ARMY NAVY – THE WILDERNESS INSIDE

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Here’s another album that fits Power of Pop’s criterion of POP with POWER! LA trio Army Navy’s third LP is chock full of unforgettable tunes allied with a 90s alt-rock sensibility that is always refreshing in this post-punk-revival obsessed times. In that respect, Army Navy (Justin Kennedy – Lead vocals, Guitar/Louie Schultz – Lead guitar, Vocals/Douglas Randall – Drums, Vocals) succeed wildly.

The agenda is straightforward enough, as tracks like the jangly “The Mistakes”, the driving shoegazy “Crushed Like the Car”, the Fannnies-imbued “Waiting to Win” and the unabashedly retro “World’s End” attest. Uncomplicated arrangements enhance the memorably melancholy pop melodies that make The Wilderness Inside essential listening for fans of gorgeous 90s alt-rock and especially good old fashioned power pop!

PoP RECOMMENDS: LOVE X STEREO

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Better late than never, eh?

Oliver Mann (JPNSGRLS) was raving about Korean alt-electro rockers Love X Stereo and so upon his recommendation, I followed him to Paulaner for the band’s final gig at Music Matters Live 2014 at 1 am. What I witnessed was an epiphany! The tunes had epic pop melodies, the arrangements were tight with a post-punk revival vibe but ultimately it was charismatic vocalist/synth player Annie Ko that sealed the deal for me.

Upon further investigation, it appears that Annie and guitarist/producer Toby were both part of a ska-punk band called Skrew Attack and re-invented themselves as Love X Stereo in 2011 (and picked up bassist Sol along the way). With critically acclaimed releases Off the Grid and Flow under their belts and significant appearances at top indie rock festivals, Love X Stereo is definitely a band to explore.

Hopefully, we will be able to get PoP fans an interview with Annie soon. In the meantime, enjoy…

Official Site

 

DISCOVERED @ SPOTIFY

Yeah, more power pop/pop underground music you should be listening to if you dig sophisticated melodies with crunchy guitars and clever arrangements. Please take notes…

SPLITSVILLE

The last time this wonderful band released new material was 2003 – unsure whether the band still exists as the official site has not been updated since 2004! Tough being a power pop in this current environment. In any case, I need to highlight three essential LPs that need your attention. Enjoy!

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PoP RECOMMENDS: WAX FANG

WAX FANG – “Hearts Are For Beating” 

After three digital singles in 2013, Wax Fang will be releasing its third album – The Astronaut – in January 2014. Check out the official video to the latest single.

Sounds like: David Bowie, Television, Pixies.

Check out the other singles at Spotify.

Official Site

LOU REED (1942 – 2013)

I got into Lou Reed relatively late in life. 1989 to be precise – the release of the New York album, which I bought on cassette. That prompted me to investigate Reed (and the Velvet Underground, of course) in piecemeal form in the 25 years since.

As a rock scholar, it’s impossible not to recognize Reed’s importance to much of modern rock music – there’s really no point in setting out the sheer number of bands and artists that Reed had a tremendous impact on – suffice to say that Reed was influential. As a songwriter, Reed’s honesty and creative thinking was always challenging to me, with his lyric writing truly seminal.

His passing was hard to take – a sense that an era of rock music has ended. But Reed’s legacy will never be forgotten – the sound and attitude of indie pop & alt-rock bear his indelible stamp. Yes, Lou Reed may no longer be with us but his music will live on forever, something to cherish.

For the uninitiated, begin with Velvet Underground & Nico, Transformer and New York and work your way through from there.

“The music is all. People should die for it. People are dying for everything else, so why not the music?”

DEAD STARS – HIGH GAIN EP [REVIEW]

The early 90s were an exciting time for alternative rock. It was an epoch where edgy melodies met crunchy guitars with pummeling rhythms! Hell yes, it’s time for a 90s alt-rock revival and Williamsburg, Brooklyn’s Dead Stars have no qualms declaring their intent to evokes the likes of Teenage Fanclub, Pavement, Sonic Youth and Dinosaur, Jr. in their delightfully tuneful rock agenda.

This five-track EP is a pleasing introduction to the wonders of Dead Star’s way with a melody and ups the ante with punk, country and folk vibes headily incorporated for a intoxicating brew. The one-two knockout punch of the rollicking “Waste Away” and sensitive “Let It Go” bring out all the best feelings rock n’ roll imparts – adrenaline pumping, wild abandon and the unconfined thrill of rock songs that hit the spot!

Consisting of Jeff Moore (guitar/vocals), John Watterberg (bass) and Jaye Moore (drums), Dead Stars is a power trio of the best kind  – where that indeterminable touch of cool and homespun connection meld perfectly – the ultimate godsend for rock fans out there tired of all this fucking hipster bullshit!

ELEVENTH DREAM DAY – NEW MOODIO RELEASE [NEWS]

Eleventh Dream Day is an American alt-rock band which made its reputation in the late 80s/early 90s, parlaying its hybrid of psychedelia-folk-rock n’ roll into a heady brew that got both critics and fans of the period excited.

