Premiere: The Sighs “Love From Lisa”

More than two decades after releasing their last album, The Sighs return with a third full-length that brings a brand-new vitality to their harmony-drenched guitar driven-pop. Once destined to be a lost record, Wait On Another Day finds the Massachusetts-bred band drawing from an unearthed batch of demos and dreaming up a fresh sound that’s hook-heavy and full of heart.

Formed in 1982, The Sighs began with Robert LaRoche and Tommy Pluta—two lifelong musicians who bonded over their mutual love of harmony-driven acts like The Beach Boys, and soon learned that their own voices blended together beautifully. Later adding Tom Borawski and Matt Cullen to the lineup, they quickly made their name as an unforgettable live band.

This exclusive premiere track “Love from Lisa” recalls Revolver-era Beatles (“We all grew up Beatles freaks, and there’s really no denying that on this record,” Cullen points out).

Pre-Order

Special Record Release Show will be August 26th at the Celebrate Holyoke festival in Mass.

Here is the video version:

Sitcom Neighbor and Sunshine Bloom

Sitcom Neighbor

Sitcom Neighbor “Shag”

The band Sitcom Neighbor is essentially singer-songwriter-guitarist John Murphy with veteran producer Steve Refling (Seth Swirsky, Nelson Bragg, Nushu, etc.) After an impressive sophomore LP in 2012, I didn’t see how Murphy could fashion anything better, but he has. This is a note-perfect power pop album, with “Tourist Attraction” taking his signature 1970’s rock style to the next level — with a jangling hook similar to The Spongetones. “Pimpmobile” is a flawless follow-up, with its Badfinger riffs and Ringoesque drum fills describing a “white Cadillac with gold wheels.” Next, “Your Turn Next” is a densely packed rocker with a wicked guitar break.

No filler, all killer here as the layered guitar sounds and multi-tracked harmonies flow over the tracks “Let Me Be Your Man,” the haunting “Goodbye,” and bouncy “Lucky Day.” The sound is consistent without being too predictable. In fact, Plasticsoul’s Steven Eric Wilson declared the “new Shag album is so brilliant it actually makes me angry.” Agreed and it earns a rare “10” rating and a certain contender for 2017 album of the year. Don’t miss it.

CD Baby | Amazon

Sunshine Bloom

Sunshine Bloom “Power Pop is Dead”

West Midlands UK band Sunshine Bloom is lead by vocalist James Jeffery (bass), with Shaun Evans (keys), Robert Bentley (guitar) and Jack Jefferies (drums) as they certainly disprove the album ironic title.

It opens with the piano melody “Friends With Detriments” that pays a tribute to Jellyfish with its bouncy tempo and harmonic flourishes; fans of Ben Folds and ELO will enjoy this too. “I, Me, You” has a distinct ’80s power pop guitar feel, the showpiece here is “Have Wings, Will Travel” with its breezy and infectious melody. It ends with a prog rock epic “Farewell Waltz,” featuring a wonderful guitar break midway through. Overall, highly recommended and a band to keep your eye on.

CD Baby | Amazon

 

Fastball and Raspberries

“Fastball”

Fastball “Step Into Light“

One of the most successful and consistently great power pop bands that emerged with the turn of the century has been Fastball. And the band’s latest does not disappoint. Guitarist Miles Zuniga and bassist Tony Scalzo have been the steady force that keeps things together, each share songwriting duties and both have different styles that complement each other. Scalzo with his hook-filled simplicity and Zuniga with his roots-influenced emotion. And its this variety, with the impressive composition and catchy melodies that make this album a gem.

Starting with the driving “We’re On Our Way,” it brings to mind past radio-ready rockers the band is so well known for. “Best Friend” is another great song, with its optimistic riff that asks, “Wouldn’t you like to be my best friend?” Next, the moody acoustic guitar melody of “Behind The Sun” shows off those crisp harmonies. But my favorite here is the ear-worm “I Will Never Let You Down,” with its earnest twangy lead and sing-along chorus.

It then takes a detour with “Love Comes In Waves,” with its quick-tempo riffs reminded me of the band Shoes, and then we are back to the classic Fastball sound with “Just Another Dream.” Overall not a single wasted note, even when Scalzo lets loose with the indulgent “Secret Agent Love” that feels like it was as much fun to play as it was it listen to. And that’s another key to this album. It’s a damn good listen all the way through with fresh sounds everywhere. Makes my top ten album list of 2017! Super highly recommended.

