Apr 092012

“Another Circle of Fifths” (Off upcoming new album, Are’s and Els)

Okay, I clicked on this link because of the following -

Michael The Blind is Michael Levasseur, a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist living in Portland, Oregon. Think Leonard Cohen, but not so low. Elliott Smith, but not so high. Suzanne Vega, but not so female. John Fahey when acoustic, Paul Westerberg when electric. A lyrical style that is both e.e. cummings and Mother Goose.

Now that’s winning copy! And what about that song title – which only music geeks will get? Priceless. The song itself, nasal high register voice, rockabilly rhythms, sawing violins and twang up to the wazoo. WIN WIN WIN WIN!



 MUSIC  Comments Off
Feb 172012



What I really like about Winfred E Eye and its latest LP – Today Was Another Day – is that the band does not sound like it’s really trying too hard to please anyone. Except maybe themselves. There’s a casual, laidback vibe on this collection of songs that is both charming and daring. In some ways, songs like the ethereal “Void” and “Sentimental Junk” might come across like something off Bon Iver’s sophomore effort but it does not take itself as seriously. Know what I mean?

No? Well simply put although there are elements of ‘indie cred’ in Winfred E. Eye’s songwriting, overall the sound is so rustic and homespun, it seems that the band is taking the piss! It’s all very 70s Laurel Canyon most of the time, equal parts Neil Young and James Taylor in approach especially in songs like “Hard Time Comin’” and “Burnin’ Alone”. In fact, on the latter track, the discerning music lover may also find traces of Giant Sand’s so-called Desert Rock agenda. It is spare and uncomplicated, letting the plain folk melody and emotive words carry the power.

All said and done, Today Was Another Day is Americana at its very best – in whatever era you might be listening from, this arcane country-folk-blues-rock transcends mere ‘genre’ to deliver a potent magical strange brew. For want of a better word, this is magnificent alternative country.

Official Site



Feb 152012

Thinking California (off Whiskey Farmer)

No ‘indie cred’ necessary here as singer-songwriter James Low spins a rustic yarn about a farmer desperate to escape his dead end life. The track is featured on Low’s new album – Whiskey Farmer – which will be released on 21st Feb. It’s straightforward country-folk with twangy melodies that serve the heartfelt sentiments. Check out the video below and also the preview of the upcoming album. Review to come…

‘Thinking California’ from James Low on Vimeo.



 MUSIC  Comments Off
Feb 112012

Our New Favorite

Crooked Fingers – Eric Bachmann’s country-folk vehicle is back with another collection of warm rustic songs. The new album is called Breaks in the Armor and was released in late 2011. The wistful tone found on “Our New Favorite” is emblematic of Crooked Fingers‘ overall tone and style – heartfelt without mawkish sentimentality. There is a certain dissonance about the way the verse moves into chorus without interrupting the flow of the song (the angelic backing vocals smoothens things up nicely) that makes “Our New Favorite” particularly appealing.

According to label Merge Records‘ emailer – the video below was “directed and edited by James Fleischel” and “beautifully illustrates the feelings of impermanence and connectedness suggested by the song by capturing and slowing down the fleeting moments of everyday life.” No argument there! Expect a review soon. In the meantime…

Official Site



 MUSIC  Comments Off
Feb 062012

Morning Sun

Video for the lead single, Morning Son, off Twister, Country Mice’s critically acclaimed 2011 album.

Lead singer Jason Ruerger explains what the video is all about - ”I live on the fourth floor of my apartment building, and you see this whole world of moving parts below you. It makes you feel removed and connected at the same time. The song has this outside looking in perspective on how it feels to lose everything you’ve gained, while not caring of the destruction it does around you. Kind of like floating above a car wreck. The cars, the people, are all part of this surreal movie that plays out around you and how most of the time you have no control in what is temporary or permanent in your life. The video is compiled of footage that was shot on our last tour. It’s us seeing a lot of these cities for the first time, capturing the moments in between shows. Our friend Gordon Holmes edited it together and wove it into a narrative within the context of the song.”

Originally posted on 1 Feb 2012


 MUSIC  Comments Off
Dec 022011


I love alt-country/roots music/Americana (whatever) but you knew that. Here’s another country-folk chanteuse that will go all rustic on your ass. 24 year old Caitlin Rose has released her debut album – Own Side Now – and this live video of Spare Me finds Caitlin in conversational mood and performing with a crack band on the rooftop. And it’s a breezy number which will chase all your blues away. Don’t forget to check out the little story that Caitlin shares right at the end – worth the wait as well!

Caitlin Rose – “Spare Me” – Le Loft Rooftop from DUKE STREET on Vimeo.

Official Site

Sep 172011


By now, regular PoP visitors will know what a band needs to do to be featured here! Psychedelic-country-folk-rock-blues is the ‘genre’ of choice and Parson Red Head fits the bill with two acoustic guitars, harmonica, percussion and gorgeous 4-part harmonies in this ‘live’ video. Burning Up the Sky is a song off new album, Yearling. Sweet! A PoP recommendation!

