The Power Popaholic Interview: Thomas Walsh of Pugwash

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This Friday is the last live show for Pugwash in the US. There are wonderful videos out of the tour, so check’em out. And even though I recorded this interview a few days before they arrived, it was a good long conversation with Thomas Walsh, the lead singer-songwriter of the band. In this 20 minute audio interview he talks about everything: How the band got together in Ireland, his love of Jeff Lynne and power pop artists, meeting Brian Wilson, and the Duckworth-Lewis Method. PLUS, info about the all new Pugwash album coming next year!

Paul Collins and Rick Hromadka

Paul Collins

Paul Collins “Feel The Noise”

Like a man possessed, Paul Collins is still having a full fledged comeback that started with The King Of Power Pop. Except now Paul gets closer to his roots on “Feel The Noise.” He cries “I let my guitar do the talking now!” and it blasts away a perfect rock and roll anthem. And “Only Girl” is a little closer to his work with The Beat with its angular fast paced rhythm.

“I Need My Rock n’ Roll” is another hook-filled gem that makes this LP a joy to listen to. Then influences of early rock artists from the 1950’s get more pronounced as the album continues. The structures of each song speak to Collins expertise when it comes to crafting a “hit” single like “Don’t Know How To Treat A Lady” or “Baby I’m In Love With You,” which sounds like an updated Buddy Holly classic. In an acknowledgement to the past influences, we hear a rousing cover of The Four Tops “Reach Out I’ll Be There.” Highly Recommended.

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Rick Hromadka

Rick Hromadka “Trippin’ Dinosaurs”

Maple Mars frontman Hromadka has been pretty busy, his last project Ruby Free, a collaboration with his wife was a welcome change of pace. Now he has another project that’s purely solo Hromadka, exploring progressive rock and psyche-pop landscape similar to Jeremy Morris. From the slow fade-in of “Conversation” its part Todd Rundgren, Pink Floyd and Mystery Tour-era Beatles. Fun hooks here along with the free flowing guitar reverb, The solid “It’s All In Your Head” has a little 10cc influence about the life of reality TV stars. “Dreams of a Hippy Summer” is a self explanatory title, and the trippy melodies continue all through the album.

It can get a little monotonous with the long improvisational jams (“Face On”) but the long melodies are what win you over, an excellent example being “Waiting For The Show.” Another gem is the harmonic “There She Goes” with an impressive guitar outro. The album closes out with a six minute opus “Listen I’m Waiting To Sleep” which combines slow and fast melodies across its running time. Fans of The Pillbugs, The Strawberry Alarm Clock, and The Lemon Pipers will find plenty to love here.

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Reissues: Star Collector, TV Eyes, Game Theory

Star Collector “Songs For The Whole Family” – Probably the best LP this classic 90’s Atlanta power pop band ever created. Now just a quick download from our friends at Futureman Records. The players are Cord Stone (Guitar, Keyboards, Vocals), Joe Giddings (Lead guitar, Vocals), Dusty Edinger (Drums, Percussion, Vocals) and Michael Brown (Bass, Vocals). This LP was a best-seller at Not Lame in its heyday, and now its quite rare. But you could still shell out a lot of cash for a copy on Amazon if you wanted.

Star Collector “Collected Stars (Live, Demo and Unreleased 1997-1999)” This is a perfect companion to the album above. Its got everything the Star Collector fan would want to complete their music collection. Another bandcamp download from Futureman Records.

TV Eyes “TV Eyes” In 2006, Jason Falkner and Roger Joseph Manning, Jr. of the legendary band Jellyfish and drummer/songwriter Brian Reitzell (Redd Kross and Air) released a new project called “TV Eyes” in Japan exclusively.  It was good move, as this was nothing like Jellyfish but an 80’s electronica dance LP, more like Devo, Gary Numan or Falkner’s solo material. The reaction wasn’t great at the time, I remember a similar outcry to the band Queen when they put out the disco LP Hot Space  years earlier. Overall it turns out it still has excellent songs and was way ahead of the curve for the EDM genre. Thank Omnivore Records and get it at Amazon.

Game Theory “Blaze of Glory”- We are still not over the death of Scott Miller who literally blazed a trail with his first album, Blaze of Glory. It showcased the sound of  power-pop done with a new-wave style and even hinted at the upcoming Paisley Underground movement. This new re-issue contains the entire 12 track album, supplemented with 15 bonus tracks—4 from Alternate Learning and 11 previously unissued tracks from Scott Miller’s archive. Again, thank you Omnivore Records and get it at Amazon.

