Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sugarcult - Start Static - 2001

Sugarcult's debut disc is a quasi sugar-coated power pop album with punk overtones and a healthy dose of self-effacing humor. Escapism, skepticism, and a devil-may-care view of the world around them are the primary themes that weave their way into the lyrics on this high-energy stripped-to-the-bone collection by this frisky So-Cal quartet. As evidenced in the fiery anthem "Stuck in America," vocalist Tom Pagontta joyfully proclaims "everyone's talkin' 'bout blowing up the neighborhood/all I ever wanted to do was get away." "Saying Good-bye" is a pathos-filled paean of teenage heartbreak with an explosive chord progression so familiar that documenting it would seem like an accusation of plagiarism, which, in rock & roll of this nature, is an exercise in futility. "Bouncing Off the Walls" is yet another joust at the perils of romance, only this time the protagonist dips into his parent's cocaine stash to relieve the pain. On Start Static, Sugarcult has mastered the don't-bore-us-get-to-the-chorus approach to near perfection.-AMG

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DB Cooper - Buy American - 1980

I know very little about DB Cooper, but I do know it is a gem. They hailed from Santa Barbara, Ca. Warner put out this record with little or no support, and features a talented US band whose members included Jon Chapman(drums and backup vocals), Roger Heath (guitar and backup vocals), Robby Scharf(bass and backup vocals) and Ric Streeter(guitar and backup vocals). Backup Vocals on "Forever Rock 'N' Roll" by Jeff (Pranks) Foskett.With an Elvis Costello flavor and maybe a hint of the Iron City Houserockers thrown in DB Cooper is a must have for any Power Pop Fan. There was a minor label release EP (Every Man a King) from earlier in 1980.

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The Pursuit of Happiness - Love Junk - 1988

The first LP from this Canadian quintet seemed like a godsend to many aging rock fans; Love Junk combines grown-up irony with obsessive adolescent lust, setting it all in a convincing, energetic hard rock-pop crunch. Lead singer/songwriter/guitarist Moe Berg's lyrics are simultaneously literate, wise, poignant and irremediably horny. The key cut on the LP is the wry "I'm an Adult Now," but that's just for starters; Love Junk is delightful and surprising from beginning to end. Berg's chord changes and structure bear the unmistakable influence of Todd Rundgren, who proved a most simpatico producer as well.-[Glenn Kenny] Trouser Press

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The Innocents - Pop Factory - 2006

The Innocents evolved from an Australian power pop band called Beathoven, which scored a few hits down under back in the 1970s; while the Innocents had talent to spare, they didn't have the same luck as their earlier incarnation, and significantly a retrospective collection of their 1980s recordings was called No Hit Wonders from Down Under. However, despite wives, kids, and day jobs, the Innocents never completely gave up the ghost, and 2006's Pop Factory shows they haven't lost a bit of their touch over the years. Pop Factory is a glorious collection of sun-dappled melodies, superb harmonies, chiming guitars, and songs that would have done the Hollies or Badfinger proud once upon a time. Guitarists David Minchin, Rob Smith, and Charles Touber and bassist Greg Cracknell all sing and write the tunes, and each delivers the goods here, from the small-time musician's lament "Here Comes the Loser" to the glorious upbeat romance of "Your Precious Touch," and their production smarts are just as keen as their musicianship. While sunny pop is the order of the day (for the most part), they know how to crank up the tempo when the tune demands it, and the rock guitar figures on "While I Sleep" suggest they remember what it was like to open for AC/DC all those years ago. Pop Factory doesn't sound like the work of a handful of week-enders trying to relive their brief moment of pop stardom, but instead stands as a mature and vital work from a band that is as talented and committed as anyone making classic-style pop today. Those wishing that either Alex Chilton or Eric Carmen would come to their senses and make great records again will find new heroes after giving the Innocents a listen. -AMG

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Emitt Rhodes - Emitt Rhodes - 1970

Most cult heroes are cult heroes by design. Either his or her music is too esoteric to be accepted by the mainstream, or his or her personality too erratic or weird for most people to understand or tolerate. In either respect, the artist usually has sought out selective rather than widespread acceptance on purpose. The cult audience, in turn, is grateful for the opportunity to feel superior to all the stupid, smelly legions of idiots who make up the majority of the music-buying public.
Then there's people like Emitt Rhodes, who's a cult hero for no good reason whatsoever. Far from obscure, his music is loaded with melodic charisma, that essential ingredient that makes you want to hear some records over and over again. Often called a musical dead ringer for Sir Paul McCartney, Rhodes is really the Macca we all wish Macca would be: an incredible pop tunesmith without all the gooey sentimentality and overflowing cuteness. The crown jewel of Rhodes' small body of work is his self-titled debut album. Released to critical acclaim and modest commercial success in 1970, Emitt Rhodes has since taken on mythical status among power-pop and '70's rock aficionados. The album is a tour-de-force: just like McCartney on his first solo album, Rhodes played all the instruments and sang all the vocals himself. But even more impressive are the songs. Only 20 years old at the time, Rhodes had already absorbed the best of '60s rock and matched it. Lennon/McCartney certainly weren't writing songs the caliber of "Somebody Made for Me" or "With My Face on the Floor" at that age. This precocious, good-looking kid should have been unstoppable.-[Steven J. Hyden]Perfect Sound Forever

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Fountains of Wayne - Welcome Interstate Managers - 2003

Fans waiting for Fountains of Wayne to finally quit goofing around and release a sonically experimental, brooding collection of "serious music" are just going to have to keep waiting. Luckily, the number of their listeners hoping for anything besides another infectious batch of sunny singalong numbers from Adam Schlesinger, Chris Collingwood, and company is probably about the same as the number of people waiting for the White Stripes to record a smooth jazz record. On the mind-numbingly charming Welcome Interstate Managers, Fountains of Wayne do what they do best. And while they reinforce their reputation as the reigning deities of uptempo, big-guitar pop/rock with feel-good anthems like "Mexican Wine," "Bright Future in Sales," "Stacy's Mom," and "Little Red Light," they also continue their proud tradition of mellow yet equally tongue-in-cheek tunes. While their debut album had "Sick Day" and "You Curse at Girls," and Utopia Parkway featured "Prom Theme" and "The Senator's Daughter," Welcome Interstate Managers introduces "Fire Island," a plea to be left home alone when the parents go on vacation, and "All Kinds of Time," perhaps the best (and first) musical interpretation of a slow-motion football replay ever recorded. But the bouncing acoustic guitars of "Hey Julie" are definitely the high point. This time, the one flaw may simply be that the group doesn't know when to say when. Their two previous releases closed with lazy ballads, and this time they build to a perfect finale with "Fire Island." Unfortunately, they follow it with four more songs that add little to the quality of the album. Still, CD players were made with skip buttons for a reason, and too much material is usually preferable to too little. Even without the last four tracks, Welcome Interstate Managers had more than enough pitch-perfect melodies and smile-inducing lyrics to make it a defining album for the summer of 2003. And if that's not your thing, well, maybe some winter they'll finally put out that somber record you've been waiting for.-[Mark Vanderhoff] AMG

