DISCOVERED @ SPOTIFY – THE NEW BRIT

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Regular visitors to Power of Pop will be aware of my obsession with British pop-rock, from The Beatles to the Who to the Kinks to the Stones and on and on and on…  Since the end of the 90s (and the demise of Britpop), I have always been hoping for a revival of British pop-rock (and I do not mean the post-punk revival like The xx! Ugh!!)

Well it’s now 20 years since the heyday of Britpop and surveying the British pop-rock scene in 2015, there appears to be a couple of promising acts that hopefully will make the grade to generate enough buzz for this particular brand of pop-rock to dominate once again. In fact, I have found 20 bands that fit the bill completely – check out my playlist below and do let me know if you have other recommendations?

… still there’s more … 

GARFIELDS BIRTHDAY KEEPS OLD FASHIONED POP MUSIC ALIVE WITH NEW ALBUM YOU ARE HERE

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For better or worse, Garfields Birthday is a Power of Pop kind of band. Meaning that the music of Garfields Birthday upholds all the principles that Power of Pop believes must exist in order for music to be vital and powerful. Strong melodies with classic pop-rock arrangements and an uncompromising attitude to make music that is all about… the music.

Since the mid-90s – the height of Britpop – Garfields Birthday has been sporadically releasing EPs and albums that have never failed to adhere to the classic pop-rock aesthetic, even as this kind of music continues to be marginalized in the mainstream pop world.

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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.

 

PoPTV – THE OK SOCIAL CLUB: “THE LATE 90S”

Two-note chorus. Quirky energetic rhythms. Britpop-channeling vibe. Edinburgh’s The OK Social Club 2nd single “The Late 90s” may be a cute song but the music video is even cuter. Doesn’t take too much for me to get enthused about a UK band – just make sure the chorus is an earworm. This totally works for me…

More info at Facebook.

PoPTV – BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUB

BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUB – SHUFFLE

After the acoustic diversion of Flaws, BBC return to electric instruments on new album, A Different Kind of Fix, to be released on 22nd August. First single, Shuffle, is a jaunty Britpop number that recalls the exuberance of musical forbears like The Kinks, XTC, Blur, Supergrass et al. Pretty infectious too. The video maintains the joyful mood throughout. Bodes well for the album to come. Enjoy…

Official Site

 

NOAH AND THE WHALE

NOAH AND THE WHALE Last Night On Earth (Universal)

English band Noah and the Whale is part of the indie folk movement that has swept the UK rock scene in the last couple of years, alongside Mumford & Sons, Laura Marling and Stornoway, amongst others.

This new album finds the band attempting to expand its sound a little with subtle use of electronic sounds – although the songs are still ‘folk songs’ in every other sense of the word.

Which almost makes this album a ‘folktronic’ exercise of sorts which true music fans should have no problem with, as the approach certainly makes the songs livelier. And thus songs like Life is Life and Wild Thing are more exciting for those extra touches.

There are also elements of classic Britpop in songs like L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N. and Give It All Back, where The Kinks are gleefully evoked. All good in my book!

Official Site

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CHARLATANS – LIVE IN SINGAPORE

Well, it took two decades for English band The Charlatans to kick out the jams in our home town but I think most will agree that it was well worth the wait. Consisting mostly of punters in their 30s and 40s, it was strictly a crowd of 90s-era “kids” who filled up the *SCAPE Warehouse (between 450-500 people, I reckon) and thus, the 90s hits went down best e.g. The Only One I Know, One To Another, Weirdo, North Country Boy and Tellin’ Stories.

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CHARLATANS – LIVE IN SINGAPORE

Relive the 90s with Britpop band The Charlatans as they finally make their way to our shores come the 23rd of November at *SCAPE, The Warehouse to perform their first ever gig in Singapore.

Tickets on sale at SISTIC from Wednesday, 27 October.

Stay tuned for more details and information in the days to come. In the meantime, check out our review of the new Charlatans album, Who We Touch.

THE CHARLATANS

THE CHARLATANS Who We Touch (Self-released)

It’s comforting to know that veteran bands like The Charlatans are still plugging away at what they do best – making good music! The UK band celebrates its 20th anniversary with the release of its eleventh album, Who We Touch, which in my humble estimation may be one of the best of its career thus far!

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AMY MACDONALD

AMY MACDONALD A Curious Thing (Universal)

Selling 3 million copies of your debut CD (the aptly titled This Is This Life) when you’re a mere 20 year old is some achievement. This is what Scottish songstress Macdonald managed as she took her native UK by storm in 2007. Musically, Macdonald recalls the epic pop-rock of the 90s Brit-pop era (viz. Travis, Manic Street Preachers, Stereophonics) but imbued with modern rock’s obsession with electronica.

Thus, on Macdonald’s sophomore effort, catchy, straightforward pop-rock songs like Don’t Tell Me That It’s All Over, Love Love, Give It All Up and Troubled Soul is brilliantly embellished by strings and synths by producer Pete Wilkinson. A bright poppy album that deserves the mainstream adulation it will no doubt attract.

Check out the video of Don’t Tell Me That It’s All Over, the first single below.

Official Site

Myspace

GRAND ATLANTIC

GRAND ATLANTIC How We Survive (Laughing Outlaw)

Y’know, its about time for the excellent rock music of the 90s to make a comeback. Seriously folks, there’s the power pop of Teenage Fanclub and Superdrag, the dream pop of Ride and House of Love and the Britpop of Oasis and Blur, to name but few, to revive. Add these elements with a straight ahead rockist attitude and what you get is timeless kick-ass rock that makes no apologies and takes no prisoners.

