Sunday, March 30, 2014

Adam Levy and the Honeydogs

In 2013, Honeydogs front man Adam Levy demonstrated yet again why he is one of the most creative songwriters working today. His 2013 side project "And the Professors" started life as a teaching project for Levy's music production class. It features orchestra musicians in addition to traditional electric instruments.  The finished product is just as tuneful and compelling as any of the recent Honeydogs albums and that's extremely high praise. This album was one of last year's best and more than worth picking up if you haven't done so already.

In support, I pulled together a compilation of recent Adam Levy radio appearances, featuring the Honeydogs along with side project the psychedelic instrumental band "Liminal Phase".   I'm a huge supporter of Adam Levy and can only hope that he can keep up such consistently creative output with all his projects.

1 What Comes After (Honeydogs in studio)
2 Dear Prudence (Honeydogs performing Beatles cover in studio)
3 Always a Long Time (Honeydogs acoustic in studio)
4 Particles and Waves (Honeydogs acoustic in studio)
5 Broke it, Buy It (Honeydogs in studio)
6 Aubben (Honeydogs in studio)
7 Quantum Entanglement (Liminal Phase in studio)
8 I'm Looking Through You (Honeydogs performing Beatles cover in studio)
9 Death By Boredom (Honeydogs in studio)
10 Better Word (Honeydogs acoustic in studio)
11 I Dig a Pony ((Honeydogs performing Beatles cover in studio)
12 Crow Wing (Liminal Phase in studio)

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Deleted Waveform Gatherings - A History

I've been on a marathon, listening to "Deleted Waveform Gatherings", the Norwegian psych pop project lead by singer songwriter Øyvind Holm.   Each of Deleted Waveform's three albums (Baby Warfare, Complicated View and Ghost, She Said) bares repeated listening. They are dense and tuneful records.  The band alternates from spacey 60’s rave ups to mid-period Beatles rockers.  Closest comparison would be a louder more psychedelic Cotton Mather.

I tried to put together a rare tracks compilation of Deleted Waveforms but settled for a sampler of tracks from the history of the band. This sampler features several live tracks along with some rare tracks culled from Øyvind Holm's rare solo album "The Vanshing Act" and his prior group the Dipsomaniacs (the Norwegian band  - not to be confused by the Replacements influenced U.S. band who share the same name). I found only a few tunes on YouTube and Myspace but I really liked what I heard.   I've been listening to this a lot.   Let me know if anyone has more tunes by the Dipsomaniacs or Øyvind's solo album. This sampler continues to demonstrate the great songs his has written his entire career. 

Most interesting to me is the new single (2013) from Holm's latest country-pop project, Sugarfoot.  The track is cover of "My Friend" an obscure 1970's tune by the band Spirit’s songwriter Randy California that is a dead ringer for mid period Byrds.   It’s an excellent song that demonstrates that Holm is still making great Power Pop.

1 Sugarfoot - My Friend
2 Øyvind Holm - The Vanishing Act
3 Deleted Waveform Gatherings - Complicated View (Live on Peak Radio NYC 2007)
4 Dipsomaniacs - Nothing is for Keeps
5 Øyvind Holm - Salt-Mutated Summer Breeze
6 Øyvind Holm - Everything (A Good Taste of)
7 Dipsomaniacs - Dear Mrs. Widdecombe
8 Øyvind Holm - When She's Sleeping
9 Øyvind Holm - Sunday Church Bell Chime
10 Dipsomaniacs - Bring Flowers to the Courthouse
11 Dipsomaniacs - Fair-weather Friend
12 Dipsomaniacs - The Water Choir's Drowning
13 Deleted Waveform Gatherings - Will I Ever (Live Arlene's Grocery NYC 2007)
14 Deleted Waveform Gatherings - Minefield Baby (Live Arlene's Grocery NYC 2007)

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Top 25 Power Pop Releases of 2013

Some great releases this year.  Notable return performances from prior year stars (though some larger established artist remained silent ).   All in all, a balanced set that ranged across the many subgenre's of Power Pop.  Here is my "Best of" list in order and here's looking towards 2014....

