Monday, December 26, 2011

Top 25 Power Pop Releases of 2011

Time to say goodbye to 2011 and in spite of the lack of any commercial acceptance to speak of, it was a year of great Power Pop releases. Notable by their absence are two releases that didn't make it out (in the states) this year. "Besides" by Blue and "Soundshine" by David Myhr. We've heard a lot of tracks from these two releases but still haven't had the chance to hear the entire albums. Oh well, these will represent a great start on the year in 2012. My favorite Power Pop albums of 2011 follow:

  1. Fountains of Wayne - Sky Full of Holes
    I love this album and think its a return to form for FOW. There isn't a bad track on the album and each track builds upon (and flows into) the next. On his album Electro De Perfecto, Mike Viola wrote a tune entiled "Soundtrack of My Summer", however "Sky Full of Holes"ended up being the soundtrack to my summer this year. Perfect summer pop album.

  2. Pugwash - The Olympus Sound
    Another collection of winning Beatlesque tracks by Irish Power Pop genius Thomas Walsh and the crew. Thomas can't seem to write a bad song and "The Olympus Sound" just raises the bar on an already high standard. Keep em coming Thomas. We are listening!

  3. Paul Steel - LL Cosmonaut
    This one just snuck in under the wire in December. Brighton Power Pop phenom Paul Steel is back with a new EP released under the moniker of "LL Cosmonaut". Yes I know that its just an EP (and one of the tracks came out on Myspace last year), still the material is so strong, the arrangements so rich that it ended up as one of the best of the year. You have to hear this one for yourself. No one working today is producing Brian Wilson influenced material of the quality of Paul Steel. Looking forward to hearing the rest of the tracks in 2012.

  4. David Mead - Dudes
    This fine album has already received a lot of great press (deservedly so). I concur that David Mead is back and Dudes is his best Power Pop album in years. The album flips between sweet folk ballads and rockers with strong hooks. Wonderful record!

  5. Mike Viola - Electro De Perfecto
    For 2011, Mike releases a more serious and rockin effort...and of course its terrific front to back. The songs mine familiar melodic territory but somehow achieve something new. Mike mixes in louder guitars, pares down the arrangements and deals with more serious themes and still produces a collection of memorable songs. A great effort!

  6. The Wellingtons - In Transit
    Australia's Wellingtons deliver another collection of smart, insightful pop songs. Check out tracks "Adamant" and "Baby's Got A Secret". No better tunes were released this year in my opinion.

  7. Popfilter! - Pop This
    Boston's Popfilter finally released the epic pop song-cycle they'd been working on and its a stellar release. This one sounds like the Cars meet the Sweet. Great production and a nice album all the way through. Listen to this one!

  8. The Red Button - As Far as Yesterday
    Seth Swirsky is one of the best singer songwriters working today and the sophomore release by "The Red Button" his band project with Mike Rukeberg delivers another album of mid period Beatles influenced pop.

  9. Greg Pope - Monster Suit
    The man is a phenomenon. For each of the last four years, we've been treated to an annual Greg Pope release. This year, its a soundtrack and a terrific collection of songs to boot.

  10. The Nines - Polarity
    In 2011, the Nines put out their own collection of B-Sides and Demos and the collection hangs together very well. Castaways from the Nines are better than efforts by most other bands. I will always be a Nines completest and I hear that there is another collection in the works for 2012!

  11. Captain Wilberforce - Ghost Written Confessions
    A new album from Captain Wilberforce this year continues his streak of three great prog/romantic pop albums. This one starts slow and serious but builds into sweeping rockers. By track five, he had me....again!

  12. An American Underdog - Always On The Run
    Personal favorite, Andy Reed released a great set of tunes under the band name "An American Underdog". This album features tuneful gems start to finish. Welcome back Andy Reed.

  13. The Genuine Fakes – The Striped Album
    The Genuine Fakes continue to carry the torch of Swedish Power Pop. Tunes are strong and the band plays hard. Hopefully this one plus the new one by David Myhr will help rekindle the Power Pop torch in Sweden in 2012.

  14. Brandon Wilde - Hearts in Stereo
    I've been following Brandon Wilde for years. Loved his earlier release "Songs From the Deep Sleep" and his band project "Black Bunny". "Hearts in Stereo" continues with an album of quirky insightful pop.

  15. The Turnback - Drawn in Chalk
    Mid period Beatles. Great albums released on the Rainbow Quartz label. The Turnback evoke them all. I couldn't stop listening to this one.

  16. The Bangles - Sweetheart of the Sun
    I had no idea that Bangles would return with a vital lively effort like "Sweetheart of the Sun" but here it is. This album pushes all the buttons. Lots of 60's influenced Power Pop, a strong cover in Open Your Eyes by the Nazz... and of course there are the harmonies.

  17. Cirrone - Uplands Park Road
    This is the rocker of the year. Evokes "The Shazam" or "True Love". Great playing. Great production and strong songs.

  18. Robyn Hitchcock - Tromso Kaptein
    Didn't hear about this one much in Power Pop quarters but it works very well for me. This is one of those well arranged Hitchock efforts (as opposed to those tossed off ones he releases - I like those too, just not as much). This one has strings, strong melodies and of course feature's Robyn's warped lyrics. The Beatles in an alternate universe.

  19. Smith and Hayes - II
    The second album by Smith and Hayes is another tribute to the Beatles. The thing is that Smith and Hayes write really good songs, have great players and produce a nice sounding album. I particularly loved the track "Turn it Up". A classic!

