Kai Danzberg and Third of Never

Kai Danzberg

Kai Danzberg “Pop-Up Radio”

We first heard about German musician Kai Danzberg last year on an EP, but he’s been very busy since then. You gotta appreciate a guy who wears his power pop influences on his sleeve, or in this case his entire body. It all starts with the faux Jellyfish opener “Welcome To The Show” with references The Beatles, Jellyfish, Queen, The Bee Gees and Pink Floyd(?). It uses every audio cue you could think of, a chiming piano, layered effects, and all that instrumentation is impressive. The piano coda leads into the sunny “Yes We Can” which is the kind of harmonic pop similar to The Sonic Executive Sessions or Paul Steel. The chorus pleads and delivers a full-on sugar rush.

The entire album follows this style, highlights include the “You’re The One,” “How Can You” and the earnest gem “Too Late.” But the pop sweetness wears off by the album’s mid-point. There are lots of compelling musical elements, however not everything here has a hook and often the atmosphere and production overshadow the song compositions. Fortunately, there is enough to make this a highly recommended listen. Fans of the above-referenced bands will appreciate it, and if you’re a Michael Jackson fan you’ll definitely want to check out his recent Unacceptable EP. Oh yeah, Kai has also made this a FREE download – so dig in!

Bandcamp

Third of Never

Third of Never “Austerity”

A New Jersey power pop band with the emphasis on “power” is made up of Jon Dawson, CJ Grogan, Vince Grogan, and Mike Polilli with Kurt Reil (The Grip Weeds) and John Bundrick (The Who) lending a hand. The pounding drums and thick riffs of “Kidnapped Information” showcase the bands crackling energy that will really appeal to fans of The Who or Blue Oyster Cult. “Dig The View” is another great song meant to be played loud.

The atmospheric hard rock of “Run Silent, Run Deep” is another winner, and even the lead vocals resemble Roger Daltry. The band keeps the pedal to the floor, although the tempo finally slows on “18 Strings,” a song with some great percussive effects and texture. And we finally hear those harmonies on the closer “Shanty Town.” This would’ve made my top 30 if I heard it earlier this year. Highly Recommended.

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Power Popaholic Top 30 for 2017

Another banner year for great music if you avoided the mainstream music press.  It’s pretty easy to guess my list based on the numbered reviews, and we did have two “tens” in the group this year. Other albums fell or rose in rank based on multiple listens after my review, a good example of this is Chris Price’s LP that just haunted me for weeks (despite the fact that few tunes are traditionally considered “power pop”). There were also more high-quality albums out there this year, so I expanded my list to 30. Here are the top power pop albums of 2017:

  1. Sitcom Neighbor “Shag”
  2. Derrick Anderson “A World Of My Own”
  3. Pugwash “Silverlake”
  4. Fastball “Step Into Light”
  5. Scott Gagner “Pins & Needles”
  6. Plasticsoul “Therapy”
  7. Wesley Fuller “Inner City Dream”
  8. Liam Gallagher “As You Were”
  9. Fernando Perdomo “The Golden Hour”
  10. The Wellingtons “End of The Summer”
  11. The Nines “Colour Radio (American Transistor)”
  12. Chris Price “Stop Talking”
  13. Bill DeMain “Transatlantic Romantic”
  14. Hornal ”The Game Begins with the Lights Out”
  15. Ruby Free “Shades”
  16. Greg Ieronimo “Never Leaving California”
  17. Burgess Meredith “A Dimension of Sound”
  18. Onesie “Leos Consume”
  19. The Relationship “Clara Obscura”
  20. Corin Ashley “Broken Biscuits”
  21. Cotton Mather “Wild Kingdom”
  22. The Blood Rush Hour “Who Folds First”
  23. Propeller “Don’t Ever Let This Let You Down”
  24. The Mylars “Melody Records”
  25. Cheap Trick “We’re All Alright!”
  26. Chris Lund “Great Event Syndrome”
  27. The Naturals “We Are The Naturals”
  28. The Galileo 7 “Tear Your Minds Wide Open!”
  29. Mothboxer ”The Secret Art of Saying Nothing”
  30. Captain Wilberforce “Black Sky Thinking”

Top EPs of 2017

  1. Cirrone “Kings For A Night” EP
  2. V-Sparks “New Sensation” EP
  3. The Red Button “Now It’s All This!”
  4. Stay “Always Here” EP
  5. TimeWhy?s “Autumn of Love” EP

 

KiDD and Ryan Allen’s New Year present

KiDD

KiDD “Where Are The Strange People?”

