Mar 282012


To be honest I didn’t like Sweet Diss and the ComebacksEmerald City Love Song on first listen. Somehow, my state of mind dictated that the band was twee, fey and (probably) listened to too many Broadway musicals (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Well, obviously I was wrong (so what’s new?). Subsequent critical listens have revealed that Sweet Diss and the Comebacks (which is an unfortunate name) is a powerpop band in every sense of that word. Equal parts power and pop!

Power – crunching guitars help of course but it’s really about the dynamism of those song arrangements – hooks that stick in your head and the little sonic details (like percussive patterns) that make you go – “aha that’s cool!” Not to mention the sheer ambition (and balls!) of including a song suite (hence the earlier Broadway musical reference) viz. “Seattle’s Best” which consists of five parts and documents the eclecticism of Sweet Diss and the Comebacks (yeah it’s a mouthful). Sophisticated melodies, careening variations in mood and tone with tongue firmly in cheek. Genius!

Pop – think of The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Badfinger, Sparks, Queen, Todd Rundgren, Cheap Trick, Jellyfish, Weezer, Fountains of Wayne as Emerald City Love Song transport the faithful true blue POP listener (that’s you, kind visitor!) into the kind of pop Shangri-la that almost doesn’t exist anymore. I mean, “Never Stop Wooing You”, “Maybe Someday” and “Hey Indie Girl” are examples of driving, hummable powerpop magic that would teach those so-called ‘punk-pop’ (UGH!) poseurs (you know who the fuck you are!) how it’s all supposed to be done! They remind me of the sadly missed Splitsville (to these ears anyways) and other mighty 90s pop underground legends.

So if you have been reading this review all this while and you are still not convinced on the merits of powerpop and in particular Sweet Diss and the Comebacks then perhaps a pop cleansing of sorts need to be conducted in order to align the planets once more in the direction of true blue pop! Picking up Emerald City Love Song would be the perfect start…

Official Site

Check out “Hey Indie Girl” below.


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Mar 262012


I am going to cut to the chase. If you love sophisticated music-making that draws from the deep well of 60s and 70s classic pop-rock, then you must get yourself a copy of Brad Brook‘s new LP – Harmony of Passing Light. Brooks is a San Francisco singer-songwriter who may well have delivered the finest album of his life. Well certainly, Brooks’ album will sit comfortably alongside his avowed influences viz. Elvis Costello, Wilco, Brian Wilson (Beach Boys) and Queen. What truly shines through is the sheer range of styles and ‘genres’ that Brooks employs – nothing is utilized for effect alone – instead, every stylistic choice enhances the strong songwriting in evidence.

Imagine your favourite 60s and 70s music being distilled into a heady brew that is at once sweet and sharp and you might just have a grasp of what Brooks has achieved here. My personal favourites (and believe me, I am digging every single track) would include the opening authentic R&B-inflected “Calling Everyone”. The sitar embellishment keeps the pop footing steady as Brook’s blue-eyed soul evocation of the likes of Todd Rundgren and Daryl Hall is a distinctive joy to behold. High on my list as well is the baroque “Night Fades” with its Zombies/Left Banke-referencing chamber pop twists and turns. The banjo and string quartet arrangements do turn one’s mind to Brian Wilson’s singular music visions though, it must be said. No mean feat!

Elsewhere, “Exemplary Girl” brings Beatlesque psychedelic rock channeling to its logical conclusion with melodic hooks coming at you left, right and centre, in particular the revolving violins! The obligatory faux-classical piano ballad comes at the end with “Grand Manner” but true to the 70s singer-songwriter tradition, this comes with genuine pathos and an erudite charm that will stir hearts and place lump firmly in throat.

Believe me, folks, the delights come at every milestone on this brilliant album. No exaggeration to say in an age of throwaway pop, Brooks has concocted a mini pop masterpiece that gives true pop music lovers that there may still be hope for us yet. Essential listening.

Official Site


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Jan 092012

Alpha & Omega | Guitar Heaven (Jam)

Singer-songwriter Jeremy (Morris) has been self-releasing his eclectic, versatile & prodigious musical output since the 90s and his voluminous repertoire runs the gamut from powerpop to progressive rock to instrumentals. Jeremy also writes and produces worship music in powerpop form and that’s what Alpha & Omega is premised on with titles like Let It Shine, I Just Want to Praise You and With God All Things Are Possible filtered through mainly jangle-pop and folk-rock.

