EPs Reviews: Jim Eyles, The Bishops’s Daredevil Stunt Club, Vista Blue

The Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club “Don’t Buy This Record”

The Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club gives us real sweet EP, it features a variety of styles from the angular alt. rock synths of “Have You Met You” to the bright riffs of the anthemic “Succumb To The Blues.” Clearly the band likes to indulge with longer jams but what is interesting here is the 5-minute long “Just Drive” where the first minute is clearly inspired by the theme of the show Stranger Things. My favorite here is “The Sweetest Song” with a whistling bridge to a catchy chorus. And its a FREE Download — this is so good it’s scary!

Vista Blue “October Days (and October Nights!)”

Vista Blue is back in time for Halloween. The Blue boys give us a real treat in a series of fuzz drenched songs based on horror movie locations, like the Beach Boys inspired “Crystal Lake” and “Trick ‘r Treat.” Also enjoy the Ramones-like “Haddonfield Memorial.” Bonus points if you can name the movies these locations are from. This is also a FREE Download — no tricks here, just a power pop treat!

Jim Eyles “Propeller”

New Jersey based artist Jim Eyles delivers a raw rock and roller “It Takes Too Long” and his take on “Slow Down Fast” makes use of a catchy bass riff. While Eyles vocals are a bit rough, producer Steve Butler (Smash Palace) adds some brilliant guitar work on “You Should Know Better” and the reverb rhythms of “For The World.” Overall a fine introduction to Jim Eyles, and a great addition to your playlist.

CD Baby | Amazon

Slow Down Fast – Jim Eyles from Jim Eyles on Vimeo.

Big Star “Complete Third” and Friends & Frenemies

Big Star

Big Star “Complete Third”

Big Star’s third album is a big deal in that it appealed to fans outside of its loyal power pop base, and its raw emotions cemented the band’s legend. At this point the band was cut in half, with Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens doing what they really wanted, commercial considerations be damned. Chilton’s lyrics showcase deep depression and frustration, and his vision was highly influential in the development of alternative rock, still felt decades later.

Recorded in 1974 but not released for the first time until 1978, Third would be subsequently re-released, renamed and re-sequenced many times over the years. While some demos and alternate versions and mixes of songs have dribbled out on various compilations, all extant recordings made for the album are presented for the first time on Complete Third. This definitive collection boasts 69 total tracks, 29 of which are previously unheard session recordings, demos and alternate mixes made by producer Jim Dickinson and engineer John Fry. The set allows the listener to track the creation of the album from the original demos, through sessions and rough mixes, to the final masters of each song. The box set contains extensive notes from original participants and artists influenced by Big Star. It’s comparable to The Beach Boys Pet Sounds Sessions in terms of its thoroughness.

While this may be overkill for the casual fan, this is a “must have” for serious Big Star fans and music audiophiles. Highly Recommended.


Mystery Lawn Music

Assorted Artists “Friends & Frenemies”

Mystery Lawn is a Northern California label that’s home to many great West Coast power pop bands like The Orange Peels, The Agony Aunts, The Corner Laughers, Anton Barbeau and more. But what I love about a compilation like this is I can discover other bands I have not heard before like The Variable Stars on “The Lights Above Los Gatos” and the light airy vocals of Arts & Leisure on “Can’t Breathe.” And its not all rock and pop, examples of classical (Henry Plotnick) or folk guitar (Black Butterfly Gang) are featured too.

If you dig harmonies and female lead vocals you will love The Flywheels (“Counting To Eleven”) and Alison Faith Levy (“Rainbow Tunnel”) who clearly channels Jackie DelShannon. While not everything here is as infectious as “Oh Please” from the brilliant Marshall Holland, I didn’t really find a really bad track among the 18 songs on display here, and many are exclusive – so pick this one up! Highly Recommended.

Bandcamp exclusive

Cheap Star and Bubble Gum Orchestra

Cheap Star

Cheap Star “Songs For The Farrelly Brothers”

Although Cheap Star started as an offshoot of both Big Star and The Posies (produced by Ken Stringfellow and John Auer) with each release the band has forged its own distinct identity. Guitarist-lead singer Remi Vaissiere as mastered the hushed lead vocal with just enough harmonies to appeal to fans of Nada Surf and Teenage Fanclub.

