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Seven Decades Of Melodic Rock & Roll

Archive for the tag “punk rock”

We’re Giving Away Three Copies Of Ryan Allen’s New CD!!

allenBasement Punk, the new long-player by Ryan Allen and His Extra Arms, is a shoo-in for our year-end Top Ten list. You can read the full review right here.

Early reviews are in full agreement.

Alan Haber wrote on his Pure Pop Radio blog that Basement Punk “takes charge with strong melodies and ace playing and never lets up.” Don Valentine wrote of Allen on his I Don’t Hear A Single blog that “[m]any of you know how I bang on about Dom Mariani and Tommy Keene, well they now have a contender and a serious one.” Powerpopaholic gave Basement Punk an “8” rating, calling it “Highly Recommended.” The Soul of A Clown blog stated that the songs on Basement Punk “create the perfect blend of melody with a bit of attitude.” Power Pop News proclaimed, “[s]imply put, Basement Punk is great rock ‘n’ roll.”

It most certainly is, and we are giving away three copies of Basement Punk on disk. Among other things, our review notes that the album’s lead track, “Watch Me Explode,” “splits the difference between Power Pop and Punk Rock — assuming, of course, that the two genres really are that different.”

Are they different? If so, how?

Tell us by sending an e-mail to popgoescrunch@gmail.com by 3:00 p.m. Pacific time on Friday, October 7, and perhaps you will walk away with a free copy of Basement Punk. There are, of course, no “right” or “wrong” answers.

In the meantime, you can stream the entire album, in full, right here.

Enough chit chat. Start entering.

 

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State Of The Art Power Pop From Ryan Allen

a3676489916_16First impressions of new music are often misleading. The tendency to over-rate, or under-rate, upon an initial listen is ever-present. It has happened hundreds and hundreds of times over the years.

Not so with Basement Punk, the third long-player by Ryan Allen & His Extra Arms. My first reaction was that Allen delivers “one-hit-after-another.” Repeated listens confirms that Allen delivers “one-hit-after-another” — no if’s, and’s or but’s.

Basement Punk is an eleven-track, thirty-four minute romp through state-of-the-art Power Pop, with sound checks of old school punk rock, mid-60s pop rock and early-90s fuzz pop. Allen handles all of instrumentation — guitar, bass, drums, keys, percussion and lead and backing vocals — with expert execution. Mixing and mastering by the inimitable Andy Reed ensures that Basement Punk hits all the right sonic spots, particularly when played as loud as the material demands.

And it demands attention from its very first notes of feedback on the rousing, and perfectly titled, “Watch Me Explode,” which splits the difference between Power Pop and Punk Rock — assuming, of course, that the two genres really are that different. That “Watch Me Explode” works so perfectly is confirmed by the unconscious head-bopping and foot-tapping it inspires:

Album flow is often overlooked, but not here as the jangly “Chasing A Song” works as the perfect follow-on to “Explode.” In turn, it sets the table for the brilliant “Alex Whiz,” the best of set to these ears. I’m not a fan of comparisons to the work of others, but, what the heck. Put “Alex Whiz” on Teenage Fanclub’s Bandwagonesque or Thirteen and it would feel quite at home with its gentle fuzzy pop stylings:

The hits they keep-a coming.

“Basement Punks” is a spirited paean to the DIY-spirit. The sweet nostalgia of “Mal & Ange” picks up sonically and lyrically where “Alex Whiz” left off, except from the opposite perspective.  “Gimmie Some More” is a straight-up rocker that stays decidedly outside the middle-of-the-road.

Allen ups the tempo nicely on a punkier pair — “Two Steps Behind” and “Without A Doubt.” Two mid-tempo tracks, however, round out Basement Punk with aplomb and grace.

“People Factory” spikes mindless conformity with an unforgettable melody ripped from 1965. The closer, “Everything In Moderation” provides words (perhaps)  by which to live after laying down a perfect initial riff you swear you’ve heard before, but you haven’t. 

That pretty much sums up Basement Punk, a work of great originality steeped in familiar rock ‘n’ roll traditions. If it has any flaws, I have yet to hear them, and it easily will find a slot in my year-end Top 10. Get it right here, digitally, beginning September 30, on or disk from the fine folks at Kool Kat Musik.

