Pop That Goes Crunch!

Seven Decades Of Melodic Rock & Roll

Archive for the tag “psychedelic”

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.

 

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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.

Sunday Round-Up From The Car Wash

Jeyllybricks

Stuck for a couple of hours at a Wi-Fi enabled car wash to see if they can remove evidence of malicious “keying” by a bunch of unruly heshers in a shopping center parking lot? That presents a grand opportunity to update you on some more recent additions to Pop That Goes Crunch radio.

The Jellybricks, “Probably Me” — Bright and shiny guitar-driven Power Pop by a favorite over at the station, who now have seven tracks spinning in rotation. Love the key line of the chorus: “something’s gotta give, and it’s probably me/there’s a hole in my chest where my heart used to be”:

Orgone Box, “Ticket With No Return” — The Active Listener blog, which is featured at the Blogroll to your right, recently released the “retweaked and perfected” digital version of the 90’s classic long-player, Centauar, on Bandcamp. I added four tracks from Centaur to the station recently, which is more than usual from one album. “Ticket With No Return” is pop-psych perfection, featuring the kind of handmade attention to detail found on such other favorites as Cotton Mather’s Kontiki:

Greater California, “The Foolish Son” — This is five years old. It deserves a whole lot more attention, particularly as summertime starts coming into view. Its beautifully constructed West Coast Pop driven by gorgeous harmonies to savor as the days grow longer:

Gen Pop, “Warm Sun” — Some jaunty, breezy guitar pop from Wisconsin. They’ve got a nine-track, name-your-price download over at Bandcamp that you should check out in full. But in the meantime, drink down the bittersweet summer drink of “Warm Sun” punctuated by some way cool glockenspiel:

Goodman, “Isn’t It Sad” — Michael Goodman creates one-man-band Power Pop with garage rock undertones from his perch in Brooklyn. The rockin’ title track from his new longplayer will have you poppin’ and boppin’ all day long:

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Well, that’s all I’ve got time to share with you today, since my vehicle is close to looking new again. After you’ve checked out these five songs, give a listen to the radio station, right here.

 

Speed Of Live: A Live Record That Is Actually Quite Good

Most live records are kind of lame. They often lack the immediacy that comes with actually being at the recorded performance. Sometimes the playing is ragged. Sometimes the singing is ragged. Sometimes the recording quality is ragged. Sometimes all of the raggedness of a live recording gets covered up by studio lip gloss, thus defeating entirely the concept of a “live” record. You thus are left essentially with new, likely inferior, studio versions of old songs you probably already have. Why bother?

None of that applies to the live released earlier this year by The Grip Weeds called Speed Of Live. The Grip Weeds are a New Jersey band that took their name from John Lennon’s Private Gripweed character in the 1967 film How I Won The War. That, plus a short list of some of the songs they’ve covered in the past, will give you an idea of the musical spectrum from which they hail:

  • “I Can Hear The Grass Grow” — The Move
  • “Down To The Wire” — Buffalo Springfield
  • “She Don’t Care About Time” — The Byrds

Does that mean The Grip Weeds are hopelessly retro and mired in the good old days of the 60s? Not really. They are, first and foremost, a rock and roll band. And they sure can rock. But they are a rock band steeped in the virtues of melody and multi-part harmonies like, well, The Byrds and Buffalo Springfield. And, like those bands, the guitars occasionally jangle and sometimes sound like they came from somewhere in the Middle East.

All of these virtues are evident on Speed Of Live. Immediately after the announcer introduces “this band” as “one of my favorite bands” to start the record, Speed Of Live then proceeds to deliver powerful renditions of thirteen of the band’s best known tracks, and two covers, performed in small clubs in the Northeast. This is hardly a document of cigarette lighter-raised arena rock bloat, replete with endless noodling and solos. It instead shows just how good the band is “in concert.” The singing is sharp. The playing is concise and tight throughout the fifty-seven minutes of bass, guitars and drums.

I can listen to the live version of “Salad Days,” with its occasional “Taxman”-like bassline, over-and-over again. “Infinite Soul,” already one of my favorite songs by the band, has an intimate feel on Speed Of Live as if it was recorded in my living room.

The soaring “Speed Of Life” sounds at least as good live as it does on the band’s last “proper” studio recording, 2010’s Strange Change Machine. “Love’s Lost On You” goes on for six minutes on Speed Of Live, without wasting even one of them. Here’s a shorter version of the song, recorded live in the studio:

The two covers on Speed Of Live? “(So You Want To Be A) Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” by, of course, The Byrds. This version seriously rocks, with absolutely perfect harmonies, spectacular guitar playing and lots of “la la la’s.” They also do one of the best versions of “Shakin’ All Over,” which has been recorded dozens of times, most famously by the Guess Who and The Who.

