luni, 30 iunie 2008

Titanic Love Affair - Titanic Love Affair (1991)

Titanic Love Affair started in the late 80's by Jay Bennett. The band's 1991 Major Label debut came out on Charisma Records and got rave reviews across the nation. After leaving Charisma in 1992, the band put out an EP in 1992-1993 appropriately titled "No Charisma". Featuring 5 scorching tracks of the bands own brand of power-pop, this EP was an unsung classic! The bands sound was always compared to Dinosaur Jr. and The Replacements, always playing a little louder and a little more poppy than both bands, it was more like a rocking Cheap Trick meets The Mats meets Dinosaur Jr. Pop rock veterans Tommy Keene and Adam Schmitt were just a couple of people that took great praise for the band. In 1996, the band released its last record titled "Their Titanic's Majesties Request" on No Alternative Records. The band broke up shortly after its release with Jay joining Wilco and Lars Gustafsson joining Mother May I.

Download : Titanic Love Affair - Titanic Love Affair

Titanic Love Affair - Planet Strange

True West - Drifters (1984)

“True West may have been part of California's psychedelic underground, but the Davis quintet definitely had a sound and style all its own. Drawing inspiration from Syd Barrett (the band's first release was a single of his "Lucifer Sam," reprised on the EP) and Roky Erickson, they played a frenetic, dense drone with crazed guitars and dramatic vocals.
Drummer Jozef Becker left to rejoin Thin White Rope; True West recorded the Drifters album with his not-so-good replacement. The nine new songs (reprising "And Then the Rain" from the French LP) showcase Gavin Blair's vocals as much as Tolman's inventive, original guitar work. A strikingly good record that escapes the strictures of neo-psychedelia by incorporating folk-rock ambience, Drifters retains just enough raw-edged aggression to keep things from getting unacceptably melodious. "Look Around" is the clear standout, but other numbers — "Shot You Down" and "Hold On," for instance — also marry engaging sound and arrangements to solid songwriting.” (From TrouserPress).

Download : True West - Drifters

duminică, 29 iunie 2008

Wondermints - Mind If We Make Love to You (2002)

“During 2000-2001, Wondermints cemented their already direct '60s influences by serving as the backing band for Brian Wilson's solo tours, documented on the concert albums Live at the Roxy Theater and Pet Sounds Live. Upon returning, they went into the studio and recorded Mind If We Make Love to You, a record that ably displays some steady gains in musicianship and expertise from playing some of the best pop music of all time in front of audiences all over the world. As on previous records, the band sparkles simply by playing up their influences instead of hiding them. Surprisingly, though, the Beach Boys inspiration apparently came from their early-'70s phase instead of their classic '60s era; "Ride," with backing vocals from Wilson himself, is immediately obvious, featuring a soulful vocal from the Carl Wilson playbook (first bluesy as on "The Trader," later heavenly as on "God Only Knows") and a progression of short "feels" instead of the usual verse-chorus-verse format.
Elsewhere, Wondermints again call on spirits of the past -- from the Association (for "Out of Mind," on which Curt Boettcher must surely be smiling) to the Zombies ("Shine on Me") to even the Grateful Dead ("Time Has You") -- but any hint of a stale sound is saved by gorgeous hooks, clean production, and an over-all beautiful construction. Occasionally the similarities are to fellow latter-day pop savants like Jason Falkner or even the Ocean Blue, but Wondermints ably display all they've learned during their nearly endless summer of touring with the golden boy of '60s pop.” (From AllMusicGuide).

The Dentists - Some People Are On The Pitch They Think It's All Over It Is Now (1985)

