Ed Ryan and Porter Block

Ed Ryan

Ed Ryan “Roadmap”

Ed Ryan was songwriter/lead singer/lead guitarist for seminal late 70’s NYC power pop band The Rudies and was managed by Hilly Kristal in the late 80’s releasing an album on the CBGB label. Roadmap is a much needed re-introduction to Ryan’s brand of old school power pop.

“Everything’s Gonna Be Alright” is a great rocking theme that recalls the heyday of The Knack, full of hand claps and buzzsaw riffs throughout. “Heartbreak In Disguise” is part Procol Harum and part Stones; stylistically setting it apart from the other songs (in a good way.) “Bridges are Burning” is a standout gem that has a classic ‘60s songwriting style updated, brilliant harmonic accents reminded me of the Toms. Another standout “Elvis’ World” has some great lyric and character study about “What constitutes a weirdo?” with a dense chorus and atonal piano break. The title track is a confessional ballad that really delivers the emotion with each strum of the guitar that builds to epic proportions; with the addition of strings, and a burning solo worthy of Joe Walsh. Highly Recommended.

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Porter Block

Porter Block “Hard To See Beautiful”

This New York-based power-pop duo is Peter Block and Caleb Sherman, and their 10-track album was co-produced and co-written by Mike Viola (Candy Butcher.) The LP was recorded digitally in Nashville by Caleb and on analog in Los Angeles, by Sheldon Gomberg (Ben Harper, Warpaint, Joseph Arthur).

The band mixes influences from both British invasion bands and late ’70s folk rockers like The Eagles and Neil Young, but the crisp melodies and production recall The Honeydogs as the best comparison. “Heartbreak On My Stereo” has an easy going strum and some descriptive lyrics about “ a disapproving look has hard as stone.” Even more adventurous is the melody on “Chemical Family” with a strong rhythmic riff leading the charge. There are plenty of great tunes here like “Long Gone” with its a echoing reverb, the shimming dense chorus of both “Nothing Matters” and “It Happens Every Time. The quality of music is very consistent, so no wasted filler anywhere. The poignant “Party Dress” is an excellent ballad that finishes things, and it invites many repeat listens. Highly Recommended.

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Watts and Brain Circus

Watts

Watts “The Black Heart of Rock-N-Roll”

Watts is back again with The Black Heart of Rock-N-Roll, as lead vocalist John Blout and the band starts to resemble AC/DC on the title track. “She’s So Electric” is closer to Watt’s Stones-like origins, and its got a fantastic beat with a wicked guitar solo mid-way through. The riff attack that is “Strut (Like A Champ)” is a high powered and leads into a heavy rock chorus, very much a highlight. Then “Stage Fright” has a minor key change that has a late ’70s rocker feel, think Thin Lizzy with more layered guitar arpeggios.

The band seems even more comfortable and less rigid than their last LP, as both “Fast & Loose” and “The B Side” are both tight compositions with a relaxed easy going feel, and the latter is likely the best Watts song I’ve heard to date. Watts has definitely taken the next leap forward to greatness here, This is music meant to be cranked up to “11.” Super Highly Recommended.

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Brain Circus

Brain Circus “Brain Circus”

Virginian singer-songwriter Brian Curtis (The Oohs) delivers a wonderful solo album, and Brain Circus is a bit like The Turtles albums of the late sixties, these songs are carefully crafted pop symphonies. You’ll hear the familiar influences of Todd Rundgren’s Utopia, Beach Boys and Jellyfish. “Forget All About It” is pure ear candy, with a sophisticated structure and awesome chord shifts. The jangling melody on “If You Only Knew” is a bit like Klaatu with sweet woodwinds and layered harmonies throughout.

Like Dana Countryman, Brian has mastered glossy studio technique and sophisticated pop composition, as evidenced by “Try To Ignore Me” and the Wilsonesque “Keep My Hands To Yourself.” Even the jazzy “The Man Who Saw Tomorrow” has charms here. There is so much to absorb, and occasionally too much melodrama (“I Accept The Blame”) but when it hits the emotional mark (“Finally Found The One”) it’s a beautiful thing. Highly Recommended and it makes my top ten list.

