Pop-A-Looza TV

The Airport 77s / One Good Thing About Summer

Chris Church / Limitations of Source Tape

Chris Church

Limitations Of Source Tape (SpyderPop Records/Big Stir Records)

Early 2021 saw two great labels – SpyderPop and Big Stir – team up as a relaunch imprint. Chris Church is one of the artists receiving a reprise. And here is a look at the Lenoir, North Carolina-based singer, songwriter and multi-varied instrumentalist’s second solo album, Limitations Of Source Tape, which was originally recorded in 2017 and distributed by SpyderPop.

While Chris boasts a background involving a diverse selection of musical styles, Limitations Of Source Tape points the arrow straight towards the guitar-oriented pop rock side of the spectrum. Equipped with a fine voice seated somewhere between the harmonious blush of Todd Rundgren and a rootsy brogue, Chris unleashes his intelligently-composed material with assertiveness and authority.

Certain portions of Limitations Of Source Tape additionally share traits with the likes of Tommy Keene and Michael Penn, placing Chris in very good company indeed.

 Navigated by a tugging rhythm and an equally snaring hook, Bell The Cat stands as one of those ridiculously catchy tunes impossible to shake, whereas Be My Nuisance is glazed with jangling chords and pops with power.

Energetic tempos, tied to solid arrangements and shrewd breaks, command the course on tracks such as Pollyanna’s Going Dark and Fall Into Me, and be sure to also give a listen to Understudy Blues, which charges forth as a tasty piece of hard-rocking ear candy.

No frills and all thrills, Limitations Of Source Tape focuses on strong and melodic songs created from the heart and gut. The crisp and crunchy production of the album provides extra appeal. And speaking of perks – in conjunction with Limitations Of Source Tape – SpyderPop and Big Stir have resurrected Chris Church’s third solo album – Backwards Compatible – which was initially released in 2018 and is highly recommended as well. 

Pop-A-Looza TV

The Toms / One Man Girl Parade

Pop Sunday

Singled Out: Mike Browning

Mike Browning

Another Bite At The Apple (Mike Drop Music 2021)

October 2020 saw the release of “Never Too Late,” an EP that introduced the world to Mike Browning. Drawing on the best and brightest pop rock sounds of mid-sixties AM radio, the  North Carolina based singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist revisited these influences with spot on precision while injecting his own notions into his superbly-scripted material. Refreshingly pure and moored with melodic perfection, “Never Too Late” registers as a modern day retro masterpiece.

Mike’s current effort, “Another Bite At The Apple” is a single that proceeds to pursue his passion for the music he so deeply loves. Leaning heavily on jogging surf styled rhythms, the springy sentiment owes further tribute to the genre in the form of Mike’s clear and concise vocals, backed by fluid harmonies. A bubblegummy carnival-like organ solo also courts the cut, as well as rolls of tightly-wired hooks and clicking guitar licks. 

Semi-autobiographical, “Another Bite At The Apple” mirrors the experience of Mike meeting and getting together with his wife, Janine, who he has been happily married to for nearly thirty-four years. Picture the Beach Boys mingling with Tommy Roe and Gary Lewis and the Playboys, and that pretty much rams the point home on this tasty slice of pop rock sure to steal your heart. 

The Vapour Trails/Lonely Man

The Vapour Trails

Lonely Man (Futureman)

It’s snowing and blowing here in Wisconsin, so nothing could be more welcome than a shiny dose of jangle pop from The Vapor Trails. “Lonely Man,” from The VT’s upcoming album, is equal parts Rembrandts and Herman’s Hermits, and features a chorus that is both somber and uplifting.

This three-song outing includes “See You In The Next World,” from The VT’s last release, remixed by the always-brilliant Nick Bertling. With a nifty bit of Ringo-influenced drumming and a sitar-laden bridge, it’s simply irresistible to my ears. A quality live cover of George Harrison’s “Something” rounds out the release with a smile and a sigh. Well done, gents.


Marshall Crenshaw Miracle Of Science

Marshall Crenshaw

Miracle of Science (Shiny-Tone)

With the release of 1996’s Miracle of Science, alt-pop favorite Marshall Crenshaw had a bit of a career renaissance. Comparisons were immediately drawn between this new record and his stellar 1982 self-titled debut. Much to the delight of guitar-pop fans everywhere, he seemed to have rediscovered his muse, and in a big way.

Here, Miracle of Science gets the reissue treatment from Crenshaw’s own Shiny-Tone Records label. In edition, Shiny-Tone will give another go ‘round to 1996’s #447, 2003’s What’s In The Bag? And 1998’s The 9 Volt Years. All will be welcome to this writer.

“What Do You Dream Of” and “Who Stole The Train” are two of Crenshaw’s best, indeed, he almost sings them with the energy he had in ’82. “Twenty-Five Forty-One” is a great warning song about the downside of getting a place with your girl. The cover of Billy Page’s “The “In” Crowd” is peppy and fun, as is the imaginary TV theme song, “Theme From Flaregun.”

For Crenshaw’s collecting fans, Shiny-Tone adds three additional unreleased tracks; “Rouh Na Selim Nevers (Seven Miles An Hour backwards)”, and demos of “What The Hell I Got” and “Misty Dreamer.” Even without the extra added tracks, Miracle of Science is one of his absolute best, and well worth another listen.


The Well Wishers – The Lost Soundtrack

The Well Wishers

The Lost Soundtrack (That Was My Skull)

In 2014, Jeff Shelton and his Well Wishers were commissioned to create a musical bed for an independent film. As these things often play out, the film’s soundtrack was created, yet the film itself remains unmade. Leaving these eleven tracks “in the can” would’ve been a travesty. That fate is rectified by this release.

Shelton is one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s premier songwriters, and it’s easy see why an indie film company would tap him to join their team. “Back Door”,”Build A Life” and “Great Day Out” recall the best work of alt-pop singer-songwriters like Matthew Sweet, Evan Dando and Bob Mould. Melancholy melodies and jangly guitars permeate with comforting results, and the visual nature of Shelton’s writing is superb.