Vinyltones "Memoirs of a Songbook"

This is a tough one to review. There is a great power pop combo in the Vinyltones waiting to come out. “Memoirs of a Songbook” has great punk/pop like “Numb(on a Monday)” that rock like the Marvelous Three. There are also tracks like “Leaving Northport” which are in Ben Folds’ territory and truly wonderful. Then another stylistic shift on “Nashville” which almost sounds like the group Train. This is an album where you will want to pluck tracks you like and avoid the one’s you don’t like. The good news here is it is availble on iTunes and you can do this easily. I reccomend “If it’s gonna rain”, “Motorcycle” and “Hey Soloman” as standout tracks. The bad news is the group is a bit all over the place stylistically. But that’s okay – the good tracks are worth downloading.

Eric Matthews "Foundation Sounds"

Alot of new music has been released recently and I’m trying to cover the most common power pop artists first. When I hear Eric Matthews, I pretty much know what to expect. His classically styled orch-pop was near perfection with “Fanfare” from his first album It’s Heavy In Here. Following this triumph, Matthews following albums have tried to build on his lyrical and melodic gifts. But I feel he’s never been able to build up his sound, as much a copy the same breathy wispering vocals onto variations of the same song. How the mighty have fallen… None of these tracks standout much even though he plays on every instrument. Lots of bitterness in the lyrics too. Just how many words rhyme with “despise?” I feel Matthews should devote more time to songwriting. Foundation Sounds has about 17 tracks, and most of them will put you to sleep. “All the Clowns” uses some horns and because of this, its a standout track among the rest. You can download it from e-music. Put I’d rather recommend his last album Six Kinds Of Passion Looking For An Exit. It has better songs.

Ben Kweller "Ben Kweller"

It looks like alot of late 90s power pop guys have decided to mature. It seems to be this years trend. The Nines, Ben Folds, John Mayer and now it’s Ben Kweller. Lots of nice ballads and a some uplifting tunes like “Penny on the Train Track” and “I gotta move” makes for enjoyable listening. Other than the rocker “This is War,” the album takes a very mellow and mature vibe. Most of the tracks are worthy of your attention. Sometimes things get downright sappy with the tune “Thirteen” – however after a few listens, this music will settle in like a good friend. Kweller’s melodic touch is always welcome, however next album, I’d like to see a bit of the “angry young man” without all the happy mush. The best part about this is that it’s available on e-music through this link. or you can get this CD anywhere (i.e. Amazon)

The Lapdancers "The Ghost of Alcohol and Song"

The Lapdancers are a new power pop alternative band that play rough enough to almost cross into emo territory with some great buzzsaw guitar riffs, but still have enough melody to keep you interested. It almost reminds me of the old John Faye group, The Caulfields mixed with The Posies. The album definitely has moments of greatness. “Don’s John” is a rolling epic of a song that demands attention. And “Stuck in My Head” will do just that. My one problem is that some of the ballads are a bit too much like second-rate Toad the Wet Sprocket. Other than the excellent “Just a little bit” – the slower tunes bring the album to a halt and had me pressing the skip button. Overall, a very good effort. It can be download from e-music through this link. It’s most worthy of your download time.

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