Official Site


Jul 032011

Star Anna – Alone In This Together

Regular PoP visitors will know that I am an absolute sucker for good old fashioned honest-to-goodness country-folk-soul music. Add a spine-tingling female vox into the equation and the result is obsession! So here’s Star Anna, who at 25 has established musicians raving over her vocal abilities. Listen to this glorious track off her debut album of the same name and understand why…

Alone In This Together (Radio Edit) – Star Anna by grammy mammy

Official Site


 MUSIC  Comments Off
Jun 102011


Here at the Power of Pop, we don’t bother too much about release dates, good music is oblivious to age or time. So here’s a cool track from Good Old War’s eponymous debut album which was released by Sargent House last year. That’s Some Dream is a basic, simple country-folk number with melodies and harmonies which will touch all your rock ‘n’ roll hearts. A band we probably need to spotlight a little more here at the Power of Pop, eh?

Official Site



 MUSIC  Comments Off
Apr 042011

FLEET FOXES Helplessness Blues (SubPop)

The eponymous debut album of Seattle-based Fleet Foxes was such a gorgeous work that it seemed like it could have easily gone on for two albums and nobody would have minded its prolixity. Three years later, Fleet Foxes return with its sophomore effort and the first impression is that it is simply more of the same. And is that necessarily a bad thing?

To these ears, the same qualities that made that first LP, Power of Pop’s album of 2008, are strongly in evidence. Robin Pecknold’s affecting vocal delivery, superb use of atmospherics and dynamics, mountain folk rustic majesty and melodies seemingly drawn from the early 1900s. Definitely, if like me, you adored the first album, there would be little difficulty in giving Helplessness Blues your undivided attention and ultimately, undying affection.

Continue reading »


 MUSIC  Comments Off
Mar 122011

MY COUSIN, THE EMPEROR The Subway EPs (Self-released)

“Instead of recording a full album, we decided to record 2 EPs, but to give them entirely different personalities, volume 1 is more folky, country, singer- songwriter music.  Volume 2 is more rock, upbeat, and energetic.  This band does both of them very well, so I wanted to showcase it’s different personalities across the two EPs.” Jason Reischel

Serious doubts about the concept behind the presentation of one album as two EPs and the mannered self-categorizations BUT no denying that Brooklyn’s My Cousin, The Emperor parlays the perfect mix of country-folk-blues and rock ‘n’ roll music that Gram Parsons envisaged for his Cosmic American Music. I have always maintained that when done right, country-folk-blues can be some of the most soulful music on the planet and thankfully, Reischel and company provide ample evidence of this assertion.

On the 1st volume, Prospect Park West, there are luscious vocal harmonies, lush acoustic guitars and lusty evocations of rustic beauty in songs like Lies End and Burly, Old Coach. A dash of rockabilly informs Southern Nights whilst mournful strings will touch the heart on Annie (The Leevee Song). Volume II, Broadway-Lafayette, ups the tempo ever so slightly – Down N Out is white-knuckled barroom blues, Nothing Left For Us To Find is unapologetically rollicking and Early Morning Show channels The Band and Neil Young with slow burning intensity.

An excellent addition to the country-folk-blues-rock canon. File next to your Wilco, Uncle Tupelo and Jayhawks LPs.

Official Site

[amazon-slideshow height="324" width="430"]dba94a1f-8e63-4681-9646-99398d492ba5[/amazon-slideshow]

Feb 032011

Listen to County Line below,  a moody electric piano piece that recalls the late John Lennon and The Band, off the upcoming album – Wits End – from Cass McCombs, to be released by Domino Records on 11th April 2011. It is rather sumptuous, with McCombs also channeling Richard Manuel’s fragile pipes on this country-folk-ish tune. Worth checking out.

Official Site


 MUSIC  Comments Off
Jan 242011

LLOYD COLE Broken Record (Self-released)

Cole’s country and folk influences are evident in the use of instruments like the pedal steel, banjo and mandolin, as well as the narrative nature of his lyrics. I must confess that’s basically the extent of my knowledge about Cole or any other pop-country-folk-ish music, so if I go ahead and say that this album is worth listening to, it’s completely without reference or comparison or expectation. And this album really is worth listening to.

Continue reading »


 MUSIC  Comments Off
Jan 142011

APEX MANOR The Year of Magical Drinking (Merge)

Don’t ask me why but for some reason, power pop and country-folk somehow seem to sit well together. I often think of Scotland’s finest (viz Teenage Fanclub and BMX Bandits) perfect examples of this oddity. The now defunct Broken West also epitomized this lovely blend of power chord and twang and now that band’s singer/songwriter Ross Flournoy has come up with a new name (Apex Manor) and a new album (The Year of Magical Drinking) to continue in this grand pop tradition.

Continue reading »



Truth be told, I used to read Lamontagne’s name online and I associated him with the modern “commercial” singer-songwriters like Jason Mraz, John Mayer and Jack Johnson, meaning – no need to bother. Well, listening to Lamontagne’s fourth album – God Willin’ & The Creek Don’t Rise, I’m ashamed to admit that I WAS WRONG! Yeah, WRONG, me? Who’d thunk it eh?