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Freebies: The Legal Matters and The Ice Cream Man

The Legal Matters “An Intro”
The Legal Matters are a power pop supergroup based out of Detroit, Mi. Andy Reed, Chris Richards and Keith Klingensmith joined forces in 2014 to make their awesome debut. Mixing big guitars with big harmonies, their recorded output has one foot in the classic pop era of the 60’s and 70’s (Beatles, Beach Boys, Nilsson, Big Star) and one foot with the current era of classic pop (Nada Surf, The Autumn Defense.) This EP features a new song, “Anything”, from the upcoming Omnivore Recordings release Conrad, along with a brand new and unreleased cover of the Teenage Fanclub classic “Don’t Look Back.” Rounding it off are 2 songs from the Legal Matters self-titled debut.

Assorted Artists “Power Popsicle Brain Freeze” 

Wayne Lundqvist Ford (Ice Cream Man Power Pop) delivers a boatload of music in this new compilation that he personally selected. It’s a massive collection of 139 tracks that’s a quick update to the state of power pop artistry today. Surely you find a great mix tape from all these riches.

Get the FREE download at Futureman Records

 

Maps and His Mothball Fleet and The Jeremy Band

Maps and his Mothball Fleet

Maps and his Mothball Fleet “Fighting Season”

Maps & His Mothball Fleet is the musical alias of Philadelphia musician Matt Wanamaker. After being deployed to Afghanistan in 2013, he wrote and recorded the rough demos of 50 songs to send back and forth home to friends. Then it was cropped down to 15 where it became the album Fighting Season with indie folk pop at its core, starting with the Belle & Sebastian-like “Trust The Teahouse.” But the best track here is “A Lot Becomes A Little” with its catchy call-and-response chorus.

“Walk With Me Madeline” is a comforting pedal steel guitar melody, you hear the echos of Matt’s war experiences in “Great Game Fields” and “From A Closing FOB.” Unfortunately these songs are pretty forgettable, the tempo comes back on the rhythmic gem “Private Planes Of The Old West” with some nice harmonies. Other standouts include “Blue-Eyed Jesus” and “Nothing Against Dover.” Check it out.

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Cool Ghouls

The Jeremy Band “Hit You With A Flower”

Latest LP from Jeremy Morris and company aka The Jeremy Band. “Hit You With A Flower” starts with a rhythm similar to ELO’s “Do Ya” and runs off into a deep jangling chorus. “Get It Right First Time” and “Love is Everywhere” are very typical Jeremy’ jangle pop, but “Big Black Bike” mixes a little prog rock, like The Move’s “Brontosaurus“ and it seriously kicks ass.

The fantastic guitar work continues on “Watch What You’re Doing” with some brilliant fuzz drenched riffs, more Zepplinesque rock than pop. Really hard to come up with more accolades, let’s just quote David Bash of IPO who said “Jeremy Morris is one of the greatest human beings I’ve ever met; a Man Of God, a music teacher, label owner, and guitar hero, and his band is made up of family and friends, kinda like a particular legendary band we know. Long may they live, and long may they rock!” Amen, brother.

Jam Records (exclusive)

Note: Song played in the video is not on the album, but you get a good idea of what The Jeremy Band sounds like.

Wesley Fuller and Cool Ghouls

Cool Ghouls

Wesley Fuller “Melvista” EP

Wesley Fuller is the newest kid on the retro power pop block from Melbourne, Australia with a debut EP.  Full of jangle and 60s influences, the opener “The Dancer” has a glam guitar similar to Sweet and the mid-tempo pop of “Shock Me” is upbeat, but kind of generic.

One of the highlights is the jangling, heavy beat of “Runaway Renee” with its irresistible sing along chorus. The title track is also pretty sweet ear candy with its hand clapped beat and multi-tracked harmonies, and “Change Your Mind” has a that glam beat (think Gary Glitter) and a simple melodic phrase. Check it out.

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Cool Ghouls

Cool Ghouls “Animal Races”

San Francisco’s Cool Ghouls absorb those classic 60’s influences on their third album, Animal Races, produced by pop maestro Kelley Stoltz. The band has a roots-garage psyche rock style and the opening title track is the keeper here with its catchy chorus. “Sundial” has a Byrdsian jangle that combines with the ghostly vocals, also makes it an effective song with a gorgeous “ba-ba-ba” coda.

From there we get even more psychedelic on “Time Capsule” which is a bit like re-filtered Jefferson Airplane. The mood is mellower on “When You Were Gone” and the piano led “Days,” which has a warmth that belies the lyric “Morning through your window gives you no reason to get up.” It gets kind of western with that slide guitar on “Brown Bag,” but for the most part its echoing reverb drenched pop. And despite the dark, paranoid lyrics there is a playfulness to each song. Highly Recommended.

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