Sunday, January 18, 2015

Pugwash - Tales of the Unexpected (Rare Tracks #4)

It's early 2015 and the big news is that the Irish band Pugwash is hard at work on a new album at the legendary Konk studios and they need your help.  Thomas Walsh and crew are working an active Pledge Music campaign to help defray the cost of producing the new album and anyone reading this blog should chip in and support the effort. No band recording today has produced a more consistent Power Pop catalog than Pugwash. The new album is due out in May and so far Thomas has posted three demos in the protected area within Pledge Music. Each is brilliant (no surprise there).

I can't wait for the new one and pulled together a rarities compilation to listen to in the interimThis compilation features demos and B-sides and a number of demo tracks from Thomas Walsh side project "The Duckworth Lewis Method".  Lots of nice material until the real effort arrives.

I've put three Pugwash rarities compilations together so far, and each time it hits me how superior Pugwash's cast-offs are to the vast majority of material from other artists.  As usual, please let me know if you have any rare Pugwash that I don't have.

1 I Can Hear The Grass Grow (Full Band Cover of the Move)
2 Better That We Dance (B-Side)
3 Ying Yang (B-Side)
4 Fire In My Belly (B-Side)
5 Flatten the Hay (Nice Duckworth Lewis Method Acoustic Demo)
6 Tales of the Unexpected (B-Side)
7 Tinsel and Marizpan (Acapella Version)
8 Gentlemen and Players (Duckworth Lewis Method Demo)
9 Test Match Special (Duckworth Lewis Method Demo)
10 The Stoolie (Instrumental Demo)
11 The Age of Revolution (Duckworth Lewis Method Demo)
12 Ireland Ireland (Duckworth Lewis Non-Album Single)
13 To the Warmth of You (Acoustic Version)
14 Julianne
15 Everybody's Gottla Learn Sometimes (Duckworth Lewis Method covers The Korgi's)
16 Can't Get It Out Of My Head (Thomas sings over ELO instrumental track)
17 Answers On a Postcard (Acoustic Version)
18 Good Night Christmas (Acapella version of Thomas repurposing The Beatle's Good Night)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Top 25 Power Pop Releases of 2014

No releases from Jason Falkner, Roger Manning or Pugwash this year.  Still in balance, a nice set of Power Pop releases.  Here are my top 25 for 2014:

1. The Dowling Poole - Bleak Strategies
The most impressive release of the year.  Willie Dowling takes the power pop chops he displayed with Jackdaw4 to new heights with new partner John Poole.  I hear echos of Jellyfish and XTC in this one.  Great!

2. Linus of Hollywood - Something Good
A perfect summer confection from Linus. Great tunes.  Great production.  Not a bad tune on this fine album.  Can we have another one Linus?

3. Mothboxer - Sand and the Rain
A somewhat more introverted effort from Dave Ody than previous Mothboxer albums, this album still has an intoxicating mix of Beach Boys style ballads along with XTC style prog pop rockers.  This band helps me get over the break up of Electric Soft Parade.

4. Cliff Hillis - Song Machine
I know this is actually an EP but its a long one and Cliff is generous releasing bonus tracks to supplement.    A nice song cyle from Cliff that really hangs together.   Very nice effort.

5. Fauna Flora - Fauna Flora
The return to recording from former Cherry Twister headman Steve Ward was a big deal for me.   This is a great effort featuring Steve's soothing voice.  Wonderful tunes and great production.

6. Rob Bonfiglio - Freeway
This is my favorite solo record.from the former Wanderlust and Skies of America singer    Some great power pop anthems here with fewer light rock throwaway tracks.

7. The Legal Matters - The Legal Matters
The Michigan based power pop supergroup features the talents of Andy Reed, Chris Richards and Keith Klingensmith.   No surprise that there are great songs galore on this one.  Loved this one.

8. The Nines - Nine Lives
So we've heard some of these songs before but hey its the Nines.  Always a cause for celebration when there is a new one from Steve Eggers and the Nines.

9. Rick Hromadka - Tripping Dinosaurs
Rick Hromadka has lead a series of bands starting with Double Naught Spies, Maple Mars and Ruby Free.  This solo effort demonstrates that whatever the vehicle, he channels great pop of the sixties.

10. Charles Jenkins and the Zhivagos - Too Much Water Under the Bridge
The new effort from former Icecream Hands vocalist Charles Jenkins brings back the Power Pop after his last more folky effort. 

11. The Jigsaw Seen - Old Man Reverb
This may be the best Jigsaw Seen album since 2000's Zenith.  Nice tunes from the retro psychedelic band.

