Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Frisbie - The Subversive Sounds of Love.

Heralded by many as the banner carriers of power pop for the 21st century, few bands have displayed such a mastery of pop songcraft on a debut release. Though not horribly adventurous with their sound, the unabashed reliance on sophisticated harmonic vocal arrangements, fuzzed out guitars, and occasional brass sections was seen as near revelatory in some critical circles. No doubt, the sweeping Big Star-inspired melodic progressions of tracks like "Shine" and "To See and Be Seen" more than deserved the accolades that The Subversive Sounds of Love garnered. When upping the tempo and volume on tracks like the galloping "Paid in Kind" or the punchy "Vertigogo," Frisbie can sound downright anthemic, though the more California-styled rock of "Disaster" probably fits their sound just as well. Still, it's hard to say that you ever get a real sense of the group dynamic that's at work in the process. And while that process delivers on an undeniably cohesive pop product, the personalities involved are never totally evident. An exception to this, the album closes with the theatrical whimsy of piano and banjo in "The Shuffle," proving the band can put a more pronounced face on their sound. Although artists like this emerge on a semi-frequent basis, and usually don't amount to very much in the long term, Frisbie gives hope to the power pop true believers. -AMG

Get it: HERE

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

GIG DATE. Sixties Garage, Power Pop night of love. GIG DATE

The Fighting Cocks in Kingston hosts a three band extravaganza on February 10th, the three bands gracing the stage are The Legendary Groove Men, The Past Tense and Pope.

Check the Fighting Cocks web page for times and venue location THE FIGHTING COCKS



Helium Angel - Early Clue to a New Direction


Helium Angel are a young mod band from San Francisco, so correctly mod in fact, that they thank their local Vespa Club and their scooter suppliers in the liner notes. The influences are all right too—The Jam, The Who, The Small Faces. But like the Small Faces before them, Helium Angel clearly dig psychedelia too, though theirs seem to come mainly from the Byrd’s “Eight Miles High” school.

As the album wears on, you realize there’s not a lot of fury here, but then Helium Angel aren’t playing in the shadow of Thatcherism and the Sex Pistols either. There is plenty of self-assured, catchy and crunchy power pop (yes, crunchy can be good), played with the confidence and ability only earned through generous amounts of practice, live playing and, dammit, heart. The punkiest song on the block is “When the Plane Touched Down,” about equal parts Who and Buzzcocks. Here and there, Keith Moon-style drums surface, but then so do Beatlesque harmonies, and a slashing Pete Townshend-ish rhythm guitar. I bet these guys have done a few windmills on their guitars—at least in front of their mirrors. It all adds up to an exciting debut, that while it could use a bit more variety, clearly sets them up for a killer effort next
time.
By PopMatters


Get it: HERE 

Monday, January 16, 2012

BABY SCREAM

Sometimes a band or musician seems to fly just below the radar and therefore get missed by the masses, one such band, who after 7 albums and EP,s of finely crafted power pop gems, should be flying so high above that are Baby Scream.  Listening to the musical output of this band, you may be left wondering why they are not picked up by satellite radars and beamed into every house across the globe!


Baby Scream is a project lead by Argentinian, Juan Pablo Mazzola, who crafts his songs in a similar vein to Jason Falkner, Bryan Estepa, Matthew Sweet and even early John Lennon solo material. All of Baby Screams songs are sung in English and it is very easy to forget that this is not the bands first language, the lyrics are so well written and delivered on each and every track the band have released.
The most recent album by the band, Secret Place, their 8th,  has a very retro feel about it, in as much as it is awash with great melodies reminiscent of The Stones, The Beatles even T-Rex, in fact the B-side of the "Hit and Run" single from the album is a version of "20th Century Baby" a song written by Marc Bolan and only released as a demo after his death. 
 
Secret Place is a typical Baby Scream album: it shares a vision equally desolated and hopeful of a world that combines innocence, evil, stupidity, youth culture, classic rock and roll, the escapism and the ravages of drugs, the different cities and places you visit when you're on the road, love, treason, rage, fear of the unknown, all of this expressed with an almost immaculate point of view that could belong to a child that observes the world without any kind of prejudice. It is maybe because of this that the album cover and the pictures inside the CD booklet, (taken by Marcia Hill) depict a somehow childish universe: the sweet grandma that offers us a tea in a suburban afternoon, the furry cuddly toys in the park, the toy windmill forgotten in the garden after playtime…

There is a secret place, seems to say Baby Scream, in which we are still children and we see things as they are: as an eternal dream passing in front of our eyes, always changing, always surprising, sometimes depressing, sometimes thrilling, in which we don't actually know our place or our role, but we still try to enjoy ourselves as much as we can.
  

You can contact and find out more about Baby Scream: Facebook  Myspace  Reverbnation

You can buy Baby Scream - Secret Place here: CDBABY
 

The Singles - Start Again

During the 15 minutes that Detroit became the center of the garage rock universe in the wake of the White Stripes' breakthrough, the Singles received a bit of international acclaim for their debut album, 2003's Better Than Before, but like a number of other Motor City bands, the hype machine didn't turn over for them, and four years later, leader Vince Frederick is fronting a new lineup of Singles for the pointedly titled Start Again. However, Frederick thankfully is still in firm command of the gifts that made the earlier version of the band memorable -- British Invasion style melodies, pop hooks galore, and plenty of energy, with the results sounding a good bit more like the Flamin' Groovies than, say, fellow Detroiters the Dirtbombs. Frederick wrote a dozen solid pop songs for this set, and he sings them with commendable spirit and force, and his new rhythm section (John Hale on bass and Brian Thunders on drums) are entirely simpatico, knowing when to push hard on a rocker like "I Want You Back Now" or "Start Again" and when to ease back on the more measured "Better Days" and the heart-broken "I Don't Wanna Be the Last to Know." Jim Diamond, who produced Better Than Before, is back behind the board for this set, and he gives the Singles a full-bodied sound that's equally friendly to the crunchy guitars and the precise harmonies. If you ever wondered what happened to power pop, it's alive and well and living in the Singles' rehearsal space, and with any luck, Start Again will earn this band the recognition they so richly deserve.
Get it: HERE

