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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.

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We’re Giving Away 3 Copies Of Nick Piunti’s New Release!

piuntiNick Piunti is on a roll.

His 2013 release, 13 In My Head was one of the best long-players of 2013. The title track landed at No. 3 on our list of the best songs of 2013. His 2015 release, Beyond The Static was our third favorite long-player of last year.

Piunti’s 2016 long-player, Trust Your Instincts, hits the retail outlets on September 9. It may be his best effort yet: ten tracks featuring his increasingly sharp and incisive writing, tough and shiny guitar riffing, and the best damned vocals in the entire rockin’ pop world. Even better, Piunti is expertly assisted by some of our other faves: Donny Brown on drums, percussion and backing vocals; Andy Reed on bass and synth; and Ryan Allen on guitars, backing vocals and percussion. In reality, this is classic rock ‘n’ roll with big hooks and expert production. It is also a candidate for album of the year.

Even much better, you can win a free copy of the CD! That’s right, we are giving away three copies of Trust Your Instincts, courtesy of the fine folks at JEM Records.

Here is what you need to do:

Send an e-mail to popgoescrunch@gmail.com by 3:00 p.m. Pacific time on September 8, and answer two questions.

1. Why do you like Nick’s music?

2. What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

Be creative. The best three submissions win. We’ll announce the winners on the morning of September 9.

In the meantime, you can stream the first two tracks from Trust Your Instincts, in full.

Here’s the title track, in all of its Power Pop glory:

 

And, on “One Hit Wonder,” Piunti pens a tale of a music industry shooting star that nevertheless has universal applicability:

 

Enough chit chat for now. Get e-mailing!

The Big Show #11: Twenty-Two Rockin’ Pop Songs For Your Listening Pleasure

Retro RadioThe eleventh edition of The Big Show spins twenty-two rockin’ pop songs for your listening pleasure.

It features recently released music by Nick Piunti, Dave Caruso, The Persian Leaps, Lisa Mychols 3, Jet Black Sunrise and Rick Hrmodka, as well as an archival, previously un-released track by Spinning Jennies.

Perennial favorites The Grip Weeds check in with a cover of The Byrds’ “She Don’t Care About Time.” This is followed by a set of neo-60’s tracks by the Boston-based band The Forz, The Kaisers, as well as “The Wonders” doing the theme song from the film That Thing You Do.

Rounding it all out is Guided By Voices doing “Surgical Focus,” The Grapes Of Wrath doing “Isn’t There” and a classic piece of West Coast Pop by The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band. Of course.

There is, quite naturally, much, much more. The complete track list appears after the embed

So, give it a spin, and check out the main mix at Pop That Goes Crunch radio, streaming 24/7.

Tracklist:

1.  Nick Piunti, “Time Machine”

2.  The Grapes Of Wrath, “Isn’t There”

3.  The Grip Weeds, “She Don’t Care About Time”

4.  The Forz, “What Can I Say”

5.  The Wonders, “That Thing You Do”

6The Kaisers, “Shake Me”

7.  Dave Caruso, “Your Fake Friends”

8.  John McMullan, “You Are Dreaming”

9.  The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, “If You Want This Love”

10. The Persian Leaps, “(Goodbye To) South Carolina”

11. Guided By Voices, “Surgical Focus”

12. Mothboxer, “Sunrise”

13. The American Professionals, “Other People”

14. The Marvelous Beauhunks, “Top Of The World”

15. Baby Scream, “Unicorns”

16. Lisa Mychols 3, “Ready For Action”

17. Spinning Jennies, “I Before E”

18. Jet Black Sunrise, “Granite”

19. Roto’s Magic Act, “Happier Than Ever”

20. Rick Hromodka, “It’s All In Your Head”

21. Zeus Henderson, “In Black And White”

22. Who Hit John, “Winslow Winston”

Some More New Music Treats For Sunday

Nick PiuntiIts Sunday. That means its time for a round-up of some of the recently-added tracks streaming 24/7 at Pop  That Goes Crunch radio. This week features a bevy of great new music.

