Pop That Goes Crunch!

Seven Decades Of Melodic Rock & Roll

Archive for the tag “Wilco”

5 More Songs You Will Hear On Pop That Goes Crunch Radio

RadioMore then 500 hours of music was heard in the first month at Pop That Goes Crunch radio. More than 1,200 individual streams were launched, and the station page itself was visited more than 1,000 times. Its the third most popular “Power Pop” station on Live365 — not bad for the first month.

Here are five more tracks spinning in rotation that proved to be among the most popular songs in the first month. This is music that should be heard. You can hear it in this post — full tracks are embedded below — and you certainly can hear it on the station.

The Bye Bye Blackbirds — “All In Light” — This Bay Area band had the Number 10 song on my Best of 2013 list. “All In Light” opens their We Need The Rain long-player in a pounding, fist-pumping fashion before settling into three-plus minutes of hooks and harmonies:

And The Professors — “Our Postmortem” — This collective led by Adam Levy of The Honeydogs snagged the Number 8 song on my Best of 2013 list. The title track of their 2013 release closes that effort with a bit of Wilco-meets-ELO string-based rock:

Toxic Melons — “Diffidence” — Paul Fairbairn and friends mix West Coast Pop, strings and some tasty 70s-style lead guitar into an epic piece of melancholy:

The Shivvers — “Teen Line” — Now we’re shifting gears radically. This piece of stripped down old school Power Pop from 1980 becomes increasingly brilliant each time its heard. I could have embedded a simple audio track. Here, however, is the band kicking out the song sometime in the distant past on WMTV in Madison, Wisconsin:

The Loud Family — “Chicago And Miss Jovan’s Land-O-Mat”: Scott Miller’s original band, Game Theory, is a favorite and is well-represented on Pop That Goes Crunch radio. Although there is not necessarily anything “Midwestern” about this track that appears on Volume 4 of the Yellow Pills collection, this perfect piece of AM pop rock somehow transports me to Chicago whenever I hear it:

So, there’s another five rather popular tracks getting some serious airplay over at the radio station. Why not take a few minute and check it out?

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5 Reasons To Listen To Pop That Goes Crunch Radio

Records, Records, RecordsPop That Goes Crunch radio is streaming seven decades of melodically-driven rock and roll twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. You can check it out through the link posted just above.

I now have some data on the “most” popular and the “least” popular tracks spinning in rotation based on listener retention. Here’s five of the most popular songs in the current playlist. A couple were released within the past year, a couple were released in the 1990s. Complete tracks are embedded to give you an idea of what is currently “hot” on Pop That Goes Crunch Radio:

Wyatt Funderburk, “Summer”:  Funderburk mixes the bitter and the sweet as well as anyone on the scene today. He also pens great couplets like: “Time and love are conflicted and unpredicted but who can complain?/Happiness and contentment are nothing but sentiment without heartache and pain”

Evil Arrows, “Jennifer Kills The Giant (Once A Week)”: Bryan Scary plans to release up to 60 songs this year under the Evil Arrows moniker. The five-song EP 1 is available right here. “Jennifer” is proof positive that “simple,” when done right, has an elegance all its own:

The Sun Sawed in 1/2, “Janet Greene”: This relentlessly pounding ode to a woman “slightly greater” than Bardot, Monroe and Farrah will ring in your ears for days on end:

Wilco, Nothing’severgonnastandinmyway (Again): Jeff Tweedy occasionally takes himself too seriously, but not on this slightly off-kilter, slightly satirical piece of pop brilliance. Its one of my favorite songs on my favorite Wilco album:

Spacemaid, “Baby Come On”: Insubstantial. Sickly sweet. Cotton candy. Bubblegum. And, of course, just perfect:

What are you waiting for? Run, don’t walk, over to Pop That Goes Crunch radio, where you can hear these cool five songs, along with more than 800 others spinning non-stop around-the-clock.

Starbelly’s Lemonfresh: Still Tasty After All These Years

Starbelly's Lemonfresh

Easy come, easy go.

A piece I wrote last year on the digital download-only reissue of the expanded version Starbelly’s 1998 release, Lemonfresh, has evaporated into the digital ether. So I am updating it and re-publishing it, here.

Back in 1998, three guys put out a limited release, eleven track CD of Rubber Soul/Big Star-oriented chiming guitar pop on Not Lame Recordings called Lemonfresh to great acclaim. The CD sold out, and disappeared. Not Lame reissued the CD in 2009 with twelve bonus tracks and a CR-R of a live show. Not Lame went out-of-business in 2010. You can buy the CD re-issue of Lemonfresh used for about $60 — if you can find it.

