EP REVIEW: NOT A PLANET – SMOKE BOMBS & CIGARETTES: THE HISTORY OF NOW

Not A Planet

Background
Nathan Corsi, an Akron, Ohioan, made his way to Kansas City after a featured role in a year-long documentary about life as a busker in New York. It wasn’t long before Nathan and Liam Sumnicht, drummer native to KC, hooked up to form Not A Planet. A rotating cast of bass players tagged in and out alongside the duo on national tours and local shows for years, but in 2012, William Sturges enlisted as a permanent player.

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ALBUM REVIEW: BRYAN ESTEPA & THE TEMPE TWO – EVERY LITTLE THING

Bryan Estepa

Background
Bryan Estepa is an acclaimed Sydney Singer-Songwriter, who has been labeled as one of Sydney’s best kept secrets. Having released 5 albums over the past decade, including the critics favourite ‘Vessels’ & ‘Heart vs Mind’, Estepa has truly made his presence known in the Australian Independent music scene. 

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ALBUM REVIEW: RILEY GODLESKI – TUMBLE CHILD

Riley-Godleski---Tumble-Child-Right-Inside-Panel

Background
Riley Godleski is a multi-style drummer, singer and songwriter from Northampton, MA. He has played with various groups in-studio and on stage including Kudzu, Woodford Way, Colorway, Mikey Sweet, Shokazoba, The Original Cowards, Amy Fairchild, Cowmuddy (Michael McShane), Ross Bellenoit, Jaron Olevsky, Miro Sprague, Susan Angeletti, Frank Manzi and Temporary Friends.  He has experience playing in pits for classical, choral and theatrical performances. 

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PoP ROCKS! AN INTRODUCTION

VU

Once upon a time, pop and rock came together and made a baby, and its name was Pop-Rock. Very strictly speaking, Pop-Rock is a fusion genre that mixes a catchy pop style and light lyrics in its (typically) guitar-based rock songs. Other genres that bear similar traits would be Powerpop, Melodic Rock, Soft Rock, Jangle Pop, Glam Rock, New Wave, Indie Pop and of course, Rock ’n’ Roll.

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ALBUM REVIEW: CHEAP TRICK – BANG, ZOOM, CRAZY… HELLO

cheaptrickbigmachine

Background
Cheap Trick is an American pop-rock band from Rockford, Illinois, formed in 1973, now consisting of Robin Zander (vocals, rhythm guitar), Rick Nielsen (lead guitar), Tom Petersson (bass guitar) and Daxx Nielsen (drums). In its forty-three years of existence, the band has remained true to its musical agenda i.e. a blend of pop, punk and even metal in a way that is instantly catchy and recognisable. This LP is the band’s first without longtime drummer Bun E. Carlos.

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ALBUM REVIEW: DAVID GILMOUR’S RATTLE THAT LOCK ONLY WORKS WHEN HE REMAINS TRUE TO HIMSELF

David-Gilmour

Ex-Pink Floyd singer-guitarist returns with a new solo LP that follows last year’s pointless Pink Floyd release – The Endless River – and Gilmour’s previous solo work, the magnificent On An Island (2006).

Sadly, Rattle That Lock – despite the promise of the excellent title track – is not a patch on On An Island and finds Gilmour trying out (rather unconvincingly) different musical styles that are far removed from his solo and Floyd work.

All of which is frustrating because on tracks like the instrumentals “5 A.M.”, “Beauty” and “… And Then”, Gilmour’s trademark guitar stylings shine through and all is well. Elsewhere, the choppy dance rhythms of “Today”, the anti-war balladry of “In Any Tongue” and the sprightly blues-romp of the title track remain the highlights.

Sadly, there are at least four tracks – “Faces of Stone”, “A Boat Lies Waiting”, “Dancing Right In Front Of Me” and “The Girl in the Yellow Dress” – where Gilmour’s attempts at eclecticism somewhat fall flat. Especially on that last named track where Gilmour fancies himself to deliver a pseudo-jazz standard with appalling results.

Presumably, Gilmour wanted to demonstrate his songwriting versatility but only emphasised his paucity in this department. Sobering to realise that it took Gilmour almost a decade to come up with enough songs to produce a new album. Floyd fans will enjoyed the highlights previously mentioned, which makes Rattle That Lock somewhat half-baked overall.

