Saturday, 11 September 2010
No one likes seeing the end of summer especially in England where sunny days are never at a premium.With the ending of one season comes the dread of the shorter gray days and the unending rain.On a positive note due to my lack of posts lately here is another play list of songs which happen to come from all the bands I've discovered in the past few weeks. The songs might not fall under the aegis of powerpop like other music reviewed here in the past but nevertheless my intention is that some of you discover some new bands that you wouldn't have otherwise found.
For those who are possibly wondering where the review of Liverpool's IPO Fest is it will still be posted even if it's a bit late.
Enjoy the play list! For those who don't have access to Spotify my apologies.
August Discoveries 2010
Here's a brief overview of some of the bands whose songs appear on the play list.
The Blue Van hail from Denmark.Their sound seems to be more reminiscent of a gritty blues sound from the 70's. Those of you who were fans of Free should like this track which comes from the CD Dear Independence which was released in 2006.
Not sure how I could have missed the music of Baby Woodrose who coincidentally come from Denmark also! This particular song could have come from a best of garage mix from the late 60's. Those of you who favor that particular genre should thank me for this gem.
Next is cover of I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night originally done by The Electric Prunes. So impressed with Davie Allen and the Arrows that I've included 2 tracks here.
If you enjoy pristine harmonies and songs that only improve with age like a good bottle of wine next track by the Straw Dogs will satisfy. One can always wonder how such a good band with 5 albums to their name can fall under the radar but many of us have exposure to such a plethora of music both old and new, some overplayed and undiscovered.
Last 2 songs on the play list from Josh Pyke and Or, The Whale also fall under the category of alt-country.
Feel free to leave comments if you particularly enjoyed any of these songs and please above all support these musicians.
Posted by Power Pop Review at 04:55
Tuesday, 27 July 2010
Ages since our last appearance; real life has gotten in the way again. Until the next post which will be our review of Liverpool's International Pop Overthrow Fest in May here's a playlist of some favorite tracks from 2008 - 2010. Apologies to those who don't have access to Spotify.
1. Let's Go - Stephen Lawrenson
2. Pray For Delay - Anne Soldaat
3. Couldn't I Just Tell You - Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs
4. Twice If You're Lucky - Crowded House
5. Up Against The Glass - Botticelli's
6. Quit - Benjamin R
7. I'm Not A Kid Anymore - Sloan
8. Close To the Sun - Grip Weeds
9. She Revolves - Quarter After
10. Second Scene - Gurus
11. Here We Go Again - The Galaxies
12. Don't Ask Me Love - The Madd
13. A Whole Lot Better - Brendan Benson
14. If I Could Break Your Heart - Oranjuly
15. Change - Young Veins
16. The Sun's Gonna Shine In the Morning - Dennis Diken with Bell Sound
Sizzling Summer Playlist
Sunday, 11 April 2010
What's it like in a few words? The Searchers meet Smithereens whilst Prog meets Pop
The Contrast can always be relied upon to provide the listener with an album chock full of great ideas, signature harmonies and sonic goodies without any particular quirks other than maybe singer/writer David Reid's downbeat vocal and affected pronunciations (moon becomes m'herne for example) which sits suitably at odds with the confectionist appeal of his opulent hooks. Although the pick and mix is changeable from one album to another, with gems dotted here and there, there's no doubt that the highpoint to date was 2005's 'Forgot To Tell The Time' where the band had finally made the record they'd been threatening for the previous five years since their debut in 2000.
Five years on the band has reached somewhat of a career hiatus with only 2007's less distinguished 'Underground Ghosts', a label change to Steve Van Zandt's Wicked Cool, plus an excellent but really (for fans) water treading compilation 'Perfect Disguise' to occupy. What's important now is whether in 2010 their new album builds on the promise of that career high of five years past or are they merely languishing in the skids?
We commence with a laugh, a hollow reedy synth arpeggio echos Rattus Norvegicus IV period Stranglers as an insistent chorus rams the catch right home and seriously connects by the time you give the opener its third airing.
Next, the first and correctly chosen single 'Coming Back to Life' says Blondie so much I can almost hear the Debbie Harry cover haunting us impossibly from 30+ years ago - Underground Ghosts indeed. Definitely one of the strongest tracks on the album - a Farfisa-ish poppy organ drives a groovy short little mover to its logical conclusion enough to make you want to press the repeat button in an instant.
