Mark Bacino is a Pop Underground favourite whose music (featured in three albums – Pop Job, The Million Dollar Milkshake and Queens English) gets mentioned whenever rock journalists need to define the best power pop music out there. We talked to Bacino about the past (his acclaimed music), the present (his new single, “Not That Guy”) and the future…
So much good music, so little time. The solution? Let Blurb-O-Rama be your tastemakin’ guide!
A recap on the songs we dug in the last quarter. All rock, no filler.
Reviews of EPs/albums that have been released in 2016. Time to discover new music!
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.
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.
The Norwegian band Family Values have been in the studio together with the Norwegian powerpop legend Tomas Dahl (Caddy, Turbonegro, Wonderfools etc.) and the result is the band’s second EP Time Stands Still.
Los Angeles based singer-songwriter. Featuring principal collaborator Matt Lee on electric guitar and bass. Known for being part of power pop outfit In Color and collaborations with Dramarama.
Weezer is an American rock band formed in Los Angeles in 1992, currently consisting of Rivers Cuomo (lead vocals, lead guitar), Patrick Wilson (drums), Brian Bell (rhythm guitar, backing vocals, keyboards), and Scott Shriner (bass, backing vocals, keyboards). Weezer has sold 9.2 million albums in the US and over 17 million worldwide.
What the fuck is ‘sparkle punk’? It’s probably an ironic made-up genre but that and the fact that there’s a song called “Cock” is what caught my attention.
Welcome to the world of Glasgow ‘glitter trash’ trio Breakfast MUFF. The Feels is the very anti-thesis of everything is ‘proper’ about popular music in 2015. Y’know lofi, shambolic, amateurish, three chords, low grade fuzzed guitars, disturbing lyrics, songs that never hit 3 minutes and singers who sound like they don’t give a fuck!
Musically it reminds me of edgy, post-punk guitar pop-rock of 1979-era XTC, The Slits, The Raincoats and Wire – which never hurts.
I’m just a bit concerned that The Feels might be a novelty record. I fucking hope not!
If you really must – https://www.facebook.com/BreakfastMUFF
I am so sick and tired of defending ‘classic’ pop songwriting – why should the age of a genre ever come into the assessment of good music.
Anyways, thankfully I have a musical representation of this argument in the form of Pop4’s brilliant album Summer. Comprising of Scott McPherson, KC Bowman, Kirk Adams and Andrea Perry – a power pop brain trust, for those in the know – Pop4 exploits the diverse strengths of its members to provide one of the finer pop albums of 2015.
Highlights include the droll putdown “You’re No Aimee Mann” (which Mann herself approves of, it seems!), the delightfully ELO-channelling “Einstein and Sunshine” and the warm pastoral “Beautiful”.
There’s no doubt that we need more sophisticated melodic albums like Summer – no irony, no pretension, no pastiche – I am glad to declare that this is the real deal.
TypeWriter will be debuting new material from upcoming EP at Baybeats 2015 and will also be featuring new drummer Robin Chua (Livonia, Shelves). The band will be playing at the MIXTAPE stage on 26th June at 11pm. In the meantime, you can download/listen to their 2010 album, Indian Head Massage.
Connect with TypeWriter https://www.facebook.com/typewriterband
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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.
Once upon a time, there was a music industry that existed where music fans had to actually buy records, cassettes or compact discs if they wanted to listen to their favorite music anytime they wanted. And whilst the bands & artists did not see much of the money generated from the purchases, they were often given the funds to record ambitious sounding music that the bands & artists had percolating in their talented little minds.
“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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Based on what I’ve heard so far from Cold Fronts, the music they write and record is pretty good pop-rock/powerpop, in my opinion. So let’s relax on the indie rock descriptors yeah? The new single “Hit Me” is a cool blast of melodic rock that cannot be ignored. Yeah yeah yeah!!!
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Consisting of Chris Richards, Andy Reed and Keith Klingensmith, The Legal Matters, a powerpop supergroup of sorts combine their distinctive talents, experience and songwriting chops to produce an eponymous debut album that lives up to the bands & artists that served as inspirations. It isn’t difficult to detect the primary influences of The Beatles, Beach Boys, Big Star and The Byrds (the usual suspects) over the 10 songs presented here but what is remarkable is the quality of the music that is greater than the individual parts.
To distill it further, one can savour the authentic 60s pop flavour in songs like “The Legend of Walter Wright” “It’s Not What I Say” and “Rite of Spring” that bring vocal harmonies to the fore coupled with melodic fervour and knowing references to 1st generation powerpop outfits like Badfinger and The Raspberries. However, like Big Star, there are also enough nods to other pop-rock sub-genres to keep things on an even keel. The country-folk touches of “Have You Changed Your Mind”, the chamber pop sensibility of “Mary Anne” and the dreamy Byrdsian pop-scapes of “Outer Space” fill up the gaps nicely and complete the picture somewhat.
It’s refreshing to listen to music that hearkens back faithfully to the 60s/70s without sounding derivative or dated, imbued with enough distinct personality to make it relevant for 2014. Highly recommended.
Singer-songwriter Sam Page does a great job at evoking the alt-rock of the 80s with nods to The Replacements, Dinosaur Jr, Long Ryders and The Dream Syndicate evident in his country-folk-powerpop amalgam. This new single keeps the fires burnin’ for all of us who remember that era fondly.
