Dwight Twilley and Ward White

Dwight Twilley

Dwight Twilley “Always”

Twilley’s first album since the loss of long-time guitarist Bill Pitcock IV wasn’t easy, but he’s soldiered on for a fan base that is energized every time he takes the stage. He continues the thick production style of 2011’s Soundtrack and his nod to the fans starts off with the title track, a reference to his classic “I’m on Fire.”

“A Million Miles Wide” recalls Tom Petty’s guitar on the intro, and the brilliant “Into The Flame” proves Twilley will always be able to write a power pop gem. The slow piano chords drive “Everyone’s Crazy,” which reminds me of Jeff Lynne a bit, with its background strings. Twilley’s defiant Texas bar-room rant “Til The Jukebox Dies” is another rocker that screams “No Surrender” followed by the 12-string melody of “We Were Scared.” The songs are well constructed (though I wish Twilley’s vocals were less obscured by production fuzz) and this is a fine addition to the Twilley discography.

power pop

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Dwight Twilley

Ward White “Ward White is The Matador”

Ward White is a brilliant vocalist and arranger, proven by his last LP Bob, but this time he’s surrounded himself with added talent to make The Matador extra special. Bryan Scary does keyboard and Graham Norwood adds his guitar and you’ve got something that needs to be experienced. White’s delicate tenor are equal parts Colin Blunstone, and young David Bowie as he drifts through each narrative.

The synth beat on “Sabbath” leads to a a rich atmospheric chorus, where he’s tripping out with a wild textured pyche-beat crescendo. “Alphabet Of Pain” is a light baroque pop treat about “pain that is almost guaranteed.” The 60’s lounge styled “Balloon” has an great chorus full of soaring harmonies and “Chiquita” is another richly developed gem that is most like Bowie. It takes a few detours by mid album, but really becomes a full art-pop performance on the 20 minute “The Olde Days.” If your tastes run left-of-center, this will just absorb you.

power pop


The Rip Off Artists and Mothboxer

The Intercontinental Rip Off Artists

The Rip Off Artists “The Intercontinental”

Nick Pipitone and Peter Batchelder (The Rip Off Artists) are the same band that brought you Esque a few years ago. The Intercontinental tells the tales of a variety of characters from creative fields all failing: An Artist, an Actor, Tennis Instructor, Photographer, etc. We start with “Commuter’s Blues,” a very Ben Folds meets Adam Marsland styled narrative, about the long morning commute – some nice details in the bass and drum work make it a standout. Likewise, “In The Actor’s Studio Apartment” has a driving chorus and catchy melody along with the chance of “one night only” and striking out with the girl.

Another highlight, “Mr. Right and Mrs. Right” tells of the perfect couple who never got along, and the foreboding “Inspector Valentino” is very much like Elvis Costello’s slower compositions.  The bouncy “Bachelor of Arts” is one of my favorites here, with its “ba-ba” backup chorus. Nick and Peter do a great job on these songs and it’s highly recommended.

power pop

Bandcamp | Amazon


Mothboxer “Sand and The Rain”

Mothboxer really made a great impression on the 2012 LP Three, and the band continues to create great power pop with its new album. The band is Dave Ody with help from Robbie Burley, Phil Davies and Jon Hawes. “One and Only” is a catchy ear-worm that reminds me of Julian Lennon mixed with XTC. “Looking Out For Summer” is another richly layered melody that effortlessly floats along.