“Memories” is a great starting track, as it layers the instrumentation and vocals describing a sad passage of time; “all the things you’ll never see again, one by one everyone disappears…” The shimmering rhythm of “Where Do I Live” is another soothing mid-tempo song, and at points that old Posies sound comes through on several tunes “What’s The Point”, “Stay Behind” and “The Other Side.” Without much contrast in the compositions, it can drag at points, but enough here stands out to keep things interesting  like the solid “Disaster” and the catchy closer “Into Your Arms,” with its distorted guitar solo. Another worthy release from this talented group.

Amazon | Kool Kat Musik

Bubble Gum Orchestra

Bubble Gum Orchestra “Sticky Love Songs Vol.1 & Vol.2”

Short of Jeff Lynne, the best shot of hearing Electric Light Orchestra’s iconic sound is left to Michael Hildebrandt’s Bubble Gum Orchestra. “Sticky Love Songs Volume 1 & 2” is a double album that fills your ELO fix and allows BGO to branch out a bit more.

Each new album finds Hildebrandt’s technique improving, “You Called To Tell Me” opens similar to “Eldorado,” but delivers a very original tune with a catchy chorus. The orchestral arrangements get more sophisticated across the next several tracks, like “My World Blue.” The sunny “Peppermint Smile” has a terrific jangling middle 8 and “Hard Nights” has a driving dark chorus sandwiched between sunny verses.   With 20 tracks there is sure to be more than a few favorite songs here for the ELO fan.

Buy Direct

Freebies and EP Reviews: The Lunar Laugh, Red Cabin, Kai Danzberg, Melanie Crew and David Myhr

Jared Lekites is back as The Lunar Laugh with a new singe “Work In Progress” and its got great catchy melody. Jared never disappoints, so get this one!

Long island native Jonathan Foster is back with a new Red Cabin EP. “Willow Tree” and “Falling Apart” are solid pop gems. Its a FREE download so add it to your playlist. 

German musician Kai Danzberg has many influences from disco, modern pop to powerpop and “Time Machine” is clearly influenced by ELO. Some hit potential is definitely here, listen also to “You Keep Turning.”

Okay London native Melanie Crew is NOT power pop, but she’s got a calm sweet voice. She’s actually had songs receive airplay on the BBC. If you want to just chill out this is the FREE download for you.

Video Spotlight

David Myhr(The Merrymakers) has a new single “Spellbound” that I promoted on Facebook a few days ago. It’s a very ELO-inspired track that is featured in a Swedish movie “Flykten till Framtiden.” Looking forward to more Myhr! Get it on iTunes

Mimi Betinis and Steve Ison

Mimi Betinis

Mimi Betinis “Music Sounds”

Mimi Betinis (Pezband) makes a long overdue return since 2010’s All That Glitters and the arrangements are more playful, less structured on Music Sounds. “Pontiac” is the most rock oriented single here, asking some important life questions on a road trip. Mimi’s vocals are soft but clear throughout — he just sounds great.

Next “Summer Love ’68” is a descriptive slice-of-life love story that may or may not be fictional, but the strong “Corinna” is a big highlight with a sweeping guitar hook in the driving chorus. From here the album starts to resemble the McCartney solo era on the sweet “Listen to Me” and the jazz-inspired “This Girl.” The charm of Betinis approach works best on the catchy gems “She Wants You” and “Sound The Alarm,” where the sonic experimentation within each hummable melody works best. Overall a highly recommended album, and keep it coming Mimi!

Music Sounds | Amazon

Steve Ison

Steve Ison “The Stars Are Never Really Distant”

Steve Ison is a bedroom pop artist with a solid talent and knows a catchy hook or two on The Stars Are Never Really Distant.This album is a compilation of songs he’s worked on since 2006. “If I Met You Again” slowly opens with Ison’s warm jangling melody, and a bouncy guitar chorus with a big hook. But my favorite here is the jubilant “Golden Pie,” its catchy blues pop of the highest order with some nice harmonies and a toe-tapping rhythm.

“Lou Reed” echoes the music legend in his best Velvet Underground style, with echoing piano and strings. His main influences are all classic 60’s artists. “The Strangest Feeling” and “Girl On The Train” are folk melodies that recall both early Dylan and Buffalo Springfield. As Ison floats from genre to genre he demonstrates skillful musicianship, as “I Know A Good Thing” is very much like Donovan. You may also like his previous release On The Way Up. 

Bandcamp only