There’s nothing better in music than a song that lifts the spirits, and, boy, does this song do that. Written by head harmonica man Keeth Apgar and his son, it’s the musical equivalent of a big red balloon, or a sunny afternoon. Now that it’s carpool season again, we’re betting that this one will definitely start your family’s day off on a positive note.
Not only is this buoyant slab of power pop a real go-getter, it’s a charity single benefitting the California Community Foundation’s Wildlife Relief Fund. Considering the horrendous wildfires that have been consuming the western United States the past few years, it certainly is a worthwhile cause. Two tracks for $1.
Until we get around to doing a full-length review of Ken Sharp’s latest Lp, Miniatures, we highly recommend that you give this cool track a spin. Sharp strikes us as being from the Brill Building school of songwriting. In fact, you can almost hear this tune being sung by Davy Jones or The Ronettes. Top-notch stuff.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Another band bringing it strong with a teaser track is Michigan’s The Legal Matters. Light Up The Sky feels like the Midwestern version of The Red Button’sShe’s About To Cross My Mind, albeit with enough impossibly-thick harmonies to make Brian Wilson and his Wonderments blush.
Nobody’s better at atmospheric creation than Red Bank’s Dw Dunphy. Charm Offensive is his latest project, from which Crime Scene Reporter comes. Dunphy gets inside the head of the unfortunately-assigned journalist, leaving the listener feeling fortunate not to have that particular occupation.
I do have a feeling, though, that Dunphy might not literally be singing about the crime scene reporter, but anyone who feels helpless to stop a disaster after said disaster has already occurred. Well done.
That’ll Do It is one of seven swell songs from The Vapor Trails’ latest E.P., Underneath Tomorrow.
The follow-up to last year’s brilliant full-length Golden Sunshine, it’s brimming with enough hooks to legally label the whole darn thing as a legit ear worm.
That’ll Do It evokes a mid 1960’s Carnaby Street vibe, with a dash of Boyce and Hart for good measure. Beginning with a twist on the classic Paperback Writer riff, this one combines youthful lead vocals and harmonies that pull you in, sounding both fresh and familiar at the same time. A gritty, biting solo tempers the tasty pop leaning of the track, before the listener is lured into the last few bars with echoey harmonica. This is everything pop music should be.
A lot of musicians took the energy usually reserved for touring, and channeled it into the recording studio. Taylor Swift released Evermore last December, a more introspective, acoustic release, in contrast to the pop sounds of Lover.
Willow is a nifty single, and finds Swift exploring a folkish path that Mandy Moore and creative partner Mike Viola have been mining for several years now. I like the way that Swift switches gears here, and Willow is one of her best. With a slightly-Latin lilt and more than a couple of hooks, I can hear this track being covered by a variety of artists.
We’ve only got one so far, from Dolph Chaney’s upcoming This Is Dolph Chaney release on Big Stir, and it’s a dilly. Chaney channels prime Matthew Sweet on this selection, complete with the bone-crushing guitars of Sick Of Myself. Big drums propel the whole she-bang, leaving no doubt that power pop is not only alive and kicking, but still capable of a Chuck-Norris-style roundhouse.
Though this is the only track currently available, you can pre-order the full album for digital download or on compact disc. Que bueno!
From the instantly-likable Hearts, Loves & Babys, Holiday is a diamond among…well, other diamonds. This is an anthemic fist-pumper, which reminds me a bit of Slade’sRun Runaway. With a galloping rhythm that just makes you feel energized, it also shows that Ms. Leskanich hasn’t lost a bit of those famous pipes.
While Holiday has been ricocheting around in my brain this week, I’d be remiss if I didn’t try to get you to pull the trigger on the full Lp. I believe if you order a physical copy, she’s including an autographed 8×10 as well. Go.
Nick Frater’s got a new full-length on the way, and this digital single is our first little glimpse. Let’s Hear It For Love is a buoyant power pop number, though there is an ethereal quality in the melody that sounds both happy and sad at the same time. Brilliant.
Hailing from Brighton, England, Tenderhooks reveal an anthem for the horrible year that we all seem to be trapped in. 20-20 Vision is a slinky little rocker that pulls no punches (cool video, too), recalling the very best of Cracker and White Album-era Beatles. More, please.
Recording under the moniker More Animal, multi-instrumentalist Bo Ledman has a real winner with his track I Won’t Forgive You. It’s a middle finger to The Orange Menace and his enablers, wrapped up in a grungy pop song that’s simply irresistible. It’s on repeat play here at Pop-A-Looza HQ, and we’re looking forward to a deep dive into the full-length that hatched it.
These guys are a power pop lover’s dream-come-true. Wally Palmar, Andy Babiuk, Clem Burke and Elliot Easton uncork another three-minute gem, played with the youthful exuberance of men half their age. Big snare and guitars, hooky chorus and harmonies, the stuff pop dreams are made of.
The American South has no greater ambassador of guitar-driven pop than Bill Lloyd, Tom Petty’s origins notwithstanding. Don’t Kill The Messenger, the title track from Lloyd’s latest long-player, is an anthem for truth tellers everyone, scorned for stating the obvious. Wrapped in layers of guitars that have both power and jangle, it’s irresistible to our ears, here at Pop-A-Looza HQ.
Columnist Beverly Paterson introduced most of us to Marshall Holland, and, boy, has his track Paper Airplane become our office’s ear- worm of the moment. Holland’s vocals have a floating feel to them, giving this a song a warmth that is equal parts James Taylor and Beck. We will be digging into the rest of his catalog shortly!
Honeychain’s Spaceman reminds us a whole lot of the indie scene in Chicago in the early 1990’s. If you would’ve told us that it was a great lost Veruca Salt single from ’92, we’d believe you. Powerhouse guitars and drums propel this top-notch rocker, buoyed by Hillary Burton’s nonchalant vocal. Aces.
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!
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.
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).