Thursday, December 22, 2016

Starling Electric - A Holiday "Re-gift"

It's that time of year - when I take stock of the year in Power Pop and remember some of my favorite moments from the year.  "Electric Company" by Starling Electric was certainly one of my favorite releases of the year.  The band plays power pop as if Robert Pollard from"Guided by Voices" had been listening to a steady stream of Beach Boys - without the attention deficit disorder disease.   "Electric Company" is a really wonderful album and it wasn't celebrated enough in my opinion.  If you haven't picked up a copy, then I'd suggest you head directly to Bandcamp and do so now.  One of the best releases of the year for sure.  Starling Electric deserves support for producing great tunes like this.

In addition to "Electric Company", Starling Electric lead singer Caleb Dillon has a gift for all pop fans.   He has posted an amazing solo record entitled "Castlevania" for free on Bandcamp. Caleb has been previewing this epic album to friends and family over the last album and it is simply superb.   Think Elliott Smith meets the shoegazer band Ride.   An introverted but drop dead gorgeous record that deserves its own place on my top 25 list for this year.

In addition, the group has posted a set of "free" set of demos on Bandcamp entitled." I Can't Believe I Hate The Whole Thing".  Lots of good stuff in there though its of varying fidelity.

Thanks for the gifts Caleb!  They are just what I wanted!


1 The Fog
2 Silver Lake
3 Death's Door
4 Those Eyes!
5 I Died
6 Let's Try To Keep It Out Of The Papers
7 No One Knows My Name
8 Dark Agez
9 Multiple Murder
10 Scarlet Fever
11 Missouri
12 I'm The Cop That Shot Mal Evans
13 Wear Your Love Like Heather

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Duncan Matiland and Robyn Gibson are Future Harmonies

Oncoming Classic Power Pop Alert!   I'm extremely excited about the new covers collaboration project between Duncan Maitland and Robyn Gibson, leader of the Junipers. Duncan Maitland, for those of you who don't know, is a well respected studio musician who is at the core of the Irish Power Pop scene.  He has featured prominently on all Pugwash releases and in 2010 released a phenomenal solo record "Lullabies For The 21st Century", a lovely purple vinyl version of which was recently released by Sugarbush.  If you haven't heard this great album, then you owe it to yourself to check it out ASAP.

Robyn Gibson is the leader and vocalist of the Leicester based psychedelic pop band the Junipers.  Their release "Red Bouquet Fair" is a lovely chamber pop epic, on track to be on my best of the year list.   Together Robyn and Duncan call themselves Future Harmonies and they are working on an all cover effort to be released later this year. They have been leaking out some tracks on SoundCloud that are truly beautiful.   I've combined those tracks so far with some alternative versions of songs from Duncan's 2010 masterpiece "Lullabies For The 21st Century" in this compilation.  Listen to this and get excited about the oncoming Future Harmonies album. Duncan rarities are hard to find.  If anyone has a copy of Duncan's rare "2006 Live Alien EP" can you let me know?   I've had one back-ordered on Amazon for months.

1 Two of a Kind - Syd Barrett cover by Duncan
2 All I Ever Wanted - Kirsty McCall cover by Future Harmonies
3 Lucky You - early version of "Lullabies For The 21st Century" track
4 Mary Anne With the Shaky Hand - Who cover by Future Harmonies
5 Handbirds - instrumental version of "Lullabies For The 21st Century" track
6 Funny How Love Can Be - Ivy League cover by Future Harmonies
7 Terry The Toad- early version of "Lullabies For The 21st Century" track
8 Cry Me To Sleep - solo version of "Lullabies For The 21st Century" track from "Declan Session"
9 Your Century- solo version of "Lullabies For The 21st Century" track from "Jungla Sonora"
10 Starman - Live Bowie cover by Duncan
11 Insect Under the Stone- solo version of "Lullabies For The 21st Century" track from "Jungla Sonora"
12 Two of Us - live Beatles cover by Future Harmonies
13 Baby's In Black- live Beatles cover by Future Harmonies

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Grant-Lee Phillips - Sunday's Best

Grant-Lee Phillips is a long time favorite of mine and though much of his output could be characterized as Americana, there are strong pop elements throughout his large catalog. His latest effort "The Narrows" is a solid  rocking album.  It alternates between strong roots rockers and Grant's trademark world-weary crooning ballads.

Today's post is a collection of rare non-album compilation, B-side and bonus tracks that emphasize Grant's pop sound. All of these rarities are from Grant's post Grant Lee Buffalo period.  (I'm currently looking for at least two tracks that know of  "The Goodnight Horse" and "Hold Me".   If anyone has these or any other Grant rarities, I'd appreciate letting me know).