  20. Tommy Flake - Second Skin
    I didn't know about Tommy Flake but "Second Skin" his 2011 albums is a winner throughout. Reminds me of Tommy Keene or Adam Schmitt. Great effort.

  21. The Ditchflowers - Bird's Eye
    Sophmore effort by Brian Merrill (formerly of Barely Pink) and Ed Woltil. Just like their first, "Bird's Eye" helps evoke Jim Boggia and Jon Brion. Good songs that you want to listen to over and over.

  22. Michael Oliver & The Sacred Band - Yin & Yanxiety
    I really liked this one all the way through. Nice rockin effort with good power pop hooks. well recorded. A very strong album.

  23. Longplayer - Longplayer
    Miss ELO? Can't wait for another ELO tribute like LEO from Bleu and Mike Viola? Well Longplayer is the group for you. Very entertaining release. Nice new tracks in the style of Jeff Lynne.

  24. Meyerman - Who Do You Think You Are?
    Another rockin' effort. Meyerman knows the moves, has the hooks and plays em well. The Cars meets Superdrag. A great one for your car.

  25. Richard Snow and The Inlaws - Am I Really That Boring?
    Always enjoy the British jangle pop from Richard Snow. It's great to have a new effort to listen to.

Happy Hollidays and a safe happy New Years to all!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

David Mead - More Out Takes, Demos and Studio Performances

David Mead put out "Dudes" late last month and as promised, its a return to classic Power Pop form. Dudes artfully weaves the gorgeous folk pop he demonstrated on last year's "Almost and Always" with the same type of Beatle influenced tunes he explored on 2006's "Tangerine". Obviously "Dudes" is a serious contender for Power Pop CD of the year.

For new listeners, David released a free compilation of hits and out takes called "25 days to Dudes". If you haven't downloaded this collection, do so while it's still available and free. There were three "new" out takes made available on the collection. I've included them in my new collection of demos, studio tracks and out takes. The remainder were released on earlier version of Mead's web sites. Check out my previous collection of out takes, demos and rare tracks. Dudes is purchase it now. Also, check out this new collection of rare tracks and let me know if you have something I'm missing.

1 Lease on Life - out take from "Indiana"
2 Slow Night - out take from "Mine and Yours"
3 Hallelujah, It's a Girl - demo from "Tangerine"
4 Dudes - studio performance from the Ivy League
5 Bucket of Girls - out take from "Luxury of Time"
6 Girl on a Roof - studio performance from Ivy League
7 I Hate It When We Fight - duet with Joy Williams
8 Sweetheart Sorrow - demo
9 Rainy Weather Friend - demo from "Almost and Always"
10 From My Window Sill - studio performance from World Cafe
11 Nashville - studio performance from Ivy League
12 Hallelujah, I Was Wrong - demo from "Tangerine"
13 Didn't I Warn You - out take from "Mine and Yours"
14 Indiana - studio performance from World Cafe
15 Last Train Home - demo from "Almost and Always"
16 Little Boats - studio performance from Tune In at Home

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Pugwash - In My Own Time (Rare Tracks #2)

Today's rare Power Pop gem comes to us courtesy of the ever creative Mr. Thomas Walsh of Pugwash. This collection is the second of several compilations of rare demos and acoustic tracks recently posted by Thomas on YouTube. How many of these terrific rare tracks will we get? Only Thomas knows. He's been publishing one or two tracks every day for the last month of so. I've loved checking every morning for unreleased Pugwash tracks. I particularly treasure the two unreleased out takes that never made official Pugwash albums. (Any more of these laying around Thomas?). There are also a handful of live radio show performances as well. One of them is a cover of the early Bee Gee's tune "In My Own Time" - a dead ringer for Revolver-era Beatles if every there was one. Great Version!

If you haven't purchased this years Pugwash release "The Olympus Sound", you better go ahead and do so. It's Pugwash so every track is filled with sweet Beatlesque melodic hooks. Along with Fountain's of Wayne's "Sky Full of Holes", this one is in the running for Power Pop release of the year! Enjoy this collection of rare tracks:

1 Heal Me - B-side of "Answers on a Postcard"
2 In My Own Time - Live Bee Gees cover
3 It Doesn't Matter - Out take from "The Olympus Sound"
4 Pedalo - Bonus track from "The Duckworth Lewis Method"
5 Low - Out take from "Eleven Modern Antiquities"
6 Take Me Away - Acoustic version
7 Sunrise Sunset - Demo
8 Home to Me - Alternate mix
9 Telephone Line - Acoustic ELO cover
10 Finer Things in Life - Demo
11 The Canon and the Bell - Early mix
12 This Could be Good - Acoustic version
13 Anchor - Dub mix
14 Song For You - Demo
15 15 Kilocycle Tone - Demo
16 Ram On - Acoustic Paul McCartney cover
17 Answers On a Postcard - Demo
18 There You Are - Acapella
19 Four Days - Demo
20 Inside the Gullet of the Pelican King - Unreleased instrumental
21 Mr. Blue Sky - Live ELO cover from "The Duckworth Lewis Method"
22 Fall Down - Acoustic version

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Mike Viola - Live Set from Boston

Mike Viola is touring in support of his new album "Electro de Perfecto". I'm really looking forward to catching his set - but the good news is that we have a sneak peek of the show courtesy of one of the readers of our blog. Its a high quality audience recording of Mike's recent show in Boston. Thanks so much for sending it on for everyone to enjoy. A great description of the set follows:

"I caught Mike Viola and band opening for Rachael Yamagata at the Brighton Music Hall, (formerly Harper’s Ferry) in Alston, Mass. on Oct.30. Great sound and a tight band (just MV with a bass player and drummer). Mike played most of the new album, Electro de Perfecto that night, though looking at the setlists posted on his blog he’s been mixing in more older songs at other gigs. With only a 45-50 minute opening slot he still found room to be himself….casually improvising here, encouraging a sing-along there, joking with the audience. Every band today, young or old, could learn a thing or two from Mike about how to entertain an audience-it's as if he walks into your living room, plugs in and asks what you want to hear! If you’re a MV fan and haven’t yet, definitely purchase his new album/cd…it’s vintage Mike, stripped down to a power trio format with the same quality songwriting MV fans have come to expect!"

