The Posies and ReadyMade Breakup

The Posies

The Posies “Solid States”

The Posies prove they are survivors, as both Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow have dealt with major blows over the last few years – the death of drummer Darius Minwalla last year, and former bassist Joe Skyward passing away this past March from cancer. The duo has soldiered on, and have “modernized” their sound a bit in the process.

The opener “We R Power” is a defiant anthem that builds the guitar riffs with each chorus, like The Posies of old it fits in nicely with the bands catalog. The follow ups; the understated “Unlikely Places” and “Scattered” retains that signature melodic power, with the duos harmonies in full bloom coming from a genuine longing. “Titanic” and “Rollercoaster Zen” are where the band starts to veer into a sound thats more like Animal Collective or Grizzly Bear. It still works due to the bands knack for catchy rhythmic skills, and Stringfellow’s vocals are just hypnotic. But it just doesn’t work for me with on the synth pop of “M Doll” and “The Definition.”  Still there are great songs to be mined here; “Squirrel vs Snake” is one of them, with its tuneful metaphors. The bands trauma leaves scars, and in the healing process allowed them to takes risks, so fans should be open to exploring the new sound. Highly Recommended.

Amazon | Lojinx

Love in October

Readymade Breakup “Live With It” EP

Asbury Park’s best kept secret has been in semi-retired mode, living adult lives until recently, the band decided to come back with a live recording. Opening with the best song Iggy Pop or Lou Reed never wrote, “Kiss My Ring” is a great single with swagger to spare. “Adolescent Fantasy” and “Low Life Creep” are fuzz guitar punk gems in the spirit of The Jam and The Ramones.

After these high energy singles, it seems the band comes back to earth on “Everything is Crumbling” as the lead singer Paul Rosevear states “My mind is fried…” Thankfully its back to the snarling on “Whiskey & Jellybeans,” and the whole minute and a half song  is about losing your teeth, “They were white/then yellow/then loose… then fell out.” It would be funny if it didn’t sound so angry. What is also unique about this release is you get it bundled with a neat-o tee shirt!

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The Dowling Poole and Bill Lloyd

Dowling Poole

Dowling Poole “One Hyde Park”

The Dowling Poole takes the whimsy and stagecraft of the first album, Bleak Strategies and turns the knob up to “11.” Willie Dowling (Jackdaw 4) and Jon Poole (Cardiacs) have made quirky XTC styled pop with even more layered narrative elements, as the brilliant opener “Rebecca Receiving” is gloomy song about aging played to a bouncy march in a world “shattered and torn.” The manic tempo continues on “Fight, Fight, Fight” with a twisted organ chiming in on the melodic joy of horns, guitars and “ba-ba” harmonies.

“When She Knows, She Knows” is another example of psychedelic Brit madness and “Vox Pops” is full of high melodic sarcasm, with a nice Brian May-like guitar break midway through. The next several track play out like late-era 10cc with “Hope and Glory” and “Bring Back The Glory” having a dream-like quality. “Whatever” actually goes off into a prog-rock trip, before we circle back to the epic title track, with its swelling chorus of “Barbed Wire On The Chelsea Bridge…” Overall no filler, but its also not as immediately catchy as the first album. After repeat listens, you’ll appreciate every “ba-ba” and pop culture witticism. Highly Recommended.

Amazon

Bill Lloyd

Bill Lloyd “Lloyd-ering”

We all love comfort food. That’s what country-power pop veteran Bill Lloyd released on Lloyd-ering.  The goal of a covers album is to introduce the music to those who aren’t familiar with the original and/or make it there own. Lloyd definitely accomplishes this with a very eclectic selection of pop tunes.

The joyful update on the Bobby Fuller Four “Let Her Dance” turns into a much needed Lloyd gem. The key here is Lloyd picks songs that are less familiar to the average listener. Excellent covers of the Byrds “The World Turns Around Her,”  The Hollies “Step Inside” and Badfinger’s “Lonely You” are simply perfection. And the instrumental prowess on The Raspberries “Goin’ Nowhere Tonight” begs to be played at full volume. On the ballads, its less so, as both Lennon’s “Across The Universe” and Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Coconut Grove” are songs where the original vocals are more distinctive. Otherwise, this is a sweet collection while we await Lloyd’s next LP full of originals. Highly Recommended.

Amazon | Listen & buy on Syderpop Records website

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Anton Barbeau and Andy Reed

Edward Rogers

Anton Barbeau “Magic Act”

Sacramento, Calif. born singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Anton Barbeau is one of those artists who never neatly fit in a single category over his 20 year career, but always knew how to craft a catchy melody. With “Magic Act” he continues to mix unconventional sound textures, weird lyrics and bubble gum rock to great effect – like if David Bowie, Andy Partridge and Adrian Belew had a baby together.

“High Noon” is a great example of minimal melody with a nice hook. But this gem is just a prelude for Anton’s weirdness on “Flying Spider” where “there is no rhyme, only reason.” In most cases his music falls in between the commercially palatable and the Rundgren-meets-Zappa stream of lyric on “Milk Churn In The Morning.” There are plenty of song worthy of repeat listens: “City By The Sea,” “Sit Your Leggy Down,” the psychedelic jingle “Black Lemon Sauce,” and “Swindon.” Like most of Barbeau’s catalog its definitely worth exploring.

