Friday Freebies: Robyn Gibson, Ed Ryan, KC Bowman and Vista Blue

Bob of The Pops Vol.2 – The Juniper lead singer Robyn Gibson did such an impressive job with Vol.1, he decided to make more covers. Vol.2 was recorded from January to May, 2017 at the sofa studio in Leicester and at the Junipers’ studio, while the band weren’t watching. FREE download everyone, so sing along to The Monkees “The Girl That I Knew Somewhere”

Ed Ryan decided to give us a bonus track from his well-reviewed Roadmap album. It’s a new recording of a song he wrote with his old band The Rudies. Enjoy the crashing drums and quick riffs!

KC Bowman (Gigolo Aunts, Corner Laughers) is an undisputed pop talent that we hear from all too infrequently. It’s been ages since he’s done a solo album, but he delivers us two excellent pop singles here I am happy to share. Keep your eyes and ears open for more! KC – if you are reading, we would love a new full-length album, please.


Vista Blue is back with a selection of covers that’s sure to warm a power pop fans heart. From Big Star’s classic “Thirteen” to a rocking garage version of Depeche Mode “Dreaming Of Me.”

Plasticsoul and Cotton Mather

Plasticsoul

Plasticsoul “Therapy”

Steven Eric Wilson took his sweet time to deliver Plasticsoul’s follow up to Peacock Swagger. The opener “My Heavy Soul” is the calm before the storm, the title track screams out with Wilson’s trademark heavy riffs. “They All Died Pretty” is another melody thick with layered guitars and “In Her Raincoat” adds layered harmonies to the Cheap Trick meets Big Star-like jangle.

For all the greatness of the best Oasis song Noel Gallagher never wrote “Come Down From Your Raincloud,” it takes a few curious twists. The forgettable bossa nova tune “The Girl of Many Tribes,” and the long “King of Hash” resemble Anton Barbeau’s experimental side. Thankfully the fast paced “Monkey On A Stick” brings things back with shades of Led Zepplin, and the fantastic “Keeping A Light On” and “Biff Bang Pow” take it to the next level. Overall, worth the wait and makes my nominee list for best power pop album of 2017. And hopefully, it won’t take another 8 years to deliver another album like this one. Highly Recommended.

Bandcamp only


Cotton Mather

Cotton Mather “Wild Kingdom”

Robert Harrison’s mystical songwriting quest to create 64 songs that correspond with the 64 hexagrams of the 3,000-year-old Chinese book “I Ching” continues from last year’s The Death of Cool. The new LP’s opener “The Cotton Mather Pledge” is unapologetically power pop, with a fantastic guitar riff alongside its fuzzy synth and strutting vocals. The songs all vary in style, like the pop hook of “Hide yourself from me…” in the chorus of “Fighting Through” to the brooding, bass-led “High Society” where the instrumentation reaches a blistering piano crescendo.

Overall no real duds, and plenty of great catchy rock in “Better Than A Hit” and “Girl With A Blue Guitar.”  A few songs make an effort to tell a bigger story, like “King William” with its Lennonesque approach or the slow psyche-pop march of “The Army” deserve multiple spins to stick. And that may be the biggest complaint here, as good as it is – no song stands out or digs into your head immediately. Still, a very highly recommended album.

Amazon

James AM Downes and Onesie

James AM Downes

James AM Downes “Prison Font”

The opener “Bait My Soul” is a sweetly descriptive pop confection, about a girl “with “fuck off” lips and a face so sweet” who gets away with a good hook accented by handclaps. “Not Thinking It Over” is another gem with a jangling rhythm and strong catchy chorus.

The title track has a familiar sounding guitar rhythm (recalling Lennon’s “Mind Games”) but Downes fragile tenor here resembles Mick Hucknall (Simply Red). The strong lyrics and the descending chords in the chorus push the song into “hit” territory. The remaining tracks don’t reach as high, but don’t disappoint either. Overall, James simply has the raw talent that deserves recognition. An impressive debut.