1. Soundtrack of My Summer
2. El Mundo de Perfecto
3. Me and My Drinking
4. Field of Guns and Roses
5. Maybe, Maybe Not
6. Here's The Rub
7. Girly Worm
8. Let's Have a Baby
9. Chemical Night
10. Get You Back

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Bleu - Besides B-Sides

One of the best releases of the year is itself a B-sides compilation. This one an official release from the ever prolific, always brilliant Bleu McAuley. Bleu has pulled together some of his recent demos, outtakes and B-sides and assembled another masterful release that really shows the depth of his songwriting and his amazing voice. If you haven't picked up "Besides" yet, then you really need to. Bleu is making the project available in two formats. Vinyl with digital download and digital download only (...with some minor differences in track listing that drive completest like me crazy.)

Speaking of completeists. I searched my archives and found a number of tracks that didn't make the cut on Besides. These are later tracks than the early B-sides compilation I posted before and none of them are the same as Bleu's official effort. Check them out. Even Bleu's castaways are very, very good. As usual, please let me know if you have something rare that I'm missing.

1. Glass Houses - Outtake from "Blizzard of 05" period. Posted on MySpace

2. Golden Handcuffs - More recent disco track in the vein of "Blow up the Radio" from Besides. Posted on ReverbNation

3. I Have to Have You - Recent track that Bleu has been doing at solo shows.(I was expecting this on Besides). Cool tune. Posted on SoundCloud

4. When it Rains it Pours - Another outtake from "Blizzard of 05" period. Posted on MySpace

5. Sakura (Cherry Blossom Bloom) - Compilation track from "Together We Are Not Alone"

6. Taylor Locke (Rex of Rocke) - Fun track. A "note" to Taylor Locke of Rooney fame. Posted on Soundcloud.

7. Blacklight - Another disco track in the vein of "Blow up the Radio" from Besides. Posted on ReverbNation

8. Cold, Cold Christmas - One of those great bluesy gospel tracks Bleu does so well. This one a Christmas song from ReverbNation

9. Ordinary Breakdown - Yet another outtake from "Blizzard of 05" period. Posted on MySpace

10. I'm in Love with My Lover (Acoustic) - Solo acoustic version from "Brixton Sessions" video

11. How Blue (Acoustic) Not the version from Besides. This solo acoustic track is also from a "Brixton Sessions" video

12. Happy Birthday Mara - Personalized track for a Kickstarter supporter. Posted on Soundcloud

Monday, September 26, 2011

New Mike Viola - New Bonus Tracks

Mike Viola put a new album out last week and its a great one. "Electro de Perfecto" represents a slight shift of direction for Viola. It's more stripped down effort, tighter and more focused than his previous release "Lurch". This time, Mike is fronting a new electric trio and he means business. The new tracks are a bit louder yet the the hooks are classic Viola. If you regularly check out this blog and you haven't picked "Electro de Perfecto" up yet, walk don't run to your nearest record store! A strong candidate for Power Pop album of the year.

Mike and the new trio are touring the states this fall and I'm really looking forward to checking out the show.

In honor of the new release, I've put together a compilation of recent bonus tracks. Mike is great about leaking out A-quality tracks onto the fan-o-sphere and after listening to this sequence of tracks, I have to say that Mike's castaway tracks are better than most artists formal releases. Enjoy and PLEASE let me know if you have any rare Viola tracks, I don't have here. I really appreciate it.

1. Find Somebody to Love - Bonus track from "Lurch"

2. Something Electric - Bonus track from "Lurch"

3. Chemical Night - Unreleased track from Mike's MySpace page

4. This is Life, This is Love - Track from "The Right Track" compilation

5. Unbroken - Non-album track released on EMI Music Publishing Site

6. Water By the Bed - Track from "Peace" compilation

7. Burn at Both Ends - Non-album track from SoundCloud

8. Superkid (Acapella) - Unreleased track from Mike's MySpace page

9. Time For Everything to Change - Unreleased track from Mike's Facebook page

10. Bee Vee (Intro) - Unreleased track from Mike's Facebook page

11. Happiest Day - Non-album track released on EMI Music Publishing Site

12. Motel Mood - Bonus track from "Lurch"

13. Smile - Non-album track from SoundCloud

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ice Cream Hands - In Your Arms

The posting today is from one of my favorite bands, Melbourne's Icecream Hands. The band began life in 1992 and released a series of class albums that somewhat resemble the output of country mates Crowded House. Though I'm a fan of Neil Finn, I like Icecream Hands even better.

If you've never heard Icecream Hands, I'd recommend the 2004 "best of" compilation entitled "You Can Ride My Bike". Loads of classy pop songs with plenty of addictive hooks. Also included in that package is a great b-sides compilation disc. I also love the solo albums by lead singer Chuck Jenkins. He's put out four CDs. Each one a gem.

Icecream Hands produced their last album "The Good China" in 2007 and has only gotten together occasionally since that time. That album featured more vocals than usual by bass player Doug Robertson and guitar player Marcus Goodwin.

