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Got Any Singles? Quick Spins

Got Any Singles? The Vapors / The Chicks / It’s Karma It’s Cool

The Vapors

Together

http://www.thevapors.co.uk

This sorry old world could use a few good, up-tempo pop songs to make us feel better, and, boy, does this new one from The Vapors fill the bill. The band is sounding fit as ever on this fine bit of power pop; a little fuzzy around the edges, poppin’ drum beat and boyish vocals. From the stellar new album of the same name.

The Chicks

Gaslighter

http://www.dixiechicks.com

With background vocals stacked high enough to make Mutt Lange blush, The Dixie Chicks, now shortened to The Chicks, unleash one of the finest singles of their career. Natalie Maines is in fine voice and is pulling exactly zero punches. Set fists on “pump.”

It’s Karma It’s Cool

Our Love Is An Amplifier

https://itskarmaitscool.bandcamp.com/album/woke-up-in-hollywood

Another one getting a lot of spins here at Pop-A-Looza HQ is the lead-off track from It’s Karma It’s Cool’s latest long-player, Woke Up In Hollywood. We love pop songs that are a bit left-of-center, and Our Love Is An Amplifier sits somewhere between Mitch Easter and Robyn Hitchcock. Nifty.

By Staff

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Got Any Singles? Quick Spins

Got Any Singles? honeychain / Coke Belda / The Pretenders

honeychain – Pocket Full of Good Luck 

Golden Robot Records

https://music.apple.com/us/album/pocket-full-of-good-luck-single

Punky L.A. trio honeychain returns, with a riff-tastic track called Pocket Full Of Good Luck. Hillary Burton, late of The Pandoras, does her best Jim Ellison and it’s all kinds of fun. Summer starts NOW! 

Coke Belda – Thank You, Paul

Kool Kat Records

http://shop.koolkatmusik.com

Coke Belda puts out consistently-good records, and if we could press 45’s at our pleasure, this would definitely be an “A” side. Coke pays homage to his favorite Beatle for providing so much joy to the world, and we couldn’t enthusiastically support that position any more. Awesome track!

The Pretenders – The Buzz

BMG Associated

https://www.amazon.com/Hate-Sale-Pretenders

On this new one from Hate For Sale, Chrissie Hynde channels her younger self, in a song that neatly bookends with Kid, from The Pretenders’ first Lp. If you have any connection whatsoever with her and the band, this one will put you in your happy place. More, please.

By Staff

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The Pretenders / Hate For Sale

Pretenders

Hate For Sale (BMG)

http://www.thepretenders.com

The full version of Hate For Sale isn’t being released until July 15th, but we’ve got a handful of tracks to tide us over until then. The Buzz neatly recalls Kid, from The Pretenders’ debut, highlighting Chrissie Hynde’s ability to sound as if no time has passed at all since 1980.

Turf Accountant Daddy and Didn’t Want To Be This Lonely are tight rockers, sounding rough and ready for roadhouse stages everywhere. Good, gritty stuff, again, recalling the first incarnation of the group. Guitarist James Walbourne and bassist Nick Wilkinson, who’ve both been with Hynde for several years now, augment her and original Pretenders’ drummer Martin Chambers nicely.

Categories
Got Any Singles? Quick Spins

Got Any Singles? Ed Ryan / Sara Evans / Jerry Woods

Ed Ryan / Even Time

https://edryan.bandcamp.com/album/even-time

We got Even Time about a week ago, in advance of Ed Ryan’s new long-player of the same name. A swell piece of pop landing somewhere between George Harrison’s Photograph (Yes, I know he wrote it for Ringo) and Paul Carrack’s Don’t Shed A Tear. Play this one in the car with the windows rolled down!

Sara Evans / Don’t Get Me Wrong

http://www.srarevans.com

From her new release featuring covers of her favorite songs, Copy That. It starts out a bit clunky, compared to the original version, then rights itself to become enjoyable. No serious complaints here, it’s hard not to love a Chrissie Hynde tune, and this one sounds cool.

Jerry Woods / Inconsequential People

https://coopcommunique.bandcamp.com/track/jerry-woods-inconsequential-people

This track finds Jerry Woods in power pop mode, which is a really fine place for him to be. Driving guitar chords evoke a similar vibe to Tom Petty’s Change Of Heart, making this rocker a prime candidate for your summer mixtape (or reasonable facsimile). 

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Greg Lato / Create My Own World

Greg Lato

Create My Own World (GLM)

http://www.greglato.com

Although this is technically music for kids, my criteria when listening is the same as any other genre. The main point being, how does this make me feel? Within thirty seconds of the lead-off track, I Like Sprinkles, I realized that I had a big smile on my face. Turns out my face often knows how I feel before my brain even has time to process it.

