Love Axe and Sidewalk Driver

Love Axe

Love Axe “South Dakota”

L.A. based band led by Chris Hatfield (not the astronaut) and assisted by band mates Joelle Barrios (bass), Erik Cline (guitar) and Mike Ambs (drums). They do a great job with the opener “Baby To Bed,” a striking ear worm that’s all about finishing what you start, and burying the hatchet. “Only Gonna Tear You Apart” is another engaging gem that’s part Fountains of Wayne, part Sloan.

The band stays on an even keel, “Such a Waste of a Good Thing” has a little more fuzz guitar and “Please” mines acoustic folk as a change of pace. The epic 7 minute “All That’s Gold Will Turn To Black (Part 2)” lingers a bit too long, but the band rights the ship on the solid roots rocker “Irresponsible” and then “Daughter Of A Diplomat” and “Microwave” are consistently great. Many songs just stick your head for days – Highly Recommended.
power pop

Amazon


Los Breakdowns

Sidewalk Driver “My Face”

A mixed group of players led by Tad McKitterick’s vocals and Jared Egan’s lead guitar deliver many flavors of rock and roll. Do you like classic guitar led melodic rock? Then go for “Kidnapped” or “Everybody Loves My Face” with its major chord riffs and wild guitar breaks. Or maybe you prefer a more new wave rock  try “Call My Name,” which is closer to Guns N’ Roses meets Patty Smyth.

You can’t discount guitarist Kate Murdoch’s additional vocal which makes each song she sings on stand out just enough. Or if you’re looking for a Glam strutting intro theme, “Five Steps” is a perfectly catchy gem. Following that is the danceable rhythm of “Because I Want You.” The charm starts to wear a bit on the five minute drama of a “Rock Star” who’s brokenhearted, but overall its an impressive album. Give it a try.
power pop

Amazon

Read More

Singles: Jared Lekites, The Davenports and Timmy Sean

Jared Lekites

Jared Lekites “Five Separate Lives/And It’s Over”

I may rethink my policy of no single reviews when I hear something this good. Jared has produced a single so catchy I can loop it my player and not get tired of it. Not much to say except I hope an album follows this gem of a single. The B-side “And It’s Over” has a little Jeff Lynne in its DNA, with its casual strum over a repeated muti-tracked chorus. Get it at Bandcamp only.


The Davenports

The Davenports “Leanne”

A new single a month is the strategy from The Davenports. We are on month three and Scott Klass is a master of the guitar hook and proves it once again with “Leanne.” The band also has a free EP out there, a reworking of “Five Steps” from the A&E show Intervention, and a new track “Away From Me.” Its like Chinese water torture getting a song a month, but I’ll take it… Only on Bandcamp.

The Davenports

Timmy Sean “Gimme Everything”

Timmy Sean has a better idea: a single each week. You get immediate gratification from the talented musician. And stylistically he’s all over the place, but I like this very Lenny Kravitz-like rocker “Gimme Everything.” You do get a series of covers and some live tracks – so if you want originals you can pick and choose. Other gems I liked are “Everything I Want” and “One Dimensional Man.” Get all of them over at Bandcamp.

Read More

The Figgs and The Zags

The Figgs

The Figgs “Other Planes of Here”

It’s hard to come up with another band that’s been playing great music for over twenty years with consistency like The Figgs. After 2013’s career-spanning Anthology, the trio of Mike Gent, Pete Donnelly and Pete Hayes move forward. And like an expensive Cabernet, these guys get better with age.

Donnelly is a perfect example of a music machine, between his own solo work, NRBQ and The Figgs he’s like the Energizer bunny and it’s perfectly illustrated on “Late Nights and Early Flights” where a catchy melody drifts off into an echoing chaotic piano coda. “Wealthy Women” is more standard barroom rock and roll that fits right in with The Rolling Stones or The Satisfactors. The thick wah-wah and funky bass leads into the excellent “Oh My.” However this short album (8 tracks) starts to mellow out after “In A Small Hospital” jams away. No matter what, I’ll always be psyched to listen to The Figgs.
power pop

Amazon

The Zags

The Zags “The Zags”

Last years excellent EPs give way to a full album for this retro influenced Portland band. The Zags approach relies on David Ricardo’s distinct vocal and it carries things on “Play It Loud” and “Still Life.” The retro feel is toned down a bit as The Zags find their own style here.

“Frozen Toes” is a memorable, prog influenced song and keyboardist Rachel Broach carries “Not Your Meant-to-be” really well. The Zags make each track compelling listening, standouts being “Waves,” “Get Smart” and the psychedelic end track “Secret Staircase.” Highly Recommended.
power pop

Bandcamp only

Read More

Nick Piunti “Beyond The Static”

Nick Piunti

At last years Power Popaholic Fest, Nick Piunti was promoting his debut “13 in my Head” and played alongside the brilliant Chris Richards & The Subtractions. He hinted to me then that a sophomore release was in the works, and I waited with anticipation. Nick has upped the ante with this release, as “Beyond The Static” delivers the goods. Nick also had the studio filled with notable musicians: Chris Richards, Andy Reed (Legal Matters), Donny Brown, and Ryan Allen.

The power chords of “It’s A Trap” ring out a cautionary tale about that little voice in your head trying to prevent disaster, “Just as soon as you’re certain, there’s a lie behind the curtain” he sings out. Vocally Nick still reminds me of Paul Westerberg, but now with a bit of Mike Viola. That dark mood sung with those catchy hooks is personified on “Heart Stops Beating.” And another signature gem “Time Machine” warns about hanging onto the past, “Been there done that too many times” he tells us.  “Six Bands” is a memorable melody about rejection in the music business where “just because, doesn’t mean you should.” Each track shines, without a hint of filler. And at the album’s end, the love song “Quicksand” is another great composition that just won’t leave your head. Easily makes my top ten list for 2015. Don’t miss this one!

power pop

CD Baby | Amazon

Read More

Dylan Gardner and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

Kyle Vincent

Dylan Gardner “Adventures In Real Time”

Dylan Gardner is a rare find in that he’s a young singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist with a keen love of classic pop and the raw skill to produce a debut that’s both infectious and distinct. He’s been playing on stage since he was four, Dylan is a self-described “music nerd” who collects classic ’60s rock albums (The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, and The Doors are particular favorites). And like other young proteges Luke Potter or Drake Bell, he’s absorbed those influences quite well. Hell, anyone who can do Abbey Road in 15 seconds gets my respect.

Even the first line of “Let’s Get Started” gives away his enthusiasm as he sings “I’ll be John and you be Yoko…” to a marching rock beat. And he doesn’t sound particularly retro either, as “I’m Nothing Without You” builds from a simple strum to a richly produced chorus. “Too Afraid To Love You” highlights Dylan’s sharp arrangements, with layered harmonies throughout. He does a good job with a slow ballad (“The Actor”) and even though not every song sticks with you, keep in mind that Dylan has just started here. Fans of Coldplay and Maroon Five will like the concert pleasing tempo of “Feeling Of Love” or the upbeat fun of “With A Kiss.” Overall a highly recommended debut.
power pop
Amazon

Kyle Vincent

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds “Chasing Yesterday”

On the second album from Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, the former Oasis lead writer starts off Chasing Yesterday, but ends up accepting that he’s one of the only artists from the Brit-pop era left standing that still caters to the old fan base (Nevermind these guys.) . And unlike brother Liam’s band, Beady Eye – he’s not stuck in the late sixites garage. Plenty of brooding too, but there is more than enough here to make me play highlights and recommend it to fans of great rock and roll.

Read my review on Blogcritics.org

power pop

Amazon

Read More