Sunday, January 15, 2012

YOUNG FRESH FELLOWS - Electric Bird Digest

The decline in the Young Fresh Fellows' wackiness factor (and the growth of their relatively serious side) that began on This One's for the Ladies following the departure of Chuck Carroll continued on Electric Bird Digest. Musically, the band sounded harder and more aggressive than ever before, with Kurt Bloch and Scott McCaughey's guitars sounding much better integrated than on their previous go-round, though the pop sensibilities of primary songwriter McCaughey were still very much in evidence. And while there are glimmers of the band's trademark sense of humor (most obviously on the goofy snippet "The Teen Thing" and in titles like "Tomorrow's Gone (And So Are You)" and "Swiftly But Gently"), for the most part Electric Bird Digest is witty rather than laugh-out-loud funny, and there's a thin but audible undercurrent of angst running through much of the album (especially on Kurt Bloch's songs, which suggest the Fastbacks without their undertow of gleeful sloppiness) -- not particularly surprising from a band still trying to struggle by on a cult reputation after close to a decade on the boards. But as a rock band, the Young Fresh Fellows rarely sounded tighter or more emphatic than they do here, and, as on This One's for the Ladies, the best songs on Electric Bird Digest prove that the band could get serious and still have plenty to say, both musically and lyrically. And the production by Butch Vig gives the band's sound a muscle it rarely had in the past, without losing their melodic sense along the way. It's not one of the Fellows most fun albums, but, from a musical standpoint, it captures them at the top of their game. 


 Get it: HERE

Saturday, January 14, 2012

International Pop Overthrow San Diego 2012

The International Pop Overthrow festival  is back in San Diego for the fourth straight year! IPO San Diego will feature 26 of the best pop and rock bands from San Diego and beyond, with all shows to be held at the groovy venue, Eleven!

Here are the lineups:

Friday, February 17 (Cover: $10)

7:30 Eugene Edwards Band
8:15 Phil Vandermost and Telesound
9:00 Plane Without A Pilot
9:45 King Washington
10:30 Yoya
11:15 The New Kinetics
12:00 Dave Rave

Saturday afternoon, February 18 (Cover: $8)

1:00 Veronica May
1:45 Sue Hedges
2:30 The Bigfellas
3:15 The Secret Seven
4:00 Math & Science Pretend Band (Trio)
4:45 Suite 100

Saturday evening, February 18 (Cover: $10)

7:30 Subsurfer
8:15 The Shambles
9:00 The Cherry Bluestorms
9:45 Cannoneers
10:30 Trenchtown
11:15 City Of Blue
12:00 Lexington Field

Sunday afternoon, February 19 (Cover: $8)

1:00 Spud Davenport
1:45 The Condors
2:30 The Midwinters
3:15 The Very
4:00 The Swarm
4:45 My Revenge

Eleven is a 21+ venue; no exceptions.

Splitsville - Presents...The Complete PetSoul

Splitsville's fourth album is a complete departure from anything the band had previously done. Originally recorded as a four-song EP to be given away as a sort of party favor at the first International Pop Overthrow festival in Los Angeles, the much-expanded The Complete Pet Soul is, as the title implies, a dual tribute to both Pet Sounds and Rubber Soul. On the original EP, the Pet Sounds influence came through more strongly, thanks to the heavily orchestrated feel, but on this full-length version, the orchestral tracks are nicely balanced with several new songs that recall the low-voltage, almost folk-rock sound that predominated on the original U.S. edition of Rubber Soul. Still, the Pet Sounds pastiche tracks are the real standouts simply for being done with such obvious affection and good humor, especially the swooning "Caroline Knows" and the almost Smile-like multi-part mini-operetta "The Love Songs of B. Douglas Wilson," which is the album's high point. Musically, it should have been the album's closing track, but instead, a cover of Burt Bacharach and Hal David's "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" recorded for the soundtrack of the cheerleading film Bring It On is tacked on at the end. It doesn't quite match the mood of the rest of the album, and it's certainly not a patch on Dionne Warwick's version, so it's an odd, equivocal ending to an otherwise superb album.-AMG

GET IT: HERE

Friday, January 13, 2012

Mando Diao - Bring 'Em In.

One of Mute's more unlikely signings, Mando Diao mixes Swedish garage rock and soaring, Brit-pop-inspired melodies -- not exactly a perfect match with the rest of the label's darker, more experimental and largely electronic roster. Still, if Mute felt obliged to acknowledge the garage rock revival, they could've done worse; Mando Diao's debut album, Bring 'Em In, shows a little more flair than some of the cookie-cutter bands that have appeared in the wake of the White Stripes and the Hives. Speaking of the Hives, it may be lazy criticism to compare Mando Diao to its better-known countrymen, but the band's sharp, strutting riffs and Gustaf Norén's raspy sneer of a voice share some obvious similarities. Slightly less obvious, however, are the similarities to Oasis' swaggering but decidedly poppy hooks and conquer-the-world attitude, but traces of both these bands' sounds infiltrate and inform Bring 'Em In, particularly on harder-hitting tracks like the title track, "Sheepdog," and "Motown Blues," the title of which alludes to some of the band's deeper influences. Mando Diao's love of '60s soul and R&B -- or, at least, love of mod and British Invasion bands such as the Who and the Animals, who loved and were influenced by '60s soul and R&B -- adds a distinctive touch to the band's sound.-AMG