“Sounding like they time-traveled in from 1966 or so, picked up a couple of tips from the Smiths, and were let loose in the studio with Joe Meek behind the board, the Dentists' first record, Some People Are on the Pitch They Think It's All Over It Is Now, was released on tiny indie label Spruck in 1985. It is an assured and exciting record informed by the sounds of the '60s garage, folk, and psychedelic scenes (the raw sound and pounding beats, jangling 12- and six-string guitars, whimsical lyrics, and fuzzy edges, respectively), but thoroughly modern too (the Medway-inspired raw guitar sound, the at times fey and melancholic vocal stylings of Michael Murphy, the almost punk attack that the whole record has). The band plays with fire and fervor throughout, Bob Collins' guitar is like a live wire chiming sweetly one minute, drawing blood the next, the rhythm section is tight and tough, the vocal harmonies are spot on, and Murphy balances his moments of introspection with lots of lighthearted and nearly jaunty warbling. All of which would mean nothing without songs, and the group delivers there too. The up-tempo songs ("Flowers Around Me," "I'm Not the Devil," "I Had an Excellent Dream," "Tangerine," "Tony Bastable v John Noakes") sound like the Byrds if they had formed in the wake of the punk explosion of the '70s, hooky and exciting with the rough edges left on and the guitars bubbling and slashing all around. These songs belie the image of being quirky psych-fops that the band somehow ended up being saddled with. The ballads and mid-tempo songs are just as good; tunes like "Kinder Still," "Mary Won't Come out to Play," and "Everything in Our Garden" have haunting melodies and Murphy does melancholy very well, some would say even better than a certain other '80s singer whose last name begins with M. Indeed, place Some People up against the debuts of any '80s guitar pop band and the match would end up knotted at least, the opponents trounced in most cases. Against the best album of any '80s guitar pop band even, because this is the best album the Dentists made. The blend of inspired songcraft performance and sound (and the fact that not too many people heard it) make the record a lost guitar pop classic.” (From AllMusicGuide).

Download : The Dentists - Some People Are On The Pitch They Think It's All Over It Is Now

sâmbătă, 28 iunie 2008

The Moberlys - First Album (1979)

“For aficionados of late '70s American power-pop, the Moberlys' eponymous debut may be something of a lost treasure. Falling halfway between sunny, innocent '60s guitar-pop and ironic, nervy post-punk pop à la Jonathan Richman, the Moberlys are garage punks that have their hearts set on being obnoxious, but their talents lie in effortlessly catchy miniture pop songs. That means that the raucous hardcore-wannabe "She Got Fucked" encapsulates their attitude but not their sound. The Moberlys and lead singer/songwriter Jim Basnight were into catchy little songs and this debut shows that they could pull it off with the right amount of snotty defiance. The Moberlys is the kind of record that will only appeal to hardcore power-pop fans, but they will know that it's a real find.” (From AllMusicGuide).

Download : The Moberlys - First Album

The Shazam - Godspeed the Shazam (1999)

“Taking cues primarily from early Cheap Trick and Electric Light Orchestra, The Shazam mold hard rock that, initially, sounds out of place on the Not Lame label, which focuses entirely on power pop. However, on repeat listens it becomes obvious why this group is so often lumped in with fine pop acts; their hooks are remarkably strong and melodic. While they're clearly out of step with the times (The music here is entirely steeped in the late '70s, and while it may have sold millions then, it is unlikely to go past "cult" status now), Godspeed the Shazam is an excellent hard rock pleasure. Many of these songs sound like lost classics, especially the excellent "Super Tuesday" (an anthemic rocker on the lament of the loser of a presidential election) and "Gonna Miss Yer Train." The Shazam also occasionally dip into glam , especially on "Sunshine Tonight" and "The Stranded Stars" and, not surprisingly, they make that work too. It all amounts to yet another gem on the Not Lame label.” (From AllMusicGuide).

Download : The Shazam - Godspeed the Shazam

vineri, 27 iunie 2008

The Liverpool Echo - The Liverpool Echo (1973)

“Power pop has never sounded so powerful! When former Mandrake Paddlesteamer mainstays Brian Engel and Martin Briley convened as Liverpool Echo in 1973, the Beatles had been in the grave for just three years, and the world still desperately wanted them back -- so desperately that, with a band name borrowed bodily from an old Merseybeat-era newspaper, what could any record company do, but lift a "Fabs"-headlined copy of the paper for an album cover? But "Beatles Come Home So Quietly" really wasn't the most appropriate banner for an LP jacket, all the more so since, once you hit the vinyl, the spirit of the "Moptops" hung so heavily over the music that it screamed out for attention. Of course, it was true that any early-'70s band that was capable of melding melody with studio-borne creativity would inevitably be tarred "the new Beatles" (as Badfinger and 10cc would readily testify); it is also true that all such comparisons were then hopelessly devalued by the arrival of the Rutles. But still Liverpool Echo have an uncanny grasp of the Merseybeat sound circa 1963 and 64, spliced with a healthy hint of the Hollies, and that was more than enough to raise high hopes for the album. Unfortunately, hope was all that the record label (Spark) could do. They certainly had no promotion or distribution muscle to speak of, and both band and LP sank within seconds, to lie forgotten until Revola revived it (with excellent Mark A Johnston liner notes) in 2005.” (From AllMusicGuide).
Ranked nr. 117 on 'Shake Some Action: The Ultimate Power Pop Guide' by John Borack.