The third slice 'Take Me Apart' is classic new wavish 2 1/2 minute pop single material, but also takes in an early 60's Gary U.S. Bonds vibe. Beautifully dressed, this has got all the important ingredients in one glorious concoction - a lovely, wobbly short sharp guitar solo, fab bop-bop-shoo-wop backup vocals and great drumming as is customary on all Contrast records. Undoubtedly, this should be the next single.
Elsewhere on our imaginary side 1 'I Am An Alien' betrays some Prog allegiance as the distinct application of the antique theremin apes the same in Uriah Heap's prominent whistling howl in 'Sweet Lorraine', whilst 'Gone Forever' has the Searchers written all over it with guitars all a-jangle and amazingly this screams "This should be the third single!"
Turn your iPod over and with title track 'God of Malfunction' we are right back in Prog land. Harmony guitars open, giving in to riffy lurches which seem to musically check Aqualung era Jethro Tull in a multitude of characteristics - only the flute is missing - even the subject matter is right on target. Nice one.
Moving along, 'Better Than They Seem' visits the Beatlesque psyche period somewhat via XTC and all who sail in her. 'She's A Disaster' sports nice synth/guitar interplay a-la-raga rock and majestic, controlled, crushed drum fills from the incredible Thorin Dixon, who comes on like a caged Keith Moon.
Tussling between the Prog and the Pop 'Thought You Were Strong' emerges as a late favourite all riff heavy but more light alloy than heavy metal - thankfully!
I've not commented on David Reid's lyrical content - I may be doing him a disservice here but I think he'd be the first to admit that he uses language for its sound and effect rather than its meaning, so I've long since tried to figure out what he might be trying to say to us - if anything.
However, the grand finale piece 'False Admission' grabbed my ear first time around more for a little lyrical trick before the music gripped on subsequent plays. We start with a nice dragging walking pace - an attractive guitar figure introduces the song and each verse. Impending drama is hinted as the song grows into moderate movie epic proportions, returns to walking pace and peters out to subdued feedback. As you begin to appreciate the song construction overall the lyrical trick staged around the title which rhymes 'False Admission' with both 'badly written..' pause and then also 'fiction' becomes less apparent, as do the lyrics themselves.
In my introduction I posed the question of whether the band was hitting greater highs or merely resting on past glories. After 10 years and 6 albums and little commercial feedback, it must get more and more arduous to keep pulling rabbits from hats. Well, I'm glad to report that the break, the move to a new label and the superb CinemaScope production of strong advocate and mentor Little Steven have made a difference. It's very much evident that on this album the Contrast's strengths have been expanded, highlighted and squarely aimed into a record which will prove to be their most polished, accessible, and best yet.
Finally, there's gonna have to be a hundred or so better albums this year for 'God of Malfunction' not to end up on the Powerpop Review Best of 2010. You owe it to yourself to invest and give this hardworking band a well deserved place in the first division. Get 'God of Malfunction' - Out this Tuesday 13th April
Cover: The album cover particularly recalls the prog sleeves of Roger Dean with its spindly long legged elephants not a million miles from their large eared flying cousins which adorned Osibisa's first 2 or 3 albums from the early 70's. Perhaps David Reid harbors some deep rooted Prog pretensions from his youth as do these two writers?
In our reviews I = We - where we basically both listen, inwardly digest, write separate reviews, then merge the two in the first person.
Hear the first single 'Coming Back To Life' on the band's own website.
God of Malfunction - Wicked Cool Records 2010
Perfect Disguise:Introducing the Contrast - Wicked Cool Records 2007
Underground Ghosts - Rainbow Quartz Records 2007
Forget to Tell the Time - Rainbow Quartz Records 2005
Fade Back In - Rainbow Quartz Records 2004
Wireless Days - Rainbow Quartz Records 2002
Mystery #1 - Rainbow Quartz Records 2000
Sunday, 31 January 2010
With a mere 3 posts in 2009 (and even now - still fashionably late) you'd be forgiven for thinking we wouldn't be in a position to list our favorites of the year. Well, despite some major upheavals in our personal lives which definitely impacted our ability to appear here on a regular basis, our ears have not been shirking their honeyed duties. As a result, we bring you a bumper round-up of what we believe to be not only one of the best years of the decade, but also the perfect end to one of the best decades since Rock 'n' Roll first flickered into existence.