And speaking of disks, we will be giving some away, real soon. Watch this space for more details.

Top 40 Albums of 2015

Caddy -- The Better End

We’ve taken some time off lately. Unfortunately, real life occasionally interferes with what is really important.

Nevertheless, we’re back with a run-down of the top long-players of 2015. This year, the list is expanded from 20 to 40, and there will be no list of the top songs of the year.

The decision was made to focus on longer form works, and recognize more artists for releasing music that is engaging over the course of eight or more tracks. Each of the albums on the following list would be a worthy addition to the collection of any serious music listener. A couple of entries were released in late-2014, but were were much more a part of the previous twelve months than they were of 2014.

Caddy’s The Better End captures the number 1 spot on this year’s list. The August 30, 2015 review on this site noted that Thom Dahl spiced his long-player with “rather liberal doses of layered, often jangling and chiming guitars, entrancing mid-tempo rhythms, swirling harmonies, beguiling tempo shifts and sunny, relaxed vibes straight out of early-70s Southern California.” Run, don’t walk, to your nearest electronic portal and get this record immediately, either digitally, on CD or on vinyl. Its one of the finest releases in recent years.

Although each of the long-players on this year’s list fit within the broad spectrum of melodically-based rockin’ pop, there is substantial variation in the mix, including old-school rock, acoustic pop, baroque pop, Americana, punk rock, and much more. Links are provided for your sampling, streaming and, of course, purchasing.

1.  CaddyThe Better End

2.  PugwashPlay This Intimately (As If Among Friends)

3.  Nick PiuntiBeyond The Static

4.  William DukeThe Dark Beautiful Sun

5.  The New Trocaderos — Thrills & Chills

6.  Love AxeSouth Dakota

7.  Stereo TigerTwo Weeks

8.  The HangaboutsIllustrated Bird

9.  The Junior League Also Rans

10. Susan JamesSea Glass

11. Ryan Allen & His Extra ArmsHeart String Soul

12. Cleaners From VenusRose Of The Lanes

13. Daniel Wylie’s Cosmic Rough RidersChrome Cassettes

14. The TurnbackAre We There Yet?

15. Michael CarpenterThe Big Radio

16. Steve Robinson & Ed WoltilCycle

17. Mono In StereoLong For Yesterday

18. Kurt BakerPlay It Cool

19. The See SeeOnce, Forever & Again

20. The NinesNight Surfer and the Cassette Kids

21. Pop4 — Summer

22. Gordon WeissIts About Time

23. The PopgunsPop Fiction

24. Yorktown LadsSongs About Girls And Other Disasters

25. Gretchen’s WheelFragile State

26. Summer FictionHimalaya

27. Travel LanesLet’s Begin To Start Again

28. Joel BoyeaHere Again, And Lost

29. Three Hour TourAction And Heroes

30. DC CardwellPop Art

31. Trip WireGet In & Get Out

32. Dr. Cosmo’s Tape LabBeyond The Silver Sea

33. Brandon SchottCrayons & Angels

34. The Corner LaughersMatilda Effect

35. WattsFlash Of White Light

36. Nato Coles and The Blue Diamond BandPromises To Deliver

37. Jonathan RundmanLook Up

38. The WeaklingsThe Weeklings

39. Plastic MaccaSensation

40. The ConnectionLabor Of Love

Late Summer Roundup, Volume 3

The calendar, and the weather, says it’s still summer. So here’s the third installment of my roundup of some of the finest tuneage to find its way to my digital desk over the past few months. This time, the focus is on the more rocking end of the spectrum.

Mono In Stereo

Mono In Stereo, Long For Yesterday: Back in the summer of 1984, I combed the traffic-clogged streets of Los Angeles working as a car messenger. College radio was my constant companion. The Minutemen, Husker Du and The Replacements ruled the airwaves, and brought order to those mean streets.

