The Oohs "Llamalamp"

The Oohs are a group of veteran musicians who do a great job putting together MOR-styled power pop. They borrow liberally from The Beatles, Todd Rundgren, and the Beach Boys to come up with original songs. The whole Llama theme is a bit like Andrew Gold’s “The Fraternal Order of the All,” although the songs don’t really follow a strict “concept album” sequence. The song “Pretty” is a great Beatlesque teaser that literally pulls riffs and melodies from several Beatle songs. This opening gives way to a varied group of different styled rock tunes. “I will love” is an excellent Utopia-styled song complete with a cascading chorus. Occasionally, the band tends to veer in to a Vegas-styled lounge act in the song “More than meets the eye.” Another great song, and my favorite is “To Be in Love” – it rivals the best of Doug Powell’s work. Just about all the songs on Llamalamp are good, but something is missing on a few tunes. Brian Curtis does the heavy lifting here (singing, songwriting, engineering), but my biggest complaint here is the mixing. Some vocals sound like they are recorded in a tunnel. Other vocal performances just don’t work as well as others (i.e. “What have you done with my girl” could have been better). That takes nothing away from awesome songwriting and musicianship here. If you like power pop you won’t let this album pass you by. You can get this album at, cdbaby or itunes

The Red Button "She’s About to Cross My Mind"

Apparently this is the year of the super artist team-up. Seth Swirsky, who released the awesome “Instant Pleasure” and Mike Ruekberg from Rex Daisy have combined to form The Red Button – and I have a new album for my top 10 of 2007. Not since L.E.O. have I heard a better “tribute-styled” inspired album. The Red Button are the new incarnation of the Spongetones. Yup, that means Beatlesque to the max. And I personally, am very fond of that style of power pop. It’s not easy to come up with three minute gems that sound original, but still evoke Lennon and McCartney, just ask Neil Innes. The Red Button deliver near perfection here. Rickenbacker jangle and minor chords are everywhere here. My favorite song here is “Hopes Up” a great single with excellent catchyness. Other songs you can’t ignore are “Cruel Girl”, and the title tune. l could not find a weak track at all — maybe one, “Free” is a bit too much like the Beatles’ “Rain” but that’s a very minor flaw (if you even could call it that). Stop reading this and visit the notlame’s special page where you can hear the entire album streaming. Order it and you will not be sorry.

A sad story for ?

Although it was in the news, I don’t think enough people have seen it. A fire destroyed the home of rocker Question Mark, who with his band, the Mysterians, had a No. 1 hit in 1966 with “96 Tears.” The singer lost 40 years worth of memorabilia, including a gold record award and an organ believed to have belonged to Pink Floyd. Question Mark had lived in the Flint, Mich. home for nearly four decades. He didn’t have insurance. Locals are now trying to organize a benefit concert.

Ed James "In the 21st Century"

Here’s an old favorite of mine, with a new Power Pop Classic. Ed James has been rockin’ since the 90s and I see no drop off in quality here. Opening with the Elastic-styled guitar riff “Out of this town” Ed let’s us know he’s taking no prisoners. The next track “She’s The One” is a perfect sugary love song. Excellent musicianship, strong melody and heavenly harmonies are all over this one. This is what I count on when I hear Ed James. “Miss Polly” is another gem. Similar to my Aussie friend Michael Carpenter, every song here is worth the listen and most tracks deserve repeats in your ears. “Second” is an amazing mid-tempo tune that has great lyric and reminds me of classic 10cc. This vibe continues with the ethereal ballad “Layna.” It’s not perfect though, the lightweight “Star Trek Girl” is like a Rubinoos parody and “Lullaby” rips off the Beatles “Yesterday” a bit — but this is really nitpicking. If you want a classic of the genre, look no further. It is for sale at CD Baby or get it from the Itunes store here.

Drake Bell "It’s Only Time"

Drake Bell is the next big “pop star” from the Disney talent stable. As the star of the TV series Drake and Josh, Bell came out with an album last year. Ever since Britany Spears hit it big years ago, the Disney crew has put out dreck after dreck, that appeals to the tween set and makes the rest of us vomit. Please, I don’t need to hear another “Kidz Bop” album and if I see one I will use it for target practice at the gun range. Nor do I need to hear an Aaron-Carter-Cheetah-Girls-Backstreet-Boys-cloned prepackaged, premarketed piece of crap either.

Now that my rant is over, let me talk about Drake Bell. “It’s Only Time” is a great power pop album. That’s right. Bell takes from all the right influences – Jellyfish and Roger Manning Jr. primarily with a bit of early Taxiride. This album is a refreshing throwback to the kind of freely creative musical roots that are lost on most artists of Drake’s generation. “Rusted Silhoutte” and “Break me Down” has an amazing intensity, as a song that’s melodic and full of amazing production techniques. Not one bad track here. It does all the right things The Click Five should have done. Okay, the last track “End it Good” sounds like a goofy vaudville number, but after 9 great tracks it’s forgiven. It’s hard to believe that fans of traditional Disney fare (Jesse McCartney) will like this stuff though. I can hear them complaining now – “Wahhh! Daddy, this is more like your music!” What else can I say? The boy has good taste and I hope he makes more music like this. Visit his site to hear 2 tracks or visit his myspace page to hear more. Count this as a rare opportunity for power pop to be released on a major label (universal/mowtown).