Daisy House and Tommy Zamp

Daisy House

Daisy House “Crossroads”

Formed in 2012, Daisy House played compelling folk pop, but with last year’s Crossroads, the band has jumped more into the melodic rock sandbox. Daisy House is made from the duo of Doug Hammond on guitar, bass, keys, and his daughter Tatiana on vocals.

The booming drums, and bass guitars open up “Languages,” a gorgeous song with Tatiana’s strong harmonies anchoring a catchy chorus about “peace and love.” Ever wonder what would’ve happened if Joni Mitchell had joined The Byrds? This is as close as you’ll get to that. The title track is a nice combo of bass rhythms and acoustic strums, but the Byrdsian jangle is a big highlight on “Leaving The Star Girl” and “The Girl Who Holds My Hand,” even Doug’s vocal sounds like Gene Clark. There is still plenty of sensitive folk balladry here like the mid-tempo “Remembering The Arc” for Doug and haunting piano tune “Albion” showcasing Tatiana’s beautiful voice. Overall, great musicianship elevates this album above most I’ve heard in 2017. Highly recommended.

Amazon | Bandcamp


Tommy Zamp

Tommy Zamp “You Don’t Know Me”

Rocker Tommy Zamp (Fixer, Circus Life) has a sound similar to Butch Walker, Izzy Stradlin or Extreme. His solo LP came out last year and was included in several best-of lists, as it is an unabashed love letter to New York City.

“Pretty Girls” is a cheerful glam tune that opens the album, and you almost expect a dance number to go along with it. The heavy fuzz guitar melodies continue with “Tattoos Of Stars” and its hand claps to go with its tour of the neighborhood. “Romeo” and “Beautiful Losers”  have a dense pop sound similar to Cheap Trick with a guitar riff following Tommy’s swaggering vocal. Many highlights here include “Let It Go,” the chunky riffed “Time” and “Calling Mother May.” Not everything sticks, the ballads drone on a bit much — but there is enough here to make it a highly recommended listen.

Amazon | CD Baby

Danny de la Matyr and Luke Fitzpatrick

Danny de la Matyr

Danny de la Matyr “Crybaby”

Dallas native Danny De La Matyr has been widely praised last year. Jody Stephens (Big Star) said “Crybaby is a beautiful record. Danny’s voice is soft but emotive, in part because of his sweet melodies.” Danny has mentioned his favorite artists are Paul McCartney, XTC, Todd Rundgren and his LP made quite a few “best-of” lists, so I sought it out.

Crybaby starts with the Big Star-ish mid-tempo “Drift Away” and the acoustic “Waterslide” which makes good use of Danny’s hushed vocals. But the slow building gem “How Can It Be?” is very similar to Paul Bertolino’s 70’s influenced style. The jangling guitars and echoing “Lines” bring to mind Dwight Twilley at his melodic best. Other gems include the Beatlesque “Skeleton Key” and the brilliant key track “Misfire” which is one of the better songs I’ve heard this year. The anthemic “Fade To Grey” has an Elton John feeling to it. The rocking guitar also comes out on “Rippin’ my Soul Out,” overall a great album that also could’ve made my list last year. Highly recommended.

Amazon

Luke Fitzpatrick

Luke Fitzpatrick “Sun Songs”

Sydney based songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Fitzpatrick is a power pop fan who draws inspirations from The Beach Boys, Phil Spector, and Todd Rundgren. Each song is 2 minutes or under, done in a DIY bedroom pop style, as “Through” layers vocals, piano and hook-filled riffs. The lyrics are as simple as any from the golden era of rock and roll as heard on “Don’t Forget About Me.” Fitzpatrick has a method of establishing a simple verse-chorus couplet that burns into your brain, like the catchy “Tell Them.”

The limitations of this style are apparent midway through, as the tempo and rhythms of the songs tend to blend together, and it sometimes feels more like a demo or sketch, for example, “Chance is Gone” just begs for a fuller production. Still, this is a fun set of music sure to impress power pop fans looking for melodic ear candy. Oh yeah, this is also a FREE download, so no excuses!

Bandcamp

David Bash’s Top 125 Album list

It’s that time of year again! I post this list to benefit people who are not on Facebook. For the newbies here, David Bash is the CEO of IPO (International Pop Overthrow) music festival and generally a grand poobah of Power Pop opinion. So I’m proud to say we both picked the same #1 album of the year, Sitcom Neighbor’s Shag! All of my top 30 are in here, plus a ton of music I did not get to review. If you’d like to see other categories, like top re-issues – you’ll need to contact David through Facebook. And if you’d like to see another good power pop end-of-year list, check out the blogs that actively support power pop, for example, Absolute Power Pop, Power Pop Square, Power Pop Station (also, picked Shag at #1) and Power Pop News. So let’s begin.

