Friday, September 25, 2009

The Jellybricks - Soapopera - 1999

The Jellybricks gained a good deal of exposure through "International Pop Overthrow" appearances and friendships with other well-known power pop acts, and Soap Opera is a convincing portrait of the band's qualities. Fairly crisp arrangements and catchy songs -- such as "Speechless," "Fingernails," and the title track -- distinguish this album as a move forward into radio-ready territory. While occasionally Soap Opera suffers from muddy production or indistinguishable material, there is more than enough here to satisfy the average pop fan. And the Jellybricks' lyrics and general outlook -- symbolized best by the disclaimer on the back of the CD ("The music found here is an appropriate accompaniment for dancing, staring at the walls, light snacking, and many other activities") are refreshingly upbeat and jubilant. While not perfect, Soap Opera solidifies the Jellybricks' deserved place in the late-1990s power pop revival.-AMG

The Jellybricks - Soapopera - 1999/rs
The Jellybricks - Soapopera - 1999/sb

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Chesterfield Kings - The Mindbending Sounds of the Chesterfield Kings - 2003

The 1966 Album of the Year has finally been made, and leave it to those champions of all things fuzztone and paisley, the Chesterfield Kings, to achieve this feat a mere 37 years after the fact. Only a fool would try to argue that the Chesterfield Kings aren't one of the more derivative bands currently walking the Earth, but after mining the rich vein of garage rock raunch and freakbeat wailing since 1979, Greg Prevost and Andy Babiuk have been able to synthesize their influences into songs that sound like lost relics of the pre-hippie era, and they can re-create the sound and fury of the Epoch of Teenage Sneer with an truly uncanny accuracy. Depending on what song you cue up, the Chesterfield Kings could be conjuring up the shade of the Electric Prunes, the Chocolate Watchband, the Seeds, Love, the Troggs, or any number of other mid-'60s guitar bashers on The Mindbending Sounds of the Chesterfield Kings, while Prevost's vocals sound more like Mick Jagger than Jagger himself has since Emotional Rescue. While it would be easy for this stuff to sound like a parody after a while, the Chesterfield Kings are committed enough to their time tunnel vision of rock & roll that they manage to ape the passion and swagger of their influences as well as their choices of guitars, amplifiers, effects boxes, and wardrobe, and no one gets the details of this period quite as right as this band. With the passage of time, Prevost and Babiuk have matured into capable songwriters as well, and if you groove on classic garage sounds, it's hard not to be impressed by the Kings' obsessive accuracy. Of course, they're just close enough to their influences that it's hard to say if you wouldn't be better off with a copy of the Nuggets box set, and unlike the similarly obsessive Flamin' Groovies, they've never written a song that's become a classic in its own right like "Slow Death" or "Shake Some Action." But if you're frustrated in your search for the great lost Litter album, The Mindbending Sounds of the Chesterfield Kings will tide you over in the meantime.

The Chesterfield Kings - The Mindbending Sounds of the Chesterfield Kings - 2003/rs
The Chesterfield Kings - The Mindbending Sounds of the Chesterfield Kings - 2003/sb

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Jeff Larson - Swimming in the Make Believe - 2006

Jeff Larson is the sound of California pop, conjuring the wisp of a summer's eve, the light breeze of an affecting melody, the warmth of the sun sliding across a clear, cloudless day. Larson continues to be a marvel, raising the bar with each new release. With the heartfelt Swimming in the Make Believe, he has surpassed even himself, waxing a dozen gorgeous songs unmatched in their beauty... The players, from producer Hank Lindeman, who contributes various guitar parts, to Beckley's America partner Dewey Bunnell and Chicago's Robert Lamm help bring these songs to glorious life, but it is Larson who makes them shine in the warm California sun. -Alan Haber, Pure Pop)

Jeff Larson - Swimming in the Make Believe - 2006/rs
Jeff Larson - Swimming in the Make Believe - 2006/sb

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Keith LuBrant - Face In The Crowd - 2001

The overal pop catchiness is quite the feat. Guitars and lyrics so hook-line-and-sinker leaving or ignoring is out of the question. I have never heard anything so consistent. EVERY track has the ability to hold it's own alone or with others. I can see this going farther than the average album. -Dustin Landrum , Shut Eye Record

Keith LuBrant - Face In The Crowd - 2001/rs
Keith LuBrant - Face In The Crowd - 2001/sb

