Blue Cartoon "September Songs"

Change is a good thing sometimes. Blue Cartoon began life as a Spongtones-like jangle power pop band. Several years later, it has slowly become a classic adult oriented pop band. yes, this is a good thing. Blue Cartoon has taken the jangle and added some maturity to the lyrics. Great melodys continues to flow “She’s A God” to the Squeeze-like “Perfect Day”. Great chord changes in each song remind me of some classic Rembrandts songs. Gone are the bouncy bits of Boyce & Hart syle that were on earlier CDs and it is replaced with an more relaxed strumming and croon similar to The Jayhawks. A great example of this is “It’s Okay” – a pleasing combination of easy listening and folk, and rock. They still pay attention to song details and do a great job here. My biggest problem is the mixing of the vocals here. On some songs they fade a bit too much into the background. The lead singer David Loren literally blends in with the guitars on “Where I wanna be.” Hello? You can pick this CD up at CD Baby. You can also stream some album samples.

Adam Daniel "The Adam Daniel Frequency"

I recently discovered Adam Daniel last week. I heard 2 albums – “4-track demos: The Adam Daniel Frequency” and “4-track demos: Where You Are EP” – and from reading his bio, he made a brilliant debut in 1999 witht he album “Blue Pop.” The AD Frequency” has a varied collection of songs, ranging from power pop to adult contemporary tunes. “It’s Automatic” is a cool little pop number that has a great bouncy melody and reminds me a bit of Doug Powell and Chris Von Sneidern. The remaing tracks are equally good. “Supernova” has a great Sloan-like quality that deserves to be on your ipod playlist. However, with the track “Where You Are” things get very jazzy, slow and moody. The next few songs almost sounds like another artist. The newest EP named after that track follows with adult pop similar to blue period Elvis Costello. I don’t feel Daniel pulls as well with the ballads, except in a great song “Star Dust 2002” which has excellent piano melody and rivals the early Bee Gees for pure emotion. You can purchase all these songs on itunes. I was also able to go on Amazon and order “Blue Pop” for a very good price as well.

Holiday Music you must hear…

Since the holidays are upon us, here is my essential holiday albums for 2006. “Barenaked Ladies’ CD “Barenaked for the Holidays” has become my new favorite, even though it came out last year. Where else will you get both Christmas and Channukah songs on the same album? The Barenakeds here have come up with a real festive CD that will be enjoyed by all — and it includes originals and not just holiday standards. It’s chockful of 18 tracks and best of all it’s new on e-music. So you have no excuses. Okay, some songs like “Jingle Bells” are a bit too goofy, but so what! Get it here and now.

Amiee Mann has created a beautiful take on all the holiday classics with this new CD. With Mann’s somber and serious approach, she makes this the Christmas album to drink to. Like the polar opposite of Karen Carpenter, Mann’s mood will get the listener to seriously think about this time of year. She gets a bit of help from hubby Michael Penn, Jon Brion and Grant Lee Phillips doing a respectable version of “The Grinch.” Pour another eggnog and play this one. Also available on e-music.

Do I really need to add the obvious Vince Guaraldi Trio album? here are the links to e-music:
A Charlie Brown Christmas

Elf Power "Back to the Web"

Elf Power has been one of the leaders in twee power pop since 1994. They came into being with the Elephant Six collective that produced Olivia Tremor Control, Neutral Milk Hotel, Of Montreal and Apples In Stereo. The group has changed a bit from those trippy, pyche sounds of the late 90’s. “Back to the Web” is a more mainstream folkie effort. The music has some great instrumentation and pleasant melodies and themes. Alot like the Essex Green, they mine this melodic folk indie groove. The song An “Old Familiar Scene” has a good beat and vibe and “Somewhere Down The River” begins to lean to the old styled Elf Power I remember. “All The World Is Waiting” is another worthy track that has a great sing-along quality. Unfortunately too much of this album is boring and most of the songs have very little or no key change. It’s all the same folky rythmn to Vocalist Andrew Reiger. Also gone is the DIY ethic and the slick production makes the album a bit bland. You can get this CD cheap at, but it would be better to start with eariler albums at e-music. Oh well. Maybe next the album will be better.

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.