KID WAVE – THE 90S ROCK REVIVAL IS TAKING ITS OWN SWEET TIME BUT GOOD MUSIC IS WORTH WAITING FOR…

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I don’t really give a shit too much right now about the personal dynamics of Kid Wave – what their collective history or politics is and what not. Right now, all I care is that this is new music that fires my imagination and energises in a manner that so much new music is unable to do and that’s all I fucking care about.

Yeah, so the fact that NME wants so much to shag Kid Wave is alarming but going beyond that hype bullshit, there is the music that recalls the wonder of the 90s, where melodic rock of the 60s – 80s was gloriously regurgitated to grant us a shimmering amalgam of 60s psych-blues, 70s rock and 80s indie pop.

So Wonderlust – what a great album title – is yet another brick in the wall of keeping out all the mediocre pap that flood our airwaves on a daily basis as songs like “Honey”, “Baby Tiger”, “Walk On Fire”, “I’m Trying To Break Your Heart” and the title track raise the hopes of this melodic rock geek that pop salvation is upon us.

Fuck real music – this is genuine, authentic, bona fide rockin’ pop & roll!!!

https://www.facebook.com/kidwavemusic

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PoPTV – SINGAPORE ROCK RECOMMENDATIONS

S-ROCK

Regular visitors to Power of Pop will be aware that my definition of “pop” is pretty wide. But of course, in the context of modern pop (read: vacuous) , that definition becomes somewhat irrelevant for my purposes. Also, if I say “rock ‘n’ roll”, most people will think of the 50s (read: dated) and so, sometimes I need to be uber-specific and say “country-folk-pop-rock” to describe the type of pop music that I love. Hope that clarifies. From that perspective, I wanted to share very specifically, the bands and artists in Singapore whom I feel fit that particular bill and hope that you’d discover some new music to love as well.

CHEATING SONS – JEFFERSON (LIVE)

Though still unreleased, this country-folk masterpiece always resonates with me whenever the band plays it – which in my view is not often enough!

Pick up the new Cheating Sons album from Bandcamp.

HANGING UP THE MOON – THE DIVERS

Sean Lam (aka Hanging Up the Moon) somewhat resists any attempt to associate his wonderful music with that of the past (which I appreciate) but seriously folks, this gorgeous music is highly evocative of early 70s folk-rock. And what is the problem with that??? Beautiful.

Available at iTunes!

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LAZY LIONS LET OUT A POP-ROCK ROAR WITH WHEN DREAMING LETS YOU DOWN

Photo by Erik S. Lieber. (L-R: Anne-Marie Stehn, Jim Allen, Sean McMorris, Robert Sorkin).
Photo by Erik S. Lieber. (L-R: Anne-Marie Stehn, Jim Allen, Sean McMorris, Robert Sorkin).

There is a quiet self-assurance in the manner in which New York melodic rock outfit Lazy Lions approach their music. Certainly, a band has to be if it decides to play in the 60s/70s pop-rock sandbox. The pop-rock of the 80s to be more precise, as the band lays claim to the influences of Elvis Costello, Squeeze, Joe Jackson, The Cars and Crowded House. The tunes have an easy charm about them – on songs like “Tiny Little Cracks” and “Diane”, it’s not difficult for the unwary listener to begin humming to the refrains. Quirky numbers like “Let the Bad Times Roll” and “Scientific” help to keep thing somewhat interesting. Songs tend to be mid-tempo as a rule and a change in pace now and then would not have hurt. That all said, the slinky “You Can Run” and the smoky “Creep Across the Night” offer enough of a variation to demonstrate promising versatility. But if it’s straight-ahead rocking pop songs you want then “February” and most of When Dreaming Lets You Down, will not… erm… let you down. Jim Allen shared with us a couple of his thoughts about the band and their music.

Why did the four of you come together as Lazy Lions?

We had all done a lot of different things individually. I put out three records as a solo singer/songwriter, Rob had been a classical French horn player (who just happened to also be a killer guitarist), Anne-Marie had been in a band that ended up on a major label and did a ton of touring, and Sean had played with Richard Lloyd of Television besides being a singer/songwriter himself with solo albums out. To be totally honest, I just heard somebody say the words “lazy lions” one day and thought “What a great band name, I’m gonna start a band and call it that!” So I did. That’s really how it started!