Speed Of Live is not a live record that is just “not lame.” Its fifty-seven minutes go by in what seems like an instant. There is not a single weak song in the collection, or a dull interlude in any of the fifteen songs. The record sounds great whether you are listening with headphones, or driving around in traffic at the end of a tough day at the office. In other words, Speed Of Live is just great rock and roll by a band that deserves a whole lot more attention than it receives. Go out and get it.

[This appeared originally in the now-defunct MT Weekly]

Hearing The Grass Grow

I made up a category of music: Blatantly Psychedelic Songs.

Sometimes its the sound. Sometimes its the title. Sometimes its both. Most of the songs hail from the late-1960s, of course. The songs are not only “psychedelic,” but they are “blatantly” so.

Some of the finest examples of this entirely made up genre include:

“See Emily Play” — Pink Floyd

“Incense and Peppermints” — Strawberry Alarm Clock

“Pictures of Matchstick Man” — Status Quo

“Paper Sun” — Traffic

And, of course, “Strawberry Fields Forever” — The Beatles

A particularly cool exemplar, however, is “I Can Hear The Grass Grow” by The Move.  Hearing the grass grow? Now that’s blatantly psychedelic.

The Move, unfortunately, did not achieve success in the U.S. as “The Move,” although they were all the rage in the U.K. in the late-60s. They did achieve success in the U.S. when they later morphed into “ELO,” but that’s another story.

Back to listening the growing grass. Here’s some choice verbiage:

My head’s attracted to/Magnetic wave of sound/With streams of coloured circles/Makin’ their way around

I can hear the grass grow/I can hear the grass grow/I see rainbows in the evening

Not the stuff of normal consciousness.

But there’s also the sound:

That’s not only “psychedelic” in a 1960’s sense, but it sounds a lot like “modern rock” or “alternative rock.”

Ahead of its times? Yes, and quite influential on what came next.

“I Can Hear The Grass Grow” and two dozen other choice cuts can be found on an import remastered “Very Best Of” disk:

http://www.amazon.com/Very-Best-Move/dp/B001PP9STI/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1333220087&sr=8-5

A Jangle Pop Christmas

Music has the ability to blow you away. Sometimes, its fun. Sometimes, its meaningful. Sometimes, its surprising.

I decided to listen to a Christmas album during my afternoon commute. It wasn’t your typical Christmas album. It wasn’t sweet or sentimental or traditional. It wasn’t the kind of stuff that pop radio stations play over-and-over again in December.

It was, instead, Under The Influence Of Christmas by the Grip Weeds, and it is “surprising.”

Under The Influence Of Christmas

In fact, “under the influence” is the perfect title. The album is “influenced” by Christmas.  But it is in all respects a rock and roll album that just happens to contain eleven Christmas songs, some traditional, some not.  All are done in the Grip Weeds’ signature rocking, slightly psychedelic, jangle pop style.

The album gets off to a great start with “Christmas Dream,” which just happens to be “The Coolest Song In The World This Week'” on Little Steven’s Underground Garage. Grand and soaring, it’s reminiscent of “Speed Of Life,” which kicked off their 2010 double-CD Strange Change Machine.

Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere & The Raiders fame lends some rougher-hewn vocals to the bluesier original tune “Santa Make Me Good.”

The Pretenders’ “2000 Miles,” with its wistful “it must be Christmastime” plea, gets the full jangle treatment, with guitar assists from Pat Dinizio and Jim Babjak of the Smithereens.

“Merry Christmas All” is a bit of 60’s West Coast sunshine pop about that “very good time of the year.” And so it is.

The band gets (somewhat) traditional on “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “Hark The Herald Angels Sing.” The former gets a driving guitar and swirling organs. The latter is anchored by a beautiful Rickenbacker guitar. Both have gorgeous harmonies.

Toward the end of the set is another original song, “Christmas Bring Us,” which you can hear band members Kristin Pinell and Kurt Reil perform “live” in acoustic glory, here:

It all ends with a rockin’ version of “Welcome Christmas” from none other than How The Grinch Stole Christmas.  Oh, and for good measure, they even cover Jethro Tull and Emerson Lake & Palmer.

Under The Influence Of Christmas (sound clips of the entire set can be heard here) is simply the best Christmas album I have heard. Ever.

Tidings of comfort and joy, indeed.

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