Fakeband and Gregory Pepper

The Fakeband “Shining On Everyone”
The Fakeband are an impressive indie band from Spain (thanks to Rock Indiana Records) with bright guitars and swirling chords. The opening salvo “On Top Of The World” sung with American accents, is a richly melodic tune along the lines of Crowded House or The Gin Blossoms.

But the band isn’t easily pigeonholed in one style,”If You Fool Me’”is similar to West Coast Pop with a rhythm that reminds me of Stealers Wheel, and “Parking Lot” is a slower roots ballad similar to The Autumn Defense. The sax and soulful keyboard comes out on “Healing Time,” and even more brass comes out on “Get You Back,” sounding like a lost Foundations oldie. The band also does bar boogie a la Dire Straits with some excellent musicianship on the rockers “She Told Me” and “Something About You.” Overall, its got something for everyone and highly recommended.

Amazon

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power pop

Gregory Pepper and His Problems “My Bad” EP
If you liked the Paul Starling album I reviewed the other day, then you’ll enjoy Ontario native Gregory Pepper and His Problems. Once again DIY bedroom pop is the name of the game “Anything Is Passable” is a nice Wilsonesque ballad. “Is This Thing On?” goes off into awesome-ville with a thick reverb heavy riff.

Most of the tunes are short little sketches, with some nice arrangements. One of my faves here is “Hated Every Minute,” a wonderful sad sack theme with a twist. “My Bad” is far from bad and its a free download in Bandcamp.

Bandcamp

The Cry and Paul Starling

The Cry “Dangerous Game”
The Cry are back with a terrific power pop album, as the opening chords of “Discotheque” are part Lou Reed, The Soft Boys and Ramones wrapped up in those strutting lead riffs. The pop punk vibe of “Hanging Me Up” keeps up the quick uptempo pace, and “Nowhere To Go” adds a touch of greaser doo-wop styled vocal harmony.

“Shakin’” is particularly catchy with the wicked chorus “Shakin’ like a vibrator..” Similar to The Connection, the party continues through all 10 tracks meant to be played loud. And although it would be nice to toss a ballad to give us a breather,  you’ll find this a fine workout that’s filler free and a sure-fire contender for my top ten list this year.

Bandcamp | Amazon

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Paul Starling “Suit Of Armor”
Paul channels the nadir of 60s singer-songwriter era with “Natale Wood Reciting Lines” and the catchy chorus of “Watching The Candles Burn” makes it another standout. He has some wonderful shifting keys in “We’re All Becoming Policemen” and the echos of Brain Wilson’s melancholy are all over “If,” a yearning love song that really hits the mark.

“The Push & The Pull” gets inventive lyrically with a line like “I love you much more than anything/you’re the Benjamin Franklin to my kite string.” The production is pretty sparse which suits most songs, with Paul’s strumming guitar leading the way. It losses stream towards the albums end, but fans of melodic retro folk pop will surely enjoy this.

Bandcamp

Tyson Leslie and Evil Arrows

Tyson Leslie “Train Wrecks, Havoc & Heartbreak”
Tyson Leslie has been a vibrant part of the Kansas City music scene for over twenty years, playing in various bands now steps out of the sideman role with his debut LP.

Leslie is a rarity, a guitar shredder who actually cares about melody. The Beach Boys used to sing simply about cars and girls, and on “Little Green Honda” he updates the formula and its a damn catchy single. “Crazy All Over You” is a semi-honkey tonk road song that displays Leslie talent for amazing licks. A smooth rock duet with Lyndsey Lou is next on “She Danced Under The Lights” and “Selective Amnesia” recalls Dave Edumnds and Rockpile.

Leslie also has amazing range, from catchy pop of “Suckerfish” to epic rock ballads like “Goodbye To The Rain.” More highlights include “Wasted Time” and the Beatlesque ender “The Last Words.” I couldn’t find any weak tracks, and with precise production values I have to add this to my top ten albums list this year. A real hidden gem.

Amazon | Bandcamp

 

Evil Arrows “2″ EP
As a follow up to January’s “1″ EP Bryan Scary is back with an Evil Arrows sequel. Scary is a distinctive voice that is immediately accessible, a rich combination of glam rock and power pop.

“Gods of Light” is a mid-60′s Stones-style tune, but at the chorus it goes into a multi-tracked, dense production of “ba-ba-ba” vocals. “Last Living Doll” is a quick tempo gem lead by staccato guitar riffs and Bryan’s playful lyrics. “A New Age Holiday” has some inventive chord shifts and “Shadow Lovers” struts along like T.Rex and is the standout track on this “side”. Between the 2 EPs, you get one of the best albums this year.

Bandcamp only

Jeff Lynne of ELO and Doug Fieger of The Knack confirmed for Power Popaholic Fest!

Doug_Jeff_together Jeff Lynne of the famed Electric Light Orchestra is all set to perform with Doug Fieger of The Knack at this summer’s Power Popaholic Fest set for Friday August 29 at The Rock Shop in Brooklyn, NY. A full line up of power pop bands from across the country will also perform, the doors open at 7:00pm.

The live announcement drew a traffic-stopping throng to pack the stretch of 4th Avenue in front of The Rock Shop, Jeff took his place behind the microphone, while Doug stood on his left as Mr. Lynne relished their roles in this one-time-only concert event. “We are overjoyed to be supporting this Festival, and hope the fans will spread the word.” said Lynne. The duo will play selections of hits from both The Knack and ELO at 8:00pm sharp. Click for more details.

Phil Ajjarapu and Sonali

Phil Ajjarapu “Sing Along Until You Feel Better”
Firstly a big thank you to my friend Elizabeth for finding this artist for me. Phil is an Austin, TX based songwriter. He’s session musician and perennial sideman, and was finally prompted to make his solo album after a near fatal motorcycle accident in March of 2012. During his recovery the process was set in motion, meeting producer Ken Stringfellow (Posies, Big Star) and putting together a successful Kickstarter campaign.

The title track is a perfect Beatles-Beach Boys inspiration, with Phil’s vocals multi-tracked over a Jellyfish-styled melody. While the remaining tracks don’t have the same dense production, “Angie” is another bouncy mid-tempo song just brimming with optimism. “The Wedding Song” is blissful acoustic love ballad and “Talk” is a catchy quickie similar to Marshall Crenshaw. Some of the tunes compare well with another DIY artist, Glenn Case as it goes from earnest hope to heartbreak, even ending with the slow self-pity party “I Fail Myself.” A thoroughly enjoyable debut, I can only hope Phil will follow it up.

Amazon


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Sonali “Wake Up” EP
Sonali Argade is a multi-instrumentalist who wields an impressive arsenal of instruments including lead guitar, keyboard, drums and bass. She’ll been hard at work on her sophomore EP. Produced by Kazumi Shimokawa and Justin Tracy, its an  eclectic mix of folky pop-rock, with an emphasis on melody. The title track shuffles along with banjo and drums, as Sonali has a bit of a Paula Cole vibe. “Who We Are” is the big flashy single with a great chorus that showcases her solid vocal talents. On the soft ballad “Find Your Way,” she’s just angelic and “Holding Pattern” makes a great story song, about how flying from place to place changes your perspective on things. Overall a solid EP that has encouraged me to visit previous releases.

CD Baby | Amazon