Seth Swirsky and The Kickstand Band

Seth Swirsky

The Seth Swirsky “Circles and Squares”

Pop Maestro Seth Swirsky is back with his third solo album Circles and Squares and right away on “Shine,” as we enter through a world of piano chords, Beach Boys harmonies and you are transported to musical bliss. The intro leads seamlessly into the title track “Circles and Squares” which is a swirling McCartneyesque melody that becomes a folk ballad midway through. “Far Away” is one of the best songs here, with an ELO-styled structure and its sweeping orchestration. “Trying To Keep It Simple” is the emotional heart of the album where he just intones “I’m trying to keep it simple. I don’t have to be a Beatle.” Indeed Seth just has to be himself to shine, as the majority of the songs are gentle romantic musings from “Belong” to the ballad “I Think Of Her.”

Strong Nilsson and McCartney vibes are visible in each composition with no filler here. “Let’s Move To Spain” has a intimate party atmosphere, and “Table” marries the Rickenbacker riffs to an easy going melody with a description of “his mess.” But as the song “I Don’t Have Anything (If I Don’t Have You”)” tells us, all his stuff (baseballs, gold records) means nothing without his love. Overall an adult soft pop triumph and a easy contender for best album of 2016. Don’t miss it.

Amazon | Seth.com | Kool Kat Musik

The Kickstand Band

The Kickstand Band “Summer Dream” EP

This third EP for the Detroit duo of Gordon Smith and Allison Young is one of the best this season. “Stay Inside” has a poppy bounce and strum that recalls Juice Newton, plus a great cover of The Sunrays “I Live For The Sun.” And “Fall Back” is a gorgeous tune where you can almost feel the leaves changing color in the melody. The harmonies are solid and the songs are short, catchy and memorable. Not a single dud — highly recommended. And best of all its a FREE download — so pick it up now!

Bandcamp | Amazon

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.

Amazon

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.

Amazon

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.

Amazon


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.

Amazon


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.

Amazon

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.

Amazon