In a year where the mainstream music industry on one hand is piling the dung heap higher than ever with evermore glossy karaoke TV talent shows and on the other still failing to address the licensing and territory issue which threatens to drag it even further into the mire, choosing to have governments and clod-hopping authorities turn music fans into criminals rather than provide the download culture with a comprehensive reasonable, universal and fair solution - which surely is within their power alone to provide - the alternative/real music industry is turning out better and better music in greater numbers than ever before.
Hundreds of great albums were released this year, making it difficult to keep up with the onslaught. Quite a few appearances from old faithfuls were mostly welcome: Superdrag, Tommy Keene, Von Bondies, Cheap Trick, Terry Anderson, Green Pajamas, Ian Hunter, Mother Hips, NRPS, NGDB, Parallax Project, Mother Hips, Willie Nile, Kyle Vincent, and Naomi Star amongst them, but overwhelmingly, the majority of names were brand new (or almost new) to us - long may it continue.
In keeping with previous years, genres blur and it's hard to say what's pop and what's not. So we present a variety of lists which cover our chief area of taste but also others which for one reason or another, beg inclusion. As usual, these-are-some-that-we-have-loved, so we can't put them in any kind of order, except alphabetical. However, we have numbered them for convenience sake.
The Best Power Pop Albums of 2009
- All Star United - The Good Album
- American Suitcase - Pillowsky
- Andy Lehman & The Night Moves - Lowcountry
- Anne Soldaat - In Another Life
- Ben Folds Presents - University A Cappella
- Benjamin R - The Other Side Of Nowhere
- Bigbang - Edendale
- Biscuit - Cinnamon Fade Out
- Bishop Allen - Grrr...
- Black Hollies - Softly Towards The Light
- Blame Ringo - Lucky Number 9
- Bob Evans - Goodnight, Bull Creek
- Bob Mould - District Line
- Bobby Emmett - Learning To Love
- Brendan Benson - My Old, Familiar Friend
- Campbell Stokes Sunshine Recorder - Makes Your Ears Smile
- Cass McCoombs - Catacombs
- Casper And The Cookies - Modern Silence
- Cheap Star - Speaking Like An Elephant
- Cheap Trick -The Latest
- Chris Richards - Sad Sounds Of The Summer
- Cornershop - Judy Sucks A Lemon For Breakfast
- Creede Williams - After The Letters
- Dashboard Confessional - Alter The Ending
- David Brookings - Glass Half Full
- David Mead - Almost And Always
- Deleted Waveform Gatherings - Ghost, She Said
- Dennis Diken With Bell Sound - Late Music
- Dexateens - Singlewide
- Dolly Rocker Movement - Our Days Mind The Tyme
- Duckworth Lewis Method - The Duckworth Lewis Method
- El Goodo - Coyote
- Eric Knox - Top Ten
- Everclear - In A Different Light
- Fate Lions - Good Enough For You
- Films - Oh, Scorpio
- First In Space - This Is Not Here
- Fun - Aim And Ignite
- Glenn Tilbrook And The Fluffers - Pandemonium Ensues
- Gourds - Haymaker
- Greater California - All The Colors
- Howie Day - Sound The Alarm
- Humbugs - On The Up Side
- Ian Tanner - Things Never To Say Out Loud!
