Sadler Vaden and Keegan

Sadler Vaden

Sadler Vaden “Sadler Vaden”

Sadler Vaden is mostly known as the guitarist for Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit and Drivin’ N Cryin’ but this LP is sure to put his own name on the map. Vaden’s music is a trove of anthems that recall the late 70’s Zeppelin and 80’s heyday of Southern-rock.  The brilliant riffs and soaring harmonies of “You Can’t Have it All” and “Get You High,” will hook you immediately.

Influences of Tom Petty, the Black Crowes and Neil Young permeate most of the album, as “Nobody Gives a Damn About Songs Anymore” has a rich jangle and expert delivery. The production is also very polished on the album’s first half, as it continues on to the more acoustic led second half, you get little treats like the Eagles-like chorus on “Into The Woods” or the slide guitar solo on “Broken Home.” Highly Recommended.

Amazon | Kool Kat Musik


Keegan “Famous Last Words”

Keegan is a true international band with a British singer, German guitarist, French bass player and Austrian drummer – based in the multicultural surroundings of Cologne, Germany. Famous Last Words gives us a very straight on rock album, with a heavier rhythm guitar than expected, “Cross” has a decent hook, falling somewhere in between REM’s “Monster” era and Extreme’s metal pop tendencies.

Unfortunately this band fails to break past the conventional, and with 16 tracks could’ve used an edit. However at the mid-point there are some good power pop tunes shown in “End Of The Century,” “Poison”, “Tongue Tied” and the solid “Go Down In Flames.” 


Twelve String High and One Way Ticket

Twelve String High

Assorted Artists “Twelve String High”

There are few instruments that have a more recognizable sound and evoke the heyday of folk rock more than the 12 string guitar. Its the primary “jangle” in jangle pop and the Rickenbacker 12 string has the distinct riffs that made The Byrds music legends. This compilation by You are The Cosmos label is chockfull of 23 jangling tunes.

The wide variety of artists and 12-string styles are different enough to prevent predictability in the playlist. Standouts include Erik Voeks (“She Loved Her Jangle Pop,”) The Jangle Band (“Love You Too,”)The Sensitive Drunks (“There She Goes,”) and The Bellowers (“She Reappears.”) And there is no filler here, making this another highly recommended collection for jangle and power pop fans.

Amazon | You are The Cosmos

Twelve String High

One Way Ticket “And Life Just Simply Moves Along”

Recently finishing a tour with Paul Collins, this French power pop band from Besançon has a combination of late 80’s influences; The Jam, Buzzcocks, and of course, The Beat. Most of these songs started as singles, but are now compiled to form the debut LP.

This was also out late in 2016, but worth exploring as the dramatic energy on the opener “In The Upper World” demands attention with its forceful riffs. The follow-up “All Change” has a bigger hook and a great jangling rhythm. Although the lead singer’s accent is thick, they don’t distract from the music as the mix favors the rhythm and lead guitars. “Miss Grievous” and “Beside You” are solid gems with plenty of swagger. You will definitely want to check this band out.

Bandcamp | Vinyl only

Guilt by Association and Bongo Boy Records

Guilt By Association

Various Artists “Guilt by Association 4”

On 11L Radio NY International they had a special show on a pivotal year in music — 1966. I don’t often listen to cover complications, but this was a an exceptional collection. It starts with Chris Collingwood and Potty Mouth doing a faithful version of  The Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Summer In The City.” The artists don’t wildly go off style on the songs, but each artist is able to stand out. Lucy Woodward brings a garage feel to The Yardbirds “Shape of Things,” and Mike Viola adds synths and echo to make “You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me” his own haunting soundtrack. About half the tracks are ballads and they also picked two Beatles songs and a Monkees tune (“Sweet Young Thing.”) Highly Recommended.


Bongo Boy Records

Bongo Boy Records “Out of the Garage, Vol. 2”

We reviewed Volume 1, but didn’t get to this compilation until recently. A few of those Bongo Boy artists are back, starting with the ageless Mark Lindsay on the rocking “Show Me The Love,” and the wild cover of “Boys” by Cheap Perfume. The funny, catchy  “Kill A Clown (No, Not Really)” by Mike Daly & The Planets makes a perfect soundtrack to this old movie. Highlights include Mia Moravis “A Spy For Love” and The Accelerators do their best Ramones imitation on “Sun Surf and Sand.” Check out this newest collection of tunes!


