Andy Kentler and Departure Kids

Andy Kentler “No Love Lost”
Aussie musician Andy Kentler gives a solid effort on his new solo LP. The biggest influences I hear are Tom Petty, Lou Reed and Bruce Springsteen. “Getting’ On Home” is in Petty mode, with slide guitar in the chorus and the smokey blues style of “Invisible” has a touch of Pink Floyd in its DNA.

Not exactly power pop, but this changes with the sing along chorus of “Big Hits & Misses.” He goes off in another direction with the hard guitar punk of “Lillian Roxon.” While the variety is appreciated, he excels with story-styled melodies like “Marnie & Stan,” “Walk Out On Me” and the memorable “Nobody’s Fool.” There is plenty here to recommend, so I would add this to your list of artists to keep your eye on.

CD Baby | Amazon

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Departure Kids “On The Go”
Fans of Mod-era Who will just love The Departure Kids, a French band that gets its inspiration from Swinging ’60s London garage pop. “Right Now (Tell  me About It)” and “Wanking Too Hard” just crackles with energy. This Marseille quartet sound like they are having a great time with the jangling chords and manic tempos without strictly following the retro playbook. “Left On Earth” and “Suit It Up” are effective and all without accents.

The ballad “Pas Besoin De Toi” combines both English and French, using the tuning bar to warp chords and it gets all melancholy. While musically songs like “Wondering” are great, the harmonies are too ambitious for the band, and it gets a bit rough. However, “Let Me Stand There” is a big standout with its echoing guitars and chugging rhythm.  The band is worthy of attention, and will definitely grow on you.

Bandcamp | Howlin Banana Records

Here Comes The Reign Again: The Second British Invasion

Andrew Curry is at it again! After doing a great job curating the Tribute To Lite Rock compilation, he’s taking on the ’80s British Invasion with an amazing roster of indie musicians – including Mike Doughty, Rachael Yamagata, Tracy Bonham, Freedy Johnston, Mike Viola, Bleu, David Mead, Ken Stringfellow of The Posies, and Chris Collingwood of Fountains of Wayne. To see the full track list and sign up for an advance digital download click here.

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OK Go and EXPO

OK Go “Upside Out” EP
Ever since their 2002 self titled debut, OK Go has been one of the most visible power pop bands in the mainstream. After the noise pop experimentation and funk on Of The Blue Colour Of the Sky, it’s great to have the band back to form with this new EP.

Damian Kulash and co. are back to making catchy pop with real punch and “Turn Up The Radio” is a great single with its mid tempo hook. But If you’re looking for the standouts its the hypnotic “The Writing’s On The Wall” and the unstoppable dance beat of “I Won’t Let You Down.” Both tracks recall their breakout LP Oh No and its sure to bring you back on the bandwagon. And it just wouldn’t be OK Go without a viral You Tube video.

Amazon

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EXPO “Hydrogen, Helium & Other Songs”
Baltimore alternative pysche-pop band EXPO is the brainchild of  Christian Lipski & John Lane. EXPO uses vocal rhythms, harmonies and textures similar to The Beach Boys but to create a totally new sound. The wordless “Up We Go” is a perfect example with its soaring melody lines, and “Like We Do” mixes organ and sparse instrumentation to allow the vocals to build up. “Best Part Of The Day” and “Sun Shower” are pure Wilsonesque magic similar to the textures created by The High Llamas or Matt Mahaffey (Self).

Occasionally the songs don’t stick (“Let’s Grow Something”) but the touching melodies of “Old Friends Don’t End” and “Stars In Our Eyes” proves its not only textures but lyrics that make the song work. I feel a bit more polish would really put EXPO on the map (especially the finale “Paper Trumpets”), but this is a fine intro to their work.The band has 2 other albums on Bandcamp worth exploring.

Bandcamp

The Bobbleheads and The Lost Boys

The Bobbleheads “Make Yourself Happy”
After 2004′s excellent album, I haven’t heard from The San Francisco based trio called Bobbleheads till now. What a great come-out-of-nowhere power pop album. If you took the cheerful vocals of Steven Page (Barenaked Ladies) and married it to hard driving riffs of The Connection, it would sound a lot like “Prove Yourself,” a non-stop riff attack of Rickenbacker melody, and dense production. “Mean Girls” is just as good, and not a second of filler anywhere.

Highlights are numerous, although it is missing a quieter ballad to break things up. I dare you not to play air guitar to “Who’s Gonna Love You” or not sing along to “Turn The Radio On.” Fans of The Smithereens style of power pop will love this and I’m gonna shut up because you just need to hear it. It will stay locked into my daily playlist for a while and without a doubt, gets my nod to be considered for my top ten album list of 2014.

CD Baby | Amazon

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The Lost Boys “Answers on a Postcard” EP
Another “lost” band that passed me by until now is Southampton, England’s The Lost Boys. Last years EP Answers On A Postcard is the follow up to 2011′s debut Not Arf It’s…The Lost Boys. Lead by Daniel Ash (not the Bauhaus and Love And Rockets guy) its full of compelling melodies and polished production techniques.

Opening with the fast tempo of “I Fall For Everyone” it reminded me of Zumpano with its echoing surf guitar tones and cheery vocals. Another gem here is the “Moving Pictures” with its hook filled chorus, chock full of great key transitions. This style is a winning formula that’s repeated on “From Love To Hate,” and it connects each melodic clip in a way that recalls XTC. The slow ballad “Broken Story” follows Daniel’s echoing lead over a methodical acoustic melody. Overall its a winner, and between the two EPs you have a band deserves to be heard. Highly Recommended.

Amazon

The American Professionals “Other People”

 

EXCLUSIVE PREMIERE! San Francisco recording artists The American Professionals’ video for “Other People”, the lead track from their 2014 album, We Make It Our Business. We reviewed it in March. It was shot by fans, friends, and family almost exclusively on smartphones and edited by longtime friend and collaborator Stephanie Mechura. Listen to the whole album on Bandcamp…