Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Define Powerpop in 140 Characters or Less

In two separate instances yesterday I was asked about powerpop on one of the microblogs that I use. One individual asked me to define powerpop in 140 characters. Due to the late hour and the difficulty of describing the term in so few characters, I might not have given the best description.

I was then asked today by a different person if I thought the Wikipedia entry on power pop was a fair summary. I don't - it's inadequate. How can you describe powerpop with such a lack of passion and emotion? It is the type of music that makes you want to roll down the windows when you are in your car and makes one feel like a teenager again.

Powerpop could be defined by a song that is somewhere between 2:30 and 3 minutes, with a remarkable hook or two, sublime harmonies and a great opening riff. Good openers might include: "A Million Miles Away" by the Plimsouls; "Another Girl, Another Planet" from the Only Ones and who can forget "There She Goes" by the La's.

So many bands have tried to capture the pristine catchiness of the early Beatles. Groups that attempt to do this try to find that perfect catchy hook that the listener will not be able to shake from their head.

In the course of this blog I will sometimes delve back into the past to review a classic, overlooked powerpop gem. I will also endeavor to track down new powerpop bands that aren't getting enough exposure. This is a serious mission!

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Many Avenues To Cross

You wait for ages and then two come along at once! In the last few months I've heard two bands, both called the Avenues, both different, both great.

The first outfit called the Avenues - I can't remember where I first heard of them, but I knew I had to see them, which we did at the Liverpool 2008 IPO show that Debbie mentioned in yesterday's blog entry.

This band was one of the most outstanding groups of the whole festival and quite exceptional. Both their superb music (harmony/lead vocals and songwriting was impeccable) and a dexterous knack of connecting and entertaining the audience - which by some sleight of hand made the act seem effortless. All this was a tremendous joy to behold and we were suitably blown... - away, that is! The ability to evoke the sound of classic harmony bands of the past like the Association, The Turtles, Brooklyn Bridge, Orpheus, Harmony Grass, and the Beach Boys whilst injecting something contemporary and quintessentially English was uncanny.

They have an EP at the moment which you can download from 7Digital. This includes one free taster track 'Should've been Sarah' (georgeous harmonies with a nice jazz chord thrown in here and there for exotic effect). Additionally, you can hear more at their MySpace website. There's promise of an album, which frankly, we can't wait to hear.

The second I heard via the LastFM social music site - where you can download 2 EP's and 1 album track for free - yes, true and rather amazing they are too!

They've been around for a big fat 7 years, but I could find virtually nothing about them on the 'net. Why such anonymity I can't fathom? It's an absolute travesty of course, but there you are - the music industry in naughties is a place of devastating unfairness.

What do they sound like? There's an alt country/rootsy vibe - one the singers reminds me of Michael Stipe from REM. Some of it's very accessible like 'Empty Bottles' and evokes the Jayhawks, possibly. Other songs are more edgy and put me in mind of Wilco/Uncle Tupelo side of the Alt Country movement.

Anyway get them for free while you can and be a devil, buy their album.

Downloads: - The Avenues (Nashville)
These Years Come To Rest EP
When It Was Me EP
Avenues, Streets & Boulevards (Album)

This has been the first of an occasional contribution or two by Debbie's husband, also known sometimes as Mr Qwerty

Friday, 25 July 2008

Perfect Pop Every Time

Tonight July 25, 2008, the International Pop Overthrow Fest will kick-off in Los Angeles and will run till August 9. There will be close to 150 bands performing this year in LA . This music festival has now been running for 10 years and is held annually in about ten different locations. For power pop music enthusiasts this event is manna from heaven! Not only does one get to see cutting edge bands in this particular genre, but the venues are intimate and inviting too.

I was fortunate to go to the one in New York City in 2004 and have been to the one in Liverpool twice now. Highlights that year were the Grip Weeds and Myracle Brah. The one in Liverpool is particularly good because the bands perform in 3 different clubs in close proximity to each other. The remodeled Cavern is one of the clubs that is used so it is quite exciting to see these bands in such a hallowed place.

Three bands in particular stood out this last time in Liverpool. The Mellowmen from Sweden - built around the amazing voice and songwriting of Andreas Nyberg. The band recall a number of beacons from the 60's and 70's without sounding like any of them. The set was energetic and mesmerizing at the same time. The Avenues from Leeds, England were a great bonus! The lead singer was a natural performer and their harmonies reminded me of the Association, Turtles and the Beach Boys. Last but not least Swedish band Marmalade Souls were brilliant. Their music was represented by close knit harmonies and extremely catchy songs. They even did a fabulous cover of Please Please Me which was so appropriate in Liverpool.

I will be eagerly anticipating next years IPO Fest in Liverpool. This week I will be researching some of the bands that will be performing at IPO in Los Angeles and I'll write about the ones whose music impresses me the most.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Women Love Music Too!

My husband has told me that in his experience women's interest in contemporary music barely stays with them beyond their 20's before they start sounding like nostalgia machines. I have to admit in my own experience also it has been rare for me to find female friends who shared my ongoing passion.

I have wanted to do a music blog as far back as when I first heard of blogs. Despite the fact that there are so many music blogs online I still feel I have something valuable to contribute to the discourse. If it weren't for my enthusiasm for music I probably wouldn't be living in England as my husband is as serious if not more about music than me. I'm hoping that those individuals who decide to read my blog will discover a renewed interest in music.