Aussie band Grand Atlantic’s How We Survive LP contains all these wonderful factors, which makes it one of the most immediate albums I’ve heard so far this year. Songs like Coast is Clear, She’s A Dreamer and the title track cover all the right reference points for fans of 90s rock music.

This gratifying album is a briliant evocation of a special musical epoch and is thus highly recommended.

Music video of She’s A Dreamer below.

Official Site

Myspace

ANNIE STEVENSON

ANNIE STEVENSON 2010 EP (Self-released)

Scottish pop-rockers – Annie Stevenson – take the best of old school punk and 90s Britpop to deliver spiky, edgy  and tuneful songs that recall the likes of the Clash and Blur. This 4-track self-released EP gets better with each subsequent listening and I personally am impressed with the range of Annie Stevenson’s music, without sacrificing accessibility. Songs like the quirky Country Killer and I’m the One You Hold contrast well with the more straightforward rockin’ Get Off the Street and TV Took My Soul. A band that promises much.

2010 EP is available for free download here. Get it whilst you can!

Myspace

FYFE DANGERFIELD

FYFE DANGERFIELD Fly Yellow Moon (Self-released)

Dangerfield is, of course, the frontman of delightfully quirky BRIT award nominated indie rock band, Guillemots. On his self-released debut album, Dangerfield does not stray too much from Guillemots sonic agenda. Perhaps less wildly eclectic than his full-time band, Dangerfield’s material here is slightly more conservative and traditional when compared to his work with Guillemots.

The tracks on Fly Yellow Moon, mostly consist of piano-centric songs, informed by epic melodies with downbeat sentiments. Thus, songs like the wistful title track, the plaintive ballad Barricades, the nostalgic High on the Tide, the folky Livewire, the pastoral Firebird and the fragile Don’t Be Shy provide the perfect soundtrack for those melancholy late nights. In this regard, Dangerfield recalls the moody genius of Nick Drake.

Fortunately though, Dangerfield is clever enough to mix the melancholia with stabs of hysterical fun e.g. the violently bubbly When You Walk in the Room (which comes across like mad Mika), the post-punk revival piece Faster Than the Setting Sun, where Dangerfield uncannily channels Ian McCulloch (Echo & the Bunnymen), the ELO-ish soulful She Needs Me and the throbbing electronica of Any Direction.

A fine debut album by all accounts, a no-brainer for Guillemots fans, and recommended for lovers of Brit-pop (e.g. Lightning Seeds, World Party et el).

Official Site

Myspace

THE ENEMY

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THE ENEMY Music For The People (Warner Music)

Imagine if Angus Young never grew old. Now imagine him slipping into a houndstooth blazer, and coerced into taking the stage with a smittering of self-indulgent Britpop. Imagine that his recognizable swagger and sneer has morphed into  (horrors) happy, jump-abouty jauntiness.

Maybe they are taking a cue from their neighbours down under, but it seems to me that the latest wave of British bands to hit the airwaves have narrowed down their musical formulae to one of three M.O. — wan covers of lesser-known tunes, rehashing the 80s, or, perhaps more tastefully, revisiting the joys of ballsy blues-based Rock N’ Roll, albeit in a less angsty, folk-centric manner.

Coventry’s The Enemy is a prime exemplification of this trend. While their latest release, Music For The People possesses a markedly Rock N’ Roll sensibility, the band displays their thorough understanding of this contemporary rock/indie dichotomy by subtly packaging a jangly, twangy, MTV-friendly sensibility into their music.

This is a markedly apparent theme throughout the album, one that lends itself to instant recognition. Without having to aurally desconstruct the record, it is possible to identify (most obviously) the strong AC/DC influence. The gritty, bare-bones character of the riffage does however manage to hold enough airiness to straddle the fence between late night beers and late-morning tea.

The advent of this album has also afforded me to opportunity to voice another gripe, in that music publications tend to have a manner of rapturously overhyping new albums. I’d hardly call the album anthemic or rebellious, given that its subject matter deals with British clichés like the middle-class divide, life on the street, and, get ready for this, Revolution.

*insert gratuitous editorial pause here to allow rumination over previous sentence*

Somebody should tell them that their predecessors have done it to death. It’s time to move on, and I’m sure there are more pressing themes that haven’t been explored. Make no mistake however, I do like the album.

If you are an ardent advocate of a strict rock vs indie divide, then this is not the album for you. If, however, you are open to exploration, feel free to have a couple of spins. It won’t kick you in the nuts, it won’t tickle your grey matter, but I promise you it will have your feet tapping.

(Sherwin Tay)
Check out The Enemy’s Myspace page.

TONY COX

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TONY COX Unpublished (Self-released)

When I received this CD in the post, I was pretty impressed by the cover and then mystified by the following note in the sleeve –

“I’m a Songwriter looking for a good home for my songs. So if you’re a music publisher, artist, producer, manager or record company… and you hear potential. I’d love to hear from you!”

So… Unpublished is not a proper album? Apparently not. But really, boys and girls, Unpublished is a collection of tracks worthy enough for one of those year-end lists. Perhaps mine.

These eleven songs represent some of the best British pop songwriting I’ve had the pleasure to listen to in quite a while. Singer Nigel Clark’s Lennonesque vocals does tend to give the songs a welcome Beatlesque edge and a powerful 70s vibe but hey, I’m certainly not complaining. It’s almost as if you’ve stumbled on a classic pop-rock jukebox in some alternative reality where hit songs like Sweet Elaine, Jamelia, Welcome To My World and Show Me Your Love rule the world. Fans of classic tunesmithery of the Britpop variety will no doubt enjoy Unpublished. Step aside, Noel Gallangher, the jig is up. Let Tony Cox should you what quality songwriting is all about…

Check out Tony’s Myspace page.