Guitar Heaven, on the other hand is a all-instrumental album performed almost exclusively by Jeremy on acoustic guitar. Lyrical content is absent but there’s no denying the intent of songs like Glory Road, Kingdom Come and Jesus Loves Me. The fact that Jeremy is able to release two albums (simultaneously) with such diversity in sonic approach is a testament to the man’s talent and vision.

Check out the video of Glory Road below.

Official Site


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Dec 232011

Formed from the ashes of two fairly well-known indie outfits viz Piebald and Arlo, The Hunting Accident parlay powerpop-centric goodness into edgy indie rock constructs. The band has a debut 4-track EP available for FREE download over at its official website. All four tracks are worth listening to/downloading for their sharp tunage and smart licks. A band to keep a close watch on…

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Sep 142011

German power pop band Redondo Beat is currently touring the USA. Check them out!


Sept. 14th – Denton, TX

Sept. 15th – New Orleans

Sept. 19th – Jackson, MS

Sept. 21st – Oxford, MS
Blind Pig

Sept. 24th – Memphis, TN
Gonerfest after party!!!

Sept. 27th – Memphis, TN

Sept. 28th – Nashville, TN

Sept. 30th – West Ashville, NC
The Get Down

Oct. 1st – Athens, OH
The Union

Oct. 5th – Columbus, OH
Café Bourbon St.

Oct. 6th – Milwaukee, WI

Oct. 7th – Detroit, MI

Oct. 8th – Lafayette, IN
Black Sparrow Pub

Official Facebook Page


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Jul 062011


(continuing Power of Pop’s song by song review of the new Fountains of Wayne album)

If there’s a criticism that may be leveled at the new Fountains of Wayne LP, it’s that there’s hardly any straight out rock songs amongst the 13 songs on the album. Acela is probably one of the rockier numbers and even then it’s a pretty mid-tempo track overall, with the guitars barely in overdrive.

Probably one of the few modern rock songs dedicated to a train service viz. The Acela Express (often simply Acela). Acela is Amtrak’s high-speed rail service along the Northeast Corridor (NEC) in the Northeast United States between Washington, D.C., and Boston via Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York. Haha now you know!

You got to hand it to the band for keeping the song content always fresh and intriguing. Not one of the main highlights on Sky Full of Holes but certainly an interesting track in its own right. If nothing else, the song is memorable for the truly melodic bridge and Collingwood’s assured vocal delivery.

Official Site


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Jun 282011

Nature Set – Enough is Enough

Good fun girl pop done in the Brit style. What’s not to like?

Official Site


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Apr 282011


It takes a certain amount of cojones to claim for yourself instantly recognizable acts like The Beatles and Oasis as your influences. After all, the number of bands out there who fall over themselves trying to mimick their idols and end up making bland, generic MOR rock are aplenty (exactly the case with Oasis and the Beatles, actually).

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Mar 312011

THE KRINKLES Dusty Ribbons (Self-released)

The story of the The Krinkles, four-man Chicago powerpop act, is one of those classic “What-might-have-been” tales. 

What if, for example, they hadn’t disbanded in an acrimonious shouting match on stage at the start of last decade?  What if their third album, 3 – The Mordorloff Collection, had ridden the momentum of their sophomore effort, Revenge of The Krinkles, instead of taking nine years to drop? Would their blazing brand of loud power pop music have taken them to the top then?

 It’s always hard to know for sure when you’re reminiscing. In the spirit of looking back at the past though, the band themselves have cleaned out their archives and come up with Dusty Ribbons, a 19-track collection of acoustic versions, demos and unreleased songs, as well as the odd piece of live on-stage banter. 

It’s a hodgepodge motley crue of raw mixes and unpolished recordings. Nevertheless, on tracks like the unreleased opener Still In Love (strongly reminiscent of The Who), the record manages to showcase the visceral power of a rock and roll band in full flight. You’ll also hear shades of Cheap Trick (their spiritual and geographical fathers) when they let rip into one of those big, joyful choruses stuffed full of tight harmonies on the demo tracks of So Many Girls and Dirty Girl, and if you have the patience to sit through the rawness of their rehearsal tapes, you’ll find yourself admiring the tightness of their playing. 

