Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hanz Erik and the Hims - Copay - 2006

In early 2005 George Lucas and Ollie Bauer had finally had enough. Lucas sent a curt cease and desist letter to band leader Hanz Erik for trademark infringement and Bauer stepped down as the band’s drummer. All this in the midst of what was to be HanZsolo's second release. Pausing for exactly one month of utter despair and angst, Hanz Erik realized the only way out was up. He enlisted drummer George Marich (12 rods), renamed the band, and booked studio time for the completion of the album. Eight months later the newly formed band, Hanz Erik and the Hims are debuting their CD. It represents two and a half years of Hanz’s writing and arrangements by Hanz Erik and the Hims. The album, entitled Copay has a decidedly different sound, leaning less on the singer-songwriter idiom and pushing more into electric pop-rock with classic soul flavorings. -CD Baby

Hanz Erik and the Hims - Copay - 2006/rs
Hanz Erik and the Hims - Copay - 2006/sb

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Paul Collins' Beat - The Kids Are the Same - 1981

It's a story as old as time (and rock & roll) itself -- band makes great debut album, then has to come up with a follow-up, and doesn't do quite as good a job. While The Kids Are the Same, the second album from Paul Collins and the Beat (here called the Paul Collins' Beat to avoid confusion with then-popular British ska outfit of the same name), is hardly a disaster, it's a genuine disappointment after the modest classic that was their debut album. Producer Bruce Botnick seems to have been going for a more spacious sound on this set, and it doesn't suit the band as well as the tight, AM-friendly tone of the first LP, and Collins doesn't write quite as many instant classics for this disc. Many of the songs go for a more measured approach than the speed-demon hook-fest of album number one, with a conspicuously higher "gal's got me down" quotient, and while the material is still quite good, it isn't as exciting or engaging. But there are still some great rock & roll tunes here, the band is tight and emphatic, and "The Kids Are the Same" is a classic teen anthem waiting to be rediscovered. While there's a bit of "sophomore slump" in The Kids Are the Same, it's still a better pop album than most of the bands in the L.A. "skinny tie" brigade were serving up at the time, with real passion and smart songwriting bringing it home; it sure didn't deserve to be the group's last major-label set. -AMG

The Paul Collins' Beat - The Kids Are the Same - 1981/rs
The Paul Collins' Beat - The Kids Are the Same - 1981/sb

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

George Burton - Inturim - 2007

George has literally been playing in bands “forever and has gained a wealth of experience on the live circuit and in the recording studio. Song-writing has been an important creative outlet for George ever since he figured out how to play his second chord. A self-taught guitarist, he soon moved onto piano, drums, bass, vocals, and more recently the ukulele and sitar! George works
as a solo artist, bringing musicians into each project "as and when required". He developed his skills as a studio engineer and producer during his time as a band member and key driver of their musical project and his intuitive flair in both areas is evident in the quality of recorded output. George has also worked as a radio producer and engineer in sessions with international artists
such as Paul Weller, Crowded House, Joan Baez, Gabriel and Norman 'Fatboy Slim' Cook, during the Freakpower period. Interim is George Burton's second album recorded at Beatbox Studios in Glasgow in the mid 1990's.

George Burton - Inturim - 2007 pt1/rs
George Burton - Inturim - 2007 pt2/rs
George Burton - Inturim - 2007 pt1/sb
George Burton - Inturim - 2007 pt2/sb

Monday, April 27, 2009

Monday Feature - V/A - Who Are Those Guys ? v.4

Here is number four in the continuing series of Who Are Those Guys? PPO has searched all corners of the Earth to find and share with you music from unknown and lesser known bands. Most people have never heard of these groups, but now you have the opportunity to enjoy and savor every note, beat, and rhythm. Now get out and support these hard working artists.

The Beat Seekers - Haling from Americas Heartland, The Beat Seekers bring us their brand of infectious Power Pop. Thier debut disc, Dead Air Radio, was recorded at Gravity and Full Motion Studios in Chicago, IL with producer Matt Opal. "Dead Air Radio blurs the lines of lo and hi-fi using both analog and digital means to capture a subtle theme that is auditory, as well as conceptual". Translated... You will dig this!

The Popzillas - A compelling mixture of loud guitar chords, Lolita-like vocals, and melancholic harmonies. Its touching melodies and the voice of lead singer Yvy Pop can break ones heart. Super sound, super voice! Absolutely worth listening! Do yourself a favor and add The Incredible Adventures of Pandora Pop to your collection!

The Genuine Fakes - There’s a brand new band in town! Well not new, formed in late 2005 in Stockholm, The Genuine Fakes pack a Power Pop Punch and some cool mustaches too. Think "Todd Rundgren/Utopia meets Cheap Trick meets Jellyfish". Get the picture? Good! Now go and show your support and your mustache!

