In his introduction to his seminal book, The People’s Music (see below), rock writer (the late) Ian MacDonald opined, “the essentials of modern popular music were laid down during a period of less than ten years and that, but for some technical innovations leading to various musical diversions (such as reggae, rap/hip hop and sequenced dance music), nothing intrinsically new has appeared since then, all musical mini-revolutions in the last twenty years being prefaced in the products of the sixties, the foundation decade for all that’s followed.” (Emphasis added)

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It’s hard to argue with the above assertion. It would not be difficult to listen completely to the popular music of the 60s, 70s and maybe 80s without bothering to listen to any new music in 2010 and find immense satisfaction and fulfillment. With that in mind, an assessment of modern popular music must by necessity be carried out through the lens of the past. Thus, although it is impossible for any modern band/artist to create anything new, in that sense, it’s what a band/artist does with the music of the last fifty years (and even beyond) that determines whether they are of any value or worth.

This careful determination is what is attempted here at Power of Pop and with Blurb-O-Rama, where reviews are concise and stripped down to the bare elements. We hope that in this way, you may be able to make informed choices concerning the music you may choose to support (whether by way of CD acquisition, download or ticket purchase). With that in mind, read on…

DAVE STEPHENS Time Will Tell (Self-released)

I love an artist that is into music for the music. Y’know, where the artist is not trying to be hip or cool but is honestly trying to convey his or her passion and craft into these love bites we call songs. This approach encapsulates singer-songwriter Dave Stephens. Time Will Tell is Stephens’ third album and suffice to say that Stephens is that rarest of breeds – the loving care and respect with which he treats the musical legacy that frames his work sends chills down my spine. Stylistically, Stephens distills the music of the 60s/70s and imbues his own personal take on what pop-rock music should be. So songs like Time Will Tell, Mr Wonderful, Hangin’ On and all the rest dwell on strong melodies, organic instrumentation/arrangements that recall the Beatles, Badfinger, Raspberries, Billy Joel, Wings, Bread and their numerous acolytes. Highly recommended. Official Site

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FUTURE OF FORESTRY Advent Christmas, Volume 2 (Credential)

Yuletide hits as interpreted by Radiohead! Well, not really but it’s hard not to get that impression when you listen to this EP of indie rock treatments of traditional Christmas songs. Whilst I guess we should laud the attempts to update these “oldies”, I am a little jaded by the sonic approach of Future of Forestry and am finding it cliched (think recent Coldplay). You know what I mean, atmospheric synths, emotional vocals, faux-classical keyboard patterns, electronic drums and so on. For older music lovers, U2, Jeff & Tim Buckley, Aphex Twin and common denominator Brian Eno, spring quickly to the mind. Strictly for fans only. Myspace

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MATT RYD Looking For Home (Self-released)

Funny thing about singer-songwriter Ryd is that superficially, he utilizes much of the same musical touchstones as emo bands too in terms of melodic/harmonic content, especially. Which normally offends and annoys me no end but Ryd chooses to present the content in more traditional pop-rock formats, which works for me. This gives Ryd’s music a fair chance in appealing to a wider audience. A couple of rather commercial songs evident here eg. Healed (already featured on Scrubs TV series), Marianne and Impression. Not for all tastes, I wager, but even the classic pop-rock lovers might want to check out Matt Ryd. Official Site

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… and there’s more…