This compilation complements the "official" B-Sides disc that came with "You Can Ride My Bike". It pulls together a number of more recent solo tracks from all the band members along with a few later b-sides by the band. Let me know if anyone has anything I'm missing. Also let me know if anyone has the very rare live acoustic album entitled "Live at Manchester Lane". I've been looking for that one for some time. Enjoy!

1. In Your Arms - Charles Jenkins outtake from his website.
2. Unbuckling the Bible Belt - Unreleased Icecream Hands song from MySpace.
3. Only Way Out - Icecream Hands B-side from the "Come Along" single.
4. The Black Madonna - Rare Charles Jenkins solo track from "Shake Yer Popboomerang" compilation.
5. I Love That Women - Charles Jenkins guest on lead vocals on this track by the band "Four Hours Sleep"
6. I Booked an Ambulance - Charles Jenkins outtake from his website.
7. Hang Around - Icecream Hands B-side from the "Come Along" single.
8. Never Need to Know - Icecream Hands B-side from the "Come Along" single. Drummer Derek Smiley sings.
9. All The Kings Men - Solo acoustic track by Charles Jenkins from the "Off The Record" radio show.
10. Said and Done - Track by Marcus Goodwin's previous band "Yolk" from his MySpace site.
11. My Old Guitar - Charles Jenkins takes turns on guest lead vocals on a track by the Melbourne band "The Killjoys".
12. Seduced by the Moon - Charles Jenkins outtake from his website.
13. One to Right - Solo track by Marcus Goodwin from his MySpace site.
14. Leaving Kansas - Charles Jenkins outtake from his website.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The dB's - Part 2 of fantom's Guest Post

Here is part two of fantom's excellent guest post of dB's rarities. The dB's were alternative pop group who released a series of essential pop albums during a period that spanned the early 80's to the early 90's. For the uninitiated, I'd recommend picking each of their official releases, "Stands for deciBels" (1981), "Repercussion" (1982), "Like This" (1984), "The Sound of Music" (1987). Each are classics of the genre.

Lead songwriter/singers Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey also released a pair of essential releases as a duo I'd also recommend picking up "Mavericks" and "Here and Now". An exciting new dB's album entitled "Falling Off the Sky" has been recorded and is scheduled for release later this year. A few tracks have dribbled out in advance of that release.

Fantom's post today is the second in a series of a posts of rare tracks that are essential to the completist amongst us who must posses every recorded second. Thank you Fantom!

Thanks for the warm welcome, Haper - here's the promised sequel. Hopefully playlist file will keep things better organized this time.

1. Excitement - We start with The dB's playing Feb. 22, 1982 in New York what would become one of Chris Stamey's signature songs when he shortly thereafter went solo.

2. Lord of the Manor - Holsapple and Stamey covering the Everly Brothers, Aug 25 1990 in Winston-Salem

3. What I Dig/Espionage - The dB's succeeded several other combos that included Holsapple, Stamey, Will Rigby or Mitch Easter in various combinations, and some of their songs made it into early dB's sets. Here the band segues between two Sneakers songs, Dec. 28, 1979 in Winston-Salem.

4. This Crazy Town - An odd track from a widely circulated collection of demos said to be from 1983/1984. Something from a cancelled soundtrack?

5. Seeing Eye Dog medley - One of my favorite Holsapple tracks from The H-Bombs, another pre-dB's combo

6. The World Keeps Going Round - Cover of the Kinks, dating I believe from 1979, off a tape that mysteriously surfaced in the college radio station mailbox

7. Ask for Jill 3-D - Stamey, with Matthew Sweet and Don Dixon as The Jacks, deconstruct The dB's song on the legendary Luxury Condos, Coming To Your Neighborhood Soon compilation

8. Do You Believe in Magic - A more straight up cover from Holsapple and Stamey, from June 21, 1991 in Atlanta

9. Diamond - The dB's take on the Golden Palimono's track (written but then not sung by Holsapple) at the 1988 reunion of the original lineup

10. House Is Not A Home - Another H-Bombs treat

11. Let's Live for Today - Sneakers themselves in a cover

12. (Untitled) - The oddest track from that 1983/84 Demos set. Who's the female singer?

13. Angels - Holsapple and Stamey on killer track from their first album, on Best of Mountain Stage Live, Vol 5

14. Looking for a Home - An original, I guess, from the last days of the dB's, July 14, 1987 in New York.

15. Money from England - The H-Bombs at Duke University, March 1978. Prescience about the dB's Albion contract?

16. You Can't Take Her - The most interesting of the 1983/84 demos.

17. Elvis, What Happened? - This time, Holsapple under the guise of Mr Bonus, from Luxury Condos

18. Everlasting Love - Cover of the chestnut, Oct 29, 1980 in Carrboro

19. Tomorrow Never Knows - And a take on the Beatles, Oct 20, 1981 in Greensboro

20. Big Time - The full dB's taking on another Stamey solo track to be, from the 1983/84 demos

21. Caught In These Blues - Think I've got the wrong name for this one as think it's a cover... Holsapple in New York, Oct 9, 1985.

