Monday, January 31, 2011

Age Of Jets - Go Go Gadget Pop - 2004

The debut album from Hull, England five-piece electro-hardcore pop band Age Of Jets. Formed while drunk during a power outage at the Adelphi Club in Hull, the band brings it popping, rhythmic, and fun. Have been favorably compared to Clinic, Human League (circa 1979), Fonda 500, and Blur. Produced by underground electro wizard Luke Barwell of Bitmap.



Sunday, January 30, 2011


April 19 releases are next step in the evolution of what called “hooks galore and ebullient melodies”

NEW YORK, N.Y. — Richard X. Heyman’s ambitious new release, Tiers/And Other Stories, affirms what his longtime admirers have known for years: the veteran singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and DIY recording pioneer is a world-class artist whose effortless mastery of popular music idioms is matched by his uncanny knack for infusing classic styles with timeless emotional truths.

Those abilities have won Heyman a fiercely loyal grass-roots fan base and reams of critical acclaim over the past two and a half decades.  All Music Guide called him “perhaps America’s greatest unsung hero of power pop, a songwriter of uncommon talent and intelligence and a one-man rock band without peer,” while the Hartford Courant proclaimed him to be “a true heir to [Brian] Wilson’s mantle, amid an ocean of pretenders.” praised Heyman’s “hooks galore and ebullient melodies, and lyrics revealing the emotional power that pop can pack into its brevity,” while the Chicago Tribune observed, “Heyman creates something fresh from his influences rather than parroting them.”

The two-CD, 31-song Tiers/And Other Stories — set for April 19, 2011 release on Turn-Up Records through Burnside Distribution — marks a creative watershed for Heyman, consolidating many threads of his prior work while venturing into fresh new musical and conceptual territory.  The project — which Heyman regards as two separate albums packaged together, rather than a double album — finds him largely diverging from the jangly, guitar-driven style for which he’s best known in favor of a more eclectic approach that encompasses the baroque symphonic textures of “Hot on the Trail of Innocence” and “Agnostic’s Prayer,” the languid country balladry of “Good to Go,” the gospel-inflected R&B of “The Real Deal,” the haunting atmospherics of “Birds” and the jazzy vibe of “Horizon” and “Game Stays the Same.”

While the music covers compelling new ground, the new songs’ autobiographical lyrics mine some essential universal insights out of Heyman’s own experiences.  Tiers is a deeply felt song cycle recounting the tangled but ultimately triumphant tale of the early stages of his relationship with Nancy Leigh, his wife of 23 years as well as his bassist and frequent recording collaborator. And Other Stories picks up the story with the couple happily settled in New York, via a set of songs that reflect Heyman’s strongly held beliefs on life, love, loss and other topics close to the artist’s heart.

“I hate to bring up the c-word, but Tiers is what they used to call a concept album, or a rock opera,” Heyman confesses.  “Tiers is a chronological story, but And Other Stories is more like lifestyle songs, with topics like September 11th, mortality, losing friends and family members, the baby-boom generation, and our love of animals and animal rescue.  All of the stuff in all of these songs is meaningful to me, and hopefully there are some things in there that will be meaningful to the listener as well.”

Releasing a two-disc set containing 132 minutes’ worth of challenging new music is a fairly audacious move in an era in which pop culture is geared towards instant gratification and limited attention spans.  “I didn’t give it that much thought; I just started writing these songs and couldn’t stop,” Heyman asserts, adding, “We also recorded another whole album’s worth of songs that didn’t get included.

Heyman’s extensive experience in delivering mini-masterpieces on a budget served him well in constructing Tiers/And Other Stories’ expansive musical settings.  As usual, he did most of the recording in his home studio the Kit Factory, producing and playing most of the instruments himself, with Nancy Leigh engineering.  “We did have other musicians contributing strings, horns and woodwinds,” he points out, adding, “but they would come in one at a time, seeing as how we only have one decent microphone.”

As much as it’s a stylistic departure from his previous releases, Tiers/And Other Stories is also a potent manifestation of the lifelong passion for music that’s driven Heyman since his days growing up in Plainfield, New Jersey. Heyman was still in junior high school when he achieved his first taste of rock ’n’ roll notoriety as drummer with the fabled garage band the Doughboys, whose raucous live sets won them a rabid following in the New York/New Jersey area during the second half of the 1960s. (Original Doughboys guitarist Willy Kirchofer, who passed away in 2005, is the subject of the Tiers/And Other Stories track “When Willy Played Guitar.”)

By the time Heyman reemerged as a solo artist in the late 1980s, he’d matured into a singularly distinctive songwriter with an uncanny ability to channel his vintage rock ’n’ roll influences into tunes that are both infectiously catchy and emotionally resonant.  Those qualities were prominent on his self-released, home-recorded efforts Actual Size and Living Room!! Both generated considerable critical positive press and music-industry word of mouth, leading to a major-label deal with Sire/Warner Bros., which released the widely acclaimed Hey Man! in 1991.