Get It: HERE

ASTRID - STRANGE WEATHER LATELY


The debut album by Glasgow's Astrid follows three EPs, no songs from which are included here. Although the Nick Drake and Sarah Records-influenced twee pop of Belle and Sebastian was getting the majority of the Scottish music industry press in 1999, Astrid's considerably peppier sound has much more in common with earlier Glaswegian heroes as Teenage Fanclub or the BMX Bandits. Obviously '60s-influenced (the band is named after famous Beatle girlfriend Astrid Kirchherr, after all) but not at all slavishly retro in the manner of Oasis, this teenage quartet mix their Merseybeatisms (dig the jangly guitars and close harmonies of "Plastic Skull," which sounds like what the La's album might have if it had been properly finished, or "Like a Baby," which sounds exactly like an early Kinks B-side) with enough odd synth wiggles and snippets of feedback and noise to make it clear what decade this was recorded in. The lyrics are nothing special, but neither are they particularly dopey, and the amount of variety in the band's arrangements (the mix of William Campbell's electric and Charles Clark's acoustic guitar adds depth to their basic sound) and Edwyn Collins' production keeps Strange Weather Lately from sounding as samey as many other albums in this style. Strange Weather Lately found a fair amount of critical and commercial success in the U.K., but the fact that an album this melodically satisfying and sonically interesting could not find an American distributor simply boggles the mind.
Get it: HERE

Thursday, January 12, 2012

THE EXPLODING HEARTS - GUITAR ROMANTIC

The van accident that claimed the lives of three of the Exploding Hearts was tragic on many levels; musically, it wiped out the future of possibly the best punk band since 1977.
At first glance, the Exploding Hearts seem like mere revivalists. From the pink and yellow cover to their 1977 looks to their influences, it would be easy to dismiss them. But you need to hold the phone a minute and listen, because the Exploding Hearts are the best punk band to come along in a long time, maybe since the original wave. About those influences, here is a partial list: the early Clash if Mick Jones wrote all the songs and the Only Ones or Buzzcocks at their emotional best, but also classic power pop sounds like a (much) tougher Rubinoos, rock & roll like a tighter and sober New York Dolls, and the lo-fi approach of Billy Childish. Guitar Romantic is an amazingly raw and melodic debut, fully realized and original despite the obvious debt to the punk past. It is difficult to pinpoint just what it is about the band that helps overcome their idol worship. Maybe it is the love and authenticity that they pour into the worship, the raw production that smashes the guitars and bass into a whirling mess of tuneful noise, or the wonderfully tough but tender vocals. Most likely it is the songwriting. Too many bands that seek to re-create a sound or an era don't have the tunes to back it up. Not the Hearts. Every song on Guitar Romantic makes a bid to be the best on the album: "I'm a Pretender" is a jaunty kick in the head, "Sleeping Aides & Razorblades" is an ultra-catchy doo wop-inspired ballad with a brilliant guitar line, "Thorns in Roses" is a rollicking '50s-influenced ballad, "Throwaway Style" melds a lovelorn lyric to a Motown beat (the same one the Strokes heisted for "Last Nite") to great effect. There isn't a weak song here, not a single one that isn't on par with the best punk-pop. If you don't have this album and have even the slightest affinity for poppy punk rock or punky pop/rock, you are missing out on something special.

Get it: HERE

Os Efervescentes - Self Titled

I found this Brazilian band over on the Mellofillia blog early last year and have been playing it repeatedly since so I thought it would only be right to share the love.  The band sing entirely in Portuguese, which for some people is an obstacle, (that is foreign language vocals, not specifically Portuguese I hasten to add), like myself, however, it doesn't take long to fly over that hurdle.  This is a superb uptempo album full of charm and grace echoing the sixties garage and Britpop, that, obviously equates to Power Pop, right?  Oh, and one more note to add, play it loud!

Not only are they a superb band but check out how quickly the drummer changes his tie and jacket between beats!

Get it: HERE

The Birds - Collectors' Guide to Rare British Birds

The Birds were one of the hard-luck outfits in the annals of '60s British rock. By reputation, they were one of the top R&B-based outfits in England during the mid-'60s, with a sound as hard and appealing as the Who, the Yardbirds, or the Small Faces. In contrast to a lot of other acts that never charted a hit, the Birds are remembered slightly by some serious fans, and are mentioned in several history books -- but for entirely the wrong reasons. The Birds are remembered for the fact that Ron Wood got his start in the band before moving on to bigger things with the Faces and the Rolling Stones; and that they shared a name, albeit spelled differently, with an American band of considerable prominence. Nobody knows a lot about their music, however, which, on record, consisted of fewer than a dozen songs. Ron Wood (guitar, harmonica, vocals), Tony Munroe (guitar, vocals), and Kim Gardner (bass) grew up within a block of each other, along with original drummer Bob Langham (succeeded by Pete Hocking, aka Pete McDaniels), and had gotten together with lead singer Ali McKenzie to form a band in 1964, while all were in their teens. They were based in Yiewsley in West London, and played the local community center regularly, building up a serious following, which led to their turning professional. The name the Birds came about when they were forced to change their original name, the Thunderbirds, owing to the name of Chris Farlowe's backing band of the period. Their music was hard R&B with a real edge to to it, and was good enough to get them into in a battle-of-the-bands contest held under the aegis of Ready, Steady, Go, the weekly music showcase series. They didn't win, but got a television appearance out of it, on which they were spotted by executives from Decca -- a contract followed, resulting in the recording of their first single, "You Don't Love Me," in November of 1964. Early the following spring, they tried again with a second single, "Leaving Here," which they got to perform on television.