CD Baby | Amazon


Onesie

Onesie “Leos Consume”

Onesie is the musical moniker for Brooklyn-based songwriter Ben Haberland. Stitching together vivid, hooky guitar pop anthems from scraps of Brit pop, punk, and rock, it rocks nicely on its debut Leos Consume. Opening with the terrific gem “Karaoke Killers” full of guitar blasting, hand clapping, hooky goodness. “Credit Score Of 666” has a wicked riff leading the hushed lyric very much like a lost Smash Mouth classic.

And the band doesn’t stick to one style which in this case is a benefit, as it skillfully jumps across genres. “Daytime King” is a little Red Hot Chili Peppers meets Gin Blossoms, and the jangling gem “Hotelekinesis” is sure to encourage dancing. “Husbands in Finance” allows some neat psychedelic instrumentation with its wah-wah guitar lead and climbing bassline.  In fact, it’s impossible to find a bad song here — written with a gusto that even “Ballad Of The Boomerang” struts from its jangly twee roots to a Collective Soul-like power pop. And the frequent guitar breaks just make me love this album more.  A real treat for lovers of melodic rock, it’s both highly recommended and on my list for top ten album of 2017. Don’t miss this one!

Amazon

Mike Benign Compulsion and Andy Stone

Mike Benign

Mike Benign Compulsion “Kid”

Milwaukee’s power pop combo The Mike Benign Compulsion return with a sweet (and harsh) look back at childhood. The band (Mike Benign, Joe Vent, Michael Koch and Paul Biemann) brings a solid melodic rock style to the opener “Gadfly” and gets very much like Elvis Costello meets XTC on the excellent title track “Kid.”

The dominant keyboard-guitar combo on “The Best Years of Our Lives” showcases Benign’s muscular melodies, but he can be a Bowie-like troubadour on the narrative “The Legendary Band (That’s Still Together),” which could be about The Stones or any oldies band cynically cashing out. The anthemic guitar opens “Goodbye, Kid Dreams” and continues the adult cynicism with rock and roll. Another strong album for Benign, who ends with the heartfelt lyrics of “If It All Falls Apart,” and once again makes this a highly recommended LP.

Amazon | CD Baby


Andy Stone

Andy Stone “Blender”

Stone is a talented indie musician with a love of the sixties and seventies pop, and Blender is similar to the recent solo work of Mimi Betinis. The charming opener “Catherine’s Acting” is a wink and nod to a girl escaping “the madness.”  Another great power pop single here is “Be That Girl,” with a smart hook in the chorus and cheery backing harmonies.

Stone also goes bolder on the rocker “What A Shame” and ambitious “430” but his vocal limitations are more audible here. Highlights include “Our Mutual Friends” and the Dylanesque closer “You Alone, My Universe,” its a lot of fun with plenty of double entendres. Give this one a look, and you won’t be sorry.

CD Baby | Amazon

Compilation Fridays: More bands! More music!

Power Popaholic Fest is coming on June 16, 17 (next week) at Bar Matchless in Brooklyn, NY. Each year we have a soundtrack made with songs by some performers and like-minded artists. Your purchase helps fund the continuation of this long-running music festival dedicated to power pop artists. This year’s soundtrack features Somerdale, The Successful Failures, Lisa Mychols, Lannie Flowers, Cirrone, The Brittanicas, Jose Estragos and The Pop-Coop. Note: Limited time! Some tracks will only be available during the month of June.

Another compilation that we promote regularly is the Coop Communique, championed by artist/writer Dw Dunphy. This is the third and most impressive volume yet. With an array of favorites including Josh Fix (!!), The Ravines, Greek Theatre, Son of Skooshny, Brandon Schott, Andy Klingensmith, Vegas With Randolph and much more. Best of all its a FREE download!  Between Dunphy and Ice Cream Man, you can fill up the old music player on my phone really fast!