The album is mostly light and breezy, a real treat and its got a sense of humor too with “Stop,” which adds heavier guitar lines, it slowly builds to the frantic, fast paced puchline. It’s got an echoing pastoral sweetness on the title track that fans of The Brigadier or Martin Newell will enjoy. In an era that favors stripped-down, no-fi production, the rich bass oriented sound is surprisingly refreshing to hear. Although the last track “All That I Want” could put you to sleep, this is full of great music and gets a nomination to my best LP of the year list.

power pop

Amazon | Kool Kat Musik (with bonus disc)

Jellyfish: Remastered, expanded editions come out Jan. 20, 2015

Coming January 20, 2015 – Even though Jellyfish only released two albums in their short lifespan, their legend continues to grow. And thanks to Omnivore Recordings the buzz can begin all over again for an expanded deluxe CD editions of Bellybutton and Spilt Milk. Both titles have been expanded to two discs and include the original albums in their entirety fortified with a colossal 51 bonus tracks spread among the packages. With tracks from the demos to the albums to the tours, these releases are the ultimate Jellyfish experience.

The Secret Powers “Six”

The Secret Powers

Montana power pop powerhouse Ryan Maynes returns after 2 years, to bring us his 6th release with the requisite influences of ELO, Beatles and Jellyfish. Maynes starts with the plaintive melodic ballad “Bitter Sun,” a sweet piano couplet and catchy chorus is exactly what I expect from The Secret Powers.

“Palarium” is a more forceful melody with the “ba-ba-ba” backing vocals, numerous layers of chorals, drums, violins and guitars. Truly an amazing piece of music, with a mandolin break before the end. “Spare Parts” shares the same tempo as “Mr. Blue Sky” in a bouncy tune about an android in love. The Ramones styled riffs on “Reservoir” starts out pretty simple, then Ryan lays on keys, guitar solos, and tambourine slaps. Each song here shines with a minimum of production echo. “Paula Brown” is another gem, with a shift time signatures and Ryan’s best rocker rasp. He’s even come to terms with his mid-life crisis on “Ready To Get Old and Die.”

Yeah, no filler either, so it quickly enters my top ten for 2014 best-of list. This is an early gift from The Secret Powers that I gladly give thanks for this season and unlike leftover turkey, you’ll want to nosh on this album into the new year.

power pop

CD Baby | Itunes | Amazon


Balduin and Flake

Tim Lee 3

Balduin “All in A Dream”

Balduin is a bit of a mystery man from Switzerland,  but for lovers of retro pop this is one of the best recreations of psychedelic music I’ve heard. Heavily influenced by British pop of the late 60’s, Balduin performs these songs on a plethora of period instruments (sitar, mellotron, harpsichord, harmonium, etc.) and if you didn’t know better you’d think this was a lost gem from the record bins of 1968.

“Love Is You” is a sunny baroque pop confection similar to late era Beatles, and most consumer friendly with its sly hook. Next is the sitar raga “Which Dreamed It” recalling George Harrison, and the folky “Autumn” is a reverb heavy folk number like the Byrds or Donovan. Fans of retro acts like The Sunchymes or Any Version of Me will marvel at the delicate arrangements that Balduin creates, bringing the era to life. You can also play spot-the-influences of Syd Barrett, The Moody Blues, and The Kinks. There is some instrumental filler scattered about the 16 tracks, but most of these are gorgeous (“Prisma Colora”). “Father” is another standout, like a lost John Lennon solo (the missing piece between “Mother” and “Beautiful Boy”). Fans of period baroque can do no better. Highly recommended.

power pop

Exclusively from Sunstone Records


Flake “Songs Without Words”

Okay, this weirdness isn’t power pop, but a Swiss duo Thierry Luethy, and Isabelle Ritter do make quality art-pop that deserves to be discovered. No label, no distribution, no publicity — just download the tracks from their website for free.

And while some stuff here is totally skip-able (“Everytime I Get The Shakes,”) there is enough here to make me appreciate the hard work Thierry and Isabelle put in. Check out the catchy “Hipster Girl” and the compelling chorus of “We Are The Night.” Ritter’s vocals are gorgeous and rescues the more ambient compositions, and more modern pop goodies are here too: “Shooting Star” and “As Time Goes By.” The method of discovery and price of admission are just right for finding new music.

power pop

FREE Download on Flake-Music.com