The Well Wishers and Dot Dash

The Well Wishers

The Well Wishers “Comes And Goes”

Jeff Shelton (aka The Well Wishers) is one of the most consistently relaible power pop artists with a sound that is firmly rooted between REM and Bob Mould. On his 8th release Comes and Goes stays the course, it will please followers and earn new fans along the way. “Impossible To Blame” is a great example of what makes Jeff so irresistible; buzzing guitar rhythms, upbeat tempo and a catchy melody. He delves into hard rock and psyche-pop passages through several songs like “It’s On” and “Love Lies Last.” Lisa Mychols adds her vocals to the shimmering “Comes Around.” Its hard to come up with more superlatives for this band, and all I can tell you is pick this album up. Highly Recommended (as usual).

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Dot Dash

Dot Dash “Searchlighs”

Washington DC based Dot Dash has gradually shifted its sound over the years from a power pop band on 2011’s spark>flame>ember>ash to the fuzz alt. Brit-rock of Earthquakes & Tidal Waves. The band has now gone to a punk garage sound with Searchlights. There is a wild energy that is attractive on the opener “Dumb Entertainment,” and the PIL meets The Jam approach on “Lonely Serenade” and the title track are also enjoyable. But they careen off the rails on “10,000 Days” where you barely hear Terry Banks melody above the din.

The band still can crank out a classic  — “Wishing Star” is great songwriting, with sweet chord progressions and solos. A few more standouts include “Holly Garland” and “Fading Out.” The rest of the album was a little more challenging to stick through only because the songs tend to blend into each other. Still worth a listen and including on your playlist.

Beautiful Music

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Free Singles and more: Duerte Sanchez, Preoccupied Pipers, Powder Blue Tux and those darn Aussie guitars!

Duerte Sanchez is the alias of Californian songwriter Jared Lekites (Lunar Laugh) and here is a sweet little ballad that is a FREE download for you all.

Preoccupied Pipers do a nice cover of Guided By Voices “Now To War.” The band is a collective of California musicians like Ned Sykes, KC Bowman, and others. The band also has a slowed down version of Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy.” Both are FREE downloads. Check it out.

Powder Blue Tux is Barney Hurley from Samuel Purdey‘s new project. And if you love Steely Dan — you’ll flip for this. Jazz-pop that rides the coolness wave with ease. Great single here.


Popboomerang’s latest sampler “The Melbourne Divide” is chockful of great music for a mere $5. Guitar pop band Oscarlima, power pop genius Michael Carpenter, Bryan Estepa and The Wellingtons are featured. All will be featured in a show on July 9 at the Yarra Hotel. Not a bad track here, it’s a highly recommended peak at the music down under.

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Explorers Club and The Senior Service

Explorers Club

Explorers Club “Together”

The Explorers Club are back for their third album and its safe to say the band is the closest heir apparent to Brian Wilson’s musical legacy. Listeners can expect exquisite four part harmonies, tight musicianship, and lush arrangements. The title track perfectly encapsulates the feel of The Beach Boys early ’70s “Sunflower” era and the easy West Coast doo-wop of “California’s Callin’ Ya” is another brilliant example of sun-soaked songwriting and harmonizing. “Once In A While” crams so much into the short two and a half minutes, from the “bop-did-it” backing counter rhythms to vocal “ooh-wahs” under the melody. Group founder and lead vocalist Jason Brewer does a great job setting the tone. The songs get gradually mellower, and sparser until we reach The Four Freshmen styled “Perfect Day,” which continue to focus on the group harmonic sound. Its no wonder that the team of Jason Brewer, Wyatt Funderburk, Michael Williamson and Paul Runyon sound so good together. Also helping out are players from Brian Wilson’s touring band: Darian Sahanaja, Probyn Gregory, Nelson Bragg and others.

While the albums second half keeps that flawless execution, the songs are simply less memorable and can’t complete with the “A” album side. Standouts here include the Andy Paley co-written “Don’t Waste Her Time” and the amazing “Before I’m Gone” which is very much in the mold of Brian Wilson’s “’Til I Die.” It ends with a dream montage listeners will recall from the film “Love & Mercy.” So yeah, this gets added to this years top 10 album list. Hell, if I can get an album like this every summer, I can die a happy music geek.