… and we’re back! Power pop is the original basis for this webzine’s existence so I thought it’d be appropriate to highlight all you needed to know about the foundations of true-blue original POWER POP. Enjoy…
Thanks to the Breaking Bad finale, Badfinger is back in vogue. This British band originally consisted of Pete Ham, Ron Griffiths, Mike Gibbins and Tom Evans and were signed by The Beatles to Apple Records in 1968. Badfinger had four consecutive worldwide hits from 1970 to 1971: “Come and Get It” (written and produced by Paul McCartney), “No Matter What”, “Day After Day”, and “Baby Blue” (the song featured in that Breaking Bad finale).
Here we go – your weekly dose of capsule reviews.
COLORWAY – S/t
Rock n’ roll will never die! This just might be power trio Colorway‘s manifesto on this eponymous debut. Rollicking numbers like “I’m Still Running” and “Live With Me” get the point across very succinctly. But singer-songwriter F Alex Johnson is also able to shake things up somewhat with the the sweet lullaby “Go Back to Sleep”, the acoustic instrumental “For the Birds” and the luscious ballad “A Temporary Occupation”. Highly recommended.
Zallen (aka Mike Jones) has been laboring as an alternative pop artist for 15 years now and I have been awfully privileged to have been one of the few ‘in the know’. Zallen is a pop alchemist – able to take key 60s/70s pop influences and transform them into something personal and unique.
This is obvious from the get-go. The opening track of Zallen’s latest album – “Which Way Up” – manages to splice together the DNAs of 60s psychedelia (Barrett’s Pink Floyd, The Move and Traffic) with 70’s powerpop (Raspberries, Cheap Trick), not to mention a healthy dose of Bowie.
Ah yes, Bowie. This time around, it seems that Zallen has filtered much of the songwriting, arrangements and instrumentation through the lens of the legendary iconoclast. Tracks like “Grime”, “Stolen” and of course, “Bowie The Android Boy” are the clearest examples of this approach, without ever sounding outright derivative.
Indeed, Zallen utilizes Bowie’s penchant for eclecticism to spur him into expansive territory as the clean and uncluttered pop sounds of “Happy Puppy” and “Shy Boy” provide a wonderful contrast to the darker, buzzier compositions that pervade the album.
The CD comes with bonus enhanced portion with video, photos, lyrics and Zallen’s excellent artwork as well.
Truth be told, I am pretty sick and tired of the ubiquitous generic contemporary hipster synth-pop sound already. Man! So yeah, right now, I am aching for sweet rock n’ roll music that features real instruments, real vocals and fucking real songs. Y’know, songs I can sing along to (intelligently) and shake to (without looking stupid).
So Mooner! A self-described powerpop band from Chicago which new EP is like balm to my electronically sated ears. This EP only has four tracks but I’d rather listen four tracks that hit the spot over an LP’s worth of meaningless drivel trying to pass itself off as 2013’s version of hip and cool. Don’t what I mean?
Indeed! It’s comforting and re-assuring to hear a new band take the tired-and-tested influences of Television, Elvis Costello, The Replacements and early Wilco and fashion distinctive material. Certainly, powerpop fans are totally gonna fall in love with the midtempo groove of “Shapeshifter”, the twangy goodness of “White Lines”, the knowing country-soul balladry of “Never Alone” and the new wave raunch of “Overrated”.
The French rock n’ roll band known as Fuzzy Vox behaves as if no new music was made after 1969! This myopic vision provides incredible focus as this five-track EP amply demonstrates. The music here is simple yet powerful, straight-forward and visceral. If push came to shove, probably the most accurate reference point would be the first Stooges album. Sure, one could also point to the influences of the mod greats (The Who) and blues-rock legends (The Rolling Stones) but there’s a basic garage-punk energy that suggests Iggy and his band of freaks held greater sway. In the modern context, The Hives come to mind immediately and every other garage-punk revivalist you would care to mention. The scintillating cover of Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Great Balls of Fire” provides a clarity of purpose, translated well on the meaty title track, the beaty “Same Old Story”, the big “I’ll Be Gone” and the bouncy “Hurricane”. Pure & easy.
Listen to “I’d Be Gone” and the rest of the EP at Soundcloud.
What will be the next rock trend the new kids on the block will cotton on to? Well, in the last five years the post-punk/new wave of the 80s has been fairly squeezed dry by new bands so perhaps now it’s time to move up a decade. If we look at the early 90s, power pop definitely was popular enough for major labels to sign the likes of Weezer, Jellyfish, Teenage Fanclub, Semisonic, Fastball, Superdrag, The Grays, Wanderlust and the like.
Back in the good ol’ days, Power of Pop focused mainly on the Pop Underground – melodic pop-rock inspired by the 60s/70s. Much of the content is no longer available and so this special feature will correct that oversight. Get ready to be educated, hipster kids!
SPLITSVILLE Incorporated (Houston Party, 2003)
Discounting the Beatles-Beach Boys pastiche cum tribute that was The Complete Pet Soul, Incorporated is actually Splitsville’s first album of all-new material in close to five years (since 1998’s Repeater in fact).