Tuesday Goodies: Cliff Hillis, Lee Ketch and Steve Rosenbaum

As this is a holiday week, I’d love to start giving out the musical goodies in advance of Thanksgiving. I am so thankful for all these artists, so pass the gravy and a few free downloads:

Cliff Hillis

Philly singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer Cliff Hillis has released a new song, “Love Not War,” from a forthcoming EP out in February. Love And War is Hillis’s followup to the power popster’s 2014 release, Song Machine. Download “Love Not War” from iTunes. Visit itunes.apple.com/us/album/love-no…gle/id1055385972

Contorno and The Obleeks – Chicago guitarist Lee Ketch (Mooner) has few musical projects here. His brother Andy plays drums and does vocals too. Check it out – its all a FREE download!

Steve Rosenbaum was a pleasant surprise in the new IPO Vol. 18 compilation. He’s got an three song EP out there “Making A Mess Of Fun” and its a got earnest melodies and plenty of great jangling guitar. It’s not a free download, but it’s easily worth the 3 bucks. Hopefully we’ll see more from Steve in 2016!

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Elvyn and Cleaners From Venus


Elvyn “Valley Of The Kilowatt Hour”

Elvyn is another artist we haven’t heard from in several years. This Toronto band still knows how to expertly craft a solid melody with catchy hooks as evidenced by the opener “Ellie.” Lead vocalist/lead guitarist Ryan Beerman is in fine form as on “Here We Surrender” is part Alan Parson Project and part Fastball. “Landslide Cities” has an infectious beat with great call-and-response harmonies in the chorus.

And as soft as much of the melodies are, it still can rock with the intensity as “AM” is chock full of vibrant guitar riffs. Other highlights include the Beatlesque sweetness on “True Luv Can’t Hide” and the Everly Brothers styled ballad “Robins Song.”  Overall, each song is a very soothing listen (with just enough riff accents) and highlights the bands wistful approach. Highly Recommended.

Amazon | CD Baby

Cleaners from Venus

Cleaners From Venus “Rose of the Lanes”

Martin Newell (aka Cleaners From Venus) is still going strong, and for the Anglophile there are few musicians who can compare. Newell is the self described “poet laureate of late summer melancholy,” and the songs are all simply produced using a Tascam DP-006 Pocketstudio. But even stripped down Newell is  joy to hear as he makes his way through these 15 tracks.

The high addictive jangle of “Rose of The Lanes” is a song that lyrically references the BBC’s Doctor Who. “Little French Blue” is a fuzzed-up gem and the acoustic melody of “Isn’t She The Biz” are what you listen to Newell for.  A series of songs look loving back to Newell’s youth with “Third Summer Of Love” and “Liverpool Judy.” The “nite-club” styling of “Tatterenalion” is another charmer.  He runs out of steam a little towards the end, with the exception of the Davies-like “Denmark Street,” but this is still a highly recommended collection of tunes.


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Power Pop en Español: Jose Estragos and Super Ratones

Jose Estragos “Vol.3”

Madrid Spain has always been a bastion of power pop talent. I was lucky to catch Jose at IPO in New York last week while he was fresh promoting his third album. Jose is an avid Beatles fan, and its shows from his Merseybeat music recorded in Abbey Road studio #2  to his album cover drawn by the legendary Klaus Voorman. This third album completes a trilogy, the earlier albums are available in the USA.

Jose Estragos II | Jose Estragos I | Amazon Spain

Súper Ratones “Mancha Registrada”

This Argentine band has been around since the late ’90s and remains active today. A good place to start would be Mancha Registrada (2000), with influences ranging from Beach Boys, Beatles, ELO and Queen. “Como Un Fantasma” could almost be a James Bond theme, with its dramatic guitars and “Otro Dia En La Vida” certainly has excellent pop production with soaring choruses and punctuating strings. The album was produced by Los Pericos’ guitarist Juanchi Baleiron and “Cómo Estamos Hoy” was a big hit in Argentina. Even though Súper Ratones never broke through to the USA, they still deserve to be heard by power pop fans.


