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Pop Sunday

The Brothers Steve / Dose

The Brothers Steve

Dose (Big Stir)

https://bigstirrecords.bandcamp.com/album/dose

Having floored folks from Kalamazoo to Kyoto with their delightful debut effort #1 – which was released in 2019 and reissued by the Big Stir label a year later – The Brothers Steve are back in action with their greatly-anticipated second album. Titled Dose, the ten track collection not only meets such standards head on, but proves to be even more exhilarating and electrifying than #1, if you can imagine that.

Composed of lead singers and guitarists, Os Tyler and Jeff Whalen, guitarist Dylan Champion, bassist Jeff Solomon and drummer SW Lauden, the Los Angeles band brazenly flaunts their influences without sacrificing their own creative impulses. These guys are bright, fun and wildly passionate about the music they write and play.

The curtain rises with Get On Up, which is torched by delicate piano notes and a splash of acapella before evolving into a party hearty power pop rocker. Pearled with droplets of psychedelia, Next Aquarius glimmers with just the right amount of mystique and moodiness, while the lolling swing of Mrs. Rosenbaum, is set to a semi-dance hall arrangement, that summons apparitions of both The Kinks and The Monkees

Buzzing with chattering guitars, ripping rhythms and snagging hooks, the Redd Kross-styled Griffith Observatory, further catches The Brothers Steve in amazing synergized vocal form. The thoroughly infectious Sugarfoot, rests upon a teetering toe-tapping shuffle tucked in the vein of T. Rex, compounded by Archies-inspired bubblegummy seasonings, involving juicy fruit melodies, handclaps and a bouncy sing-along chorus. 

Bracing licks, killer drumming, racing piano trills and a dreamy break rule the show on the fast-paced Wizard Of Love, which possesses a noticeable resemblance to Freddy Cannon’s Palisades Park, and then there’s the  gorgeously textured Love Of Kings, modeled on the close harmonies of the early Beatles.

Dose bids farewell with the fist-pumping, foot-stomping Better Get Ready To Go, but you won’t want to go anywhere, because you’re bound to hit the repeat button and listen to these rock ’em, sock ’em, knock ’em dead tunes all over again!

 

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Pop Sunday

The Lunar Laugh / Nighthawks!

The Lunar Laugh

Nighthawks! (Big Stir Records 2021)

https://thelunarlaugh.bandcamp.com/album/nighthawks


Formed several years ago, The Lunar Laugh quickly made a name for themselves amongst the alternative music circuit. Specializing in a deft juggling of power pop and country rock, the Oklahoma City band has cut three excellent studio albums to date; Apollo, Mama’s Boy and Goodnight Noises Everywhere” The Lunar Laugh’s latest project, Nighthawks!, concentrates on previously-unreleased live recordings of material culled from these albums. 

Taped in different settings, the album manages to possess a consistent flow, giving the impression these songs were recorded from one concert. Confident showmanship, combined with the Lunar Laugh’s joy for sharing their music, is positively infectious. Add a clear and big sound to the mix, and you will feel as if you are experiencing the gigs first-hand. 

The Lunar Laugh certainly picked the cream of the crop to be presented on Nighthawks!, with songs such as Tell Me A Story, Apollo, Winsome, Mama’s Boy, By The Light Of The Living Room, Work In Progress, Old New Kid In Town, Living A Lie and Waiting For A Sign, posting as just some of the gems encountered. Aside from featuring a becoming exterior, the interior of these tunes is also appealing, as the lyrics are thoughtful and observant.

 Blinking brightly with swirls of scrumptious harmonies, rows of well-rounded melodies and instrumentation as tight as steel, Nighthawks! examines The Lunar Laugh in their element and digging every minute of it. Whether the band is strumming a bouncy twang or rocking out to a driving beat, the energy and enthusiasm remains focused and direct. 

An early seventies West Coast accent anchors most of the tracks on Nighthawks!, with particular nods going to artists like Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, Poco and America. Imagine these bands bearing a power pop edge, and that generally describes what The Lunar Laugh offers. 

A couple of covers further appear on the album, being Death Cab For Cutie’s ghostly hymn-styled Soul Meets Body and Neil Diamond’s Solitary Man, which The Lunar Laugh crowns with a rumbling jam. As an extra treat, two new studio songs  – I Wanna Know and It’s Okay  – are included on Nighthawks! Both of these numbers zero right in on the band’s trademark tone of glowing vocals, delectable hooks and tasty licks, leaving listeners hungry for their next album. But until then, here’s a superb souvenir of The Lunar Laugh, captured live and in action!  

