Ed James "In the 21st Century"

Here’s an old favorite of mine, with a new Power Pop Classic. Ed James has been rockin’ since the 90s and I see no drop off in quality here. Opening with the Elastic-styled guitar riff “Out of this town” Ed let’s us know he’s taking no prisoners. The next track “She’s The One” is a perfect sugary love song. Excellent musicianship, strong melody and heavenly harmonies are all over this one. This is what I count on when I hear Ed James. “Miss Polly” is another gem. Similar to my Aussie friend Michael Carpenter, every song here is worth the listen and most tracks deserve repeats in your ears. “Second” is an amazing mid-tempo tune that has great lyric and reminds me of classic 10cc. This vibe continues with the ethereal ballad “Layna.” It’s not perfect though, the lightweight “Star Trek Girl” is like a Rubinoos parody and “Lullaby” rips off the Beatles “Yesterday” a bit — but this is really nitpicking. If you want a classic of the genre, look no further. It is for sale at CD Baby or get it from the Itunes store here.

Drake Bell "It’s Only Time"

Drake Bell is the next big “pop star” from the Disney talent stable. As the star of the TV series Drake and Josh, Bell came out with an album last year. Ever since Britany Spears hit it big years ago, the Disney crew has put out dreck after dreck, that appeals to the tween set and makes the rest of us vomit. Please, I don’t need to hear another “Kidz Bop” album and if I see one I will use it for target practice at the gun range. Nor do I need to hear an Aaron-Carter-Cheetah-Girls-Backstreet-Boys-cloned prepackaged, premarketed piece of crap either.

Now that my rant is over, let me talk about Drake Bell. “It’s Only Time” is a great power pop album. That’s right. Bell takes from all the right influences – Jellyfish and Roger Manning Jr. primarily with a bit of early Taxiride. This album is a refreshing throwback to the kind of freely creative musical roots that are lost on most artists of Drake’s generation. “Rusted Silhoutte” and “Break me Down” has an amazing intensity, as a song that’s melodic and full of amazing production techniques. Not one bad track here. It does all the right things The Click Five should have done. Okay, the last track “End it Good” sounds like a goofy vaudville number, but after 9 great tracks it’s forgiven. It’s hard to believe that fans of traditional Disney fare (Jesse McCartney) will like this stuff though. I can hear them complaining now – “Wahhh! Daddy, this is more like your music!” What else can I say? The boy has good taste and I hope he makes more music like this. Visit his site to hear 2 tracks or visit his myspace page to hear more. Count this as a rare opportunity for power pop to be released on a major label (universal/mowtown).

Groundswell "Supersweet"

Groundswell are a Melbourne based band with a knack for brilliant, hook-filled, guitar-led power pop. The music is best compared to The Lolas with style and sound. Earlier last month I featured a video, and recently I got the CD. All twelve songs are pretty darn good with the chiming guitars on both highlights “Katrina” and the awesome “Sunday Feeling” which has a definite Teenage Fanclub vibe, and the best song on the disc. The rest of the songs are of similar quality, with buoyant melodies matched with top-notch production. The mid-tempos ballad “Beautiful” and “Black and Blue” have some interesting lyrics and have a bit of an ELO-vibe, then we continue with the sugary goodness of “Backdown” and the excellent Beatlesque “Get In The Groove.” Even at a higher import price this Aussie sweet is worth it. As Bruce would say “extremely, highly recommened!” On sale at KoolKat Music or NotLame.com

Danny Scherr "Richmond Special"

A new release out now is the debut CD from Danny Scherr, a San Francisco based singer/songwriter. Danny has a good guitar heavy sound, similar to The Rembrandts and Tal Bachman. The album has several good melodic tunes like, “Love Again” reminds me of the Grass Roots in their prime. “Don’t know why” and “fade me in” mines the same elegant guitar balladry similar to Toad the Wet Sprocket. The other ballads here aren’t as strong but Scherr does a better job with the rockers in my opinion. “Always Goes That Way” is an excellent single and worth making it to your playlist. You can visit Danny’s site to hear some samples. Or you can visit NotLame.com or CDBaby to get this album. In any case this is a good album worth picking up.

A Blast from the Past (1980’s)

This video is titled “Return to Comboland” — A personal look at North Carolina’s most influential (and secret) music legacy. Produced and Directed by Steve Boyle. This is a sample of some of the archived music videos Steve created from 1981 to 1984.

Artists featured are: the Accelerators, Arrogance, the dB’s, Doc Holliday, the Fabulous Knobs, Glass Moon, Luky Owens & Revolver, PKM, The Spongetones and the X-Teens.

It seems like a million years ago, but some of these bands helped fuel the power pop revival in the eighties and I’ve been hooked ever since.