Friday, September 18, 2015

Mid-September Roundup.

The Junior League-Also Rans. Joe Adragna is back as The Junior League with his latest opus, but the title is false advertising (or false modesty) as these tracks are anything but "also-rans". Like last time out (2013's You Should Be Happy), Scott McCaughey helps out, and this time Sloan's Jay Ferguson contributes keyboards and vocals on "On Off", one of the album's top tracks. Other standouts include "A Dagger and a Kiss" with its insistent guitar hook, and the bright power pop of "Before You Go". You can pre-order the CD from Kool Kat as well.

Kool Kat | iTunes

Static in Verona-Odd Anthem. Another returnee to this pages is Rob Merz's Static in Verona. With each passing release, Merz has gone with a more ethereal, dream-pop sound, and Odd Anthem continues the progression. Still, opener "Anyone Anymore" could pass for traditional power pop while tracks like "Future Ghosts" and "Blink" marry Merz' experimentalism and traditional pop structures. The highlight here is "Then a Hush", which melds psychedelia and shoegaze pop into an intoxicating mix.


John Dunbar-From Expectation to Surrender. Despite being a New Yorker, John Dunbar always registers in my mind as a Brit, no doubt thanks to his British-sounding pop which recalls Ray Davies, Glenn Tilbrook and the like (in fact, Dunbar even released a Rutles-like parody of The Kinks as "The Kunks" back in 2007). His latest (and to my surprise, the first I've featured on this site) is another example of his sardonic, wry look at life and its many characters, and titles like "Two is the Second Loneliest Number", "I Love the Girl You Won't Leave Your Life For" and "The Charlie Brown of Love" should give you an idea of Dunbar's perspective. Of course being wry and clever is all well and good, but the tunes need to keep up with the wordplay and here they do. So make sure to check out Mr. Dunbar if you haven't already.


Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Summer's Over...

...but in the land of power pop, it always sounds like summer. Here are three new releases to get you by as the calendar changes to September (plus you can still celebrate like it's summer through next week's Labor Day).

The Ravines-Everything's Fine. This UK power pop band led by Chris Corney (who's put some fine solo albums out in the last few years) had one of the genre's lost classics in 2005's Manifesto of a Broken Heart, and they've regrouped in 2015 to give us one of the year's best releases. The title track is bright, catchy power pop that falls somewhere between Gin Blossoms and Fountains of Wayne, the jangly "Blue Eyes" and "Dead Letters" could have been hits in the 90s, and what "Tambareen" lacks in accurate spelling it more than makes up for in tunefulness. Plus, the acoustic "Queen Bee" makes a lovely closer. Everything's fine, indeed.


The Allrightniks-Two Places at One Time. Our favorite Virginia rockers are back with their first full-length, having released 3 EPs over the past few years. So this time around you get twice as much of their Spongetones/Janglemen-styled pop. Opener "Nice to Know" has a bit of Rockpile in its DNA as well, "I Can't Wait" has an early Beatles feel, and "200 Milligrams" is just the right dose of power pop. Elsewhere, they even add horns to the mix on "Today is the Day" to fine effect, and the title track would fit right in on a Red Button album.


Jeff Litman-Primetime EP. Primetime is something NYC singer-songwriter Jeff Litman is ready for, as his latest EP is another compact collection of quality tunes. "That's on You" is a killer opening track, sounding like a lost 80s hit with its insistent beat and relentless guitar hook (which later becomes a great guitar solo), while the cynical-yet-tuneful "Debutante" allows Litman to get his Elvis Costello on, and "Nothing" (previously released as a single) finds him in his mid-tempo element. Just have a listen below and you'll be hooked.