Tahiti 80 - Based in Rouen, Normady, Tahiti 80 produces Pop with a Northern Soul twist. The spirit and sound of this music is uplifting to say the least, a little bit of 70's mixed in with a refreshing 60's sound, this is a keeper. Tahiti 80 has just released their fourth album, Activity Center. Check them out and find yourself a new "favorite" band.

Slingerland - Lead by édric Conti and Jérôme Durand, Slingerland bestows upon us dense, adventurous arrangements and amazing, ear-catching melodies that are reminiscent of early Arthur Lee and Love. You just can't listen and not fall into their groove. This gifted group from the French Riviera is currently unsigned.

The Linchpins - A fiercely independent psychedelic power pop trio formed in the summer of 2006 and born in sleepy Shepherdstown, WV. The Linchpins play rock and roll influenced by the British Invasion of the 60s that chewed up American Roots Music and spit it back across the pond as Heavy Soul... Unsigned, Their D.I.Y. aesthetic is the foundation of their beliefs.

Thenewno2 - What do you get when you combine Dhani Harrison (son of George Harrison) and Oliver Hecks? Proof that the "Apple" does not fall far from the tree. A spacey '60s psychedelia sound punctuated with hypnotic beats and captivating vocals successfully blend many styles and is unshakably --> strong on every cut. The new album You Are Here has just been released and would look great on any collectors shelf.

I Fight Dragons - I Fight Dragons is Chicago's finest (and quite possibly only) NES-Rock band. They have very detailed delusions of grandeur, most of which include gross misuses of Nintendo products in combination with music in the Popular Rock genre. Man what a concept...and their music is cool too! I Fight Dragons released their debut EP, Cool Is Just A Number in February. Get it!

Wonkavision - Wonkavision, a powerpop band from Brazil, produce sunny tunes filled with stories about idiosyncrasies of day-to-day human relationships. The guy who can't stand his job, the teenager on antidepressants, the rejection junkie girl who only falls for the wrong guys. Good stuff from way down in South America. Grab their self titled disc that has been re-released.

Tony Cox -A strong contender for my top 10 of 2009, Tony Cox is a songwriter and musician fron England. With the help of friends Nigel Clark and Darren Finlan, Tony has put together an 11 track debut called Unpublished. A mixture of 60's pop with influences from The Beach Boys to the Kinks, just to name a few, it has been difficult to remove his disc from my player, Check it out for yourself! You will not be disappointed.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Grip Weeds - The Sound Is In You - 1998

The Grip Weeds showed on their debut album that they were a powerhouse pop-psyche band extraordinaire who write insanely gripping melodic nuggets, and they multiply that gift on their followup. Making musical analogies is an overused descriptive technique, but it also happens to be the only way to initially approach The Sound Is In You. You can hear many of the band's influences in the music: glorious, beautifully-ominous Byrds harmonies here, the aggressive crunch of early Who there (the ultra-melodic "Every Minute"). In addition to those timeless-and-true echoes, the album contains a much-publicized similarity to the Smithereens--only logical considering Kurt Reil also fronts the Buzzed Megs, the side band of Smithereens guitarist Jim Babjak and drummer Dennis Diken--although the Grip Weeds replace angst with a swirl of psychedelia. Bits of peer bands such as Olivia Tremor Control and Sloan also pop up on occasion, but those are all superficial comparisons because, ultimately, there is a certain depth and something uniquely yearning inherent in the Grip Weeds' music that sets it apart from any power-pop that has come before or after. With a relentless instrumental attack propelled by Kurt Reil's explosive drumming and Kristin Pinell's psyche guitar stylings, the album is a thrilling listen from beginning to end. Written entirely be the Reil brothers--with the exception of a cover of the Neil Young song, "Down to the Wire," from his Buffalo Springfield days, sung by Pinell--both individually and together, each song on the album is a certified winner. Only occasionally can the band be slightly overpowered by their influences. It is impossible to listen to "Strange Bird" without thinking it would have nestled perfectly somewhere on Mr. Tambourine Man. Still, it is a fabulous song, a spot-on-tribute, and is further evidence of the band's abundant musical and songwriting abilities. With their second album, the Grip Weeds reached the pinnacle of the '90s pop-rock curve. -AMG

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Other Kids - The Other Kids - 2005

If American midwestern 80s guitar pop is your cup of beef, this is definitely for you. Sporting an incredible array of catchy, natural flowing songs, expansive sound, clean guitars, warm and natural vocals, courtesy (on their first two records at least) of Butch Vig`s pre-fame days as a local producer. Not as influenced by the Replacements as has been reported - they actually share the 'feeling' or 'vibe' rather than the music - this is certainly a less sloppy bunchkeeping things clean and consistent all the way. Alex Chilton-esque melodies over chiming/jangling guitars are everywhere.. An almost flawless collection, obscure, outstanding and excellent. Keep bringing those gems out of nowhere! -Bucketfull Of Brains

The Other Kids - The Other Kids - 2005 pt1/rs
The Other Kids - The Other Kids - 2005 pt2/rs
The Other Kids - The Other Kids - 2005 pt1/sb
The Other Kids - The Other Kids - 2005 pt2/sb