Nick Piunti, “Believe It”: This is one of two bonus songs on the forthcoming vinyl release of 13 In My Head, the title track of which captured the number three slot on my “best of 2013.” “Believe It” is a classic mid-tempo guitar rocker anchored by Piunti’s distinctive vocals. If there is a better rock singer around today, I have yet to hear him or her:

Grant Lindberg, “Whatever”: Lindberg is a prolific “one-man band recording rock music in the vein of Superdrag, Brendan Benson, Cheap Trick, Jason Falkner, Nirvana and Ash.” I’ve added three songs from his new long-player, Artificial Inspiration, to the station. “Whatever” does quite a good job of pounding its way relentlessly into your mind for a couple of minutes. Before you know it, you’ll be singing to yourself “whatever you want, whatever you want, whatever you need, whatever you need” over-and-over again:

The New Mendicants, “Cruel Annette”: The New Mendicants feature Joe Pernice and Norman Blake. They take turns singing lead on “Cruel Annette,” and they also create absolutely gorgeous harmonies together. “Cruel Annette” is that rare song that manages to be both relaxed and rather rocking at the same time:

Evil Arrows, “Gods of Light”: Bryan Scary is on a roll with Evil Arrows. I featured the very cool “Jennifer Kills The Giant (Once A Week)” in a recent post. “Gods of Light” has a similar slightly off-kilter mid-80’s English new wave pop and 70’s glam feel to it. In my book, that makes it rather brilliant:

Greg Ieronimo, “Roller Coaster Ride”: Ieronimo recently released a seven-track kind-of long-player of fairly elaborate and lushly produced Power Pop. The entire album is recommended, and can be downloaded here. “Roller Coaster Ride” kicks off the set perfectly by throwing what seems like a couple of dozen hooks your way in the first twenty seconds:

Wait, there’s more:

I’ve added both of the Nick Piunti bonus tracks to the station. The other track, “Quicksand” is an acoustic piece featuring more of those great vocals, and one of the most inviting choruses you’ll likely hear this year:

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Each of these songs, along with nine-hundred others, are spinning 24/7 on Pop That Goes Crunch radio. Support the artists, buy their music and check out the station while you are at it.

Late Summer “Mini” Reviews

Time does have a tendency to fly away. Here are some short takes on some of the best albums of 2013 that have been recently spinning on my music device:

Eric Barao, Eric Barao: Barao’s lushly produced debut album recalls Elvis Costello’s Imperial Bedroom with its swirling melodies, complex arrangements, occasional instrumental flourishes and tales of broken hearts. The lead track, “On Holiday,” with its tension-release structure and Barao’s strong vocals, is a candidate for song of the year:

 

Nick Piunti, 13 In My Head: Piunti’s debut evokes one of my other all-time favorites, The Replacements. He employs a more basic approach. Bass, guitars and drums propel succinct bursts of timeless powerpop that could have been recorded at any time since 1972. Piunti’s Paul Westerberg-meets-Faces-era-Rod-Stewart vocals, and pitch-perfect backing harmonies, should make this a car stereo favorite for years to come. Selecting a “best” song is difficult — there is not a misfire among the ten tracks — but the mid-tempo “On the Way Out” is a good place to start:

 

The Dead Girls, Fade In/Fade Out: Think Big Star, but about a dozen pounds heavier. Fade In/Fade Out has all of the requisite melodic rock elements discussed throughout this site, but amped up with big riffs and occasionally even bigger percussion. “Find Your Way To Me (Oh My Soul)” is the best six-minute plus song Big Star never recorded. For good measure, the band closes the collection with a perfect, harmony-filled cover of Chris Bell’s enduringly beautiful “You And Your Sister”:

 

Scott Brookman, Smellicopter: Brookman has been quietly self-releasing sunny pop gems for quite some time. His 2000 release, For Those Who Like POP, has gotten quite a few spins on iPhone. Smellicopter, though, is his best excursion to date into Beach Boys/Bacharach territory. The second track, “Summer’s Two Weeks Notice” might be the best exemplar of Brookman’s basic style with its decidedly Pet Sounds vibe, but I’m kind of partial to more jaunty “Very Anne”:

 

Lisa Mychols, Above Beyond & In Between: I’ve written previously about Mychols as a member of the Masticators and Nushu. Her third solo album is a perfect distillation of everything that was once great about AM radio, transported to 2013. Its twelve tracks of non-stop hooks and melodies that would sound great on a long, sunny day at the beach. It proudly flashes its influences, but is no mere nostalgia project. A proper, well-produced video for the terrific ballad “Ferris Wheel” can be found here, but Mychols’ own homemade, low-fi clip for the upbeat “Foolin’ The World” is far more endearing:

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So, there’s five of my favorite albums of 2013. Each are worthy of extended play. Tell me what you think.

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