The group seemed poised for success. Their bookings placed them ahead of the Pretty Things and the early Jeff Beck group the Tridents, and they were billed with the Who on some of the same gigs. In that company, there seemed to be no way that they could fail, especially with their sound, a loud, crunchy brand of British rhythm & blues-based rock, roughly akin to early Who, the Yardbirds, and the Kinks.

Disaster struck the band from a completely unexpected quarter -- across the Atlantic -- at in the spring of 1965, however. Fresh off of their first U.S. hit came a Los Angeles-based quintet called the Byrds. Their debut single, "Mr. Tambourine Man," released on the newly established British CBS Records label, was burning up the British charts, and "Leaving Here" by the Birds was left there, on record store shelves (when it was ordered at all). That summer the rival group toured England for the first time, and although the Birds' manager tried to take legal action, it was to no avail -- the spellings were different, and both groups' claim to the name were about equally good. A third Decca single in late 1965 brought their relationship with that label to an end. The group then moved to Reaction Records, at first under the name Birds Birds, but their debut single for the label, "Say Those Magic Words," was delayed in release for almost a year due to a contractual dispute. They also cut a version of Pete Townshend's "Run Run Run" highlighted by Wood's crunchy guitar and McKenzie's punked-out vocals, that could've given the Who a run for their money in a chase up the charts by rival singles. And they got one delightfully bizarre film appearance under their belt, performing a Ron Wood/Tony Munroe song, "That's All I Need," in the horror chiller The Deadly Bees, in 1966. Munroe was out of the band not long after, and Wood left in 1967, passing through the lineup of the Jeff Beck Group before joining the reconfigured (Small) Faces with Rod Stewart in 1969.

The Birds were one of the better bands of their era, as evidenced by the large following they built up from their live performances, playing a hard, loud brand of R&B, with polished vocals and a forceful, crunchy guitar sound. They weren't far removed from the Small Faces or the Who in sound, and perhaps they might've fared better, or had a longer run at success, if they hadn't been signed to a label that already had the Small Faces and the Rolling Stones under contract. The name confusion probably killed whatever chance they had of cracking the English charts, as well as eclipsing their musical virtues for posterity.

Get it: HERE

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Kaleidoscope (UK) - Tangerine Dream


Essentially, this 1967 record from Kaleidoscope combines psychedelic-pop whimsy with early Procol Harum-lyrics, Zombies-harmonies and a touch of Procol Harum. In fact the high points of the record rank right up there with Odyssey and Oracle and any other record of the period. I would not go as far as saying this is a legendary album, but it is amazing at points and maintains a high quality of music throughout, interesting no matter how many times one may listen to it.

On the whole the lyrics on Tangerine Dream are either haunting or nonsense. What keeps them from venturing into the "trite" category is lead singer Peter Daltrey's delivery. He whispers, to great effect, at least parts of each song. Add to that the reverb drenching every syllable and you have something beautiful and relaxing and psychedelic. No matter that he sings on "Please Excuse My Face"

Blushing, smiling through the tears
Please excuse my face/ I feel dead
I'll hide myself away.
This could easily turn rather pathetic quickly. However, the beauty of the acoustic-driven song and the earnest voice of Daltery allows it to come off pleasant, if a sad song can be so (and they can be).

Other very good tracks include "Dive into Yesterday" and "(Further Reflections) in the Room of Percussion," both of which feature time signature changes and uber-psychedelic, "I Am the Walrus" lyrics. Take "Dive into Yesterday,"
Battalions in navy blue are bursting beige balloons
The water pistols are all filled with lemonade
The jester and the goldfish have joined minds above the moon
Oh, please kiss the flowers and you, too, will be safe
What does that mean? And does it matter if the answer is nothing really? The images, as incredible as they are, could be in another language. It would not matter because the overall effect of the music serves to take the listener to another place. And I believe that to be the main point of music in general and psychedelic music in particular.

But my favorite lyric on the whole album is uttered on the awesomely named "(Further Reflections) in the Room of Percussion." Sounding overwhelmed, which I think if one were to travel around in the world of this record would be perfectly understandable, the singer manages to half-sing
My God, the spiders are everywhere...
If you dig 60's psychedelia you will dig "Tangerine Dream," certainly. (Velvet Night Sky Review)

Get It: HERE

Les Fleur De Lys - Reflections


Les Fleur de Lys were a British band originally formed in late 1964, in Southampton, Hampshire, England. They recorded singles beginning in 1965 in the mod-psychedelic music genre, later known as freakbeat. Known for their varied line-ups, only drummer Keith Guster was a member throughout their history. They finally disbanded in 1969. Keyboardist Pete Sears went on to play with Jefferson Starship. Les Fleur de Lys were managed by Atlantic Records' Frank Fenter, who had also discovered Sharon Tandy, the first white artist to record for Stax Records. Together, they produced a string of near-chart hits which later became collectable discs. (wikipedia)

Sprawling 24-track comp of the rare recordings of this enigmatic band. Includes 14 songs issued under the Les Fleur de Lys name, singles that they issued under the Rupert's People, Chocolate Frog, and Shyster pseudonyms, and releases on which they backed Sharon Tandy, John Bromley, and Waygood Ellis. It goes without saying that such a manic hodgepodge is geared toward the hardcore collector market. But if you like mid-to-late '60s mod-psych, it's a decent item to have around, with some sparkling (occasionally crazed) guitar work, unusually constructed tunes that sometimes meld soul and psychedelia, and nice harmonies. "Circles" and "Mud in Your Eye" are first-rate pounding mod guitar tunes; "Gong With the Luminous Nose" is pop-psych at its silliest; "Reflections of Charlie Brown" is pop-psych at its most introspective; and Sharon Tandy's "Daughter of the Sun" is a lost near-classic with witchy vocals and sinister psychedelic guitar. [Allmusic.com]

Get it: HERE

GARY WALKER AND THE RAIN - ALBUM No.1

Gary Walker was the catalyst in bringing the unrelated Walker Brothers to the UK in 1965 where, for a couple of years, they enjoyed commercial success. He had two minor UK hit singles while still a member of the group in 1966. The Walker Brothers split in May 1967 with all three members going solo.[1]
In 1967 he founded Gary Walker and The Rain, which consisted of Joey Molland (guitar and vocals); Charles "Paul" Crane (lead vocals, guitar); and John Lawson (bass guitar). The band only released one album, "Album No.1" A Japanese only release.