  1. Electric Soft Parade - Idiots
    I think I've already been pretty public about what I think of this terrific album.  Looking for Fountains of Wayne, Teenage Fanclub goodness?  Look no further.  A classic record, start to finish.  Get it!
  2. Corin Ashley - New Lion Terraces
    This one was a big surprise.  Former Pills lead singer Ashley already had produced one solo album music in the chamber pop subgenre. His 2013 release "New Lion Terraces" pushes all the Power Pop buttons.  Great songs with great production by Ducky Carlisle.  One of the year's best.
  3. And the Professors - Our Postmortem 
    I can't stop listening to this side project from the Honeydog's Adam Levy.  This one started as an engineering teaching project but the addition of strings turns singer Levy's pop songs in a new direction.  Thanks to Jenny McClintock for her post on the Jellyfish listserv that alerted me to this one. 
  4. Wyatt Funderburk - Novel and Profane
    Love this album from the former Second Saturday singer songwriter. Tight production and rockin hooks that never let up.  This album seemed as close to a classic Owsley record as we could expect in 2013.  More of this Wyatt...
  5. Adam Daniel - Pop, Baby
    surprise return to Power Pop from Adam Daniel after years producing folky AOR.  Lots of killer pop hooks on this one, some with a radio friendly gloss.  
  6. Eric Barao - Eric Barao
    I did not know the solo work from Cautions lead singer Eric Barao, but this effort grazes as far into Jellyfish territory as anything else this year.   From the credits, its obvious that Barao is chums with Bleu and Duckly Carlilse.  His solo debut is beautifully recorded as a result.
  7. The Nines - The Nines
    It sounds like the latest collection of great Nines tracks started life as another odds and ends collection, but Steve Eggers organized it into a wide ranging pop record. Great album.  Loads of great songs here. I never miss anything that Steve puts out.  
  8. Josh Rouse - The Happiness Waltz
    The Happiness Waltz as a welcome return to pop form from his generation's Paul Simon. This album had so many great pop songs that it made my Power Pop list.  I recommend this one even though the vibe is typical Rouse AOR.
  9. Joel Sarakula - The Golden Age
    Didn't know anything about Joel Sarakula, but his album was a surprise best for this year.  Sarakula belts out a variety of catchy tunes in a Bowie-esque baritone.  At times this album sounds like Parthenon Huxley left his stamp.
  10. Valley Lodge - Use Your Weapons
    Valley Lodge is back with a Cheap Trick style blast of Power Pop.  This one rocks hard though the second half of the CD seemed poppier to me than the first.
  11. Greg Pope - Popmotion Animation
    The "Pop Monster" returns with another brief but quality collection of twangy Power Pop tracks.   Always glad to hear whatever projects Greg is working on.  This was a yet another great one.
  12. Parthenon Huxley - Thank You Bethesda
    A Parthenon Huxley release is cause to celebrate. This one rocks hard as Hux moves back east from years in California. An over-the-top cover of his own 70's classic Buddha Buddha is the cornerstone of this release.
  13. Agony Aunts  - Big Cinnamon
    It seems that KC Bowman has determined that he needs to mix up his patented quirky Power Pop songs with vocals from other singers.  Agony Aunts is his latest project with members of the Corner Laughers. Lots of great KC Bowman fun here.
  14. Lisa Mychols  - Above, Beyond; In Between
    Lisa cranks out another collection of contemporary Power Pop meets 60's girl groups.  The hits never let up on this one. Each tune better than the next. An essential listen.
  15. Jim Boggia - Ample Seating Available 
    Boggia revisits his fabulous back catalog with this live album.  Great recordings and the songs!  The songs!  Don't know Jim Boggia, you owe it to yourself to pick this one up.
  16. Tor Guides - Lots Of the Pops Volume 1
    This is the best example of Swedish Power Pop this year.  Great album, I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly it was released after last year's "Strawberries & Chocolates".
  17. Mike Viola - Ghoul
    It's a trading card game! It's also a sampler of the super-prolific pop star's many projects in the music business in LA!  This virtual release by favorite Viola is frankly a bit all over the place. Still it's Mike and that means that there are lots of stellar moments here.  It's worth playing Mike's game....
  18. Bob Evans - Familiar Stranger
    The fourth solo release by Kevin Mitchell, lead singer of the Australian band Jebediah.  This one has a glossy synthy sheen of the moment but you find yourself humming the songs very quickly.
  19. The Contrast -  A Sinister Flick
    The Contrast always takes me back to the early days of REM and the first couple of albums by the Smithereens.   This latest release is not as concise as 2010's "God of Malfunction", still the Contrast specialty is producing 3 minute rock songs and there are lots of good ones here.
  20. Brendan Benson - You Were Right
    This year Brendan Benson released a series of singles.  This album collects them all and adds to them for a surprisingly coherent listen.
  21. Richard X. Heyman - X
    I've been a big Richard X. Heyman fan from the beginning and the latest song cycle from Heyman doesn't disappoint.  For fans of Costello, Nick Lowe....
  22. The Sun Sawed in Half - Elephants in Swan
    Always great to hear "The Sun Sawed in Half" pull together their unique brand of Jellyfish oriented pop. Always worth a listen.
  23. David Brookings - The Maze
    Former Memphis based singer songwriter David Brookings has relocated to California (there is a theme here) and has a new album for us.  This guy always brings me back to the days of early dB's, Let's Active, Don Dixon.
  24. Vegas with Randolph - Rings Around The Sun
    It seems like this collection came together over the last year and a half as a collection of pop singles.  That's the way it listens to me but it doesn't make it any less of an essential listen.
  25. The Grapes of Wrath - High Road
    Canadian band "The Grapes of Wrath" have reformed and released a new album.   It's still hard to secure a copy in the states but well worth trying to do so.  This one seems a bit over produced to my ears but there are some great tunes on it.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Cliff Hillis - Demos and Tribute Tracks

