Mark Bacino and Erik Voeks are back!

Mark Bacino

Mark Bacino “Not That Guy”

Its been over six years since Mark Bacino had an album out, he’s been busy producing and mixing for various artists, composing for television-film-advertising and writing for publications such as Songwriter’s Market and Guitar World.

Now, Mark finally returns to his post as power pop, singer-songwriter with the release of a new single, “Not That Guy.” Its a bouncy tune about the guy who will always be stuck in the “friend zone.” I hope this single is the beginning of a new album, because its great to hear some fresh new Bacino.

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Erik Voeks “Grey Rain Town”

Another artist I’ve been a fan of for a long time is singer-songwriter Erik Voeks. He’s continued to produce music albiet on a smaller scale this year with a series of A-B singles through bandcamp. “Grey Rain Town” has a great orchestral sweep, anchored by a Beatlesque guitar rhythm. And “Delivering Rocks” has a nice chorus with sleigh bells. I would encourage you to see the other singles on his Bandcamp page.

New Artists and Freebies: Hailee Rose, The Boys Themselves, Vista Blue and Sally Stitches

Hailee Rose

Hailee Rose “Introducing Hailee Rose”

One of the biggest treats of last week’s Powerpopaholic Fest has been a visit from Dave Rave and his protegee Hailee Rose.  Her debut album captures some of her fantastic voice with help from Rave and his band mates on a series of covers. A classic blues tune “My Babe” is nice opener, kudos to guitarist Chris Wheeler. But Hailee really shines when she belts one out like The Beatles “Oh! Darling” and Aretha’s “Respect.” The recording is crisp and sparsely produced, but doesn’t quite capture the electricity of her live performance. “All Of  The Love” comes closest. Hopefully we’ll hear a lot more from Hailee soon.

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The Boys Themselves – A power fuzz trio from Ann Arbor, Michigan and right away they get props for doing a Jeff Lynne cover. Thank you Christian Anderson, Caleb Dillon and John Fossum, you got my attention – now work on an album next. This A/B single is a FREE download too.

Vista Blue is a collective rock band with members in Nashville, New Orleans and Cincinnati. Members have played in The Loblaws (Mutant Pop), Second Saturday (Excellent Records), and The Robinsons (One Eye, Mooster, Killer Records). Some nice three chord power pop here — all baseball themed! Another great FREE download.

Oh and on top of that collaboration, Mike (leader of Vista Blue) teamed up with members of The Hons and 35 PSI to form this quickie band Sally Stitches. The band’s new EP “End Up on 98” starts off with a Beach Boys meets Weezer styled car song “My Cherokee” and it sets the tone for the rest. Overall lots of fun and also a FREE download.

EP Reviews: The Top Boost, Easy Roscoe, Boys on The Beach

Automat

The Top Boost “Turn Around” EP

The Top Boost is Vancouver’s newest garage pop trio (Hunter Gogo, Kirill Yurtsev, Greg Johnston), and their debut EP Turn Around was recorded and mixed in Vancouver and mastered at Abbey Road Studios in London. And it sure sounds fantastic, after a quick intro “What If She Loves You” takes its cue from 1980s song structure and psychedelic 60s jangle. Think bands like The Ocean Blue, Aztec Camera, and The La’s. Each compelling, catchy melody resonates from the romantic “Tell That Girl” to the shimmering “Still On My Mind.” The title track is unusual, it has a swirling melodic chorus interrupted by ascending minor chords that give it a sinister feel. One of the best debut EPs I’ve heard so far this year.

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Easy Roscoe “Piñata” EP

Nashville rockers that have an easy going, fun approach with their bright vocals and catchy guitar riffs. “Roll Baby Roll” is a great start, and “Green Leather Jacket” is a little Green Day and Gin Blossoms with a bit of Southern attitude. Some nice harmonies and call and response vocals make “By The Water” another gem. Then add a funk rhythm and bass guitar to those harmonies, and “Whoa-o-o” you have a easy party song on “We Cry.” An impressive debut.