Download : The Liverpool Echo - The Liverpool Echo

The Lolas - Silver Dollar Sunday (2001)

“Alabama-based power pop/bubblegum combo the Lolas formed in 1998 around vocalist/guitarist Tim Boykin (ex-Shame Idols), drummer Mark Reynolds, and bassist Walon Smith.
In the album's liner notes, the writer, taking a quote from Jon Landau when describing Bruce Springsteen, says, "I have heard the past, present and (hopefully) the future of power pop, and it is the Lolas." Such a quote is a high plateau to attain, but the core trio meets the challenge with flying power pop colors. The adorable harmonies with a Byrds-era bridge on "Who Am I Talking To" is just one of the many highlights within. Knowing when to cut across the grain is also another highlight, as "See Yer Picture Too" kicks the album out of a possible formulaic sag. The early-'60s British Invasion is another visible influence, as the simple no-nonsense tempo is rigid and non-conforming. Handclaps and sing-along choruses are aplenty from start to finish, with the only aspect missing being the hiss and crackles from the needle touching the vinyl. Also added to the mix is the occasional touch of urgency, such as "Silver Lakes," a two-minute stomp through party rock. A miscue occurs during the softer, tender ballad of "Long Time," which could break out into full arena rock chords but stays close to the vest instead. Nonetheless, it's a very credible and at times incredible album that recaptures past power pop glories while plowing ahead.” (From AllMusicGuide).

Download : The Lolas - Silver Dollar Sunday

joi, 26 iunie 2008

Dogs - Walking Shadows (1980)

“The Dogs were formed in Rouen (Normandie) in 1973 around Dominique Laboubée (vocals, guitars), Paul Peschenaert (guitars), François Camuzeaux (bass), and Michel Gross (drums). At first, the band could have been filed under pub rock for its set lists comprised of many covers, from the Velvet Underground to the Flamin' Groovies. But they quickly came up with some English-sung original material, mainly inspired by their British and American peers, from the Flamin' Groovies to Dr. Feelgood. Like locals Little Bob Story, they were something way more than just a regional phenomenon, and despite an unsuccessful commercial career, the Dogs left a considerable legacy with the release of their two most famous LPs: 1979's Different and 1982's Too Much Class for the Neighbourhood. The constant support of France's veteran music magazine Rock & Folk wasn't enough to make the Dogs explode to a larger scale, but they remain a treasured cult band for many, especially since their definitive end with singer Dominique Laboubée's death in 2002, at the early age of 45.” (From AllMusicGuide).
This album was described as The Flaming Groovies meets The Stooges in a Paris bar in the 70s'.
For more Dogs albums, visit PVAc to 44.1 kHz blog.

The Mutton Birds - Envy of Angels (1996)

“The New Zealand pop band the Mutton Birds was led by singer/guitarist Don McGlashan, already a highly regarded figure in his native land for his work in the legendary post-punk-era group Blam Blam Blam. Also including ex-Six Volts guitarist David Long and drummer Ross Burge, the group began recording their debut album in late 1991; following its completion, former Dribbling Darts bassist Alan Gregg was recruited to fill out the lineup.
Envy of Angels could have been recorded ten years earlier considering its invocation of the new south -- in particular the moodiness of Dumptruck -- not to mention similarities to more commercial guitar rock of the same period, such as that of 54-40. Perhaps it isn't a coincidence that Hugh Jones, who also worked with Dumptruck, produced Envy of Angels. He renders the Mutton Birds' guitar strum and jangle in more solemn than bright tones, which suits the sometimes poetic lyrics and unusual chord progressions. There are plenty of hooks in these songs, with "April" and "While You Sleep" being only two standouts. Despite the album's strengths, there is an obscure quality about Envy of Angels that will preserve the Mutton Birds' cult status while rewarding those listeners who find them.” (From AllMusicGuide).