But nothing really dies in the age of the internet. So enter Futureman Records. Futureman, though, does not merely issue “records.” It also re-issues lost Power Pop classics, exclusively by digital download, from its perch on Bandcamp. The twenty-three track reissue of Lemonfresh is available now for the princely sum of $10, in virtually any digital format you desire.

Lemonfresh is as fresh today as it was fourteen years ago. The “record” is seventy-plus minutes of non-stop hooks, melodies, chiming jangly guitars, occasional big beats and consistently clean production. It has all of the stuff to be a massive hit in a different world. But in our world, we can just drink down its poppy goodness.

The opening track, “This Time,” sets the tone for all that comes afterward. It’s a one-minute forty-three second look at romantic disentanglement — attempted, imagined or achieved — set amid perfect vocal harmonies, concise guitars and driving beat:

“She’s So Real” is the kind of song that will play in your head for hours after listening, with its direct statement of lyrical and musical purpose, and the tasty interplay between the lead vocals and background harmonies:

“What You Will” might very well have the blueprint for half of everything Wilco has done since 1999’s Summerteeth. It’s all about personal illusion, or delusion — “Look under your bed/it’s all in your head” — punctuated by strings and those pitch perfect harmonies, once again:

Indeed,Lemonfresh features just about the consistently best vocals you will hear on any rock record, well, this year — even though it was recorded in the late-1990s. Guitarist Cliff Hillis and bassist Dennis Schocket trade lead vocals over the course of the twenty-three tracks, lending the songs a distinct yin-and-yang feel that keeps the proceedings all the more interesting over the course of an hour-and-change. And, as is required in this genre, Lemonfresh features a song about a particular girl. “Letters To Mary” closed the original 1998 release, and would have felt at home on Abbey Road:

There truly is not a weak track on the expanded version of Lemonfresh. That’s quite an achievement over twenty-three songs. Play it in your car and it will keep your head bopping throughout that long, boring commute.

Although Hillis left the band after Lemonfresh was released, and the band hasn’t put out anything new since 2002, he has said that the original members of Starbelly, along with his replacement, are working on new songs for a future release. The band also in playing at one of the shows in the New York installment of this year’s International Pop Overthrow.

In the meantime, though, give Futureman 43 cents for each of the twenty-three songs on Lemonfresh. That’s a steal.

Skrang: An Excellent Tribute To Bobby Sutliff

Skrang: Sounds Like Bobby Sutliff

The Windbreakers were a Mississippi-based band, comprised primarily of Bobby Sutliff and Tim Lee, that released a half-dozen records in the 80s and 90s in the kind of Byrds/Big Star jangle pop/psychedelic amalgam that R.E.M. rode to great success. Although similar success eluded The Windbreakers, Sutliff and Lee are gifted composers and superb guitar players. One of the best examples of their craft is the simply gorgeous, then-new song they recorded as the title track to the band’s 2002 compilation, Time Machine: 

Outside of The Windbreakers, Sutliff and Lee have both done about a half-dozen other records each, and have appeared on various compilations and tribute records as performers, songwriters and producers. In June 2012, however, Sutliff was involved in a serious automobile accident near his home in Powell, Ohio. Lee wrote:

At the time, the prognosis was guarded, albeit not particularly promising. But Bobby survived his multiple injuries, and after a month or so of sedation, he slowly began making progress. Eventually, the pace picked up, and his condition continued to improve at an amazing speed. Before long, he was back home and closing in on 100 percent recovery.

But Sutliff’s un-paid medical bills were enormous. Lee thus organized ab bunch of friends to make a tribute record of Sutliff’s songs, an perform a concert in Atlanta, to raise money to defray the expenses. The resulting record, Skrang — a term coined by Sutliff to describe “the sound of an open chord on an electric guitar” — is likely one of the best things you will hear this year. It features performances by long-time purveyors of melodic rock and Power Pop, and not a single bum performance over 18 tracks.

