For those of you who enjoy your pop on the baroque side, the new Brad Brooks album will definitely be your cup of tea. “Spill Collateral Love” contains a flood of orchestral and harmonic details with those guitar power chords. “Love on my sleeve” is a good track that recalls the hypnotically repeated guitar chords from Beatles’ “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).” This is followed by “Lathered in Cream,” a bouncy, hook-filled classic slice of power pop and the obvious “single” on this album – unfortunately that’s it for the high energy songs. The rest of the album takes a rather moody turn. It begins with the melancholic “Ex-stripper Librarian” that sounds alot like a great Stephen Trask show ballad. “The Loon of Altitude” and “Francis of Alaska” mixes a bit of classic piano and Vaudevillian styled narrative rock that recalls Jellyfish’s best moments. In fact, Brooks sings his heart out on this album with an emotional resonance resembling Freddy Mercury or 10cc. I’m sure there is a full story connecting all these songs, with arcane run-on-sentence lyrics like, “..this town is a crazy playground of lost daisies are chaining…,” I’ll need to listen to it more. When we get to “The Sonic Twins” we get back to the classic Brad Brooks sound for a bit, before the album contiunes with the harmonica driven “Pleading Amnesia” that sounds like it would fit well on Pink Floyd’s The Final Cut or any Guided By Voices album. The album ends with “Luxurious Latitude” a fitting music-hall styled ending. It’s good to shake things up a bit and have power pop not so cheery, but very dramatic and visceral. Listen to this album streaming at Not Lame to hear it all.
The Tennessee power-pop band Superdrag became a big hit with “Who Sucked out the Feeling” in 1996. They broke up in 2003 after nearly a decade of label troubles and personnel instability that robbed the group of any career momentum. Changin’ Tires on The Road to Ruin is a 14-track anthology of demos, live tracks, and b-sides from 1997 to 2003. If you’re a Superdrag fanatic, you’ve already heard most of these demos and assorted b-sides. But most of us haven’t. Best of all, the remastered sound makes them sound like a brand new release. I consider Superdrag one of the most under appreciated power-pop groups ever to exist. They stand toe-to-toe with other classic power pop bands like the Posies, Fountains of Wayne, and Sloan. “Here We Come” and “She Says” grabs you and the album doesn’t let you go. “Doctors are Dead” features the amazing harmonies and musicianship of John Davis — and even these scraps from the cutting room floor blow most other bands out of the water! Things get a little uneven by mid point in the album, but there is so much greatness here you will even enjoy the live tracks at the end of the LP. Don’t miss this one. Hearn some tunes at MySpace, and buy it at itunes.
Alan has a long musical career that spans several decades, as a session man with The Left Banke, The Standells and The Birth of Spring. This CD is a collection of his own tunes created over the years. “This is my Life” and “Living on the Edge” sounds like a long lost pop singles from those classic early power pop bands 20/20 or The Flaming Groovies. In fact there is some great jangly guitar and folk-rock that you thought they just don’t make like this anymore. “Great Accuser” is an amazing slice of “retro” rock and roll, if you close your eyes you can image a combination of Eddie Money, Boston and Simon & Garfunkel. Speaking of S&G, the pristine version of “Sounds of Silence” is just amazing. Because these songs were recorded at different times with different session men it feels like a collection of singles, instead of a cohesive album. Most of the time it does a great job “Friend of Mine” is a priceless mix of Bob Dylan, The Kinks and Pink Floyd all rolled into one. The album ends with “Resolution” – and it is the strongest track in my opinion, with great guitar and harmonies, almost like what The post-Michael Brown Left Banke may have sounded if they had not broken up. This song also features Steve Coronel (ex-Wicked Lester, with Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley of KISS). Ahh the sweet smell of nostalgia…Visit the Cherry Bomb site to hear this album streaming.
Rap and Power Pop are seemingly polar opposites. Some groups like Sugar Ray dip their toe in the water by adding urban elements to pop. To really combine them is a challenge. Producers Brian Halverson and Tony Lazzara have accepted this challenge. Like most experiments, Jahir and the Experiment sometimes works really well and you’re suprised. The bright “New York Original” is a nice mix of pop and rap. Jahir has a nice blend of hardcore and hip hop style, alot like Coolio and does the rap over a blend of instrumental pop. “Brooklyn” is an excellent slow jam, and would be at home as a last dance song at the senior prom. “All We Are” is another good mix of pop and rap and my favorite on this album. But sometimes this doesn’t always work. On “3 seconds” and “Little Mac” the music and rap are fighting for your attention and don’t blend as well. “Hustler” has almost no pop at all and is a cliched unoriginal. But when it works best, Jahir is front and center, like on “Be a Man,” he actually sings AND raps and does a great job, even if the theme is a bit sappy. Also, “Rock Star” and “One of A Kind” are the best pairing of Rap and Rock since Aerosmith’s “Walk this Way” with Run DMC. If you want something different, then this disc is for you. Listen to samples on the Cherry Bomb Records site.