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Boys On The Beach “Addiction”

It’s a stretch to call this an EP, more like a single (2 tracks) but this band from Tokyo, Japan knows how to rock. “I Hate This Addiction” has big echoing fuzz chords and dense percussion. Even better is the B-side “It’s Allright, it’s Okay” with Japanese verse and an English chorus. Hope to hear more from these guys!

Bandcamp | Boysonthebeach.net

EP Reviews: Hemmingbirds and Nate Leavitt

Hemmingbirds

Hemmingbirds “Half A Second”

Chicago’s Hemmingbirds began as a solo project of singer/guitarist/violist Yoo Soo Kim, but has since emerged as truly talented band. On this latest EP, its blasts out of the gate on the title track a blend of indie rock and catchy power pop in the chorus. It grabs hold and doesn’t let go with subtle layers of instrumentation and balanced noise. “Mess of Things” follows with its tribal beat and rhythmic guitar riffs, in fact the album notes specify that it “isn’t necessarily a concept but more so a feeling. “

“Stay” has some dissonance and a repeating synth loop that reminded me of Tokyo Police Club a little, with a quiet break in between the frantic drums, and it ends with the solid ballad “Lover, You’re Out There” but even here the instrumentation drowns out the piano and lead vocals at some point. While way too short, this EP is highly recommended and worth repeat listens.

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Nate Leavitt

Nate Leavitt & The Elevation “Someone Send A Signal”

Not power pop, but solid alt. country and blues pop. Nate Leavitt and bandmates entered the studio at Studio A in Somerville, Mass and coaxed out the spirits of Neil Young, Wilco, Butch Walker and even Alex Chiton here. “Relieve Me” opens up a painful story with longing in each riff and organ chord. It builds in intensity with each verse, and Leavitt’s guitar work is exceptional here.

The ballad “When I Was With You” is a detailed love story where both people connect to the music and then separate. “Take Me Back” is a rousing layered guitar gem with a catchy chorus that hits the sweet spot. Unfortunately, that bit of optimism is followed by mid tempo wallowing in sadness and then on the title track, moving on after heartbreak. “I Can Breathe Again” is emotionally draining, but ultimately this themed album is a gorgeously produced and performed. Highly Recommended.

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Dum Dog Run and Love In October

Edward Rogers

Dum Dog Run “DDR 2: Still Dum After All These Years”
A decade later the heavy rock band DDR is back. Lead singer Rick Altizer is back playing rock loud and proud, and this time they add some keyboards in the mix. The DDR sound is a bit like Judas Priest meets Van Halen with guitarist Jade Hanson making the most of the late 80’s style. Like the title, the music is light-hearted, macho and still a labor of love for the players involved.

Rick’s vocal’s are still perfection on the opener “Transmareo,” about a dream car mix of Trans Am and Camero. The biographic “David Lee Roth” drops all sorts of VH lyrics, riffs, solos and tributes through this fun song. Speaking of macho, they have a tune called “Machismo” which recalls Altizer’s power pop past. Rick does get a chance to rant on “Off The Hook,” taking on the critics in the music press – and its dissing of Kiss. “Get To The Chopper” is another impressive song that encourages air guitar playing. Despite a few artistic indulgences, this is a solid album that grows on you with repeat listens and deserves to be highly recommended.

CD Baby | Amazon


 

Love in October

Love in October “Love in October III” EP

Love in October is composed of brothers Erik and Kent Widman hailing from the northern mountains of Sweden, now residing in Stockholm, Sweden and Chicago, IL. Love in October III is their first release since 2011 and ends the band’s four-year hiatus. The EP is a bouncy, positive slice of modern pop than manages to to be catchy without the pretentious attitude of most pop bands.

“Teenage Evolution” is a pop single that’s both approachable and danceable. “Time Shifter” and “Date Night” are a bit more standard pop (yawn!), but thankfully “My Old Future” adds a sweet guitar rhythm and a melodic chorus similar to Weezer. In the lyrics he mentions “Han Solo’s ghost would be proud of me,” I would be quiet proud adding Love in October to my playlist this May.

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