Midnight Juggernauts and DrBoKarma

Some unique non-power pop finds that may turn your head:


Midnight Juggernauts “Dystopia”
These Australians, in a nod to the Ramones, renamed themselves Vincent Juggernaut and Andy Juggernaut. The two met in high school and played straightforward guitar rock together before moving on to experiment with synthesizers and dance music. By combining electronic dance pop and prog rock in equal parts you get The Midnight Juggernauts “Dystopia” – The group uses synths, drums, and bass with the occassional falsetto vocal in spots creates pop that with a dark, ominous undercurrent. “Into the Galaxy” is very successful single, and you will hear echos of ELO and The Moody Blues that fit just fine here. The smooth new wave synth beats of “Shadows” will give you Depeche Mode flashbacks of the 80’s. These influences continue through “Worlds Converge” with hints of a very Bowie-like vocal as well. Overall I highly recommend this combination of wonderously hypnotic synths, stomping rhythm, and apocalyptic choruses. So far the best dance music I’ve heard since Scissor Sisters.
 The MJ Site | My Space |


DrBoKarma “Don’t Be Rediculous- part one”
Eccentric and charming. Strange and experimental. These are words that describe the self produced album of DrBoKarma. This is a musical waltz through the genres-blending English folk/Pop Psychedelia that also touches on a bit of jazz as well. Think of it as Dan Zanes or Stew on a lot of quaaludes. In any case, DrBo takes you on a journey. Lets call it DIY quirky pop done by a well trained session man that knows how to set up a mood. Since it’s so hard to pigeonhole, let me just point out the Kinks like ballad “Yvonne” as a highlight. Not for everyone, but worth a listen. You can only buy the CD from the DrBoKarma website or Amazon.com
The DrBoKarma Website | My Space

Pomegranates, Dream Bitches and Clovis Roblaine

Here are a few new artists releases making waves recently:


The Pomegranates “Everything is Alive”
This Cincinnati, Ohio band draws comparisons to Death Cab For Cutie and Modest Mouse, with a knack for soft melodies and obtuse song structures. This album draws influences from classic rock and experimental pop, and sometimes it works really nice on the intricate “Whom/Who” or the organized mess of “In the Kitchen.” They channel classic Kinks on “Late Night Television” but the best track here is the Beach Boys meets Death Cab track, “The Bellhop” which points out what makes the group special. The albums second half doesn’t keep the pace up, but if you want something a bit left of center power pop, it’ll do just fine.
Lujo Records | My Space | Itunes

Dream Bitches “Coke and Spriters
The lack of solid female power pop vocalists lately has me in a funk, until I heard Yoko Kikuchi and Ann Zakaluk aka Dream Bitches. This is a playful pop album, that gets all the influences right, without sounding like The Pipettes. The guitar riffs on the catchy “Hierarchy Island” remind me of a female version of the Vandalias a little bit. The gears switch around and they can channel both They Might Be Giants lyrical sarcasm and The Cranberries vocal harmonies all at once. “Mother’s Day” is an especially good song in this style. Some songs get folky and then others like “Me and The Major” have a nice garage pop feel. “Sweet Anneth” is a hilarious ode from a bitch’s point of view. And the pop hooks and effortless harmonies here are a welcome change in the  super catchy “Video Games” – for those of you who miss the old Liz Phair, you’ll find comfort with the Dream Bitches.
Dream Bitches’s home | My Space| Itunes


Clovis Roblaine “The Clovis Roblaine Story”
Thanks to a hot tip in my e-mail box, I give you this, the very definition of a lost classic power pop album from the 1980’s. Clovis Roblaine is a talented Oklahoma multi-instrumentalist. His lone LP encompasses a variety of classic power pop styles: girl groups, vocal and instrumental surf tunes, mersybeat, Buddy Holly, and a pinch of doo-wop. The album compares well with the best that Dwight Twilley could offer at the time. The used record of this album goes for over $150 on some collectors sites. And you will not find it anywhere else (at least I couldn’t). Get it before it’s gone…
CD baby

The Campbell Apartment "Insomniacs Almanac" FREE Album

The Campbell Apartment formed in mid to late 2007 when long-time friends Ari Vais and Dan Haag had a conversation about how for the 10 years they have known each other, they’ve always wanted to play together but never have. So now they have collaborated to create the first album “Insomniacs Almanac” which I can say has a Guided By Voices meets Fountains of Wayne-styled sound. So it’s no surprise that FOW is touring with them. The opener “Long Distance Relationship” sounds like an outtake from GBV’s “Alien Lanes” with contrasting vocal and guitar melodies that melt together. The short tunes are full of cognizant material and occasionally hilarious lyrics. Both “Wife” and “St. Louis” have those wonderful hook-filled choruses and stream of thought details similar to FOW. By mid album, the tone changes a bit to more topical humor, an example are the very funny “How To Be Alone” and “Addicted To MySpace” that fans of Jonathan Coulton or They Might Be Giants will appreciate. The next group of songs “Afterthought” and “Stuck” get a lttile more guitar heavy and lean closer towards Weezer. Toward album’s end Vais and Haag ruminate on the effects of creative burnout. This is evidenced with “Sick and Tired of Being Sick and Tired” and the tired theme continues with “Feverish and Friendly” where they mention “the only thing that I can think of is sleep.” Overall a fine album that will appeal without a doubt to GBV and FOW fans, as well as anyone who thinks they spend too much time on a computer… Wait, do I have an e-mail? Let me check.