22. Do Ya - The dB's in cover mode, June 20, 1985 in New York

23. Death Garage - The dB's take on track from single Holsapple released before joining the dB's, Oct. 20, 1981 in Greensboro

24. The Newlyweds - Holsapple & Stamey take on the Stamey solo track, June 24, 1991 in Northampton, Mass.

25. My Baby Does Her Hairdo Long - The standout track on the whole Bible of Bop, an unusual 1982 album Kimberly Rew split between tracks with The Soft Boys (his fabulous old band with Robyn Hitchcock), The Waves (his then new band with Katrina,
yes)... and with the dB's.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Fountains of Wayne - Newer B-Sides and TV Tracks

It's almost here. The new album by Fountains of Wayne "Sky Full of Holes" will be out in the next couple of weeks and from what I've heard so far, we have a serious contender for Power Pop album of the year! The new set of songs are filled with Fountains of Wayne's trademark stories of quirky characters and absurd modern life. Of course there are plenty of hooks and this time there are a quite a few allusions to summer fun. In fact, it really seems like they planned this release to correspond with summer in the northern hemisphere. Looking forward to hearing the full release when it comes out.

As is customary around here, I put together a compilation of some of the more recent b-sides, bonus tracks and songs played on American TV in anticipation of the official album release. None of these tracks can be found on "Out of State Plates" the official collection of B-sides released in 2005. For fans of Fountains of Wayne more rockers, you'll want to listen to this collection. Its a nice up-temp balance to the more mellow new album. Let me know if anyone has any rare tracks I'm missing!

1. Sense Into You - Japanese bonus track from "Traffic and Weather"
2. The Story In Your Eyes - Moody Blues cover, bonus track from "Sky Full of Holes"
3. Cookie Jar - Chris Collingwood song from "Ciao My Shining Store" compilation
4. You Gotta Go - Japanese bonus track from "Traffic and Weather"
5. Bus Stop - Hollies cover from "American Dreams" NBC Show
6. Too Cool For School - From "Scary Movie" soundtrack
7. Song of the Passaic - Bonus track from "Sky Full of Holes"
8. Monster House - Written for "Monster House" movie but not used.
9. Better Things - Kinks cover from "This is Where I Belong" Kinks tribute
10. Tell Me What You Already Did - From "Robots" soundtrack
11. Crank Yankers - from "Crank Yankers" show on Comedy Central
12. Joe Stein - from “Hey Joel” VH1 show
13. Bad Neighborhood - from “Hey Joel” VH1 show
14. Captive Audience - from “Hey Joel” VH1 show
15. A Busty Lad - from “Hey Joel” VH1 show
16. Androdgyny - from “Hey Joel” VH1 show

Monday, July 11, 2011

Even More dB's Rare Tracks - Guest Post!

Today, I'm honored to be able to present a guest post from fantom, a valued friend and poster to this blog. Fantom, I loved the tracks and learned a bunch to boot. Thanks much.....Haper

So afraid need to give some context to these first few. If Like Flies on Sherbet perhaps comes unexpectedly to mind when the mp3s start to roll, there's a reason. The tale begins in early 1978, when the first pilgrims made their way to Memphis to pay homage to Big Star, not long departed and with its legend hardly born? ?--? three classmates from Winston-Salem: Mitch Easter, Will Rigby and Peter Holsapple and tracked down Chris Bell and Alex Chilton, who was then recording Like Flies. (Some months before Chilton had been playing and recording in New York with fellow classmate Chris Stamey...)

The Memphis trip made a deep impression (see Will's recollections) and Holsapple moved to the city for a time and recorded a number of tracks with Chilton (Holsapple in turn backed Chilton up on a few tracks found on bootlegs like Beale Street Green.) Not long after, Holsapple joined Stamey, Rigby and Will Holder in New York, where the dB's had just gotten underway.

I've been under the sway of the dB's ever since Like This hit my ears just as they were starting to stretch open in high school. They were the first band I went to see in a club and I put together an eight-hour tribute to the works of Holsapple and Stamey at the peak of my college radio years. I even went to work in Winston-Salem for a while - not really because of the dB's, but did manage to see Holsapple play on my birthday.

The zip compiler decided the order of tracks to this collection, for worse or better....

1. Crimson & Clover - a rude cover from the Chilton sessions to kick off with
2. The Fight - early prototype of the dB's track, from the Chilton sessions
3. You Said To Me - a nice original, as far as I know, from the Chilton sessions
4. I'm Not Lying - more from the Chilton sessions
5. Couldn't I Just Tell You - Holsapple in the guise of The Guild, from the For the Love of Todd tribute album
6. You Just May Be The One - from the Here No Evil Monkees tribute
7. Ups and Downs - demo for the Repercussions track, with much different approach to the song (and a bit much drum machine)
8. Pushing It Back - demo from the The Sound of Music sessions
9. Paper Hat - Rigby's tribute to Chris Bell, from his solo EP for the Hello Recording Club
10. Bride School - The first of our Holsapple demos from the late 1980s or early 1990s
11. Genericola - The jingle that never was, from same period
12. Get Used To It - ditto
13. I Look For You - a poor quality copy of Holsapple's contribution to the Bonograph Sonny Gets His Share tribute album -- that actually would have fit nicely with Mavericks
14. I Want To Learn To Waltz With You - Holsapple singing song that would appear on the Continental Drifters' Vermillion with Susan Cowsill leading on the mike
15. Leave My World Alone - a mysterious dB's demo from 1982
16. Lousy Lay - Annoyingly, I can't remember the story on this Rigby release and even Google barely mentions
17. No Time - Holsapple from the Lynne Me Your Ears tribute
18. Rendezvous - demo of the Like This track
19. Taken - a dB's demo of the track that would later end up as a duet on Mavericks
20. Theme from Insomnia - an instrumental demo from late 80s/early 90s
21. Your Walkman Looks So Good On You - ditto
22. You've Been On My Mind - feels like a cover... a Chilton session track that made its way to me separate from the others so the zipper's closing out with it

I'm inspired. Working on Vol 2 for Haper.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Until the New dB's...World To Cry the new dB's album is supposed to come out some time this summer and I'm psyched. As I've mentioned in previous posts, Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey are two of my favorite songwriters. I loved 2009's Stamey Holsapple record and also enjoyed the live shows from that group. I was recently excited to find out that Peter Holsapple just released a compilation of tracks he did for the song-a-month Podcast series "Radio Free Song Club". Holsapple fans and completists should rush out and support Peter and purchase it. I did and it has some precious moments.

