Chris Stamey and Mark Britton

Chris Stamey

Chris Stamey “Euphoria”

The venerable Chris Stamey (dB’s, Sneakers) quietly released this new album full of timeless pop. “Where Does The Time Go?” is phrase you will be saying after repeat listens, as the hook filled melody is surrounded by ascending chords and Beatlesque horns. Stamey’s gift is that he can see new things in compositions that echo the past.

“Make Up Your Mind” is the biggest gem here. It recalls Big Star, all about retirement the lyric states “isn’t it time you quit, its for your own benefit” with an awesome guitar break. The ballad “You Are Beautiful” slowly builds to a full orchestrated composition and “Invisible” is a statement about your insignificance that could be a lost REM hit single. “When The Fever Breaks” is the heaviest rocker here and  “Awake in the World” mines those East Indian Beatle-isms George Harrison was best associated with. The album has a great soul-seaching theme for Stamey and its highly recommended.

Amazon

Mark Britton

Mark Britton “Odds and Sodd”

This came out last year, but its worth noting if you have a Beatlesque fetish. Britton delivers several melodic tunes that exemplify power pop. Opening with the windmilling, power riff of “Hearts and Minds” its straight from The Pete Townshend playbook. Then its the McCartney styled piano of “Sally Ann,” with a Beach Boys styled vocal break. “Dear Rosa” is similar, with harpsichord as the main instrument and “Eleanor Rigby” styled strings.

He moves from these basic influences, but the strained lead of “Good Morning Sunshine,” shows Brittons limitations as a vocalist. His guitar also seems to come to life on “Let’s Get Famous,” but its a little too close to Fountain of Wayne’s “Bright Future In Sales.” He takes tired blues detour on “My Friend Foe,” but thankfully comes back with a pair of gems on the psychedelic “Magic Circles” and the charmer “Family Guy.” I’d give this one a few spins on the playlist, overall a positive impression.


Amazon | CD Baby

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The Power Popaholic Interview: Led Zeppelin 2

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Photo by Barry Brechiesen

Where do you go to experience your favorite classic rock band once they’ve broken up? You get yourself to a tribute show and soak in the live sounds of a cover band that can do the original group justice. In concert, Led Zeppelin 2 delivers authentic renditions of classic Zeppelin material, as well as recreating the live improvisation & onstage dynamics that earned Led Zeppelin their legendary status for performing, even satisfying diehard Zep fans. I got to chat with drummer Ian Lee, read the interview here!

Led Zeppelin 2 will be performing in Wantagh, NY on Thursday, August 6 at the Nikon Theater at Jones Beach and in Holmdel, NJ on Sunday, August 16 at the PNC Bank Arts Center. More info at http://www.ledzeppelin2.com/

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Bill Simpson and Stereo Tiger

Bill Simpson

Bill Simpson “Jealous Tides”

Bill Simpson is kind of similar to Wyatt Funderburk or Glenn Case, in that he really values melody over screeching guitars and composes clever songs without being pretentious. “I Want To Fall in Love With You”  is a sweet pop melody wrapped in multiple layered harmonies, thick guitar chords and its the standout single here. “Harder Everyday” is a fast paced follow-up that follows the same approach, the slower shimmering guitar strums of “Someday” has echoes of Pete Ham’s balladry with minor chords and a smooth solo at the break.  It follows with “What Can I Do,” its call and response chorus in a Rembrandts-like guitar melody and then the pace slows down briefly for “Tell Me.”

With only 8 tracks (and one is purely filler), its catchy ear worms are primarily on the first half, with a break for slower pop on “It’s Been A Long Time” then it picks up the pace again on “She Won’t Care.” At times the techniques and lyrical themes repeat, but the songs are so short and sweet its hard to be too critical. A few introspective ballads would be a nice addition, otherwise its highly recommended.

Itunes | Amazon


Stero Tiger

Stereo Tiger “Two Weeks”

Formed in the summer of 2013, Stereo Tiger emerged out of a series of impromptu jam sessions involving Kenny Stahl, Henry Ashburn, and Aaron Posega. True to its title, this album was recorded by Andy Reed in only ten days! Influenced by late 1970s style, the slow build of the bass guitar in “Magic Balloon,” has a soaring chorus with dense harmonies in this epic rock ballad. “Perfect World” is a lighter touch of pop and then we get to the guitar crunch of “Open Your Eyes,” another standout track.

“Runaway” adds a fuzz vocal to a garage riff that recalls The Police in its early days. Then it goes in a different style entirely, “All These Years” is like a lost Billy Joel track with its mellotron keys and sax flourishes. The varied styles put me off at first, but after a few more listens you’ll appreciate the strong melodies in gems like “Philly Girl”and “Did You Ever Love Me.” Overall the skill of this ambitious young band makes this sleeper a highly recommended pick. (and on bandcamp its name-your-price!)

Buy Direct | Amazon

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Tribute bands: “Not ______, But an Incredible Simulation.”

Tribute bands (cover bands) have been around since Elvis impersonators strolled across the Vegas stage. What starts off as a way for some friends to get together and celebrate the music of their favorite bands by playing their music has become an essential way of keeping that artists memory alive. Its a starting point for many up-and-coming musicians before launching their own careers. Hell, even at age 4, Bruno Mars started as the world’s youngest Elvis impersonator. While a few tribute acts are overzealous fans badly imitating their heroes, select tribute bands have enjoyed considerable fame.  Great examples include Marshall Crenshaw, who played John Lennon and Glen Burtnick who played Paul McCartney in the original Beatlemania.

As original band members pass on, the tribute band is there to keep the music experience fresh. We’ll review a select group of tribute bands in the near future. So stay tuned!

 

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Friday Freebies: The Foreign Films, Exohxo, The McLovings and The Buzz

The Foreign Films: The amazing talent of Bill Majoros is back! This is a special preview of 6 full songs from the upcoming double album The Record Collector (side 3). The full album should be out soon, but this taste tells me it could reach my top ten list this year. Enjoy!

Exohxo: a funny name but a great sound. Exohxo is a domesticated five-piece chamber rock band from Seattle that spent their their twenties in lets-take-over-the-world touring bands. Now scattered across their thirties with families, jobs, and mortgages, these seemingly well-adjusted and entirely approachable adults appear unwilling to finish growing up if that means surrendering the music and the camaraderie that has always been integral to their happiness.

The McLovings: I guess there are worse names than a character from the movie Superbad who is a nerd, but the man. The guys are from San Sebastián, Spain and the accents are heavy, but so is the rock.

The Buzz: Washington D.C.’s The Buzz sound a little rough, but the bass lead melodies and impressive musicianship keep this band afloat. I liked the anthem-like “Drunk and Cryin” and mid tempo “Pack it in, Girl” showcase this bands classic rock chops.

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