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Seven Decades Of Melodic Rock & Roll

Archive for the tag “sunshine pop”

New Music For Your Weekend

Hot NunToday’s round-up of new music now making the rounds on Pop That Goes Crunch radio disproves the notion that Power Pop, and its sub-genres, is one-dimensional and repetitive.

Hot Nun, “A Little Too”: Jeff Shelton turns the volume up to 12 (11 is for wimps) on this melodic, metallic fist-pumper ripped from 1975. Transport yourself to the Oakland Arena and make sure to bring a cigarette lighter along to raise up high during the poignant parts:

The Corner Laughers, “Midsommar”: This is the yang to Hot Nun’s yin. The Corner Laughers already have about 5,000 songs spinning in rotation on Pop That Goes Crunch radio. “Midsommar” carries on their tradition quite well, with its ukelele, its clever paean to Sweden’s summer solstice, and its overall sunny disposition. Feel the melodic sunshine warming your skin:

TV Girl, “Birds Don’t Sing”: This is a bit of West Coast Pop and French Pop blended with a subtle hip hop beat and noises and voices that would have been called “tape loops” in ancient times. If this three-plus minutes of joyful happiness doesn’t brighten your day, your day is simply incapable of brightening:

The Bon Mots, “Galahad”: Four songs from the band’s new longplayer, Best Revenge, were added to Pop That Goes Crunch radio. You can stream the entire album here. I’m sharing “Galahad” because it nicely follows the previous two songs with its jaunty, bouncy rhythms, subtle jangling guitars and hook-laden melody:

Trip Wire, “Stay”: This is mid-tempo Power Pop that relentlessly pounds its way into your brain. I try not to make comparisons between bands, but let’s just say that “Stay” had kind of that rocking yet “peaceful, easy feeling” for which this band is particularly known. That makes it great, so listen to it right here, and then get it on Bandcamp:

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So there’s five new songs to add joy to your day. Support the artists since they are working hard for you, and check out the radio station, too.

 

 

 

 

 

Some More New Music Nuggets For Your Sunday

The Sharp Things

Here’s another round-up of some of the best recent additions to the rotation at Pop That Goes Crunch radio.

The Sharp Things, “An Ocean, Part Deux”: This track appeared originally on 2007’s wonderful A Moveable Feast. Here it is, however, in a glorious and spirited live version  record last September at the Galapagos Art Space in Brooklyn. I’m not normally a fan of live albums, but this nine-song set shows just how deftly this multi-instrumentalist collective — about whom I have written previously, here and here — handles intricately arranged symphonic pop music in real-time:

Nine Times Blue, “Falling After You”: The band’s new EP, Matter of Time, contains six beautifully crafted, timeless pieces of bass-guitar-drum melodic rock that ends far too quickly. “Falling After You” hooks you immediately with its extended opening guitar riff. Here’s the band performing it live in Atlanta last July:

Phil Ajjarapu, “Sing Along Until You Feel Better”: Ajjarapu crafts West Coast Pop with multi-tracked vocals and swirling harmonies, punctuated by an occasional rock riff, in Austin, Texas, of course. This two-and-a-half minutes of Sunshine Pop is a contender for my year-end “best of” list:

Spirit Kid, “Slow It Down”: The title of this track is the misnomer of year. “Slow It Down” is frenetic, foot-pounding, head-bopping three-chord Power Pop with a decided Buzzcocks‘ underbelly. You won’t be able to sit still while listening:

The Crush, “The Hook”: This is big, 70s-style melodic rock with a pounding, relentless beat and a bushel full of hooks, befitting its title perfectly:

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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.

From The Stacks: An Indie Pop Playlist

Stacks of Records

I have written previously that my single most used iOs “app” is Groove which, among other things, creates playlists automatically based on artist attributes in the Last.fm database. It also creates playlists based on genre “tags” appearing in that database.

One “tag” that appeared the other day on my device was “indie pop.” I gave it whirl. The results were quite good, so I took twelve of the tracks and uploaded a new playlist to the 8 Tracks site. It is embedded below, and can be heard in full, and in sequence, by clicking on the arrow in the embedded image. At 37 minutes in length, it would fit nicely on a 12-inch platter of vinyl.

What will you hear on “From The Stacks”?

There are several artists discussed previously on this site. Scott Brookman kicks off the set with “Karen,” a bit of Pet Sounds-inspired pop from his 2000 long-player, For Those Who Like Pop. 

Wondermints contribute one of their lesser-known tracks, the jaunty Zombies-inspired “Sting O’ Luv,” from the long-unavailable Bali.

One of my favorite bands, The Sharp Things, check in with the subtly soulful, “The Devil In You Sings,” from an earlier LP, A Movable Feast

The Well Wishers deliver straight-up jangly Powerpop with “Heroes.”

