Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Radio Days - Get Some Action

This is Pop - Yeah Yeah!

Italian Pop Punks Radio Days have regrouped, remodelled and refashioned themselves as something radically different to their original mid 2000's blueprint. The catchy appeal and trademark precision is still strongly evident, but they've blunted the edges of their Ramonesque short snappy pop, relaxed the razor-sharp edges and endings, and replaced it with a purposeful nod, if not march, to a early Merseybeat.

In an attempt for wider appeal to a bigger audience the band have almost wiped the slate clean of the shake 'em up of old and settled for an altogether sweeter and cosier approach - sure you can't blame them - obscurity doesn't pay the bills - but it takes some adjustment. Especially if you revel in their previous identity where they would mix excellent covers like The Beat's 'Rock and Roll Girl' with stellar originals like 'Brand New Life'.

Of course Beatle references have always peppered their work, but perhaps there's a bit more work-a-day Formost & Swinging Blue Jeans than there is Fab Four. Having said all that, there's no denying that their most serious bid for crossover appeal pulls no punches in its clear intentions. Title track and potential single 'Get Some Action' proudly proclaims in its refrain “Yeah yeah yeah yeah ye-ah, one direction, get some action, now” blatantly mixing its Fabs and its cheesy boy bands in one delicious sing-a-long chorus. Certainly the video promoting the same pulls out all the stops – it looks expensive yet not wasteful – it's cutely modern but with retro styling – so maybe it's time for some proper success?

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Just Got Back – Examining The Booty

One of the first things we do when we get home from each IPO festival is unzip the suitcases and have a look at the booty. Well not the very first thing but after a cup of tea and a contemplate, the delay in coming down from the high of a week of solid good pop music is certainly eased and extended, and maybe relived a little by taking it all in...

Out come the clothes, the toiletries and whathaveyous, we burrow down and retrieve every last item – a bevy of CDs which says you have been watching and listening to all this...

We spread out the booty and have a good ol' gaze at what a week of wall to wall music looks like. The CD's are a good gauge of our favourite artists this last week - representing those on the basis of how and what they performed - sufficiently motivating us to prompt parting with good money to further explore the artist and as a memento of the event.

It's not totally foolproof as there are some for whom no CD's are currently available or we've already purchased the same in advance, however we'll deal with that later. There are others of course who may put on an amazing show but you know that can't be captured on a record and truth be told you'd never listen to the record a second time if you did buy it, so unfortunately these artists lose out.

Anyway, on to our first batch in no particular order other than the way they came out the suitcase, these are the physical CD's we have:

First Row:
Charlestons - Out From The Blue EP
Amazing Kappa - Rodeo Lokomotive
My Buddy Moose - Shine Shine Shine
Dark Ocean Colours - Dark Ocean Colours (Mark Mikel)
Kaela - The Vultures Begin To Sing EP

Second Row:
The Seasongs - Out of The City
Peter Marchant - Peter Marchant EP
Ivan Mudd - Spaceminister
Ulysses - Kill You Again
Mothboxer - Frequency (2011) Mothboxer (2010) 3 (2012)

Third Row:
The Plastic Pals - Good Karma Cafe
Adam Marsland - The Owl & The Full Moon
The Temponauts - The Canticle of the Temponauts
Ben Jones – Retrospective and Echobox

Fourth Row:
Rogue Frequency - Foetal Upon Tiles Part 1
Rogue Frequency - Spat Out By Machines
Dave Rave And The Governors - Ash Tray Makeup
Robert Vincent* - Life In Easy Steps
The Carousels - Sweet Northern Light

Fifth Row:
Rogue Frequency** - Spat Out By Machines
Rogue Frequency** - Foetal Upon Tiles Part 1
The Plastic Pals - Turn The Tide
Boomin' - Original Junkie
Marty Graveyard - Summer Holiday
Mothboxer - Geen (2007)

Sixth Row:
Grip Like Vice - Demo
Thomas McConnell - Stop in the Shade
The Beat Movement - The Warning
Bruise - Little Victories
Fast Camels - Ken's Sad Vice (Single)

CD Notes: * Yes that's right two copies of Robert Vincent, one for a friend we'll be taking to the USA who we know will appreciate his dulcet tones. ** Yes and two copies of Rogue Frequency too, one set we bought and then later got freebies from the band who asked us as fans to pass on to approving friends – we have!

Our Second batch consists of albums we've downloaded since getting home because one of the following reasons 1) we couldn't buy the physical CD as the band hadn't supplied any 2) it was 'only' available as a download 3) it wasn't yet released or 4) demand had outstripped supply and the record 'sold out'.

Downloaded Albums

Delaplanes - Gypsy Blood
Soupaczar - Ordinary Quite Contrary
Magma Brain - Mystery EP
Typewriter - Indian Love Call
Dark Ocean Colours - Close Enough To See (Mark Mikel)
The Grande - Bleaker Street

Our third and final batch is not quite as comprehensive as we'd wish, because there's more but we wanted this to be a relatively short post so this batch consists of albums which were available to buy from the merchandise table but we already owned a copy and weren't about to buy any more.

