Sam Vicari “Giving Up”

The Power Chords

Sam Vicari “Giving Up”

Its good to hear Sam Vicari again, as he’s clearly at the top of his game. Opening with simple fuzz guitar and harmonies on “Little Stones” it’s a Green Day-ish prelude to the album, where he lets loose on the first big single here “All and Everyday,” a memorable melody that’s “tired of winter, get used to early summer.” And it would be a perfect tune to play loud in your convertible.

Each song crackles with energy, “Pacific Northwesterner” is another compelling melody with biting riffs similar to Matthew Sweet. “Loser Dream” goes on about the girl he loves (even though she’s asleep). The sparse instrumentation of “Just Enough” plays out long enough till the loud monster chorus kicks in and the dense “Still Not Sure” is a full of ringing guitars and a bouncy beat. No filler here and each song stands as proof of Vicari’s amazing talent. Highly recommended and added to my top ten nominations list this year!
power pop

Spin City Records | Amazon

Sam Vicari – All and Everyday (Official Video) from Sam Vicari on Vimeo.

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Plastic Man and Plastic Macca

The Power Chords

Plastic Man “Don’t Look At The Moon”

Plastic Man is an Italian pysche-pop garage band that has nothing to do with stretchy superhero of the same name.  What makes this band “stretch” is its ability to combine late ’60s fuzz guitar, reverb, and vocal tremolo into trippy melodies. “North Polar Land” starts with a looping rhythm and echoing distant vocals. “Black and Blue Dream” ups the echoes with jangle guitar and xylophone. Like Plastic Macca, we get very groovy psyche-pop experiences around 2 minutes each, but there is a little more variety, from the surf guitar of “Black Hole” and “Needle Point” to the odd melody and cowbell beat of the title track.

One huge standout is the jangle-tastic “He Didn’t Know” that sounds almost like a gem from last years album from The Above. “Rolling Machine” goes a little wilder with heavy distorted chords and a gurgling chorus. But a lead vocal doesn’t stand out here, instead we get a collective harmony (with a female voice in there) for many tunes. Another standout “Mike, the Center of The World” does highlight the vocal performances. Fans of sixties psyche rejoice and double your fun!
power pop

Amazon

The Power Chords

Plastic Macca “Sensation”

Roger Houdaille (Ex Norwegian) has a retro secret identity as Plastic Macca. On the debut album Sensation, it scratches the itch for fans of late 60’s psychedelics starting with the “Life” a short gem with echoing vocals and fuzz bass. “Art” is very much in the style of Kinks Village Green Preservation Society with a nice descending guitar riff. Roger adds his own melodic touch to these short musical sketches (most around 2 minutes).

Therein lies the issue: most of the songs sound like nice ideas that float in and out of your ears without much resonance. Songs like “Reverse” and “Air” have a bedroom garage quality about the recording that does keep them endearing, but they’re not memorable. Roger’s creative impulses yield a few melodic gems like “Wasteland” and the weird “Garden” is like very early Bowie (you almost expect sped up gnome voices).

Not content with a single LP, Roger unleashed the sophomore Plastic Macca Is Here at the same time. Less a retro exercise it has its share of notable songs including “Hall” and “Skinny.” Expand your psyche-pop collection and give Plastic Macca’s oeuvre chance.
power pop

Sensation | Is Here

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The Power Cords and Dr. Cosmo’s Tape Lab

The Power Chords

The Power Cords “Stray Comets”

Los Angeles indie pop/rock band The Power Cords are Jeff Rosenfeld and Ezra Siegel, who split lead vocals throughout the new album Stray Comets. Starting with the bouncy theme “Puppeteering” it’s catchy 90’s alternative rock that’s easy on the ear. “Panic” is even better with a solid ear-worm in the chorus, with heavy power chords that make it clear how the band got its name. And the bands not a one trick pony, as the compositions vary to keep things from getting too predictable.

The sound shifts to new wave pop on “Luxetine Dreams” with sparkling synths and the mellow mid-tempo melody of “Surface of The Moon” conveys the loneliness of space and rejection. And it shifts styles from vintage rock to power pop with great chord shifts on “1982.” It also has a whimsical Oasis-like theme in “Stuck Here Again.” Highly Recommended to fans of The New Pornographers, Weezer, or The Shins.
power pop

Amazon


Los Breakdowns

Doctor Cosmo’s Tape Lab “Beyond the Silver Sea”

If anyone was to make an audio children’s fantasy I couldn’t think of a more irreverent band with solid 60’s pop style than Doctor Cosmo’s Tape Lab (aka Joe Kane & Stu Kidd). If you liked Harry Nilsson’s The Point! and Yellow Submarine, you’ll find a new favorite here. Starting with narrative by artist Adam Smith in a thick Irish brogue it then opens into the wonderful Crosby Stills and Nash styled harmonies of “City and The Stars.”

The story itself is about a boy named Max in a Sense Factory to make sense of things. The narrative precedes each song, and the story gets more bizarre as it moves forward. But it’s all a vehicle for some great late 60’s pop compositions that resemble bands from The Hollies to The Small Faces to Donovan. With 24 tracks (that’s 12 songs) you’ll have great fun playing “spot the influence” and following Max’s journey into psychedelic bliss. Highly Recommended to lovers of nostalgia and great sixties pop.
power pop

Bandcamp only

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Los Breakdowns and Wits End

Los Breakdowns

Los Breakdowns “Rock and Roller Skates”

Nottingham, UK exports Los Breakdowns are heavy rock with a touch of glam punk, similar to The Jam, Thin Lizzy or Slade with sizzling riffs leading the way, like on the opener “UK Youth.”It also recalls the late 70’s power pop movement on “Rock City Limit,” or the slower rock ballad “It Ain’t Over.” We’ve reviewed their earlier album, and they’ve aged quite well.

Through the buzzsaw chords of “Sweet Pamela Jayne” and “Sometimes I Try To Hold On,” you’ll hear the longing and classic anthems that will stick with you. Not sure why the band added “Los” to replace the “The” in their name, my guess its some legal technicality. Either way this is a keeper. My favorite here is “Waiting On Perfection,” but everything sounds great. Highly Recommended.

power pop

Amazon

Wits End

Wits End “Up To Here”

Longtime San Fernando Valley buddies singer/guitarist Tom Robinson and bassist Joe Peters, brought together by a shared love for the great tradition of guitar-based rock songwriting to create Wits End. Veterans of the indie club circuit, they carefully prepared and delivered a new album, Up To Here.

“Cold Exterior” is pretty traditional indie power pop, similar to Nick Heyward or The Gin Blossoms with a both classic and modern influences. “Darla’s Night To Shine” is an early standout painting a great character study. The shimmering guitar on “Face It” is along the lines of The Orange Peels, or early REM and Tom Robinson’s vocal carries the song well. The fuzz is turned up on “High On Prednisone,” but it didn’t seem to work with the melody. A much better job is done on “Is this for Real,” but few songs stuck with me at the albums mid-point. It does get better toward the end, highlights include “Time To Go” and my favorite song here “Validated.” Overall, a talented group that’s worth multiple listens.
power pop

Amazon | CD Baby

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