The Corner Laughers close the set with the ukelele-driven sunshine pop of “Chicken Bingo,” which starts with one of my all-time favorite couplets: “they asked us where we came from, we said San Francisco/they asked again, we said outer space.” You can get that one here.

Along the way, the set list includes a track by the late, great Elliot Smith and a country-inspired ditty by Hippodrome, sung by Chris Richards, who also has been discussed several times previously on this site.

Here it is:

Complete set list:

1.  “Karen” — Scott Brookman

2.  “Forever” — The Hit Parade

3.  “Sting O’ Luv” — Wondermints

4.  “Don’t Turn Your Back (Open Your Eyes)” — The Afternoons

5.  “Miles Away” — Sparkwood

6.  “Heroes” — The Well Wishers

7.  “See You In The Morning” — Kontiki Suite

8.  “The Devil In You Sings” — The Sharp Things

9.  “Smash Up” — Greenberry Woods

10. “Strung Out Again” — Elliott Smith

11.  “Caroline” — Hippodrome

12. “Chicken Bingo” — The Corner Laughers

New Music: “Can’t Get Started” — The Sharp Things

The Sharp Things - The Truth Is Like The SunI wrote previously on Green Is Good, The Sharp Things’ release from earlier this year. It remains one of the best albums of the 2013, due to the band’s ability to stitch together such a dazzling array of different pop styles in a way that is entirely natural and seemingly effortless. The sunshiny and soulful “Flowers For My Girl” is also one of my favorite songs of the year.

You can still get Green Is Good as a “name your price” download on Bandcamp. You certainly should do so, and at least put a couple of dollars in the tip jar.

The band has another album, The Truth Is Like The Sun, slated for release this year. The first single, “Can’t Get Started,” was uploaded to Souncloud recently. It’s a brilliant follow-up, and follow-on, to the chamber pop stylings of Green Is Good.

“Can’t Get Started” is piano-driven throughout, with multi-layered vocals, an occasional strike of the guitar, a handful a string flourishes and a slight crescendo of percussion and wall of sound at its conclusion. Its simply gorgeous.

If “Can’t Get Started” is any indication of what’s to come, The Truth Is Like The Sun could cause The Sharp Things to have released two of my favorite records in a single year. Here it is:

 

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.

Three Tasty Pop Teasers From Agony Aunts

When I was young, the prospect of listening to anything by a band that called itself as a “Bay Area supergroup” would have been an aural horror show in the making. Journey was “Bay Area music” back then. Emerson, Lake & Palmer was a supergroup. Heck, Journey consisted of former members of Santana and The Steve Miller Band. It was a “Bay Area supergroup” all by itself.

But time marches on. I’ve lived in the Bay Area for the past fifteen years.

Agony Aunts bills itself as a “Bay Area psych-pop supergroup.” It features members of The Corner Laughers and The Orange Peels, among others. The first two lines of The Corner Laughers‘ song, “Chicken Bingo” — “They asked us where we came from, we said San Francisco/They asked again, we said outer space” — is noted as my “favorite quotation” on Facebook. The circle becomes complete.

Agony Aunts‘ 2010 release, Greater Miranda, is a delectable concoction of sunshine pop, power pop, chamber pop and bubblegum pop, punctuated by occasional psychedelic flourishes and anchored by quizzical lyrics like “[h]e flaunts a billion fortunes and sleeps with frayed eyes split.” Whatever that means, it sure sounds great. The whole record is also beautifully sung and filled to the brim with glistening male-female harmonies. They get special props for constructing a one-minute plus piece of meringue, “RB & YM,” around five words (“Rob Black and your money”) and a bunch of “buh, buh, buhs.” Not taking things too seriously is a major virtue on this blog.

Agony AuntsThe band recently dropped three songs in advance of the November issuance of their next long player, Big Cinnamon. They’re just as good as anything on Greater Miranda.

The lead track, “Twenty-four Mergansers” is 100% hook until about the 1:38 mark. That’s when a synth that would have made Emerson, Lake & Palmer proud back in ’71 takes over, followed by a wall of cascading guitar sound. Calm is soon restored, however, to allow the hooks to lead the way home:

“Family Drugs” sticks a swaying, almost laid-back mid-70s arrangement around a song about bottling up “spaniel rage.” Its all sewn together by those perfect male-female harmonies.

“We Got The Jekyll” is a more straight ahead (at least for them) mid-tempo rocker about dealing with one’s demons, or so it seems because “the Lord will provide you with endless supplies of dirt.” It closes with some more 70’s-sounding synth work fighting with demonic laughter for center stage:

Based on these early teasers, Big Cinnamon promises to deliver big when it is released in full this fall. I have made my peace with “Bay Area music” and “supergroups.”

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