- Jason Falkner - All Quiet On The Noise Floor
- Jeff Litman - Postscript
- Jeremy Miller Band - Way Too Fast
- Jet - Shaka Rock
- Johan - 4
- John Brodeur - Get Through
- June - Magic Circles
- Junior League - Smile Shoot Smile
- Kyle Vincent - Where You Are
- Leftovers - Eager To Please
- Lovetones - Dimensions
- Madd - Are Pretty Quick
- Madness - The Liberty Of Norton Folgate
- Marc Carroll -Dust Of Rumour
- Mark Cronk - Playing Katchup
- Martin Carr - Ye Gods & Little Fishes
- Matt The Electrician - Animal Boy
- Meat Puppets - Sewn Together
- Michael Carpenter - Redemption #39
- Miles Nielsen - Miles
- Mika - The Boy Who Knew Too Much
- Minky Starshine - Unidentified Hit Record
- Minster Hill - Capturing Clouds In A Bottle
- Mockin' Birds - Spread Your Wings
- Morningwood - Diamonds And Studs
- Naomi Star - Through The Eyes
- New York Dolls - Cause I Sez So
- Official Secrets Act - Understanding Electricity
- Orange Peels - 2020
- Parallax Project - I Hate Girls
- Passports - Is It True
- Peter Holsapple & Chris Stamey - Here And Now
- Pogo Pops - Where The Action Is
- Pronto - All Is Golden
- Pugwash - Giddy
- Reno Bo - Happenings And Other Things
- Research Turtles - Research Turtles
- Resonars - That Evil Drone
- Riverdales - Invasion Usa
- Riverwinds - Riverwinds
- Roger Klug - More Help For Your Nerves
- Secret Powers - And The Electric Family Choir
- Scott Warren - Quick Fix Bandage
- Shazam - Meteor
- Sheer - Here And Now And Long Before
- Solly - You Know What You Should Do
- Sons Of Great Dane - Why Ramble
- Spiral Stairs - The Real Feel
- Spongetones - Scrambled Eggs
- Spongetones Present Jamie & Steve - English Afterthoughts
- Stephen Lawrenson - Somewhere Else
- Stereophonics- Keep Calm & Carry On
- Stellastarr - Civilized
- Strangefinger - Into The Blue - Remarkable?
- Soundtrack Of Our Lives - Communion
- Summer Set - Love Like This
- Surrogate - Popular Mechanics
- Taylor Mills - Under The Surface
- Telepathic Butterflies - Circle Man
- Tody Castillo - Windhorse
- Tommy Keene - In The Late Bright
- Tomorrows - Jupiter Optimus Maximus
- Train - Save Me San Francisco
- Tripwires - House To House
- Two Hours Traffic - Territory
- Valley Lodge - Semester At Sea
- Von Bondies - Love Hate And Then There's You
- Webstirs - So Long
- Wheels On Fire - Get Famous
- Wild Bores - Wild Bores
- Willie Nile - House Of A Thousand Guitars
- Wiretree - Luck
- Yeah You's - Looking Through You
The Best Alt Country/Roots/Organic of 2009
- 1220 - Killin' For A Livin'
- Andy Lehman & The Night Moves - Lowcountry
- Avett Brothers - And Love And You
- Ben Folds Presents - University A Cappella
- Ben Harper& Relentless 7 - White Lies For Dark Times
- Blue Rodeo - All The Things That Are Left Behind (2cd)
- Boo Hewerdine - God Bless The Pretty Things
- Bottle Rockets - Lean Forward
- Brad Peterson -The Ductape Album
- Brian Jay Cline - Nashville Tracks - Maybe
- Brother Trucker - The Flyover
- Calico Brothers -Tell It To The Sun
- Carbon Leaf - Nothing Rhymes With Woman
- Chris Isaak - Mr. Lucky
- Chris Knight - Trailer II
- Chuck Prophet - Let Freedom Ring (2009)
- Clarks - Restless Days (2009)
- Cracker - Sunrise In The Land Of Milk And Honey
- Cross Canadian Ragweed - Happiness And All The Other Things
- Deadstring Brothers - Sao Paulo
- Dinosaur Jr - Farm
- Don Gallardo - Sweetheart Radio Revolution, Etc.
- Elvis Perkins - Elvis Perkins In Dearland
- Gilded Palace Of Sin - You Break Our Hearts We'll Tear Yours Out
- Gloriana - Gloriana
- Gomez - A New Tide
- Grand Atlantic - How We Survive
- Hot Dogs - Nothing But A Bad Day
- Ian Hunter - Man Overboard
- Ike Reilly - Hard Luck Stories
- Jason Isbell - And The 400 Unit
- John Fogerty - The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again
- John Wesley Harding - Who Was Changed And Who Was Dead
- Jon Allen - Dead Mans Suit
- JTQ - New World
- Karima Francis - The Author
- Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson - Rattlin' Bones
- Kings Of Convenience - Declaration Of Dependence
- Kingsbury Manx - Ascenseur Ouvert!