Those days have long since left the rear-view mirror. However, Mono In Stereo, a four-piece band out of Rockford, Illinois, has managed to capture the Spirit of ’84, and has sprinkled it brilliantly over twelve quite fine tunes that run the gamut from blistering punk rock assaults, to pounding anthems that shout their way out of the speakers, to mid-tempo reflections on the past, the present and the future, to Americana-tinged Power Pop, and more. The band calls its approach “Midwest Punk,” and cites its influences as ranging from “Springsteen to Mould, Earle to Costello.” It’s an apt description.

The band lays its cards on the table in the opening track, the rousing “Late Night Confessor” which tips a hat to The Dead Boys’ “Sonic Reducer,” before veering off in its own direction. The pounding title track will have you yelling out its chorus in no time. “What We Sang” is a paean to doing what you love, knowing that others out there certainly feel the same way:

The mid-tempo, “Woke Up In Haight,” has the band showing off a more expansive sound aided, in part, by some sneaky piano supplied by the seemingly ubiquitous Kris “Fingers” Rogers. “Bakersfield” is an eminently catchy Power Pop romp with a country backbone. The closing track, “Another Man’s Time,” is a quiet rumination on crime, punishment, family and mistaken identity:

Long For Yesterday is overflowing with hook-filled, guitar-based rock ‘n’ roll that knows no real boundaries. That’s how the best did it back in ’84, and that’s how Mono In Stereo’s influences do it as well. You can get this timeless music via Bandcamp. You will be glad you did.

Travel Lanes

Travel Lanes, Let’s Begin To Start Again: This four-piece band out of Philadelphia also digs deep into the history of American rock ‘n’ roll, spiking its catchy tunes with liberal doses of R&B swagger, Americana and seeming bar band sloppiness. Travel Lanes, however, is no amateur act. Accomplished playing is instead the order of the day, lifting Let’s Begin toward the head of the class.

Low, crunching guitars and Frank Brown’s menacing vocals let the listener know immediately that the field trip at issue in the opening track, “Class Trip,” might not be the kind of happy event normally associated with elementary school. The next track, “In The World,” lightens the festivities considerably, with its memories of a “summer so sublime.” “Little Out Of Love” sports a mellow, melodic vibe with 70s’s country undertones. “100th I Told You So” is melodic rockin’ pop at its finest. It would climb the charts in alternate universe:

The band returns to darker themes on a couple of slower, largely acoustic Americana tracks,”The Year” — the one where “everything fell apart”– and on the “Death,” both of which are standouts. Hope is not entirely lost, however, as the band quickly serves up the sweet, upbeat “Cream Soda.”

If there are any bum notes, or boring filler, anywhere on Let’s Begin To Start Again, these ears were unable to detect them. Get this highly recommended longplayer from the good folks at Kool Kat Musik.

 

The New Trocaderos Deliver Non-Stop Thrills And Chills

thrillsThis blog has championed the six previously released tracks by The New Trocaderos, the “supergroup” consisting of Brad Marino and Geoff Palmer of The Connection, and Kurt Baker. They scored a track on my list of the best 30 songs of 2014, and nabbed a spot on my list of the best EPs of 2014. I also had the opportunity recently to discuss the band and its future, with Michael Chaney, who primarily pens the lyrics, hooks and melodies that form the bases of the blistering, melodic, real rock ‘n’ roll The Trocs record.

The Trocs just dropped their debut longplayer called Thrills & Chills, which, as advertised, delivers thrill-after-thrill-after-thrill — along with liberal doses of chills — spread over the course of twelve Chaney originals that alternate between glee, pathos, self-deprecation, anger, lust, passion, disinterest, and humor  — sometimes swirling around in the same song. The sound this time is expanded greatly, with the addition of the occasional horn and harmonica, and inclusion of some of the finest backing vocals put down in quite some time courtesy of Palmyra Delran, Kim Shattuck and Line Cecile Dahlmann. Kris “Fingers” Rogers, who played on last year’s EP, returns to deliver tasty some keyboard lines, while The Connection’s Rick Orcutt pounds the drums with controlled abandoned.

The festivities begin with a bang on the loud and unrestrained “What The Hell Did I Do,” with Marino assuming the voice of a misbegotten fellow finding himself tracked by the police after a particularly blurry lost weekend. Next up, “I’m So Bad” proudly flashes its influence, as Marino  swaggers that “I drink a lot more booze than Keith” amid slinky slide guitar fills and a pounding, mid-tempo R&B beat. Close your eyes and “I’m So Bad” might as well be a lost track from Exile On Main Street.