Of course, there are the odd misses here and there, but if you’re a fan of melodic, ballsy guitar-driven powerpop by way of The Cars and Weezer, you’ll find quite enough good material here to keep you entertained.

(Samuel C Wee)
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Mar 192011

San Francisco indie-pop band The Corner Laughers are back with a new single, produced by Allen Clapp of the Orange Peels, as a sneak peek into our upcoming album. Rollicking good girl pop fun. Enjoy…



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Mar 172011

(Answered by Roman Aul)

1. Why play music?

It makes me feel good. I started buying records when I was a little boy and knew quite early what I wanted to do with my life. I tend to feel a little disharmonious whenever I don’t get to play music for a longer time.

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Mar 102011

REDONDO BEAT Meet Redondo Beat (Dionysus)

Bring out those dancing shoes, cause if everything and everyone is going forward in time, let all of us music lovers out there, go back in time to a period with no worries, and dancing is all that matters.

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Mar 012011

Swedish power pop band The Merrymakers was one of the leading lights of the 90s pop underground scene. Well, Merrymakers may be no more but here comes David Myhr to carry off where his former band left off with a spanking new single – Got You Where He Wanted – the first offering from upcoming album, Sunshine. Chock full of hooks and wondrous melodies, this is a classic pop gem in the making. Check it out, folks!

Got you where he wanted (.mp3) by davidmyhr


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Aug 232010

AIRPLANE NOISE Getting Down EP (Back to Work)

The sophomore EP of the New Jersey-based indie and powerpop band Airplane Noise, Getting Down is highly interesting. At the first listen, it sounds rather simple and straightforward like the obvious angst in a teenage boy. However like the emotions of an adolescent, it is a lot more complex with the intricate vocal harmonies and the solid drum beats. I found the track Go Ahead to  be fun and catchy which was highly ironic as it lyrics were of a darker theme.

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Aug 212010

TYPEWRITER Indian Head Massage (Universal)

Seven years in the making, is the wait for the debut Typewriter LP worth it? You bloody well better believe that it is!

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Jul 082010

JUSTIN KLINE Triangle (Self-released)

It does not take too long to suss Justin Kline’s pop inspirations. Over at his Myspace page, his top friends just happen to be Jellyfish, the Beatles, Superdrag and the Beach Boys. So what you see is simply what you get. The four pure pop tracks on this EP are all whimsical, melodic, shiny affairs and if you’re a fan of the Andy Sturmer-Roger Manning Jr type of clean and happy pop song, then this EP is definitely for you.

Tracks like Baby You’re A Mess, Alison or Coffee Song do what they designed to do i.e. hit your sweet pop tooth, if that’s your thing. Me? I can appreciate where Kline is coming from but it’s sounds too comfortable for my liking at times, its almost too much of a perfect fit for the powerpop pigeonhole. I guess wish Kline would stir things up a little, get some edge and generally give me a vague idea what who Justin Kline really is.

Official Site | Facebook | Myspace

Buy Justin Kline at Amazon.


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Jun 222010

THE BRITANNICAS S/t (Kool Kat Musik)

I guess you could say that the Britannicas (Magnus Karlsson – Guitar/Vocals, Herb Eimerman – Bass/Vocals, Joe Algeri – Drums/Vocals) offer a encyclopedic approach to their power pop music making. The eponymous album covers quintessential power pop viz. 60s Merseybeat (Gerry and the Pacemakers, the Beatles), jangle pop (the Searchers, the Byrds) and 70s classic pop-rock (Raspberries, Badfinger).

Recorded in the members’ home studios spread out over three continents – Sweden, USA and Australia – the execution of the pristine power pop ideas suffers a little due to this, in my view. In particular, I feel that a fair amount of the vocals just do not complement the music and lets down the overall melodic content somewhat.

That said, a number of songs do offer sumptuous tunes (Eg. Stars, Ordinary Day and Blue Sky Grey) with welcomed diversions into country and chamber pop, that raises the material above the technical and production difficulties. I would certainly recommend the Britannicas to lovers of power pop the way it was meant to be approached and presented.