Top 125 Albums

  1. Sitcom Neighbor-Shag (Gravity Works)
  2. Mark & The Clouds-Cumulus (Mega Dodo)
  3. The Flywheels-I’m For The Flowers (MLM)
  4. Brent Cash-The New High (Marina)
  5. Dent May-Across The Multiverse (Carpark)
  6. Wesley Fuller-Inner City Dream (1965)
  7. Derrick Anderson-A World of My Own (Omnivore)
  8. The Galileo 7-Tear Your Minds Wide Open (Damaged Goods)*
  9. The Belmondos-Good Mistakes (Self Released)
  10. Ruby Free-Shades (SodaStar)
  11. The Stanleys-The Stanleys (Pop Detective/Off The Hip/Rock Indiana)
  12. Mothboxer-The Secret Art of Saying Nothing (Self Released)
  13. Sex Clark Five-Ghost Brigade (Russia)
  14. Justin Levinson-Yes Man (Self Released)
  15. The Nines-Colour Radio (T.A.S. Gold)
  16. Cheap Trick-Cheap Trick Christmas (Big Machine)
  17. Groovy Movies-Groovy Movies (Hidden Volume)*
  18. The John Sally Ride-A New Set of Downs (Kool Kat)
  19. Sidewalk Society-Strange Roads: The Songs of Rolled Gold (Fruits De Mer)
  20. El Goodo-By Order of The Moose (Strangetown)
  21. The Sexies-The Sexies (Self Released)
  22. Chris Price-Stop Talking (Omnivore)
  23. Chris Lund-Great Event Syndrome (Self Released)
  24. Pugwash-Silver Lake (Lojinx)
  25. Eyelids-Or (Jealous Butcher)
  26. Burgess Meredith-A Dimension of Sound (Self Released)
  27. Corin Ashley-Broken Biscuits (Murray Hill)
  28. Paul Bertolino-Toy Box (No Label)
  29. Richard X. Heyman-Incognito (Turn-Up)
  30. Wiretree-Towards The Sky (Self Released)
  31. Third of Never-Austerity (Jam)
  32. Michael Roberts-Suspended In This Space (Digitalis)
  33. The Brass Buttons-Seven Seasons (Rock Indiana)
  34. Once & Future Band-Once & Future Band (Castle Face)
  35. Gail George-Bloom (Self Released)
  36. Richard Turgeon-In Between The Spaces (Kool Kat)
  37. Robyn Hitchcock-Robyn Hitchcock (Yep Roc)
  38. The New Pornographers-Whiteout Conditions (Collected Works)
  39. The Sighs-Wait On Another Day (OMAD)
  40. Balduin-Bohemian Garden (Sunstone)*
  41. Serpent Power-Electric Looneyland (Skeleton Key)
  42. Duncan Reid & The Big Heads-Bombs Away (Self Released)
  43. Brenyama-Euphoria Love (JEM)
  44. Squeeze-The Knowledge (Love)
  45. Daniel Wylie’s Cosmic Rough Riders-Scenery For Dreamers (Self Released)
  46. The Kik-Stad En Land (Excelsior)
  47. The Charlatans-Different Days (Self Released)
  48. Alain Pire Experience-Songs From The 13th Floor (Self-Released)
  49. Plasticsoul-Therapy (Big Stir)
  50. The Lunar Laugh-Mama’s Boy (You Are The Cosmos)
  51. Jane Bordeaux-Ma She’Hashoov (Self Released)
  52. The Virtues-Oh Dear (Zip)
  53. The Wellingtons-End of The Summer (Off The Hip)
  54. Gospelbeach-Another Summer of Love (Alive!)
  55. Nick Heyward-Woodland Echoes (Universal/Sony)
  56. Pseudonym-Pack of Lies (Kool Kat)
  57. Ride-Weather Diaries (Wichita)
  58. Greg Ieronimo-Never Leaving California (Self-Released)
  59. Liam Gallagher-As You Were (Warner )
  60. The On & Ons-Welcome Aboard (Citadel)
  61. The Kik-Hertaalt! (Excelsior)
  62. Dan Auerbach-Waiting On A Song (Easy Eye Sound)
  63. Dana Countrymen-The Joy of Pop (Sterling Swan)
  64. Fastball-Step Into The Light (Self Released)
