Various Artists "For the Love of Todd"


Here is another one of those tribute discs. This one features the songs of the wizard and true star, Todd Rundgren. Rundgren is truly was an innovative and prolific artist during the 70’s and 80’s and most of his material would be excellent for other power pop artists to cover. Unfortunately, the producers of this album (Third Lock Records) should have done a better job of getting the participation of talented musicians. Despite a few well performed covers by Bill Lloyd, P. Hux and Jamie Hoover (Spongetones), the album is dragged down by some horrible amateur tracks (Nater Kennerly sounds like he’s playing “Love of the Common Man” in a closet). Other groups here I’ve never heard of, like: Van Cooper, Viral Satellite, Ben McMurtrie, David Melbye and Fred Froom, do a so-so job and make me NOT want to seek out their original work. An exception is the group The Woods, who do a great version of Todd’s “Slut”. So other than a handful of tracks, this is not essential listening. But the good news here is that this 1999 album is pretty cheap. You can find this album on Amazon for about $7.00

John Mayer "Continuum"


Warning! This is a regular adult alternative album and not really considered power pop. But when something this good comes forth from the mainstream record industry, I have to sit up and take notice. About 95 percent of the industry would not recognize talent if it bit them in the ass and when I first heard about Mayers’ new release – I read some other critics in the mainstream. Entertainment Weekly gave it a lukewarm reception. An Rolling Stone Magazine gave it four stars. I had to hear it myself. Like my earlier review with The Nines, it looks like John Mayer grew up and matured. I liked Mayer’s first two albums, although I felt they were a bit light-weight. Mayer’s jazz touched pop was not offensive, but hardly something I listen to regularly. Continuum changes all that in a big way. He has adopted a Steely Dan cum Eric Clapton style that fits these slow blues-rock songs perfectly. “Stop This Train” is the best song I have heard about growing up since The Beach Boys “When I Grow Up to be a Man.” No real uptempo tunes here. Just clean mesmerizing blues guitar and heart-felt songwriting. Mayer may lose the young teen fan with this album, but he’s gained some over 30-types respect. You can get the CD almost anywhere.

Young Sportsmen "The Familiar Glow of Colliding Particles"


I was recently turned on to this emerging power pop favorite. Young Sportsmen are a mod-style indie band that reminds me alot of The Lemonheads, Sloan and IKE – all put in a blender to come up with something totally cool. You can visit the site, www.youngsportsmen.com and hear some of the tunes as downloads. After visitng the site and learning the great pedigree of the band (drummer Burke Thomas, guitarist Wesley Nelson and guitarist Ryan Maxwell founded the group Muzzle – a personal fave of mine) I was most impressed with these tracks. “On Your Lips” sounds like a great single to me – buzzing riffs and a huge hook that will not let go of you. “Under the Rocks and Stars” is another great tune – it pays tribute to those great power pop tunes from the 80’s, but sounding very current. My only problem here is – it’s only 5 songs, but I heard that a full album is coming out in Spring ’07. I for one can’t wait. Oh, and take a break from all those coffee sipping joints in Seattle and visit NYC soon! Buy the songs on Itunes, Kool Kat Records or Not Lame Records.

Office "Q&A"


This is a Chicago band that’s been touring the country and worthy of more than a listen. It’s not straight power pop but kinda of a mix of REM and Oasis with a great dance beat. The reason I’m featuring it here is that the tunes all have great hooks, that reach out and stick to your head. The band has been generating a good PR buzz and was featured on iTunes free download a while back. This video really doesn’t do the band justice – listen to the music on their own myspace site or buy the full album on iTunes.