While not power pop, I will occasionally dip my toe in reviewing other genres of indie music. Sounding similar to Natalie Merchant and 10,000 Manaics mixed with The Cranberries, No Fixed Abode consists of Una Walsh and Tony Dean with a cast of talented supporting players. The band is based in Derbyshire and performs at festivals and clubs all over the UK. “What did I do” mines the indie folk-pop vibe with Una’s beautiful Irish voice and a great catchy chorus. “Kebab Crazed Nutter” reminded me of Mary Hopkin’s “Those Were the Days” and I knew then this album required repeat listens. Most of the album is what I would call modern Celtic folk, but some songs breakout of that mold. “Modern Life” is a gorgeous ballad and sounds like a Melanie classic with a nice trumpet solo. “Sunne Days” is a great song that mixes Harper’s Bizzare and Laura Nyro. Tony Dean’s guitar work is perfect accompaniment to Una’s vocals – never too strong or too much in the background. Overall, much better than I expected from a folk group and worthy of inclusion on your ipod for sure. Get it at CD Baby.
Love in October has released its debut EP and has a fairly good sound with a bit of a Green Day meets radio friendly Swedish pop. Recorded by producer Ed Rose (The Get Up Kids, Motion City Soundtrack) Love in October is a good alternative rock album with hard driving hooks and punk attitude. “Method To Madness” is a good example of this, with excellent clean production stylings. “1000 Miles from here” has a flavor of the Green Day ballad “Time of Your Life.” “Hollywood Horror” sounds a little too much like Phantom Planet and it would not suprise me to learn that the band sells it’s tunes to the soundtrack of the next big teen drama phenomenon. Is it too commercial? Well, you’ll have to be the judge of that – but it does make for good listening.
The Switches are a new band that follows in the vein of Mika and Scissor Sisters, but decidedly less effeminate. In fact, “Lay down the Law” is an awesome song here that is catchier than Mika’s “Grace Kelly” and just as dancable. The energy is comparable with The Fratellis and there is plenty of Queen worship. Lead singer Matt Bishop tries his best to channel Freddy Mercury. The Switches have filled “Heart Tuned to D.E.A.D.” with lots of guitar, harmonies and lots of potential. Some songs here do the Queen tribute perfectly and “The Need to be Needed” is great example of this. And “Drama Queen” is a good single with plenty of swagger and it brings to mind Imperial Drag and The Makers. “Every Second Counts” manages to be a very good tune that evokes T-Rex in spots. “Step Kids in Love” is an excellent 10cc inspired song and one of my favorites here. The tunes are all pretty radio friendly and loaded with energy, although not every song is memorable. “Message from Yuz” has got plenty of great riffs and handclaps – but it didn’t have that much sticking power. “Coming down” is very by-the-numbers alt. rock and forgettable. Even the last tune, “Testify” has some great melodic riffs but insipid lyrics like “I’d like to see ya, I wouldn’t want to be ya” – I think ultimately alot of people will love this CD. Like a snickers bar, it’s very sweet and nutty and full of empty calories.
Listen to “Drama Queen”
The Alice Rose from Austin, Texas has an uncanny ability to play amazingly catchy pop music. After being reviewed well by National Public Radio, local Texas media and other power pop blogs, I’ve finally gotten around to this one. The band’s sound is best defined to resemble the classic strummings of Squeeze and Crowded House. But the influences aren’t definitely not confined there. That’s why “Phonographic Memory” is such a great choice of title. Led by the talented JoDee Purkeypile, it is a major find and you should give these guys a spin on your ipod. “Lighten Up” has a McCartney meets Glen Tilbrook vibe – and would make an awesome single. “Love Me” is like an early Elton John classic. “Saints” is a perfect mid-tempo ballad with a chorus that has a rush of emotion that I haven’t heard in a long time and reminds me of classic Stevie Wonder. “Wisteria” is another great song here. A nice mix of arena soft rock guitar and melodic acrobatics that Jellyfish fans will fall in love with. I love the chord changes on this song and vocal performance – this is my favorite song on the album so far. “Stop” recalls early Wilco meets The Rembrandts and is an excellent tune as well. The production is clean and well done too. It is without a doubt, if you pick up this CD, you will not be sorry. Hear some of it on MySpace.
Pittsburgh, PA’s Black Tie Revue debut hit the streets and it is best described as legitimate sonic assault. The catchy “Code Fun” dares you to not enjoy yourself while you listen — it opens up with “Red Everywhere” and that’s full of heavy guitar and fast drums, not unlike Splitsville or Green Day’s early material. The best track however is the amazing “I’m so sure” a great summer punk anthem. It got the right amount of scorching riffs and profanity and I can’t stop listening to it and hitting that repeat button over and over. The group has been touring all over the country (CMJ, SXSW) and has been picking up new fans wherever the go. A local Pittsburgh newspaper declared BTR “most likely to succeed” less than two years after first playing together. “Code Fun” continues the addictive three-chord power-pop fest and I dare you to not shake your head in response to this one! “The Late Show” gradually increases the noise at the end of the track, like The Beatles’ “She so Heavy.” Every song here is hot with no filler, all killer tracks! The band’s history is one where “persistence” is a credo and it’s beginning to pay off. Get this one before your friends!
Listen to “Code Fun”