Pop-A-Looza TV

The Airport 77s / One Good Thing About Summer

The Pozers / Crybaby Bridge

The Pozers

Crybaby Bridge

The way that bands and solo musicians present themselves has changed considerably over the years. When I began my life as a professional critic, the year was 2004, and I was writing a weekly music column for The Kenosha (Wi) News. It was an honest-to-goodness local newspaper, printed on smudgy newsprint and was delivered, primarily, by being thrown on porches and lawns across Kenosha County.

In 2004, record labels and artists alike sent in what was known as a press kit. It usually came in a folder, and included a band photo, bio, CD, and occasionally a sticker or pin. As the years rolled by, the physical press kit morphed into the online press kit. It wouldn’t be too long, before that, too, disappeared completely. These days, most requests for press come in the form of an email with a link, where the actual music can be downloaded. 

It’ll probably come as no surprise that twenty years after penning that first review for The Kenosha News, I prefer the old-fashioned way. I’m a tactile human being, and to me, holding the product in my hands and reading every little album credit, really enhances the overall experience. I’d forgotten that, until The Pozers’ press kit for Crybaby Bridge arrived.

Their CD, Crybaby Bridge, came in a shiny silver folder, complete with promo one-sheet, band photo, bio, and a nice cover letter. This band had me in their corner before I even heard a single note of their music.

Jim Richey formed the band in Texas in 1994, and this new release, coincidentally, carries a decidedly 90’s vibe. By that, however, I don’t mean to say that it sounds dated. Rather, Richey and his bandmates have hit upon a nifty retro-rock sound that, similarly to Tom Petty, Lenny Kravitz, Matthew Sweet and Jellyfish, combines the writing chops of Lennon & McCartney with a jagged, modern guitar sound. If you like that sort of thing (I do), Crybaby Bridge hits all of the right notes.

The opener, Goodbye (I’m Gone), is a crunchy Pepper-inspired number, complete with bouncy bassline and an irresistable chorus. Heck, there’s even a middle 8 before the solo that’s catchy enough to be the chorus of a complete different song. The slinky Two sounds like a more melodic I Am The Walrus, and the bouncy The Only Girl might be mistaken for a Lennon outtake from Rubber Soul.

Telling My Secrets is a real power pop stunner, crispy as all-get-out, and chock-full of muscular rhythm guitars, just this side of fuzzy. Teenage Storybook is more top-notch power pop, with some very nice rhythmic injection.

While all of this record’s eleven tracks are worthy of consumption, the closer, So Long, in ascending Jellyfish mode. Buoyed by pumping bass and teenage harmonies, it’s a pop celebration that’s not to be missed. I don’t hear many fantastic tunes these days, and this track is FANTASTIC.

In short, The Pozers are doing everything an indie rock band can do right. From their excellent press kit (presentation, kids!) to the obvious care taken in songwriting and recording, this band is now firmly one of my favorites. Their music is available in all of the regular places, and they are more than worthy of your patronage. Buy Crybaby Bridge and ENJOY!

By Dan Pavelich


Katrina & The Waves / Walking On Sunshine


In 2019, the British label Ace Records (via its Big Beat imprint) released a compilation CD called Come On Let’s Go! Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s. I was so enthused about the set that not only did I buy it (of course!), but I also imagined a series of sequels that should have been. 

Those four hypothetical sequels–It’s Cold Outside!Kids Just Wanna Dance!Gotta Have Pop!, and the UK-centric Do Anything You Wanna Do!–never really existed, but Big Beat did eventually release two real-world sequels, Girls Go Power Pop! and Rockets Of Love!, and the latter disc did indeed fulfill my wish of including a track from Syracuse’s own power pop power house the Flashcubes.

