Bullet Proof Lovers and The Heaters

Bullet Proof Lovers

Bullet Proof Lovers “Bullet Proof Lovers”

Kurt Baker is back! This new band boasts the dual guitars of Luiyi Costa and Juan Irazu. The Bullet Proof Lovers come closer to The Ramones than Baker’s self-titled band, just straight forward rock and roll with loud guitars, and catchy riffs, as evidenced by the opener “It’ll Be Alright.” Punkier cuts “Leave Me Alone” and “She’s Gonna Leave” are short and sweet.

The best song here “Nothing I Can’t Do” uses all the techniques to bring down the house; harmonies, fast tempos, and a driving chorus. “Master of My Destiny” is another well-written gem. Unfortunately the lack of stylistic or tempo diversity can wear the listener down, even with Wyatt Funderburk producing. However this is manna for Kurt Baker fans and I’ve heard a follow up is on its way.

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Bullet Proof Lovers

The Heaters “American Dream”

Before the explosion of girl rockers in the early ‘80s (The Go-Go’s, Joan Jett, The Bangles) The Heaters managed to scrape together a record deal with CBS. The trio of Mercy Bermudez, Melissa Connell, and sister Maggie Connell were a combination of contemporary pop and a throw back to the late ‘60s girl groups. They failed to generate excitement, and the band broke up. But shortly afterwards decided to go the DIY route (a rare thing at that time) without a label or studio support. Without corporate masters over their shoulders The Heaters were able to indulge with a 4-track Portastudio and reel-to-reel tape.

Sounding a lot like an updated version of The Ronnettes, “American Dream” is a slice of uncovered nostalgia. “All I Want To Do” is a bit more modern, with simple guitar and drum accompaniment. A highlight here is “10,000 Roses” with several harmonic techniques and a piercing finish. The best example of the modern and retro combine is “Rock This Place” with its steady Chuck Berry guitar riffs. Fans of Girl Groups will enjoy this release.

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FREE Stuff: Talk Show Host, Richard Cummins, and The Anderson Council video

Talk Show Host – Like the pop punk of Green Day? Then enjoy this fast paced band from Toronto. Band is described as “Two recovering punks and an indie rocker walk into a bar.” FREE download (no drink minimum).

Richard Cummins – Yet another Beatles cover album, with an emphasis on McCartney’s work and some of his solo stuff. very well done and a FREE download. Hey Beatle tribute bands, he may be available!

And since Macca “taught him to play,” he wrote an original song about that too.

Music Video Spotlight

The Anderson Council’s Facebook exclusive video for “Magical” from their newest CD Assorted Colours. We review it here.

Somerdale and Hector and The Leaves

Somerdale

Somerdale “Shake It Maggie”

You couldn’t ask for a better self-referential intro than “Take It From The Top” with all the guitars, harmonies and catchiness. It even acknowledges that power pop is “so out of style its cool” and if you love the classic power pop sound (Badfinger, Raspberries, Cheap Trick) you’ll be hard pressed to find a better example on Shake It Maggie.

“Waiting For You” is a slow burning rocker with layered instrumentation that drives to a dramatic peak. “The News” picks up the tempo and that fuzzy guitar rhythm just sticks in your head. The thick slabs of riffs and chord structure on “Excuse Me” make it an irresistible power ballad. “Feel The Magic” is a little Bay City Rollers mixed with Slade, full of hand claps and smoking’ harmonies. Another one of my favorites here is “The Coolest Kid In School,” sounding like a lost song from teen 90’s movie soundtrack, its both sweet and wicked. Even though there are moments of meandering hard rock (“She’s Leaving California”) there is not a note of filler here. Get’s a nod as one of the top ten albums for 2016. Don’t miss it!

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Hector and the leaves

Hector and the Leaves “Sometimes In The Morning: EPs 2012-2106”

Hector and The Leaves (aka Tom Hector) is a London based folk-pop outfit who’s been putting out EPs for several years and this collection puts it all together.

“I’ll Be Leaving Soon” with its wispy, layered vocalizations sets the mellow mood. “Imogen” has Elliott Smith like acoustic guitar strums, and then the bouncy “Problems” offers up a warm hook that will coax the indifference out of any educated listener. The lush “California” with its hushed harmonies recall Curt Boechetter or The Brigadier with its beautiful “ba-ba-ba” chorus. There is some minor filler here (“Baumer’s Suit,” “I Ride My Bicycle”) but it doesn’t detract from the albums flow. “Good Times” and “Goodbye” has an almost pastoral dreamlike quality. You will either love this gentle full warm sound or it will put you to sleep. Either way it’s highly recommended mellow-out music.

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Hector and the Leaves – On Your Own from rowan armstrong on Vimeo.

Greg Pope and John Dowler’s Vanity Project

Greg Pope

Greg Pope “Guiding Star”

After a career-spanning overview with Favorites, the Nashville “pope of power pop” Greg Pope returns with a lower key album in Guiding Star. “Innocent Breakdown” is a promising start with its anthemic chorus and staccato rhythm. “Four Leaf Clover” is a mid-tempo gem with a great bass line, in the vein of Badfinger. While the music isn’t punctuated by big riffs, the melody and dense production do dominate.

The optimism shines through the prog rock influenced title track and “Sun is Gonna Rise.” The gentle “Pretend It’s Alright” is another hopeful look toward the future with Pope’s understated vocal. The bedroom philosophy of “If You Want Answers” reveals that Pope is just “making this up as I go.” No filler here as Pope does a great job weaving tunes with a few experiments, notably the drum solo “Bruce.” Guitar fuzz comes back on the short “Eggshells,” and once again Pope has delivered a highly recommended album. Add it to your collection.

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John Dowler's Vanity Project

John Dowler’s Vanity Project “Splendid Isolation”

John Dowler is a veteran of the Australian indie rock and power pop scene (Spare Change,Young Modern, Zimmermen) and this “Vanity Project” includes Justin Bowd (guitar), Julien Chick bass), Mark McCartney (guitar) and Michael Stranges (drums). His music is combination of styles ranging from Van Morrison to DM3, and it does grow on you quiet well. The low key “Off The Coast Of Me” uses nautical analogies to explain his blues, and the mid-tempo jangle on “Unsolved Mystery” is also compelling.

“My Face” feels like an NRBQ song, and the tender “Don’t Blame It On Your Wife” is a very gentle reminder not to take her for granted. My favorite here is the rocking “Oakleigh” with its impressive riffs and layered guitars. From there it gets uneven, with country styled ballads and bar room rockers. Still a worthy listening experience.

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