Get it: HERE

Johns Children - Smashed Blocked

John's Children were a 1960s pop art/mod rock band from Leatherhead, England that briefly featured future T. Rex frontman Marc Bolan. John's Children were known for their outrageous live performances and were booted off a tour with The Who in Germany in 1967 when they upstaged the headliners. Their 1967 single "Desdemona", a Bolan composition, was banned by the BBC because of the controversial lyric, "Lift up your skirt and fly". Their US record label delayed the release their album, Orgasm for four years from its recording date due to objections from Daughters of the American Revolution.
John's Children were active for less than two years and were not very successful commercially, having released only six singles and one album. But they had a big influence on punk rock and are seen by some as the precursors of glam rock. In retrospect the band has been praised for the impact they had, and their singles have become amongst the most sought-after British 1960s rock collectables. (Wiki)
A must not only for T. Rex archaeologists, but for anyone with a yearning to discover what the best of British freakbeat sounds like, Smashed Blocked! reprises the six months or so that Marc Bolan spent with mod psychedelics John's Children in 1967, adding the group's two earlier 45s (the U.S. hit title track included), and a random selection of rarities and acetates to what would otherwise appear a fairly standard track listing. Most of the titles here have already appeared on a myriad compilations. Did they really need to be released one more time? Appearances can be deceptive. Of the nine (out of 17) tracks that boast some kind of Bolan-ic intervention, only one has previously seen the light of day on official releases: the outtake "Hippy Gumbo." The singles "Midsummer Night's Scene" and "Remember Thomas A. Beckett," together with the post-Bolan "Come and Play With Me in the Garden" and "Jagged Time Lapse," are present as alternate takes with noticeable, if not precisely Earth-shattering differences; "Mustang Ford" and the backing track for "Sally Was an Angel" are familiar only from bootlegs; and the set comes to a shattering conclusion with four cuts from a 1967 BBC session, recorded shortly after drummer Chris Townson returned from a tour with the Who, where he sat in for a poorly Keith Moon. The reproduction is no better than the crunchy-sounding bootleg EP that appeared in the late '80s, and may even come from the same source. But at least it won't deteriorate any further. To this already mouthwatering selection can be added the original acetate pressing for "Smashed Blocked," still laboring beneath its working title of "The Love I Thought I'd Found," and the group's "lost" third Columbia label single, the fuzz-drenched "Not the Sort of Girl You'd Take to Bed." There's also a reprise of "Strange Affair," without the pointless backward tape effects found on the Orgasm album release, plus another chance to hear Jeff Beck's crucial solo in the B-side "But She's Mine." And while the John's Children catalog still cries out for a decent housekeeping job, but at least the component parts are now in place. Around the same time as this album was released, a copy of the original "Midsummer Night Scene" 45 sold in England for over 4,000 dollars. Smashed Blocked! grants the opportunity to hear what all that fuss is about for considerably less outlay than that. (AMG)

Get it: HERE

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Singles - Better Than Before

The Singles are a well-dressed foursome of guys barely in their twenties who hail from garage rock central U.S.A., better known on the map as Detroit, MI. They don't have much in common with the others bands on the scene except for a lot of energy in their approach and a healthy respect for the past. Instead of looking to the Stooges or the blues for inspiration, the Singles look to classic pop sources like the Beatles, the Who, the Kinks, Buddy Holly, and the Flamin' Groovies (bass player Dave Lawson even resembles Groovie guitarist Cyril Jordan circa 1976) for their inspiration. Main Single Vince Frederick writes unswervingly snappy tunes and delivers the chirpy vocals with just the right amount of teenage angst. The tracks alternate hard-charging beat rockers like "No More Places (Left to Go)," the Buddy Holly-channeling "See You Again," and the tambourine-shaking "He Can Go, You Can Stay" with sensitive beat ballads like "Waited So Long" (which has a monster guitar solo by Will Yates), "Since You've Been Gone," and the lilting "There's Nothing Wrong When I'm With You." Better Than Before rushes past in a blur of melody, harmony, and energy without a single weak song, and thanks to Jim Diamond's clean but not sterile production the record sounds live and alive. While the Singles have a way to go before they match their idols, their debut record gets them off on the right foot. Fans of power pop, guitar pop, garage pop, and just plain pop should check these kids out. They may not be better than before, but they are better than a lot of today. -AMG