- Leaving Tx - Late Gettin' Started
- Lemonheads -Varshons
- Levon Helm - Electric Dirt
- Locksley - Be In Love
- Low Anthem - Oh My God, Charlie Darwin
- Maplewood - Yeti Boombox
- Megafaun - Gather Form And Fly
- Michael Martin Murphey - Buckaroo Blue Grass
- Minus 5 - Killingworth
- Mother Hips - Pacific Dust
- Nanci Griffith - The Loving Kind
- New Riders Of The Purple Sage - Where I Come From
- Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - Speed Of Life
- Paolo Nutini - Sunny Side Up
- Pines - Tremelo
- Pinto -Short Songs About Konging
- Quantic And His Combo Barbaro - Tradition Intransition
- Refreshments - A Band's Gotta Do What A Band's Gotta Do
- Rhett Miller - Rhett Miller
- Roger And The Rockets - Walking Band
- Sam Baker - Cotton
- Scott Miller - For Crying Out Loud
- Sister Hazel - Release
- Statesboro Revue - Different Kind Of Light
- Stereo Deluxe - When The Party's Over
- Terry Anderson & The Olympic Ass Kickin Team - National Champions
- Thea Gilmore - Recorded Delivery
- Them Crooked Vultures - Them Crooked Vultures
- Timothy B. Schmit - Expando
- Tom Caufield - The Times Are Never So Bad
- Train - Save Me San Francisco
- Uncle Kracker - Happy Hour
- Webb Wilder - More Like Me
- Western States - Bye & Bye
- White Lies - To Lose My Life
- Wilco - Wilco (The Album)
- Wrinkle Neck Mules - Let The Lead Fly
A Dozen & 1/2 Fab EP's From 2009
- Chris Richards - That Covers That
- Codaphonic - Edison's Rival
- Cobbwebs - Demos
- Greg Pope - Pete
- Honeydogs - Sunshine Committee
- Jeremy Nail & the Incidents - EP
- John Brodeur -Slutty Nurse
- Josh Abbott Band - Brushy Creek
- Joshua James - Sings Songs
- Leisure Society - A Product Of The Ego Drain
- Mini - Must Try Harder
- Paul Westerberg - The Ghost Gloves Cat Wing Joy Boys
- Riffbackers - Sometimes
- Rooney - Wild One
- Sloan - Hit and Run
- Syrups - Hear Here
- Tearaways - Knackered
- Whiskey Dawn - Dear Nashville
Special Mentions for 2009
Big Star - Keep An Eye On The Sky [Box Set] - Essential Box Set Of The Year for the brilliant but unappreciated Archie Bell support set alone - a 1000 musicians smile in ironic recognition!
Brothers Streep - Anna Paquin - Greatest Comedy Song With A Power Pop Flavor from these young gifted South African satirists
Bruce Springsteen - Working On A Dream - Bruce's single is perhaps the Most Pop Thing he's done Since 'Hungry Heart' - more like this please Bruce.
Clay Broome - Sunscreen Secrets - Clay, I love this! - When does it get official release?
Clem Snide - Hungry Bird - Consistently Great Singer/Songwriter still delivering the goods
Noel Gallagher - The Dreams We Have As Children - Fave Live Album
Prince - Crimson & Clover - Fave Bubblegum Cover of the Year
Jayhawks - Music From The North Country - Most welcome Anthology of the Year
Jon Boden - Songs From The Floodplain - Best UK Folk Album of the Year
Chris Smither - Time Stands Still - Best US Folk Album of the Year
Sadies & John Doe - Country Club - Great New Partnership
Avenues (From Leeds UK) - The Saddest Demise Of A Brilliant Band
Booker T Jones - Potato Hole - Best Fabulous Return
Graham Coxon - The Spinning Top - Massive Change Of Direction Award goes to Graham for his embrace of something like Nick Drake bedsit country
New York Dolls - Cause I Sez So - Favorite Re-Emergence
Spinal Tap - Back From The Dead - Welcome Re-serving of the Year
Richard Lloyd - The Jamie Neverts Story - Best Hendrix Covers We've Heard all Decade
Tragically Hip - We Are The Same - Favorite Canadians of the Year
Wolfmother - Cosmic Egg - Best Trad Hard Rock Album
We've largely sidestepped tributes, compilations and reissues - not that there weren't some great examples of each, bur we had to draw the line somewhere. Looking forward to more great music in 2010.
Posted by MrQwerty at 11:15