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Singles - Better Than Before - 2003

The Singles are a well-dressed foursome of guys barely in their twenties who hail from garage rock central U.S.A., better known on the map as Detroit, MI. They don't have much in common with the others bands on the scene except for a lot of energy in their approach and a healthy respect for the past. Instead of looking to the Stooges or the blues for inspiration, the Singles look to classic pop sources like the Beatles, the Who, the Kinks, Buddy Holly, and the Flamin' Groovies (bass player Dave Lawson even resembles Groovie guitarist Cyril Jordan circa 1976) for their inspiration. Main Single Vince Frederick writes unswervingly snappy tunes and delivers the chirpy vocals with just the right amount of teenage angst. The tracks alternate hard-charging beat rockers like "No More Places (Left to Go)," the Buddy Holly-channeling "See You Again," and the tambourine-shaking "He Can Go, You Can Stay" with sensitive beat ballads like "Waited So Long" (which has a monster guitar solo by Will Yates), "Since You've Been Gone," and the lilting "There's Nothing Wrong When I'm With You." Better Than Before rushes past in a blur of melody, harmony, and energy without a single weak song, and thanks to Jim Diamond's clean but not sterile production the record sounds live and alive. While the Singles have a way to go before they match their idols, their debut record gets them off on the right foot. Fans of power pop, guitar pop, garage pop, and just plain pop should check these kids out. They may not be better than before, but they are better than a lot of today. -AMG

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Chris von Sneidern - Big White Lies - 1994

After serving (unrecorded) stints with such Bay Area pop stalwarts as Flying Color and the Sneetches, Syracuse, New York native Chris Von Sneidern unleashed Sight & Sound, the first of his remarkably beautiful pop masterpieces, in 1993. Using his guitar and pen to fashion pretty, Badfinger-esque songs — the desperate "Bad Black Lonesome," the Merseybeat homage "Annalisa," the moving, lilting "Life Start Living" and the frightening, Big Star 3rd-like "Never Again, My Love" to name just a few — Von Sneidern imbues the album with unparalleled pop vision and sheer melodic genius. A near-perfect beginning.
Big White Lies is every bit as strong as the debut; the dozen songs include a well-placed cover of Bread's "Everything I Own" alongside such lovely originals as the summery "Roll On," the dreamy (natch) "Dream Away" and the slightly more forceful "Hard Again." Von Sneidern has a definite gift for both songwriting and arranging; unobtrusive little touches include the exotic percussion on the catchy title track and Bryan Higgins' sweet french horn flourishes (à la the Beatles' "For No One") on "Here I Go." The whole package (purportedly the first to contain interactive CD-ROM liner notes) is an essential pop treasure from one of the most talented auteurs to come along in ages. -[John M. Borack] Trouser Press

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The Quarter After - The Quarter After - 2005

Between them, singing brothers Dominic Campanella and Rob Campanella have been at least an adjunct member of just about every band in the axis between the Brian Jonestown Massacre, Beachwood Sparks and the Tyde. Unsurprisingly, the self-titled debut by their own band works that circa-'67 L.A. sound, with heavy echoes of the pre-David Axelrod the Electric Prunes, Buffalo Springfield, and various other half-forgotten exemplars of the sound, minimizing the country-rock inflections of Beachwood Sparks (only notable on the Neil Young-like "Mirror to You") or much of the slightly unhinged experimentalism of the the Brian Jonestown Massacre. For a little less than half of the album, the brothers, along with bassist David Koenig and drummer Nelson Bragg, do a pretty good pastiche of Sunset Strip psychedelia, kicking up a particularly lysergic head of steam on the self-explanatory "One Trip Later." The problem is that the other half of the album, nearly a full thirty minutes, consists of three endless acid-guitar jams that don't justify their overextended length; the most frustrating one is the nine-minute "Taken," which cooks up a good old-fashioned freight train momentum and then blows it on a flaccid and seemingly endless solo. At about four-and-a-half minutes, it would be the best song on the album, but at nine-minutes-and-16-seconds, it's a prime candidate for the forward skip button. With an editor and a bit more emphasis on Love than the Quicksilver Messenger Service, the Quarter After may really have something. -AMG

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The Merrymakers - Bubblegun - 1996

By this point in their career, it seems as if the duo of Anders Hellgren and David Myhr should have four or five acclaimed releases under their belts and be household names in the world of pop music. Bubblegun, however, is only the Merrymakers' second full-length album (and their first in the U.S.), though they have been making unabashedly joyous and pretty pop since 1991. Their first album, No Sleep 'til Famous, brought the comparatively innocent and clear-eyed pop of the '60s into the '90s via a sophisticated and clean production. The band does the same on Bubblegun, crafting a set of songs that sound as if they could all be singles. Undoubtedly, many of them would have been hits in the era from which they glean their influences, but the Merrymakers are not a retro act; they simply write gorgeous, catchy pop songs that are universal, transcending both time and place. Very rarely anymore do choruses explode out of speakers and simply envelop the listener with pure pleasure as do songs such as "Saltwater Drinks," "Troubled Times" and "Superstar." The songs, though they are incredibly melodic and crisply produced, are not in the least vapid. There is an edginess to many of the tracks, and lyrically, the Merrymakers do not shy away from difficult themes: "Monkey in the Middle" and "Superstar" deal with fading fame while the theme of lost love is all over the album ("April's Fool," "Sad," "Ms. Demeanour"). Never, though, does this cause the music or listening experience to drag or grate. Former Jellyfish frontman Andy Sturmer helps out on production on a few songs (and co-wrote a couple cuts), and he is a perfect match for the band. Since this is the band's first American release, Big Deal has added a bonus to the package: a second CD containing five songs from their first album. Those songs have a slightly more trippy feel to them but shine just as brightly as the songs on the first CD. It makes for a virtually flawless pop album: in a perfect world, Bubblegun would make the Merrymakers a household name. -AMG

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The Wonder Stuff - The Eight Legged Groove Machine - 1988

Like the Buzzcocks with the irony meter turned to 11, or a much less sweet-natured version of the so-called "blonde pop" bands of the time (Primitives, Darling Buds, etc.), the Wonder Stuff's debut album is a crisply recorded batch of buzzy little two-minute guitar pop songs. What made the Wonder Stuff different was the arrogant brashness — bordering on megalomania — of singer/songwriter Miles Hunt. Hunt's lyrics, typified by song titles like "No for the 13th Time," "Give Give Give Me More More More," and especially "Astley in the Noose" (a scathing condemnation of Stock-Aitken-Waterman-brand dance pop focusing on the insipid but basically harmless Rick Astley) are cutting and sarcastic; what saves the group is the fact that they never actually tip over into mean-spiritedness. The fact that the album's title is entirely descriptive helps considerably as well. Not a one of these songs is less than catchy and memorable, and the best, like "Rue the Day" and "Some Sad Someone," are outstanding. The Eight Legged Groove Machine is to be taken with a rather large pinch of salt, but it's a most enjoyable listen. -AMG

