Friday, November 24, 2006


That, my dear friends, is the name of a faboulous powerpop blog run by Steve that gives a lowdown on all the great music coming out of the pop underground. Steve has been kind enough to mention the Power of Pop on his blog and I take great pleasure in returning the favour.

Thank God for the internet!

Sunday, November 19, 2006


CHRIS BROWN Now That You’re Fed (Self-released) Although, most will be distracted by the Jellyfish association (co-producer here is Chris Manning after all), the correct reference point is Lindsey Buckingham, especially with Brown’s deft use of the acoustic guitar and layered vocal tracks. Which all makes for a truly pleasing experience.

MITCH LINKER Self-titled (Self-released) After stints with the Dent and the Day Traders, Linker takes the plunge as a solo artist and finds that the water is great. Basically, Linker’s melodic pop music will garner him loads of admirers. I mean, who doesn’t want good tunes and that cool pop vibe? Really.

BIG BUS DREAM Self-titled (4th Ward) With an emphasis on acoustic psychedelic jazz-folk pop, Mike Shannon and Chick Tsikouras have no option but to rely on well-crafted songs to hold rapt the attention of their listeners. No wallpapering the cracks here with pyrotechnics. I guess that’s why Big Bus Dream succeeds.

TEAM ROCKIT The Lowest Point In Rock ‘N’ Roll History (Fire Tone) How droll! The name says it all actually. How many different ways can you grind out these garage nuggets? The focus is on the power without the glory. Motor City mania of the Stooges and MC5 has gripped Team Rockit and hope it never lets go!

CINDERPOP Their Skies Are Beautiful (Bongo Beat) This Canadian quartet provides a fair middle ground between shoegaze and powerpop. Thus, the songs range from jaunty to atmospheric, from rocking to dreamy. Melodies can be a tad slight but there’s no doubting the intent.

THE RACHETS Glory Bound (Pirates Press) Sounds like Bruce Springsteen fronting the Clash. Unkind? No, there’s a compliment in that somewhat as The Ratchets have captured well the heartland soul of the Boss and deliver it through songs that reflect the ragged energy of old school British punk. And if Hold Steady can have a hit album…

ELLA ROUGE Self-titled (MobyDick) This Swedish band has done a bang-up job of distilling the classic 70s rock of Pink Floyd, ABBA, Wings and ELO and extrapolating gigantic tunes from the mixed-up hubris. The big sound of Ella Rouge may jar indie rock lovers but in the heart of the unseemly beast beats a rock ‘n’ roll beat.

FOUR HOURS SLEEP Love Specifics (Popboomerang) A glorious throwback to rock sophistication of the sixties and seventies. Smooth and textured, velvety and erudite, Four Hours Sleep is an enthralling study of pop’s myriad joys. Spanning diverse genres, from Spectoresque pop, country-blues, experimental music and folk-pop, Bill McDonald & friends keep it constantly interesting.

Sunday, November 12, 2006


DAVID MORGAN Ordinary Glory (Self-released) I love this job! Especially when it places into my hands such fine pop music. With his piano-based songs and resonant tenor, the comparisons with Billy Joel are hard to resist but Morgan is his own (piano) man. A very positive (infectious) vibe permeates Ordinary Glory. It may be old world/old school sensibility but give me a dose of David Morgan over an overload of Five For Fighting anyday.

THE SUPERS Re: Arrange (Self-released) These powerpop stalwarts have released a well crafted, finely produced collection of sharp pop songs that recall the fellow countrymen the Barenaked Ladies, Graham Parker and Elvis Costello. The range of songcraft covers crunching rockers, heartfelt ballads and visceral putdowns alike to communicate a enjoyable sonic feel. A good balance between cerebral geek rock and erudite powerpop.

DÝRĐIN Self-titled (Skipping Stones) Only three of these eleven songs are in English. But guess what, it doesn’t make much difference cos this Icelandic powerpop band make the sweetest noise! And at under 30 minutes, before you know it, it’s all over and you have to start the CD all over again. And you will, cos Dýrđin churn out really cool & bright pop music that it is almost irresistible.

THE HANKS Your New Attraction (Cobra Music) It is obvious that the Hanks are of this modern rock age. Throughout its earnest rock, echoes of melodic emo punk ping pong all over this eleven-track debut. You’re bound to hear references to Dashboard Confessional, Saves the Day, Get Up Kids and Weezer in the Hanks’ robust approach. Armed with strong material, the Hanks demonstrate that they are a new rock band to be reckoned with.

VARIOUS ARTISTS Dana and Carl present: “This is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio” Vol. 2 (Jam) This is my kind of radio show. 28 tracks that highlight why power pop is not the lost cause that many in the mainstream consider. Anyone vaguely familiar with the pop underground would lighten up with faced with the music of Chris Von Sneidern, Eytan Mirsky, Cloud Eleven, The Spongetones, Mr. Encrypto, the Grip Weeds, the Dipsomaniacs and so on. The perfect introduction to many great powerpop bands. What are you waiting for?

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Loads of talented folk out there in cyberspace. Case in point, the Scallions aka Shawn and Mike Franklin who parley their Residents-styled sensibility into pristine powerpop and ambient electonica. They strike me as intelligent musicians as well. See if you agree...

What place does music have in your lives?