But I don’t think Big Beat has yet used many of the tracks I suggested in my own individual flights of fancy; maybe just the Producers‘ “What’s He Got?,” the Go-Go’s‘ “We Got The Beat,” and Candy‘s “Whatever Happened To Fun…”. To avoid duplication with the real-life Big Beat CDs, we’ve subbed out those two tracks in favor of selections by the CynicsRonnie Spector (with Marshall Crenshaw), and Shoes. Otherwise: for posterity, and mostly just for whatever-happened-to fun, today’s post collects my 2019 ramblings about Come On Let’s Go! and the subsequent power pop collections I thought Big Beat oughtta do next. I tell ya, the ideas are still pretty good. Somebody get Big Beat on the phone! 

For now, though: are ya ready? Come on. Let’s GO!!!

COME ON LET’S GO! Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s

The British label Big Beat is set to release a new power pop compilation next month. Come On Let’s Go! Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s collects 24 tracks, mixing familiar favorites by the Raspberriesthe RomanticsShoes, the Flamin’ Groovies, and Big Star with lesser-known treats of the same vintage. Cover boys the Rubinoos are represented by “Rock And Roll Is Dead,” the single most rockin’ track on that group’s rockin’ debut album. Here’s the compilation’s complete track listing:

THE ROMANTICS: What I Like About You
DWIGHT TWILLEY BAND: Looking For The Magic
THE TWEEDS: I Need That Record
THE FLAMIN’ GROOVIES: Shake Some Action [first version]
THE SPONGETONES: (My Girl) Maryanne
THE SECRETS: Radio Heart
20/20: Nuclear Boy
THE TOMS: Better Than Anyone Else
BILL LLOYD: Nothing Comes Close
THE BOYS: (Baby) It’s You
WIRE TRAIN: It’s Only Dark
VAN DUREN & JODY STEPHENS: Andy, Please [first version]
THE ROOKS: Glitter Best
BIG STAR: September Gurls
GARY CHARLSON: Not The Way It Seems
SHOES: Tomorrow Night [first version]
THE RUBINOOS: Rock And Roll Is Dead
UTOPIA: One World

Looks like a nice set, and kudos for including the Spongetones‘ fabulous “(My Girl) Maryanne” and Dirty Looks‘ pumpin’, peerless “Let Go,” and more kudos for saluting the Shivvers (even though I would have gone with “Please Stand By” instead of “Teen Line”). As always, I wish there were something by the Flashcubes on here, but I gotta give credit to the Big Beat brigade for putting together a ’70s/’80s power pop sampler that has hits for the dilettante and buried treasure for the faithful. Sure, I already have most of these, but there are a few I don’t own yet, and getting the Dirty Looks and Paley Brothers/Ramones cuts on CD seals the deal for me. Come On Let’s Go! Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s is due out on July 26th.

IN THE MEAN TIME, though, I think I’ll see what I would slap together if I were in charge of a sequel. SPOILER ALERT: it would include a track by the Flashcubes. Stay tuned.

IT’S COLD OUTSIDE! More Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s

Yesterday, we talked a little about Come On Let’s Go! Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s, a promising little pop compilation due out in July from the good folks at England’s Big Beat label. Today, we move on to AN ENTIRELY FICTIONAL sequel to that disc.

(Well…maybe not entirely fictional. The songs themselves are all real tracks recorded in the appropriate time frame. The compilation is itself a fabrication, but I could slap it together as a real-life playlist and listen on my iPod right now. It would make a great CD.)

