Power Pop en Español: Jose Estragos and Super Ratones

Jose Estragos “Vol.3”

Madrid Spain has always been a bastion of power pop talent. I was lucky to catch Jose at IPO in New York last week while he was fresh promoting his third album. Jose is an avid Beatles fan, and its shows from his Merseybeat music recorded in Abbey Road studio #2  to his album cover drawn by the legendary Klaus Voorman. This third album completes a trilogy, the earlier albums are available in the USA.

Jose Estragos II | Jose Estragos I | Amazon Spain

Súper Ratones “Mancha Registrada”

This Argentine band has been around since the late ’90s and remains active today. A good place to start would be Mancha Registrada (2000), with influences ranging from Beach Boys, Beatles, ELO and Queen. “Como Un Fantasma” could almost be a James Bond theme, with its dramatic guitars and “Otro Dia En La Vida” certainly has excellent pop production with soaring choruses and punctuating strings. The album was produced by Los Pericos’ guitarist Juanchi Baleiron and “Cómo Estamos Hoy” was a big hit in Argentina. Even though Súper Ratones never broke through to the USA, they still deserve to be heard by power pop fans.


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The Nines and The Reign

The Nines

The Nines “Circles In The Snow” EP and “Rare cuts and demos”

Steve Eggers of The Nines has been very busy this year, hot on the heels of his latest album Night Surfer and The Cassette Kids, we have a fresh EP. This is a continuation of The Nines heavier style on “Circles in the snow (tapes and transcripts Vol.1)” with Bill Majoros (The Foreign Films) supplying the growling guitar riffs. The big highlight here is “Someone Like You,” with a rich wall of layered guitar sound, horn accents, and smooth chord shifts. “Circles in the Snow” has a tinkling synth, and deep beat with a thick ‘80s vibe, and “Fire In The Disco” has the staccato guitar riffs similar to early XTC. Overall a very good collection of songs, this EP is the first in a series so be sure to look out for the next one.


A fascinating collection of bits and pieces from The Nines entire history. Some great music tends to get lost in the cracks, and “Don’t Worry Susan” is a standout right away. And “Is There Something I’m Missing” is a great example of how Eggers takes an ordinary melody and layer the elements to make something special. It’s also easy to see why some tracks didn’t make it, “Crazy, Lazy, Crazy, Crazy” is just a little too much like Nilsson’s “Think About Your Troubles” and “Life Is Worth Living” is missing most of the lyrics. While not essential, Nines fans should add these flawed gems to their collection.

Bandcamp only

The Nines

The Reign “The Long Wait”

Lead singer-songwriter Joe Caravella adds his own homespun take on power pop with his new album, as the jangling Rickenbacker is joined by grungy guitar rhythms on “Lodi Smiles.” The harmonies on “Prize” is a strong homage to Badfinger in tone and “Nothing Comes Around” boasts unique chord progressions in the chorus. You’ll hear influences from Pearl Jam, Extreme and The Beatles, of course. Joe has a more standard power pop tune with the mid tempo “Beside Me (Mary’s Song)” and the ballad “The Last Words” reminds me of Gary Cherone’s acoustic work.

Joe’s vocals are clear and deep, similar in style to Rob Grill (The Grass Roots) on “Not So Lonely” and “If You Think You Can.” The Reign don’t stay stuck in a single style either, although it leans heavily on early 70’s classic rock. At a long 16 tracks you get plenty of bang for your buck, even though it tends to wander into long jams and awkward psychedelics toward the end.  Definitely worth exploring, as the albums first half is simply excellent.

CD Baby | Amazon



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EP reviews: The Persian Leaps, Goodman, Yes You Are

The Persian Leaps “High and Vibrate”

This Minnesota band brings us a wall of heavy fuzz guitar riffs on “The Infection” and the big standout here “Dottie. Queen of The West.” The tempo and approach remind me of Echo & The Bunnymen or The Smiths. A faster pace and steady beat on “Frozen” is another solid song with ringing guitar chords and harmonies thanks to Adam Brunner(bass guitar), Drew Fosberg (lead guitar) and Michael McCloskey (drums). “Anthem” keeps the pace and makes this a highly enjoyable EP – check it out!


Goodman “Goodman”

These four tracks were originally cut from Michael Goodman’s upcoming release, not because of quality, mind you, but because a 16-song album seemed excessive. “Lessons Learned In Love” has a bedroom pop vaudevillian style, with a cool coda full of Beach Boys styled harmonies and old piano echo. “Telegram Girl” has a mod hook and its a real gem about breaking up, as he intones “Why should I waste my life on you?”  The shuffling beat of “Movies” is another fun song with hand-claps and echoing vocal brimming with cool confidence. I really look forward to the full length after hearing this!

Yes You Are

Ex-Tilly and the Wall lead singer Kianna Alarid is part of a new band that plays an intense pop style with sing along hooks in the chorus and snyth-covered rhythms. A bit too close to mainstream pop in “Echo,” but “World Without End” is a little Annie Lenox mixed with U2. Listen for free at http://weareyesyouare.com/sound/

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Concert Review: IPO NY 2016

This year at Bar Matchless as always, I see old friends and manage to always make new ones at International Pop Overthrow. Dave Bash has not skipped a beat and continues to make International Pop Overthrow the November “must see” event in New York. I came for two nights and found the crowd has increased compared to last year. Great performances by perennial favorites The Modulators and Dave Rave bring the audience to loud cheers. And the historic reunion of John Faye and Cliff Hillis was mesmerizing as they played tunes from their solo records and IKE.

It was also great meeting new artists like singer Hallie Rose (a Dave Rave discovery) and Spain’s Jose Estragos. I was also impressed by The Pengwins and Lannie Flowers (both from Texas) and Lannie even played my favorite cover “Baby Blue” by Badfinger. I also enjoyed performances from The Reign (Feat. Joe Caravella) and Meyerman, both artists have brand new players in their bands and did a great job. Dave filmed and posted many performances on Facebook.

Obviously some of these lucky artists will be invited to play at Power Popaholic Fest 2016 coming this June. If your band would like to be considered for our summer show, please contact me before March.

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EP Reviews: Andy Reed, Chris Richards, Pelicans and Their Allies

Andy Reed “Relay Vol.1”

This is Andy’s first solo release since 2008. This is part one in a series of EPs to be released. Relay Vol.1 is a best of breed EP starting with the slow building theme “Waves” and the California easy melody “Dreaming Of The West Coast” being a big highlight, with its strings and crisp harmonies. The echoing influences of The Beach Boys and Fleetwood Mac are evident in the rich tapestry of “Darlin, You Don’t Know.” It finishes with the finely crafted melody of “I Love A Long Goodbye” and it leaves you begging fore more. This easily is in the running for top ten EP this year. Bandcamp only.

Chris Richards and The Subtractions “3peat”

Chris Richards delivers some covers from their favorite artists. A faithful version of Elvis Costello’s “No Action” is a great start, and continues with songs by Sloan, The Kinks, Cheap Trick, The Rolling Stones and George Harrison. Best of all this is a FREE download, so get it while its hot!

Pelicans and Their Allies

This new duo of Robert Higgs (lead vocal and guitarist) and Dayana Yochim (vocal and multi-instrumentalist) make smart, quirky indie pop with an assortment of instruments from guitars to glockenspiels. Fans of Field Music and Decemberists will enjoy this, especially the bouncy pop hooks in “Just Like July” and the sunny “I Guess You Already Knew That.”


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