Thrills & Chills changes focus by the third track, “Crazy Little Fool,” with Palmer supplying sweet lead vocals over a decidedly British invasion vibe:

Things get even more interesting on “Love Anymore,” a bit of updated doo-wop with Baker contributing lead vocals that Chaney describes as being in an “Elvis style, ala ‘Good Luck Charm.'” Throw in some swaying call and response backing vocals, and understated, melodic piano by Rogers, and you have an unexpected stroke of genius. “Love Anymore” also sports one of the great lines of the year, when Baker sings “You’re getting calls from a whole lot of men, and one of them’s older than Roger McGuinn”:

Thrills & Chills shows that Chaney can write, and The New Trocaderos can sing and play, in virtually any style that is part of the basic rock idiom — blues, country, rockabilly, jangle pop, power pop, doo-wop, punk rock, garage rock, etc., etc., etc. Put it all together and you get timeless rock ‘n’ roll for the modern world. Marino, Palmer and Baker also make their own each of the songs they sing, with their distinctive vocals and lead guitar playing placing indelible personal stamps onto Chaney’s fine compositions. Thrills & Chills is year-end Top 10 stuff.

You can get Thrills & Chills right here. When you do — and there is no excuse not to get it immediately — turn it up way past 11, and sing along at the top of your lungs. Great happiness will ensue. Guaranteed.

The Ice Cream Man Does It Again

Ice Cream Man -- Got It LickedOver at Pop That Goes Crunch Radio, we proudly broadcast to the planet the Ice Cream Man Power Pop And More show. Each week, Wayne Ford spins a delectable mix of some of the finest Power Pop, New Wave, Northern Soul, Ska, Garage Rock and Mod sounds ever put to wax, tape, disk and 1’s and 0’s. Last September, Wayne assembled a gigantic, free download of some the highlights of the first year of his show. We featured it right here.

Last week, however, Wayne topped himself by dropping a ginormous collection of — hold your breath on this one — 109 tracks that you can download for absolutely free, legally and with no strings attached. This bit of sonic generosity is likely unprecedented in human history. The good folks over at Futureman Records are hosting it right here for your downloading delight.

Many of the tracks on the compilation are by artists that are perennials on this blog, and over at Pop That Goes Crunch radio, including The Hangabouts, Propeller, Gretchen’s Wheel, Muscle Souls, Eric Barao (doing my number 1 song of 2013), Phil Ajjarapu, Chris Richards & The Subtractions, Nick Piunti, Trip Wire, and Watts. But, with 109 tracks in all, you can do a deep dive (or two or three) and discover a whole lot of new artists for further exploration over the wide variety of genres that Wayne features regularly on his show.

Got It Licked is easily the compilation of the year. Nothing can possibly come close in sheer breadth, quality and rocking bliss. You would be remiss not to let your fingers and mouse do the walking over to the Futureman page and download 109 songs for zilch.

Need further prompting? Check out Daniel Wylie’s Cosmic Rough Riders doing “Another Wasted Day,” as it appears on Got It Licked:

The Big Show #5: Back To The 70s

Ramones -- Rocket To Russi

This edition of The Big Show time travels back to the 1970s with seventy minutes rockin’ pop, New Wave and old school Punk Rock for your listening pleasure.

It starts with the first song I ever heard by The Ramones, “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker” from their third long-player, Rocket To Russia. As I mention on the show, I was eleven years old when their first LP was released, and eleven-year olds did not have access to anything like that in 1975. By 1977, however, things had started to change and, aided by the utter derision of an old-school music appreciation teacher that told her classes that they should not under any circumstances listen to that demon music called “punk rock,” I was primed to move beyond the mainstream.

“Back To The 70s” also includes one of my all-time favorite songs, “Teenage Kick” by The Undertones, a track from The Buzzcocks’ Singles Going Steady (probably the single best compilation ever put together) a set of less-well-known Power Pop from the late-70s by The Secrets* (the asterisk is intentional), Gary Charlson and The Names, as well as the original version of “Hangin’ On The Telephone,” a classic track by Nick Lowe, The Kursaal Flyers riffing off The Who, and a whole lot more.