However, I'm still craving that complete dB's experience, so I put together a CD of some tracks that have dribbled out during the last few years. A couple of these come from the dB's web site. Two are ripped from a limited edition vinyl 45 that came out on this year's Record Store Day. The two tracks from that 45, "Picture Book" and "Write Back" are probably extracted from the new album release expected this summer. A couple of other tracks were harvested from Peter's posting on "Measure for Measure" a series on the New York Times website on songwriting. I'd recommend reading Peter's posts if you haven't got there yet. Finally I've included a couple of tracks from Peter's Myspace page. These are some pretty rough versions. If anyone has better copies of these (or any other dB's rarities) please let me know.

Enjoy this taster. Looking forward to the real album. Hope we don't have to wait another five years

  1. World to Cry - 2005 track from dB's web site - what a great song!

  2. Write Back - Will Rigby track from 2011 Record Store Day
    Collectors 45 vinyl

  3. Diggin’ In - From Peter Holsapple Myspace site

  4. Picture Sleeve - Chris Stamey track from 2011 Record Store Day Collectors 45 vinyl

  5. What Becomes of the Broken Hearted - Cover of Jimmy Ruffin Track from 2005 benefit for New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund after Hurricane Katrina

  6. Hollywood Waltz - Outtake from Stamey Holsapple Mavericks released on 2008 reissue.

  7. Jennie Goes to High School - From Peter Holsapple Myspace site

  8. All Talk (Demo) - Demo from Peter's 2008 "Measure for Measure" New York Time series

  9. Rain Around Here - Outtake from Sound of Music released on dB's web site

  10. Meet Me in the Middle (Demo) – Outtake from Peter's "Out of My Way" album

  11. Lay it On the Line - Track from Radio Free Song Club not issued on Peter's recent CD

  12. Molly Says (Demo) - Demo for Sound of Music Track

  13. All Talk - from Peter's 2008 "Measure for Measure" New York Times series

Sunday, June 5, 2011

David Mead - Waiting for "Dudes"

This summer promises to be a hot one full of high quality "big name" Power Pop releases. Already announced are new albums from Fountains of Wayne, Seth Swirsky and The Red Button, Pugwash, the dB's, David Myrh (from the Merrymakers) and Bleu. Everything that's leaked so far from these releases indicates that we'll have lots of great Power Pop to listen to as temperatures climb.

One release I am particularly anticipating is "Dudes", the new one by David Mead. David raised 20,000 from Kickstarter earlier this year to pull together a new Power Pop album produced by Fountains of Wayne leader Adam Schlesinger. This is going to be a great one and a welcome return to form from the Nashville based singer songwriter. I've written about David Mead before and consider him one of the lesser known heroes of American Power Pop. He's done pop albums, folk albums and worked in a diverse set of bands. For the last three years he's worked in a series of projects including a "Almost and Always' fine acoustic project, a kid's album under the name "Davey Ukulele and the Gag Time Gang" and a collaborative punk project called Elle Macho.

In anticipation of Dudes I've assembled a collection of tracks culled from recent David Mead projects.. There are four acoustic tracks originally on Mead's "Almost and Always" from a video blog session in a duet with Swan Dive co-lead Bill DeMain. There are four short tracks from the never released effort entitled "Vitamin D" that David leaked on his Blog. There are also four tracks extracted from his 2010 kid's album released under the moniker "Davey Ukulele and the Gag Time Gang" (the lyrics are aimed at kids, but Mead can't help but craft excellent pop hooks, whoever the audience). One of the Davey Ukulele songs is an ode to Mead's dog Stan. Nice tune that sounds like a lost Harry Nilson track to me. I've also included yet another great song about the very same animal that David wrote with Bill DeMain. DeMain released it on the last Swan Dive album. Enjoy this compilation and go out and buy Dudes when its released. Need to support this struggling Power Pop talent.

1 Sunrise (From the unreleased "Vitamin D" Project)
2 Goodnight, Mr. Night (From "Davey Ukulele and the Gag Time Gang")
3 Rainy Weather Friend (Duet with Bill DeMain from LaundroMatinee Video Session)
4 We Are The Sunshine (From the unreleased "Vitamin D" Project)
5 On a Sunny Day (From the unreleased "Vitamin D" Project)
6 Down the Drain (From "Davey Ukulele and the Gag Time Gang")
7 Blackberry Winters (Duet with Bill DeMain from LaundroMatinee Video Session)
8 Buddying Up (From "Davey Ukulele and the Gag Time Gang")
9 Last Train Home (Duet with Bill DeMain from LaundroMatinee Video Session)
10 The Happiest Day (From the unreleased "Vitamin D" Project)
11 Me and My Good Dog Stan (From "Davey Ukulele and the Gag Time Gang")
12 Half Breed Stan (From Mayfair by Swan Dive, Co written by David and Bill DeMain. David on backup vocals)
13 Twenty Girls Ago (Duet with Bill DeMain from LaundroMatinee Video Session)

Saturday, April 30, 2011

New Pugwash Album on the Way!