Velvet Crush and Matthew Sweet get the set off to a rollicking start with the ringing “Second Choice.” John Stirrat, best known for his work as Wilco’s bass player, gives “Girl From Washington” a particularly tender feel in front of Lee’s stellar 6 & 12 sting guitar work. Matt Piucci, an original member of Rain Parade who later recorded with Lee in Gone Fishin’, enlists some of his old bandmates for a fuzzy, psychedelic take on “That Stupid Idea.” The Anderson Council play down their more typical Syd Barretisms on “Griffin Bay,” and turn out one of the best, most rocking tracks on the set. Its much more Grip Weeds than “See Emily Play.” Bill Lloyd goes it alone and gives “Same Way Tomorrow,” a slightly updated, smoother take on the Sutliff solo track from 1987. Michael Carpenter, one of my current favorites, lends his typically terrific vocals to “Long Red Bottle Of Wine,” widens the sound and manages to improve on the original:

I could probably write something effusive about each of the 18 tracks on this set. Its just that good. The first-rate quality of Sutliff’s compositions shine through on each of the tracks. Even though some of the performances purposefully veer into territory that is somewhat different than the original version of the songs, the collection has an overall cohesive quality to it that makes listening from start-to-finish a joy. It’s available for $12 from Paisley Pop, and well worth every dime. All proceeds, of course, benefit Sutliff.

Far From The Old Mainstream

I just checked the Billboard Top 200. The top-selling long player? The latest by Usher. No. 2? The latest by Rush. Really? Who wants to hear a bunch of old prog rockers with high voices and phony libertarian politics? Here’s how the AllMusic guide describes that one, which is a “concept” album:

It centers on a loose narrative about a young man following his dreams. He struggles with inner and outer forces of order and chaos; he encounters an expansive world where colors, images, territories, and characters are embodied by pirates, strange carnivals, rabble-rousing anarchists, and lost cities. His enemy is the Watchmaker, a ruthless authoritarian presence who attempts to rule the universe and all aspects of everyday life with fascistic precision.

Yep, unicorn rock. Come sail away, lads.

But in the meantime, I recently downloaded some long players from Rhapsody for a couple of coast-to-coast flights. They feature real electric guitars, real acoustic guitars, real pianos, real cymbal crashes, an occasional mandolin, finely crafted melodies, and occasionally perfect harmonies.

One of them was “Down By The Old Mainstream” by Golden Smog, a supposed alt-country supergroup. Yes, they plowed some country fields. But this long player from 1995 is chock full of pure pop hooks and wistful melodies via Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy and Gary Louris of the Jayhawks. It was so far out of the mainstream in 1995 that it didn’t even make the Billboard Hot 200 album chart. Seventeen years later, its downright obscure.

But it shouldn’t be. It starts with a bit of pure melodic brilliance powered by piano hooks, a paean to a long-gone girl simply named “V.” Its worth a listen — or many listens — even if you have to watch a silly cell phone commercial first:

Two songs later you get “Pecan Pie,” Jeff Tweedy’s decidedly un-serious folky, extended metaphor for the girl of his dreams: “And a piece of pecan pie. And you that’s all I want. Just a piece of pecan pie. And all I want is you.” Then he sings about the whipped cream.

And that’s the other big joy of this long player. Its loose. Its ragtag. It never takes itself seriously. Its not about pirates, ruthless authoritarians and fascistic precision. Its just, well, fun. What else can you say about a collection with a song called “He’s A Dick,” about a guy that borrowed some cash from you years ago, did not pay it back and then looks away whenever he sees you? That happens in real life. But its not weighty enough stuff for those intellectuals in Rush and their Number 2 record in the nation.

But back to this music. Also check out “Friend,” which shifts nicely between casual mid-tempo mellowness and pounding power pop. “Down By The Old Mainstream” does that simply because it can. Its all over the place. By design.

The Greatest Song You Probably Never Heard

big-starSometimes a song seems in retrospect to be “ahead of its times.” That usually means that the song or band proved to be influential. The song thus sounds contemporary, even though its old.

Rolling Stone picked “September Gurls” as the 180th greatest song of all time. “A nonhit from [Big Star’s] second LP . . . ‘September Gurls’ is now revered as a power-pop classic.”

“September Gurls” was destined to be a non-hit, coming out in 1974 as rock became bloated and self-important. Instead, Big Star looked back to the British Invasion with concise, elegant guitar pop. In turn, they influenced everyone that followed — REM, The Replacements, Matthew Sweet, Wilco, The Posies and Teenage Fanclub, just to name a few. What sounded old gave birth to the new.

“September Gurls” sounds as fresh and as beautiful as it did 5 years ago, 10 years ago, 20 years ago, etc. That is one of the makings of a great song.

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