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Seven Decades Of Melodic Rock & Roll

Archive for the tag “Jangle Pop”

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.

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 Perfect Harmony From The Legal Matters

artworks-000173869094-rrhrps-t500x500We’ve been very, very busy with real life these past six months.

But, we’re back with some exciting news.

The Legal Matters dominated our year-end lists for 2014, capturing the top slot on our album chart, and the number 3 slot on our singles chart. For good measure, band member Andy Reed grabbed the top slot on our list of the best EPs of 2015.

The band’s new album, Conrad, is being released by the very cool Omnivore Recordings, on October 28. However, a free “preview,” of sorts — an “intro” — is available for free at the Noise Trade marketplace. It is highly recommended that you check it out. Immediately.

What will you get?

First, there is a track from the new long-player, “Anything,” which features all of the elements that propelled the self-titled debut to the top of our 2014 album list: strong, bittersweet, lead vocals by Chris Richards, perfect swirling group harmonies, and clean, often jangling guitars. By the time a slide guitar kicks in at the 2:27 mark, you have all the makings of an instant classic.

You will also get a previously unreleased version of the sublime Teenage Fanclub track, “Don’t Look Back,” which is the best kind of cover. It remains generally true to the original vision, but the band spikes its version with loads-and-loads of harmony at which the original only hinted.

The “intro” is rounded out by two tracks from the 2014 release.

“The Legend Of Walter Wright” is the aforementioned Number 3 song of 2014. “We Were Enemies” is one of the more dramatic tracks from the previous long-player, as it alternates effortlessly between low-key acoustic sorrow and pounding, pulsing storm.

Now, stop reading this, get over to Noise Trade, and download  The Legal Matters: An Intro immediately. Another link is right here.

Then, wake up real early on October 28 and get the long-player. You can’t go wrong. It is simply not possible.

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.

 

Dave Caruso’s Tasty Songcraft

Dave Caruso: Carboard Vegas RoundaboutIt’s not all hard-driving Power Pop here at Pop That Goes Crunch. Quieter, more introspective work is occasionally in order. Dave Caruso’s new long-player, Cardboard Vegas Roundabout, fits beautifully into that space and delivers ten finely crafted tunes that sound particularly great on the car stereo (especially with the top down or the sunroof wide open), or on the headphones late at night after a hard day of work or play.

Caruso cites his main influences as “Elvis Costello, Neil Finn, Elton John, Del Amitri, Ben Folds, The Beach Boys and The Beatles.” That’s a rather tall order, but Caruso is more than up to the task.

“Mystery & Sweetness” begins the festivities with a swaying mid-70s vibe and sweet vocal harmonies on top of a beautifully strummed acoustic guitar. The harmonies kick into high gear on the next track, “Champion,” in which Caruso lays down some of the most complex vocal arrangements of the year, and succeeds over-and-over again. “Your Fake Friends” is a relatively driving piece of jangle pop that nicely skewers supposed camaraderie in an age of status updates and social media “likes.” These virtues crystallize in “The Art of Erica,” in which Caruso serves up the bitter with the sweet in a track that likely will find its way onto my year-end “Best Of” list.

Samples of each song on Vegas can be heard on Caruso’s website, where you can purchase the download of the album, as well an extended 22-track CD which includes alternate versions demos, bonus mixes and 12-page booklet with song lyrics, photos, liner notes and credits. Click over there right now, and drink in Caruso’s tasty songcraft.

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.

Cheap Thrills From The New Trocaderos And Quiz Kids

The Quiz Kids

Tapped out by the holidays? Here are two brief recent releases that deliver big bang for small coin.

Quiz Kids, Dynamite!: Quiz Kids is a three-piece “supergroup” of sorts recording for the “micro label,” February Records. This three-song EP was produced, in part, by Mitch Easter, who previously helmed long-players for R.E.M., Game Theory and Velvet Crush, among others.

The Velvet Underground is the most prominent reference point here. The band blends elements of noise pop with strong melodies and an occasional jangle. A lo-fi, analog feel permeates the EP. To that end, Easter assists with an electric sitar on one track, while the other two feature an Electone organ and a Moog synthesizer.

The best of the three offerings, “I Want You To Know,” recalls The Velvets’ “I Can’t Stand It,” with its persistent, steady rhythm and minimal changes:

Dynamite! won’t actually cost you any coin at all, since you can get it free right here, or you can name your own price and drop some cash into the tip jar.

New Trocaderos The New Trocaderos, S/T. This is a two-sided single from Brad Marino and Geoff Palmer of The Connection (which released the No. 14 song on my year-end list of the 20 best songs of 2013), and Kurt Baker. There is nothing fancy at all here. It’s just good old-fashioned rock and roll done flawlessly.

The lead track, “Money Talks” is about as old school as they come, with its Chuck Berry-style lead guitar over a basic rock rhythm and blues structure bolstered by perfectly placed harmonies. “Well money talk and boo–she–waw,” Marino sings a couple of times in this tale of love lost to the guy with the much bigger bank account. Words to live by.

Baker takes lead vocal on “The Kids,” a thematic update on the MC5’s “Shakin’ Street” set amid a tight and shiny New Wave/Power Pop groove ripped from the late-70s. “The Kids” is a paean to the potentially transcendent power of rock and roll. No matter how bad things can get growing up in a seemingly nowhere place, there’s always the music to lead the way: “Sometimes my parents take my records away/But that don’t matter, they’re all in my head/Playing all night and all day, yeah.” Yes, indeed:

So, what are you waiting for? Plunk down a couple of dollars, and get five cool songs you probably haven’t heard yet. Your wallet will hardly notice the difference.

The Britannicas’ “I Got You” Improves On The Del Shannon Original

Del Shannon: SongwriterA couple of nights ago, a link came across the virtual wire to an upload of a track recorded by The Britannicas for the new Del Shannon tribute record released the next day. The Britannicas are a virtual band comprised of “multi-instrumentalists recording from their respective home studios, they are not from the UK or even one particular country.” They also say they are “21st century men and pioneers of trans-continental recording; using modern technology to deliver old school, classic pop music.” In particular, The Britannicas are comprised of Herb Eimerman, Magnus Karlsson and Joe Algeri. The description “old school, classic pop music” describes almost all of the music discussed on this blog.

The tribute tune in question is a cover of “I Got You,” which appears on Shannon’s final release, 1991’s Rock On. “I Got You” is a great song, and Shannon could still hit the high notes shortly before his death. The original version, however, is marred by a clinical, antiseptic early-90’s production style that does not quite withstand the test of time:

The Britannicas cover version erases all that. The production is warm, inviting and, well, quite “old school.” Eimerman’s lead vocals are faithful to Shannon’s original, but add their own distinct personality. They are then punctuated by Algeri’s spot-on backing vocals, most particularly about half-way through the song. Karlsson’s beautiful jangly guitar carries the track from start to finish. The Britannicas version of “I Got You” is the rare cover that actually improves on the original:

The Del  Shannon tribute album, also featuring contributions from Marshall Crenshaw, Frank Black and The Rubinoos (and others) can be sampled and purchased here.

As a bonus, check out the band’s excellent take on my all-time favorite Smiths’ song. “This Charming Man.” Its a guitar extravaganza. Karlsson plays ten guitars on the track, and Eimerman adds a couple to the mix. Its also great “old school, classic pop music,” and its a free download to boot:

The band notes on its Facebook page: “Stefan has sent a drum track to Joe in Australia. Joe has just mixed it and sent it back to Magnus in Sweden to add guitar and vocals. Herb is tuning up his bass in the US. The Britannicas are recording their second album!” Good for us.

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