Download : The Mutton Birds - Envy of Angels

The Nines - Properties of Sound (2001)

“The Nines are comprised of Steve Eggers (vocals, bass), Sam Tallo (guitar), and Aaron Nielson (drums).
There was quite a buzz surrounding the Nines' 2001 sophomore release, and it's not hard to tell why. Taking the XTC-meets-the Beach Boys sound of their debut one step further, Steve Eggers and company crafted an engaging and diverse follow-up with Properties of Sound. The album feels like a collection of demos in various states of progress -- heard best in the trio of the joyfully sparkling "Melanie," the acoustic demo "I'll Be There Waiting," and the rough, rocking "Here It Comes" -- but that distinction is to the record's credit. It's true that studio gloss is nowhere to be found here, and that this disc sounds closer to lost vinyl from the mid-'70s than to today's mainstream radio. But Steve Eggers' songwriting elevates the album from this precarious state, giving the gorgeous "Doesn't Matter What I Do" and "Melanie" -- the album's two very best songs -- a stately feel that makes them wear better with each listen. The louder material even approaches the Oasis camp at times, with Eggers' distinctly British (although he is Canadian) songwriting style meshing with the distorted guitars perfectly. And the addition of bonus tracks of four songs that just didn't quite fit the album gives listeners a glimpse into what else could be found in Eggers' songwriting vaults, since these easily rank with nearly all of the disc. Sure, Properties of Sound seems trapped in time someplace, and sure, the lack of studio gloss may turn a few listeners away. But as such things go, Properties of Sound is among the best of its breed.” (From AllMusicGuide).
Believe the hype. This is one of the better albums you’ll ever hear.
In 30 years time, people will talk about The Nines the way we talk about The Beatles right now and their albums will be considered classics.
"Everything you have ever loved about classic pop music is in heavy evidence on Properties of Sound, don't let this instant masterpiece pass you by." Power of Pop
"If the Beatles were reincarnated as a Canadian band from the nineties, they would sound like the Nines." Exposure Magazine

Download : The Nines - Properties of Sound

miercuri, 25 iunie 2008

The Green Pajamas - Book of Hours (1987)

“The neo-psychedelic band the Green Pajamas was founded in Seattle in 1984 by Jeff Kelly and Joe Ross. A lifelong music fan, Kelly began composing his first songs at the age of 11, forming a group called the Electric Garbage Cans; after his parents purchased him a reel-to-reel tape recorder, he spent his teenage years compiling literally hundreds of cassettes of original material. After graduating college, Kelly joined a new wave band dubbed the Larch; after meeting Ross at a party, they formed the Green Pajamas, informed by their mutual love of the Beatles and inspired by the Los Angeles "paisley underground" community. After debuting in 1984 with the cassette Summer of Lust on the Green Monkey label, the group issued a flurry of tapes before recording their full-length debut, Book of Hours, in 1987.” (From AllMusicGuide).

Download : The Green Pajamas - Book of Hours

Wondermints - Wondermints (1995)

