Bertling Noise LaboratoriesThe Flehmen Response: This late-2015 release was my “go to” listen for the early part of 2016. Nick Berling writes perfect pop tunes tinged with more-than-occasional melancholy. Just listen to “Sea Shanty.” You’ll know exactly what we mean. Listen and buy here.

11. PropellerFall Off The World: Greg Randall and Will Anderson deliver ten hook-filled rockin’ pop nuggets that should be played loudly at your next party. Your guests will swoon over “Wish I Had Her Picture,” and wonder where they heard it back in the 70s. Listen and buy here.

Instincts Pay Off For Nick Piunti

piuntiGuest Review By Dave Caruso

With the hook-filled and infectious Trust Your Instincts, Detroit-area Power Pop veteran Nick Piunti has made his best album so far.  This is not hyperbole.  There are many reasons why so many music reviewers and bloggers are making such a big deal about it.

Make no mistake, Trust Your Instincts has all the hallmarks of a great Nick Piunti album (and they’re all great).  Fans will recognize his edgy, guitar-based band arrangements, his signature wordplay (see “As Far As I Throw”), his themes of loss and longing and the familiar pop influences which pervade the grooves.

Nick has been writing and recording since the early days of his first band Dwarf (1972 – 1986).  More recently, he released a handful of albums with his band, The Respectables (2005-2010).  But with each new solo release (2013 – today), Nick’s songwriting has grown incrementally tighter and more commercial and his artistry has continued to mature.  This is especially noticeable in the finer details, like his well-crafted bridge sections, and his meta last line of “Stay Where You Are:” “I think I’m gonna fade out.”

Piunti has never sounded more confident.  His vocals and harmonies (see “One Hit Wonder”) are his strongest yet. The album mix is gorgeous.

His world-class band (primarily Nick on vocals and guitars, Donny Brown on drums, Andy Reed on bass & synth, Ryan Allen on additional guitars) is firing on all cylinders and in harmony with one another.  Nick has clearly trusted each player with more freedom within the song arrangements.  At every opportunity, they conspire to lob sneaky little molotov cocktails of melodic catchiness at your ear canals, setting off chain reactions in stereo.  (See “Blame in Vain.”)

On Mr. Piunti’s previous album, the lack of keyboards threatened to limit the amount variety of depth in the arrangements.  But with his latest endeavor, there’s more color and texture in the guitar chords bass parts and stereophonic effects than ever before, making the overall sound fuller and more interesting without the need for synth layering.  Just listen to “Stay Where You Are” and “This Ain’t the Movies” for proof:

 

 

No opportunity for a musical hook is wasted and yet, thanks in no small part to the steady and tasteful drumming, there’s still plenty of space for the music to breathe.  “Vaguely Familiar” demonstrates this perfectly.  I also like the way the ending chord doesn’t resolve.

 

One thing is certain about Trust Your Instincts. Nick has learned to listen to his own advice.

Trust Your Instincts by Nick Piunti is available at iTunes, Amazon.com, Bandcamp and more.

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Dave Caruso is a melodic pop indie songwriter, singer and multi-instrumentalist from Detroit, Michigan.  His influences include: Elvis Costello, Neil Finn, Elton John, Del Amitri, Ben Folds, The Beach Boys and The Beatles.

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.

Tracklist:

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.

Tracklist:

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”

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.

The “Signature Sound” On Pop That Goes Crunch Radio

51Mo7M-Z1xLAt its new home, Pop That Goes Crunch Radio now has more than 2,600 tracks spinning in regular rotation. We are still adding them as fast as we can.

We have culled that mighty playlist into a 300+ track playblock that we call “The Signature Sound.” This playblock, featuring the hand selected “best of the best” from our library, will run every Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoon from 3 pm Pacific (6 pm Eastern) to 5 pm Pacific (8 pm Eastern).