  65. The Blood Rush Hour-Who Folds First (Nicola)
  66. Ameoba Teen-Selection Box Vol. 1 (Magic Circle)
  67. Cotton Mather-Wild Kingdom (Star Apple Kingdom)
  68. Simon Felton-Topsy Turvy (Pink Hedgehog)
  69. The Len Price 3-Kentish Longtails (JLM)
  70. Pop Co Op-Four State Solution (Silent Burglar)
  71. Temples-Volcano (Fat Possum)
  72. The Naturals-We Are The Naturals (Popboomerang)
  73. Real Estate-In Mind (Domino)
  74. Strangers In A Strange Land-Strangers In A Strange Land (Self Released)
  75. The Singles-Sweet Tooth (Self Released)
  76. Cait Brennan-Third (Omnivore)
  77. Smart Patrol-Overage Underachievers (Off The Hip)
  78. The Connection-Just For Fun! (Rum Bar)
  79. The Tearaways-Esq. (AMR)
  80. King Washington-Potential (The End)
  81. Neil Finn-Out of Silence (Universal)
  82. Gloria-In Excelsis Stereo (Howlin’ Banana)
  83. The Simple Carnival-Smitten (Sundrift)
  84. Propeller-Don’t Ever Let This Let You Down (Moving Wall)
  85. The Hangabouts-Kits & Cats and Saxon Wise (Futureman)
  86. The Mylars-Melody Records (Melody)
  87. Phil Angotti-Such Stories (Cavdog)
  88. Karla Kane-King’s Daughters Home For Incurables (MLM)
  89. Punch Punch Kick-Punch Punch Kick (Lollipop)
  90. The Shins-Heartworms (Columbia)
  91. Mark Crozer and The Rels-Sunny Side Down (Planting Seeds)
  92. Game Theory-Supercalifragile (KCM)
  93. Suzy & Los Quattro-Faster & Louder! (Rock Indiana)
  94. Honeychain-Crushed (Self Released)
  95. The Safes-Tasty Waves (Hidden Volume)*
  96. Celsi, Bragg & Maitland-The Road To Glasgow (Steel Derrick)
  97. Sparks-Hippopotamus (P&C)
  98. Flamin’ Groovies-Fantastic Plastic (Burger)
  99. Charles Jenkins & The Zhivagos-The Last Polaroid
  100. Hornal-The Game Begins With The Lights Out (Self-Released)
  101. Todd O’Keefe-Uptown (Self Released)
  102. Freezing Hands-II (Hidden Volume)
  103. Fernando Perdomo-The Golden Hour (Forward Motion)
  104. Gentle Brent-Just Dandy (Jigsaw)
  105. Shake Some Action!-Crash Through Or Crash (Satellite)
  106. The Men-Sunburst (TMI)
  107. Stevie Moore/Jason Falkner-Make It Be (Bar None)
  108. Chris Church-Limitations of Source Tape (Spyderpop)
  109. Cheap Trick-We’re All Alright! (Big Machine)
  110. The Viewers-Universal Sky (Self Released)
  111. The Maharajas-You Can’t Beat Youth (Low Impact)*
  112. Judy Dyble/Andy Lewis-Summer Dancing (Acid Jazz)
  113. The Forty Nineteens-Good Fortune (Kool Kat)
  114. The Baron Four-Silvaticus (Get Hip)
  115. Autos Detroit-Second Best (Self Released)
  116. The Wheels-The Year of The Monkey (Warner Chapell)
  117. Leisure McCorkle-5000 Light Years Beyond The Speed of Sound (Nappystar Chocolate)
  118. Blair Packham-Unpopular Pop (Self Released)
  119. Kris Rodgers-Losing The Frequency (Rum Bar)
  120. The Deep Six-Introducing The Deep Six (Heavy Soul)
  121. Ryan Hamilton & The Traitors-The Devil’s In The Detail (Fanny Pack)
  122. Gordy Garris-Never Give Up (Self Released)
  123. The Yellow Melodies-Life (The Beautiful Music)
  124. The Clientele-Music For The Age of Miracles-Merge
  125. Magic Bus-Phillip The Egg (Back To The Garden)