Monday, September 21, 2009

Pipitone - Music For Minivans - 2002

Nick Pipitone (ex-Sugarsmack) leads this power pop band from Milwaukee! Hooks guitars (+ keyboards) are in more than ample supply on their totally terrific, fun and very catchy debut! Great singing throughout! Vocally, Nick’s got a little Tilbrook/Folds thing goin’ on too! Of course we love it! -Kool Kat

Pipitone - Music For Minivans - 2002/rs
Pipitone - Music For Minivans - 2002/sb

Friday, September 18, 2009

Richard X. Heyman - Hey Man! - 1991

In the early '90s, Richard X. Heyman exemplified the type of artist who enjoys rave reviews from rock critics but doesn't break through commercially. The fact that the New York-based singer/composer's second album, Hey Man!, wasn't a big hit commercially certainly wasn't due to a lack of first-class writing. Drawing on influences ranging from Tom Petty and Elvis Costello to the Byrds, Hey Man! is a gem-laden CD that, sadly, got lost in the corporate shuffle. Melodic power pop treasures like "In the Scheme of Things," "Falling Away," and "Bad Business in Town" show just how prolific and thoughtful a songwriter this guy is, and should have made him well known. For power pop enthusiasts, Hey Man! is well worth searching for.-AMG

Richard X. Heyman - Hey Man! - 1991/rs
Richard X. Heyman - Hey Man! - 1991/sb

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Help The Tattle Tales record a new album!

The Tattle Tales have been waiting a long time to record their second album. But enoughs enough, and now it's finally time! BUT they desperately need your help!! Please contribute any and all that you can. The Tattle Tales will be eternally grateful!!!

To donate to the project, please click here :

To show you how much we love and appreciate you, we're giving you our last album for FREE! 12 songs for nothing! This way you can listen to us before you decide if you want to help us out!

Click and enjoy!

- The Tattle Tales!!!

The Rock Club - Wet Money - 1993

With melodic, guitar-based pop songs and lots of vocal harmonies. Reminiscent not only of the Beatles but of the Beach Boys as well. Some of it sounds a bit amateurish, but it's well-produced and a lot of fun.

The Rock Club - Wet Money - 1993/rs
>The Rock Club - Wet Money - 1993/sb

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Mockers - Somewhere Between Mocksville and Harmony - 1995

Though the Mockers have included a large cast of musicians hailing from all corners of the U.S. rock scene, the band's foundations were laid by two preteen Beatles fans living in Spain in the early '70s. Tony Leventhal and Seth Gordon were the children of New York expats living on the southern coast of Spain when they met. The third-graders quickly discovered their common love for rock & roll and formed a friendship that would last a lifetime. When their families eventually moved back to the States, both began learning guitar and keeping in touch regarding their plans to form their long-awaited rock band. Many years later the two converged in Virginia, creating the surf-pop band the Mockers. With a rotating cast of lead guitarists and drummers, the Mockers climbed their way to the top of the live music scene in Virginia. They spent the next several years touring tirelessly, sometimes playing as many as 20 engagements a month. As the band conquered the East Coast and Midwest, they earned the attention of the local press. Their relentless schedule began to wear thin, and the bandmembers took a long break to regain their creative spark. Some years later Leventhal and Gordon decided it was time for the Mockers to record their debut CD. The 1995 release Somewhere Between Mocksville and Harmony garnered excellent reviews, including a Billboard Critic's Choice Award. Ironically, the disc saw the greatest amount of airplay in Spain, resulting in heavy touring throughout the country and a reconnection with the boy's old stomping grounds. -AMG

The Mockers - Somewhere Between Mocksville and Harmony - 1995/rs
The Mockers - Somewhere Between Mocksville and Harmony - 1995/sb

Monday, September 14, 2009

American Mars - Late - 1997

A mix between the gothic inner city Americana of Lions & Ghosts and the sharp songwriting of the Pixies, American Mars came roaring out of the gates with a moody debut that most weren't sure how to react to. Creating a soundtrack to the bombed-out and boarded up buildings of downtown Detroit, American Mars perfectly captured the chilly indifference of their hometown in quite an unexpected way. Singers Thomas Trimble and Karla Richardson balance their male/female dynamic wonderfully, leaving the former to take the role of the gloomy pessimist while the latter is the delicate heart behind the music. Country guitar and an earnest lyrical approach form the foundation of these songs, but the key to this sound is the way American Mars record everything with a hollow production that allows their instruments to echo and reverberate. Deceivingly gentle with an urgent edge bubbling underneath, the songs here warmly embrace their big city origins with irascible odes like the driving "Cuban Heel" and the lazy and psychedelic "Muscle Car." Likewise, their personal lives are dissected with the same clever honesty, providing tracks like the up-tempo "Queen Bee" and the gorgeous "Hourglass." Fat-free, engaging, and well-crafted, Late is an atmospheric and romantic portrait of life in late-'90s Detroit. Capturing the mood and vibe of the city far more appropriately than most bands from that era, their impending breakup (which essentially turned the band into Trimble's pet project) only makes this record that much more vital. At a time when their contemporaries were crafting a brash garage rock revival, American Mars' Late is a triumph of mood. -AMG