The playblock features favorites by well-known artists such as Teenage Fanclub, Sloan, The Pernice Brothers, The Go-Betweens, Cotton Mather, The Jam, Blondie, Elvis Costello, Big Star, The Kinks and, of course, The Beatles, but also includes many tracks from artists that made our year-end “best of lists” over the past three years. The 2015 lists can be found here and here. If you have only two hours to devote to the radio in any given week, this is the place to spend them. Guaranteed.

Not convinced? Well, here is one of the finest tracks gracing the “Signature Sound” playblock:

Happy listening!

 

We Get Stacks And Stacks Of Records!

Well, digital files — and lots of them — but you get the idea.

Here’s the first of several round-ups of worthy new music that has recently crossed our virtual desk.

a2459102903_16Bertling Noise Laboratories, The Flehmen Response: Chicago-based multi-instrumentalist Nick Bertling “writes the songs, plays the instruments, sings the words, [and] records it.” He does all of those things quite well on his second solo outing.

Despite the monicker under which Bertling records, The Flehmen Response is not an exercise in noise pop. Instead, it fits squarely within the melodic rock idiom, alternating effortlessly between upbeat rockers, quieter acoustic expressions, and the occasional left-field sonic exploration.

These contrasts begin immediately on The Flehmen Response.  The opening track, fittingly titled “My Opening Remarks,” is a piano-based rumination on life lived previously, and the promise (and possible dread) of the unknowable future. “Radio” is sunny, slightly rocking pop song, the sort that once frequented the radio. The swaying, acoustic “Sea Shanty” is enlivened by occasionally soaring keyboards. “I Don’t Want To Rock” thumbs its nose at rock ‘n’ roll posturing, while rocking quite nicely indeed. The standout track, “You Won’t Know Me,” will have you singing along unconsciously, even as it takes you on unexpected twists and turns:

The Flehmen Response was released at the tail end of 2015. It’s a shoo-in, however, for my “best of” list for 2016. That is quite an achievement from the perspective of late-January.

a0371773716_16Coke Belda, Nummer Zwei: This is another late-2015 release destined for my year-end “best of” list. Nummer Zwei delivers hit-after-hit-after-hit. It is filled to overflowing with non-stop hooks, beautiful stacked vocal harmonies (supplied exclusively by Belda), and sharp, pointed musicianship that thrills repeatedly without becoming indulgent.

The bouncy “Rainbow” kicks off the festivities, with those layered harmonies on prominent display, and punctuated by synth lines ripped from the mid-70s. “You’re Not In Love” is the first of several “gentle” guitar-based rockers. Its combination of jangle and rhythm will have you bopping along within moments. “Hold Me Tight” explores similar sonic territory, until its vocal harmonies chime in and transport you to the early-60s. “Another  ****ing Song,” the second in a two-song mini-suite of tracks about songwriting, rocks quite nicely for two minutes, and then hits even harder with some of the finest high-register singing put to rockin’ pop music in quite some time:


The hits, though, don’t stop there. Not even close.

“Mustard Trees” is a jaunty, hook-laden pop rocker that walks generally in Beatle-y territory. If you listen carefully toward the end, however, you’ll detect a bit of guitar shredding at the bottom of the mix. Tasty slide guitar nicely compliments the somewhat winsome “Where I Am.” “It Shines For You” is a pounding rocker punctuated by the occasional shiny guitar.

Nummer Zwei is a big leap in quality over Belda’s first solo outing, which itself is quite good. You can get  both for one low price at Belda’s Bandcamp page. That could be the best music deal of the year.

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Several tracks from The Flehman Response and Nummer Zwei can be heard in regular rotation at Pop That Goes Crunch Radio, which has a new home and can be accessed directly from this page. Just click on the “Listen Live” headphone icon at the top of the sidebar to your right, and you will land on our player page. You can also click on the “Pop That Goes Crunch Radio” link above the title on this page for more information, and a link to the player page as well.

Happy listening!

 

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