It’s Cold Outside! More Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s

1. STIV BATORS: It’s Cold Outside
2. THE MOSQUITOS: That Was Then, This Is Now
4. THE KNACK: Good Girls Don’t [single version]
5. THE REAL KIDS: Now You Know
6. DOLENZ, JONES, BOYCE & HART: You Didn’t Feel That Way Last Night (Don’t You Remember)
7. THE LAUGHING DOGS: Get ‘Im Outa Town
8. FOTOMAKER: Come Back
9. HOLLY & THE ITALIANS: Do You Say Love
10. PAGLIARO: Lovin’ You Ain’t Easy
11. APRIL WINE: Tonight Is A Wonderful Time (To Fall In Love)
12. RAY PAUL & RPM: How Do You Know
13. THE SHIVVERS: Please Stand By
14. VAN DUREN: Oh Babe
15. FOOLS FACE: Even Angels Fall
16. SORROWS: Teenage Heartbreak
17. THE RESTLESS: I Wanna Know
18. EMITT RHODES: Fresh As A Daisy
20. GARY CHARLSON: Burning In You
21. THE SCRUFFS: Teenage Girls
22. TUFF DARTS: Who’s Been Sleeping Here
23. THE NOW: He’s Takin’ You To The Movies
24. THE ROMANTICS: Little White Lies [first version]
I’d buy that! We lead off with former Dead Boys singer Stiv Bators‘ incredible cover of the Choir‘s 1966 pop classic “It’s Cold Outside” (featuring Blue Ash guitarist Frank Secich), and we close with the Romantics‘ debut indie single (one of the best tracks they ever did, and it’s never been given any legit reissue). In between we have a mix of simply stellar pop cuts made by North American acts in the ’70s and ’80s. This make-believe set would be the first-ever CD appearance of anything from the original lifespan of Springfield, Missouri’s phenomenal pop combo Fools Face, and the first time the Restless (great ’80s Buffalo group whose one album for Mercury Records is in dire need of reissue), the Mosquitos (original version of a song covered by the Monkees), the Flashcubes‘ “No Promise” (my all-time favorite power pop track), or Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart‘s fabulous “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” rewrite “You Didn’t Feel That Way Last Night (Don’t You Remember)” has appeared on a various-artists pop CD.

And it cries out for another sequel! And I have just the thing in mind. In the mean time: Hey, Big Beat Records! Get to work! And send my finder’s fee here.

KIDS JUST WANNA DANCE! Even More Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s

Can’t stop the pop!

We’ve already followed the announcement of the British Big Beat Records label’s forthcoming (and cool) real-world ’70s and ’80s power pop compilation Come On Let’s Go! with my own fictitious sequel It’s Cold Outside! That was fun! Let’s do another!

Kids Just Wanna Dance! Even More Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s imagines another 24-track collection of North American cuts from that area. The title tune is an effervescent, Who-influenced 1977 B-Side by the Fast (and we’re definitely using the single version here; the group’s subsequent Ric Ocasek-produced version sounds less like power pop and more like the Cars). The rest? The rest rocks! To overstate the obvious: THIS COMPILATION IS FICTIONAL! It doesn’t exist. But it should! As always, I invite Big Beat Records to just send me my finder’s fee and take it from there. 

Kids Just Wanna Dance! Even More Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s
1. THE FAST: Kids Just Wanna Dance [first version]
2. PHIL SEYMOUR: Let Her Dance
3. PEZBAND: Love Goes Underground
4. THE MOSQUITOS: I Know A Secret5. BLUE ASH: Abracadabra (Have You Seen Her)
6. THE RASPBERRIES: I’m A Rocker [single version]
8. BULLET: White Lies, Blue Eyes
9. THE RAMONES: Babysitter
10. PIPER: Drop By And Stay
11. NEW MATH: Die Trying
12. FOOLS FACE: Nothing To Say
13. GREG KIHN: Hurt So Bad
14. SCREEN TEST: Sound Of The Radio
16. NIKKI & THE CORVETTES: Just What I Need
17. ARTFUL DODGER: Follow Me
18. QUINCY: Turn The Other Way Around
19. THE DIODES: Tired Of Waking Up Tired
20. VANCE OR TOWERS: Do Whatever We Want
21. THE SCRUFFS: Revenge
22. THE POPPEES: Jealousy
23. THE NERVES: Hanging On The Telephone
24. SHOES: The Things You Do

Power pop compilations! One real, two fake. AND IT’S NOT ENOUGH! Let’s do one more North American set, and then…well, rule Britannia!