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Monday, April 28, 2008

The La's - The La's - 1990

Unlike other Britpop groups emerging around the same time, The La's took cues from '60s beat, rather than psychedelia, new wave or punk. On its lone album, the distinctive Liverpool quartet — which favored acoustic guitars and folky harmonies but delivered taut electric rock as well — echoes groups like the Hollies, Searchers and Beatles. Lee Mavers writes profoundly tuneful songs with thoughtful words and sings them with a skilled mixture of pop allure ("There She Goes" is an absolute gem) and pub-band sturdiness ("Failure" is an odd bit of garage punk). Beyond melodic assets, the La's make good, independent-minded use of rhythm as well. "Liberty Ship" has the seafaring tempo to match its lyrical metaphor, while "Way Out" pairs a measured drum/rhythm-guitar beat with double-time lead figures; "Freedom Song" uses the oompah swing of a Kurt Weill number. But that was all the troubled band could manage. Mavers has since made himself scarce, although "There She Goes" regularly pops up on movie soundtracks to convey the exhilaration of young love.- [Ira Robbins/Gary Graff] Trouser Press

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The Nice Boys - The Nice Boys - 2006

In a perfect world, the Nice Boys wouldn't exist, and the fact that they do is a triumph of the D.I.Y. punk spirit in the face of almost inconceivable tragedy. The roots of the Nice Boys lie in the Exploding Hearts, a young power pop band from Portland, OR. Formed in the early 2000s but spiritually influenced by the late-'70s British power pop scene of the Buzzcocks and the Jam, the Exploding Hearts released an extremely promising debut album, Guitar Romantic, on Dirtnap Records in the spring of 2003. Sadly, while touring in support of the album, the Exploding Hearts' van rolled on Interstate 5 outside of Eugene, OR, on July 20, 2003, killing singer Adam Cox, bassist Matt Fitzgerald, and drummer Jeremy Gage.The sole surviving member of the Exploding Hearts, guitarist Terry Six, spent quite some time convalescing before beginning his next project. Joining with guitarist Gabe Lageson and bassist Colin Jarrell, both formerly of a minor Portland power pop act called the Riffs, Six formed the Nice Boys in late 2004, largely abandoning the punky side of the Exploding Hearts in favor of a jangly, harmony-rich take on '70s Anglocentric power pop (think of the Records, the Motors, and the Yachts), with the three members dividing the songwriting about equally. With Six temporarily doubling on lead guitar and drums and taking the lead vocal role, the trio recorded the 2005 single "You Won't See Me Anymore" b/w "Lipstick Love," releasing it on the small Portland indie Discourage Records in the spring of 2004. Adding drummer Alan Mansfield and the studio-only keyboardist Brian Lelko, the Nice Boys released their self-titled debut album on Birdman Records in August 2006.-AMG

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Tommy Keene - Songs from the Film - 1986

In what seemed like an attempt by Geffen to make a "big" pop record and endear Keene to an audience wider than critics and a small cult of discerning record buyers, renowned producer Geoff Emerick (Elvis Costello, Beatles) only succeeded at rounding the edges, thus stealing the spark from Keene's performance. The drums are buried in the mix and Keene's distinctive vocals obscured behind a wash of studio processing, but fortunately, Keene's talent shines through in memorable songwriting and biting guitar solos. "In Our Lives" and "Goldtown" are classic Tommy Keene melodic power rockers, while "The Story Ends" stands among his best Beatlesque ballads. But the infectious "Places That Are Gone," which opens side one, sounds awkwardly sped up and doesn't come close to matching the quiet intensity of the version that appeared as the title track of the 1984 Dolphin EP. The story has it that Geffen rejected the original Songs From the Film sessions, produced by T-Bone Burnett and Don Dixon, to make this record, although the label at least momentarily came to their senses and released tracks from those sessions later that year on the excellent Run Now EP. [Geffen's 1998 CD reissue of Songs from the Film includes the Run Now EP, plus four previously unreleased songs: "Take Back Your Letters," "We're Two," an alternate full-band take of "Faith in Love" and a live cover of the Flamin' Groovies' "Teenage Head."] -AMG

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The Waxwings - Low To the Ground - 2000

Mere words cannot describe the heaven of this record. Gathering up everything that is great about pop music -- inventive melodies, soaring vocals, crunchy, snarling guitars in a lush production -- the Waxwings debut record is one of the best releases of this (or any other) year.
Imagine what sort of records Brian Wilson would have made if he had been chasing the Stones and Syd Barrett instead of McCartney and the Beatles, and you will have an idea of the band's sound. From the rush of "Keeping the Sparks" to the summoning beauty of "It Comes in Waves", Low to the Ground arrives like cool rain on a hot day.
This is the way records should be made -- great playing and singing of songs written, not sampled, adapted or otherwise stolen -- all in a work that shows something new, something deeper on each listen. Not unlike label-mates Velvet Crush, The Waxwings set high standards. For a band to do this on their first shot out of the barrel is frightening indeed. Take the coins from a dead man's eyes and buy this record.-[James Mann] Pop


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The Rooks - The Rooks - 1993

There have been countless Beatles imitators over the years, but few artists have demonstrated the ability to build on the group's tuneful legacy with enough originality to add their own twists and shouts. New York's Rooks, led by the immensely talented Michael Mazzarella, is one of the rare exceptions.
The Connecticut-born writer/singer/guitarist/producer gets able assistance on The Rooks from bandmates Kristin Pinell (lead guitar/vocals, the same role she fills in the Grip Weeds), Annmarie Gatti (bass) and Jim Riley (drums), as well as guests like the Grip Weeds' Kurt Reil, Richard X. Heyman and drummer Patrick Yourell (who had previously played with Mazzarella in the Broken Hearts). The Rooks' bright, '60s-influenced pop packs a real wallop, both musically and lyrically. Easy faves are the stately ballad "Steeplechase," the unashamedly Beatlesque "Night Writer" and the swirling "Reasons."-AMG

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The Grays - Ram Sham Bo - 1994

Ro Sham Bo was an interesting experiment, and it remains one of the curious, off-the-path milestones of '90s pop. Four accomplished musicians disillusioned with being in rock bands formed the Grays based on utopian ideals: all members contributing songs, recording together and fleshing out each other's ideas, and playing each other's instruments when it fit certain songs, so no one was the true "leader." In practice, however, the members' strong personalities clashed and brought the project to an end soon after the recording of Ro Sham Bo. It's a very eclectic pop record, stemming from the fact that the different songwriters bring distinct styles to the table. Buddy Judge and Dan McCarroll's tunes tend to be more rhythmically focused jams, like "Everybody's World" and "Is It Now Yet," while Jon Brion and Jason Falkner stick to ultra-cool '70s-style pop/rock, Brion's harmonic melancholy on "Nothing Between Us" contrasting with Falkner's unabashedly catchy jubilation on "Both Belong." But everyone seems to have input into each track, and the result is a nice musical stew, none of the ingredients outshining the others in contribution to the overall taste. Although they weren't able to align musically for more than this one record, all members' attentions seem very focused on fully realizing the tunes on Ro Sham Bo. The instrumentation is thick and hearty, sometimes with four or five overlapping guitar parts and keyboards propelling a song toward its climax. Splashes of psychedelia (backwards tape loops, oddly distorted vocal harmonies) accentuate some of the later tunes, and Falkner displays some rare vitriolic screaming on "Spooky."-AMG