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FLYING THE POWER POP FLAG WITH RANSOM AND THE SUBSET

Ransom

Power of Pop is always on the lookout for new music that stays faithful to the 60s/70s template for melodic pop-rock or rock ‘n’ roll or power pop. Ransom and the Subset – one fine example of this – is the brainchild of singer/songwriter/guitarist RanDair Porter. It’s latest album, No Time to Lose, was released in September 2014 but it’s always better late than never when it comes to great music. For Pop Underground fans, this is really a no-brainer – from the opening Jellyfish-referencing power chords of the infectious “Anna”, it’s clear that Ransom and the Subset has got what it takes to hypnotise like-minded fans of The Cars and Weezer. In particular, the single “Million Out of Me” is an effective ear-worm that will have melody junkies hitting repeat. Read what RanDair has to say about the band and the music.

How did the band get together?

I had a cover band together for the last few years – The band was called “Subset”, because the members were a subset of a band I had in High School. The bass player lived in San Diego and me and the drummer up in Seattle. I had become interested in recording some of my originals but, for whatever reason the project wasn’t something the of the other members were able to participate in. I called the project “Ransom and the Subset” – I did this because I wasn’t sure who would be singing on the project and I did not want to name the band after a single individual. There is no one named “Ransom” in the band.

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PoPTV: THE NEW ROCK N ROLL

POPTV

Regular visitors to Power of Pop will be aware that I am always harping on there not being enough bands/artists parlaying classic pop-rock styles into modern rock. Well actually, that’s not entirely true. I mean, in the sense that there certainly are bands/artists who like me are rather besotted with the pop-rock music of the 60s/70s, it’s just a question of discovering them. And discovering these bands/artists I have been in the last couple of days (thanks in part to Ed Khoo’s recommendation of Tobias Jesso Jr). So, of course, I’d like to share just some of these discoveries with you, kind reader.

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REMAKE, REMODEL, RE-WIND!

Re-Wind

The original line up of Miami Power Pop legends, The Wind, are back with their first release in 30 years….Re-Wind!

Singer-songwriters, Lane Steinberg & Steven Katz (aka Steve Barry) have worked together as both the creative force behind The Wind (1981-1988), and as a duo under the name Tan Sleeve (1998-present).

Now that drummer Steve Burdick is back, Re-Wind represents the trio’s first recordings for over 25 years and for power pop fans, it’s good news. Very good, in fact. The moment “Fight Like a Girl” kicks in with its guitar arpeggios and floor toms, it’s obvious that the band has lost none of its chops and sets the tone for the rest of this album. The warm balladry of “Let Me Show You How It’s Done”, the jaunty jollity of “Weak Spot” and the folk-rock of “Yes and No”demonstrate The Wind’s mastery over the melodic rock form, complemented superbly by the high production values. Re-Wind is a great-sounding album and comes with our highest recommendations.

We managed to pick Steve Katz’s brains to talk about the return of The Wind.

What was the impetus to re-form The Wind?

When Lane Steinberg and I look back on all our musical endeavors over the years, both together and separately, the early years of The Wind was the high point, due to the chemistry we had with drummer Steve Burdick. Steve had played drums on several songs on all the Tan Sleeve CDs. So it was almost The Wind, but not quite. Making a whole album as The Wind seemed like a logical step that we should have taken awhile ago.

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MYRACLE BRAH RELEASES NEW “THE PEACH EP” VIA FREE DOWNLOAD AT BANDCAMP

MyracleBrah

“Myracle Brah is an American indie pop/power pop band primarily centered on singer-songwriter Andy Bopp.”

What it fails to say that at one point in the 90s, Brah’s debut LP – Life on Planet Eartsnop – was on heavy rotation, not only in my CD player but in my very consciousness. This LP served to be my doorway to the 90s Pop Underground, which was a magical epoch of 60s retrolicious goodness. Since that epochal album, there have been highs and lows for Andy Bopp’s music BUT I am so glad to report a spanking new EP that rekindles this pop lover’s belief in the POWER of POP!

For the time being, the EP is free via download at Bandcamp. If like me, you dig bands that channel The Beatles, Big Star & Badfinger without sacrificing an iota of self-expression then The Peach EP is a godsend! What are you waiting for?

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