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Seven Decades Of Melodic Rock & Roll

Archive for the tag “Stephen Lawrenson”

First Annual Pop That Goes Crunch Holiday Show

Retro Christmas

The first annual Pop That Goes Crunch Holiday Show has been uploaded for your listening pleasure while trimming the tree, wrapping presents, drinking eggnog, etc. It delivers good holiday tidings while spinning 25 rockin’ pop tunes by some of the brightest lights in the Power Pop and Indie Pop World.

So, sit back and enjoy the season with Kurt Baker, Michael Carpenter, The Grip Weeds, The Connection, Lannie Flowers, Wyatt Funderburk, The Tor Guides, Cliff Hillis, Stephen Lawrenson, and a whole lot more. And, for good measure, Elvis makes his first appearance on this site and on Pop That Goes Crunch radio with the rollicking, unrestrained “Santa Claus Is Back In Town.”

The complete tracklist appears after the embed.

Tracklist:

1.  Kurt Baker, “Christmas In The Sand”

2.  Maple Mars, “Christmastime In The City”

3.  The Honeymoon Stallions, “Snowbirds”

4.  Dukes Of Surf, “Aloha Christmas”

5.  Shake Some Action, “Christmas In The Sun”

6.  Cirrone, “Christmas’ Sun”

7.  Michael Carpenter, “Sunny Day For Xmas”

8.  The Grip Weeds, “Christmas Dream”

9.  The Connection, “Rock ‘N Roll Christmas”

10. Lannie Flowers, “Christmas Without You”

11. Wyatt Funderburk, “Merry Christmas (I’m In Love With You)”

12. Ether Park, “Put One Foot In Front Of The Other”

13. The Tor Guides, “Beatles Vinyl”

14. Cliff Hillis, “On A Day Like Christmas”

15. The Jigsaw Seen, “What About Christmas?”

16. Stephen Lawrenson, “Glad Its Christmas”

17. Mike Fornatale, “Xmas Wish”

18. Elvis Presley, “Santa Claus Is Back In Town”

19. Frank Royster, “Christmas Is Fun”

20. Liar’s Club, “Agnostic Christmas”

21. The Goldbergs, “Chanukah Guy”

22. The Split Squad, “Another Lonely Christmas”

23. Dana Countryman, “A Very Lonely Christmas”

24. Stratocruiser, “Santa, We’re Through”

25. Bill Lloyd, “The Day After Christmas”

 

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A Kouple Of Kool Kristmas Long-Players You Should Buy Now

Christmas records. For me, they conjure memories of Decembers in the early-70s of homes filled with the vocal stylings of the likes of Andy Williams and Jerry Vale singing half-heartedly about the joys of the season. Bland, inoffensive, depressing and not exactly the stuff from which happy memories are made.

Here, though, are two recent Christmas releases that should help clear the cobwebs off of the moldy collection of holiday records of Christmases past. Both are highly recommended.

The Connection, A Christmas Gift For

The Connection, A Christmas Gift For: New England’s coolest Hit Makers use less than thirty minutes to deliver eight original Christmas tunes and a Ramones cover for your distinct listening pleasure. The result is a non-stop rockin’ good time, and one of the funnest collection of holiday tunes from this or any other season.

“Money, Honey, Baby” sets the tone immediately, with a bit a jingle bell-adorned garage rock stomp about spending that hard-earned, diligently saved cash on a special gift for that special someone. “I Feel Fine (It’s Christmas Time)” is a foot-tapping look at the happy happenings on a particularly memorable Christmas Eve. “West Coast” is  a track about the warm and sunny Christmases on the “best coast.” Try singing the chorus to this one while slugging it out through yet another bitter winter on the East Coast:

 

The hits keep coming — fast and furiously. “Better Late Than Never” is a pounding R&B rocker about delayed Christmas gratification. “Rock N Roll Christmas” is exactly as advertised, a furiously rocking track about something we all want — a tree overflowing with records:

 

“Poor Boy” (which also appears on the Kool Kat collection, discussed below) has a slight country feel, and features this great sing-along verse:

While other kids eat turkey and yams/I’m home alone with water and spam/Ain’t got no mama, ain’t got no old man/Its only grandma/And she’s on the lam

The fun doesn’t end until the final notes ring in the band’s perfect cover of The Ramones’ “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight).”