On May 14th, Comedy Minus One will release New Moodio, a parallel world version of the band’s 1991 LP “El Moodio”. A bit of background from the Riot Media press release –

The material that appears on “New Moodio” was recorded on their own dime, with the intent to find a new label to put it out. Recorded at Idful Studios in Chicago with Brad Wood at the dials (Liz Phair recorded “Exile In Guyville” with Wood there just months later), these songs were being shopped around when Danny Goldberg – who now was running Atlantic – came to Chicago and made his pitch to the group over lunch. The band was impressed by what he had to say, and made the inference that if he went to this effort to get the band back, he and the label must really care. He urged Eleventh Dream Day to start over with a new producer, and the band spent the better part of 1992 working on what would become “El Moodio,” their third and final major label record.

The vinyl pressing is limited to 500 copies, and each includes a digital download containing three additional songs. New Moodio will also be available on all digital download platforms. Check out the previously unreleased “Thinking Out Loud” below.

 

INSTANT SPECIES – THIS ROME… [REVIEW]

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Nothing quite compares to a British pop band trading in the fine legacy of Britpop and being able to make the connections between The Kinks and Blur and beyond. Instant Species has been around since 1997 and according to its official site, “we’ve made music we love, played gigs to entertain people and released records with an enormous sense of pride. It’s more than a hobby but it’s far from a career and it’s always fun. We don’t have a “plan” or “bid to be” anything other than 4 blokes playing some music we hope is half decent.”

More than “half-decent” I’d say — This Rome… is the quartet’s new album (#8) and it is chock full of catchy tunes, spiky rhythms and an edgy pop smart attitude. It’s clear from songs like the languid “Rise of the Idiot”, the bouncy “Simple Repetition”, the chirpy title track and the garage-y “I Need A Little Help” that the band writes and records the kind of music it loves without any thought about trends. Essential for fans of classic British pop music.

 

THE GREAT SPY EXPERIMENT – LITMUS [REVIEW]

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Six years in the making, the sophomore effort of The Great Spy Experiment arrives with the band a completely different entity to what it was when I first met Saiful, Fandy, Song, Khai and Mag in the rehearsals for Singapore Day in 2007. Interim period has seen marriages, children and daily challenges with the ubiquitous work-life balance. Factor in the creative musical need of recording artists and things no doubt become complicated.

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TIGER RIOT

TIGER RIOT Look Up! (Brookvale)

Look Up! is the soon-to-be-released debut album from Tiger Riot, a five-piece band from Long Island. Look Up! is an album verging on pop-punk (All Time Low, The White Tie Affair) rather than one planted firmly within the alternative/indie rock genre.

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TELEKINESIS

TELEKINESIS 12 Desperate Straight Lines (Merge)

Michael Benjamin Lerner returns with his sophomore effort, with more of the same well-crafted modern alt-pop-rock. Also returning is producer Chris Walla (out of Death Cab for Cutie). Lerner basically carries on from where he left on his enjoyable eponymous debut. Eschewing any particular style or approach, Lerner chooses to envelop his melodic, vibrant songs in different arrangements that cover the several eras of alt-rock.

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DIRTY BEACHES

DIRTY BEACHES Badlands (Zoo Music)

What a stage name this is. Dirty Beaches is Alex Zhang Hungtai, born in Taiwan and raised in Toronto, Honolulu, Montreal and Vancouver. His music style mingles minimalism with noise rock, popularly fitting into today’s indie/alternative scene, yet his voice cracks like a lost soul in this modern age of digitalism. On various occasions he lets out his indie Elvis persona and groove, as on Horses and Sweet 17, but the real gems come in subsequent tracks: he channels his best in A Hundred Highways, grooving like an established rock and roll legend; sounds like a timeless romantic on True Blue and a faithful believer on Lord Knows Best. That much said, all for a relative newcomer.

Catch Dirty Beaches live between January and March 2011 as he tours together with Crocodiles and Dum Dum Girls.

Myspace

[CJ]

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ALEX LEVINE

Originally published at ReviewYou.com

ALEX LEVINE Falling Back Again (Self-released)

The cover of Alex Levine’s new album will remind Jayhawks fans of the seminal alt-country outfit’s third album – Hollywood Town Hall. Granted, Levine is posing in front of a church building rather than a town hall but the structures are uncannily similar. Not only that but the music on Falling Back Again will cement that particular comparison and reference point firmly in the minds of all right-thinking alt-rock enthusiasts. Basically, the continued alchemical quality of combining country and rock music. Simply put, Levine’s Falling Back Again is one of the more impressive alt-rock albums released in 2010.