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The Webb Brothers - Maroon - 2000

It shouldn't come as a surprise that the sons of Jimmy Webb ("The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress") have an affinity for emotional bombast and Baroque flourishes. Their second album is full of soaring choruses and orchestral backdrops that might as well have been inspired by Tunesmith, Webb the Elder's giant treatise on the art of song. Less predictable are the steps the brothers take toward forging their own distinctively contemporary voice. Their subject matter is the lifestyle of carefree (and careless) swingers, and they capture it in spare, acidic lyrics that are almost the opposite of their father's grandiloquence. "Fluorescent Lights" is typical: "It's three in the morning she's lovely/But ugly to me/In fluorescent lights we'd be sickening to see." "All the Cocaine in the World" takes the strategy to an extreme. It's built on a single line, repeated in pretty harmony: "All the cocaine in the world/Can't bring back the girl." While the themes remain constant, musical styles fly fast and furious. Jangly guitar and kitschy synthesizers power "Summer People," horns and rolling piano take over for the cha cha "Intermission," and "Fluorescent Lights" is a strings-heavy waltz. The eclecticism, along with the jaded, wasted character of the lyrics, makes Maroon a cousin to Rufus Wainwright's Poses, another breakthrough album by a second-generation songwriter. The marriage of sophisticated, catchy melodies and cynical sentiments also brings to mind the work of Joe Pernice. That's impressive company for a couple of young talents still skulking in the shadows of "MacArthur Park."-AMG

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Sunday, April 27, 2008

Gigolo Aunts - Flippin' Out - 1994

This Boston foursome have a varied approach to power-pop; lead guitarist Phil Hurley appears to have mastered hard rock (the catchy "Bloom"), moving ballads (the title track), and pop songs ("Mrs. Washington," a close parody of "Mrs. Robinson") with an ease that gives this album its consistency. Dave Gibbs' sugar-sweet vocals and backing harmonization are the perfect accompaniment. -[John Bush] AMG

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Someloves - Something Or Other - 1989

The Someloves' sole album is esteemed by some power pop aficionados as one of the genre's best records, getting ranked in the Top Ten of a list of the greatest such albums in a 1999 issue of Goldmine. Power pop fanatics might be even more prone than other special-interest fans to zealously champion items non-specialists might find of average quality, but even taking that into consideration, it seems such praise might be overly generous. Something or Other is a well-done, confident power pop record, heavy on strident, assertive chords, vocal harmonies, bright ringing guitars, and upbeat romantic lyrics. It's not, however, a strikingly original entry in the field, bearing obvious traces of some of key Someloves' songwriters Daryl Mather and Dom Mariani's admitted influences, like Big Star and Dwight Twilley. At times it sounds rather like a more indie pop-oriented Tom Petty as well, particularly in the vocal delivery. The production (with overdubs and mixing done at Mitch Easter's studio) is more layered and nuanced than many such releases, and if this kind of music had been a very commercial style around the globe in 1990, there seems little doubt that these guys could have sold a good many records. It didn't, however, leaving this as something primarily of appeal to power pop cultists, many of whom remain unaware of its existence, the Australian group being pretty obscure on an international level. The entire album has been reissued on one of the two discs in the double-CD compilation Don't Talk About Us: The Real Pop Recordings of the Someloves 1985-89, whose second disc assembles a bunch of non-album singles and previously unreleased items not found on Something or Other itself.-AMG

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The Sonnets - Mystery Girl - 2007

Think of The Beatles. Got that thought? Now kill George and add some modern day funk and better guitar work and you have the Sonnets. They have a feel like The Hives, Interpol, The White Stripes, or any number of other Bealtes era tribute bands. The thing that sets them apart from the rest is their upbeat rhythem and snapping vocals. An interesting band...they have found their sound and they're sticking to it."- IRA Music Review

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Galaxies - Here We Go! - 2008

With all the Power of Pop and all the Edge of Rock, the Galaxies music is a unique mix of melody, harmony, beat and full-out fun that really rocks!! Each member brings with him a knowledge and love of 60’s Pop, 70’s Rock, and today’s energy and excitement! It all starts with the great songs of Bobby Cox. A talented singer, guitarist and composer whose time on stage has made him a gifted performer. Underneath it all is a foundation cemented by Charlie Molinari’s powerful and driving backbeats and Will Macgregor’s impeccable bass playing. Skills they honed from playing hundreds of live shows. In the studio they produced, arranged, edited and mixed this album with one thought in mind: Right foot down! Together these guys play songs that you just can’t get out of your head!

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Swag - Catchall - 2001

Swag were conceived as a fun side project by various musicians known primarily for their roles in other bands (particularly Ken Coomer of Wilco, Tom Petersson of Cheap Trick, and Robert Reynolds of the Mavericks). And, unlike some such ideas, they do actually sound like they're having fun on this pastiche of/homage to vintage '60s and '70s pop/rock styles. It's a diverse program of originals in that mold, sometimes taking cues from straight-ahead guitar power pop with ringing guitars, sometimes from fey McCartney-esque late-'60s acoustic pop-psych ("Near Perfect Smile" and "Different Girl"), sometimes from Remains-like mid-'60s organ rock guitar crunch ("Please Don't Tell"), sometimes from early Elvis Costello ("Eight"), and even from Cheap Trick themselves ("Ride," which even has a Cheap Trick reference in the lyrics). It's not the type of thing which is bound to impress listeners with wallfuls of original '60s pop/rock and '70s power pop to serve as comparisons, but it's better than the norm for such things, and well-executed. Four of the 12 songs on the band's debut full-length disc were previously released, but eight make their first appearance here.-AMG.

