Andy Bopp and The James Rocket

Andy Bopp

Andy Bopp “Blisters and Thorns”

Veteran alt. rocker Andy Bopp (Myracle Brah) showcases his formidable songwriting skills here with the mid-tempo gems “Cannibal” and “Lowe.” The music retains Bopp’s signature ‘90s style and each one is perfectly pleasing. A few gems standout; the earnest “Hello” has a wonderful melody with nice twangy guitar and “Every Word” has a well textured arrangement. Those wonderful harmonies come out under the chorus of “Barely Hanging On,” so plenty stylistic variety through 15 tracks.

The country elements stand out here, from the banjo on “Simple Thing” to the steel lap guitar present on several songs, notably “Broken Highway.”  The Rickenbacker guitar leads other gems like “Broken Ties” and “Grey Matter.” Overall, a solid collection of tunes that stands up to repeat listens and deserves more attention. Highly Recommended.

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James Rocket

The James Rocket “Thrust”

Brooklyn rockers James William Roy (songwriting, vocals, guitars, bass) and Markleford Friedman (drums, production) give the James Rocket its fuel. The sound is like Guided By Voices mixed with The Replacements. “Musicbox” and “Clothers Make The Man” have melodic energy and a touch of punk that makes it compelling.  The punk elements are upfront on “Money Rope” and brisk tempo of “The Things I Saw.”

The James Rocket does mix it up stylistically with simple bass-driven “Call to Hearts” and catchy “Melt Away.” You also hear the influence of The Who (a major GBV influencer) throughout the album. A nice character study “The Bartender’s Boyfriend” ends things. No duds here, and definitely worth a listen.

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EP reviews: Cartoon Spirits, The Kickstand Band and The James Rocket

Cartoon Spirits

Cartoon Spirits “Crustacean EP”

Cartoon Spirits are determined to bring power pop back to where it belongs: the Pacific Northwest. Gray skies and drizzle can only be battled with hooks, fuzzy guitars, and raspy harmonies. The Portland band has just released its debut recording, Crustacean EP.  Its hard to argue their point, as “Remake The Stalls” is a catchy bit of modern pop magic, with solid guitar riffs and a timely opening falsetto. The trio of Michael Faherty (guitar), Loredana Corallo (bass) and Jeff Davis(drums) are a tight unit on the follow up “Common Law,” with fine job shredding to the layered vocal harmonies. “Back to The Cult” is another catchy tune that reminded me of Squeeze a little. Overall this is a great great debut. Highly Recommended!

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Kickstand Band

The Kickstand Band “Cut’Em Loose” EP

Another modern power pop band with a great sound, The Kickstand Band is from Detroit, Michigan with a good back catalog of excellent music that deserves to be heard. “How It Feels” has a confident fuzz rhythm and layered guitar melodies.The leads, Gordon Smith and Allison Young give us some great harmonies on “Next To Me.” Young goes solo on “Regret You” and her sweetness shines through on the chorus. This “yet-to-be-discovered” band is making its music available at a “name-your-price” point, so take advantage of the musical goodness!

The James Rocket

The James Rocket “We Are Here For You b/w Derby Girl”

The James Rocket are a 5 piece from Brooklyn, NY delivering a sweet quick single sure to please, “We Are Here For You.” Lead singer James William Roy is reminiscent of They Might Be Giants with a little more alt. rock fuzz. And check out the bands 2012 debut, the first track “Paper Valentines” is free. Love the spunky guitar buzz melody! Highly recommended!