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SOUNDTRACK OF MY LIFE

Thirty years ago, the 80s began (we thought we’d got John Lennon back but he was all too quickly taken away from us. Damn). I had just been conscripted and had begun to take pop and rock music appreciation seriously. Through the next ten years, I would discover amazing music and bands which to this day continue to thrill and touch me. During the 80s, I got out of army, did four years at Law School, got my degree, got a job, got married and became a father. Music was the soundtrack to it all. People often ask me about the best music of the 80s, so in the spirit of answering that question, here is part one of my top 25 essential LPs of the 80s (in alphabetical order, not by merit).

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VERSUS

VERSUS On the Ones and Threes (Merge)

Those of you hankering for the good old days of late 80s/early 90s indie-alt-rock will be mighty pleased with this new album (in ten years!) from Versus. Remember when the “indie” rock bands of the day were influenced by legends like the Kinks, ELO and Neil Young rather than other predecessor indie bands?

On the Ones and Threes is an accomplished work by a mature group of writers/musicians. The album never remains static in terms of songwriting, arrangements and musicianship. Tracks like the bright Invisible Hero, the energetic Cicada, the sophisticated Into the Blue and the sweetly droning Pink Valhalla have high melodic quotients, which will appeal to all listeners who like their rock, poppy. Whilst songs like Nu Skin, Erstwhile and the title track are slightly edgier affairs.

Much of the sweet and pleasant moments on On the Ones and Threes rather belie the pervasive cynical themes as lead singer/guitarist Richard Baluyut explains – “Well, I’m just a dark person, and I get more nihilistic the older I get.” Perfectly summed up I suppose on the final track (On the Ones and Threes) – “Yes I am the number thirteen/In elevator society/Why be superstitious/When we’re all just specks of dust/You can’t help it and I can’t stop it.” A brilliant juxtaposition of contradiction between lyrical concepts and melodic themes.

One of the better “indie” rock albums you’ll hear in 2010, I’d wager.

On the Ones and Threes will be released by Merge Records on 3rd August.

Merge page | Myspace | Buy at Amazon

THE ROSES

THE ROSES Traveller (Self-released)

When I received this latest single from The Roses, I honestly did not expect Traveller to sound like it does. Gone is the quirky crunch of Apple of My Eye, to be replaced by an introspective, Joy Division/early Cure-channeling pop-dirge, mixed in with slide guitar to boot, to keep things interesting.

Well, color me impressed again! The vocals are also miles away from the mischievous persona of Apple of My Eye, instead we have this melancholy Ian Curtis wannabe instead. But it works!

Simple but bloody effective. Everything is in their proper place – arrangements, instrumentation and that guitar solo is close to perfection. Sorry if this all sounds hyperbolic but there’s so much promise and potential here (these boys are 16!), it’s scary…

Check out The Roses at http://www.myspace.com/therosesrockwithyou.

You can download Traveller here and let me know what you think…

LISTENING BOOTH: DAVID VANDERVELDE

David Vandervelde is a singer-songwriter that has interested me recently with his intriguing take on country-folk-soul-pop. What Vandervelde does is to filter a 70s classic pop-rock agenda through alt-rock sensibilities. In 2010, Vandervelde (via Secret Canadian) released four digital singles, which will now be collected on 12″ vinyl (cover art above, available on 3 August). My favourite of the lively bunch is Learn How To Hang (Great title! Listen below) which sounds to me like feisty hybrid of REO Speedwagon and Jesus and Mary Chain, if you can imagine that. Vandervelde probably sums it up himself best on the Lindsay Buckingham-channeling Wave Country. Certainly, David Vandervelde is one singer-songwriter to keep a close eye (and ear) on.

[audio:http://www.powerofpop.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/learnhowtohang.mp3|titles=David Vandervelde – Learn How To Hang]

Myspace | Secret Canadian

SHELLSHAG

SHELLSHAG Rumors in Disguise (Don Giovanni)

The guy Johnny “Shell” plays guitar (and sings) whilst the gal Jen “Shag” plays drums (and also sings). I know what you’re thinking – White Stripes, right? Well, yes and no.

I mean, sure, that “fact” ties Johnny & Jen to Jack & Meg somewhat but as I’ve often ranted and raved, its all about the songs. What do they say? Let’s put it this way, it’s refreshing to listen to a band that knows its shit y’know. At its most basic, Shellshag songs string together the history of lo-fi melodic fuzzed-up guitar rock drones – The Velvet Underground, the Stooges, T. Rex, the Ramones, Joan Jett & the Blackhearts, Jesus and Mary Chain, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr, Guided by Voices, Pixies, Nirvana – all feature as choice inspirations for these stripped down paeans to pure rock bliss.

In songs like the groovin’ Resilient Bastard, the relentlessly drivin’ He Said She Said, the slowburning caustic Get Right and the primal Rock and Roll Ruined My Life, Shellshag demonstrate that they possess the right influences and the means to express them creatively to deserve the attention of all discerning rock lovers.

Fifteen tracks of consistently and dynamically intriguing songs with little filler merits a PoP recommendation. Check Shellshag out. NOW.

Free download – Crashing Rockets

Myspace