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The Toms - The Toms - 1979

Years before home computers, ADAT's and Pro Tools, guys like Tom Marolda were in thier basements or bedrooms trying to cram all the sounds in thier heads onto Tascam 4/8 track reel-to-reel decks. That he came up with such a classic gem of a LP is a credit to his talent and his inventiveness with now-primative equipment. The Toms S/T ranks right up there with Todd Rundgren's "Something/Anything", Emitt Rhodes debut LP, and The Shoes classic "Black Vinyl Shoes" as one of the best homemade DIY Power Pop albums of the 1970's. The songs are airtight, Tom's playing is enthusiastic and all-out fun, and the punchy compressed production despite some murkiness makes many punk/new wave recordings of the late 70's done in professional 24 track studios sound lifeless and boring.-Billy G. Spradlin - Jangle Radio On

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The Posies - Frosting On the Beater - 1993

Frosting on the Beater opens with a thick wall of distorted guitars and booming drums kicking up a very melodic fuss behind Ken Stringfellow and Jonathan Auer's creamy-smooth harmonies on the psych-tinged "Dream All Day," and the track's sweet-and-sour blend immediately announces this is going to be a very different affair than the Posies' major label debut, Dear 23. With noisy rock dude Don Fleming in the producer's chair, it came as no great surprise that Frosting on the Beater was a much harder sounding album than the introspective Dear 23, but surprisingly enough, Fleming also knew how to make the most of the band's expert pop songwriting; with the tempos and guitars turned, the tunes gained a needed physical impact that brought the melodies and hooks into the forefront, where they belonged. Just as importantly, the spot-on harmonies that were the highlight of Dear 23 were still very much in evidence, resting atop the piles of fuzzy guitar chords like a dollop of hot fudge poured over a big scoop of ice cream. And prior to this, who knew that Ken Stringfellow and Jonathan Auer could rock out so hard (and so well) on guitars? One could argue that the big guitar attack of Frosting on the Beater was simply the Posies' way of trying to cash in on the grunge sweepstakes that briefly turned their hometown of Seattle into the center of the rock universe. But one listen also reveals that it transformed a smart but overly precious pop outfit into a hard-charging power pop band that gained a wealth of strength without giving up any of their smarts in the process — not a bad bargain.-AMG

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Teenage Fanclub - Grand Prix - 1995

Without casting off its basic approach, Teenage Fanclub (now including new drummer Paul Quinn) transformed itself into a Byrdsy/Beatlesque country-rock combo on Grand Prix. Completing an organic progression that leaves the group just on the other side of a crucial line in the stylistic sand, the enticing album tones everything down — sounds and emotions. The production is occasionally conspicuous, and the record lets the energy lag in spots, but it's a largely successful course adjustment. With McGinley, Love and Blake each writing a third of the songs, the diverse album takes cues from all sorts of eras and idioms; for every strong country leaning (the Revolver-ish "About You," the Chiltonesque "Neil Jung," the acoustic "Say No"), there's a more familiar-sounding pop number (the swoony "I'll Make It Clear," the daring "Verisimilitude," the rousing "Don't Look Back") and something unprecedented (the piano-based "Tears," the ripping/whispering "Hardcore/Ballad").-[Ira Robbins/Matthew Kaplan] Trouser Press

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Teenage Fanclub - Grand Prix - 1995
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Friday, April 25, 2008

Cherry Twister - At Home With Cherry Twister - 2000

The title says it all: Cherry Twister are a homespun pop group, and At Home With Cherry Twister is a collection of their homemade demo recordings. Led by frontman Steve Ward, Cherry Twister embody the D.I.Y. ethic of Ram-era McCartney while sounding like they spend lots of time listening to Beach Boys and Big Star records. The guitars are alternately chiming and crunchy all over this one, with gooey, almost sticky-sweet background vocals drenched over every bridge and chorus. The problem is that it sounds better on paper. Like all too many of their peers, Cherry Twister fail to stumble across anything resembling a truly memorable hook (with a few notable exceptions, such as "Meteorite"). And at 16 tracks, the album is an awful lot to swallow, given the lack of an obvious entry point, and given that Steve Ward's rather pinched vocals are an acquired taste. Even with these limitations, At Home With Cherry Twister became one of the most popular guitar pop cult records of the late '90s, showing that Ward's endearingly quirky songwriting and the Twister's devotion to '60s-influenced three-and-a-half minute pop singles certainly reached quite a few listeners.-AMG

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Richard Lloyd - Alchemy - 1979

Shortly after Television's first finish, lead guitarist Richard Lloyd stepped out from Tom Verlaine's shadow with Alchemy, a gem of a solo album. Singing lead on ten of his own songs, Lloyd — backed by Television bassist Fred Smith, Jim Mastro of the Bongos and other New York scenesters — spins a beautiful, understated web. On his own, Lloyd, whose guitar skills remain beyond reproach, also proves himself to be a fine songwriter, a limited but engaging vocalist and a relaxed team player who never hogs the spotlight. The material (especially the wonderful title track and the stirringly pretty "Misty Eyes") is in the melodic, sensitive vein of late-period Television, minus Verlaine's rough edges and manic intensity.-Trouser Press [Ira Robbins]

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Cheepskates - It Wings Above - 1988

The Cheepskates' "It Wings Above" is rooted in some of the same 1960s rock that informed their early work, but also has a somewhat more modern power pop and alt-rock sensibility. One of the chief traits distinguishing this from other retro-sounding groups is the light and winsome tonality of Shane Faubert's lead vocals, which contrasts heavily with the generic snot-brat garage attitude many revivalist-style combos adopt. There's a little bit of a surf thrust to the tempo and percussive drive of some of the tunes, which are generally airy and peppy love tunes. It's not a major accomplishment, but it's fairly pleasant pop-rock that's neither insipid nor crude.-AMG[Richie Unterberger]

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Splitsville - Presents...The Complete PetSoul - 2001

Splitsville's fourth album is a complete departure from anything the band had previously done. Originally recorded as a four-song EP to be given away as a sort of party favor at the first International Pop Overthrow festival in Los Angeles, the much-expanded The Complete Pet Soul is, as the title implies, a dual tribute to both Pet Sounds and Rubber Soul. On the original EP, the Pet Sounds influence came through more strongly, thanks to the heavily orchestrated feel, but on this full-length version, the orchestral tracks are nicely balanced with several new songs that recall the low-voltage, almost folk-rock sound that predominated on the original U.S. edition of Rubber Soul. Still, the Pet Sounds pastiche tracks are the real standouts simply for being done with such obvious affection and good humor, especially the swooning "Caroline Knows" and the almost Smile-like multi-part mini-operetta "The Love Songs of B. Douglas Wilson," which is the album's high point. Musically, it should have been the album's closing track, but instead, a cover of Burt Bacharach and Hal David's "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" recorded for the soundtrack of the cheerleading film Bring It On is tacked on at the end. It doesn't quite match the mood of the rest of the album, and it's certainly not a patch on Dionne Warwick's version, so it's an odd, equivocal ending to an otherwise superb album.-AMG

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Utopia - Utopia - 1982

Utopia followed Swing to the Right, their first album for Elektra subsidiary Network, a mere six months after, dubbing the new album Utopia. Presumably, an eponymous release signaled a new beginning for the group, which is true to a certain extent. Utopia finally became a true collective here, with each member's contributions sounding remarkably similar, in performance and composition. Very few tunes bear an unmistakable Rundgren stamp, and even when they do, it's been processed into a signature Utopia sound — the first time they could truly be said to have a sound of their own. Strangely, this happens on an album where the group makes a self-conscious effort to sound contemporary, dressing in new wave gear for the cover shoot while molding the music after synthesized new wave pop. Granted, that quirkiness masks a fairly traditional set of Utopia arena pop, yet these songs wind up as the most consistent album in the group's catalog — which is saying a lot, considering that the album spreads over three sides. Utopia rarely sags in momentum, and even the weaker songs aren't far removed from the stronger material, highlighted by "Bad Little Actress," "Hammer in My Heart," "Princess of the Universe," and the excellent single "Feet Don't Fail Me Now." They had their moments before, but Utopia is where the band finally made a thoroughly enjoyable record; too bad they couldn't extend it through their final two records.-AMG