Erik Voeks and Mike Adams

This week I will be reviewing a few LPs from 2016 that I missed:

Erik Voeks

Erik Voeks “So The Wind Won’t Blow It All Away”

I knew Erik was actively making music this year, but I missed that he combined all his singles into this strong album. The first half is pure magic, with heavy fuzz guitar behind an infectious beat on the opener “GML2C” and the referential “She Loved Her Jangle Pop” name dropping Chris Bell (Big Star) and Bobby Sutliff (The Windbreakers) all to a jangling melody. “Being In Love With You” is one of best pop love songs I heard this year, and recalls Voeks early 90’s work.

“Your Condition” and “She Was Doomed” are also gems, and at his best Voeks is like an American version of Michael Carpenter. He does offer up some moody ballads, like “Reasons” and “Blue Water” but they don’t slow down things too much. Overall a great collection of work and highly recommended.

Bandcamp only

Erik Voeks

Mike Adams and his Honest Weight “Casino Drone”

Indiana-based musician Mike Adams amazes as he plays all the instruments, evoking 90’s-era indie rock with tons of texture on the opening tracks “Bronze Worlds” and “Hobart, Chuck Manson, and Jim.” The songs are about struggling in a small town, done with careful arrangements and solid hooks. On “Stainless Still” it slowly grooves its way to a dream-like chorus of “I’m fine” across bare guitar rhythms.

“Underneath The Door” is almost a Velvets-like moody ballad, but the real power pop comes forth on the brilliant “Diem Be” with its catchy heavy riffs and harmony. Its definitely the album’s high point, but the other songs are certainly growers, “Smart Marks” is a great example, with its catchy bass line. The mood and sound also bring to mind, Mark Oliver Everett (The Eels) as the finale “Ideas Man” is a long droning mix of ambient noise, until the guitars hit and the magic happens. Highly Recommended.


Música en España: Shennon and Lotton, Lukah Boo, Julio Cable

2016 was a very busy year “across the pond” in Spain – which is a very strong market for power pop artists (Am I right, Kurt Baker?) and continues to produce great music in English and Spanish. A big thanks goes out to Rock Indiana label in Madrid. Here are some of my favorites…


Shennon and Lotton “PM Songs”

Guitarist, vocalist and composer Pepe Murgadas and his band (Roque Esteban, Xavier Belda, Pepe Esteban and Ximo Espinosa) are from Valencia, here to fill the world with Beatlesque melodies. His sound is very smooth and romantic with ballads like “Again” and “More Than Life Itself” shine with perfect musicianship. The upbeat mid-tempo songs like “I Saw That Photograph” effortless bring out those catchy hooks and each song here is a winner, without a wasted note. In fact next to my other favorite Beatles-styled bands of 2016, The Weeklings and Radio Days the music is less nostalgic and more modern sounding. The album is all in English and Super Highly Recommended.


Lukah Boo

Lukah Boo “La Sombra de Ayer”

The title means “The Shadow of Yesterday” and Lukah Boo (Toni Sáenz) is the lead singer of Madrid-based band The Happy Losers. This is his second solo effort and he still pulls at the heartstrings with his opening guitar ballad “Ocho Y Diez” but most of the album is uptempo power pop like “Huyendo De Ti” and “Hamburgo.” The music has glossy production that recalls mid 80’s pop like on “La Lluvia No Descansa” and “Si No Estas Tu.” The hooks are evident even if you don’t know the words, so check it out. Highly Recommended.


Julio Cable

Julio Cable “Centramina, Beatles y Mazinger Z”

More Beatles huh? Well yeah but this artist has a bit more Pete Townshend, than Fab Four in his blood. Julio Cable is a guitarist from Cádiz and formed the band Los Fundo Los Mundos in the late 80’s. The powerful riffs crash through on the opener “Farmacia de guardia” and the solid follow up “Sin Hablar.” The combo of guitar lines on “Para volver a ti” and “ooh ooh” backing chorus is the closest the band gets to The Beatles, but he has more in common with “The King of Power Pop” Paul Collins. Highly Recommended.

Bandcamp only