12. Evil Arrows - Evil Arrows 1,2,3 and 4
The four EP's from Bryan Scary's latest project more than equal's an album in my book. Quite a grab bag of catchy quirky tunes.  Lots of gems here.

13. Sunday Sun - We Let Go
Probably the slickest release on this list. The first official release from the Dutch band.   Nice pop from this up and coming band.

14. Lannie Flowers - Live in NYC
This album functions as a "best of" for the Texas based Power Popper.   Even if you don't know Lannie Flowers, you'll get it after listening to this effort.  Great sound quality too!

15. Lapland - Lapland
I loved this quiet poppy effort from Brooklyn based songwriter Josh Mease. Sleeper album of the year.  It creeps up on you.

16. Edward O'Connell - Vanishing Act
Edward O'Connell comes up with another Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello influenced song cycle.   More great songs.

17. The Paul and John  - Inner Sunset
Some amazing tunes amongst some more ordinary tunes.   Personal favorite track is "Everything Comes Together".

18. Aerial - Why Don't They Teach Heartbreak at School
Perhaps the best album this year in the "Teenage Fanclub school" of power pop.

19. The Tangerines - Turn On The Light
Perhaps the best album this year in the "Swedish school" of power pop.

20. Burning Ferns - See Saw Seen
A surprising debut from this Welsh band.  Great rockin' tunes with a distinctly mid 60's vibe.

21. The Jellybricks – Youngstown Tune-Up
Always great to hear a new one from the Jellybricks. Both singer songwriters hitting on this one.

22. Shake Some Action! - Catch the Sun
This band always channels the vibe of the Hoodoo Gurus for me  Another solid effort.

23. Sloan - Commonwealth
Always fun to have a grab bag from the Canadian band.   This two disc set organized by each singer/songwriter.this time.

24. The Both - The Both
Yes Aimee Mann efforts have become predictable and boring of late, so a duet album with Ted Leo promised something fresh.  This one doesn't quite live up to the promise though.   Some nice songs but not enough of them overall.

25. The Rip Off Artists -  The Intercontinental
I loved the previous Rip Off Artists album and I like this one.  Some fine tunes from Graham Parker disciples Nick Pipitone and Peter Batchelder along with a few that don't work as well.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

New Moonbabies Album On The Way

I am on record as a big fan of the Swedish dream pop duo, the Moonbabies.  I find their particular mix of electronics, experimentation and pop to contain more that a little dose of Beatlesque melody.  For power pop fans looking for melodic pop and ready to look a bit further a field, a heartily recommend the Moonbabies.

It's been seven years since the band put out their last album "Moonbabies at the Ballroom" but the good news is that after an extend absence where bandmembers Ola Frick and Carina Johansson took time off to start a family, they are back with a series of double singles.  This part of a campaign leading up to a new album due out next spring (very excited about that).   As a courtesy I'm presenting a collection of B-sides and outtakes that used to be available on the Moonbabies old website but are no longer available. Support this talented duo and look forward to a new Moonbabies album next spring.

1 You Know How It Is
2 Take Me To the Ballroom (Rufus Remix)
3 Serpentine
4 One, Two, Three
5 Badass Questions
6 Crispin Glover
7 Dead End Street
8 Hey Mr. Rain
9 Clint
10 Plainless
11 Blue Shine
12 June and Novas (Demo)
13 Serpentine (Reprise)
14 War on Sound (Demo)
15 Ghost of Love

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Cliff Hillis - The Song Machine Companion

One of my favorite albums this year is a few tracks short.  The Song Machine EP by Cliff Hillis has been playing in my house, in my car and and in my head for the last few months.   It's a great piece with catchy tracks that flow into one another, each one building on the last. A great one by Cliff, one of the most consistent talents in Power Pop.  

I've included a "recipe" to stretch Cliff's latest EP into a proper LP by adding some demo and commercial tracks he published on his SoundCloud page

The recipe works this way. Please go out and purchase Cliff's Song Machine EP.  Then support Andrew Curry's excellent tribute project "Here Comes The Reign Again" by purchasing Cliff's cover of the Nik Kershaw's "Wouldn't It Be Good", surely a highlight of that great compilation. (Hell, you really can't miss by getting all the tracks!) Finally at the end, add the new tracks in this compilation.   These are the tracks that Cliff has published since my last demo compilation and as usual they are of consistently great quality.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Dowling Poole - Radio Tracks

Three new pop epics fighting it out for space on my "turntable" these last couple of months.  I've already talked about the great album number 4 by Mothboxer....and the new one by Linus of Hollywood is just great throughout ....but the most ambitious work of the year so far has to be the new one by The Dowling Poole entitled "Bleak Strategies".   Willie Dowling, former songwriter and lead singer for the fabulous Jackdaw4 has a new collaborative project with  singer John Poole and this one may be the most cinematic thing he's ever done.   I hear Jellyfish references, XTC references and the whole thing seems to be significant step forward from the last couple of Jackdaw4 records (which I loved).   This is surely one of the best Power Pop albums released this year and I'd love to support this great band.