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Shimshaws - Subcutaneous - 2004

An amazing CD, arriving out of the blue, looking no different than any other---but *sounding* like something else, something that will ingrain long term memory inside its many beguiling and piquant melodies. It`s an interesting blend of classic power pop, rootsy pop and jangly Americana. Don`t let the last one scare you, pop fans, if yr not into the whole No Depression thing...this is all about well-crafted pop. We`re talking a wide range of coolness.....Bill Lloyd, Richard X. Heyman, The Reivers, The dB`s and "Dear 23"-era The Posies(quite a bit) but also Steve Earle and John Hiatt, you`ll hear in new context. Unpretentious melody, spirited hooks drive the entire CD from start to finish, this is jangle-roots-pop of the highest sort and The Shimshaws` alluring and fetching grasp of melody and illustrious hooks will leave many picking this up dropping us a line and say "Yo, many thanks!". Which brings us full circle: This is what Not Lame is all about. Extremely Highly Recommended.- Not Lame

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The Poppin' Wheelies - The Poppin' Wheelies - 2000

In 1995, Robin Wilson, lead singer of Gin Blossoms, had an idea for an animated TV series, called The Poppin' Wheelies: a teenage rock & roll band with a magical guitar travels through outer space while being chased by an evil witch's minion new wave band, the Techno-pops, who try to retrieve the enchanted instrument. The disc's artwork was done by Alejandro Garza (E.V.E Protomecha), one of the top names in the comic book industry. The Poppin' Wheelies character design is largely based on locals of the Tempe music scene, including late Gin Blossoms founder Doug Hopkins. The concept for the show harks back to a time when rock was a staple of Saturday morning. Inspiration for the show came from the cartoons of the 1970s, including The Banana Splits, Captain Kool and the Kongs, Josie and the Pussycats, The Bugaloos, and even The Osmonds. The The Poppin Wheelies soundtrack is as sweet as a bowl of Sugar Crisps cereal and is a collection of ten bubblegum pop songs, including covers of tunes by Starclub and Tommy Keene. Keene, an overlooked power pop musician who heavily influenced Gin Blossoms, is also the inspiration for the main character, Otis. The Poppin Wheelies combines Wilson's true loves: rock & roll, sci-fi/fantasy, comic books, and animation. Fans of Gin Blossoms should track this CD down. It's a fun, Beatlesque record, especially for those who feel that the sweet pop sounds of the 1980s went away too fast. Distributed through Wilson's website: and Diamond Comics Distributors.-JT Griffith, All Music Guide

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Model Rockets - Tell the Kids the Cops Are Here - 2002

Saying that a band is power pop may automatically evoke thoughts of Big Star, the Raspberries, or the Knack, but such a narrow definition would completely miss a band like Model Rockets. Yes, they are power pop — whatever that means — but they owe a lot more to late-period dB's than to any of the above. Actually, the dB's comparison is crucial here, as not only does Tell the Kids the Cops Are Here sound pleasantly like Sound of Music-era dB's, but lead vocalist John Ramberg is occasionally a vocal dead-ringer for Chris Stamey. And as if that isn't enough, Scott McCaughey of the Young Fresh Fellows returns to twiddle the knobs on this release. If any of those references sound familiar or give an idea of what to expect, then Tell the Kids the Cops Are Here is almost certainly for you. The Rockets' old sense of humor is intact here, with lighthearted if not explicitly goofy lyrics sprinkled throughout the album, and the songwriting is consistently memorable and upbeat. Model Rockets are very much a jangle pop band, but are easily one of the best bands in that often hit-or-miss subgenre; while many rely too heavily on craft and style, Model Rockets' sardonic wit, unpolished hooks, and willingness to delve into both alt-country and post-punk give this album its vital edge. Even the tracks that don't make an instant impression reveal their charms on repeat listens, establishing Tell the Kids the Cops Are Here as one of those rare pop records that sounds different — and better — on the tenth, 30th, and 50th listens.-AMG

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Sloan - Twice Removed - 1994

This is the sophomore album from critically acclaimed Canadian power pop act Sloan. Twice Removed contains 12 tracks of accomplished pop that evokes the sunny charm and effortless melodicism of The Beatles and The Beach Boys. "4 1/2 stars.. Twice Removed is a clever and varied collection of smart and catchy pop songs. Without the grunge-era production that smothered some of the best songs on Smeared, the sparkling wit of the lyrics and catchy directness of the melodies shine through. All four members write and sing, which accounts for the variation between songs like the punkish opener, "Penpals," and the chiming guitars and "ba-ba-ba" chorus of the sublime "People of the Sky," the highest of the album`s high points. Other goodies include the puckish media slam "I Hate My Generation" and the dreamy, largely acoustic closer, "I Can Feel It," with its harmonies by Jale`s Jennifer Pierce. Not everything works quite so well -- the seven-minute "Before I Do" is at least two and a half minutes too long -- but Twice Removed was the first indication that Sloan was more than Canada`s answer to the Lemonheads."-AMG

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Velvet Crush - Teenage Symphonies To God - 1994

This is a HUGE classic of the `power pop` idiom and new comers to `the sound` should consider this to be one of, say, 20 `must haves` to represent what insanely memorable and catchy pop music is all about. "4 1/2 stars......Velvet Crush`s second album is an old-fashioned pop record: 12 songs in 40 minutes, filled with ultra-melodic guitar hooks and simple, memorable melodies. While it`s traditional in form, the music on Teenage Symphonies to God isn`t retro. Velvet Crush manage to inject a real enthusiasm and freshness in the standard three-minute pop song, whether they`re playing originals that sound like forgotten classics ("Time Wraps Around You," "This Life is Killing Me," "My Blank Pages," "Hold Me Up") or forgotten classics themselves ( Gene Clark `s "Why Not Your Baby" and Matthew Sweet `s "Something`s Gotta Give"). With a crisp, warm production from Mitch Easter ,Teenage Symphonies to God is one record that deserves to take its title from Brian Wilson ."-AMG

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Any Trouble - Where Are All The Nice Girls? - 1980

Any Trouble was an underappreciated bright spot on Stiff Records, a label which had no shortage of talented artists. Bandleader Clive Gregson's appearance, hardened love songs, and vocal style may have led to comparisons to Elvis Costello, but they were no second-rate rip-off — each of their four albums revealed a songwriter of unique talent and a more-than-capable band to execute the songs.
Stiff enlisted John Wood, a renowned producer (Nick Drake, John Martyn, Richard Thompson) who had recently produced Squeeze, to produce Any Trouble's first album. "Where Are All the Nice Girls?" which had all the makings of a new wave classic, was met with some rave reviews but failed to rack up the big sales that were expected of it. After the record failed commercially, Stiff suggested that Gregson drop the band and redefine himself as a solo artist à la Elvis Costello. Gregson declined, deciding instead to replace the band's weak link, drummer Harley, with the more capable Martin Hughes. They began work on the follow-up immediately.-AMG