Recording for a corporate label helped to win Heyman a wider audience and a higher media profile. But it also proved to be a frustrating experience, and it wasn’t long before he was back in indie territory, making and releasing his music on his own terms.  His subsequent albums Cornerstone, Basic Glee, Rightovers, Actual Sighs and Intakes, as well as the EP Heyman, Hoosier and Herman (with guest vocalist Peter Noone of Herman’s Hermits) chronicled Heyman’s ongoing musical evolution.  Heyman also found time to release the career-spanning video retrospective X-Posures, and to pen his first book, the vivid rock ’n’ roll memoir Boom Harangue.

In recent years, Heyman has juggled his own work with his activities as a member of the reactivated Doughboys. The resurgent quartet has also released a pair of well-received new albums, 2007’s Is It Now? and 2010’s Act Your Rage, which feature several Heyman compositions. Their song “Why Can’t She See Me?” (written by Richard) was chosen as #3 Coolest Song in the World on Little Steven’s Underground Garage Sirius XM channel for 2010!

But it’s Tiers/And Other Stories that’s currently the focus of Richard X. Heyman’s attention. “I suppose the theme of these albums, “ he concludes, is that we all make decisions in life, and hopefully all those decisions lead us to a place we can call home<”  

For more information about Richard X. Heyman please contact:
Cary Baker • Conqueroo • • 323-656-1600

Friday, January 28, 2011

Van Duren - Idiot Optimism - 1999

Van Duren was part of the early Memphis power pop scene that spawned the legendary Big Star, and made several underexposed, small-label records during the late '70s. Duren began playing in bands at the age of 13 in 1966 and attended high school with eventual Big Star drummer Jody Stephens; he auditioned to replace Chris Bell in Big Star in 1974, shortly after the completion of Third/Sister Lovers. In 1975, he and Stephens collaborated on some demos that were produced by former Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham (whom he met through producer Jon Tiven), and a year later he was playing in a group called the Baker Street Regulars with both Bell and Stephens. In 1977, Duren traveled to New England to record for Tiven's new Big Sound label; his solo debut, Are You Serious?, was released in March 1978. The album was released in Europe as Staring at the Ceiling on Big Sound. A second album, Idiot Optimism, was recorded in 1978 and 1979, though disagreements and financial difficulties prevented it from being released (until it was licensed to the Japanese Air Mail label in 1999). Duren returned to Memphis in 1981 and the following year put together a band called Good Question, which gigged around the city off and on for the next 18 years. In 1999, Duren collaborated with fellow Memphis power popster Tommy Hoehn on the album Hailstone Holiday, on which he received co-billing. Unfortunately, health problems forced Duren to severely curtail his activities in 2000, which led to the breakup of Good Question. -AMG



Thursday, January 27, 2011

New Duncan Imperials - In-A-Gadda-Da-Vegas - 1997

Chicago trash-rockers the New Duncan Imperials comprised guitarist Pigtail Dick, bassist Skipper Zwakinov and drummer Mr. Goodtime Dammit finally return to the studio and churn out 14 new blockbuster gems, including "Potato Chicks," Pathetica," "Sex Drive,", "YoYo," and ten more. Hard rockin' and crunchy. This will blow yer car stereo to bits. Produced by Chuck Uchida.



Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Goldstars - Purple Girlfriend - 2006

Having honed their act through tireless performances and ample roadwork, “Purple Girlfriend” finds The Goldstars at the top of their musical game. Bassist and vocalist Sal is at his primal, swaggering best on revved-up cuts like ‘DMV’ and ‘All About You’ as well as their slash and burn cover of The Sparkles’ classic ‘No Friend of Mine’. Goodtime’s drums tumble like runaway thunder on crucial cuts like the tremolo-soaked ‘One Plus One’ and Sal’s hilariously bitter ‘Angry Eyes’. Guitarist Dag Juhlin steps up to the microphone for a pair of numbers — the caffeinated Stones riff-o-rama of ‘Fire’ and the album’s most blatant and engaging musical departure, the muscular West Coast psychedelia of ‘Go Baby Go’. And his moaning guitar squall adds a suitably nightmarish accent to the instrumental title track. Through it all is the amped-up keyboard work of band co-founder Skipper. Whether he’s rolling through a nasty, Farfisa-laden blues solo in ‘Always Late’ or channeling an after-hours Ramsey Lewis in the band’s stunning reworking of the Mel Torme-sung chestnut, ‘Comin’ Home Baby’ it’s Skipper’s handiwork that adds the right touch of garage grit to every track.



Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Paul Collins Kicks Off MIdwest Tour Feb 18th!