GOTTA HAVE POP! Still More Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s

One more time!

We’ve discussed the new compilation CD Come On Let’s Go! Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s, due in July from Britain’s way fab Big Beat Records label. We’ve already added two imaginary sequels, It’s Cold Outside! More Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s and Kids Just Wanna Dance! Even More Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s. Let’s slap together one more faux collection of vintage North American pop (with one UK ringer) before we finally finish up this exercise with a set of jangle ‘n’ buzz from the British Isles.

Our final set of American and Canadian pop from the ’70s and ’80s commences with ex-pat American (and current Canadian resident) Bob Segarini, who was a member of the Wackers before going solo. Segarini’s call-to-arms “Gotta Have Pop” serves as the kickoff for yet another stunning array of pop music from this classic era. We wish this compilation really existed, but alas, it does not. Nonetheless: pretty good for a fabrication, I say!
Gotta Have Pop! Even More Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s

1. SEGARINI: Gotta Have Pop
2. THE SMITHEREENS: Strangers When We Meet
3. PAUL COLLINS: Walking Out On Love
4. STANLEY FRANK: S’cool Days
5. THE NATIVES: Tell Me A Story
6. THE VERTEBRATS: Diamonds In The Rough
7. THE PLIMSOULS: A Million Miles Away
8. COLOR ME GONE: Lose Control
9. LET’S ACTIVE: Blue Line
10. THE MOD FRAMES: I Don’t Want To Cry
11. THE NUMBERS: Can’t Sleep At Night
12. DAVID WERNER: Too Late To Try
13. TEENAGE HEADS: Tornado
14. THE EUCLID BEACH BAND: There’s No Surf In Cleveland
15. THE TEARJERKERS: Syracuse Summer
16. THE VIPERS: Tears (Only Dry)
17. THE SPONGETONES: Have You Ever Been Torn Apart?
18. THE CYNICS: Girl, You’re On My Mind
19. THE CICHLIDS: Did You Ever
20. THE ROMANTICS: I Can’t Tell You Anything [first version]
21. THE BANGLES: Silent Treatment
22. THE OHMS: Chain Letter
23. GREEN: She’s Not A Little Girl 
24. TODD RUNDGREN: Couldn’t I Just Tell You

While we could certainly continue to concoct irresistible collections of ’70s and ’80s North American power pop for, oh, forever or so, we’ll conclude the week with just one more set, hopping across the pond for a compilation of ace pop tracks from the British Isles.

DO ANYTHING YOU WANNA DO! 70s & 80s Power Pop Gems From The United Kingdom

At last, we reach the end of our short series of fabricated power pop compilations inspired by the real-world Come On Let’s Go! Power Pop Gems From The 70s & 80s, due out in July from England’s Big Beat RecordsBoppin’ (Like The Hip Folks Do) responded with three fictional sequels–It’s Cold Outside!Kids Just Wanna Dance!, and Gotta Have Pop!–each offering 24 more tracks of fab North American pop from the ’70s and ’80s.

We close with one final disc, moving our spotlight across the water to the British Isles. Eddie and the Hot Rods‘ “Do Anything You Wanna Do” is one of the defining singles of power pop, so of course it opens this set of primo pop from England, Scotland, and Ireland. There are old wave names (the Searchers, plus former Herman’s Hermits leader Peter Noone fronting the Tremblers), international teen stars (the Bay City Rollers, represented by a post-mania track, originally credited to the truncated name the Rollers), and a variety of other pop, punk, and new wave acts of the era.

