Mike Benign Compulsion and Andy Stone

Mike Benign

Mike Benign Compulsion “Kid”

Milwaukee’s power pop combo The Mike Benign Compulsion return with a sweet (and harsh) look back at childhood. The band (Mike Benign, Joe Vent, Michael Koch and Paul Biemann) brings a solid melodic rock style to the opener “Gadfly” and gets very much like Elvis Costello meets XTC on the excellent title track “Kid.”

The dominant keyboard-guitar combo on “The Best Years of Our Lives” showcases Benign’s muscular melodies, but he can be a Bowie-like troubadour on the narrative “The Legendary Band (That’s Still Together),” which could be about The Stones or any oldies band cynically cashing out. The anthemic guitar opens “Goodbye, Kid Dreams” and continues the adult cynicism with rock and roll. Another strong album for Benign, who ends with the heartfelt lyrics of “If It All Falls Apart,” and once again makes this a highly recommended LP.

Amazon | CD Baby


Andy Stone

Andy Stone “Blender”

Stone is a talented indie musician with a love of the sixties and seventies pop, and Blender is similar to the recent solo work of Mimi Betinis. The charming opener “Catherine’s Acting” is a wink and nod to a girl escaping “the madness.”  Another great power pop single here is “Be That Girl,” with a smart hook in the chorus and cheery backing harmonies.

Stone also goes bolder on the rocker “What A Shame” and ambitious “430” but his vocal limitations are more audible here. Highlights include “Our Mutual Friends” and the Dylanesque closer “You Alone, My Universe,” its a lot of fun with plenty of double entendres. Give this one a look, and you won’t be sorry.

CD Baby | Amazon

Compilation Fridays: More bands! More music!

Power Popaholic Fest is coming on June 16, 17 (next week) at Bar Matchless in Brooklyn, NY. Each year we have a soundtrack made with songs by some performers and like-minded artists. Your purchase helps fund the continuation of this long-running music festival dedicated to power pop artists. This year’s soundtrack features Somerdale, The Successful Failures, Lisa Mychols, Lannie Flowers, Cirrone, The Brittanicas, Jose Estragos and The Pop-Coop. Note: Limited time! Some tracks will only be available during the month of June.

Another compilation that we promote regularly is the Coop Communique, championed by artist/writer Dw Dunphy. This is the third and most impressive volume yet. With an array of favorites including Josh Fix (!!), The Ravines, Greek Theatre, Son of Skooshny, Brandon Schott, Andy Klingensmith, Vegas With Randolph and much more. Best of all its a FREE download!  Between Dunphy and Ice Cream Man, you can fill up the old music player on my phone really fast!

The Brigadier and Oister

The Brigadier

The Brigadier “Wash away the day”

The Welsh-born Brigadier is singer/songwriter Matt Williams, and I’ve been reviewing his work for many years. This time Matt has upped his game with his latest LP; the energetic rocker “I Know You’re The One For Me Baby” sounds like a mix of Martin Newell and Allen Clapp, with a smart guitar break amid the joyful middle eight. The harmonies in the chorus of the gentle “Rainy Day Friend” are both smooth and infectious.

The upbeat theme continues with the jangle guitar on “Feel Like Something” with its catchy melody and “Keep Your Ego Down” is a bit of self-therapy that you can hum along to. The ballads are thoughtful without wallowing and a little guitar instrumental like “Cabriolet” keeps the energy level up. Other gems include “Let The Anger Go,” and the title track, with its chorus of “Gonna Feel Good/Yeah.” Other than a few odd tracks (like a disco number) I have to say this is the best Brigadier album I’ve heard in a long time. Highly Recommended.

Amazon


Oister

Oister “Pre-Dwight Twilley Band 1973-74 Teac Tapes”

Oister was the original name of the Dwight Twilley Band, but the name was promptly changed by producer Denny Cordell (Procol Harum) at Shelter Records before the band released any recordings. However, the rare beginnings of Twilley’s Tulsa power pop sound are evident on these 20 demo tracks released by Hozac Records.

