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

8×8 and Baby Scream


8×8 “Inflorescence”

This is the third 8X8 album from duo of Lane Steinberg (NYC, US) and Alex Khodchenko (Kiev, Ukraine). The two musicians have shown from the very beginning how to make excellent music through long distance collaboration. This effort is more of a mixed collection of styles ranging from bouncy pop gems like “My Summertime High” to acid-tripping psychedelic epics like “The Essence.”

The best 8×8 work clearly falls in that psych-pop middle with the brilliant “After All is Said and Done” with its swirling organs and guitar chimes, and “Bubbles” full of layered guitar rhythms and Lane’s rhyming lyric. The strong narrative piano on “No More Second Chance” and atmospheric “Some Surreal Idea” are more highlights on this album. Without a doubt, this is music that deserves to be heard. Highly Recommended.

Buy Direct | Kool Kat Musik

Baby Scream

Baby Scream “Life’s A Trap”

Once again Argentinian artist Juan Pablo Mazzola brings us his latest musical vision with producer Nick Schinder. Often compared to John Lennon due to his similar sounding timbre and subject matter, and the opener “Life’s Better When U R High” is no exception.

The simple guitar strums are supported by light strings on “The Ballad Of Music Biz” where Juan Pablo laments he’ll “never make the cover of Rolling Stone” and other assorted depressing musings. Thankfully the tempo swings up as the lyrics get bizarrely sweet on “Climbing Down” about the joys of fatherhood. The next several songs concentrate on the regrets of lost youth, very much in the spirit of Harry Nilsson. As he says on “Midnight Snack” it’s not the end, but “life is about beers and weed.” Chill out with this one.


FREE Stuff: Talk Show Host, Richard Cummins, and The Anderson Council video

Talk Show Host – Like the pop punk of Green Day? Then enjoy this fast paced band from Toronto. Band is described as “Two recovering punks and an indie rocker walk into a bar.” FREE download (no drink minimum).

Richard Cummins – Yet another Beatles cover album, with an emphasis on McCartney’s work and some of his solo stuff. very well done and a FREE download. Hey Beatle tribute bands, he may be available!

And since Macca “taught him to play,” he wrote an original song about that too.

Music Video Spotlight

The Anderson Council’s Facebook exclusive video for “Magical” from their newest CD Assorted Colours. We review it here.

Somerdale and Hector and The Leaves


Somerdale “Shake It Maggie”

You couldn’t ask for a better self-referential intro than “Take It From The Top” with all the guitars, harmonies and catchiness. It even acknowledges that power pop is “so out of style its cool” and if you love the classic power pop sound (Badfinger, Raspberries, Cheap Trick) you’ll be hard pressed to find a better example on Shake It Maggie.

“Waiting For You” is a slow burning rocker with layered instrumentation that drives to a dramatic peak. “The News” picks up the tempo and that fuzzy guitar rhythm just sticks in your head. The thick slabs of riffs and chord structure on “Excuse Me” make it an irresistible power ballad. “Feel The Magic” is a little Bay City Rollers mixed with Slade, full of hand claps and smoking’ harmonies. Another one of my favorites here is “The Coolest Kid In School,” sounding like a lost song from teen 90’s movie soundtrack, its both sweet and wicked. Even though there are moments of meandering hard rock (“She’s Leaving California”) there is not a note of filler here. Get’s a nod as one of the top ten albums for 2016. Don’t miss it!

Amazon | Kool Kat Musik | CD Baby

Hector and the leaves

Hector and the Leaves “Sometimes In The Morning: EPs 2012-2106”

Hector and The Leaves (aka Tom Hector) is a London based folk-pop outfit who’s been putting out EPs for several years and this collection puts it all together.

“I’ll Be Leaving Soon” with its wispy, layered vocalizations sets the mellow mood. “Imogen” has Elliott Smith like acoustic guitar strums, and then the bouncy “Problems” offers up a warm hook that will coax the indifference out of any educated listener. The lush “California” with its hushed harmonies recall Curt Boechetter or The Brigadier with its beautiful “ba-ba-ba” chorus. There is some minor filler here (“Baumer’s Suit,” “I Ride My Bicycle”) but it doesn’t detract from the albums flow. “Good Times” and “Goodbye” has an almost pastoral dreamlike quality. You will either love this gentle full warm sound or it will put you to sleep. Either way it’s highly recommended mellow-out music.

Kool Kat Musik

Hector and the Leaves – On Your Own from rowan armstrong on Vimeo.

Greg Pope and John Dowler’s Vanity Project

Greg Pope

Greg Pope “Guiding Star”

After a career-spanning overview with Favorites, the Nashville “pope of power pop” Greg Pope returns with a lower key album in Guiding Star. “Innocent Breakdown” is a promising start with its anthemic chorus and staccato rhythm. “Four Leaf Clover” is a mid-tempo gem with a great bass line, in the vein of Badfinger. While the music isn’t punctuated by big riffs, the melody and dense production do dominate.

The optimism shines through the prog rock influenced title track and “Sun is Gonna Rise.” The gentle “Pretend It’s Alright” is another hopeful look toward the future with Pope’s understated vocal. The bedroom philosophy of “If You Want Answers” reveals that Pope is just “making this up as I go.” No filler here as Pope does a great job weaving tunes with a few experiments, notably the drum solo “Bruce.” Guitar fuzz comes back on the short “Eggshells,” and once again Pope has delivered a highly recommended album. Add it to your collection.


John Dowler's Vanity Project

John Dowler’s Vanity Project “Splendid Isolation”

John Dowler is a veteran of the Australian indie rock and power pop scene (Spare Change,Young Modern, Zimmermen) and this “Vanity Project” includes Justin Bowd (guitar), Julien Chick bass), Mark McCartney (guitar) and Michael Stranges (drums). His music is combination of styles ranging from Van Morrison to DM3, and it does grow on you quiet well. The low key “Off The Coast Of Me” uses nautical analogies to explain his blues, and the mid-tempo jangle on “Unsolved Mystery” is also compelling.

“My Face” feels like an NRBQ song, and the tender “Don’t Blame It On Your Wife” is a very gentle reminder not to take her for granted. My favorite here is the rocking “Oakleigh” with its impressive riffs and layered guitars. From there it gets uneven, with country styled ballads and bar room rockers. Still a worthy listening experience.