American Mars - Late - 1997/rs
American Mars - Late - 1997/sb

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Greenhornes - Dual Mono - 2002

The Greenhornes' third album for Hoboken indie Telstar changes very little (if any) of the group's standard formula. With the addition of new guitarist Eric Stein however, the Cincinnati garage rockers' dead on British Invasion-meets-Midwest is more powerful and crisp sounding than ever. "Satisfy My Mind" may only have three basic chords, but Stein lets them ring out as if he invented them himself. In fact, the Greenhornes so perfectly nail the careening, rough side of 1960s pre-psychedelic rock & roll that they leave almost no room to consider the music in any other context. They even add gimmicky harpsichord to more than one tune, a trend that was dated as soon as the Yardbirds did it. None of this takes away from the enjoyment of the group's utterly basic, aggressive sound, but it's hard not to envision the Greenhornes becoming the soundtrack band if someone ever decides to film the Jeff Beck story.-AMG


Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Sea And Cake - Oui - 2000

In the three-plus years following the release of 1997's The Fawn, the Sea and Cake's ever-busy membership dabbled in solo albums, touring with side projects, and various other responsibilities that come with the territory in the Chicago indie rock scene. But as effortlessly as an April breeze, the quartet reconvened to turn in Oui, quite possibly the finest of the group's five albums to date. Oui brightens up the electroacoustic hybrids first heard on The Fawn with guidance from frontman Sam Prekop's Brazilian-influenced 1999 solo debut and drummer John McEntire's production work on two Stereolab albums. While the looping synths often bogged down the mediocre material on The Fawn, the electronics serve as much better complements here. Prekop turns in some of his catchiest melodies to date, while the band follows suit on the sparkling, funky pop of "All the Photos" and the wobbly, mallet-laden "The Leaf," which makes good on the soothing ballad style introduced on "Window Lights," TSAC's contribution to the 1999 McEntire-scored Reach the Rock soundtrack. A sophisticated pop pleasure from start to finish, Oui is the aural equivalent of a perpetual Indian summer.

The Sea And Cake - Oui - 2000/rs

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Evan Hillhouse - Evan Hillhouse - 2006

Evan Hillhouse is an 18-year old songwriter who has recently made his debut in the world of pop music. The solo album started when he and his brother, Erich, wrote the foundation of the ten songs (the two were recovering from their previous ill-fated band, The Objectives, in which Evan was the drummer). By the summer of 2005 the songs were ready to be recorded and for reasons known only to him (lunacy, the challenge, or the need to save time and money), Evan wanted to play all the instruments on the album himself. Thankfully, by this time, he was proficient in almost all the instruments he wanted to use in the songs, and some, like the theremin and accordion, were picked up along the way.
The end result is an interesting blend of power pop and melodic rock, with influences including Jellyfish, Harry Nilsson, The Beatles (duh!), and Radiohead. Evan produced it himself as well, adding to its distinctive sound. -CD Baby

Evan Hillhouse - Evan Hillhouse - 2006/rs
Evan Hillhouse - Evan Hillhouse - 2006/sb

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Myracle Brah - Plate Spinner - 1999

Plate Spinner continues Myracle Brah's talent for straight up power pop; still heavily influenced by Big Star and the Beatles, Myracle Brah honors the bands well with plenty of bouncy, endearing songs and jangly riffs that sound familiar enough to be comfortable but different enough to stand out. The aptly-named album effortlessly achieves a delicate balance of heartfelt melodicism and simmering frustration combined with candid vulnerability and somber lamentation. The aching "Drowning," the pleading "Treat Her Right," and the rollicking "The Seeds Keep Growing Faster" are highlights on an album that's easy to like and hard to dismiss. -AMG

Myracle Brah - Plate Spinner - 1999/rs
Myracle Brah - Plate Spinner - 1999/sb


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