Please click this link to see bigger version of this picture

Already Nailed (owned)

Fast Camels - The Magic Optician
The Junipers - Paint The Ground
Kontiki Suite – On Sunset Lake
Ulysses - Everybody's Strange
Dave Rave - Live With What You Know
Steed - A Curious Case of Countless Clues
Kelly's Heels - Playing Into Your Hands
Monkeeman – Jumping On The Monkey Train
Dark Ocean Colours - Patches & Patterns (Mark Mikel)

The International Pop Overthrow is largely a free festival where Promoter David Bash gives 130+ bands the chance to showcase their stuff in 30 minutes bites over a full 8 day week! Most play twice giving the audience two opportunities to see them strut their stuff. By buying the artists CD's we feel it is the least we can do to show our appreciation and to give a little back to the bands themselves. In most cases the CD's are around a fiver, though some are somewhat more, this rarely rises above a tenner. This money goes directly to the artists, no middle man, no extra record company or distributor costs – it feels good – it feels right!

The merchandising table is where it all happens, and central to the system which puts your money where your mouth might be. Manned by Jason it's an essential part of the IPO experience from IPO t-shirts in all sizes to the growth area this year: 'Vinyl'. Yeah lots of bands sporting good old fashion vinyl which is admirable. You can't blame young musicians for wanting to put out a proper record in 2013 can you?

This has been a prequel or an introductory post in preparation for the report back from the event itself which will follow shortly.

Have a listen to some of the tracks that reflect a taster of the very best from a selection of the bands mentioned above. If any of the songs grab your attention make sure you search further for the musicians music and support them!!

If you want to investigate these artists further ,their wares are available from all the usual sources, including eMusic, CD Baby or by contacting the bands on their own web sites or respective Facebook pages.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

IPO Liverpool Preview May 2013

In absence of our usual regular review of last year's Liverpool International Pop Overthrow event we offer instead a preview of some of the very best bands and artists who are appearing this year who we've seen previously and need to see again. Additionally we provide song links to some of the artists who are new to us who we look forward to seeing for the first time.

Boomin' weave pop, punk, rap, bubblegum & reggae into a heady, infectious mix of frankly outstanding proportions. They are a young, loud and irreverent tour de force, they deserve the world at their feet and if it isn't theirs yet we'll be demanding a steward's enquiry. Debbie reckons they sometimes recall the New York Dolls, which is only part of it – their Chocolate is pure pop perfection, their Buckeroo is totally different but not far behind. Once seen live, they cannot be forgotten, which is why we're back for more.

The Fast Camels from Scotland come from a long line of psyche inspired Celts who know how to inject their pop with that extra fun and inspired elementals. You might detect some early Syd inspired Floyd, but we could of course not comment.

With an impressive discography Kelly's Heels demonstrate an impeccable record of superior and intelligent songwriting with more hooks than a curtain manufacturer. Singer/Guitarist Bob Kelly might come on like the Jason King of Pop, but truth be told he wouldn't be out of place with Glen Tilbrook, Harry Nilsson or Pete Townshend as songwriting bed fellows. The band are no slouches either with inspired musicianship and vocal support in the shape of a Mr & Mrs who were born to Bass & Drum.

Italy's Temponauts are interesting cross-over of garage and pop which remind this writer of the Only Ones – not a bad comparison I hear you say – you'd be right! You must hear their new single 'Elsewhere' which is simply marvellous!

We've seen Robert Vincent grow from an interesting and extra special singer songwriter into somebody the industry is starting now to notice and not before time. It can only be a short matter of the same stuff before his star is catastrophically ascendant.

The Grande blew me away the first time I saw them – country rock complete with aching songwriting, delivery and pedal steel as authentic as any southern US bar band but with that English edge that sets them apart. Can't wait to catch them again this time.

The Junipers are that rare beast, beautifully understated intelligent pastoral pop and roll that engages everytime and always surprises. What they do appears so effortless, but in its absolute beauty and deft delicacy we know this cannot be. We crave the Junipers!

The Carousels like the Grande are that rare commodity - an authentic slice of Americana by way of the British Isles. Also from Scotland like so much good Rock and Roll, in the tradition of class acts like Stealer's Wheel and the Sutherland Brothers the band delivers one Dylan tinged gem followed by a Byrdsian referred cadence, one after another and make it their own.

Ulysses are one of those acts that you can't get enough of. We've seen them 6 or 7 times and are totally hooked on their mixture of Spirit meets Move acid pop mixed with Glam & Glitter, spiked Hendrix rock trio fuzz wah madness. Following their two successful tours with California rockers Rival Sons their new album is a revelation and confirmation of their unadulterated greatness – stadiums can only be just around the corner of country estates in the shires!