Myspace | Kool Kat Musik

May 262010


For a decade now, this Canadian “indie” supergroup has been providing to discerning music lovers, sophisticated pop-rock of the highest order. Together is the band’s fifth album and lives up to its illustrous predecessors. As usual, Colin (ex-Zumpano) Newman is the ring-leader of this exotic circus with the usual suspects onboard viz. Neko Case, Dan (Destroyer) Bejar, Kathryn (Immaculate Machine) Calder, John (Evaporators) Collins, Kurt (Age of Electic) Dahle & Todd (Limblifter) Fancey. In addition, the presence of guests St Vincent, Zach (Beirut) Cordon and Will (Okkevill River) Sheff. And if you’ve not heard of these other fine underground bands, then the New Pornographers is a good introduction to their wild talents.

It’s comforting to know that in a world of pre-fabricated pop fodder, a band like the New Pornographers is allowed to exist and thrive and music this inventive and reverent continues to be made. Imagine the inspiration of the Beatles, the Byrds, the Beach Boys, Badfinger, ELO, Queen, Jellyfish stirred vigorously to produce a sumptuous pop feast and you get a good idea of what a New Pornographers album sound like.

With Newman and Bejar providing the songs and with Case and Calder supplying vocal counterpoints, the music on Together is a joy to listen to, pure and simple. How else can you describe the lush dynamism of Moves, the powerful confection of Your Hands (Together), the chiming drive of Silver Jenny Dollar, the epic balladry of My Shepherd, the rustic charm of Valkyrie in the Roller Disco and sweet atonal lo-fidelity of We End Up Together?

Pop scholars will spend days and weeks dissecting the myriad levels offered by Together but if you just love good music, you will find much to savor as well.

Official Site



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May 232010

SETH SWIRSKY Watercolor Day (Grimble)

Sometimes I truly believe that the reason why Power of Pop exists is so that I can ruminate about albums like Watercolor Day.

I’ve heard folks talk about rock ‘n’ roll as “classical music” to modern rock but really its more like the groundbreaking music of the 60s and 70s – y’know true pop music. You know what I mean. And like classical music, true pop music can only be properly performed by accomplished craftsmen, experts in the form.

Someone like Seth Swirsky.

Swirsky is a published songwriter in his own right, having penned notable songs for Taylor Dayne, Al Green and Rufus Wainwright, amongst others. But not only that, Swirsky has – with his debut solo album, Instant Pleasure and with The Red Button – demonstrated an uncanny affinity to distill the key ingredients of true pop music to serve pop lovers a veritable feast of sophisticated melodic gems.

Now with his second solo album – Watercolor Day – Swirsky continues to build on his brilliant work with music that is firmly grounded in the Beatles, Beach Boys, the Byrds, the Kinks, the Zombies, Left Banke, ELO, Harry Nilsson, Badfinger and their numerous followers.

Immaculately produced (by Swirsky and Cloud Eleven’s Rick Gallego), the 18 tracks on Watercolor Day will transport the willing listener to another time, when melody was king and dense arrangements/productions were the order of the day. Drawing from the inspirations of Phil Spector, Brian Wilson, Todd Rundgren, Lindsay Buckingham and the like, the lush production on Watercolor Day will thrill scholars of the art of true pop.

I’m glad to say that together with Mark Bacino’s Queens English, Watercolor Day is proof positive that true pop is alive, well and kicking ass!

Official Site


May 192010

Here it is – a nostalgic look back at the Crowd/Popland via the final Popland single, Camouflage. You can download the Camouflage EP at Bandcamp. Thanks for the support through all the years!


FREE ENERGY Stuck On Nothing (DFA)

Now once in a while, a band will appear to polarise music purists at the same time. Well, welcome to Free Energy, a Philly-based band that revels in classic pop-rock circa the seventies! Which really means that in today’s modern rock landscape, listeners will either love or hate Free Energy with pretty much nothing in-between.

Detractors will argue that Free Energy retrogarde and irrelevant in terms of modern rock. That said, avid supporters will point out the lucid fact that not only are Free Energy signed to hip label DFA but Stuck On Nothing was even produced by cool dude James (LCD Soundsytem) Murphy and thus, hip and cool cred is assured.

