Pop That Goes Crunch!

Seven Decades Of Melodic Rock & Roll

Archive for the tag “West Coast Pop”

Aerial And Edward O’Connell Release Two Of The Best Longplayers Of 2014

I have the pleasure today of reviewing two of the finest longplayers of 2014.

AerialAerial, Why Don’t The Teach Heartbreak At School: Aerial is a three-piece band from Scotland that produces authentic West Coast Pop of great variety, stunning quality, occasional clever wit and consistently gorgeous harmonies. Although the band last released an album in 2002, the long delay has hardly diminished its skills.

The festivities begin with “Cartoon Eyes, Cartoon Heart,” which adds a bit of fuzz to the basic pounding pop approach. The title track is a sing-along, clap-along, bop-along slice of teenage heartbreak and regret. “Japanese Dancer” inserts some call-and-response into a paean to the girl of the title who dances on the street clad in kung fu slippers while brandishing a plastic whistle. “Great Teenager” imagines how great teenage life could really and truly be —  if the teenager was actually in his late-20s.

Those are each rockin’ pop songs. Aerial, however, also delivers the goods rather nicely on the more introspective tracks.

“Dear Anna” amps up the harmonizing alongside its basic plea seeking a second chance to explain. “Where Are You” slowly builds tension for a minute-and-a-half before becoming a full-fledged rocker, and back again. The collection closes with “Wave Goodbye To Scotland,” a relatively quiet track about how the love for a person can trump the love for a place.

Why Don’t They Teach Heartbreak At School is a shoo-in for my year-end “best of” list. It’s the perfect accompaniment to a long and otherwise boring commute to and from work. Buy it from Kool Kat Musik — right here — and also get a previously unreleased CD of 4 demo tracks.

Check out the band doing an acoustic version of the title track right here:

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Edward O'ConnellEdward, O’Connell, Vanishing Act: O’Connell creates smart, unaffected guitar-based rock that sounds instantly familiar upon its initial listen. His recently released long-player, Vanishing Act, has a timeless quality to it, as it if could have been released in 1969, 1979, 1989 — well, you get the point. Although nothing on Vanishing Act advances the march of western civilization, O’Connell nevertheless delivers twelve expertly crafted pop tunes that make perfect use of the occasional string, keyboard, horn or pedal steel to add texture and a full, rich sound to the basic guitar-bass-drums approach.

The opening track, the country-tinged “My Dumb Luck,” sets the tone for everything that follows — O’Connell’s strong lead vocals alternating with plush harmonies amid a hook that will stay with you for hours. “Every Precious Day” took me back to the days of driving around college in a 1981 Honda listening to the local alternative rock station, a very good thing indeed:

“I’m The Man” ups the country quotient considerably and, in the grand tradition of a certain branch of that particular genre, repeats its basic hook –“I’m the man that she wants to kill” — several times.  The swaying title track has a slightly baroque feel, and features the backing vocals of Parthenon Huxley. Quite naturally, the collection ends with the slightly jangling rocker, “The End Of The Line,” whose pumping, sunny disposition will make your forget, or not even notice, its bleak theme and inherent sadness. It attests wonderfully to O’Connell’s songwriting chops.

Vanishing Act displays O’Connell at the top of his craft. It contains not a single bum track, and its twelve songs ultimately go by in a blink of an eye. It should be available wherever finer music is sold.

 

The Big Show #2: Summer Songs

 

Sunrise HighwayWith the calendar switching recently over to summer, the time seemed ripe to do a show devoted entirely to summer songs.

The Big Show #2 includes twenty such songs, and progresses from songs anticipating summer’s imminent arrival, to songs proclaiming the simple joys of summer to songs caught in summer rain to songs announcing the end of summer.

It concludes with Sunrise Highway singing about “The Endless Summer.”

“Summer Songs” is posted at Mixcloud, but you can hear it directly in this post by clicking on the picture, below. The complete track list appears directly below that:

 

Track List:

1.  Attic Lights, “Summer’s Coming Back”

2.  Michael Carpenter and King’s Road: “Summertime”

3.  Seth Swirsky, “Summer In Her Hair”

4.  War, “Summer”

5.  The Red Button, “On A Summer Day”

6.  Wyatt Funderburk, “Summer”

7.  The Britannicas, “(Talkin’ ‘Bout) Summer”

8.  Twenty Cent Crush, “Summer (You Know My Name)”

9.  Propeller, “Summer Songs”

10. Vegas With Randolph, “Summertime”

11. The Sunchymes, “On A Summer Ride”

12. The Daintees, “Roll On Summertime”

13. Weekend, “Summerdays”

14. Wilco, “Summer Teeth”

15. The Crush, “Summer Rain”

16. Shoes, “The Summer Rain”

17. Stephen Lawrenson, “Summer & Lightning”

18. Scott Brookman, “Summer’s Two Weeks Notice”

19. The Valley Downs, “The Last Days Of Summer”

20. Sunrise Highway, “Endless Summer”

 

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.

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.

 

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