The Connection will never be accused of taking themselves too seriously, and A Christmas Gift For shows them having a rockin’ good time for our benefit. Run, don’t walk, and get it right here.

A Kool Kat Kristmas Volume 2A Kool Kat Kristmas Volume. 2: The folks at Kool Kat Musik have assembled another winning compilation of holiday tunes from some of the brightest lights in the indie pop world.  At heart, this is really a collection of pop tunes that also would sound quite good between January and November, only that they’ve been gussied up for December with holiday themes and the occasional jingle bell.

North London popsters The Pencils kick off the collection in fine form with “Christmas Is Coming Again,” which they spike with liberal doses of lush production, sweet harmonies and slinky slide guitar work. The Tor Guides deliver a chiming guitar-filled letter to Santa requesting a “Beatles Vinyl” box for Christmas.

Some of the artists are apparently pining for a sun-filled Christmas. To that end, The Honeymoon Stallions check in with some tasty, breezy Sunshine Pop on “Snowbird,” while Shake Some Action contribute two-and-a-half minutes of perfect jangle pop on “Christmas In The Sun.”

The collection closes on a few quieter notes.

I’m a big fan of Stephen Lawrenson, and he contributes the best song in the set with the acoustic string-based “Glad It’s Christmas.”  Wyatt Funderburk supplies a gorgeous, sensitive vocal on the reflective “Cold.” Martin Newell gets a tad creepy — but in a good way — on “Ghosts of Christmas,” suggesting a grainy, black and white version of “A Christmas Carol.”

A Kool Kat Kristmas Volume 2 is available right here. You can stream the album in full before buying, right here. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of each copy will be donated to The Susan Giblin Foundation for Animal Wellness and Welfare. So, you get good holiday tunes while doing some good at the same time.

 

 

Putting iTunes Radio To The Test, Indie Pop Style

iTunes Radio

I listen to a lot music during my two-hour daily commutes to and from work. Each way involves going over a bridge, through three tunnels and zigging and zagging down narrow streets with seemingly perpetual construction. There are many opportunities to go stark raving mad. Good music therefore is key. Its essential.

I decided the other day to put iTunes Radio to the test. The cool kids are not supposed to like this. Gizmodo says its a “sucky money-maker,” “boring, and packed with shortcomings and missed opportunities.” Its a mere Pandora clone, but with about twenty-seven times the number of tracks.

Meh.

Gizmodo really isn’t very cool, anyway. Its “review” is pretty lame and closes with a suggestion to make the service better in a way that it acknowledges probably “can’t be profitable.” Apple, of course, is in the business of not being profitable.

Nevertheless, anything with twenty-seven million tracks sitting on its servers has the opportunity to be pretty interesting. Pandora has about a million. It gets pretty boring, pretty quickly.

So, for my little test, I created a radio station from the music of Stephen Lawrenson, whose recent work, Obscuriosity, is a candidate for album-of-the-year. You can check out the gorgeous twelve-string driven brilliance of its best track, “Words To Say,” right here. That was the vibe I was trying to achieve for my morning commute.

“Stephen Lawrenson Radio” certainly delivered the goods . . . for a while. I got cool tracks from Greg Pope and Throwback Suburbia. Some tasty mid-60s vibes were delivered by Marco Joachim, whom I had never heard previously. His song “Those Days” sounded great on the freeway.

The Connection, about whom I wrote recently, chimed in with some more hook-filled goodness right out of 1964. This one is so good, in fact, that you should listen to it in this post:

And, who out there would not smile when being served up Kurt Baker doing Nick Lowe’s classic “Cruel To Be Kind“? Listen to that one right here, too:

So far, so good.