Great news at Pop Fair! Thomas Walsh's new Pugwash blog confirms that the new Pugwash CD entitled "The Olympus Sound" is complete! He's leaked out a few minutes of music to tantilize fans and no surprise, from what I've heard so far, the tracks are pure Beatlesque joy! I'd advise listening to a few minutes from the first track "Answers On A Postcard" and hear for yourself.

Hey Thomas I'd love to get a pre-release listen of that "Listening Copy" to do a proper review!

By now it's almost assumed that Mr. Walsh is surrounded by a great band peppered with big name guest stars. This time Andy Partridge and Dave Gregory from XTC co-write and produce selected tracks. Ben Folds makes a guest appearance on piano.

As usual to wet your appetite before the official release, I'm posting my ever more complete collection of rare Pugwash "Odds and Sods".. You'll see that most of these tracks are cleverly chosen covers. Almost all were posted By the talented Mr. Walsh himself during last year. (I posted a few lower quality version of these back in 2008) As always they are great.

If anyone has any Pugwash collectibles that I'm missing, please share!

1 On With the Show (Idle Race Cover)
2 Dr. Robert (Beatles Cover)
3 You're Like Manchester (John Shuttleworth Cover)
4 Tinsel and Marzipan (Christmas Single)
5 To My Maker (Colin Hare Cover B-Side of "This Could Be Good")
6 Thanks For Christmas (XTC Cover)
7 Home to Me (Track Left off of Jollity B-Side of "This Could Be Good")
8 All You Need is Love (Beatles Cover)
9 At Abbey Road (I Want You Back In My Life Instrumental)
10 Radio Ga Ga (Queen Cover)
11 I Can Hear The Grass Grow (Move Cover Live Acoustic)
12 You Just May Be The One (Monkees Cover Live Acoustic)
13 Two Wrongs (Live)

Looking forward to release day!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Bigger Lovers Are Back!

Very excited to hear the new "Little Giant" EP from the Philadelphia band "The Bigger Lovers". From 2000 through 2004 the Bigger Lovers released three classic Power Pop albums "How I Learned to Stop Worrying..", "Honey in the Hive" and "This Affair Never Happened". All are in print and are very much worth your time - if you haven't heard them.

The band produced a potent mix of alternative rock that demonstrated echos of 80s/90s bands like the DBs and Let's Active. Listen again and you could also hear elements from 60s bands like the Who and the Kinks. In 2005 the band played their farewell concert and called it quits. Band members scattered to become members of the other bands. (Notably, drummer Patrick Berkery became the drummer for the Pernice Brothers.)

The announcement of new Bigger Lovers material is big news at Pop Fair. To celebrate here is my collection of Bigger Lovers B-sides, Demos and Compilation tracks:

  1. We Bloomed (from Bonus EP for "This Affair Never Happened")
  2. Glow Girl (From Who Tribute Album "Who's Not Forgotten)
  3. Private Party (From Tallboy Vinyl single, left off the album "How I Learned To Stop Worrying")
  4. Queen of Eyes (Cover of Soft Boys song. B-side of Private Party Vinyl Single)
  5. Throwback (B-side from European single Threadbare)
  6. On the Vine (from Bonus EP for "This Affair Never Happened")
  7. So It Goes (Nick Lowe Cover from The Stiff Generation: If It Ain't Stiff It Ain't Worth a Tribute)
  8. Needy (Outtake from the album How I Learned To Stop Worrying)
  9. Whole Wide World / Hey Little Child Medley (from Bonus EP for "This Affair Never Happened")
  10. Talon Show (Myspace Demo)
  11. Bought Your Ghost (Live on WFMU)
  12. Forever is Not So Long (Live on WNBR)
Great stuff. Hope the band puts out a full album and tours.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Mark Bacino - Rare Tracks and Demos

I received several comments about the order of my Top 25 list for last year...and I started second guessing myself. So I went back and listened to my list. What a great year in Power Pop it was! I also confirmed my top choice.

For me the new effort by Mark Bacino takes top honors. Queen's English"" is simply the best written and fully realized Power Pop project of 2010. Mark successfully channels 1960s and 1970s American pop tradition into present day. I hear lots of Harry Nilson references. Lots of Beatles and Beach Boys influenced tunes. The album is beautifully arranged with nice brass and strings throughout. It also sounds great too. Mark has a business in music production and has turned it up on his own project. If you regularly check-in with this blog and don't have this album, stop right now and go get it!

Some of the highlights. "Queens English" is nice rocker recalling "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting". "Happy" is the first of three tracks influenced by Harry Nilson. (Harry seems like a big influence on Mark.) "Muffin in the Oven" sounds like Owsley's "Uncle John's Farm" (which always sounded like "Saturday in the Park" by Chicago to me.) "Camp Elmo" is the second of the Harry Nilson type tracks. "Angeline and the Bensonhurst Boy" is another of my favorites. A nice mitempo shuffle with a great Jellyfish-style refrain. "Bridge & Tunnel" is the third Nilson style track. "Blue Suit" a sleeper and another favorite of mine. It's an acoustic Bossa Nova number that sounds like some of the more recent efforts by Nashville band, Swandive

All and all a great album! Can't get enough. Here are some demos and commercial jingles from Mark that helped complete my collection: (Recently Re-Upped)

Every Night
In Colour
Down to the River
(Love Theme From) Shark
Camp Elmo (Live Acoustic)
Listening to the Band
For Real
Let's Go
Lighter Than Air
(Do the) Julie

Mark has posted liner notes for the compilation at his blog. Thanks Mark for letting us post this!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Top 25 Power Pop Releases of 2010

2010 had its share of bad news (the terrible loss of Will Owsley and the end of Not Lame). Even so, it actually ended up a strong year for Powerpop releases. Probably the best portfolio of great albums in years. My favorite 25 releases:
  1. Mark Bacino - Queens English
    Finally Mark Bacino released the masterpiece I knew he had in him. Its a classic and the production is great (Mark has been working as a producer and it shows). More on the best release of 2010 later!