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The Rubinoos - Back to the Drawing Board - 1979

For a brief moment, the Rubinoos seemed to be the last hope for pure pop music, carrying on the tradition of the Raspberries with an engaging blend of innocent bubblegum and power pop. The band was formed in 1973 by teenage friends Jon Rubin (vocals, guitar) and Tommy Dunbar (guitar, keyboards, vocals) along with Royse Adler (bass) and Donn Spindt (drums), but it wasn't until 1977 that they made their recording debut for Beserkley Records. The single, a cover of Tommy James' "I Think We're Alone Now," made an appearance in the lower reaches of the U.S. charts, giving the indie label their first hit. The same year, their self-titled debut LP received rave reviews all-around but failed commercially.
Back to the Drawing Board (1979), another solid collection of bouncy pop songs, again went ignored despite its classic single "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend." The band effectively broke up the following year.-AMG

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The Bad Examples - Bad Is Beautiful - 1991

One of the salutary side effects of rock's indie-fueled progression leftward has been a general elevation of bar-band standards. The number of balding journeymen bashing out today's chart hits for tonight's barflies probably hasn't shrunk, but today's population of knockabout groups with tried and true virtues, a thorough lack of trendy pretensions and the burning ambition to write and record their own material have appreciably more on the ball than those Johnny B. Goode-enough rockers largely displaced when underground modernists took over most urban sinkholes possessing a stage and a sink.
The Bad Examples is a good example of this upward trend. In its poppy Beatlisms, the Chicago quartet bears more than a passing resemblance to another onetime bar band, Squeeze. Singer/guitarist Ralph Covert writes solidly tuneful songs in a variety of Midwest rock veins (one of which favors the Spin Doctors); the group plays 'em all with engaging skill — if an unfortunate weakness for shmaltz. Although there's absolutely no need for another desolate number about waiting for the phone to ring ("Statue by the Phone"), and the phrase "sick and tired of being sick and tired" (used in "Ashes of My Heart") is hereby banished to the songwriters' book of untouchable clichés, most of the numbers on Bad Is Beautiful say something original in an easily familiar way. "Faces in Picasso's Notebook" is a touching post-breakup get-together; "One Perfect Moment" removes a skeptical curtain from romance; "Stranger Than Fiction" and "Promises in the Dark" both acknowledge encroaching adulthood: "Someone as old as you should never look for the truth/In promises made in the dark." -[Ira Robbins]Trouser Press

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Material Issue - International Pop Overthrow - 1991

Material Issue were on the great shining lights in the power pop scene in the early 90`s when there was not much to it. This debut was their best selling(supposedly sold 300,000).
MI married the tight and melodic commercial appeal of acts like Cheap Trick and the Knack with the jangly guitars and cockiness of early-`90s Britpop. "4 1/2 stars... singer/songwriter and guitarist Ellison and partners Ted Ansani on bass and Mike Zelenko on drums sound like power pop classicists, worshiping at the altar of Big Star, the Raspberries, and the Scruffs, though Ellison`s melodies are leaner and more direct than those of his obvious inspirations, and his willingness to turn up the tempos and let the guitars distort reminds all listeners that punk influenced good pop as much as pop influenced good punk.. he production by Jeff Murphy (whose band Shoes was doubtless another key influence on MI`s sound) is clean and uncluttered, but maybe a bit too much so -- while nothing gets in the band`s way, the group rarely displays as much power as it deserves, and the boomy sound could stand to be balanced with a bit more top-end crunch. But anyone who was looking for the future of power pop in 1991 might well have imagined these guys were it, and not without reason -- International Pop Overthrow is smart, hooky, and not afraid to sound edgy or let the amps go into the red."-AMG

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Dirty Looks - Dirty Looks - 1980

Not to be confused with the Hard Rock band from the late 80s, THIS Dirty Looks (Patrick Barnes, Peter Parker and Marco Sin) signed to Stiff in 1979 after only 10 gigs and have the unique record of claiming Stiff's biggest ever selling album in the US. Their eponymous debut album was released to positive reviews in August 80 - produced by Tim Friese-Green, it included a duo of great singles in 'Let Go' and 'Lie To Me'. Epic released the album in the US where it sold almost 100,000 copies.
"If you can get past the flat, brittle production on Dirty Looks (try cranking it up loud), you`ll find this Staten Island, New York trio playing power pop with a vengeance. Chief assets: good melodic instincts coupled with tight, lean drive, like an adolescent Cheap Trick gone new wave. Moodily ranging through taut reggae ("Disappearing"), crazed quasi-rockabilly ("Drop That Tan"), even an emotionally masochistic ballad ("Lie to Me"), they may seem to let their depression run away with them, but when Dirty Looks soar, you might even be convinced that "rock`n`roll is still the best drug" (from the memorable "Let Go"). "-TrouserPress

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Monday, April 21, 2008

The Records - The Records - 1979

Shades in Bed...
The Records are probably best remembered for their cult classic and minor hit "Starry Eyes" -- a near-perfect song that defined British power pop in the '70s. And while they never quite matched the success of that record, their high-quality output from 1979 to 1982 has not only held up better than most of the era with its timeless appeal, but has also served as a blueprint for the various waves of British and American power-pop since then. Some have gone as far as to call them the "British Big Star," which is probably a fair comparison -- within their genre, they're seen as giants, yet the general public has missed them for the most part.-Chris Woodstra, All Music Guide

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Cretones - Thin Red Line - 1980

Los Angeles-based power pop combo the Cretones were comprised of singer/guitarist Mark Goldenberg, bassist Peter Bernstein, keyboardist Steve Leonard, and drummer Steve Beers. After signing to Richard Perry's Planet Records, the Cretones issued their debut LP, Thin Red Line, in 1980. Linda Ronstadt was so impressed with the record that she covered the cuts "Mad Love," "Justine," and "Cost of Love" on her new wave-inspired album, also titled Mad Love, which additionally featured Goldenberg on guitar. The Cretones resurfaced in 1981 with Snap! Snap! -- although the album was their final recording, they never officially split.-Jason Ankeny

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One Lone Car - North, South, East & the Rest - 2008

One Lone Car's latest full-length was recorded at Uranus Recording in Tempe, Arizona, the facility owned by Gin Blossoms frontman Robin Wilson. The connection is not tangential: The local quartet has opened for the "Hey Jealousy" hitmakers several times over the past year, for starters. And like the Gin Blossoms, One Lone Car spins sweet, loaded pop songs that are a bit more substantive than bubblegum-pop and better crafted than most radio-ready modern rock. Dustin "Dei" Plegge heads up One Lone Car with a pure, emotive voice capable of displaying decent range. He pulls the whisper-to-a-scream crescendo in "Highway," the album's most full-on rock track, but most songs find him a little bruised but never broken.-Christian Schaeffer(