Top 10 EPs

  1. Cliff Hillis-Many Happy Returns (Tallboy)
  2. Irene Pena-Trying Not To Smile (Self Released)
  3. Borgh-Stars, Bars & Vintage Guitars (Self Released)
  4. Thrift Store Halo-Pop Rocket (Hi-Beam)
  5. The Seasongs-Dias Y Noches (Clifford)*
  6. Jamie & Steve-Subtextural (Loaded Goat)
  7. E Joseph and The Sparrows-Glorygram Vol. Three (Mantaray)
  8. Dave Rave & The Governors-The Indicator (RaeBeat)
  9. Christine B Phelan-Mind Games (Self Released)
  10. The Hingles-No Matter What (HAK-P)

Sparks “Hippopotamus”

Sparks

Sparks “Hippopotamus”

I have to acknowledge the musical “elephant in the room” (or is that expression “hippo in the room”?) in that one of the longest lasting and most unique sounding bands continues to produce substantial music without compromise nearly 50 years along. I’m talking about Sparks, more specifically the Mael brothers; Ron and Russell. I can’t think of any other musical artist short of Todd Rundgren who deftly avoids commercial success, yet keeps its cult fan base on the edge of its seat over the course of decades. It makes sense that Rundgren helped get them started too, signing them to his Bearsville label and produced their self-titled 1971 debut. Early on, Sparks was compared favorably with 10cc, but with even more artistic integrity. I would encourage the uninitiated to explore the vast back catalog which I consider experimental power pop until the band’s shift to electronic disco on 1979’s No.1 in Heaven, which is considered the band’s commercial breakthrough in the US.

But I digress, as Hippopotamus the band’s 23rd album retains Ron Mael’s sharp wit, and Russel’s iconic vocals as best displayed early on for “Missionary Position.” The meta-melodramatic “Edith Piaf (Said It Better Than Me)” is a great example of Sparks musical auteurism. And like most Sparks work, some tunes are perfectly accessible (“Unaware”) and others border on annoying (“Giddy Giddy”). The title track is a surrealist nursery rhyme, and another highlight is the light and wobbly “I Wish You Were Fun.”

Even when the subject gets somber, like on “Bummer” about a funeral service or “Life with the Macbeths” the impressive operatic musical composition showcases the brothers’ knack for brilliance. When I was done, I felt compelled to revisit the early period work and marvel at how ahead of its time it was and how it holds up even today. Highly Recommended.

Amazon

Kai Danzberg and Third of Never

Kai Danzberg

Kai Danzberg “Pop-Up Radio”

We first heard about German musician Kai Danzberg last year on an EP, but he’s been very busy since then. You gotta appreciate a guy who wears his power pop influences on his sleeve, or in this case his entire body. It all starts with the faux Jellyfish opener “Welcome To The Show” with references The Beatles, Jellyfish, Queen, The Bee Gees and Pink Floyd(?). It uses every audio cue you could think of, a chiming piano, layered effects, and all that instrumentation is impressive. The piano coda leads into the sunny “Yes We Can” which is the kind of harmonic pop similar to The Sonic Executive Sessions or Paul Steel. The chorus pleads and delivers a full-on sugar rush.

The entire album follows this style, highlights include the “You’re The One,” “How Can You” and the earnest gem “Too Late.” But the pop sweetness wears off by the album’s mid-point. There are lots of compelling musical elements, however not everything here has a hook and often the atmosphere and production overshadow the song compositions. Fortunately, there is enough to make this a highly recommended listen. Fans of the above-referenced bands will appreciate it, and if you’re a Michael Jackson fan you’ll definitely want to check out his recent Unacceptable EP. Oh yeah, Kai has also made this a FREE download – so dig in!

Bandcamp

Third of Never

Third of Never “Austerity”

A New Jersey power pop band with the emphasis on “power” is made up of Jon Dawson, CJ Grogan, Vince Grogan, and Mike Polilli with Kurt Reil (The Grip Weeds) and John Bundrick (The Who) lending a hand. The pounding drums and thick riffs of “Kidnapped Information” showcase the bands crackling energy that will really appeal to fans of The Who or Blue Oyster Cult. “Dig The View” is another great song meant to be played loud.

The atmospheric hard rock of “Run Silent, Run Deep” is another winner, and even the lead vocals resemble Roger Daltry. The band keeps the pedal to the floor, although the tempo finally slows on “18 Strings,” a song with some great percussive effects and texture. And we finally hear those harmonies on the closer “Shanty Town.” This would’ve made my top 30 if I heard it earlier this year. Highly Recommended.

Amazon