Fratellis "Costello Music"

The Glasgow trio Fratellis have summoned forth the old spirit of T-Rex, The Clash and Oasis to give you a smashing debut album. Loud beats with great gobs of melodic hookery is what Brit-pop bands are all about. “Chelsea Dagger” is the catchiest single I’ve heard in years and perfect for your next wild party. The bouncy guitar of “Henrietta” is rock and roll meant for dancing. The theme for most of the songs are basically celebrations of wild times out on the town. The high energy song “Flathead” was picked in the latest ipod commercials. Fratellis has often been compared in the press to The Arctic Monkeys. But unlike the Monkey’s overhyped pop-punk, Fratellis has the talent to back up the cheekiness. “Ole Black n’ Blue Eyes” and “Whistle For The Choir” are good mid-tempo tunes that help tone down the energy of this pub-perfect album. Grab a pint and settle down with Fratellis, you won’t be sorry. On a major label here so you can get it almost anywhere. Visit the band’s site to hear “Flathead” and MySpace to hear more.

See The Fratellis perform “Chelsea Dagger”

Holmes "Stop Go"

Sometimes you cannot dine on a single entree and crave a smorgasboard. In the same way you can listen to your power pop and want a variety of styles and influences. Holmes (aka Roy Shakked) has a feast here sure to please power pop fans (Okay, enough food analogies here). Using the basic structure of The Beatles, and Electric Light Orchestra, Holmes carves out lush orchestral/lounge pop. On the liner notes, he classifies the style categories as: Power Pop, Rock Ya Body, Rock Ya Soul, Heartbreak Ballad and Little Diddy. This is a good guide, but I’ll elaborate here – Holmes uses Cello, Saxophones and Accordian, to put together a beautiful series of ELO-styled ballads like “Nevermind” and “Nothing at All”. He has gathered a dream-team of quality players here, including Lyle Workman (Bourgeois Tagg) and eleven other musicians. “Be Alone” is pop via Fountains of Wayne type rock tune. “Another Week” has melodies that bounce along with a bit of quirkiness similar to Tally Hall (see below). Although the mid-tempo songs are good, they can’t compare to the ballads here. “Gray World” is my favorite tune here, and the ELO comparisons are more subtle homage, than the stylistic note for note copying of Bleu’s L.E.O. Seek this music out and your soul will be shaked and baked by these teriffic ballads (I knew shouldn’t have skipped dinner). Holmes will go on tour to support this album this June. Visit Holmes site to hear the entire album streaming and then order it directly!

Emusic | NotLame | itunes | Holmes Site

Minibar "Desert After Rain"

Thank goodness for Minibar. With The Jayhawks gone, it’s good to see another quality band continue to produce great alt-country pop music. Earlier albums like “Road Movies” and “Fly Below the Radar” established Minibar as a solid rock band with some country leanings. This albums is where the group matures and it’s a joy to listen to. Lead singer Simon Petty evokes Niel Young and Gary Louris with a vocal tenor and emotion that resonates similar to Eddie Vedder. The Byrds-styled guitar work from Tim Walker is also outstanding and would make Roger McGuinn proud. Great tunes here include “Things I left behind” and “Wide Open” with great melody and harmony similar to Del Amitri. “The Sight of You” has a nice West Coast styled flavor is my favorite song here. The mellow mood of the entire album seems to be just right, and until my Wilco album arrives later this month, I can get my fix here. Listen to some tracks on MySpace

Minibar Website | CD Baby | Not Lame

See the video to the song “Crime Scene Ribbon”

The Fire Apes "The Fire Apes"

Out now is another amazing release from the Fire Apes. This self-titled CD is a 5 song ep that has a little sampling of what makes The Fire Apes an exemplary power pop band. Awesome guitar-driven songs with great melody and energy are what’s here. “Hey Kate” has all the elements of a top ten single. This ain’t your typical retro power pop, it has the spirit of early Kinks and Beatles without any trace of slavish homage. “If things don’t look so good today” is another excellent mid-tempo single as well. The sound of the band is also similar to Philly’s IKE (The John Faye band). This release has just had me salivating for more. I hope they release a new full length album soon, in the meantime you can get tracks from the last two release “A perfect Day for Bananafish” and “Central Park Carousel” on itunes. Check out the links below, The Fire Apes Site has the entire album streaming, so you can try before you buy.

The Fire Apes Site | Itunes | CDBaby | KoolKat Music

Richard X. Heyman "Actual Sighs"

If there is anything in this world that can be labeled a “sure thing” it’s a Richard X. Heyman album. He consistently makes great albums and this new one is no exception. “Actual Sighs” is a revisit to an earlier time in Heyman’s career. Heyman’s debut from 1986 was called Actual Size. With this new recording, he re-works the original six songs and adds about 14 more in addition! Lots of great guitar are all over this album. Some of my favorites here are the Beatlesque “Mr. Murphy’s Son” and the rolling chourses on “In a Boxcar.” He also jumps out in a few new directions with “Twelve Bars and I still have the blues” an autobiographical bar-band styled blues rocker. “Written all over my face” is another ballad gem that has some killer hooks. And with twenty songs, you get lots killer tracks! The proof of Heyman’s greatness is that the tracks written in 1986 still sound awesome and not out of date. “Hoosier” is a great song in the RXH style that stands the test of time. If you haven’t listened to his stuff yet, this is a perfect time. It’s for sale at Not Lame and CD Baby and hear some on his myspace page!

I also got the opportunity to interview Richard in the new Powerpopaholic Interview Pages also is a link to other interviews as well, including The Shoes, Jeff Murphy, who I reviewed last week.