UPDATE

The album can be listened to streaming on the band’s label Headphone Treats. But for a limited time the entire album will be available for as a FREE download from AmieStreet.com

My Space | Headphone Treats

The Pendrakes, The Eddies & Watts


The Pendrakes “Sunday Punch”
This is a Nebraska combo that is led by Paul Novak in a series of great alt-country/power pop songs. The styles mix together rather nicely.”Dead Man Brake” is a catchy and melodic opener that compares well with The Honeydogs or The Jayhawks. The next track “A Real Go Getter” is an excellent Beatlesque mid-tempo song with just the right amount of twang and wry lyrics. Every track here is a winner with rich harmonies and excellent guitar work – it kind of reminds me of the earlier Tim Rogers work with the Aussie band, You Am I. Songs like “Big Changes” are immediately attractive pop numbers and others like “Closed Casket” veer closer to the country side, and seep inside your conscious. The mix of slow ballads and pop tunes are nicely spaced, although the jazz-like “Salutations” doesn’t seem to fit on the album. There is a direct contrast in tunes that are very lightweight (“All About Love”) and very profound (“A Man Barely Alive”). For the power pop and heartland rock fan this is essential musical therapy.
My Space | CD Baby | Not Lame


The Eddies “Twice Around the World”
Brothers Dale and Dean Hoth (Guitar and Bass) along with producer Earl Mankey (Drums) are The Eddies. They put together an album full of bouncy pop songs in the Mod vein. The Eddies have taken a series of 80’s hit songs and put their own spin on them. A bit like Dwight Twilley meets The Records, they do a great job on several tracks like “Stranger In The House” and “Don’t Know Where To Start.” The guitars are strong without being tinny and the bothers Hoth do a good job with the harmonies as well (“Debbie Jones”). The drums/guitar new wave percussive interplay on “Jungle Beat” will take you back to that skinny tie era for sure. I am reminded of similar bands like The Mighty Lemon Drops and Big Country. The liner notes state “No keyboards, no synthesizers, no session musicians” – I haven’t seen claims like that since Queen’s “Jazz” (the honesty is appreciated, guys). Fans of the band Buddy Love will definitely want to pick this one up.
My Space | CD Baby | Jam Recordings | Kool Kat Musik


Watts “One Below The All Time Low”
Here is a band that really follows it’s namesake (Rolling Stones drummer, Charlie Watts). The opener “20 To 12” hits you with a wall of guitars and a driving bass-guitar/drum combo straight off of “Brown Sugar” which ain’t a bad thing here. The remaining tracks are less Stones-y with variable degrees of quality. Dan Kopko’s roaring husky vocals drive the excellent “One Below” and “She’s A Rock-n-Roller” with a gusto similar to Paul Westerberg. This tends to go over the top on “Pretty Revolution.” Other tunes, like “Kiss the Girl” have a Cars-like feel similar to “Shake it Up” and “All the Rage” is done in a Psychedelic Furs style. The guitar work here tends to dominate and take over on most songs. There are also no ballads here as the raw bar band energy pours out it’s full force. The other stand-out track here is “Freeway” – another Stones-y rocker that would make Keef, Mick, Bill and Charlie proud.
My Space | CD Baby | Itunes | Kool Kat Musik

Orba Squara, A Faulty Chromosome and Tessa


Orba Squara (or Mitch Davis) is a one man band whose song, “Perfect Timing (this morning)”, was on the iPhone commercial. I made a jolly reference to it here. His debut album”Sunshyness” isn’t power pop, but full of ambient organic sounds and gentle guitar. After a few listens, the sweet guitar sounds of “So Comfortable” and toy instruments of “Sunshine” are lots of fun. A good single here is “My Favorite Song” which goes perfectly as a B side to “Perfect Timing (this morning).” The vocals are understated and slightly warbley, kind of like a Tiny Tim for the 21st century. This is good easy going music and deserves a second listen.
My Space | Orba Squara.com | Itunes

A Faulty Chromosome is quirky enough to get you to pay attention to. They like to list New Order and My Bloody Valentine as influences, but I hear a distinct link to The Beta Band and Guided By Voices. This is not for everybody, but if you want to take a detour from your normal stuff, this is a rabbit hole you could fall into. Listen to the entire album streaming over here. Listen to “Anomie’s the enemy” and “Eyes Foreign eyes” – the rest of the it is for the fearless only.
My Space


Tessa Rae Newman “Spellbound” is something I don’t usually listen to, as it is contemporary pop. But Tessa has a great message, about all the pop star superficiality on “Barbie Doll Syndrome” and a pleasant voice. The studio craft is high here, and a highlights are “Spellbound” and “Don’t Rain On My Parade” with a good hook and the multi-tracking chorus fits just right. Sometimes it gets a bit too overproduced, but I’m not expecting the next LeAnn Rimes here. This is a good start for Tessa and if you’re looking for an alternative to Hilary Duff, give it a go.
Tessa’s Site | CD Baby