KiDD is Glasgow musician Stuart Kidd, who’s also been part of The Wellgreen and Doctor Cosmo’s Tape Lab. He has emerged from his bedroom recording studio with a batch of lo-fi pop gems, including a children’s music album. If you enjoyed Harry Nilsson’s “The Point” or Ringo’s “Octopus’s Garden,” you’ll find KiDD a refreshing listen.

The instrumentation is sparse, but the melodies are tightly packed. The opener “Little Flower” has this sweet combo of jangling guitar and futuristic bubble popping sounds in the rhythm, as the harmonies flow along. The combination of pastoral and futuristic on “Cyan Seren” is a mellow gem that won me over right away. The album’s second half features several psychedelic textural pieces like “Callisto” and “Modified Radio Birdsong.” The psyche-pop of “Looking For The Way Out” is another trippy melody that sticks, but doesn’t linger too long. A very pleasant distraction and overall a great headphones album.

Bandcamp | Pretty Olivia Records

Happy New Year from Ryan Allen!

We get a nice gift (aka FREE download) from Ryan Allen and his Extra Arms. “The Boy Who Bounces Back” and “New Year’s Day” are two tracks that were recorded but left off of 2016’s Basement Punk. Great stuff!

The Best of 2017 List comes out Friday!

A great year for music, and even though I’ll continue reviewing some of last year’s albums, the list is almost ready. We will also post David Bash’s best of List the following week. Stay tuned!

Justine & The Unclean and Shed Seven

Justine and the Unclean

Justine and the Unclean “Get Unclean”

Former members of Boston band Malachite, Justine Covault (lead vocalist) and Janet Egan King (bass) are the main force behind The Unclean with the addition of Charles Hansen (Tom Baker & the Snakes) on lead guitar and Jim Janota’s pounding drums. It’s bar room power pop with some punk overtones, and like most of the Rum Bar Records roster, it features big hooks and loud anthems suitable for the arena rock crowd.

“Bring Me Fire” is starts us out with a dense guitar rhythm, and you’ll hear many influences from Heart, to Missing Persons and The Buzzcocks. Covault’s vocals are very distinctive and while not as quirky as Dale Bozzio she has a more aggressive approach as best heard on “Love Got Me Into This Mess.” There is also a slight twang to the hard country-rock “I’m in Love With You, Jackass,” which is both catchy and full of attitude. The harmonies of Justine and Janet shine on the Ramones-like “Passive Aggressive Baby.” Across the album, we get many solid songs with no filler anywhere but a ballad somewhere would’ve been a nice break from all those fast tempos. A great debut that deserves to be heard.

Kool Kat Musik


Shed Seven

Shed Seven “Instant Pleasures”

Old school Brit-poppers Shed Seven race to grab the Brit-pop crown from the late Oasis with a hard-rocking sound 16 years after they disbanded. Make no mistake, this is a glossy studio rocker with all the bells, whistles, and the kitchen sink to jack up the band’s long forgotten mojo.

The opener “Room In My House” has that thick swagger, energetic guitars and the theatrical “Yeah, yeah, yeahs” sure to win over the unconverted. “Nothing To Live Down” is another sing along gem, but from that point things get spotty. “It’s Not Easy” and, “Said I’m Sorry” are more reflective and veer closer to pure pop. Overall, the album is hit or miss with its remaining songs. I liked the nostalgic “Better Days” but the dance-rock of “Enemies and Friends” left me flat. Another gem is “Star Crossed Lovers,” but the faux Maroon Five “People Will Talk” show that Shed Seven won’t supplant the Gallagher brothers at this point in time. However, Brit-pop fans should check this one out.

Amazon

Happy New Year from Power Popaholic

I wanted to give a hearty thanks for visiting our little corner of the internet and hope it aids in your music discovery. Keep in mind, our Top 25 for 2017 will be out the end of this week. David Bash’s top list is also something to look forward to after New Year rings in. Overall this was a good year for power pop as the majority of music that falls into this genre expanded from soft pop across the spectrum to hard rock. Less fell into that traditional, Beatlesque bucket directly and if that makes power pop an arbitrary category for your music, so be it.

Thanks to all the artists who created this year, thanks to all the Facebook groups I follow; Power Pop Rock, No Hipsters Allowed, Audities, Power Pop Action, and Powerpopalooza. Also a huge thanks to Dave “The Boogieman” and Johnny Lightning for promoting the site on 11L Radio New York International. Looking forward to a good 2018!

– Aaron