Amazon

Andy Reed

Andy Reed “An Introduction to Andy Reed”

Andy Reed is a singer/songwriter/producer from Bay City, MI. who’s been involved in many successful music projects (The Legal Matters, American Underdog) and after an initial EP release, Relay Vol.1 last year, the floodgates have opened on Andy’s catalog. An Introduction To  Andy Reed is perfect for those who want to wade deeper into his material.

A perfect cover of Jay Ferguson’s 70s hit “Thunder Island” leads to the sweet perfection of “Dreaming of The West Coast.” Andy slips into pop balladry mode on “Love Is Gone” and then shifts into the strong harmonic pop of “World Of Make Believe,” with its Jellyfish-like melody. His crisp tenor vocals, overdubs and solitary strum fill out most of the songs here. Highlights include “The Show Goes On,” the Elvis Costello styled “Crimes Of Paris” and vaudevillian tune “Always On The Run.” Fans of Wyatt Funderburk and Brandon Schott will definitely want this music. And if you wish to dive further into Reed-land, check out last year’s 22 track Oddities and Entities, a classic compilation of his past work.

Amazon | GetHip (vinyl)

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Radio Days and Pezband

Radio Days

Radio Days “Back in The Day”

Italy’s Radio Days have paired themselves down to a trio and are going back to their roots on “Back In The Day.” In doing so the band moves away from the strict formulaic approach and decided to rock out, capturing an energy that is more like The Beatles on steroids with the opener “Why Don’t You Love Me Anymore?” The next several tracks are catchy and highly addictive, especially the double-time “You Won’t Fool Me Twice.” The title track follows a template closer to The Raspberries and makes its point, looking to the past for those tasty hooks.

The oddity here “Your Words” is a light pop tune with a reggae beat, but the band is quick to return to those chiming guitar chords and each track after is a solid gem. From the ballad ” You Bring Me Down” to the powerful backbeat of “Subway Station Girl,” Radio Days delivers the goods and never falls into a predicable rut, adding garage elements on “Smash This Party” and ending with another Beatlesque love song “Betta” which echoes a little of the Fab’s “Do You Want To Know A Secret?” My only pet peeve here is the compressed sound quality in the studio mix. Overall a great album that makes my top ten list for 2016. Ciao!

Bandcamp | CD Baby | Amazon


Pezband

Pezband “Women & Politics” EP

Chicago’s Pezband was one of the better known power pop bands in the late ’70s, following the path of their bretheren Cheap Trick and The Raspberries. But by 1980 after three albums and two live EPs, interest from their label vaporized and the group disbanded. The next year guitarist Mimi Betinis and drummer Mick Rain were energized and ready to to give Pezband another shot. Joined by original band member John Pazdan, the trio headed to Los Angeles to record “Women & Politics.” Unfortunately in the era of post-Knack backlash, the EP was shelved. Until now.

“Office Girl” has the angular guitars and beat that’s typical of the pre-new wave era. “Waiting In Line” is closer to a classic Pezband single, with its distinctive vocal interplay and jangling rhythm. “Fab Girlfriends” is another gem, with some excellent guitar shedding between the chorus and ending. “Russian Tanks” is a cold war era tune that compares well with The Clash and Public Image Limited. This is a vinyl release and a highly recommended one.

Frodis Records | Amazon

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The Nobility and The Small Square

The Nobility “Ashford Castle”

The Nobility has created a modern pop treat. The opening title track about an Irish Castle boasts gorgeous choral harmonies in the Beach Boys tradition. The bands bouncing modern pop of “Wonderful Night” uses those harmonies effectively in the chorus, with a strong beat evoking the band Sunday Sun here as melody soars. “Heart Is Strange” has echoing vocals and layered guitar/synth combos that give it a new wave touch.

From here it takes the danceable pop route with “Rollin’ in The Aisle” and the energetic “On The Sky,” both perfectly fun. Unfortunately “I Can’t Tell You Why” does wear out its welcome, but the band redeems itself with happy sing-along songs like “Alone,””Mrs. Judy May,” and “Sharks” which are like adult nursery rhymes. Highly Recommended.

CD Baby | Amazon 


The Small Square

The Small Square “The Small Square”

Debut release from a veteran power pop duo with roots in Champaign, Illinois plus Wisconsin & Japan.  Paul Chastain (Velvet Crush, Matthew Sweet) and John L. Richardson (Tommy Keene, Gin Blossoms, Joey Molland/Badfinger) create pure, bittersweet pop with some folk rock mixed in. Joey Molland (Badfinger) is one of several guest players here.

“So Low” is an understated opener, but “Dream Faker (Open Your Heart)” starts up as a solid indie rocker that displays Chastain’s ability to weave guitar lines and layer the songs rhythms on top of each other. “SML” is a gentle alt. country plea to “Save My Life” equal parts Wilco and Big Star. “After The Tears” is a beautiful love song with its sweet harmonies, and a rising chorus. “Otherwhile” boasts the ringing chords and catchy chorus that was a Velvet Crush hallmark. Additionally, fans of  Teenage Fan Club, Nada Surf, and Sloan will definitely want to pick this one up. Highly Recommended.

Amazon 

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