PAUL COLLINS (one of the originators of the high-energy sound known as Power Pop and co-founder of THE NERVES, THE BREAKAWAYS and THE BEAT) will be kicking off a Midwest tour on February 18th in Milwaukee with the Lafayette, IN-based garage-pop rockers THE HALF RATS, just prior to PAUL COLLINS BEAT tour of Japan and Australia in March and April.

KING OF POWER POP! (on Alive Records) is Paul's latest studio album and it's a complete return to his roots - to power pop, the sound he helped create and popularize, a sound that has seen a resurgence in recent years, a sound that is here to stay! 



PAUL COLLINS is Power Pop's greatest champion and spokesperson. Through extensive worldwide touring, and connecting to like-minded bands, artists and fans through social networking sites, Paul has created THE BEAT ARMY, a DIY network of people connected by their love of Power Pop, punk, new wave and rock-n-roll to help ensure its success at the club level - where rock-n-roll lives and breathes. While THE BEAT ARMY only began last March, Collins has already amassed over 2,700 members. In addition, he's been touring heavily in support of both THE BEAT ARMY and his new album KING OF POWER POP! As Collins enthusiastically explains, "This will be tour number five for us since forming THE BEAT ARMY. So far we've done 50-plus shows throughout the South, Canada, East Coast, Midwest (actually this will be our second Midwest tour) and the West Coast involving over 60 bands from around the country. The shows all have low ticket prices (averaging from $8 to $10) and we book them ourselves. 'By the people, for the people'... that's our motto."

Produced and engineered in Detroit by Jim Diamond (Dirtbombs, The Go, White Stripes, to name just a few), KING OF POWER POP! also features Eric Blakely on guitar and backing vocals, Diamond on bass, and Dave Shettler on drums (SSM, The Sights). Motor City guests include Wally Palmar of the legendary power pop hit-makers THE ROMANTICS, as well as pop icon Nikki Corvette of NIKKI & The CORVETTES. The catchy cover art is the work of legendary artist BILL STOUT.






The Gris Gris - The Gris Gris -2004

The Gris Gris' striking self-titled debut album is made all the more captivating by the fact that the band's music isn't easy to categorize: There's enough snarling, stomping rock on it that the band could be very loosely tied in with the waning garage rock revival of the 2000s, in much the same way that bands like the 13th Floor Elevators took '60s garage in much darker and weirder directions (and indeed, Roky Erickson's influence is often felt on the Gris Gris). Just as often, though, Greg Ashley and the rest of the band play delicately trippy psych-folk that wouldn't sound surprising coming from Syd Barrett or Devendra Banhart, and the album's evocatively muddy production adds to the overall what-decade-is-it-anyway feel. But though the Gris Gris' roots are clear, their album is another reminder that it isn't what you take from, but what you do with it, that matters. The eight-minute long opening track, "Raygun," combines the band's sonic extremes, beginning with a fragile guitar melody and Ashley's equally vulnerable vocals before feedback changes it into an angry, paranoid rocker, introducing the band's mercurial approach and epic scope. The rest of the Gris Gris' songs aren't quite as polarized, but they do cover a lot of musical territory and make for some interesting juxtapositions. "Mary #38" is a bluesy lament that recalls the White Stripes' earliest, eeriest moments; remembering all the times his girl ran around on him, Ashley sings "Oh, my little Mary" as a spine-tinglingly tender threat that makes the next song, "Me Queda Um Bejou," a gorgeous acoustic love song sung partly in Portuguese, sound even sweeter and fresher by comparison. And though "Plain Vanilla" and "Best Regards" create a witchy atmosphere -- which is entirely appropriate, considering the voodoo origins of the band's name -- the Gris Gris' real drama comes from "Everytime," which boasts a vertiginous opening riff that rivals those of "Eight Miles High" and "19th Nervous Breakdown," castanets, and oddly creepy lyrics like "Every time I see your eyes my mind begins to drool." Add in the straight-up garage rave-up "Necessary Separation" and the Stones-y country-pop of "Winter Weather," and you've got a collection of songs where no track sounds exactly like the one before it. However, they still hang together as an album, one that offers a few familiar reference points and a lot of mystery ripe for exploring. -AMG