Over 130 bands and artists will join together in celebration of IPO thronging this week. It began yesterday but things really start to sizzle today (Wednesday) and grows even hotter towards the weekend. Here are a few links to tantalise which will hopefully prod you into further investigation. We've mixed some of the bands illustrated here with a few who will be new to us and some established. Don't be a four sided equilateral: be there!

Thursday, 17 January 2013

We Interrupt Our Normal Programming

We interrupt our normal programming to bring you an exclusive...

I can't remember who it was, but it may have been Ricky Gervais, who whilst DJ'ing a show on BBC Radio announced that he was going to do an album review of lets say 'Thomas Leer's Scale of Ten'

But that's not current” says a sidekick
Doesn't matter” responds Ricky
It's ancient” adds the sidekick
Still relevant though” asserts Ricky

I always liked that reasoning and remembered it, and that's the thinking behind this new occasional series in the blog - during certain moments when the mood appears - we're gonna throw in the odd record which for whatever reason we feel, hasn't got the exposure it should have, so we're gonna highlight it. So what's first? Well, when we began Powerpop Review we prepared a number of reviews that for one reason or another - most likely one of those long delays which if you've stayed with us for any time will just feel like business as usual - we didn't publish as intended.

This then is one of those. We've not added or subtracted hardly anything from it, so please act like it's 2007 in this instance. If you're good we'll add a postcript at the end just to bring things up to date. Here goes then with a well deserved and second bite of the cherry for David Doll...

David Doll - Headsets For Jets [Not Lame] (2007)

David Doll is a man out of step with current trends - and 50 plus years after the birth of rock 'n' roll it's difficult in the post-millennium era to say what is - but this album is more 'now' than most trendier fare you're likely to meet in 2007.

With the looks of a younger, slightly less nerdy, not so aggressive Elvis Costello — but with the similar intelligent knack for writing hook-filled noirs of modern life - David Doll's cracking melodies and workaday lyrical vision paint him as an everyman for the naughties and beyond.

What might make you doubt this is Doll's clear affection for the past: echoes of the Beatles, Beach Boys, the Monkees, Squeeze, Bowie and Jason Falkner are heard in abundance on "Headsets For Jets". Yet this is not mere pastiche or retrograde fumbling — this is songwriting of the classic kind  and try as one might, you can't deviate from the blueprint laid down by the great and good of the 60's and 70's. That is just craftsmanship and Doll makes it fresh, exciting and very much his own.

Nowhere is Doll's connection with the regular Joes heard better than on "Sleep" which recounts the kind of insomnia which hits many of us sometime in our lives. "I Don't Mind" demonstrates the numbness the end of an affair can result in a strange kind of empty indifference, which is deeply unpleasant but oh so common.

"Comeback Special" recalls The Monkees "Saturday's Child" crossed with the Bay City Rollers without actually sounding like the original reference. Short closer "Independence Day" reminds this writer of those epilogue tracks like "Her Majesty" or "You're Welcome", again without a hint of facsimile. David is just very professional and although new to the game, knows how to pace and construct a perfectly formed album.

There's not one ounce of spare, no also-rans, no filler, no half measures or short-change. Every track is a potential single and each leaves you wanting more. The albums' 12 tracks are lean and hungry and never outstay their welcome. Like a tuned athlete they deliver killer punch after punch.
Prior to this release, David made just one EP, so I think his time has come. In a kinder, better and fairer world David Doll would be massive and your contemptuous, dime a dozen karaoke fodder would be nowhere. Even given the real harsh world we all inhabit, perhaps there is space for some of David's talent  I do hope so.

On release it seems the album suffered from somewhat of an identity crisis in that an attempt to relaunch the act as a band called Automat resulted in in a number of different sleeves surfacing to dress the brilliant contents. I don't know the precise reason for this, (the track selection remained the same) but I'd love to know more, so if you have any information, we'd be most grateful. Of the new dressings I think my favourite is this one you see here left - a brilliant shellac 78 pastiche.


As a postscript 5 years on I'm sorry to report that like so many other brilliant independent Powerpop releases, David's album did not ship the units it deserved to catapult him and his band to widespread fame and appreciation. Also he seems to have disappeared off the radar in the intervening five years save a newer track we located on Soundcloud from 2008 which indicate that Mr Doll has lost none of his songwriting prowess.

Found Again

This track plus two others that can be heard on MySpace and appear to come from an album called 'Stephen's Bargain Store'. What became of this, and indeed what David and Automat are doing now we don't know, the my space site information seems quite old - we would love to be assured he's still doing it and that we've not heard the last of the man and his band.

We can't even tell you where to buy a copy of the album as it seem to be out of print. You could ask Bruce Brodeen as it was his Not Lame label that had the good sense and taste to put the album out, but Bruce wrapped up Not lame a while ago. He now runs PopGeek Heaven so you could ask him there. Certainly do all you can to secure a copy of this fabulous record, even if you read it here for the first time 5 years after the original event!