Personally, I am tired with all the labelling and pigeon-holing that gets worse with each year – the only thing I care about are the songs – do they speak to me, touch my heart and soul? Well, on that count, tracks like Dream City, Bang Pop and Free Energy certainly recall the heady days of Thin Lizzy, Cheap Trick, T Rex and Tom Petty but are imbued with sufficient freshness and energy (sorry) that screams – THIS IS POWERPOP FOR 2010!!!! Meaning – yes I dig Free Energy and you should too!

Check the clip below of Dream City live.



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Apr 272010

MARK BACINO Queens English (DreamCrush Music)

When I first started the Power of Pop – back in 1998 – I focused pretty much on the US Pop Underground which was vibrant at the time. One of its chief proponents was New Yorker Mark Bacino and his wonderfully sweet powerpop album Popjob, an album which was prominent on my playlist back then.

Five years later, Bacino released Million Dollar Milkshake, which moved me to describe it as “a 12-track journey into the heart of soft pop bliss where the aim is to please, sooth and caress (all in a family-oriented way, of course!) the jaded rock and pop enthusiast”.

Well, it may have been seven long years but on 18th May, that third Bacino album – Queens English – will finally be released and I am glad to report that it’s definitely worth the wait!

It’s been a while since a “traditional” powerpop album has excited me in this way. With Queens English, Bacino has developed his craft even further with the inclusion of baroque instrumentation (strings and horns) to imbue his soft pop leanings with chamber pop elements.

Much of Bacino’s lyrical concepts deal with his family life especially in songs like the jaunty Muffin in the Oven and the cheeky piano ballad  Camp Elmo. In fact, there is an altogether welcome absence of angst throughout Queens English, which is indeed refreshing. Songs like the funny rockin’ title track (Queens, NYC not Queen of England, heh!), the music hall-channeling Happy, the lushly orchestrated Bridge and Tunnel and the folk-poppy Ballad of M and LJ, complete this picture of contentment.

Musically, Bacino never strays too far from his strengths, keeping faith with his fabulous melodies and the inspirations of the Kinks, Elvis Costello, Brian Wilson, Burt Bacharach and Jellyfish. Which is fine in my book. If there is only one powerpop album you pick up in 2010, it would have to be Queens English.

Official Site


Apr 042010

TAYLOR LOCKE AND THE ROUGHS Grain and Grape (Self-released)

Press release information about Taylor Locke and the Roughs -

Front-man Taylor Locke is the lead guitarist in the powerpop band Rooney, bassist Charlotte Froom (daughter of celebrated producer Mitchell Froom) was formerly in the band The Like, drummer Mike McCormack is in the popular Los Angeles indie band Everyone Else and guitarist/keyboardist Chris Price has a band called Price who has recorded their debut album for Geffen Records which has not yet been released.

Perhaps then that it’s no surprise that this debut album – Grain and Grape – is decidedly “old school” in that it evokes 70s classic sensibilities filtered through a 90s alt-rock agenda. So you might discern the influences of the Raspberries, Big Star, Cheap Trick, Tom Petty, Jellyfish and Wanderlust in fine tracks like Hourglass, Reach for the Sky, What Have I Done and Joy.

An accomplished debut.



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Mar 252010

SWEET APPLE Love & Desperation (Tee Pee)

Distilling all that is strange and wonderful about rock music into sublime three chord nuggets that sound fresh yet familiar is the achievement of indie rock uber-group Sweet Apple.

Consisting of Dinosaur Jr’s J Mascis (drums, guitars & vocals), Cobra Vedre’s John Petrovic (vocals & guitar) and Tim Parnin (guitars & vocals) and Witch’s Dave Sweetapple (bass & vocals), Sweet Apple cover as wide a range of rock approaches as possible with nods to slacker rock (I’ve Got A Feeling), Southern rock (It’s Over Now), psychedelic blues (Hold Me, I’m Dying), stoner rock (Blindfold), fragile melancholy rock (Dead Moon), blues rock (Crawling Over Bodies) and cock rock (Never Came).

By now, I think you get the picture – Love & Desperation is every true rockers’ wet dream. Let it be yours.

Official Site



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


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