Monday, January 24, 2011

Hi-Fives - The Hi-Fives and a Whole Lotta You - 1997

Green Day introduced a new generation of punk rockers to the raucous joys of the early '60s Kinks, updating the groovy beats, massive choruses, and solid hooks of the British Invasion bands with a welcomed dose of adrenaline and a bit of '90s snarl. The Bay Area quartet the Hi-Fives goes a step further in the history lesson, completing the package with mod haircuts, three-button suits, vintage guitars and drums, and a second album featuring 16 irresistible tunes, only two of 'em over two minutes long (and those just barely). In the old-fashioned liner notes, the Fives proudly proclaim themselves "beat punks," acting as if they invented that term. It's questionable how deep their knowledge of the genre is-these guys are no obsessives like the Milkshakes or the Funseekers-and their choice of cover tunes betrays their age. (They tackle "Bad Connection" by Yazoo and offer a version of "Tainted Love" inspired not by the Standells, but by Soft Cell.) Nevertheless, their instincts are solid, and there isn't a single song on And A Whole Lotta You! that doesn't make you want to sing along, if not pogo in place. Tunesmiths John Denery and Chris Imlay don't have a lot to say-the songs are mostly teen takes on love, lust, and love lost-but they say it well. "You're not just like any other / You're better than a Chet Atkins album cover," they croon on the title track, backing up the sentiment with a frantic beat and a horny sax solo. And how can anyone argue with that? -Jim Derogatis



Sunday, January 23, 2011

Readymade Breakup - Available now!

This is some damn fine Rock & Roll!  Described as Replacements meets Wings (Jezz Harkin, BreakThru Radio) and NJ's Kings of Power Pop (Jim Testa, Jersey Beat), Readymade Breakup is a good fit for PPO. The album was released December 20th.

Bravest Smile from Readymade Breakup on Vimeo.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Cuts - From Here on Out - 2006

These days, the world is full of misguided youngsters who love the 1970s for all the wrong reasons (regrettable clothing, bad television shows, cut-rate animated cartoons), but the Cuts are one band of twenty-somethings who clearly understand what was right about that benighted decade -- rock & roll. Listening to the Cuts' third album, From Here on Out, one hears flashes of the power pop genius of Big Star and the Scruffs, the glam rock swagger of Slade and Sweet, the hard rock punch of Cheap Trick and Mott the Hoople, a handful of forgotten soft rock visionaries produced by Curt Boettcher, and the proto-punk speed jive of early Blondie and the Mumps all bubbling in their gumbo of guitar, drums, and keyboards. This might suggest that the Cuts are more than a bit derivative, but From Here on Out doesn't sound that way -- it sounds like the work of five guys with great taste and strong record collections who've fashioned their obsessions into a sound that's their own, and best of all they have the energy and the chops to match their role models. Ben Brown and Andy Jordan's guitars ring out like raunchy church bells, Garrett Goddard and Carlos Palacios are a powerful and imaginative rhythm section, Dan Aa's keys add the right dash of color to the proceedings, and Jordan and Aa's vocals peal like scrappy schoolboys ready to shout the power of rock & roll to the world. And whether these guys are rocking hard on "Out Here in Space" and "Stop Asking" or letting their softer side show on "Next to Nothing" and "One Last Hurrah," they sound inspired, tuneful, and passionate on every tune. From Here on Out is a great album from a handful of music fans who have learned their lessons exceptionally well; if everyone understood the 1970s as well as these guys, the leisure suit might have been wiped from the collective consciousness by now. -AMG



Thursday, January 20, 2011

Head Automatica - Popaganda - 2006

If the stylish realms of Decadence were perfect for late nights full of dancing and questionable other activities, Popaganda is Head Automatica's appropriately titled answer to those subsequent afternoons spent hanging out in the warm sun. Head Automatica still has that post-punk dance attitude consuming each track, but it's filtered this time through late-'70s pop influences like Squeeze and Elvis Costello & the Attractions instead of Dan the Automator's back-alley beats and electro-rock fuzz. While only two songs ("Nowhere Fast," "Egyptian Musk") fall closer to Decadence's sound, this isn't to Popaganda's detriment. Even with the occasional sticky moment, the band's transition never seems forced or contrived. The overall result is just a lighter, brighter, crunchier album of tight riffing, playful keys, punchy rhythms, and of course, Daryl Palumbo's distinctive elastic voice. "Scandalous" has a legitimate '50s vibe going on; "Cannibal Girl" owns seriously bouncy riffs; "Graduation Day" opens with crisp piano and guitar that build into an instantly catchy pop song sure to get overplayed on many an end-of-school mix (good timing with the album coming out in June, eh?). Catching a cheating significant other never sounded as fun as it does on "Lying Through Your Teeth" (with its subtly glam rock-esque chorus), and it's Palumbo's ongoing battle with Crohn's disease presumably addressed in songs like the pop-drenched "God." Toward the middle of the album, some songs don't initially hit that hard, but the rest of the record keeps things moving along for later listens. It's true that the neon strobe lights of Head Automatica's previous electronic-rock-punk concoction are all but completely replaced on Popaganda by the pure sun of sparkling guitar-driven pop songs. And moreover, it's probably safe to assume that some form of viable reinvention will continue to happen on subsequent albums. Trashy nightclubs are fun for a time, but really, who wants to be trapped in one for all eternity? -AMG




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