Continue reading »


CIRCE LINK California Kid (Black Wings Multimedia)

A quick pop of this disc into the stereo; a quick submerge into the deep roots of country, blues and – of course, roots.

Continue reading »


ROBERT PLANT Band of Joy (Universal)

As some of you rock historians out there will be aware, Band of Joy was the name of the first significant musical outfit that Robert Plant (and the late John Bonham as well) was involved in. Of course, both Plant and Bonham joined up with Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones to form Led Zepellin and the rest is the stuff of rock legend!

Continue reading »


DELTA SPIRIT History from Below (Rounder/Universal)

“If your god forgave all of your sin/then why would you make martyrs out of them/for money or power or glory/do you even care?”

These final lines from the thought-provoking opener – 9/11 – sets the agenda for this truly excellent sophomore effort from San Diego quartet, Delta Spirit. Spiritually-fueled lyrics backed by sweet country-soul music.

Continue reading »


BASEMENT IN MY LOFT See the Rhyme in the Dirt & Grime (Self-released)

Continue reading »


SHERYL CROW 100 Miles From Memphis (Universal)

Continue reading »


BRAAM Living Room (Sauna)

Continue reading »


In between the two nights of SINGfest madness, I spent a chilled out evening at TAB with Rachael Teo, listening to Angie Mattson. In her hour-long set, she played songs that I could properly relate to – based very much on the country-folk-blues that I myself indulge with most of the time. It’s obvious that Angie is the consummate pro, watching her utilizing her iPhone to provide percussive backing on a couple of tracks was inspiring and her guitar playing is note perfect. This lady has played a lot of gigs, for sure!

Continue reading »


CABINESSENCE Naked Friends (Spark & Shine)

Name yourself after a seminal Beach Boys song and you’re just asking for the Brian Wilson-Phil Spector comparisons. But that’s probably the whole point.

Fact of the matter, if you’re expecting dense, textural chamber pop then you’re gonna be disappointed. Guess Cabinessence should have named themselves after a Flying Burrito Brothers’ track if they wanted to be totally accurate. More Gram than Brian, I’m afraid.

So its really country-folk-rock-blues informed with Beatlesque melodicism. Which is fine in my book.

Songs like the rustic Instrumental No. 2, the breezy Thumbs and the haunting The Poet resonate with the soulful power of the best country-folk. So ignore the Brian Wilson/Beach Boys allusions and strap yourself in if you need a fix of that Cosmic Americana.

Ah sure do!

Official Site


DANIKA HOLMES Second Chances (Self-released)

Now here is a straight-forward country-pop singer-songwriter with a no-frills, down-to-earth approach, to appeal to country music fans who are tired of the artifice and pretense of the modern country music scene.

Songs like Half As Strong As You, Lock Me In Tonight, Time For A Change and the title track will put a smile effortlessly on country music fans as Holmes’ smooth vocal demeanor and folksy songwriting style makes for easy listening pleasure.

That all said, the highlight of the album comes with You Make A Bad Day Good, the only time Holmes takes a break from country music, and indulges in good old fashioned classic pop. Jazzy and breezy, the track would make a good lead single if Holmes ever wanted to considered a cross-market foray.

One tiny caveat – whilst Holmes has a pleasing voice and good musical support on this debut album, the songwriting certainly needs to be a little bit more matured and savvy to take Holmes into the next level. An infusion of edge would definitely help as well. That sophomore LP should be interesting.

More information about Danika Holmes may be found at


ANGIE MATTSON Skeleton Arm (Radio Nine)

LA-based singer-songwriter Mattson seems to possess all the superficial elements required to be noticed in the modern pop-rock scene. She’s certainly easy on the eyes (as her previous modeling history attests) and the ears (her sultry larynx brings to mind Margo Timmons, Aimee Mann and Chrissie Hynde) but to her immense credit, Mattson refuses to bank on these assets solely.

Instead of merely investing in pop fluff (the kind that makes the world go round), Mattson (on this mini-album, her sophomore effort), gets rough, ready and rustic with swampy country-folk blues that are at turns arcane and earthy. For me, integrity is the mark of a true artist and listening to Skeleton Arm, you cannot help but struck by Mattson’s attitude and purpose.

So it may take a little more time to truly get into some of these songs but the rewards are worthwhile. If you, like me, consider yourself a rock scholar, then you know what the roots of our beloved music are. So does Mattson obviously, as she builds her back-to-basics Americana on tribal rhythms and the primal allure of the clash of country music and the blues.

Think: the deeper bluesier moments of Bob Dylan, CCR, the Doors and the Stones and you’ll start to get at what Mattson is alluding to. This power is evident in songs like Cool Water and Mary, where Mattson sings about this strange existence we call life with internal rhythms driven by an almost-funeral dirge.

Skeleton Arm may only last for 28-odd minutes but it represents everything that I believe about good ol’ country-folk-blues as the most soulful music on our planet. Personally, I am excited that I get the chance to watch Mattson when she plays at TAB Singapore from 3rd to 8th August. More info about that at

In the meantime, check out Angie Mattson at

© 2012 POWER OF POP: Music, Film, Comics & Book Reviews Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha