The Connection and Pseudonym

The Connection

The Connection “Just For Fun”

A sweet holiday gift from The Connection – this new set of covers is Just For Fun, as the band paying homage to their musical heroes. Some of these tunes are right up the band’s alley, like using the Johnny B. Goode template for Bob Seger’s “Get Out Of Denver.” Some classics including “Teenage News” (Sylvain Sylvain), “No Expectations” (Rolling Stones), and “Southern Girls” (Cheap Trick) make for a great listen. Even oldies like “I Can Read Between The Lines” by Gary Lewis and The Playboys have a distinct Merseybeat feel, and because many songs aren’t automatically familiar, there’s little predictability. Like the title says, these guys are just having a good time and after listening to these tunes you will too.

Amazon


Pseudonym

Pseudonym “Pack Of Lies”

California Musician Paul Desjarlais with his friends (aka Pseudonym) deliver one of the better LPs this year with Pack of Lies.  Each track is a reminiscing on a painful breakup, guitarist Waylan Solo offers up an interesting story in the “liner notes” on the Bandcamp page related to it. He knows what we power poppers will gravitate to right away, but listen through the entire album to get a better understanding of the story. Its a slow build from the first isolated vocal track of “I’m Fine” to the jangling guitar on “All The Little Things.”

The combo of fuzz bass and harmonies work great on “I Don’t Care About Love,” plus the easy going melody on “Victimless Crime” is super catchy. Then a trio of slow tempo ballads starting with “Don’t Leave Me This Way” show the isolation of the songwriter, but things go back to rocking mode on “Lorraine” and “Round and Round.” On “Foreign Talk” the beat quickens even more, reminding me of The Cure. Overall an excellent album, and on top of all this its a FREE download until Jan. 1st (then buy it on Amazon). Highly Recommended.

Amazon

The Connection and The Wellgreen

The Connection

The Connection “Labor Of Love”

The Connection are back and better than ever. Actually, Geoff Palmer and Brad Marino are remarkably consistent with the hit sound that powered their last LP Let It Rock. Once again we get fast tempos, hook-filled melodies and Rickenbacker guitars starting with the title track that pays tribute to Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds and the spirit of pub rockers everywhere.

The band has a knack for taking a classic ’60s mod rock sound and updating it for modern listeners. There is not much else to say other than there are plenty of highlights:  “So Easy” and “Pathetic Kind of Man” are catchy hit singles, The Rolling Stones sounds like an stronger influence on “Circles” and “You Ain’t Special.” There even is a bit of honky tonk twang on “Let The Jukebox Take Me” and take-no-prisoners punk pop on “Red, White & Blue.”

No filler to be found here, and kudos from both Little Steven Van Zandt and former Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham make this another easy addition to your potential top ten for 2015. Long live The Connection!

Amazon

The Connection

The Wellgreen “Summer Rain”

The Wellgreen are a wonderful Glasglow band that have a piano based sound very similar to The Left Banke. Their last album release Grin and Bear It was put out by another label, and this album has a few repeated songs from earlier releases, but for this review I’m sticking with the digital release Summer Rain. Maybe this is a Wellgreen greatest hits?

I’ll put up with a little confusion because this is simply great pop. “Summer Rain” is a very ’60s styled single, but the building melody of “Maybe It’s The Pressure Of The City Life That’s Tearing Us Apart” is truly great with impeccable harmonies. “Jennifer” once again dazzles with its yearning melody. “Sunday” and “Remember” are Beatles styled songs that will charm you for sure. “Grin and Bear It” has a Beach Boys party atmosphere, and a “Impossible Love” has a James Taylor vibe. While not everything hits the mark, enough does to make it a highly recommended album.

Grin and Bear It | Summer Rain

Holiday Music: Smalltown Poets and The Connection

Smalltown Poets

Smalltown Poets “Christmas Time Again”

At this point its become a tradition here with my favorite Christmas band Smalltown Poets. They’ve got the vocals, musical chops and this year they’ve got a new album to unwrap. After a spiritual introduction, the band lets loose on “Wassail song” with drums, guitar and piano leading to a harmonious vocal chorus that hits a few different Christmas themes. The title track is an instant classic that deserves major radio play this time of year, evoking the holiday perfectly. Even if you don’t like holiday music, this song will just melt you. Highly Recommended.

CD Baby | Bandcamp | Amazon

The Connection

The Connection “A Christmas Gift For”

Another “must have” Christmas album by the rocking-est band this season. Starting with “Money, Honey, Baby” it jingles and jangles into your head right away. “West Coast” looks at the holiday from a snow-free perspective. The boogie blues of “Better Late Than Never” is pretty cool, and “Christmas Time Again” is another layered gem. Highly Recommended.

Bandcamp | Amazon

Concert Review: Cavestomp! The Garage Rock Festacular

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One of the coolest radio shows on the planet is Little Steven’s Underground Garage and they frequently feature great power pop on the show. Many of these artists receive the accolades “Coolest Song” or a spot in his yearly top ten — and at this occassion several played live at The Rock Shop in Brooklyn (site of our Power Popaholic Fest). The show continues Sunday night (4/27) at the Mercury Lounge (NYC), so you still have time to see this great show.

Hosted by Handsome Dick Manitoba of The Dictators, and one of my favorite veteran bands The Jellybricks opened things up. They did a great set of songs from their new album Youngstown Tuneup, one of my favorites this year. The follow up with John and Brittany, that’s John Faye (IKE, The Caulfields) and Brittany Rotondo served up a grunge covered set of sour sweetness. The dynamic duo were then followed by Palmyra Delran, and she totally rocked the house down. Finally The Connection took the stage, they were in my top ten last year and they did not disappoint onstage. Overall, it was an amazing night of music!

The Connection “Let It Rock”

If there ever was a power pop band that oozed coolness out of its pores it would be The Connection. This new full length LP hits the ground running with the mint single “Wrong Side of 25,” chock full of classic guitar riffage. The band’s sound has continued to define the edge half way between The Beatles and The Stones. Its un-apologetically retro, and they relish every note.

Another “radio-ready” hit is “She’s A Keeper” with an unbeatable hook that rivals The Wonders “That Thing You Do.” It then shifts the key to a surf styled “The Way Love Should Be,” and then blasts those guitars on “Crawling From The Wreckage (Of A Saturday Night).” A country-styled shuffle leads “Susan” and the tempo slows down for the garage psyche “Haze” and “Not How It’s Gonna Be.”  Even the umpteenth version of “Johnny B. Good” sounds fresh as the title track. No filler here, and lead singer Brad Marino and guitarist Geoff Palmer hit it out of the park. It deserves a spot on your top ten for 2013, its definitely on mine.