Greg Lato must be around the same age as me, as his musical touchstones are obviously the pop records of the 1970’s and ’80’s. Nothing wrong with that! Lato has a pleasant voice and a general friendliness that kids will like. While he covers a wide variety of topics, everything from lost socks to exploring, I especially enjoyed Hi, Gene, which begins as an ode to an imaginary friend, and sneaks its way into being a list of tips on cleanliness. 

Create My Own World is light and fun. Extra points for eye-catching sleeve artwork!

Dan Pavelich

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The Kinks / Word Of Mouth

The Kinks

Word Of Mouth (Sony)

http://www.thekinks.com

The music of my teenage years will stay with me unlike any of the other music I’ve enjoyed in my life. It is forever entwined with first love and loss, disappointment and doubt, Spring break and Fall football games, dances attended and dances sat out. These songs are as indelible as my most personal memories, and as inescapable as each mornings’ new gray hair. This music is quite literally in my heart.

Word Of Mouth was released in 1984, and fell on my ears as junior year in high school was turning into senior year. My band played Do It Again in the school talent show, and I remember just loving the hell outta that song, from the first time I heard it. I worked overtime trying to get Dave Davies’s guitar parts down, and our little group sounded pretty damn good. Our singer forgot the lyrics, but I didn’t even notice. I was too busy pretending I was a guitar hero like Dave, bashing out those power chords.

I was happy to find that my friend Robert was into Word Of Mouth, and I’m sure that one of us had a cassette of it that was always getting shoved into the tape player in his Pontiac. We did a lot of driving, sometimes with our friend Cheryl. Just like in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, we’d cut class, stop at 7-Eleven to pick up a bag of cheese popcorn, jerky and soda. And we’d head for Chicago, which was about 45 minutes south of us. The sun was always shining.

Living On A Thin Line was released as a single, cementing my love of this record. There are some songwriters, Ray Davies & brother Dave being two, that have the ability to write a song that pulls multiple emotions out of you, and, boy, Living On A Thin Line does that to me. It’s love, regret, hope and sorrow, all tangled up in a seemingly-simple pop song.

Sold Me Out and Guilty are both top-notch rockers, and sound unbelievable cranked in the car, on a warm, Spring day. I love every song here, but these two really lift my mood. Every time.

Closing out the record are two songs that are perfectly suited to close it out. Knowing that Robert, Cheryl & I really only had one more summer together (before the reality of adulthood seriously began), I felt like Summer’s Gone was being sung directly to the three of us. Regardless of what the meaning behind Ray’s lyrics might have been, I took the feeling of this one personally.

The very last song is Going Solo, which is what every member of our trio would soon be doing. Although it’s an upbeat song, it’s theme of separating from the people you love always chokes me up.

By Dan Pavelich

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The Vapors / Together

The Vapors

Together (The Vapors Own Records)

http://www.thevapors.co.uk

After hitting new-wave pay dirt in 1980 with a massive hit single, Turning Japanese, The Vapors found further success harder to replicate. After two Lp’s and a handful of singles, the band broke up, seemingly destined for the “Where Are They Now?” File and one-hit wonder tours.

Flash forward to 2020, and we’ve got a new record by the band, original line-up in tow, minus drummer Howard Smith. Time hasn’t seemed to have affected these working-class lads at all, even as they inch their way towards being pensioners.

Together is a strong set of songs, but don’t expect the razor’s-edge 80’s pop sound of Turning Japanese. The band has always reminded me of The Jam, minus Paul Weller’s ferociousness, but here they edge more towards the power pop genre. Did I mention that the songs are top-notch? Indeed, they are.

Together is a peppy tune that reminisces with rose-colored glasses, and Crazy rocks and rolls with a punky Chuck Berry riff & killer chorus. My fave, though, is the haunting Girl From The Factory, a tale of a bloke who goes on a date, only to find the next day, that the object of his affections has taken her own life the previous night. 

Together is a mighty fine return for The Vapors, I hope we can look forward to more. I only hope we don’t have to wait another 40 years.

D.P.

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Nick Piunti & The Complicated Men / Downtime

Nick Piunti & The Complicated Men

Downtime (Jem)

http://www.nickpiunti.com

From Downtime’s promo material; “Sometimes you hear new songs that sound like old songs. Somehow, you’ve heard these songs before – in a good way. They’ve been part of your rock lexicon for eons and you just don’t know how they got there, which radio station you first heard them on, or what year they first emitted from.”

I couldn’t agree more. From the opening chords of “Upper Hand,” I was immediately transported back to my high school years, when I was hearing and discovering hits by Bryan Adams, like “This Time” and “Cuts Like A Knife.” I was bombarded by images of strolling through Lakehurst Mall with my pals, hearing those tunes, and making my way to the music store to find out more about Adams. Picking up his Lp, way back when, I saw that he played a Rickenbacker, like my heroes, The Beatles, did. That Lp went home with me and made me a B.A. fan for life.

