The Flame "The Flame"

Holy Badfinger Batman! This is another “lost” album of the late sixites that suddenly finds itself re-issued today. The Flame were a South African quartet consisting on Blondie Chaplin, Ricky Fataar and two additional Faatar brothers. Although a headliner in Africa, it wasn’t until The Beach Boys’ Carl Wilson decided to produce The Flame’s new album in the USA that we would hear them. The music is amazing and is a power pop fan’s dream. Badfinger-styled guitar licks and McCartney-styled rock and roll combined with a hint of R&B. This album has been legendary among Beach Boys completists, even though it sounds nothing like The Beach Boys. But it does live up to the hype. Why it was ignored on release I’ll never know. After the band broke up, Chaplin and Faatar joined the Beach Boys on their “Holland” LP. Ricky Faatar also was part of the Beatlesque group, The Rutles. My biggest problem here is the remastering. And why no bonus tracks? The sound quality could’ve been better, but as it is Fallout records has done an adequate job. It ain’t cheap though, but it’s available on Not Lame Records.

Jim Noir "Tower of Love"

I heard Jim Noir’s EP “Eanie Meany” and just loved it. Now I get to review Noir’s debut CD. It’s a collection of his many ep tracks. This for me is one of the best albums of the year. It has all the hallmarks of great 6o’s styled psych power pop with a modern bent and lyrical structure. If you take The Beatles, late 60’s Kinks, Nillson, The Beta Band and Brian Wilson and mushed them up together you will get something that sounds like this. Not one weak track here. My only complaint is that is slightly too mellow. It would be nice if Jim got a bit more of a garage-y sound on some tracks, but that doesn’t take anything away from the album. The Beta Band wishes it could could’ve come up with a track as sweet as “A Quiet Man.” An you’ll want to break out The Beach Boys CDs after your hear “Turn Your Frown Into A Smile.” Jim Noir has deliberately used those great studio techniques of that era to come up with this ear candy. You should order this one now. It gets one of my highest praises… so visit his site and listen to the streaming songs for yourself. Support this inide artist! He’ll make more great stuff like this if you do.

The Cyrkle "The Minx"

This is a new re-issue of a rare recording from the 1967 Pop Pysche group The Cyrkle. Fresh off the hits “Red Rubber ball” and “Turn Down Day” they recorded this rarity. It has been literally impossible to find unless you were a bona fide audiophile. Sundazed did an amazing job re-mastering the album. It sounds great. They sound similar to The Association, The Monkees and Simon and Garfunkle mixed together. And has eight bonus tracks to boot. So what is wrong here?

Well, it’s not much of an album. More like an EP of sorts with lots of thowaway tracks. This is a perfect example of the “the great lost album” myth. It is a bit of a letdown (kinda like The Beach Boys “Smiley Smile”) Not that it doesn’t have some awesome songs here, it just does not live up to the years of hype. “Squeeze Play,” “Murry the Why.” and “Something Special” are sunshine pop classics that deserve to be heard. But the rest of the album is alot of instrumental filler. So although I don’t think you should buy this, it would be worth listening to the good songs here. Sunshine pop fans should definitely buy this and put it next to thier Peppermint Rainbow and Yellow Balloon CDs. Buy it on amazon if you must.

Bowling for Soup "Great Burrito Extortion Case"

Bowling for Soup appeared on my radar with the hit single “1985” which married light power pop and punk with humor and cultural references. Alot like Wierd Al Yankovic without the obvious parodies. You most appreciate Bowling for Soup if you don’t take them too seriously. They are certainly having a good time with the silly lyrics, so why not sit back and enjoy it for what it is. Musically it’s stronger than the previous album, but I get the sense that they are trying so hard to replicate the breakout of “1985” – that they are following in the path of Smashmouth. If you remember, that band eventually became a formulaic retread and their 15 minutes of fame is pretty much gone. I hope that doesn’t happen here. Many of the songs are great fun like “a friendly goodbye” and “99 biker friends.” Sometimes they go a bit too silly on “I’m Gay” and over-the-top-culture-references on “Val Kilmer.” I think if they got too serious on us, we would have to compare them to Green Day. Overall a very worthy album. This is not on emusic yet, so get it on

Albert Hammond, Jr. "Yours to Keep"

Here is the debut solo album from Albert Hammond Jr., guitarist with The Strokes (and son of the Albert ‘It Never Rains In Southern California’ Hammond) Recorded in New York’s Electric Lady Land studios together with Josh Lattanzi on bass and Matt Romano on drums. It is a really good album, better than most of the stuff the Strokes have come out with lately. “In Transit” is a nice tune, a bit like Travis and Keane visiting Strokes country. Not much guitar, but alot of synth and melodic beats that swirl together are on “Yours to Keep” – plus some handclaps to keep it together. I feel this album is a good mix of current alt. pop style and power pop. Hammond’s voice reminds me alot of the Minus 5’s Scott McCaughey – its got a good earnest quality and “Back to the 101” is an excellent example of this. The end of the album runs out of steam a little, but overall it is worth a purchase. Hear the tracks on myspace then go get this music on