“Throughout the early '90s, the Wondermints recorded a bevy of exceptional homemade demos and small indie singles primarily in co-founder Darian Sahanaja's bedroom studio. Slowly but surely that music circulated through the Los Angeles underground music scene on a series of semi-legendary tapes identified solely by their colors. The band's music, however, still flew under the radar of the music business until the Japanese label Toy's Factory picked up the slack, releasing an eponymous debut in 1995 that cherry-picked the very best songs from those original tapes. It is hard to imagine a more auspicious and stunning debut of pop/rock accomplishment than Wondermints (which was picked up for domestic release by Big Deal a year later). Some critics even ranked the album alongside such landmarks as Pet Sounds and Rubber Soul, and while that may be stretching it just the slightest bit, it is certainly not much of an exaggeration. It is, in fact, one of the finest rock albums to see release in the entire decade, yet for some reason it didn't make the band a household name, at least inside American borders and outside insular pop circles. The album is primarily the baby of Sahanaja and co-founder Nick Walusko, who wrote all the songs between them, and it proved that their talent arrived fully formed, although the band does betray its roots more so than it would on future recordings, especially through the album's first half. They owe a huge debt to Brian Wilson, both in song construction and melodies as well as in the production on the bulk of the songs. It is difficult to imagine anything more majestically baroque or ethereally beautiful than "Tracy Hide," for instance, unless it is "God Only Knows." It's no wonder that Wilson, upon hearing the album, ecstatically claimed that he would have taken Smile on the road had the Wondermints been around in 1967. They owe nearly as much to the ragged soulfulness of Brother Records-era Beach Boys, not to mention minor nods to perennials such as the Left Banke and Phil Spector. The sunfried ambience of '70s power pop and classic FM rock -- Cheap Trick, the Raspberries (Eric Carmen was another early fan and backer), Todd Rundgren, et al. -- holds an equally powerful sway over their sound. The playing is effortlessly laid-back and breezy without losing its tight focus or crunch. On "Shine," they try on the Middle Eastern rhythms and the type of mystical melody that would resurface on Bali a couple years later, tying it off with a hook that equals the Beatles' finest B-side, "Rain." What the album comes down to, however, is not the references from which it was constructed, but rather how amazingly fresh and dynamic it manages to sound even while sonically name-checking those artists. It is state-of-the-art '90s pop/rock, at once reverential and ambitious. And it only grows more inventive as it goes, hitting its most original (not to mention psychedelic and spacy) peak during the second half of the album on remarkable songs like "Global Village Idiot" and "Playtex Aviary." It is a rare first attempt on which the band's reach and grasp are virtually identical.” (From AllMusicGuide).
Ranked nr. 96 on 'Shake Some Action: The Ultimate Power Pop Guide' by John Borack.

Download : Wondermints - Wondermints

marți, 24 iunie 2008

My Dad Is Dead - The Taller You Are, The Shorter You Get (1989)

“Formed by drummer Mark Edwards in August 1984 after the break-up of the Cleveland band Riot Architecture, My Dad Is Dead has remained his solo project -- with occasional help from a revolving-door cast.
With The Taller You Are, The Shorter You Get, all the pieces fell into place for My Dad Is Dead. The usual cynicism, hopelessness, bitching and moaning about being alone are all here, along with the occasional wordplay, like naming the opening instrumental "For Lack of a Better Word." The music is that of an angst-filled, Cleveland-based loner devouring that city's fertile college radio scene without letting go of some classic rock devices like grand proggy instrumentals and guitar solos. It's also drum machine driven and reeks of D.I.Y., but while all these elements can be found across the MDID catalog, Taller lands every song, trumping the common "cloying" and "acquired taste" accusations despite the two-LP run time. Mark Edwards -- the sole proprietor of MDID at this point -- gave Interpol their blueprint when he mashed Joy Division and My Bloody Valentine for "The Big Picture," a soaring track that's arguably his best ever. The song's "I could spend my whole life worrying about what's going to happen to me" makes it undeniably the quintessential MDID track, credo and all. "What Can I Do" and "A Man Possessed" round out the superior laments with Edwards sounding ticked-off at hopelessness and sulking throughout, with nerdy horned-rimmed glasses you almost can hear coming through the mix. Hüsker Dü-influenced guitars and Chris Burgess' gloriously smalltime production give an indie-Americana spin to the album and flippant messages in the liner notes suggest Edwards won't be joining Ian Curtis anytime soon. Curtis wouldn't offer something as shameless as "I need a calculator to count up my problems/But I can count my friends on my fingers on my one had" either, and that's what makes Edwards and Taller special. Spiritually lost, middle-class, Middle Americans who free up Friday nights for cheap beer and fretting never had it so good.” (From AllMusicGuide).

Download : My Dad Is Dead - The Taller You Are, The Shorter You Get

The Merrymakers - No Sleep 'Til Famous (1995)

“The Merrymakers is an appropriate name for this Swedish trio. There's no despair on their debut album No Sleep 'Til Famous. The record is bursting with bright melodies, crisp acoustic guitars, shiny harmonies and a sunny demeanor. The trio can pull off a number of different styles, sounding like an infectious blend of the Beatles, the Hollies and Eric Carmen, tempered with a dash of swirling psychedelia à la ELO. They may still be developing a signature style, but the variety of styles and number of catchy melodies makes No Sleep 'Til Famous a promising debut in its own right.” (From AllMusicGuide).