  2. Buva - Not Scary! Friendly
    I've already written about this one. Great singer songwriter pop with clever hooks and stellar production. An unexpected treat!

  3. Duncan Maitland - Lullabies For The 21st Century
    It sounds like a long lost XTC album. Great British pop from frequent Pugwash collaborator Duncan Maitland. This one has been a few years in the making and it shows.

  4. Seth Swirsky - Watercolor Day
    Seth's a Power Pop genius and this is his Sunshine Pop concept album. I loved this one - though maybe not as much as his first effort.

  5. Damien Lott - Damien Lott
    Didn't see this one coming. A great effort by Spanish singer Damien Lott. Lots of well deserved comparisons to Jason Falkner on this. A mix of Spanish and English songs. Cool songs. Great chord changes.

  6. Jason Falkner - All Quiet on the Noise Floor
    It's Jason and a good one by him. More complicated arrangements this time. Two new arrangements of Jason classics and a nice Bill Nelson cover....maybe someday it will come out in the states! Whatever he puts out, I'll buy it.

  7. Farrah - Farrah
    England's answer to Fountains of Wayne, Farrah put out yet another fabulous slice of cavity causing pop. The Archies got nothing on these guys...I look forward to every track.

  8. Slumberjet - Slumberjet
    A big year for Irish Power Pop. Barry O'Brien and the boys sound like Jason Falkner mixed with XTC and that's a great thing.

  9. Hans Rotenberry and Brad Jones - Mountain Jack
    Seems like everyone missed this one. A dream collaboration between Shazam lead vocalist Hans Rotenberry and Power Pop producer extraordinaire Brad Jones. I love the songs and the production. I do believe that this second effort by Brad Jones puts him in the same lofty company as Jon Brion.

  10. Saul Zonana - Phatso
    Saul Zonana is a genius and Phatso is a return to form. His last one "Blue Monkey" was a more prog effort. Don't know why this one didn't get more play. It is full of Saul's trademark Beatlesque pop.

  11. Timmy Sean - Songs From & Inspired By Noisewater
    The former lead singer of rock band Luzer has put out a convincing tribute to both Jeff Lynne and the Beach Boys. A great and surprising solo effort. Timmy's new band "Sir Video" sounds great as well. Very much in the Cheap Trick vein.

  12. The Candles - Between the Sounds
    Sounding like a cross between Rhett Miller and the Lemonheads, "Between the Sounds" is great driving music. Keeps sounding better with each listen...

  13. Greg Pope - Blue Ocean Sky
  14. This one just snuck in under the wire in December. Greg Pope obviously knows what he's doing. More than anyone recording today, he consistenly puts out Power Pop that really rocks. Another great effort by Greg.

  15. The Davenports - Why the Great Gallop
    Not sure whether this one should be in here as a 2010 release. The Davenports have been working on this one since 2007 and it looks like this one may make it into broader release in 2011. Lots of Fountains of Wayne style pop songs with a slightly more serious side.

  16. Taylor Locke - Marathon
  17. Sophomore effort by Rooney guitarist Taylor Locke. Where does he find the time? Great one.

  18. Joe Reyes - Worry Row
  19. Another very nice effort by Joe Reyes. In the tradition of Jon Brion and Jim Boggia, its singer songwriter stuff with a debt to Harry Nilsson and the Beatles.

  20. The Contrast - God of Malfunction
  21. Whoa! The Contrast are back. The God of Malfunction may be the best album every by this British band. Lots of Smithereens and early REM influences however the songs are hookier this time around. A great direction for this great band.

  22. The Posies - Blood/Candy
  23. The Posies put out another strong effort in 2010. Nice variety. Great production... and its the Posies!

  24. Three Hour Tour - Looking For Tomorrow
  25. This Champaign, Illinois band is back with another rocking power pop effort in the style of Baltimore bands like Starbelly and Myracle Brah. This may be the hardest rocking Pure Pop effort of the year.

  26. Edward O'Connell - Our Little Secret
  27. Where did Edward O'Connell come from? He sounds very much like Richard X. Heyman... and that's not a bad thing. A really nice album full of Nick Lowe, Graham Parker influenced tunes. My favorite is the rocker "With This Ring" which sounds an awful lot like "See No Evil" by Television.

  28. Bleu - Four
  29. Bleu had a great year and you can hear it. "Four" has better songs than his previous "A Watched Pot". Features a nice cameo by Roger Joseph Manning.

  30. Teenage Fanclub - Shadows
  31. Teenage Fanclub contribute this nice effort. A more folky effort than ever..but its Teenage Fanclub!!!. They still have the magic...

  32. Genuine Fakes - The Striped Album
  33. The Genuine Fakes recall the glory days of 1990's Swedish Power Pop. A nice surprise to hear a new effort in this classic style. Great tracks!

  34. Oranjuly - Oranjuly
  35. A great debut recalling the Beach Boys and early Teenage Fanclub in equal measure. Lots of great music to come from these guys. Loved this.

  36. Charles Jenkins - Walk This Ocean
  37. This one is a broader rockier effort by the Ice Cream Hands vocalist. Love the track "Swing Bridge". One of the best tunes of the year.