By Beverly Paterson

Categories
Pop Sunday

Bill Lloyd /Working The Long Game

Bill Lloyd

Working The Long Game (SpyderPop Records/Big Stir Records 2021) 

https://bigstirrecords.bandcamp.com/album/working-the-long-game

As one half of Foster & Lloyd, Bill Lloyd experienced a run of success on the country charts in the late eighties. Based in Nashville, Tennessee,  the acclaimed singer, songwriter and mercurial instrumentalist has further enjoyed a gratifying solo career as a pop rock artist.

Originally distributed by the SpyderPop label in the fall of 2018, Working The Long Game marked Bill’s ninth solo excursion. Earlier this year, SpyderPop joined forces with Big Stir Records, resulting in a partnership focusing on reissuing select albums, with Working The Long Game rolling in as the third release in the series.

 If there is any album worthy of a reprise, it is definitely Working The Long Game. Musically and lyrically, every song radiates spirit and substance. Bill’s lucid and lilting vocals, paired with in-the-pocket performances, equals dose after dose of melodious brilliance.

 A number of notable friends were also recruited to lend their craft to the sessions. Among these familiar figures are Cheap Trick bassist Tom Petersson, Freedy Johnston, Scott Sax of Wanderlust, Buddy Mondlock, Aaron Lee Tasjan, and Graham Gouldman, whose credits involve authoring hit singles for The Hollies and The Yardbirds, as well as playing in his own renowned bands, such as The Mindbenders, Hot Legs and 10cc

Guitars that simultaneously chime and crunch man the punchy Satellite, and the title track of the album shuffles to a merry vaudeville- inspired beat, which sounds kind of like a collaboration between The Kinks and Paul McCartney. A pinch of swagger and crackling power chords  stand as the engaging elements behind Yesterday, where the jagged riffage and rustling rhythms of Interrupted produces a bit of a funky tenor.

 Sealed to the seams with bracing hooks and a perky chorus, the slightly-country seasoned Make That Face, and the haunting glare of What Time Won’t Heal are additionally accented by sharp and spacious arrangements. Another attention-grabber on the album is the incredibly catchy Go-To-Girl, which romps to a youthfully exuberant bounce that crosses the sunny harmonies of The Beach Boys with the bright polish of The Smithereens

If you missed Working The Long Game the first time around, now is your chance to score a copy and sink your ears into a groovy guitar pop extravaganza. Nothing but the best is expected from Bill Lloyd, and here’s an album that delivers the goods on all counts.

By Beverly Paterson

Categories
Got Any Singles? Quick Spins

Got Any Singles? Tambourina, The Poppermost, Lindsay Munroe and Sorrows

Tambourina

Acknowledge You 

https://tambourina.bandcamp.com/

From Kalamazoo, Michigan, comes Tambourina, with Acknowledge You. From their Tambourine Dream Lp, it’s a really sublime piece of shoe gaze that will literally swallow you whole with repeated plays. Vocalist April Zimont turns everything she sings into an ear worm, in the best possible way.

The Poppermost

Yes It’s True

https://thepoppermost.bandcamp.com/

I’m new to The Poppermost, a Merseybeat combo that nails the sound of that era’s best. Not merely a knock-off of The Beatles, as some other similar acts are, but a group that honestly manages to capture the pure excitement of their inspirations. 

Lindsay Munroe featuring Raffi

You Are My Sunshine

https://found.ee/lm-frogsandbirds

If you’ve got kids, or are just partial to music with heart, have a listen to Lindsay Munroe’s latest single, You Are My Sunshine. We’ve been ardent fans of her for quite awhile now, and love everything she does. This take on Sunshine exudes warmth and charm, and Munroe’s voice is in pitch-perfect harmony with the great Raffi. If you need a bit of sunshine in your life, this is a swell place to start.

Sorrows

Christabelle

https://bigstirrecords.bandcamp.com/album/love-too-late-the-real-album

Christabelle is a power pop lover’s dream-come-true, blending the aggressive guitars of skinny-tie pop with the nifty 1960’s-styled harmonies of bands like The Cyrkle and The Association. This is one of those tracks that, in another time and place, would lead you straight to the nearest record store to plunk down your lawn-mowing money on the 45. Top-shelf!