GET IT: NEW LINK

KEN STRINGFELLOW - TOUCHED

Ken Stringfellow is something like power-pop royalty. Not only is he a great songwriter, responsible for half of the music of the Posies, but he's also kept his plate constantly full over the last decade, working with everyone from REM to Big Star to Scott McCaughey to Ringo Starr. The Posies are the hardest working defunct band in show business-- Stringfellow and fellow Posie John Auer have released more material since the band's breakup than most bands release in an entire career.
And in the midst of all this, Ken found time to start yet another band-- a group called Saltline that only managed to record one EP before splitting. This left Stringfellow with a bunch of songs just lying around doing nothing. So, he penned up a few more and put them all to work on his second solo album, Touched. True to form, it's not a bad batch of tunes.
Stringfellow allows the country tendencies that have always lurked in his songwriting to come to the fore on the opener "Down Like Me." Ron Preston's steel guitar swells in and out of the mix and drummer Eric Marshall keeps things moving at a quick clip as Stringfellow serves up one of the sticky melodies we've by now come to expect from him. Mitch Easter's production is clean and uncluttered, but it sometimes lacks the punch of the Posies' best efforts, like 1993's excellent Frosting on the Beater.
"This One's on You" pulls back the reins and turns back the clock to roughly the time when Bernie Leadon was still in the Eagles. One of the Posies' main strengths was always the harmonies of Auer and Stringfellow. Here, minus Auer, Stringfellow simply layers his own voice and while this works well enough, there's a certain balance that Auer's voice brought to the harmonies of the Posies that's lacking on Touched. On his own, Stringfellow's voice also has a somewhat alarming tendency to sound like Timothy B. Schmidt on the high notes, but this only happens rarely.
Stringfellow naturally includes a few of the power-pop gems that he does so well, like the Sloan-esque "Find Yourself Alone." At first glance, the song is catchy and well-performed, with a monster chorus, but a closer listen reveals several piano and Rhodes tracks filling out the background, adding immensely to the overall texture of the song. If only there were radio stations somewhere that would play this stuff.
"Uniforms" begins over a bed of cello and violin, but quickly segues into loping pop full of cleanly strummed guitars, harpsichord, and even a bit of distant clip-clop percussion nicked straight from Pet Sounds. Atmospheric synths gradually enter the mix, only to give way to a piano interlude that lays the groundwork for the last few verses. The rhythm pushes forward harder than before, and layers of synth wash underneath Stringfellow's multi-tracked voice. It's an impressive little opus that uses a keen sense of arrangement to its fullest advantage.
"Sparrow" is the best of an impressive quartet of classic power-pop songs with one of the album's finest melodies topping another inventive arrangement. Stringfellow makes use of his lowest range in the pre-chorus over fuzzed-out guitars and organs, and offers some impressive guitar and keyboard work in the instrumental bridge. The Hammond-soaked "Reveal Love" comes down a notch, eschewing guitar entirely in the verses, but still offering a massive chorus designed to rattle around your head for days afterward.
But while the more upbeat numbers on Touched are uniformly flawless, things get spotty when Stringfellow departs from that route. "One Morning" is a fine enough acoustic song, full of nicely layered vocals and a great melody, but it's followed by "Spanish Waltz," a song that feels somewhat labored. It veers between some forced distorted passages and vaguely psychedelic sections with odd little guitar parts battling with Stringfellow's otherwise good vocal melody. There's a bombast to the song that's simply unbecoming a songwriter like Stringfellow, whose primary strength is melody.
It's followed by "Fireflies," a quiet, pensive song where the guitar and drums are actually more prominent than the vocals. It works well as a mood piece or interlude, but little else. But it's on "The Lover's Hymn" where he really veers off course. The aforementioned Timothy B. Schmidt resemblance hinted at earlier is in a full bloom here, and the song practically sounds like an outtake from the sessions for "The Long Run." At more than five minutes, it's extremely overlong, and never really develops itself beyond the organ-coated verses, with the exception of some somewhat interesting instrumental bits presented in lieu of a chorus.
Thankfully, Stringfellow gets his bearings again for the closer, "Here's to the Future," and ending Touched in the same territory that Big Star's third album occupied 25 years ago. What begins as an acoustic song is shrouded in a blanket of analog synthesizer during the crescendos between verses, and Marshall punctuates it with orchestral percussion. It's a fitting close to a fine solo effort that's not afraid to take a few chances. No one really knows at this point what will become of the Posies, but as long as Stringfellow keeps putting out music in some form, the future of power-pop looks okay. (Pitchfork)

Get it: HERE

Monday, January 9, 2012

MATTHEW SWEET - GIRLFRIEND


Matthew Sweet's third album is a remarkable artistic breakthrough. Grounded in the guitar pop of the Beatles, Big Star, Byrds, R.E.M., and Neil Young, Girlfriend melds all of Sweet's influences into one majestic, wrenching sound that encompasses both the gentle country-rock of "Winona" and the winding guitars of the title track and "Divine Intervention." Sweet's music might have recognizable roots, but Girlfriend never sounds derivative; thanks to his exceptional songwriting, the album is a fresh, original interpretation of a classic sound.


Get it: HERE

Sunday, January 8, 2012

WONDERMINTS - MIND IF WE MAKE LOVE TO YOU





“During 2000-2001, Wondermints cemented their already direct '60s influences by serving as the backing band for Brian Wilson's solo tours, documented on the concert albums Live at the Roxy Theater and Pet Sounds Live. Upon returning, they went into the studio and recorded Mind If We Make Love to You, a record that ably displays some steady gains in musicianship and expertise from playing some of the best pop music of all time in front of audiences all over the world. As on previous records, the band sparkles simply by playing up their influences instead of hiding them. Surprisingly, though, the Beach Boys inspiration apparently came from their early-'70s phase instead of their classic '60s era; "Ride," with backing vocals from Wilson himself, is immediately obvious, featuring a soulful vocal from the Carl Wilson playbook (first bluesy as on "The Trader," later heavenly as on "God Only Knows") and a progression of short "feels" instead of the usual verse-chorus-verse format.
Elsewhere, Wondermints again call on spirits of the past -- from the Association (for "Out of Mind," on which Curt Boettcher must surely be smiling) to the Zombies ("Shine on Me") to even the Grateful Dead ("Time Has You") -- but any hint of a stale sound is saved by gorgeous hooks, clean production, and an over-all beautiful construction. Occasionally the similarities are to fellow latter-day pop savants like Jason Falkner or even the Ocean Blue, but Wondermints ably display all they've learned during their nearly endless summer of touring with the golden boy of '60s pop.” (From AllMusicGuide).