I hope I’m not offending Piunti and his mates with the comparison, because in my humble opinion, Adams has always been one of rock’s best songwriters, in fact, for decades now.

Downtime’s overall sound is one of warmth and simplicity of production, which serves the songs well. In a perfect world, “Every High”, “All Over Again,” hell, pretty much every song on this disc, would be riding the Billboard Charts. My fave of the set, however, is the quirky “Never Belonged To Me,” which has played repeatedly in my head since first listen.

The Complicated Men; Jeff Hupp (bass), Ron Vensko (drums), and Kevin Darnall (keys), aren’t in actuality, very complicated at all. They play exactly what each song needs, without getting in the way of Piunti’s gravelly lead vocals. Power pop fans and rock fans alike, are going to devour this like an aged,  medium-rare porterhouse. I expect it will be on many year-end best lists, as it will be on mine.

Dan Pavelich

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The Bookends / She’s Got It

The Bookends

She’s Got It (Jem)

https://www.facebook.com/thebookends2

Cousins Sharon Lee and Karen Lynn comprise The Bookends, an Austen Powers-inspired duo that wouldn’t sound out of place on the pop charts, circa 1966. We’ve only got the one song to go on here, “She’s Got It,” but it’s a slinky bit of Carnaby Street pop that is an ear worm if ever there was one. Looking forward to a full-length release from these ladies.

D.P.

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Dw Dunphy / Test Test Test

Dw Dunphy

Test Test Test 

dwdunphy.bandcamp.com

While I’m not a huge collector of music, I have accumulated what amounts to several small collections. One one shelf, sits the vinyl records that I’ve managed to hang on to since I was a kid. On another shelf sits second-hand records that I picked up for a buck or two. Most of these are records that I wanted when I was much younger, but didn’t have the cash to make the purchase. These records have dog-eared jackets, scratches and imperfections aplenty. I referent to these as “rescues.”

My favorite of these micro collections, however, is the shelf that is home to music projects that I have a personal connection to. There is an original pressing of ShoesPresent Tense the recent Hey! It’s The Pandoras, and Dw Dunphy’s latest, a cassette rerelease on his 2015 album, Test, Test, Test. These folks that I call friends are a talented bunch, and their creations not only entertain me, they inspire me.

So, in all honesty, I have to be upfront and begin with a caveat that isn’t really a caveat. Dw Dunphy is a friend of mine, and someone who I definitely consider to be in an exclusive club that I refer to as “The Good Guys Of Pop.” Dw is the kind of guy who spends more of his time and energy promoting the music of others, rather than his own. He is the creator of the Co-op Communique compilations, my Lost Hits Of The 80’s co-conspirator, a brilliant graphic artist, and an underdog-backer of the highest order.

Now, for the music

Dunphy’s Test, Test, Test is an instrumental work, which often reminds me of the most atmospheric works of Pink Floyd, but more visual in nature. Even though I often listen to it while I’m doing other things, pictures and movies always begin to form in my head. It’s almost as if the music is trying to get me to see, or to understand, something that I’m too busy to notice. I’m really intrigued by that.

The opener, That Never Works, is a buoyant shoe-gazer, and what amounts to a musical oxymoron. It flits between Pachelbel and U2, and back again. Nifty. Track two, Shootout At The Spaghetti Factory (or, Do Breadsticks Come With That, Hombre?) wins “The Best Song Title Ever” Award.

Tsuburaya, with its hypnotic drum groove and droning keys, feels as if it’s straight out of a monster movie score, while Polymorph, which might also be Tsuburaya II, creeps along with various ’80’s inflections. Dunphy plays chorused Andy Summers guitar arpeggios throughout, giving this bookend with an optimistic feeling.

Two Empty Rooms is a nine-minute string opus, worthy of any Hollywood soundtrack. What seemingly begins as atmosphere, turns into an English symphony at the six-minute mark, bringing to mind sweeping Jane Austen countryside vistas.

This cassette version of Test Test Test adds one bonus track, Built On The Bones, from the 2013 release, The Radial Night. It almost serves as an acoustic-guitar laden intermission, before side two begins with the brief Hacienda, a folky piece accentuated with Dunphy’s superb harmony vocals, stacked-up high.

I can’t put my finger on the exact reason, but Mr. Burning Suit reminds me of a couple of Tears For Fears singles, Elemental and Raoul and the Kings of Spain. Merging progressive and pop elements, it’s probably my favorite track of the lot. 

Blue Wire Green Wire removes the listen to the Far East, or is it Ireland? With its soft keys and barely-there percussion, it really is ripe for dreamy interpretation. I suspect every minds’ eye will produce something completely unique.

Closing the cassette is The Radial Night, which serves as the perfect musical bed for contemplating the entire journey the listener has just been on.

By Dan Pavelich

https://dwdunphy.bandcamp.com/album/test-test-test