As we get close to compiling this years best Power Pop releases, I've been looking backwards to last years best list and was horrified to find that I forgot to feature one of my favorite albums of 2012 Cliff Hillis's "Dream Good".  What a great album -  from start to finish. Should have easily been in my top ten.  

Cliff Hillis is an under-appreciated anchor of the Power Pop world.   Along with co-leader Dennis Schocket, Hillis was a key singer and songwriter for the Baltimore based Starbelly, who put out two classic releases. He was also a sideman in the latest John Faye power pop project "Ike"  Each of his three solo albums have been great throughout.   Whenever I start listening to his 2008 effort, "The Long Now" It stays in the play list for months. Its that good!

As usual, to show my support, I've put together a compilation of b-side, demos and tribute tracks from Cliff.  Great stuff all.  Support this great artist,  He truly deserves it.   A top tier Power Pop talent.

1 Welcome to You (Bluegrass Style)
2 Down in the Basement (Outtake)
3 Dizzy (From Bubblegum Tribute: Right to Chews)
4 Can't Feel My Soul (From Teenage Fanclub Tribute: What a Concept)
5 This One (From McCartney Tribute: Coming Up)
6 I Saw The Light (From In the Pocket Project featuring Cliff)
7 Shake It (From Monsters of Light Rock Tribute)
8 Elevator (Instrumental Version)
9 Woah Yeah (Demo)
10 Start Again (Demo)
11 On a Day Like Christmas (From Its About Christmas Compilation)
12 What's Your Name (Demo)
13 Theme From Breezeway (Demo)
14 Consequence (Cassette Demo)
15 I Want My Baby Back Ribs (Ad)
16 Ice Cream (Ad)
17 Boulevard of Broken Dreams
18 IDEAL Jingle (Ad)
19 Grounded (Live at Bopptopia)

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Electric Soft Parade - Demos and Radio Performances of Idiots

It has been 6 years since Brighton's Electric Soft Parade has released a full length album.  That album came out earlier this summer.  It is called "Idiots" and it is a masterstroke. Perhaps the most consistently brilliant release I've heard this year, the album hits hard with clever hooks and never lets up.   It features co-leaders Thomas and Alex White particular brand of prog influenced pop.   Lots of hooks, lots of key changes, some strange instrumental breaks and brilliant production.  This time the brother's White have found expression for their alternative sides on the solo releases they put out over the last few years.   They have pulled all of their pop material into Idiots.    I really can't recommend this release enough.  Simply brilliant!