I've collected some recent radio shows and YouTube postings to help me pretend that there is more than just one great album from this band.  Thanks to some of the Pledge Music pledgers for posting some of the acoustic sessions.  

1 The Sun is Mine (on Marc Riley)
2 Getting a License (on Marc Riley)
3 Saving It All For a Saturday (on Marc Riley)
4 King of Misery (Acoustic)
5 What Goes Around (Acoustic)
6 This is Your Life (Acoustic)
7 Years and Years (Acoustic)
8 Abigail's Last Hurrah (Acoustic)

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The New Mothboxer Album - Out Now!

One of the most anticipated releases of the summer just dropped.   The new Mothboxer album "Sand And the Rain" is the latest slice of Beatlesque pop from Mothboxer leader Dave Ody. It's a strong candidate for the year's best album and a reliable scratch for that English power pop itch.  

Since 2007, Mothboxer has quietly released four great albums and a couple of EPs (all available for download at the Mothboxer site).. The band charts a center stream squarely between XTC, Pugwash and the Electric Soft Parade.   I'd recommend every track to readers of this blog. All are brilliant and well worth your time.  Thanks to Power Pop authority David Bash for turning me on to this great band. 

Dave Ody has almost every bit of Mothboxer's music available for purchase on line.    I've included the very few tracks that are not available to purchase in my compilation.  There are three tracks from a Dave Ody solo studio session and  a couple of instrumental versions of album tracks posted to SoundCloud.   If anyone else has any rare/unreleased Mothboxer tracks, I would really love to hear them.  Please contact me.

1 It's Been Going On Too Long (instrumental version)
2 Don't Know What To Say (solo studio version)
3 Dream in Time (instrumental version)
4 Sad Crazy Love Songs (solo studio version)
5 Don't Remember (solo studio version)

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Timmy Sean - Perfect Summer Pop

It's officially summer and that's an excuse to reach for that perfect cruzin' Power Pop disc.  For the second summer in a row, I've gone to the same disc from Timmy Sean, the "East Coast Girls" EP.  This is a perfect summer record. It's chock full of great anthemic rockers that get stuck in your head as you drive around town..  Timmy Sean and his band "The Celebrities" rock hard in the vein of Cheap Trick or Valley Lodge but their songs get stuck in your head like Fountains of Wayne.  Over the last year, Timmy has released several singles that have freshened up the entire set for me. When added to the EP tracks, there is now an albums worth of material.

Sean is a Power Pop treasure.  He used to front the band "Luzer" and released three great records with that band.  Since going it alone, He put out the incredibly great "Songs for Noisewater", a Brian Wilson influenced Pop concept record classic.  If you haven't heard that record, you are in for a treat. Timmy has made the album available for free on Bandcamp.   He is incredibly generous with his music and for that reason I'm not going to repost these tracks together as a compilation.  However if you don't mind doing just a little work, Timmy has posted good quality early mixes of much of the material on his EP, much of it for free and they sound great to me.  I've included links to download each of the tracks below.  Simply follow the links and right click and  "save as" to download the material.   I've included the order I listen to them in.

This summer, Timmy is releasing his "Sir Video"synthpop side project and though much of that material is a bit "dancy" for me. there is still some great material there as well. I've included a Sir Video song "This Magic" as part of my list below.  Pull down these tracks and make sure you support Timmy by buying his commercial material.  He has got the right recipe for summer.

1 You're Still On My Mind
2 She's Mine
3 Back to the Middle
4 Come On Mandy Updated version of a Luzer song
5 Heart of Glass  Blondie Cover
6 Gimme Everything Updated version of a Luzer song
7 This Time Around
8 East Coast Girls
9 Say You'll Be There Spice Girls Cover
10 This Magic Sir Video Track
11 You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet Bachman Turner Overdrive Cover
12 It Doesn't Feel Like Christmas Updated version of a Luzer song