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Got Any Singles? Quick Spins

Got Any Singles? Nick Frater / Tenderhooks / More Animal / The Empty Hearts

Nick Frater

Let’s Hear It For Love 

https://bigstirrecords.com/big-stir-digital-singles

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.

Tenderhooks

20-20 Vision

https://www.facebook.com/tenderhooks

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.

More Animal

I Won’t Forgive You

https://moreanimal.bandcamp.com/album/post-millennium-breakdown

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.

The Empty Hearts

Coat-Tailer

https://www.facebook.com/Theemptyheartsband

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.

Dan Pavelich

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Lindsay Munroe, Katrina Leskanich, and honeychain, Reviewed

Lindsay Munroe

I Am Kind

Lindsaymunroemusic.com

From Munroe’s website; Lindsay Munroe is a multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter and mother of three who lives in Massachusetts. She likes to bake, loves bird watching and does some crotchet in her spare time. In 2018 Lindsay followed her passion and began doing singalongs for kids. Her lively, engaging singalongs brought joy to kids and parents all around New England and many more enjoyed her YouTube channel “Singalong with Lindsay.”

While that description might also be similar to that of her peers, it says little of the sincerity and warmth that Munroe possesses. I Am Kind, a duet with Raffi, begins a parade of sixteen tunes, each touching in their own way. Munroe’s crystalline voice is stunningly pitch-perfect and bell-like, which elevates these already-buoyant tunes to another level. There is also a subtle theme working through this material, that everyone has moments when they feel like an oddball, which is a message that any human being can take to heart. Highly recommended.

Katrina (of Katrina and The Waves)

Hearts, Loves & Babys

Katrinasweb.com

Katrina Leskanich sounds rejuvenated on her latest, Hearts, Loves & Babys, which is arguably one of the strongest releases of her career. Much like 1989’s Break Of Hearts Lp,  this one covers a lot of bases and shows the many moods that Leskanich is able to elicit.

The lead vocals are powerful and spot-on, having lost absolutely nothing over the years. The first two singles to be released, Drive and I Want To Love Again, are sure-fire hits in any decade, the demise of terrestrial radio notwithstanding.  These are big songs just made for highway driving with the windows rolled down. Other moments, like the sweet Who We Are and the cover of I Can’t Give You Anything But Love, are equally as lovable. Bravo.

honeychain

Pocket Full of Good Luck

honeychainmusic.com

Regular readers of this column already know that the staff here at Pop-A-Looza HQ is enamored of this Los Angeles trio. Frontwoman Hillary Burton is a skilled writer, blending pop sweetness with punk-inspired attack. You’ve got to be inventive in a trio setting, and thankfully, honeychain is more than up to the task of supplying the listener with variety.

Spaceman, an aural bungee jump, brings muscular guitar and drums for miles, with a chorus that Liz Phair would die for. Flee Los Angeles slinks and grinds equally, conjuring up images of anti-culture heroes causing apocalyptic trouble, while Wrong Side Of Town blends a power pop chorus with skanking verses. The pretty, acoustic Late Night Movie Show closes out the proceedings, leaving only the anticipation of where honeychain will go next. Pocket Full of Good Luck is guaranteed to be on many year-end-best lists.

By Dan Pavelich

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Red Yarn / Backyard Bop

Red Yarn

Backyard Bop (Red Yarn Productions)

http://www.redyarnproductions.com

Red Yarn’s latest, Backyard Bop, is perfectly fitting for the times we live in. Thankfully, though, it’s not full of doom and gloom, but brimming with optimism and wonder. Red Yarn and singing partner, Miss Jessie, reintroduce kids to their own backyard, and all of the things they may have missed while staring at their computer screens.

If you’ve ever wondered what it would sound like if Jeff Tweedy and Rhett Miller recorded an album of material for kids and families, this is it. The title track and Jump For Joy are irresistible, with tinges of rockabilly and roots music buoying the proceedings. My Own Backyard offers the listener a front-row seat to their own, personalized nature show, and Cats & Dogs is hopeful that entrenched hostilities will one day dissolve. Amen.

Dan Pavelich

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Got Any Singles? Quick Spins

Got Any Singles? Bill Lloyd / Marshall Holland / honeychain

Bill Lloyd / Don’t Kill The Messenger

https://store5991041.ecwid.com/#!/PRE-ORDER-Dont-Kill-the-Messenger-CD

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.

Marshall Holland / Paper Airplane

https://marshallholland.bandcamp.com/album/paper-airplane-2

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

https://www.amazon.com/Pocket-Full-Good-Luck-Explicit

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.

Dan Pavelich

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Rolie Polie Guacamole / Avocado

Rolie Polie Guacamole

Avocado

http://www.roliepolieguacamole.com

In today’s often dark and chaotic times, we all could use a smile to lift our spirits, and Rolie Polie Guacamole does just that. My introduction to the band was their latest video, for their song, Avocado. Without giving away why it will make you smile, I’ll just say that it’s well-worth taking three minutes to watch it.

Rolie Polie Guacamole is made up of two Brooklyn boys, Frank Gallo and Andrew Tuzhilin. Regular readers of this column know that when it comes to children’s music, I like a little something different. Gallo and Tuzhilin check that box, emphatically. Firetruck, Pizza Pie and the aforementioned Avocado, are irresistible to ears of any age.

I especially enjoyed Sammi The Cat, a story song about a stray cat in Brooklyn, and the surprises that she find’s in the subway. There is charm, friendliness and warmth throughout Avocado, which your family will undoubtedly enjoy. Very highly recommended.

Dan Pavelich

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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.

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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.