“The Big Show” airs on Pop That Goes Crunch radio on Wednesdays at 6 pm Pacific, Fridays at 11 am Pacific and Saturdays at 11 am Pacific. The shows are usually uploaded to Mixcloud on Sunday mornings.

The show can be heard below. The complete tracklist appears below the embed.

 

Tracklist:

1.  The Ramones, “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker

2.  The Pranks, “I Don’t Wanna Lose That Feeling”

3.  The Flashcubes, “Its You Tonight”

4.  The Rezillos, “Top Of The Pops”

5,  The Undertones, “Teenage Kicks”

6.  The Jags, “Back Of My Hand (I’ve Got Your Number”)

7.  The Secrets*, “It’s Your Heart Tonight”

8.  Gary Charlson, “Real Life Saver”

9.  The Names, “Why Can’t It Be”

10 The Buzzcocks, “I Don’t Mind”

11. The Fans, “You Don’t Live Here Anymore”

12. Eddie & The Hot Rods, “Do Anything You Wanna Do”

13. Bram Tchaikovsky, “Girl Of My Dreams”

14. The Beckies, “Midnight And You”

15. Shoes, “Tomorrow Night”

16. Off Broadway, “Stay In Time”

17. The Nerves, “Hangin’ On The Telephone”

18. The Beat, “Walking Out On Love”

19. Gary Valentine, “The First One”

20. Nick Lowe, “Mary Provost”

21. The Kursaal Flyers, “Television Generation”

22. The Moderns, “Ready For The 80s”

We Will All Be Screaming For Joy: The Ice Cream Man Brings Sweet Treats To Pop That Goes Crunch Radio

Ice Cream Man Power Pop And More!

The blogroll to the right has long-included a link to the Ice Cream Man Power Pop And More blog.

For the past several months, the Ice Cream Man has been rocking the world with a weekly radio show spinning the finest in Power Pop, Mod, 60s, New Wave and Northern Soul tunes for discerning ladies and gentlemen from his perch out in Sweeden.

Now, The Ice Cream Man is coming to the US.

Pop That Goes Crunch radio is happy to announce that it will be airing The Ice Cream Man’s weekly show twice a week for your listening pleasure beginning on February 14. You can catch it every Friday night at 7 PM Pacific Standard Time (10 PM on the East Coast), and every Saturday morning at 8 AM Pacific Standard Time (11 AM on the East Coast).

What will you hear on this week’s broadcast?

Tracks from The Cry! (about whom I wrote recently, right here), The Jam (a favorite of mine for more than three decades), Owsley, and The Surf School Dropouts, not to mention a bevy of Northern Soul, the “brutal garage R’n’B” of The Beatpack, the “Aggressive Pop Supreme” of Trees and Timber, the Missouri punk-surf-pop of Popular Mechanics and the “bubblegum Fowley worship garage pop rock” of The Ketamines. And much, much more!

You can’t go wrong with that kind of eclectic line-up. So take an hour out of your week and check out The Ice Cream Man on Pop That Goes Crunch Radio, right here, every Friday night and/or Saturday morning. You will be glad you did.

Soft And Loud Melodies From Andy Klingensmith And Glenn Robinson

Today’s reviews feature two albums from very different ends of the spectrum that nevertheless should both find their way onto the music device of any discerning fan of melodic pop and rock ‘n roll.

Andy Klingensmith, Bright AgainAndy Klingensmith, Bright Again: Klingensmith significantly ups the ante over 2013’s Pictures Of on this six-track EP intended to “bridge” his first two full-length releases. Although Klingensmith’s stunning, multi-tracked vocals and acoustic guitar remain at the forefront like they did last year, he also plays bass and keyboards on Bright Again while Riley Smith adds drums and Jay Gummert contributes subtle flutes and clarinets. There is nothing at all fleeting or half-baked on this “bridge” EP. The songs are rich and complex, and the arrangements yield a number of surprises that will keep your finger reaching for the repeat button.