Enjoy these great tracks.

1 Hugo's Theme - bonus track from "Mobilize"
2 Sunday's Best - bonus track from "Mobilize"
3 Smile - from "Gilmore Girls" soundtrack
4 Itchin' - from "Arctic Tales" soundtrack
5 Buckaroo - B-side of "Spring Released"
6 Sarah - from "Witchblade" soundtrack
7 Me and This City - compilation track from "The I-10 Chronicles"
8 Ashes to Ashes - Bowie cover with the Section String Quartet
9 Song of the North - from "Arctic Tales" soundtrack
10 Mother of Exiles - download single
11 Hit Parade - single
12 Here Comes The Sun - Beatles cover from compilation
13 Ballad of Catain - unreleased track from "Witchblade"
14 Winterglow - single
15 Snow Flakes - bonus track from "Ladie's Love Oracle"
16 We Three Kings - unreleased Christmas track

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Peter Holsapple - Back Blogging!

Thanks to Rob over at The dB's Repercussion blog for spreading the news that Peter Holsapple one of the two creative forces behind the dB's is back and blogging again.  In Peter's blog, he reports that he is recording for a new effort and I couldn't be happier.    As recently as a year ago it sounded like Peter had hung up his song writing pen, so that he is back in the studio is excellent news.   Long standing readers of Pop Fair know that Holsapple is one of my absolutely favorite singer songwriters, however its been a waiting game being his fan. There had been no new tracks from Peter since his days with the Continental Drifters until 2009 when Peter and Chris Stamey released the excellent duet record  "Here and Now".   This was followed in 2012 by "Falling Off the Sky" by the reformed dB's, a wonderful return to form for the legendary band.  Since that time only the odds and ends of tracks left off of the "Falling Off the Sky" were released and then...nothing.

So Peter might be "back" and writing again and that's great....but if past performance is a predictor, it may take a while until we get to hear new material.   To hold me over, I've been listening to my second compilation of Holsapple material "released" on the Radio Free Song Club blog.   That blog has gone dormant recently but for a while was releasing monthly compilations of alternative folk performances recorded live in studios around NYC.  Peter would regularly send in songs he recorded in his home in North Carolina.   in 2011, he briefly released a CD of the first batch of those songs.  That release appears to be out of print at present  I've been waiting, but I've seen no evidence of a second CD.   Until Peter releases a CD of this stuff, please enjoy the second batch of Holsapple tracks culled from the Radio Free Song Club.   Some great Holsapple material here served up with a very DIY aesthetic.  Can't wait for new material from Peter.

1 Goodness Gracious
2 All Hail
3 The Devil You Know
4 Real Tears
5 Cinderella Style
6 Game Day
7 Happy The Drunk
8 Morning Train
9 Didn't You Used to Be
10 Bluesy Mama
11 The Donkey Song
12 Don't Ever Leave

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Milk and Honey Band

Summer brings to mind a number of great bands that helped defined those times and Brighton's excellent "The Milk and Honey Band" is such a band for me.   Lead by singer songwriter Robert White, the band put out 4 albums starting with 1994's Round the Sun.   Most of the band's output comes out after 2000 with 2001's Boy From the Moon,  2004's The Secret Life Of The Milk And Honey Band, 2009's Dog Eared Moonlight, 2010's In Colour.  The band has a sound that straddles a solid center line between Crowded House and XTC with occasional Beach Boys influences popping through.  Interesting that thier last last two albums were released on Andy Partiridge's Ape record label

I'd love to hear more by this fine band however they haven't put out any new material since 2010. There have been a couple of tunes released solo by Robert White (included here). I also included an acoustic live set to round out this compilation.  I am still looking for the tracks that were briefly released in 2006 on "Crumbs Parts 1 and 2" the digital download compilation if anyone has those tracks. For those who don't know The Milk and Honey band, you are in for a treat.

1 Flowers - acoustic live
2 Disappear - acoustic live
3 No World At All - acoustic live
4 Maryfaith Autumn - acoustic live
5 Just You - acoustic live
6 Cut The Line - acoustic live
7 Lilly White's Party - Robert White solo
8 Everything is Free - Robert White solo

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Tam Johnstone - The General Store

This month's post is dedicated to another classic album from a rarely heard artist - Tam Johnstone, the son of Elton John guitar player Davey Johnstone. Tam released his first album "Local Honey" under the moniker "The General Store" on Not Lame records in 2002 and to my ears it was an instant classic. The album contained a concentrated blast of Big Star/Badfinger ballads with beautiful playing and production.   In an alternate universe, this release would have rocketed him to instant stardom, but alas, things don't work out that way.