Amazon

The Raspberries

Raspberries “Pop Art Live“

“…the house lights went down, we looked at each other and said the words that we never thought we would ever say: ‘We’re at a Raspberries concert.’ Then it began . . . ” —Ken Sharp and Bernie Hogya from the liner notes to Pop Art Live.

On November 26, 2004, the stage at Cleveland’s House of Blues was set for a reunion most thought could never happen—the Raspberries Live In Concert! It had been over 30 years since the original four members of Raspberries last played together, Pop Art Live captures the opening night as the band powers through 28 tracks of hits and a few covers. Mixed by long time Raspberries’ associate Tommy Allen, the band sounds amazing as they recreate the sound that carried the power pop torch during the early 1970’s. This performance led to the successful reunion tour in 2005.

The hits are all here from “Go All The Way,”“I Wanna Be With You,” “Let’s Pretend,” and “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record),” “Tonight,” “Nobody Knows,” plus several Beatles covers and the Who’s “I Can’t Explain.” Another treat is The Choir’s “It’s Cold Outside,” which was a band most of the original Raspberries came from. Another great feature is the lesser known hits here like “I Saw The Light” and “Come Around And See Me.” Founding members Eric Carmen, Wally Bryson, David Smalley, and Jim Bonfanti pull out all the stops to deliver the definitive live experience and triumphant return of these legendary power pop pioneers. My vote for best “live” album of 2017!

Amazon | Kool Kat Musik

RIP: Glen Campbell finally free

Glen Campbell is the definition of musical legend with a very long and storied career. In the early ’60’s he was a sought after session player for the famous Wrecking Crew and played for many stars (Bobby Darin, Ricky Nelson, Frank Sintra, Merle Haggard, The Monkees, The Association and The Mamas & The Papas.) He played bass with The Beach Boys, when Brian Wilson’s stage fright prevented him from playing live. The Beach Boys offered him a job, and he turned it down to pursue a successful solo career. While not a songwriter, he was an exceptional guitar player and vocalist – and nobody could play Jimmy Webb tunes like Glen could.

Throughout the late ’60s and early ’70s, Campbell began to record hit after hit including “Wichita Lineman” (1968) and “Galveston” (1969), “Try a Little Kindness” (1969), “Honey Come Back” (1970), “Everything a Man Could Ever Need” (1970), and “It’s Only Make Believe” (1970).

His hits catapulted him to his own prime time TV show, and peaked in 1975 with his biggest #1 song “Rhinestone Cowboy” from there he delivered more hits until his last #1 “Southern Nights.” After his hit-making days, he never really retired, playing until his affliction with Alzheimer’s disease took his life. More than any other musician I can think of he brought country music to the mainstream of pop. Take some time to re-discover this master performer.

Lo Tom and Any Version Of Me

Andy Oliveri and the Mountaineers

Lo Tom “Lo Tom”

David Bazan and his Seattle band Pedro The Lion teamed up with members of Starflyer 59 to form the supergroup, Lo Tom. It’s Bazan and friends TW Walsh, Jason Martin and drummer Trey Many. The low-pressure setting delivers a memorable, well crafted LP, starting with the driving “Covered Wagon” led by the smooth dual guitar rhythms of Walsh and Martin.

Like indie rocker Robert Pollard(Guided By Voices,) Bazan’s melodies stick with repeated plays and the guitar work of Walsh and Martin are refreshingly effective. Missing are Bazan’s religious overtones and songs like “Overboard” and “Bad Luck Charm” are more abstract in the messages sent. “Find The Shrine” mines an AC/DC styled riff throughout the song, but the album’s second half runs out of steam. Worth checking out even if you’re not a big Pedro fan.

Amazon

Any Version Of Me

Any Version Of Me “VI (Side One)”

Parisian Guillaume Lepine is back with his retro flavored British pop on VI (Side One). “New Year” opens with a Kinks-styled dance hall tune and continues to stay in the late 60’s era and recreates the sound flawlessly. He goes back to Beatlesque well on “Two Days” which borrows liberally from “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.”

The sunshine pop of “Some Saturday Morning” is another highlight with its Beach Boys styled harmonies and layered keyboards move seamlessly into the slide guitar of “Four Walls.”  Then it goes psychedelic with “Little Girl Lost” and acid-dripped riffs of “Thanks Ronnie.” It’s like finding a lost bin of old nuggets and the music is considerably better produced than previous AVOM releases. Best of all, this is a FREE download, with the promise of Side Two coming later this year. For fans of 60’s rock and pop, this is highly recommended.