By Staff

Categories
Pop Sunday

Sorrows / Love Too Late…The Real Album

Sorrows

Love Too Late…The Real Album (Big Stir Records 2021) 

https://bigstirrecords.bandcamp.com/album/love-too-late-the-real-album

During the late seventies and early eighties, Sorrows held ground as one of the hottest bands on the hustling and bustling New York music scene. The group’s debut album – Teenage Heartbreak – chalked up gushing reviews, prompting a highly anticipated sequel. But forces beyond the band’s control drastically altered the intended sound and vision of Love Too Late, resulting in artistic and commercial disappointment. 

Here it is, forty years on, and the album in its initial form is finally seeing the light of day. Re-labeled Love Too Late…The Real Album,  the collection is available on both vinyl and compact disc. 
Had the album been released as originally recorded, there is no argument it would now be branded a classic of it punky power popping stripe. Each of the eleven cuts are tunefully-crafted and portray Sorrows as a young and hungry band firing on all circuits.

 The group’s kinetic energy is positively contagious, especially on numbers such as Play This Song (On The Radio), Street Punk Blues, What I Used To Know and Love Too Late, which are further emboldened by jabbing hooks and gripping choruses. And then there’s Christabelle, a tasty Merseybeat-inspired pop jewel strapped tight with crackling guitars, clicking breaks and vibrant melodies.

 A catchy reggae arrangement anchors Crying Time, The Kinks are given a shout-out on a tough and edgy cover of Tired Of Waiting For You and Breaking My Heart (Over You) is a big ballad slick with Badfinger aspirations.

 Zinging with excitement, Love Too Late…The Real Album plugs in as a quintessential piece of new wave-era pop rock. Sorrows sure had a good thing going, and although we can’t rewrite history, how wonderful it is the album that was supposed to be survived and is now accessible to hear and enjoy.

Categories
Pop Sunday

Lannie Flowers / Home

Lannie Flowers

Home (Spyderpop Records/Big Stir Records 2021)

https://lannieflowers.bandcamp.com/album/home

 Originally released during the latter days of  2019, Home by Lannie Flowers has recently been given the reissue treatment by the newly-formed partnership of Spyderpop Records and Big Stir Records. Resurrecting the album was a great idea, because here’s a set of tunes pleading to be heard by as many people as possible.

 For those of you not hip to Lannie Flowers, the Texas-based singer, songwriter, guitarist and keyboardist staged his first serious musical move in 1976 with The Pengwins. The band remained together until the early nineties and are now regarded as cult heroes among the indie crowd. Lannie also led The Lannie Flowers Band and has an artistically rewarding solo career, with Home logging in as his third effort.

Sophisticated storytelling, compounded by row after row of intrepid melodies and ambitious arrangements pad every single song on the album. Delivered in Lannie’s rich and sturdy pipes, which are glazed with a roots rock accent, the material on Home crackles with raw emotions. Whether he is self-analyzing or sharing tales about characters who are lost and searching, Lannie makes his words and music come alive.

Triggered by pretty piano playing and yearning vocals, Missing You Tonight eventually thickens into an exhilarating exhibition of electrified instrumentation, topped with a blush of beautiful bluesy George Harrison styled guitar work, while the commanding Shine A Light proposes a similar epic quality. Devised of snappy hooks, a bounce per ounce and an adventurous break, Just Go To Sleep addresses insomnia, and It’s All Over growls and grinds to a fierce hard rocking pitch.

 Polished and catchy, Anyway shifts gears towards the end of the song and slings a shot of jazzy big band sounds into the mix, where Free To Dream is a John Mellencamp inspired slice of heartland rock centered on a girl who grew up too fast and is struggling to deal with the consequences. Shades of The Kinks and Mott The Hoople are cast upon the title track of the album, which sparkles with jumpy piano notes, a gripping rhythm and harmonious tones.

Balanced by power and sensitivity, Home observes Lannie riding high on both a musical and lyrical level. He nails it at all angles, resulting in an outstanding album that transcends time and space.  

