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The Big Show No. 6: 20 Of The Coolest Songs So Far This Year

The Big ShowThis edition of The Big Show spins 20 of the coolest songs released so far this year. Well, technically, one was released in mid-December 2013, but its a 2014 song nevertheless.

Most of the songs played from “20 of the coolest” have been discussed on these pages previously. They were great when I first heard them, and they’re still great. The complete tracklist appears below the embed, but I’ll first say a few words about the songs about which I have not previously written.

honeychain, “I’m On Fire”: This particularly rockin’ version of the Dwight Twilley classic begins the festivities propelled by slashing guitars, a non-stop, pounding beat and Hillary Burton’s cool vocals. It can be found on the quite tasty Dwight Twilley Band tribute album released recently by Zero Hour Records.

The Britannicas, “Got A Hold On Me”: The recently released High Tea by this truly international band is one of the best long-players of the year. True to its title, “Got A Hold On Me” is the kind of song that finds its way into your head when you first wake up in the morning. Its a relentlessly catchy piece of jangle pop marked perfectly by the interplay between Herb Eimerman’s lead vocals and the supporting harmonizing.

The Above, “Do You Have A Healthy Mind?”: The band’s recently released Waterbury Street LP is a wonderful romp through everything good and scared in the Nuggets box set. “Healthy Mind” is stomping and melodic garage rock circa 1964, complete with lyrics like “have you taken your medicine lately/I can’t comprehend you, baby.” Yeah, its stridently retro. And timeless.

The Paul & John, “Inner Sunset”:  The title track from the duo’s recent release is the feel-good song of the year. It also undoubtedly will place high on my list of the best of the year, as will the album. “Don’t let the darkness drag you down” and “let your inner sunset shine.” Words to live by.

Cliff Hillis, “Dashboard”: This is an immediately captivating song. Its three-and-a-half minutes of understated drama, and makes the case for Hillis as being one of the very best songwriters anywhere. “Put your feet up on the dashboard, I don’t mind/we can talk but if not, then that’s just fine,” it starts, setting the tone brilliantly for everything that follows.

Linus Of Hollywood, “Biography”: This is an understated piece of acoustic pop about memories lingering long after love vanishes and the protagonists go their separate ways. The key lyric delivers universal truth: “You can’t write me out of your biography/you can’t take me out of your memory.”

* * * * *

That’s just 6 of 20 of the coolest songs released so far this year. You hear the show in its entirety by clicking below. The complete track list follows.


Track List

1.  honeychain, “I’m On Fire”

2.  The New Trocaderos, “The Kids”

3.  The Jellybricks, “About The Weekend”

4.  Sunrise Highway, “Windows”

5.  The Crush, “Around”

6.  The Britannicas, “Got A Hold On Me”

7.  phonograph, “Don’t Bring Me Down”

8.  The Above, “Do You Have A Healthy Mind?”

9.  The Legal Matters, “The Legend Of Walter Wright”

10. Nick Piunti, “Believe It”

11. The Paul & John, “Inner Sunset”

12. The Corner Laughers, “Midsommar”

13. Trip Wire, “Stay”

14. Propeller, “You Remind Me Of You”

15. Cliff Hillis, “Dashboard”

16. Linus of Hollywood, “Biography”

17. Phil Ajjarapu, “Sing Along Until You Feel Better”

18. Greg Ieronimo, “Roller Coaster Ride”

19. Dropkick, “Halfway Round Again”

20. Attic Lights, “Known Outsider”

 

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Toxic Melons Deserve Your Support

Toxic Melons -- Bus ThearpyThe last post on this site discussed five tracks that proved to be quite popular in the inaugural month of Pop That Goes Crunch radio. One of the highlighted tracks is “Diffidence” by Toxic Melons. I’ve now had a chance to listen to the soon-to-be released Bus Therapy by Paul Fairbairn and pals in its entirety. It is one of the most wildly eclectic pop albums you likely will hear this year, or any other year for that matter. A Kickstarter campaign is nearing its conclusion. Here’s why you should happily contribute to this effort, as I did last month.

Fairbairn says on the Kickstarter page “if you’re a fan of The Beatles, Jellyfish, Queen, The Beach Boys, E.L.O and Power Pop in general, I think you might enjoy the album!” Indeed you will as Bus Therapy takes you on a dizzying roadtrip through the last five decades of pop music in just thirty-three minutes.

The festivities begin rather quickly with “More Or Less,” a song about accepting that not everything in life is black or white but enjoying the “bumper ride” anyway, propelled by swirling keyboards and copious harmonies. “Journey” takes us on the first of many wide left turns — a slow instrumental right up front. “Let Me Sleep” is, well, a rather sleepy track about begging to sleep for another ten minutes and features a nicely placed glam flourish here and there.

The two best tracks come soon thereafter.

“Change The World” is sung beautifully throughout by Linus Of Hollywood. Fairbairn’s keyboards and accordion, and the overall waltzing tempo of the track, give the whole thing a wonderfully circus-like feel.

Keith Klingensmith lends his pitch perfect vocals to the rather jaunty “Not In Love?” which, as far as I can tell, must have knocked an Elton John song off of the top spot on Billboard charts back when I was in elementary school. Like “Change The World,” it also has been added to Pop That Goes Crunch radio.

“Getting Old” wraps piano, strings and trumpet around decidedly craggy vocals about fighting the inevitable. Quite naturally, then, the track is followed by the closer, “Take Me Back” a bit of sublime Beach Boys pop nostalgia about days gone by.

You can stream the whole thing right here:

 

 

 

Five Track Draw: Endless Summer

Endless SummerToday I am starting a new regular feature called “Five Track Draw.” It will focus on five melodic rock tracks that made it to my attention recently by “happenstance,” either through an internet radio service, algorithm or social media, or practically anywhere else as long as I did not purposefully cue them on a listening device.

The focus of this feature will be primarily on lesser known artists, or lesser known tracks by better known artists. The tracks may be new or old (or somewhere in between) because even old music is “new” if you haven’t heard it.

This first installment comes via internet radio. Each has a lighter feel, with The Beach Boys looming as the primary influence as summer fades increasingly further into the rear-view mirror.

Sunrise Highway, “Endless Summer”: This could easily be a Beach Boys sound-a-like, but grafting its seamless, endless harmonies onto jangly twelve-string guitars lifts this song far from the realm of the mere copycats:

Bryan Estepa, “Western Tale”: Its six-minute length is usually a red flag for me since songs should remain the three-minute range. But this is actually a couple of songs rolled into one, and moves along at a brisk pace with its soaring harmonies and production and background vocals supplied by Michael Carpenter, about whom I have written previously. The first line of the chorus — “And if the tide is high, baby move over, and over and over” — can stick in your head for days:

Adrian Whitehead, “Cailtlin’s 60’s Pop Song”: The title does not lie. This is indeed a 60s pop song anchored by piano, harmony and analog-styled production from days gone by. That makes this song about a girl “so beautiful . . . from above” very pretty without sounding like a museum piece:

Linus Of Hollywood, “Heavenly”: This one amps up the 60s sunshine pop vibe (as much as sunshine pop can be amped up) by adding a driving beat to the mix by the time the chorus kicks in. Otherwise, you get big doses of swirling multi-voiced harmonies, strings, keyboards and upper register lead vocals:

Frank Bango, “Summerdress”: Who needs autumn sweaters and winter coats when you can sing giddily for a few minutes about pretty girls in summer dresses? Bango’s circa-1978 Elvis Costello-esque vocals work nicely over the organs and strings on the most relentlessly upbeat song of this post:

You can’t go wrong with either of these sweet sounds of summer as we head through autumn.

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