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Archive for the tag “International Pop Overthrow”

Nushu’s “Precious To Me” Improves On A Classic

NushuIn its broadest sense, Power Pop is well-suited to the radio. The songs are short. They’re concise. They’re usually uncluttered. They favor harmony, melody and hooks over everything else. They eschew guitar noodling, drum solos and banshee-like singing. They don’t take themselves too seriously. Their goal is to bash around in your brain for hours and days on end.

Power Pop once was played on the radio, particularly in the early days of the “New Wave” of the late-70s and early-80s. The Knack, The Romantics, Cheap Trick and The Cars had several big hits back in the day.

In early-1981, the late Phil Seymour had his only American Top 40 hit with a brilliant two-minute, fifty-one second pop confection called “Precious To Me.” Its a fairly typical tale of love, hurt and longing. You know, a theme that has been done a gazillion times in pop music. But that, of course, is part of its charm. The other part of its charm is its wonderful, endlessly singable “call-and response” chorus, amid head-swaying drums and rhythm guitar:

That your precious to me (I love you so)
And I can’t let you go (Can’t let you go)
Baby one day you will see (Girl can’t you see)
That you’ll always be (You’ll always be)
So precious to me

The folks in the Southern California band Nushu — Lisa Mychols and Hilary Burton (more on Mychols in a piece to come) — had the extremely good sense and taste to cover “Precious To Me” in 2011, and contribute their version of the song to the 14th installment of the International Pop Overthrow series.

Nushu actually improves on Seymour’s original, which is quite an achievement, by widening the sound and adding a smooth, even-more-sunny-sunshine sheen to the proceedings. Their version will keep you popping and bopping as you drive around town with the top down. You should go get it, but you can listen to it right here:

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Powerpopaholic Fest Volume One: 18 “Hits” By 18 Original Artists

Powerpoaholic

Powerpop compilations are a good bargain. You get a lot of songs, by a lot of different artists. They’re inexpensive. You get an “instant playlist” created by someone else. You also get to sample tracks you may have overlooked or never knew even existed.

The International Pop Overthrow CDs — coniciding witht the annual multi-city Powerpop festivals of the same name — are well-known in this regard. Not Lame Recordings released several spectacular Powerpop complilations before closing its doors in 2010. SymPophony #1 and its Six Years Of Powerpop are particularly noteworthy. The company’s former owner, Bruce Brodeen, continues to release compliations through his new venture, Pop Geek Heaven.

The “Original Soundtrack” to the Powerpaholic Fest held this past September in Port Jefferson, New York, is a newcomer to the field, and its also a good one. The collection is put out by the folks behind the Powerpopaholic blog, which has been listed on the blogroll on the right-side of this page for the past year.

The really good stuff in this set comes early.

Lannie Flowers kicks off the set. “Give Me A Chance,” from his 2008 release Same Old Story, itself appears on at least two Powerpop compilations that I have, and for good reason. Its a jangle pop classic that will stew around in your mind for days and days. “Come On Girl,” on this collection, is in the same vein with its perfect melodic hooks and jangly guitars right out of 1965. Here it is:

Cliff Hillis, who sang and played on Starbelly’s classic 1998 release Lemonfresh — about which I wrote recently on another site — contributes “Taking Tree” from his recent release, Dream Good. The song conjures XTC and late-60s Kinks, and throws in short, bouncy beats to keep you bopping.

“Every Now And Then” by The Honeymoon Stallions sound like a lost track from John Lennon’s Double Fantasy. “Bawl And Change” by King Washington harkens to the early-70s days of Badfinger and Big Star. Eytan Mirsky’s “Another Week Or Two” is pure pop goodness that flies by in its 3 minutes, 41 seconds.

Is everything on the “Original Soundtrack” as good as those five songs? Of course not. But the collection runs the gamut of the broad genre of Powerpop, from simple songs with loud, fast bright and shiny guitars to introspective pieces with more complex arrangements.

In a perfect world, the set would give you 18 big fat hits by 18 original artists, just like the old K-Tel collections from the 1970s. The Powerpopahlic folks even made their own “K-Tel style commercial” to commemorate the release:

Go check out the Powerpopaholic “Original Soundtrack.” Complete tracks can be sampled, and the entire collection purchased in any format you desire, on Bandcamp. And, for good measure, all profits go to Sandy relief efforts.

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