For the lucky owners of the release, I've pulled together some recent radio performances, a couple of demos and a bonus track that didn't make the album.  Consider this a set off extra bonus tracks.   For the uninitiated, listen to these tracks as a taste of what the real release is all about.   Idiots is out everywhere.  No excuse to not pickup one of the finest releases of the year.

1 Summertime in My Heart (Live on BBC)
2 Idiots (Live on BBC)
3 Number One (Live on BBC)
4 Lilly (Demo)
5 1969 (Bonus Track)
6 The Corner of Highdown and Montefiore (Live on BBC)
7 Brother, You Must Walk Your Path Alone (Live on BBC)
8 One Of Those Days (Live on BBC)
9 Welcome to the Weirdness (Demo)
10 We Don't Have to Fight Anymore (Older Demo)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

David Myhr - Live at PDOL

Lots of signals telling me that summer is running down in the northern hemisphere and I'm going to miss it.  For me the Power Pop soundtrack of the summer has been the new one by The Electric Soft Parade, called Idiots.  Idiots is truly a pop masterpiece and an easy contender for the best Power Pop release of the year.   Though I'm collecting rare tracks to complement that album (and could use any help you could offer), I've been trying to keep summer alive by spinning tracks from one of last summer's favorite release Soundshine by David Myhr.  I've been listening quite a bit to the soundtrack to a live concert that David released last year entitled "Live at PDOL".

I don't post a lot of live shows because I tend to appreciate a professionally mixed set.  This concert fits the bill.  Its immaculately recorded and features some of the best tracks from SoundShine, my favorite Power Pop release from 2012. Enjoy.

1 Cut to the Chase
2 I Love The Feeling
3 Don't Say No
4 Never Mine
5 Looking For a Life
6 Get It Right
7 Got You Where He Wanted
8 Wanderlust
9 Loveblind

Monday, July 29, 2013

Adam Daniel - Songs From The Wilderness

Lots of justifiable excitement about the new release from Adam Daniel.  After a 14 year hiatus, Daniel has put together a worthy follow up to 1999's touchstone Power Pop album "Blue Pop".   Coming out of nowhere "Blue Pop" was an instant classic exercising a 3 minute pop sensibility (similar to Fountains of Wayne) in a more melancholy singer songwriter setting.  

This years effort "Pop, Baby" is a long awaited return to form.   It features a mix of smart rockers and AOR ballads.   A very nice album and  a surprise after 14 years.   During that time,  Adam put out two official releases, "The Adam Daniel Frequency" and the "Where You Are EP".  Both were collections of rough sounding demos.   Some great material on these however neither was ever rerecorded and mixed  professionally.

During his time "in the wilderness", Adam occasionally featured a stream of a fully mixed track on his website.   I've collected some of those tracks in the compilation here.  The compilation features two tracks left off, of the classic "Blue Pop" album,  a b-side rocker and a number of AOR style tracks that represented a direction that Adm was exploring during that time (many of them quite nice). 

Enjoys these tracks but be sure to pick up "Pop Baby".   It's sure to end up on lots of best Power Pop lists this year..

1 These Shy Things (Early Version) - Folky version of new album track (I like this version better than the new album's)
2 Always All About You - B-side from "Dream Out Loud"
3 Finally Asleep - Bonus track from "Blue Pop".  Recently featured on SoundCloud.
4 Everywhere - Bonus track from "Blue Pop"
5 Downhill Racing - Folky track
6 Scarred - R and B Track
7 She's Elegant - Folky Track
8 Home To You - Folky Track
9 Come Alive - Track from Adam's side project the Flutterbies
10 When It's Over 
- Folky Track
11 These Shy Things - Solo acoustic demo of new album track