Shawn: Music has always been in our lives. We weren't a typical situation where someone gets into music in his/her teens. It has always been there. Our Dad is a musician and our Mom is into creative things with art and such. It's a happy balance.

How would describe the kind of music found on the new album?

Mike: We call the sound Avant-Garde Power Pop. The songs are short 60’s and 70’s influenced traditional pop songs with an experimental edge. I think we were finally able to find a balance between our power pop hooks and our more experimental side with this project. It just sort of took shape over the course of recording ATC. Those five looooong years we spent recording it. I think there is a little something extra in the production on this CD that will take more than one sitting to appreciate. Fortunately, the majority of the feedback has been positive so far. No matter which style we play, melody always comes first.

Looking back, some of our older avant-garde tracks made people run screaming from the room. We haven’t abandoned that side and this wasn’t a calculated approach by any means. We’ll actually be revisiting the more experimental side again on our new vinyl project.

Is the D.I.Y. ethic important to you?

Shawn: The D.I.Y. attitude is crucial for us. Yes, we are a signed band with Chuck D from Public Enemy, but we still do a lot of legwork. Now we have people who help us out with videos, art and other things, but we still like to have the final say and control as much as we can.

Mike: It’s been nice to have a hand in all aspects of our music. Things changed slightly once we were signed. We started working with individuals outside of the group and handing certain jobs over to them. Luckily, we’ve hooked up with some great people who really get us - so we weren’t disappointed.

How does a band that cites the Residents as a major influence end up signed with a rap label?

Shawn: We are a band that is into so many different styles of music. Well, Public Enemy is one of my favorite bands (so are The Residents) and I have been a hardcore fan since the first album. I have always wanted to meet Chuck. I ended up getting his email address and asked if he sign our guestbook at the time. I thought it would look so cool. He ended up doing it like 3 weeks later but he also downloaded some of our songs.

As it turns out, he was giving a lecture near where I live and got to meet him in person. When I asked him to sign some things, he asked "who do I make this out to?" I said "you actually checked out my band The Scallions" and he cuts me off and said my name. I was on cloud nine for days. I emailed him again saying how great I thought the lecture was. He responded saying that he wanted to know if we wanted to license out some songs for his online label Slam Jamz. At the time, he wasn't doing anything offline. Years later, he changed all that and we were chosen to do a proper CD/DVD.

What does the future hold for the Scallions?

Shawn: As Mike mentioned, we have a vinyl only avant-garde record coming out called "Sounds of vinyl and the past." It’s coming out on Mind's Ear records. It will be an instrumental record and contain a lot of different sections. I am so happy with it. We are like 90% done with the recording. This is a record dedicated to the people who have been into us since we started releasing material for the public. Also we are assembling material for the next Slam Jamz Scallions CD.

Mike: We both have a backlog of material to go through for the next CD. We’ll start sifting through that and decide what makes the cut, clean it up, and record it. Some of the demos are already done. We hope that the next release doesn’t take five years!

I wouldn’t mind playing or show or two either…

Saturday, November 04, 2006


CITY ELECTRIC Five Easy Pieces EP (Self released) This debut EP from this Chicago-based quartet showcases the band’s penchant for wiry and edgy post-punk birthed in England & New York. Thus elements of goth, noise pop and shiny melodic rock all make an appearance here on the fairly eclectic material. In that respect, there are similarities with bands like Ambulance LTD. Personally; the closing “Quiet Life” suggests that despite the band’s stated experimental bent, it may be in the traditional pop ballad that City Electric makes a name for itself. And why not? Good music, whatever its format. A band to watch.

THE SCALLIONS Agony Through Ceremony (Slam Jamz) Brothers Mike and Shawn Franklin make up the Scallions. Word is, the Franklin brothers have been recording for more than 16 years. It shows too on this accomplished collection, as the production work is first class. The album is a little schizophrenic though seeing as it veers from the opening sixties folk-rock to synth pop to ambient-techno before two really fine classic Britpop-rock numbers buoys you and then, the dirge-like “Final Frame” drops you off at the deep end. What a ride for pop lovers everywhere. Climb onboard!

UNWED SAILOR The White Ox (Burnt Toast Vinyl) Instrumental since 1998…. Boasts Unwed Sailor’s myspace tagline. The White Ox is 33-odd minutes of ambient/progressive/experimental music with some lyrics thrown in now and then. It’s probably clichéd to say that this belongs on a film soundtrack somewhere. But in the absence of visuals, the music of Unwed Sailor is about atmosphere and evocation. The moods and emotions of the six songs vary from pastoral bliss to sinister foreboding to urban despair. A good mix, you would agree even though at times the pulse and pace struggle to get past somnolent. Crisp instrumentation coupled with skilful performances will make The White Ox appealing to the prog set.

HOT MUTE (Unreleased) Ah… the majesty of rock! The classic 70s version, of course. Let Hot Mute, four lads from San Francisco, totally confound your musical expectations with a sophisticated pop sensibility that belies its hard rock image. Everything you ever loved about Queen, Todd Rundgren, Sparks, David Bowie, ELO, Wings has been expertly distilled into these concise treatises on the majesty of rock. That word again… imagine the Darkness done absolutely right. There’s so much going on here with these 14 sublime tracks. What more can I say? Hot Mute is brilliant from every perspective – careening tunes, honey-dripping harmonies, molten guitar licks and an attitude that reflects the majesty of rock!