Dana Countryman and The Bishops Daredevil Stunt Club

Dana Countryman

Dana Countryman “Pop2! The Exploding Musical Mind of Dana Countryman”

Dana Countryman is back! After the debut LP almost exactly one year ago he returns with a solid light pop delight. Unlike last year’s debut Dana isn’t showcasing a mix of different pop styles, he sticks with the mid 70’s romantic sound that was popularized by AM radio staples like The Carpenters, Gilbert O’Sullivan and Andrew Gold.

Dana is extremely comfortable with this style, “Baby I’ll Be Your Star” is a great theme with its crisp melody lines and sax lead, it reminded me of the Hudson Brothers or Eric Carmen. The romantic harmonies of “Just Look In My Eyes” is dripping with so much sweetness, it approaches epic Barry Manilow status. When he chimes “I wake up every morning with a Great Big Goofy Grin,” he sings this affirmation like its his life mantra. Then Dana sings a duet with Beach Boys styled vocalist John Hunter Phillips on “I’ll Get Right Back To You” and its a perfect match as Dana’s vocals are uncannily like Al Jardine — this is another winner. It can get way too corny, “Momma Said I’m Not Supposed To Roll And Roll” is an over the top fifties boogie, but its fun too. Overall, this is bright, bouncy sweet pop music that recalls the top 40 from 40 years ago. If you are a nostalgic sap like me, you’ll love it. Highly Recommended!

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 The Bishop's Daredevil Stunt Club

The Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club “Veva, Hold On!”

This Chicago band is one of those rare finds where you’ll be saying “Where have these guys been hiding?” Lead by singer songwriter Billy Giricz, the Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club is an alternative rock band that draws influences from The Posies, Radiohead, Stone Temple Pilots and Matthew Sweet. He’s assisted by Dan Passarelli on bass, Paulette Bertrand on keys, Darin Gregg on guitar and Luke Smith on drums.

Opening with “Bob’s Yer Uncle,” you hear clear vocals, steady rhythm and solid song structure. Next my favorite track, “Days At The Pool” is a hypnotic slice of life that draws you in. Paulette adds her vocal on “Treat Yourself”as the harmonies weave into the background. “Singlehandedly” is a highlight similar to Weezer or The Replacements, but it almost goes off track with the six minute droning of “Jaws of Life.” The charming Lou Reed-like title track keeps things fun, and helps make this an enjoyable (but short) LP. Check it out.

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Vinyl Records Edition: The Turtles

There is a movement about and quietly the vinyl record is making a comeback. Some artists slough through this process knowing it appeals to a select (but growing) group of audiophiles. There is a false sense that with the ubiquity of digital music, vinyl is the new “artisanal” method for distribution. As the article in Slate states “the vinyl boom can be seen as yet another manifestation of the societal fetishization of all things “vintage” and analog, which is pretty clearly a response to digitization.” The statistic is that 75% of these sales are for rock music – my guess is if you look further, its for classic 60’s artists too. That brings us to this special vinyl record review:

Ransom and The Subset

The Turtles “45 RPM Vinyl Singles Collection”

Few bands navigated the tumultuous shift in popular rock style from clean cut pop harmonies of the British Invasion to the Psychedelic era than The Turtles. Lots of great bands just couldn’t make that shift, and just didn’t have the versatility. The list of casualties is long; The Beau Brummels, The Hollies, The Association, The Cryan Shames, etc. And even among contemporaries like The Grass Roots or The Monkees (who also thrived during that time) The Turtles did more than survive. They blazed a trail forward, with an unmatched satirical edge to their music.

Add to this the talents of Howard Kaylan, Mark Volman and Jim Pons (all who would move on to Frank Zappa’s Mothers), arranger/producer/bassist Chip Douglas and John Barbata. Kaylan’s vocals have stood the test of time, as one of the most distinctive in rock and roll, and the bands sense of humor was unlike anyone else at the time. You can hear this on the many singles of this newly-remastered vinyl disc box set. What stood out for me was the quality of the B-sides of these records. Songs like “Outside Chance,” written by a young Warren Zevon or the under-rated “Sound Asleep” which deserves a second listen. These 16 singles were personally compiled and packaged by the band in very limited quantities.   The Turtles 45 RPM Vinyl Singles Collection will be released via FloEdCo/Manifesto Records.

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