Get it: HERE

Friday, January 6, 2012

VEGAS WITH RANDOLPH - ABOVE THE BLUE REVIEW


Vegas with Randolph are:  John Ratts, Eric Kern, Dave Purol, Dan Aylestock, and Brock Harris.

The first question that came to me when I received this album for review was, "Who is Randolph then?" None of the band members are called Randolph!  Of course, after a few seconds of looking at the cover, I soon forgot about Randolph anyway!
The band have been compared to bands such as Fountains of Wayne, Fastball, Sloan and suchlike and on the album opener "The Better Part," you could also add Luna to that list too, a song with searing guitars and some brilliant catchy vocal arrangements that would entice any listener to track two and beyond without any hesitation.
 

The albums title track "Above the blue" starts off with a keyboard riff reminiscent of something The Beatles would have come up with and then goes off somewhere completely different with more great guitar hooks, and powerful vocals, in fact this 20 track album delivers cracking power pop from start to finish, I am playing the album now for the umpteenth time and I don't see that abating anytime soon, well, only to take it to the car as this album would also make for excellent driving music.

 
The album is nearly all up tempo, unabridged power pop, save for a couple power pop ballads, if that is the right description for them?

In conclusion, this is an album of well crafted, catchy tunes, great vocal arrangements, a nod and a wink to some of our heroes in the world of power pop and certainly a band to keep your eye on and ears open to.  Of course with every upside to a band there has to be a downside and in Vegas With Randolph's case, the downside is you need to buy 2 cds, one for the home and one for the car, thank God for MP3s eh!

You can contact "Vegas with Randolph" here: FACEBOOK MYSPACE

You can purchase "Above the Blue" on AMAZON CDBABY or you can buy a great package that includes a CD + a T-Shirt  + a digital download of the album with bonus tracks (this sorts out the car and home copies) - for a special low price! Includes immediate download of 20-track album in your choice of MP3 320, FLAC, or just about any other format you could possibly desire on the bands FACEBOOK page.

Vegas With Randolph T-Shirt design which is worth the package price alone!
FRONT PRINT
 BACK PRINT





The Greenberry Woods - Big Money Item


The Greenberry Woods' instrumentation and yearning vocal style tend to the emotionally manipulative, heart-on-sleeve side, but lyrics often rise above the vacuous boy-girl stuff that defines the genre. "Love Songs" surveys the cliched landscape with a sly, knowing eye while working completely within the musical formula. At 18 tracks, most hovering under the three-minute mark, Big Money Item serves up a dizzying over-abundance of sugary riches. While some selections remain lightweight trifles, enough substantial moments overflow the cone to coat the listener in captivating sticky goo. "Invisible Threads" combines sudden gear shifts with a phased, baroque pop underpinning. There's the stately soft-psych of "Parachute," and a dew-eyed tip of the hat to Crowded House balladry in "For You." "Nervous" pumps up the fuzz for some garage-y power-pop while "Go Without You" breaks into Bay City Roller handclaps. "Oh Janine"'s soaring chorus recalls both The Beach Boys and Eric Carmen's Raspberries. Even at its most superficial and derivative and unapologetically nerdy, Big Money Item is just so chock full of fatal hooks that...well...life almost starts to feel that fresh and innocent again.

Get it:HERE

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Grass-Show - Something Smells Good in Stinksville


Grass Show (often written Grass~Show®) were a Britpop-inspired indie band from Sweden, active in the mid to late 1990s. They released one album in the United Kingdom, Something Smells Good In Stinkville, in 1997, with three singles, "1962", "Freak Show" and "Out Of The Void". The album contains a cover version of the Ace of Base song, "All That She Wants".
The artwork for their releases was notable as it often portrayed imagery of 1950s American families, which were juxtaposed with surreal and absurd elements. For example, the sleeves for the "1962" single has images of families cooking trainers.

Never mind the title. Grass-Show's debut album Something Smells Good in Stinkville is an infectious fusion of stylish Brit-pop, quirky new wave, punchy '70s power-pop and breezy Euro-pop. The band's strength is their melodic sensibilities, and while their clever lyrics can come across as smug, the light, frothy hooks and melodies are positively effervescent.

Get it: HERE

THE BRILLIANT CORNERS _ SOMEBODY UP THERE LIKES ME

With trumpets blaring and guitars jangling, the Brilliant Corners sound like they're ready to party on Somebody Up There Likes Me. Pop music doesn't need studio gloss to craft toe-tapping hooks, and the Brilliant Corners glide through 12 songs on Somebody Up There Likes Me with infectious enthusiasm and hummable melodies. The title track and "Your Feet Never Touch the Ground" are exhilarating, driven by propulsive guitars and jubilant horns. Bristling with youthful exuberance, "Teenage" and "Friday Saturday Sunday Monday" each clock in a little over two minutes, and their brevity makes them even more addictive.