Categories
Pop Sunday

Big Stir Singles / The Tenth Wave

Various Artists

Big Stir Singles: The Tenth Wave (Big Stir Records 2021)

https://bigstirrecords.bandcamp.com/album/big-stir-singles-the-tenth-wave


Chaos and confusion often produces great art – and the disastrous year of 2020 certainly motivated many musicians to flock to the studio and transmit their thoughts onto tape. That said, the main thrust of material on Big Stir Singles: The Tenth Wave, which involves singles released between October and December 2020, addresses and comments on the pandemic pandemonium. But this is no dreary affair, as the disc buzzes with energy, moments of humor and wit, and visions of a better day.

Connoisseurs of quirky British pop stationed in the seat of XTC and Robyn Hitchcock are sure to glean much pleasure from Whelligan’s Anyone Who Never Had A Heart and the psychedelic-tinted Rabid Hole. Then there’s NPFO Stratagem checking in with a cocktail lounge version of Jello Biafra’s Nazi Punks Fuck Off, along with an enthused take of Ringo Starr’s Back Off Boogaloo.

Popdudes also join the cover game via The Guess Who’s powerful Share The Land and the gorgeously silky soul of O-o-h Child that was a hit in 1969 for The Five Stairsteps

October Surprise signs on with the hypnotic sing-songy rhythms of (Just Can’t See) The Attraction and a sophisticated rendition of John Cale’s Paris 1919, where D.F.E’s I Say We Take Off And Nuke The Site From Orbit contains a mesmerizing mishmash of grunge rock, experimental pop and weird psychedelic effects. Both bands are actually pseudonyms for The Armoires, the revered Burbank, California based group featuring Big Stir label owners Rex Broome and Christina Bulbenko. The band birthed a string of fantastic singles under different names that have recently been issued as a complete album, cleverly titled Incognito as The Armoires

Navigated by a nasty sneer, the hard-edged bite of Funhouse by The Incurables blends punk elements with heavy metal guitar flash in a highly appealing manner, The Speed Of Sound’s choppy and economical Radio State spawns a solid Lou Reed influence, and mylittlebrother’s Song About Amsterdam clicks and clacks to a vaudeviile vibe before turning into something resembling a Hungarian waltz. 

The Ice Cream Hands deliver a real showstopper with Can You Feel My Love, which gushes and glows with divine harmonies, exuberant melodies and polished arrangements. Generated by chiming Byrds– inspired guitars and intoxicating hooks and breaks, Octagon from the dynamic duo of Anton Barbeau and Allyson Seconds plugs in as another utterly flawless piece of pop rock magic, as well as Nick Frater’s California Waits,  that streams forth to a swinging and spunky temper attired in dapper instrumentation and rich and radiant vocals.

For the past two years, our good friends from the Big Stir headquarters have been knocking out singles on a weekly basis, resulting in a series of universally acclaimed albums. Big Stir Singles: The Tenth Wave marks the final episode of this particular odyssey. But have no fear, because these creative folks are on a roll and will eternally unleash the kind of cool and crafty fare we have come to expect from them. 

Categories
Pop Sunday

Big Stir Singles: The Ninth Wave

Various Artists

Big Stir Singles: The Ninth Wave (Big Stir Records 2021)

https://bigstirrecords.bandcamp.com/album/big-stir-singles-the-ninth-wave

 
Manned by Rex Broome and Christina Bulbenko – of the ace band The ArmoiresBig Stir Records is easily the hardest working label in the biz. For the past few years, the Burbank, California based roster has been releasing a weekly singles series, then compiles the songs onto collections, with Big Stir Singles: The Ninth Wave counting as the latest chapter in their never-ending sonic sojourn.

It is highly fitting DJ Mike Lidskin of Woody Radio has written the liner notes, because these tunes are so remarkably good that the disc truly  sounds like the greatest radio station imaginable. So not only is Big Stir impressively productive, but the quality of their fare is consistently cut of a top-grade fabric. 

The Brothers Steve’s Beat Generation Poet Turned Assassin races steadily along to a chipper punk pop pose, where Pink Floyd meets Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars on Athanor’s cosmic-coated Approximately Eternity. From Nick Frater, there’s the rapturous rush of the Hollies styled Let’s Hear It For Love, as well as a striking cover of Gilbert O’Sullivan’s sad and somber Alone Again Naturally, which is transpired into a dazzling production, driven by glistening piano chords and punctured with a searing guitar solo.