The music at times resembles Big Star, the nascent “Lovin’ Me” has a Beatlesque boogie with piano rhythm and Twilley’s distinct vibrato. The double-tracked acoustic “You Were So Warm” is an early jangle ballad, and the country bassline on “Like You Did Before” really gets at Twilley’s distinctive songwriting style. With 20 tracks here the chemistry between Twilley and partner Phil Seymour is evident, but many of these tracks aren’t that memorable. The quality of the Teac Tapes are mostly good, but songs like “Hot Mama,” are mere sketches. Like the posthumous demos released by Pete Ham (Badfinger), there is a real demand for this “lost” power pop. Oister is a similar discovery and it’s made for fans and completists.

Amazon

King Washington and Son of Skooshny

King Washington

King Washington “Potential”

Los Angeles-based rock group King Washington is one of the most polished bands today, playing with a soulful passion and solid craftsmanship few can match. While “My Reflection” is a suitably understated opener, it tees up the amazing harmonies in the chorus of “Superman” guaranteed to give goosebumps. This is followed by the grand love song “Evelyn” played with layered guitars and that deep bass, recalling a Brian Wilsonesque majesty.

However, those great moments are settled between lesser songs, like “Love Be Gone!” and “Nowhere’s Hard To Find.” Surprisingly the band excels at slow building epics “Hey Boy” and “I Wouldn’t Laugh About It,” that starts very quiet and builds up into a rich, loud tapestry of sound. “Where You Belong” is a solid gem that draws from folk and alt-country-rock, sounding like they have claimed the mantle once owned by The Eagles. This feeling is reinforced by the slide-guitar closer “Climb Out Of The Valley.” Overall, this band is just too talented to ignore.

Amazon

Son of Skooshny

Son of Skooshny “Matchless Gifts 2006-2016”

While I don’t often review “greatest hits” packages, I will make an exception for the underappreciated Son of Skooshny. Son of Skooshny is a spin-off featuring Skooshny frontman Mark Breyer with producer–collaborator Steve Refling, then add the rest of the band; Bruce Wagner (guitar, keyboards, vocals), and David Winogrond (drums).

What sets this band apart from the rest is the modest approach and handcrafted jangle stylings to roots rock that compares well with Tom Petty, REM and Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy. Many favorites are included in the retrospective of the last ten years, mine are “No Ho,” “Dizzy” and “Knee Deep.” But you’d be hard pressed to find a wasted note here. Highly Recommended.

Kool Kat Musik

Singles: Phil Ajjarapu, Radio Days, Bryan Estepa, Bill DeMain and Lannie Flowers

I rarely promote singles on Power Popaholic, but enough of my favorite artists came out with new materials this month, so consider this one of those rare times:

Phil Ajjarapu “I Got a Feeling / Kimberly”
“I Got A Feeling” was cut from the final track listing of Ajjarapu’s album Sing Along Until You Feel Better to make room for the title track, which was written after the sessions with Ken Stringfellow. “Kimberly” was recorded in the same session.

Radio Days “I’m in Love With You, Haruka” is a new song and the B-side is a cover of the classic theme “Teenage Kicks” by The Undertones. The band goes on a European tour this summer.

Bryan Estepa “Rattled and Rolled” is a true collaboration between Aussie musicians Bryan Estepa and Michael Carpenter. Profits from the sales of this single will go to The Heart Foundation.

“Leroy Boy,” a song from Bill DeMain‘s upcoming album Transatlantic Romantic is a loving tribute/sequel to Todd Rundgren’s classic “We Gotta Get You A Woman from 1970. Lots of fun and I can’t wait for the full-length release.

 

Lannie Flowers is back, and not a moment too soon. “Kiss a Memory” and  “Everything a Man Could Want” have everything power pop fans have come to expect from Lannie; a  strong melody and enviable riffs that encourage air guitar play-along.
Get it at CD Baby | Spyderpop Records