Do Anything You Wanna Do! 70s & 80s Power Pop Gems From The United Kingdom
1. EDDIE AND THE HOT RODS: Do Anything You Wanna Do
2. THE JAM: I Need You (For Someone) [single version]
3. THE KEYS: I Don’t Wanna Cry
4. BLUE: Danger Sign
5. ADVERTISING: Ich Liebe Dich
6. THE SEARCHERS: Hearts In Her Eyes
7. THE BUZZCOCKS: Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve)
8. THE BAY CITY ROLLERS: Who’ll Be My Keeper
9. THE PLEASERS: The Kids Are Alright
10. THE TIMES: Whatever Happened To Thamesbeat?
11. CHICORY TIP: Good Grief Christina
12. THE ZONES: New Life
13. THE LAMBRETTAS: Da-a-a-ance
14. GENERATION X: Ready Steady Go
15. THE RECORDS: Starry Eyes [album version]
16. SQUIRE: The Life
17. THE TREMBLERS: I’ll Be Taking Her Out Tonight
18. THE RICH KIDS: Rich Kids
20. DOLLY MIXTURE: Everything And More
21. KIRSTY MacCOLL: Terry
22. THE BARRACUDAS: Summer Fun
23. SQUEEZE: Pulling Mussels (From The Shell)
24. THE UNDERTONES: Get Over You
I don’t wanna get over this! And I don’t have to. Music has no expiration date, no limit, even when it’s cold outside. Kids just wanna dance. Do anything you wanna do. Gotta have pop. Come on, let’s GO!

If you like what you see here on Boppin’ (Like The Hip Folks Do), please consider supporting this blog by becoming a patron on Patreon, or by visiting CC’s Tip Jar. Additional products and projects are listed here.

This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio with Dana & Carl airs Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air in Syracuse at SPARK! WSPJ 103.3 and 93.7 FM, and on the web at You can read about our history here.

I’m on Twitter @CafarelliCarl

Pop With POWER!

This piece was commissioned by John M. Borack and S.W. Lauden for Big Stir magazine # 6, a special edition asking that musical question, IS THIS POWER POP? The magazine is still available and highly recommended, and I was damned proud to participate. Here’s my contribution to the discussion.

Pop With POWER!

By Carl Cafarelli

“After all, power pop means pop with POWER! Not some whimpering simp in a Beatles haircut.”

–Gary Sperrazza!, Bomp! magazine

It was a straightforward sequence of events. I broke up with a girl just before my 18th birthday. Just after my 18th birthday, I saw my first power pop band.

That band was the Flashcubes, soon to be called Syracuse’s own power pop powerhouse, and quickly perched alongside the Beatles and the Ramones in the trinity of my all-time Fave Raves. When I saw them in January of 1978, few (if any) were calling them “power pop,” a phrase which was just beginning to work its way into the lexicon. The Flashcubes were a punk band. A punk band that covered the Kinks, the Who, the Searchers, the Hollies, and the Yardbirds, sure, but still a punk band.

And they were absolutely power pop. Loud, proud, and hook-laden. Pop with power.

Many deny any relationship between punk and power pop. Yeah, punk’s angry clatter is certainly a breed apart from Badfinger. But within punk’s first wave, groups like the Ramones, Generation X, Eddie and the Hot Rods, the Buzzcocks, and the Jam were applying battered hearts to tattered sleeves, running AM radio influences through a primal DIY aesthetic. Some pop fans require jangle and harmonies as power pop prequisites, and dismiss, say, “Sheena Is A Punk Rocker” for its lack of either. But man, it ain’t power pop if it doesn’t have power.

My idea of power pop came from writers Greg Shaw and Gary Sperrazza!, via the power pop issue of Bomp! Magazine in 1978. The phrase predates them; “power pop” was coined by Pete Townshend in 1966, describing what the Who were playing, what the Small Faces were playing, what the Beach Boys had played prior to getting all sober and mature with Pet Sounds. Shaw and Sperrazza! saw the sound of the early Who as the Ur-Example of power pop. Bomp! put forth a simple power pop equation: the punk energy of the Sex Pistols plus the catchy pop of Shaun Cassidy equals the power pop of the Who.

I concur.