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Jules & The Polar Bears - Got No Breeding - 1978

Though it is packed with memorable hooks and Jules Shear's subtle twist of phrase, Got No Breeding was virtually ignored upon release, due in part to Columbia Records mismarketing the band as part of the new wave. The Polar Bears were, in reality, just a good, hard-working rock band jamming with a sometimes overenthusiastic Shear. The songs are among Shear's finest and the album is one of his most consistently enjoyable. After the demise of the Funky Kings, singer/songwriter Jules Shear formed his own band consisting of Stephen Hague (keyboards and, later, a noted producer), Richard Bredice (guitar), David White (bass), and David Beebe (drums). They were signed to Columbia Records in 1978 solely on the basis of Shear's demos -- at the time, the band had never played live together. They recorded their first LP, Got No Breeding, in 1978, which quickly found critical acclaim, drawing favorable comparisons to Jackson Browne, the Kinks, Bob Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen. Unfortunately, it failed to sell when Columbia tried to lump the band in with its new wave promotion."-AMG.

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Jules & The Polar Bears - Got No Breeding - 1978

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

The dB'S - Like This - 1984

Stands for Decibels..
" Like This was a departure from the band`s previous albums, as it was treated to production from Chris Butler (Tin Huey, Waitresses) that sent the music booming with trademarks of the time: shimmering synthesizers, moaning male choruses, echo washes, loud drum mixes. But even in this sonic hall of mirrors, it`s Holsapple`s songs that stand out--check the heartbreaking "Lonely Is (As Lonely Does)," giddy "A Spy in the House of Love" and country-tinged "Amplifier." It wouldn`t be long before R.E.M. took the jangle-pop crown but these forbearers definitely helped lay the groundwork."-Harp. "From the opening notes of "Love Is for Lovers," this is obviously no ordinary dB`s record. The group, now pared down to a trio fronted by Peter Holsapple, have stripped away the arty quirks of the first two albums, opting instead for straight-ahead, rootsy rockers and country-rock romps. Amid the more muscular, guitar-based sound, Holsapple turns in his same instantly endearing melodies, especially on the album highlight, "Lonely Is as Lonely Does," their most beautiful song to date."-AMG

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P. Hux - Deluxe - 1995

Parthenon Huxley, aka P. Hux, has been dubbed a "pop visionary", "rock's most underrated pop genius", a songwriting "master" as well as the guy with the "monumental name." Call him whatever, the singer/guitarist just wants to make memorable music. P. Hux has recorded eight full-length albums

As a member of other bands, P. Hux has contributed as writer and producer to three albums: The Blazers "How To Rock"; VeG "VeG"; and The Orchestra "No Rewind." VeG was called "marvelous stuff" by Mojo Magazine and No Rewind has been recognized as a more than worthy member of the ELO pantheon. Huxley performs live as a solo artist; with his three-piece band (also called P. Hux); and with The Orchestra, the group he joined in 1998 that includes three original members of ELO. As guitarist and singer with The Orchestra, Huxley has played some of the world's great stages (Royal Albert Hall among them) in more than twenty countries.

Parthenon Huxley is a true craftsman, an artist that the ability to make the spine tingle, to trigger a tear, to move a dusty part of the human soul and, just as easily, rock you skyward, launch the listener off the couch and grab the person next to you and scream "LISTEN TO THIS!!". He's a treasure and you just do not want to miss out on any of his music and, right now, this is the one to take fully in!-NotLame Recording Company

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Joe Jackson - Look Sharp - 1979

A brilliant, accomplished debut, Look Sharp! established Joe Jackson as part of that camp of angry, intelligent young new wavers (i.e., Elvis Costello, Graham Parker) who approached pop music with the sardonic attitude and tense, aggressive energy of punk. Not as indebted to pub rock as Parker and Costello and much more lyrically straightforward than the latter, Jackson delivers a set of bristling, insanely catchy pop songs that seethe with energy and frustration. Several deal with the lack of thoughtful reflection in everyday life ("Sunday Papers," "Got the Time"), but many more concern the injuries and follies of romance. In the caustic yet charming witticisms of songs like the hit "Is She Really Going out With Him?," "Happy Loving Couples," "Fools in Love," and "Pretty Girls," Jackson presents himself on the one hand as a man of integrity seeking genuine depth in love (and elsewhere), but leavens his stance with a wry, self-effacing humor, revealing his own vulnerability to loneliness and to purely physical attraction. Look Sharp! is the sound of a young man searching for substance in a superficial world — and it also happens to rock like hell.-All Music Guide

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The Headboys - The Headboys - 1979

From Edinburgh, Scotland, formed in 1977, the Headboys released an album of power pop in 1979 on Robert Stigwood's RSO label. The LP was produced by Peter Ker (Motors, Bram Tchaikovsky). The first single, "The Shape of Things to Come" coupled with "The Mood I'm In" was a minor hit and the band planned a U.S. tour to support the album and join the New Wave craze that they reluctantly became a part of. But they soon decided that they were not ready for touring and retreated to the Scottish countryside to record another album. The album was not released and the band split up. Headboy keyboardist Calum Malcom has owned Castle Sound Studios in Scotland where the Headboys album was recorded for over 28 years and has produced records for The Blue Nile, Prefab Sprout and others.-Eric Lostbands

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The Undertones - The Undertones - 1979

The best band ever to come from Northern Ireland, the Undertones took youthful adoration for glam-rock and gave it the stripped-down simplicity and energy of punk to create truly wonderful albums of pop/rock (and, toward the end, soul) with a difference. The band's body of work reveals rapid creative growth; each album clearly shows a different stage in its development. The quintet's 1983 demise, as unavoidable as it was disappointing, resulted from a lack of sustained commercial success and the inability to shake the public's first impression of them as an Irish Ramones.

The Undertones — guitar-playing brothers Damian and John O'Neill, bassist Mickey Bradley, drummer Billy Doherty and singer Feargal Sharkey — started out writing simple, fetching melodies with lyrics about teenagehood and playing them fast and raw on basic guitars, bass and drums. With Sharkey's piercing, quivering Irish tenor out front, songs on the first album ("Jimmy Jimmy," "Here Comes the Summer," "Girls Don't Like It") are spare and efficient pop gems that are as infectious as measles, suggesting a bridge between teenybop and punk. (The original US edition, wrapped in completely different color Xerox artwork, adds the crucial "Teenage Kicks" and "Get Over You" from the band's first two 7-inches; a limited-edition English 10-inch released at the same time combined those two tracks plus a pair from the LP. The 1994 reissue adds seven bonus cuts — mostly contemporaneous B-sides — to the original album. The 2003 edition musters six of those and four more non-LP singles sides, including the classic "You've Got My Number (Why Don't You Use It?)."-[Ira Robbins] Trouser Press

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The Undertones - The Undertones - 1979

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