Devlin Murphy "My First"

Devlin Murphy is a not just a singer songwriter. He’s an entertainment personality waiting to show up on the zeitgeist radar. He’s got a lot of videos up on his own you tube profile. But top it all off, Devlin is an excellent musician, having grown up amongst the artists at Track Records studio. Like Cliff Hillis, Michael Carpenter and Jeremy Morris he produces some refreshingly original pop songs. “Today” is an inspiring opener with great hooks, and this is followed by “Jesus” a great sunny proclamation that “I don’t want to be a Jesus and you don’t have to pray” with an excellent melody and overdubbed harmonies. “99 Cent” almost sounds like a jingle, and is a cute diversion. “Another Day” showcases some nice piano melody and reminds me of the Jellyfish. A few heavy ballads sneak in here, and they’re also well done. “Alright” is an Owlsey-styled inspirational guitar pop song with a killer chorus. “Hey Hello” is a nice tune with a bit of Ween or Smashmouth flavor to it with it’s foreground drum beat. “Real One” is a single featured on National Lampoon’s Dorm Daze 2 soundtrack and is slick enough, but in my opinion the weakest track here. The CD is for sale on his website and a few indie labels listed below and itunes. At $10 it is a real treat to encourage an artist with his talents.

Devlin Murphy homepage | CD Baby | Not Lame | MySpace | Itunes | Kool Kat

Listen to Devlin’s YouTube Commercial and “The Luckiest”

Frank Royster "Thru The Years"

Music veteran Frank Royster has been a member of The Fire Apes and The Hed Shop Boys. This guy has real melodic guitar chops. If you took Randy Newman and Elvis Costello and spiced together the DNA with The Smithereens, you’d get Frank. His new solo album is called “Thru The Years” and like a Pinata, it contains lots of musical treats. The album starts with “I’m so Glad” a Beatlesque tune with a fantastic wall of sound production that would make the Spongetones blush. The DIY ethic is all over this album and I haven’t heard a better example of this since The Breetles. It’s followed by “You Don’t Understand” a really nice rocker that could’ve fallen off the Elvis Costello “Armed Forces” album. The vocals here really emulate Elvis C. nicely. The raspy rock voice on “Mr. Wiggins” recalls Ian Hunter a bit, with great guitar riffs here. Along with the great guitar playing is truly great songwriting ability. The chord changes on these tunes are akin to Marshall Crenshaw and other great writers of power pop. Frank puts his guitar melody in the forefront of the sound. Granted it sounds brilliant, but I think the vocal echo effects are a bit too much on some tracks and would’ve liked it mixed a bit more evenly. “Lullaby” gets into some Emitt Rhodes acoustic territory. “I Don’t Want To Lose You” is a terrific song in the Enuff Znuff mode. Some of the other songs here reminded me of The Oohs excellent “Llamalamp” album. If you like any of the artists I mentioned in this review you’ll enjoy Frank Royster. This is essential listening for power pop fans.

Frank’s Website | My Space | Kool Kat | Itunes | Not Lame |

Deleted Waveform Gatherings "Complicated View"

This came out last month to much fanfare by the other blogs, including Bruce at Not Lame and I wanted to hear what all the fuss is about. The Deleted Waveform Gatherings is a project of Dipsomaniacs leader Øyvind Holm. Those crazy Norwegians! Like a mix of The Go! and Robert Harrison, “Morgue Itch” and “Complicated View” start off the album with quirky psychedelic rock. This is catchy stuff and great fodder for your inner hippy. Holm’s vocals are similar to Harrison, formerly of power pop fave Cotton Mather, with a high Robert Schneider (Apples in Stereo) styled vocal twists. Nods to late 60’s Beatles and Faces are here with the requiste nods to the early Kinks and modern production tricks a la Guided by Voices. This is an excellent release overall and most of the songs will stick in your head for days. “While You consider this” and “Ramshackle Paranoid Stomp” get very trippy in a Harper’s Bizarre kind of way, with tamborines, mandolins and guitar solos. “Walk on Glass” and “Ride Pillion” are very, very John Lennon solo-styled tracks that sound like they could’ve come from a Plastic Ono Band album! And this coming later on the album will give fans shivers of pleasure. The last two tracks “Minefield Baby” and “Drawing Moons” are a bit of a letdown from the rest of the album, but they are not bad either. The worst critique I can say is the liner notes are very hard to read: small dark brown lettering on black? I’ll go blind… You can buy this one almost everywhere.

My Space | Rainbow Quartz | Itunes | Amazon | Not Lame | Kool Kat | E-Music

Santa Dog "Kittyhawk"

Who says females can’t do power pop? Led by female vocalist Rowena Dugdale her group Santa Dog has released 2 nicely done EPs (at CDBaby and E-music). But here is the first full length by this group. Beautiful arrangements and sweet hooks dominate throughout on “Kittyhawk.” It starts off with “Big Bang” a fantastic shimmering guitar tune. Rowena has earned comparisons to Debbie Harry, and they really are appropriate on the next song “Are you hot enough.” Rob Williams does an amazing job all over the album with a ton of detailed strum and jangle rhythms, notably on “Belle De Jour” and “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah”. The group also channels a bit of classic Pretenders meets 10,000 Maniacs in the rockin’ “Lucky Me.” This is one of those rare albums that can be enjoyed on many levels. If you just want to casually listen to some jangle pop that has a sunny sound this will please you, and if you pay attention to the intelligent lyrical themes (addiction or lack of control in relationship) you’ll appreciate this album even more. Enjoy this excellent album like you would a fine meal and allow the repeat listens to really satisfy your power pop hunger.

Santa Dog Website | CD Baby – old album | My Space | Emusic – old album | Amazon | Darla Records

The Bye Bye Blackbirds “Honeymoon”

The Bye Bye Blackbirds are a wonderful new pop band from Oakland, CA. “Honeymoon” is a light and cheery EP without being sappy and will appeal to fans of The Byrds, Beach Boys and classic Wilco. The choruses come flying at you with gorgeous pedal steel guitar on “In Every Season.” The Pet Sounds vibe comes across on “After Work” very nicely. “Weekend Folks” reminds me of the gentle crooning of Teenage Fanclub and Pete Ham era Badfinger. “Needle-in-a Haystack Girls” have a real Richard X. Heyman sense of melody and hooks. It’s obvious that songwriters Ian Robertson and Bradley Skaught are huge power pop fans here. The influences are prominent but The Bye Bye Blackbirds still have a unique sound and the songwriting is top notch too. Every song here is a power pop gem and will not disapoint. The mood gets a little somber on “How I Knew It Wasn’t Love” but does an amazing job with the Rubinoos-like “Suit & Make Up” If only this was a regular album and not an EP it would be on my top 10 list. Don’t miss this one.

Bye Bye Blackbirds Website | CD Baby | Itunes | My Space | Not Lame

Listen to “Quiet Confusion”