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The Big Show: Season 2, Show #1

Old consoleThe “second season” of our roughly bi-weekly round-up of the finest rockin’ pop tunes from across the planet kicked off with a basket full of new music for your distinct listening pleasure. New, and relatively new, music was represented by Jonathan Rundman, Mothboxer, The Sharp Things, The Little Secrets, Yorktown Lads, Hidden Pictures, The Hangabouts and Samuel Justice. We snuck in a set that followed “Okinawa Girl” by Joe Sullivan and “Japanese Dancer” by Aerial with Kurt Baker’s raucous version of “Turning Japanese.” We played a Big Star original and an acoustic cover of a Big Star’s “Life Is Right” by The Well Wishers back-to-back. James Brown even made his debut hereabouts with his classic track, “Out Of Sight.” As always, the complete tracklist appears below the embed. Pop That Goes Crunch radio streams 24/7 right here. Your e-mails are always welcome at popgoescrunch@gmail.com.

Tracklist:

1.  Jonathan Rundman, “The Science Of Rockets”

2.  Mothboxer (Featuring Finchey), “I’m Working”

3.  The Sharp Things, “Everything Breaks”

4.  The Little Secrets, “All I Need”

5.  Yorktown Lads, “Anna Borg”

6.  Hidden Pictures, “Hannah, I’m Scared Of Your Boyfriend”

7.  Trees and Timber, “Eskimo Sun”

8.  Matthew Shacallis, “Tell Me Girl”

9.  Richard Snow And The Inlaws, “Middle Class Girl”

10. Woolens, “The End of All of Everything”

11. The Person & The People, “NYC Freakout”

12. Yorktown Lads, “Something to Write About”

13. The Hangabouts, “November”

14. The Merrymakers, “April’s Fool”

15. The Dead Girls, “Better Wait”

16. Samuel Justice, “Sign My Name”

17. The Cheap Seats, “Caroline, Yes”

18. Joe Sullivan, “Okinawa Girl”

19. Aerial, “Japanese Dancer”

20. Kurt Baker, “Turning Japanese”

21. Big Star, “Watch The Sunrise”

22. The Well Wishers, “Life Is Right”

23. James Brown, “Out of Sight”

24. The Jam, “Beat Surrender”

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What’s New At Pop That Goes Crunch Radio

Record Player

Lots of new music has been added at Pop That Goes Crunch radio in recent weeks. Here’s a run down of some finer pieces of new melodic pop blasting over the airwaves 24/7 for your listening pleasure.

Jonathan Rundman, Look Up: Rundman’s long-player, released last week, is equal parts rockin’ pop and acoustic folk. The brightly colored uptempo tracks are foot-tapping, sing-along exercises driven by Rundman’s fine sense of melody. “The Science Of Rockets” gets my nod for best in class:

Gretchen’s Wheel, Fragile State: Nashville-based artist Lindsay Murray got the attention of Ken Stringfellow with her cover of a Posies track. She snagged Stringfellow to produce her debut long-player released under a moniker that pays homage to a classic Schubert song. Fragile State is at once assured and, well, quite fragile, with its atmospheric production enhancing the spaces in Murray’s compelling compositions. There is a whole lot going on here, with elements of jazz, Americana, and a dashes of electronics here and there, each complimenting Murray’s gorgeous vocals:

Mothboxer, We’re All Out Of Our Minds: Mothboxer made the Top 10 on my lists of the best albums and best songs of 2014, so word of three new songs by the band — the other track also appears on the Sand The Rain long-player — was a big deal hereabouts. And they do not disappoint, delivering yet another stellar collection of 60’s-based pop with psych undertones that never sounds anything other than thoroughly contemporary. The entire EP, along with oodles of other tracks by the band, will be spinning in regular rotation for quite some time:

The next three long-players came out a bit too late in 2014 for adequate consideration on my “Best Of” list, but each were worthy competitors and are nevertheless in the mix for 2015.

The Hangabouts, Illustrated Bird: Peaceful easy feelings abound on this collection of thirteen slices of flawlessly executed melodic pop that will soothe the savage soul, or at least tame the savage commute. If Illustrated Bird feels unassuming and breezy on its first listen, hit the repeat button and take notice of the thoughtful, often clever, songwriting and sharp playing that runs throughout the album from start to finish. Oh, and try to get this one out of your head:

The Yorktown Lads, Songs About Girls And Other Disasters: What to make of an album sporting a song called “Cool Shoes, Bro”? How about that it is so much fun that you’ll find yourself bopping along happily to three-minutes of self-doubt called “Sick Of Me”? Or that you’ll wish you could find yourself flummoxed by the kind of writer’s block that results in the creation of a song as unrelentingly catchy as “Something To Write About”:

If the long-player doesn’t serve up quite enough fun with melody, also check out the four songs on the Lads’ recently released $200 EP. This one — about a busy and undoubtedly multi-tasking record label owner/jewelry maker/law school employee — will rattle around your head for quite some time, as well:

The Sharp Things, Adventurer’s Inn: This marks the third studio release by these Brooklyn-based purveyors of fine symphonic pop in less than two years. The elements that made the prior two long-players so compelling are present here in big servings, as well — soaring string arrangements, sophisticated, ornate 60’s pop stylings, Perry Serpa’s soulful lead vocals, perfect time-keeping by the late Steven Gonzalez, and big group harmonies. Put the three releases — Green Is Good and The Truth Is Like The Sun being the other two — into one big playlist, press play and drink in a singular musical achievement created over a short time period:

So, that’s just a peek at some of the fine new music spinning in regular rotation at Pop That Goes Crunch radio. Tune in frequently. You may hear you next favorite song.

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:

* * * * *

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

The Sharp Things Deliver Some Sonic Truth

The Sharp ThingsThe Sharp Things’ second release this year, The Truth Is Like The Sun, is informed by a long-span of music history. While its predecessor, February’s Green Is Good, also incorporated “baroque” pop elements, the feeling on The Truth Is Like The Sun is often more “baroque” than “pop.” Its arrangements are bigger, more sweeping and more orchestral than its predecessor. It is anchored by piano, strings and brass, and then sprinkled occasionally by a dulcimer, a banjo, and a glockenspiel to make things even more interesting.

The Truth Is Like The Sun thus takes an even more scenic route to its destination than did Green Is Good. It is the most distinctive release I have heard this year. It may also be the single best.

“Flesh And Bone” likely will draw numerous comparisons to The Beach Boys’ “God Only Knows,” both sonically and thematically. The track about being “lost in the enchanting reverie of you” is one of the standouts in the collection:

The prior song, “Lulubelle” takes a quieter, gentler tact and almost feels like a long-lost holiday song. Perry Serpa’s pitch perfect vocals lead into a multi-voice chorus amid swirling brass and winds:

A theme of “reverie” returns in “Light In My Harbor,” with its key lyric, “I love your face/And the tales it tells, it’s true/You’re the light in my harbor.” Here, we get soulful vocals from Serpa, layered backing harmonies and a nice jazzy piano fill about half way through:

The remaining tracks on Truth fit into this basic construct, and then expand upon it. “Talk To Me” has a cool mid-70s “lite rock” feel, and riffs off of Randy VanWarmer’s “Just When I Needed You Most.” “View From A Room” updates The Left Banke. The lead track, “Can’t Get Started,” about which I wrote here, builds dramatically to a quick wall of sound at its conclusion.

The Sharp Things have now released twenty songs on two albums this year without a single misstep. The ten on Truth Is Like The Sun are each beautifully written, arranged, sung and played. You can “name your price” and pick up perhaps the best album of the year right here. Do it as quickly as you can.

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:

 

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