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EP reviews: The Persian Leaps, Goodman, Yes You Are

The Persian Leaps “High and Vibrate”

This Minnesota band brings us a wall of heavy fuzz guitar riffs on “The Infection” and the big standout here “Dottie. Queen of The West.” The tempo and approach remind me of Echo & The Bunnymen or The Smiths. A faster pace and steady beat on “Frozen” is another solid song with ringing guitar chords and harmonies thanks to Adam Brunner(bass guitar), Drew Fosberg (lead guitar) and Michael McCloskey (drums). “Anthem” keeps the pace and makes this a highly enjoyable EP – check it out!


Goodman “Goodman”

These four tracks were originally cut from Michael Goodman’s upcoming release, not because of quality, mind you, but because a 16-song album seemed excessive. “Lessons Learned In Love” has a bedroom pop vaudevillian style, with a cool coda full of Beach Boys styled harmonies and old piano echo. “Telegram Girl” has a mod hook and its a real gem about breaking up, as he intones “Why should I waste my life on you?”  The shuffling beat of “Movies” is another fun song with hand-claps and echoing vocal brimming with cool confidence. I really look forward to the full length after hearing this!

Yes You Are

Ex-Tilly and the Wall lead singer Kianna Alarid is part of a new band that plays an intense pop style with sing along hooks in the chorus and snyth-covered rhythms. A bit too close to mainstream pop in “Echo,” but “World Without End” is a little Annie Lenox mixed with U2. Listen for free at http://weareyesyouare.com/sound/

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International Pop Overthrow “Vol. 18”

International Pop Overthrow

It’s that time of year in New York, the fallen leaves and chill in the air reminds me that the International Pop Overthrow is almost upon us! It’s coming back to Bar Matchless in Brooklyn starting tonight! Check out the schedule and come early and often, and show your support for new power pop.

I have to say, this 18th volume of the IPO 3 disc set is the most diversified and stretches beyond the traditional sound of power pop with a new crop of future pop superstars. All produced by maestro David Bash, mastered by Alan Brownstein, and put out by Bruce Brodeen‘s Pop Geek Heaven Record label, making a concerted effort to keep the CD format alive in the age of ephemeral electronic files. God bless these power pop taste makers for continuing to deliver the best music value on the planet. This set is noticeably balanced in that no single disc really stands out, so lets get started onto my favorite tracks:

Disc 1: I’ve never seen so many new bands in an IPO comp, so I’m sure to find some new favorites like Ivan Mudd’s “Wake Up Call” and the DIY gem “First In Class” by newcomer Steve Rosenbaum. Sweden-based Cranbury Sauce’s “Merry-Go-Round” and Marston’s “Shabby Shakes” upholds those psychedelic guitar traditions and of course old friend Jeremy Morris leads The Jeremy Band in a rockin’ theme song for the festival with “The IPO Song.” I heard some distinct 80’s influence in Vinyl Floor’s “Colorblind” and The Pickpockets “The Ostrich Defense.” Also note even more female vocalists than ever before, at least 2 per disc.

Disc 2: Kylie Hughes (a fave from last years set) returns with the bouncy “Dream Dream Dream” and another favorite, Dave Rave comes back with some “Sweet American Music.” Some bands still clearly have that sixties pop influence here like Junebug (“She’s An Ape, Not A Monkey”) and Cloud Eleven (“A Sadness in Sorry”). More standouts include the catchy guitar rhythm on Harvest Moon’s “Wanna See You Dancin'” and Claire On A Dare’s “She Knows/Photographic Memory” channels Chrissie Hynde perfectly. Tommy Sistak delivers the requisite Beatlesque “Ordinary Words,” but you’ll find music that really pushes the pop envelope like the atmospheric “The Boy and Marlene’s Ghost” from Warm Morning Brothers.

Disc 3: Greg Ieronimo’s opener “You Love Me,” rocks as he continues to deliver impressive melodies, followed by the crisp harmonies of Coke Belda’s “I Understand.” And “The Perfect Year” by Vanilla stands out with its glossy production, as Cash For Gold’s “Out All The Time” does with its wicked glam sound. I’ve already raved about Jared Lekites “Five Separate Lives,” and Honeywagen’s “The Only One” is a classic power pop single sure to thrill listeners. I heard less garage styled power pop than past volumes, but Stacked Actors “Disinfect” is a strong example here. Listen to select tracks at the IPO website, and get this long awaited compilation. As usual, it’s the cure for the common playlist and Highly Recommended every year!

Pop Geek Heaven | Kool Kat Musik | Amazon

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