In 2008, he released another fine General Store album and began work as a videographer.   In 2011, he took on a concentrated video project called the "Song Explosion" releasing a new song and video every week for that year.  He culled an albums worth of material from that project to create "Fantastic Animals" his first solo record.   Though a fine record in its own right (and well worth picking up), a number of fine songs from the Song Explosion remain un-issued to this day.   I've collected my favorite in the compilation below.   It's fine listening.  I defy anyone to produce a better or more clever song than the second track "Complicated Girl".   One great song among many.

Since 2011, Tam has issued a newer collection of old timey torch songs but he has turned his energies to video production.   He is producing a documentary on the early days of Elton John. He is a real talent and I hope we haven't heard the last of Tam as song writer.

1 Somewhere Down the Highway
2 Complicated Girl
3 Back To You
4 Miss World
5 Beautiful Day
6 Alien Abroad
7 Homeward Bound
8 Polygraph
9 The Creeper
10 She's Not The One
11 Wake Up
12 Any Other
13 When The Sun Goes Down
14 Everything is Awesome
15 Unicorn Lady
16 Sway
17 The Reunion
18 Sgt. Factory
19 Paralyzed
20 You're So Beautiful

Monday, May 30, 2016

Rediscovering Erik Voeks

This month's post celebrates the quiet career of pop rocker Erik Voeks.   Though not that well known, Erik has put out a sparse catalog of top quality Power Pop over his 15 year career.  Erik grew up in Australia, moved to the states where spent time in St. Louis. He has been living for years in Kansas City.  His earlier 1990's output as tangentially associated with the Champagne, Illinois power pop movement  - since Adam Schmitt and friends played on his album "Sandbox".   That album is a classic with crystal clear production and great songs throughout. Keith Klingensmith's Futureman label has done a great service by rereleasing that album in digital form.  If you have don't have this classic, you owe it to yoursef to download a copy now.    

Over the last three years, Erik has been relatively active, releasing a series of singles and EPs through Bandcamp. I recommend heading over there and supporting Erik by downloading those tracks.  You won't be disappointing.  Uniformly excellent work there.   I recently completed a compilation of those recent tracks and I'm convinced that if these were issued as an album, they would easily end up on my best of list.

To drum up interest in Erik, I'm posting a set of hard to find singles and demo tracks from early in Eric's career.   There is absolutely some great material here.   Give these tracks a listen and please let me know if you have any additional rare Erik tracks (I know that I am missing the double sided single, "Desire Me and Die" and "Or What?" as an example).   I would appreciate the chance to complete my odds and ends collection.

1 Grey Rain Town
2 I'll Be The One
3 Up Periscope
4 Reasons
5 Throw Me Out A Line
6 When Will It All End
7 Cruel Tide
8 Queen of Cans and Jars (Guided By Voices Cover)
9 Christmas Singles
10 Pristeen
11 Girl
12 Descending From a Daydream (Live)

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Cliff Hillis - Love Not War Companion

Cliff Hillis's latest EP "Love Not War" is on the top of my playlist at the moment.  As always Cliff deliver's with terrific well constructed tunes that get wedged into your consciousness.  The 7 songs that comprise "Love Not War" fly by and I was always wanting more.  

Just as I did for his last EP  I've pulled together some additional demos that Cliff posted on his two Soundcloud accounts in a compilation that complements his official EP.   Buy the EP and add these additional 7 tracks and you have something that more approximates a proper "album".   Enjoy and don't forget to support one of the US's best Power Pop recording artist.

Love Not War EP
1 Love Not War
2 The Buddha's Belly
3 Don't Drown the Wind
4 A Boy Downtown
5 Suicide Doors
6 Mayor of Midnight
7 Too Many Songs

Love Not War Companion
8 Fresh As Tomorrow
9 Truth Be Told
10 Cindy is Serious
11 Fourth Stone From the Sun
12 David Crosby
13 Grosser than Gross
14 Seven Seas

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Owsley - Changes (Repost)

During the nine years, I've been writing this blog, I've never reposted something that I previously posted.  Today I'm going to make an exception and repost a rarities collection I put together of demos and non album tracks by Will Owsley in 2010.   I've been requested to do this far more than any other item that I've posted here and there is probably good reason - because of the scarcity of material from this essential Power Pop artist.  

During his short career Owsley produced two classic albums, 1999's self titled debut and 2004's "The Hard Way"  His prior band "The Semantics" produced one hard to find debut album which also ranks as a must have for Power Pop fans. Will Owsley's career was cut short when he took his own life in 2010.   The tracks I've collected here include a pair of songs issued as a single in addition to a series of demo tracks that have leaked out over the years.   

