EP reviews: Cartoon Spirits, The Kickstand Band and The James Rocket

Cartoon Spirits

Cartoon Spirits “Crustacean EP”

Cartoon Spirits are determined to bring power pop back to where it belongs: the Pacific Northwest. Gray skies and drizzle can only be battled with hooks, fuzzy guitars, and raspy harmonies. The Portland band has just released its debut recording, Crustacean EP.  Its hard to argue their point, as “Remake The Stalls” is a catchy bit of modern pop magic, with solid guitar riffs and a timely opening falsetto. The trio of Michael Faherty (guitar), Loredana Corallo (bass) and Jeff Davis(drums) are a tight unit on the follow up “Common Law,” with fine job shredding to the layered vocal harmonies. “Back to The Cult” is another catchy tune that reminded me of Squeeze a little. Overall this is a great great debut. Highly Recommended!


Kickstand Band

The Kickstand Band “Cut’Em Loose” EP

Another modern power pop band with a great sound, The Kickstand Band is from Detroit, Michigan with a good back catalog of excellent music that deserves to be heard. “How It Feels” has a confident fuzz rhythm and layered guitar melodies.The leads, Gordon Smith and Allison Young give us some great harmonies on “Next To Me.” Young goes solo on “Regret You” and her sweetness shines through on the chorus. This “yet-to-be-discovered” band is making its music available at a “name-your-price” point, so take advantage of the musical goodness!

The James Rocket

The James Rocket “We Are Here For You b/w Derby Girl”

The James Rocket are a 5 piece from Brooklyn, NY delivering a sweet quick single sure to please, “We Are Here For You.” Lead singer James William Roy is reminiscent of They Might Be Giants with a little more alt. rock fuzz. And check out the bands 2012 debut, the first track “Paper Valentines” is free. Love the spunky guitar buzz melody! Highly recommended!

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Friday Freebies: The Black Hearthrobs and Stone Ridge

The Black Hearthobs “The White Album”
The Black Heartthrobs are a three-piece melodic garage rock band from Culver City. This was a pretty unique cover approach to the Beatles “White Album.” The band re-imagined many of the songs by changing the chords, structures, and melodies around, for example “Don’t Pass Me By” sounds like a Pet Sounds outtake. Some of these songs are so different I wish these melodies contained new original lyrics, on the other hand it makes for really interesting listening. And its a FREE download so don’t complain!


Stone Ridge

Stone Ridge “The Lost Recordings 1968 -1971”
Hidden in the vaults of Capricorn Records USA for over 50 years, we’ve dusted off the legendary band-that-never-was: Stone Ridge! Next time we’ll leave well enough alone. If you’d like to know more about this legendary band from Brooklyn, we can offer you the first single absolutely FREE for download.  For more you’ll have to Listen to Dave “The Boogieman” on 11L Radio New York International this Sunday April 3rd here.


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They Might Be Giants “Phone Power”


Brooklyn’s kings of quirky pop They Might Be Giants have done it all, and now they’re offering you brand new album Phone Power. It another collection of Dial-A-Song quirky tunes and fans will appreciate the new collection. The album features “I Love You for Psychological Reasons” which is the standard catchy TMBG single. Plus you’ve got a pile of 17 more songs, some of my faves here are “ECNALUBMA,” “It Said Something” as well as a live cover of Destiny’s Child’s “Bills, Bills, Bills.” Like most of TMBG, there is a certain ratio of pop experimental songs to ear worms to be expected. Even “I Wasn’t Listening” is a funny self-reference to the whole Dial-A-Song concept.


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Tuesday Tidbits: The Ritz Club, The Co – Op Communique and Red Cabin

Another highly impressive group of artists that bring you music at a name-your-price point. I used to promote and tag these as “Free Downloads” but I think the artist would appreciate if you threw a few bucks their way. After all — we want them to know you value their music, and I want to encourage them to make more.

The Ritz Club 
Chicago-based Ritz Club is the work of three brothers–Sean, Ryan and Kevin Jacobi. This unusual pop experiment works really well, and reminds me of The Beta Band in spots. The synth in “Walk Away” borrows a bit from Pink Floyd, and “Fake Laughs” is a real stunner with soaring vocals above a bed of guitars. Highly Recommended!  

The Co – Op Communique Volume One
Musician DW Dunphy has compiled a selection of music from up and coming artists, including himself. Like a box of chocolates, you’ll find several chewy goodies like The Click Beatles and the dramatic rock stylings of The Gamble. Only a few tracks here are power pop, it gets into moody indie rock and some experimental pop. Mike Indest and Jeff Elbel were surprisingly good here, so pick it up now! 

Long Island Musician Jonathan Foster (aka Red Cabin) has been busy this year, releasing two albums so far. Red Cabin has tracks of dramatic pop with an ‘80s vibe in spots and some nice harmonies. The catchy “The Darkest Relief” starts out this collection of songs, other highlights include “I Want To” and “I Can’t Wait.” White Morning is bit more upbeat, and more polished in placed. “Stuck” is a little like Weezer. “Juliet” has a nice bounce and standout composition. The “Warm Reception” and the title track recall Zumpano (and that band soon evolved into The New Pornographers.) Foster has real talent, and you can get both albums at a name-your-price point.

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Freebies: The Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club, Matti Jasu and The Four Chords

The Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club is back and with another quality power pop single. These guys keep getting better as “Have You Met You” has plenty of energy to spare with strong synths and driving beat. And it’s a FREE download. Check it out! 

All the way from Finland comes Matti Jasu and The Loose Train, they’ve got a mellow rock folk sound on “Gone To The Dogs.” The simple harmonies and guitar start “What Goes On” is a diary of Jasu’s day done with heart and sweetness.

The Four Chords have a keen pop sense and combine multi-part vocal harmonies with a large dose of power chords and a love of classic pop songcraft. Influences include The Who, Cheap Trick, Beatles, Big Star, Dwight Twilley, Replacements, Tom Petty, Manic Street Preachers, Ramones, Redd Kross and many others.

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