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The Senior Service

The Senior Service “The Girl In The Glass Case”

In a rare break, I review an instrumental album. Enjoy old film scores featuring the Hammond organ and some surf guitar? Then The Senior Service is definitely for you as each song tells its own story – no lyrics needed. The quartet of like-minded musicians share a love of John Barry and Barry Gray – and it was quickly decided to follow in the colossal footprints of those sultans of the soundtrack. With bits of flourish from brass and an occasional theremin, it conjures up those classic TV shows.

Both “Caballo Sin Nombre” and “Five Beans In The Wheel” recalls the great music of the 60’s TV show “The Prisoner.” Some tracks are simply light bossa-nova background, but others stand out enough to warrant attention; “Prisoner on The Lost Planet” and “Abandoned” have catchy rhythms and great thematic energy.

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The Bangles and Peter Lacey

The Bangles

The Bangles
“Ladies and Gentlemen… The Bangles”

This treat is a vintage 16-track Bangles collection of remastered ’80s-era rarities, demos, live recordings, including The Bangles’ debut single and all of the tracks from their self-titled EP—produced by legendary Ramones/Blondie producer Craig Leon—unavailable since its initial release on vinyl in 1982. It showcases the talent of The Bangles’ founding and current members—Susanna Hoffs, Debbi Peterson, and Vicki Peterson—as well as now-retired bassist Michael Steele, and the band’s original bass player Annette Zilinskas.

What’s incredible is just how solid the Monkees influences show through on all these early tracks, just listen to “I’m In Line,” “Call On Me”and “How Is The Air Up There.” The Peterson/Hoffs harmonies are full of energy on “Want You” and the garage side comes out on the demo of “Steppin’ Out.” Another fun tune is a cover of The Turtles “Outside Chance.” Highly Recommended to power pop music fans and not just for Bangles devotees.

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Peter Lacey

Peter Lacey “New Way Lane”

Veteran musician Peter Lacey’s music has often been compared to that of Brian Wilson and Paul McCartney’s early work. His newest album was recorded in Peter’s garage and touches on many ’60s pop styles, done with very sparse instrumentation. The album starts with the Beatlesque “Star In Your Own Show” and “New Way Lane,” solid compositions done with a sweetness and simplicity that make the music irresistible.

“Laundromat” is old school soul, with an easy funk beat and deep brass accents. “Bella Donna” is a little too close to the Fab Four’s “Lady Madonna,” and a few songs after this are so mellow I want to take an “Afternoon Nap.” Another highlight is the catchy “Better Make Tracks.” Rewards with repeat listens.

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Automat and Michael Carpenter

Automat

Automat “Turn The Music Up”
The under-rated David Doll and Mat Taylor collaboration return after a long absence, and they deliver some greatness here. Automat continues to be a shining example of power pop, starting with “It’s The Beginning Of The End” its top-notch, hook-filled, guitar-pop taking its influences from The Beatles, The Monkees and Squeeze. “What There Could Have Been” is a McCartney & Wings-styled mid-tempo gem and the gentle acoustic strums of “Fly” recall Jellyfish in its optimistic chorus.

The sound varies at times, but always keeps a compelling melodic line, as “I Need, I Know, I Do”  and “If I’m Talking” are straight from the Glenn Tilbrook playbook. The quality of the music is consistent without note of filler, although the Beatlesque ending “A Minor Miracle” drags out over six minutes. Overall, a spectacular album that deserves your attention and gets added to my now crowded top ten list.

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Michael Carpenter and The Cuban Heels

Michael Carpenter and The Cuban Heels “Ain’t Nothing Left To Say”
How do you follow up retirement? Well Aussie music legend Mr. Carpenter gets his band The Cuban Heels together and delivers what he does best. Like other Cuban Heels albums, the blues and country influences are more pronounced than his solo works – but he throws a few power pop tracks in here.

The title track is a great start, with its steady rhythm, melody line and guitar accents. “I Should Have Told You” and “Wasted Years, Wasted Time” have that familiar steel pedal, and twang. Other highlights include “Photo” and “You’re Givin’ Love A Good Name.” At the end Carpenter gives a shout out to his wife on”Thank You” making for a satisfying finale. Highly Recommended.

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