For those who downloaded the original version of this compilation, I've made several changes.  I removed Owsley's great version of "Band on the Run" which was actually a hidden bonus track at the end of the second album "The Hard Way".   In it's place I've included 4 additional tracks that Will recorded as demos late in his life.  Below, you'll find the latest track listing.   Will, we miss you.

1 Fountain of Youth - Demo with Ethos Music
2 Psycho - A-side of single released in 2005
3 Changes - EP Track from Christian Band "Blue Sky Secret", co-written with vocals by Owsley
4 Endlessly - Demo
5 Far From Me - Demo with Ethos Music
6 Mess With Me - Japanese bonus track from self titled first album
7 Leave It All Behind - Demo for Amy Grant
8 Upside Down - B-side of single released in 2005
9 Take Me To The Place - Demo with Ethos Music
10 When Lonely Comes Around - Demo by Owsley and Vince Gill
11 Feel No Pain - Demo
12 Got a Lot On My Head - From "Substitution Mass Confusion" Cars tribute

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Captain Wilberforce - Demos and Radio Tracks

Leeds based singer songwriter Simon Bristoll has been hard at it for the last 12 years.  As Captain Wilberforce he has released 3 full length albums and two EPs.  Bristoll does a great job mixing in a biting lyrical snarl within rich dramatic songscapes.  Every tune tells a story and takes the listener through a forest of melodic twists and turns.  The musicians that have helped Bristoll over the years are pros and his albums rock and sound great as well.   Since 2014, they've released two EPs on Bandcamp available as "name your price" downloads.   They are two parts of a three part album.  The third part is evidently writen and recorded with a potential june release for the completed album.   Very excited and based on the earlier two ep's I'd expect the CD to end up on my based of the year list.

In anticipation, I've put together a compendium of demos and radio tracks.   The first three songs are from the extremely hard to find 2004 Demo EP "Dreams of Educated Fleas"   If anyone has the complete CD at a better bit rate, I'd appreciate if they'd let me know.   I've also included several live and studio sessions.  Enjoy.  Here's to wishing Captain Wilberforce the overdue success they deserve

1 Making Apple Juice From Oranges - From "Dreams of Educated Fleas" Demo EP
2 Born Again Brand New Man - From "Dreams of Educated Fleas" Demo EP
3 Dark Clouds - From "Dreams of Educated Fleas" Demo EP
4 Confetti Champagne and Roses - From Grain Division Acoustic Show
5 Teaching You To Swim - From Grain Division Acoustic Show
6 Vaselined Eyes - From Grain Division Acoustic Show
7 No Guarantees - From Grain Division Acoustic Show
8 Excuses - From Grain Division Acoustic Show
9 Algebra Take Me Dancing - From Grain Division Acoustic Show
10 The Incredible Commuting Mole - From Grain Division Acoustic Show
11 A Very British Earthquake - From Grain Division Acoustic Show
12 A Beautiful Waste of Time - Acoustic Track from Dermit O' Leary Show
13 Blue - Jayhawks cover from Dermit O' Leary Show
14 Someone To Love - Live Track from 2013 Galtres Parklands Festival
15 The King of Indecision - Live Track from 2013 Galtres Parklands Festival
16 Good Times, You Said - Live Track from 2013 Galtres Parklands Festival

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Saul Zonana - Live From Studio Z

Every January I look forward to combing through the "Best Of" lists from my favorite blogs.   It's always exciting to discover Power Pop releases you missed (even if its a bit discouraging that you missed them).   I particularly love combing through the "Best of" lists from Steve at Absolute Powerpop and Aaron's Powerpopaholic blog and I always appreciate Aaron's posting of David Bash's expansive Top 125 list.

This year, I've particularity been enjoying a couple of 2015 releases I missed. I'm loving "Make Me Over" by A Fragile Tomorrow.  Quite a step for that young band.   I'm also loving the latest album from Saul Zonana, "Devolving".   Saul is a favorite of mine and his latest album is just great. It should have easily made into my top Power Pop albums last year, had I not missed it.  Only nine tracks this time but eveyone a gem.

I've loved every release Saul's made in his 15 year recording career.  He always manages to weave in great chord progressions into smart pop songs. In recent years, he's incorporate some prog elements but he hasn't lost his pop smarts.  I'd recommend every album he's released.  Saul does a great job of distributing his music and you can purchase almost every track he's released on his web site.    I've compiled just a few tracks he hasn't officially released.  These are the audio from several "live in the studio videos" that he recorded in his home studio in Nashville last year. Great tracks.  If you don't know Saul's music, consider these a taster.  You'll want to purchase the rest of this talented artist's catalog.

1 Boogyman
2 I Gotta Go
3 Foreverandever
4 Shame Of It
5 What I'm Lookin' For
6 Notice (Live)
7 Will You Down (Live)