(And, whether we start power pop’s shot clock with the Beatles [my choice] or with the Who [Bomp!‘s pick], it’s clear that the style existed in the ’60s. I reject the notion that it was created in the ’70s as an attempt to recapture the excitement of the British Invasion. The latter view reduces power pop to mere revival, no more vital than freakin’ Sha Na Na. Power pop is not a revival. Revivals are well-behaved. Power pop explodes.)

Bomp!‘s power pop issue also extolled the unassailable cred of the Ramones as power pop touchstones. The Ramones wed the promise of AM radio with the 1-2-3-4! ferocity of velocity, pure pop for punk people. When I was corresponding with Shaw in the ’90s, he still maintained that no discussion of power pop could have any meaning if it didn’t include “Rockaway Beach.”

The discussion has continued, long after Shaw and Sperrazza! have departed. As power pop fans, we are passionate and confident in our individual, often contrasting points of view. That’s okay. We’re friends here. Friends can disagree and remain friends. (Except for the guy who called me a ninny for regarding the Ramones as power pop. That guy can take a hike.) Squeeze and Marshall Crenshaw don’t fit within my idea of power pop; I love ’em just the same. You don’t agree that the Ramones are power pop? I won’t let my conviction that you’re wrong prevent you from buying me a beer. Cheers!

My own POV can shift over time. But I have a pretty good idea of how I define power pop, and it goes back to that Bomp! equation: Punk + Pop = Power Pop. Still, there are shades and subtleties to consider. And how many power pop acts are really 100% power pop all of the time? Raspberries did the country-flavored “Last Dance.” Big Star did “The India Song.” The Ramones did “Warthog.” The Who did…well, the Who did a lot of stuff, didn’t they? On the other hand, Styx is certainly not a power pop band, no way, no how…except with “Kiss Your Ass Goodbye,” which is as power pop as anything ever. Musician Marty Ross recently suggested that power pop is an approach rather than a genre. Bomp! said otherwise, but I think Marty’s right on this count. Hey, this means we can have it all!

Do the definitions matter? Yes. And no. Yeah, we should have recognized parameters, common ground to understand what the hell we’re going on about when discussing power pop favorites (or ska favorites, rockabilly favorites, et al.). Power pop’s just a label, a tool to help identify sounds that may appeal to us. Recommended If You Like Cheap Trick. Or, as AM radio told me when it turned me on to Badfinger, “These guys sound like the Beatles.”

My favorite music had a name. I didn’t know that name until I was in college.

“Power pop’” is a misunderstood genre, and there will never be a true consensus on its meaning and parameters. It’s my favorite music. It’s not my only favorite music–I adore so many sounds that fall outside my strict definition of power pop, even many that fall outside a broader, nebulous approximation–but it’s my primary boppin’ raison d’être. My awareness of power pop, my understanding of its meaning, began in 1978 with an incredible magazine called Bomp!

I wrote the above a few years back, introducing a reminiscence about how important Bomp! was to me, particularly in developing my understanding of power pop. Bomp! is still my go-to reference in that regard. Greg Shaw’s equation still holds. Gary Sperrazza!’s statement still rings true: “Power pop means pop with POWER!”

Pop with power. Whimpering simps need not apply. No matter what kind of haircut they have.

You can support this blog by becoming a patron on Patreon, or by visiting CC’s Tip Jar. Additional products and projects are listed here.

This Is Rock ‘n’ Roll Radio with Dana & Carl airs Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air in Syracuse at SPARK! WSPJ 103.3 and 93.7 FM, and on the web at You can read about our history here.

I’m on Twitter @CafarelliCarl

David Brookings / Mania At The Talent Show

David Brookings

Mania At The Talent Show (Byar)

The past twenty-odd years have witnessed David Brookings riding wave upon wave of activity. Along with two albums released as David Brookings and the Average Lookings, the San Fernando Valley based singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist recently issued his ninth solo album. An engaging effort, Mania At The Talent Show, posts a premium on forward-thinking pop rock. 