But when iTunes Radio starts veering off course, it can go haywire.

Although I don’t have much of an interest in hearing Nirvana these days, “Come As You Are” remains a great song. But, two songs later, I was “treated” to Bruno Mars. Whatever Bruno Mars has to do with Stephen Lawrenson is far beyond me. That then gave way to Linkin Park (great stuff if you were 17 about 10 years ago), The Fray, some dull latter-day Alice Cooper, and Mumford & Sons. Weird, but perhaps understandable in some far-off way. There is no rational explanation, however, for trying to make me listen to Pink. Not gonna happen. Ever.

Order, though, was quickly restored to the world by Teenage Fanclub doing “I’ll Make It Clear”:

Perhaps iTunes Radio needs to learn the user’s preferences. There are some twenty-seven million tracks from which to choose, which is quite a collection. I skipped the Bruno Mars to Mumford set entirely. I trashed the Pink tune immediately. Maybe they’ll be sent to my digital oblivion.

Nevertheless, on what was its second day of its availability to the public-at-large, iTunes Radio wasn’t bad. It was actually pretty good. Indie pop listeners can certainly dig getting big doses of the likes of Throwback Suburbia, Kurt Baker and The Connection selected algorithmically for them.

A Power Pop Playlist Collected By Algorithm, Assembled By Hand

RecordsGroove” is one on the most used apps on my music device. The best thing it does is scan your music collection to create playlists based on your listening habits and tags in the Last.fm database. A “groovy mix” can be based on a genre of music. or a particular artist.

The other day, I created a quick “groovy mix” based on Chris Richards & The Subtractions, particularly the track “Sleep All Day” from the wonderful 2012 release Get Yer La La’s Out. I then trimmed the list to 15 songs, spanning 44 minutes — the approximate amount of time that could be comfortably squeezed onto vinyl — eliminating duplication of artists and less worthy songs, but maintaining a couple of the less well-known tracks from compilation CDs in my collection.

After revising the sequencing — but keeping “Sleep All Day” as the lead track — I uploaded the playlist to the 8 Tracks site. It is embedded below, and can be heard in full by clicking on arrow in the embedded image.

What will you hear other than “Sleep All Day”?

For one, there are a number of tracks by artists discussed in prior posts on this site, particularly in this one and this one.

But also included are: (i) “Portland” — one of the best tracks on Always On The Run, the 2011 release by An American Underdog; (ii) the tight and rocking “Above The Blue,” by Vegas With Randolph; and (iii) “Goodbye,” by the should-be-far-better-known Brad Jones.

Three covers are included: (i) Doug Powell’s slightly over-the-top version of “I Woke Up In Love This Morning,” a Top 15 hit by The Partridge Family,” (ii) Stephen Lawrenson’s take on The Beatles‘ “Yes It is,” and (iii) Lannie Flowers’ very cool re-imagining of Orleans’ Top 10 hit, “Dance With Me,” which closes out the set.

Complete track list:

1. “Sleep All Day” — Chris Richards & The Subtractions

2. “Above The Blue” — Vegas With Randolph

3. “My Favorite Revolution” — Eugene Edwards

4. “Last Thing On My Mind — The Finkers

5. “I Woke Up In Love This Morning” — Doug Powell

6. “Goodbye” — Brad Jones

7. “Hourglass” — Starbelly

8. “Portland” — An American Underdog

9. “A Girl That I Once Knew” — Three Hour Tour

10. “Yes It Is” — Stephen Lawrenson

11.”Waiting For A Sign” — Kelly’s Heels

12. “If You’ll Be My Adam” — Skeleton Staff

13. “Don’t Look At The Sun” — Chewy Marble

14. “I’m In Love” — Myracle Brah

15. “Dance With Me” — Lannie Flowers

* * * * * * * * * *

I hope you enjoyed this playlist. Perhaps you just heard your next favorite song.

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