Like Aztec Camera and the Smiths, the Brilliant Corners are able to decorate sad tales with deceptively upbeat new wave rhythms. The Brilliant Corners a lament a girl's passing in "She's Dead," but the music sounds more like a celebration than a wake. On the LP's most powerful song, "Never a Young Girl," vocalist David Woodward sings of a woman whom he was once in love with when he was a child, but now old age has taken its toll on her looks. "The cracks on the ceiling match the cracks on her face," Woodward laments as the band adopts the Smiths' slower, moodier moments, an uncharacteristic yet welcome respite from the Brilliant Corners' usual bursts of energy. Like almost everything else on the album, it's brilliant.
[From allmusic]


Get it: HERE

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

BUFFALO TOM - SLEEPY EYED


Put Sleepy Eyed in your CD player, hit play, and prepare to be amazed -- "Tangerine," the lead-off cut, signals the brief but welcome return of "Dinosaur Jr." with two-and-three-quarters minutes of charging neo-grunge guitars and galloping drums, the likes of which you haven't heard from this band since Birdbrain. But, of course, Buffalo Tom sound a lot tighter, stronger, and more confident when they dig into the big shaggy dog rock than they did five years previous, and while they never get quite as rollicking as "Tangerine" again onSleepy Eyed, cut for cut it's a far more direct and straightforward rock album than anything they'd managed since their creative breakthrough on Let Me Come Over. To some listeners,Sleepy Eyed might sound like a regression, moving back into noisy power trio mode after the more polished surfaces and intricate arrangements of Let Me Come Over and Big Red Letter Day, but play Sleepy Eyed back to back with Birdbrain and you'll be pleasantly surprised by the differences. Sleepy Eyed decisively proves Buffalo Tom write better hooks and better melodies, write smarter lyrics, and even rock harder than when they were still trying to find their way out from under J. Mascis' shadow, and they sound like they're having a great time just turning up the amps and letting rip, especially Bill Janovitz, whose rock-dude guitar outros are a hoot (and this is one band who I cannot begrudge for enjoying themselves every once in a while). On Sleepy EyedBuffalo Tom go back to the old neighborhood and show everybody how much bigger and stronger they've become -- it's sorta like a high school reunion, but louder and a lot more fun.


Get it:HERE

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

GIGOLO AUNTS - THE ONE BEFORE THE LAST


As one of the best-ever U.S. alternative pop acts to fall into obscurity, the Gigolo Aunts somehow found a large following in Spain, of all places -- hence this Spain-only set of rare and unreleased material, released via that country's Bittersweet Records in 2000. Warming overseas fans' hearts with a fine cover of Nacha Pop's "The Girl from Yesterday," this odds'n'sods album is nearly as good as such well-plotted Aunts affairs as 1994's Flippin' Out and 1999's Minor Chords and Major Themes. From the piano-laden pulse of "Kay and Michael" to hard chargers like "The Shift to Superoverdrive" and "To Whoever," the songwriting axis of Dave Gibbs and Steve Hurley is on the money. But The One Before the Last's parting shot, an acoustic winner called "The Sun Will Rise Again" (with a feel akin to Minor Chords and Major Themes' "Everyone Can Fly"), is among the finest in the group's canon. ~ John D. Luerssen, Rovi

Get it: HERE

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Masonics - Royal & Ancient - 2007

This LP, Royal and Ancient, is a mix of surf attitude, a fondness for '60s Britbeat before everyone's hair started toward the collar and garage punk dumbness. Now, don't take dumbness as a diss... some of the greatest records ever made have been dumb or made by dummies. So what kinda dolt-jolt is this? You dig Leave My Kitten Alone? Gone wild to early Kinks rekkids? Well, you're gonna git down to this LP for sure.

Do Thee Headcoats, The Milkshakes, The Clique,The Delmonas, The Kaisers or The Wildebeests mean anything to you? Well, the members The Masonics all served time in at least one of those bands. If you loved 'em, then you could probably argue that The Masonics are a supergroup of the Brit rock'n'roll scene. Either way, these cats have cut some serious stone. LP opener, Don't Talk To Me is a frazzled rabble-rouser which ticks ALL the right boxes. At times, it sounds like it's about to fall down drunk... but between... man, it's tighter than Booker T & The MGs.

The band switch between sweaty beat club to torch-song... garage torch-song I should add... there's no Celine or Whitney influence here... unless, by some fluke they've all had childhood sweethearts by the same name. Either way, Chicken Bomb, Shig-Shag, Call Me Deceiver all do exactly what they say on the tin. I've been lucky enough to have been given the long-player on both CD and vinyl, and to be honest, the vinyl pressing is a lot tougher. Maybe it's just the format... but if you wanna get the most outta this cut, then The Masonics 12 incher needs to find a home between your sleeves.

Get it: HERE

Sunday, January 1, 2012

TALCUM SOUL - VARIOUS ARTISTS





If you didn't dance enough last night, dance a little more today with this fine collection of soul classics!

Get it: HERE

1. Seven Days Too Long - Chuck Woods
2. A Lil' Lovin' Sometimes - Alexander Patton
3. Dr. Love - Bobby Sheen
4. Breakout - Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels
5. Fortune Teller - Benny Spellman
6. Looking For You - Garnet Mimms
7. One More Hurt - Marjorie Black
8. What's Wrong With Me Baby - The Invitations
9. Ready, Willing And Able - Jimmy Holiday & Clydie King
10. End Of Our Love - Nancy Wilson
11. Love And Desire - Patrice Holloway
12. Better Use Your Head - Little Anthony & The Imperials
13. Dance, Dance, Dance - The Casualeers
14. What Can I Do? - Billy Prophet
15. Condition Red - Baltimore & Ohio Marching Band
16. She Blew A Good Thing - The Poets
17. As Long As I Have You - Garnet Mimms
18. Ski-ing In The Snow - The Invitations
19. Working On Your Case - The O'Jays
20. Love In My Heart - The Entertainers
21. If You Go - Derek Martin
22. I'll Do Anything - Doris Troy
23. Lipstick Traces (On A Cigarette) - The O'Jays
24. Don't - Marva Josie
25. You're My Everything - Little Jerry Williams
26. The Drifter - Ray Pollard