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Mando Diao - Bring 'Em In - 2003

One of Mute's more unlikely signings, Mando Diao mixes Swedish garage rock and soaring, Brit-pop-inspired melodies -- not exactly a perfect match with the rest of the label's darker, more experimental and largely electronic roster. Still, if Mute felt obliged to acknowledge the garage rock revival, they could've done worse; Mando Diao's debut album, Bring 'Em In, shows a little more flair than some of the cookie-cutter bands that have appeared in the wake of the White Stripes and the Hives. Speaking of the Hives, it may be lazy criticism to compare Mando Diao to its better-known countrymen, but the band's sharp, strutting riffs and Gustaf Norén's raspy sneer of a voice share some obvious similarities. Slightly less obvious, however, are the similarities to Oasis' swaggering but decidedly poppy hooks and conquer-the-world attitude, but traces of both these bands' sounds infiltrate and inform Bring 'Em In, particularly on harder-hitting tracks like the title track, "Sheepdog," and "Motown Blues," the title of which alludes to some of the band's deeper influences. Mando Diao's love of '60s soul and R&B -- or, at least, love of mod and British Invasion bands such as the Who and the Animals, who loved and were influenced by '60s soul and R&B -- adds a distinctive touch to the band's sound.-AMG

Mando Diao - Bring 'Em In - 2003/rs
Mando Diao - Bring 'Em In - 2003/sb

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Todd Rundgren - The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect - 1983

As the early '80s continued to unfold, Todd Rundgren grew increasingly disenchanted with Bearsville, especially since the label wasn't supporting Utopia. He wrangled the band free in 1982, but he still had to deliver solo records to Bearsville. Not entirely pleased with the situation, Rundgren hammered out a collection of pop songs on his own, cynically titling the effort The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect. In later years, Rundgren disavowed the album, but it stands as one of his better collections of pop songs, even if it lacks a theme or a unifying sound. There are a fair share of throwaways, not only coming in the expected form of covers (a fine but pointless remake of the Small Faces' "Tin Soldier") and Gilbert & Sullivan parodies ("Emperor of the Highway"), but also in the monumentally silly "Bang the Drum All Day," which not only became a hit, but a hit that refused to die, lasting as a radio staple into the late '90s. These three songs are anomalies on Tortured Artist, which for the most part is pure pop and pop-soul, delivered with little fuss or pretention. There's also little deep meaning to the songs themselves, which is quite unusual for Rundgren, yet the best tunes -- "Hideaway," "Influenza," "There Goes Your Baybay," "Drive," "Chant" -- are indelible, irresistible pop confections that prove Rundgren can be quite involving, even when he's not trying his hardest. -AMG

Todd Rundgren - The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect - 1983/rs
Todd Rundgren - The Ever Popular Tortured Artist Effect - 1983/sb

Monday, April 20, 2009

I'm from Barcelona - Let Me Introduce My Friends - 2006

You'll know right away if I'm from Barcelona's Let Me Introduce My Friends is for you or if you should run fast in the other direction. Let's see. They have 29 members, they're from Sweden, they sing songs about oversleeping, treehouses, chicken pox, and stamp collections, and there's a lot of glockenspiel. And a vocal choir. If that didn't scare you away, that's good for you, because I'm from Barcelona is the best 29-member Swedish band ever and their debut is the cheeriest, happiest record to surface since probably the first Archies album. Sure, it's as twee as kitties and duckies, but the band has enough energy and pure joy to steamroll any of the negatives (preciousness, ickyness) that can be associated with the dreaded twee designation. Also in IFB's favor is their multi-talented leader, Emanuel Lundgren, who excels in all the important aspects of the record-making process. He writes instantly hooky and memorable songs (just try getting the chorus of "We're from Barcelona" out of your head after the first listen), he has a wonderfully rich and honest vocal style that would work in any setting but sounds great leading an indie pop choir, he is an adept arranger who doesn't just get his choir together and let them rip but rather weaves the voices into something wild and unique, and he's a fine producer and arranger. With so much going on in the mix, the final product could have easily been a bloated mess. It isn't. It's warm and inviting. The end result could also have been just a silly novelty with the subject matter and lineup, but instead it is a fully realized record with some real emotion on display. A song like "Chicken Pox" may appear frivolous, but when the choir kicks in, the band hits a melancholy groove, and Lundgren reaches deep for some vocal soul, it hits surprisingly hard. Other songs like the sweetly hopeful "Rec & Play" and the wistful "This Boy" (with Loney, Dear) also belie the surface cuteness and delve into something more lasting and real. Really, though, on the surface and at its core, Let Me Introduce My Friends is a brilliant pop record that delivers everything a classic pop record should: hooks, hits, happiness, and hope.-AMG

I'm from Barcelona - Let Me Introduce My Friends - 2006/rs
I'm from Barcelona - Let Me Introduce My Friends - 2006/sb


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