Compositions such as Driving To Ojai and Hard Times, whirl and twirl with moody atmospherics, and the perpetually plucky Keep It Real is anchored by the strummy pickings of a ukele. A dark and eerie psychedelic vibe shrouds Hide Your Crazy, where the nagging urgency of Kill Shot, fires off rounds of funky licks and rhythms. 

The title track of the album stems from  memories of when David staged his debut live performance at age eleven at the school talent show. A chipper romp from head to toe, Mania At The Talent Show totally captures the excitement and youthful exuberance of the experience.

Classic power pop elements are pushed to the fore on the impossibly catchy One Of Us Is Crazy (The Other Is Me), which chimes and crunches with impeccably-placed hooks and harmonies. Then there’s the equally fetching Women Of L.A., that frolics to a bubblegummy hot rod surf-styled beat, and recites humorous lyrics regarding Botox, going to the gym, Tik Tok, nannies and hip hop.   

Nothing is repeated on Mania At The Talent Show, as each cut operates from a different angle marked by varied tempos, arrangements and melodies. Radiating with an array of sonic hues, the album competently blends ambition with a fun factor. David really has gone the extra mile here, crowning him first prize winner of the talent show! 

Pop-A-Looza TV

Graham Parker / Local Girls

The Successful Failures / James Cotton Mather

The Successful Failures

James Cotton Mather

Founded a decade and a half ago, The Successful Failures have gone on to become one of the greatest and most respected bands on the indie circuit. Unlike most groups that have been around for such a long period of time, these guys haven’t slacked off and taken a nosedive, but just get better and better with every record they release. And that is certainly quite a complimentary remark, considering how impressive the Trenton, New Jersey band was right from the beginning. 

Specializing in a lethal cocktail of power pop and heartland rock, The Successful Failures not only sound spectacular, but enhance their repertoire in the form of cerebral dialogue that encircles witty historical to educational observations. Here on the band’s latest and ninth studio album, James Cotton Mather, we’re zapped back to nineteenth century Maine and guided through the trials, tribulations, turmoil and tragedies of  James Cotton Mather. Aside from the thrilling theme and cool music, the album is lavishly packaged and includes a color poster of The Successful Failures and a lyric sheet.

Each track on James Cotton Mather, is potent enough to stand alone, but the method in which these songs are sequenced and connected lead to a cohesive presentation. Not intended for lullaby lovers, the album is a turbo-charged drama aimed to activate the adrenaline and indulge in some serious air guitar in the process. The urgent energy of the songs perfectly reflect the verse depicting the mental anguish of the young man as he engages in battles on stormy seas and in dark and spooky forests. 

Flooded with force and fury, yet tempered with layer upon layer of fat hooks and melodies, A Coat For Your Dreams, Let The Power Go Through You, Naval Victories and Freedom Within, are only a quick peek at the ultra- catchy tunes featured on the album. At this point, The Successful Failures have developed their own notable approach, although it’s hard to ignore the double inspiration of the brash bark of The Replacements and the buffed Who-styled chords and rhythms, rimming the material. And of course, there’s also plenty of gritty roots rock moves to be savored. 

Not surprisingly, The Successful Failures have cut yet another thoroughly accomplished album. It is not far-fetched to classify James Cotton Mather a rock opera, and so good are these songs, that you can imagine them being staged on Broadway. 

By Beverly Paterson

Got Any Singles? Quick Spins

Song Of The Year, Dolph Chaney’s “My Good Twin”

No song better illustrates the joyous intent of the Power Pop genre than Dolph Chaney’s My Good Twin. From his excellent This Is Dolph Chaney Lp, which is full of winners, it’s a short blast of the pop caffeine we all crave! OUTSTANDING!!

D. Pavelich

Pop Sunday

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.