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Seven Decades Of Melodic Rock & Roll

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

radio

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.

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.

 

 

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 Ice Cream Man Scores A Hat Trick

a0153222958_16Pop That Goes Crunch radio has now streamed more than 100 editions of the Ice Cream Man Power Pop And More Show, on which Wayne Ford spins a beguiling mix of Power Pop, New Wave, Punk Rock, Mod, Ska, Garage Rock, Northern Soul, etc., etc., etc.  The show airs three times a week — Thursday at 7 pm Pacific, Friday at 1 pm Pacific, and Saturday at 8 am Pacific.

Wayne has just released his third annual, 100% free and 100% legal compilation downloads. This one, cleverly titled Power Popsicle Brain Freeze, delivers a whopping 139 tracks. That is nearly seven hours of music! You can get it from the Futureman Records site on Bandcamp, and they won’t take your money even if you were so inclined to offer it. Get it right here, no risk at all.

So, where to start?

Well, your humble servant is here to help, with the first in a series of posts on some of the finest spins on Power Popsicle Brain Freeze. We’ve happily added many tracks from the download to Pop That Goes Crunch Radio. The scientific word for the actual number is “oodles.”

So, without further chit chat, let’s start digging. The focus will be on artists and bands that have not been discussed previously on this site, and the order is pertinent to nothing in particular.

The Stoplight Roses, A Bomb Goes Off. The Stoplight Roses hail from Atlanta, Georgia, and take their name from the Nick Lowe tune of the same title. A Bomb Goes Off lays out a bit of personal history, and nicely encapsulates the band’s overall mix of vintage Power Pop, Garage Rock and Alt-Country. Its also one of the finest songs of the year:

Arvidson & Butterflies, Tired Of Running. Roger Arvidson and crew hail from Gothenberg, Sweden. Their self-titled debut is a must buy for jangle-holics who also like the occasional stomper. The relentlessly uptempo Tired Of Running jangles with them best of them, and features some nice harmonizing to boot:

Butch Young, Persephone. Butch Young’s long-player, Mercury Man, achieved a rare feat on Pop That Goes Crunch Radio — we added the entire album. Young spends his time in and around the pop-psych genre. “Peresphone,” one of the standouts on Mercury Man, finds him in decidedly Beatle-y territory, without succumbing to cliche:

Solarflairs, Stereo Alley. Solarflairs is a Power Pop-inspired band from Memphis, Tennessee. They have two tracks on Power Popsicle Brain Freeze. We’re partial to the sharp guitar that propels Stereo Alley, which would feel quite at home on a mid-late 80’s indie pop playlist:

Ed Ryan, Everything’s Gonna Be Alright: Ryan’s recently-released long-player, Roadmap, is a rocker with nonstop hooks. You know, a characteristic of almost all rock ‘n’ roll back in the day. That makes it timeless, not timed out. Everything starts with a sharp guitar riff, which gives way to a classic, fulsome Power Pop sound:

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So, there’s five stellar tracks to get you started with Power Pop Brain Freeze. Check back soon for five more.

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!

 

Top 10 EPs of 2015

a3090438272_16

Andy Reed is a perennial on this blog, whether as a solo artist, a producer, a sound engineer or as a member of The Legal Matters, who grabbed the top slot on my list of the best albums of 2014. It is therefore fitting that his 2015 EP, Relay Vol. 1 captures the top slot of my list of the finest EPs of 2015. Relay is five songs, perfectly conceived and executed, beautifully sung and played. There is no excuse at all not to get it.

The other nine EPs that made my 2015 list fit snugly within the rockin’ pop genre dissected throughout this blog. The Crush, The Persian Leaps and The Foreign Films return from my 2014 list. Yorktown Lads have the distinction of making my top EPs and top LP lists with a pair of fine late-2014 releases.

Links are provided for your sampling, streaming and purchasing pleasure.

1.  Andy Reed — Relay Vol. 1

2.  Jeff Litman — Primetime

3.  The Foreign Films — The Record Collector (Side 3)

4.  Yorktown Lads — $200 EP

5.  Chris Richards and the Subtractions — 3Peat -That Covers That (3)

6.  Persian Leaps — High & Vibrate

7.  The Crush — Someone For You

8.  Hidden PicturesCalifornia Plates

9.  Herb Eimerman — Five Dimensional Man

10. Jay GonzalezThe Bitter Suite

Top 40 Albums of 2015

Caddy -- The Better End

We’ve taken some time off lately. Unfortunately, real life occasionally interferes with what is really important.

Nevertheless, we’re back with a run-down of the top long-players of 2015. This year, the list is expanded from 20 to 40, and there will be no list of the top songs of the year.

The decision was made to focus on longer form works, and recognize more artists for releasing music that is engaging over the course of eight or more tracks. Each of the albums on the following list would be a worthy addition to the collection of any serious music listener. A couple of entries were released in late-2014, but were were much more a part of the previous twelve months than they were of 2014.

Caddy’s The Better End captures the number 1 spot on this year’s list. The August 30, 2015 review on this site noted that Thom Dahl spiced his long-player with “rather liberal doses of layered, often jangling and chiming guitars, entrancing mid-tempo rhythms, swirling harmonies, beguiling tempo shifts and sunny, relaxed vibes straight out of early-70s Southern California.” Run, don’t walk, to your nearest electronic portal and get this record immediately, either digitally, on CD or on vinyl. Its one of the finest releases in recent years.

Although each of the long-players on this year’s list fit within the broad spectrum of melodically-based rockin’ pop, there is substantial variation in the mix, including old-school rock, acoustic pop, baroque pop, Americana, punk rock, and much more. Links are provided for your sampling, streaming and, of course, purchasing.

1.  CaddyThe Better End

2.  PugwashPlay This Intimately (As If Among Friends)

3.  Nick PiuntiBeyond The Static

4.  William DukeThe Dark Beautiful Sun

5.  The New Trocaderos — Thrills & Chills

6.  Love AxeSouth Dakota

7.  Stereo TigerTwo Weeks

8.  The HangaboutsIllustrated Bird

9.  The Junior League Also Rans

10. Susan JamesSea Glass

11. Ryan Allen & His Extra ArmsHeart String Soul

12. Cleaners From VenusRose Of The Lanes

13. Daniel Wylie’s Cosmic Rough RidersChrome Cassettes

14. The TurnbackAre We There Yet?

15. Michael CarpenterThe Big Radio

16. Steve Robinson & Ed WoltilCycle

17. Mono In StereoLong For Yesterday

18. Kurt BakerPlay It Cool

19. The See SeeOnce, Forever & Again

20. The NinesNight Surfer and the Cassette Kids

21. Pop4 — Summer

22. Gordon WeissIts About Time

23. The PopgunsPop Fiction

24. Yorktown LadsSongs About Girls And Other Disasters

25. Gretchen’s WheelFragile State

26. Summer FictionHimalaya

27. Travel LanesLet’s Begin To Start Again

28. Joel BoyeaHere Again, And Lost

29. Three Hour TourAction And Heroes

30. DC CardwellPop Art

31. Trip WireGet In & Get Out

32. Dr. Cosmo’s Tape LabBeyond The Silver Sea

33. Brandon SchottCrayons & Angels

34. The Corner LaughersMatilda Effect

35. WattsFlash Of White Light

36. Nato Coles and The Blue Diamond BandPromises To Deliver

37. Jonathan RundmanLook Up

38. The WeaklingsThe Weeklings

39. Plastic MaccaSensation

40. The ConnectionLabor Of Love

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