The title track kicks of the set and builds consistently from its relatively breezy opening verses until it lands at an emotional conclusion some five minutes later amid swirling instrumentation. It likely will find a spot on my year-end list of the best songs of 2014 in eleven months:

The next track, “No Control,” starts in a somewhat conventional acoustic fashion until unexpected chord changes  wind their way in and out of the song. “Oh Miss No Name” features a cascade of harmonies surrounded by a steady, transfixing rhythm. It would feel quite at home on a Crosby, Stills & Nash album.”The Parade” is a quiet rumination on how memory effects how we see ourselves. An electric guitar comes seemingly from nowhere to nicely frame the two slightly different halves of “The Penultimate Color.”

The EP closes with “Peels & Feels,” an immersive sonic essay on expectation and hope, which makes it the perfect conclusion to this fully realized follow-up to Pictures Of:

In all respects, Bright Again exceeds Klingensmith’s stellar debut in both reach and grasp, and points to even bigger and better things from him in the months and years ahead. Its available as a “name your price” download, right here.

Glenn Robinson, Modern MistakesGlenn Robinson, Modern Mistakes: Twenty seconds into this debut solo project from Robinson — a drummer in many Rhode Island and Massachusetts bands over the past decade-and-a-half — and you know exactly where he is going. Its fast and loud, featuring driving guitars, propulsive percussion and ferocious vocals. Its anchored throughout by Robinson’s keen feel for melody, making the ten brief tracks on Modern Mistakes fly by in couple of a head-bopping moments. 

Those first twenty seconds mentioned above? They fly out of the speakers from”The Worst,” in which Robinson conjures Black Flag at its most melodic and hummable:

The hooks keep on coming. “Gimme Insanity” would have had the kids singing its basic tag line — “gimme, gimme insanity/gimme, gimme insanity” — over-and-over again back in ’82. “Wavelength” is classic Power Pop, distinguished by Robinson’s raspy vocals:

Robinson says he wrote and first demoed “The Last Winner” in 2005: “I never once changed anything about it. It was one of those songs that kinda wrote itself. It’s ridiculously simple and fun to play.” Its a particularly fierce piece of pop-punk, to boot. “Hang Around And Stay Awhile” is also an older track, which Robinson first recorded in 2007. Its driven by a sinewy guitar riff snatched from 1977:

Modern Mistakes breaks no new ground, but Robinson did not set out to blaze any trails. Instead, he delivers twenty-seven minutes of ear-to-ear aggressive melodies to liven up your day. You can download Modern Mistakes for $5, right here, or get a CD for $10 from Kool Kat, right here.
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The Flamin’ Groovies Still Shakin’ Some Action

Flamin' GrooviesHere’s a quick one this morning.

If I were to compile a list of my all-time favorite songs, The Flamin’ Groovies‘ “Shake Some Action” would easily land in the Top 20. Released in 1976, the track was inspired by The British Invasion while incorporating strands of nascent punk rock and new wave. It is “beat music” in the best sense, with chiming jangling guitars, loud riffs, pounding drums and a chorus that will stick in your mind for days on end.

“Shake Some Action” was simultaneously ten years behind the times and ten years ahead of the times. While that kind of positioning is hardly a prescription for chart success, the song’s influence on the guitar-driven “alternative rock” of the 80s, 90s and beyond is unmistakable:

My eleven-year even old loves “Shake Some Action,” more than thirty-seven years after its release. Talk about your timeless music.

Portions of the band have reunited, and they are playing a number of shows in November in the Midwest and on the East Coast. They are also working on an EP. The first song, “End Of The World,” can be streamed through a wonderful profile of the band posted this morning on Rolling Stone’s website.

Take a listen. “End Of The World” picks up where tracks like “Shake Some Action” left off long ago. Its chiming guitars are instantly recognizable, and its pounding rhythms flow smoothly seamlessly into what could prove to be an equally memorable chorus. Rolling Stone describes “End Of The World” quite nicely:

[It] blends proto-punk energy with power-pop melody. A certain rawness permeates the band’s dedication to pop rhythm, making it sound like it could have been recorded today or in 1972.

Or, for that matter, 1982, 1992 etc.

There’s something for everyone in “End Of The World,” whether you are in your 60s, your 50s, or your 20s. Or, if you are an eleven-year old sitting in the back seat of my car.

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