Jim Basnight signs on with the Rolling Stones flavored snarl and drawl of Best Lover In The World and the ambitiously-crafted Prince Jones Davies Suite, a medley of Prince, David Bowie and Kinks missives. The Viewers fuse stadium rock flash with keen pop sensibilities on the gripping Beautiful, and the bracing chime of Dolph Chaney’s  My Old Fart celebrates the joy of maturing with your sweetheart in a charming narrative revolving around cats, books and  Sunday crossword puzzles.

Irene Pena’s inspired reprise of Fountain of Wayne’s The Summer Place rings with intent to a sharp new-wavish angle, and  The First Song Of Summer by Blake Jones parents a cool art rock feel, pronounced by inventive keyboard moves and loping tempo changes. Blessed with a gorgeously-soulful set of pipes, Rosie Abbott turns in a spine-tingling performance on Hold On,” and Chamberlain from The Persian Leaps shimmers to an infectious clip of jangly licks, a flighty chorus and insistent drum drills. 

David Brookings checks in with the  chugging All I Love Is Rock And Roll, and the frisky acoustic-framed Livin’ Through The Plaque, which offers a cheeky commentary on dealing with virus crisis rules and regulations. Last but by no means least is Mike Daly & The Planets, whose Falling Out Of Love Song recites the drama of an on and off relationship to an inviting array of musical moods. Rich and melodic vocals, accompanied by powered and polished instrumentation, a punishing break and a crown of psychedelic riffs complete the epic track. The band further shines brightly on Star, an energetic burst of soaring hooks and harmonies, splashed with a showing of neat harmonica trills.

And speaking of such, every song here is a star. Trying to pick favorites is indeed a challenge, since each number contains its own divine spark. So switch the dial to Big Stir Singles: The Ninth Wave, and get ready for some serious ear-pampering! 

 

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Pop-A-Looza TV Video of The Day

Kevin Robertson / Love’s Blue Yonder

We don’t just like music from the 80’s here at Pop-A-Looza HQ, we dig the new stuff, too! This nifty video and tune comes via Scotland’s Kevin Robertson, who is also a member of The Vapour Trails. we think Love’s Blue Yonder is top-shelf!

https://bigstirrecords.bandcamp.com/album/loves-blue-yonder-big-stir-single-no-125

https://futuremanrecords.bandcamp.com/album/underneath-tomorrow

Categories
Pop Sunday

The Armoires / Incognito

The Armoires

Incognito (Big Stir)

https://bigstirrecords.bandcamp.com/album/incognito-2

Oh, those sly rascals! Between October 2020 and April 2021, The Armoires released eight excellent singles under different pseudonyms. The reason the Burbank, California band staged such an exercise was to venture beyond their comfort zone and indulge in sonic promiscuity without apology.

All those songs have now been compiled onto a collection appropriately titled Incognito. While the core members of The Armoires are Big Stir founders Rex Broome on vocals and guitar and Christina Bulbenko on vocals and keyboards – along with bassist and vocalist Clifford Ulrich, violist Larysa Bulbenko and drummer John Borack – an assortment of loyal label mates also submit their talents to select cuts.  

Strands of paisley pop elegance tangles and wrangles with classical interludes on a swell cover of John Cale’s Paris 1919, where Bagfoot Run wheels in as a bluegrass-battered number, and the world-weary Homebound is a standard country ballad. Then there’s Awkward City Limits, which totters back and forth between tense moodiness, sweeping viola fills and thrashing rock rhythms.

Governed by grandiose and gloss, Ohma, Bring Your Light Into This Place mixes elements of church revival bliss with Broadway flash into a powerhouse production of dramatic dictation, mountain-sized melodies and goose-pimple inducing harmonies. A sashaying beat and clawing hooks brand the garage rocking  Walking Distance, and a rendition of Christie’s Yellow River remains relatively true to the original bubble-gummy swamp rock version. 

A dash of Brit pop, a touch of grunge and a splattering of wiggy psychedelic effects penetrate I Say We Take Off And Nuke The Site From Orbit, a copy of XTC’s Senses Working Overtime throbs and bobs with animated new wave perspectives, and Magento Moon keys in as an absolutely gorgeous slice of art pop. 

Modeled on the mercurial vision of The White Album and The Turtles Present The Battle Of The Bands, The Armoires move from one style to another with natural instinct. A fun and spontaneous feel fuels Incognito, letting you know a great time was had, cooking up these splendid songs. Slip on those headphones and enjoy!

Beverly Paterson