Yeah, I know. Not power pop, but I love the guitar work here. Two Gallants are Adam Stephens (guitar, harmonica, piano and vocals) and Tyson Vogel (drums, guitar and vocals) and they’ve been making music together since the age of 12 and performing around San Francisco. Two Gallants’ fifth studio album is We Are Undone and to celebrate the release, the band performs the title track on “Late Night with Seth Meyers.” Check it out or you are the Goofus here.
Everet Almond “Four Tracks” EP
Everet Almond is the drummer for one of our favorite bands, Evil Arrows. Everet proves he’s got major songwriting chops from behind his kit with this short EP. “Start Again” is a Lennonesque piano ballad that’s a real charmer and the steady guitar beat and melody of “Are You A Man?” is very much in the vein of Emmitt Rhodes. This little DIY gem is very much inspired by early 70’s folk rock style and recorded with an iphone. Maybe he should lobby Bryan for a song or two on the next Evil Arrows LP. Best of all, it’s a FREE Bandcamp download, so give yourself a treat and grab it!
Free Download on Bandcamp
The Fraidies “Try Again”
Seattle-based indie/alt-rock outfit, The Fraidies, released a debut last year and now I’d be remiss if I didn’t review it. Produced by Gary Reynolds, the band crafts a perfect mix of power pop melodies and late 1990’s/early 2000’s alt-rock. The dual guitar riffs and infectious verse on the great opener “X’s On Your Eyes” keep this song stuck in your head.
The happy tempos contrast the general misery of situation, concentrating on goofy lyrics on “You’ve Got A Brand New Calculator” to “cheer up” from the “same ole blues.” This theme continues on the alt country influenced “The Powers That Be” or the rock-synth combo “Never Love Again (It’s Doubtful)” with its catchy la-la chorus. More highlights include the anthemic chorus of “Your Mouth is a Radio” and “You’ve Got Nothing But Love.” It takes a sad turn with the long ballad “Gold Miner” but fans of The Lemonheads and Matthew Sweet are sure to love this band.
The Wind “Re-Wind”
The Wind formed in 1982 and their debut LP was a criminally overlooked by most. It was a power pop classic that had influences from Beatles and Dylan to Motown. Now thirty years later Lane Steinberg is rejoined by his mates Steve Katz and Steve Burdick. Add to this pop maestro David Grahame, who co-produced and mixed this reunion. A mature sophisticated pop sense replaces the youthful energy, but they definitely recapture that old magic.
The Shivvers “The Shivvers (Remixed and Remastered 2014)”
Hard to believe, but this “lost” power pop classic belongs alongside the great albums of the early 1980’s era. If you love Blondie, The Scruffs, The Toms, and The Shoes then you should make it your business to listen to Milwaukee’s first real power pop band. The debut record LP finally saw the light of day this summer with terrific vocals from Jill Kossoris and backed up by Scott Krueger, Jim Eannelli, Jim Richardson, Mike Pyle and the late Breck Burns. Although the music was available in 2006, it has been newly remixed and remastered in 2014. Its being re-discovered today (thank you, internet) and well worth the listeners effort.
“Teenline” was bona-fide hit single that got attention from Raspberries’ frontman Eric Carmen who wished to produce the bands LP. “Please Stand By” is another fast paced song with bright angular guitar chords and hand claps in the chorus. “Hold On” is built very much like a Raspberries song, even the opening chords closely resemble “I Wanna Be With You.” The slower “Why Tell Lies” is song about heartbreak that echoes those fifties ballads with repeating vocals behind the chorus. Every song here resonates and impresses, from the heavy riffs of “When I Was Younger” to the piano melody on “Don’t Tell Me.” Krueger eventually joined The Wigs, and the group was disbanded. As a lush coda to the bands career, the 1989 reunion single “Remember Tonight” is included. Despite the simple production techniques, the music doesn’t sound dated due to the solid songwriting and energetic performances that carry each tune. When building a power pop collection, The Shivvers remains an essential LP to get.
The Statuettes “Great Western” EP
The Statuettes (formerly Michael Gross and the Statuettes) are a pop/rock band based in Salt Lake City, UT that play as a tight unit, mixing influences from past into present. “Into The Dark” is a great angular intro which combines the dark bass lines of Blue Oyster Cult with its brooding chorus. “Not Crying” is a modern expansive arena single, lead by the booming drum and deliberate guitar-piano accents.
The faster paced “It’s A The Same” and “Life’s A Dream” echo Coldplay with lead singer Michael Gross sounding a dead ringer for Chris Martin. In a nice change of pace “Oh Please” let’s the guitars take the chorus. No filler and overall, a solid pop rock EP worth checking out.
Tommy Sistak “Short Songs”
Tommy Sistak grew up playing in garage bands in suburban Chicago. His band Bagshot Row, is a classic oldies outfit that has opened for Davy Jones of the Monkees, Peter Noone and Herman’s Hermits, and Eric Burdon and the Animals. Sistak’s syle is most decidedly early Beatles, with its rich Rickenbacker jangle and three-part vocal harmonies. Staring with “Think About Me” its all about the short, punchy pop, when mid 60’s pop ruled the radio.
This is guilt free goodness, and Sistak keeps them coming, “Ordinary Words” and “Whisper In the Night” are fast paced gems, but what puts them above the fray of other Beatlesque bands are the excellent chord progressions and the occasional deeper bass fuzz. Even switching to a softer multi-tracked acoustic on “Be Good” like The Cyrkle makes a nice change of pace. A happy guilty pleasure here; scratch that Fab itch with Tommy.
The New Trocaderos “Frenzy in The Hips” EP
Formed last year, The New Trocaderos are a mini supergroup consisting of Geoffrey Palmer and Brad Marino of The Connection, and Kurt Baker. They released a few singles and an EP (or two) late in 2014. Well if you missed any of these hook-filled songs I’ve got some good news. Kook Kat Musik is distributing a compilation of these singles under the 6 song EP “Frenzy In The Hips.” The music is hard charging pop that’s rooted in the British Invasion and garage rock style. Each single is compelling, but my favorites are “Dream Girl, ” “The Kids” and “Luckiest Man in the World” which is only available on CD on this release! Fire this CD up for an instant rock and roll party. Highly Recommended.
Ryan Allen & His Extra Arms “Heart String Soul”
It’s great to hear Ryan again, his last album was nearly three years ago. After many listens, its clear that Ryan Allen bleeds rock & roll dreams. His energy and melodies are the very stuff power pop fans yearn for. “Should Be Me” is the first song, about his lack of radio play and the hopeful refrain of “one more day” to figure out how to “make it.” It’s a little like a mix of The Ramones and Richard X. Heyman. “Looking Forward to Looking Back” has Raspberries-like riffs and a catchy chorus making it an infectious rocker, “We are all born broken” starts the chorus that hits every note perfectly.
“Become a Disaster” is an anthem for disaffected young adults, building with massive harmonies and riffs like Weezer and a Fountains of Wayne styled narrative. Everything here rings true from the timeline affair of “Angela ’97” to the Big Star influenced “Not Hanging Out” to the quiet heartbreak of “Bonded By Blood,” about the difficulties of fatherhood. Ryan has blown me away here, and this easily makes my top ten album list for 2015.