Download : The Merrymakers - No Sleep 'Til Famous

luni, 23 iunie 2008

The Rooks - A Wishing Well (1999)

“Power pop is arguably party music -- generally, the music tries to distill a good-time vibe into concise, smooth, three-minute nuggets of sunshine. And if power pop is party music, then the Rooks would be the music for every classy wine and cheese party in the world. Considered by many to be one of the finest power pop bands of the '90s, the Rooks have constructed a very distinct and finely tuned sound unlike almost any other band part of the scene. A Wishing Well is the Rooks' second full-length release and is considered by many power pop fans to not only be the band's best, but also one of the genre's finest releases of the decade. Here's why: from start to finish, almost no comparisons can be drawn to anything else ever done. The music has a timeless, craftsman-like quality; and while at first A Wishing Well may not quite stand out, it only grows in stature upon repeated listens. While the "power pop" label doesn't seem to fit this band all that well -- their somewhat cerebral and almost bizarre pop seems deserving of its own genre -- this release is a must-have for all fans of the genre.” (From AllMusicGuide).

Download : The Rooks - A Wishing Well

Myracle Brah - Life on Planet Eartsnop (1998)

“Myracle Brah is the solo power pop project of singer, guitarist, and songwriter Andy Bopp, who also fronts Interscope recording artists Love Nut.
Channelling the ghosts of late-period Beatles, Badfinger and Big Star with almost eerie accuracy, Myracle Brah's debut captures the sound and spirit of the classic power pop era to perfection. Where Andy Bopp's work with Love Nut absorbs the influences of hard rock and punk, this solo project feels directly beamed in from some time in 1972, as though the subsequent quarter-century never even happened. What the record lacks in originality, it more than makes up for in pure charm. A gifted songwriter, Bopp stuffs Life on Planet Eartsnop with no less than 20 tracks, each of them dead-on evocations of an era long gone by and rarely recalled quite so effectively or affectionately.” (From AllMusicGuide).
Ranked nr. 43 on 'Shake Some Action: The Ultimate Power Pop Guide' by John Borack.

Download : Myracle Brah - Life on Planet Eartsnop

Myracle Brah - Whisper Softly

The Semantics - Powerbill (1993)

“Cult albums are often a bit of a double-pronged fork: they're often "cult" because of elitist music fans or because the music is just so good that even if it's unreleased -- or only released in, say, Japan -- it manages to strike a chord with just the right audience. Powerbill, the 1993 debut (and only album from) Nashville popsters the Semantics, falls squarely into the latter category. The talent that existed in this band is undeniable; they were fronted by future solo artists Will Owsley and Millard Powers; featured Ringo Starr's son, Zak Starkey, on drums; and counted Ben Folds as an early member. That's part of the reason why this is 35 minutes of some of the most perfect power pop of the '90s. Right out of the gate, the opening duo of "Sticks and Stones" and "Future for You" leap off the speakers and crackle with more energy and "whoa-ohs" than should be allowed, and the pace barely slows throughout. Sonically, the connections to both the aforementioned Ben Folds and the first solo Owsley album are especially undeniable. Despite its merits, Powerbill is not exactly groundbreaking music, but that's not what power pop is about anyway: it is about well-crafted, catchy songs, and based on those criteria, Powerbill is an unquestionable success. But even if Powerbill is an excellent bite-sized chunk of radio-ready guitar pop, Geffen apparently didn't think so when they rejected it in 1993. At a time when grunge ruled the airwaves, the Semantics were probably too pop for alternative and too rock for pop radio, and Geffen felt they were unmarketable. At the last minute, the album's release was scrapped, effectively ending the band's career. Powerbill only saw the light of day three years later -- in Japan -- where it was a moderate commercial success.” (From AllMusicGuide).
Ranked nr. 181 on 'Shake Some Action: The Ultimate Power Pop Guide' by John Borack.

Download : The Semantics - Powerbill

duminică, 22 iunie 2008

The Steppes - Drop of the Creature (1987)

“Part Led Zeppelin, part Beatles, The Steppes were one of the finest American guitar / psych / rock bands of the eighties. Featuring the Fallon brothers skilfull Irish song-writing and duel vocal harmonies, Tim Gilman's Quicksilver like guitar and Jim Bailey's solid drumming; The Steppes won over audiences across Europe & the 'States, releasing 5 albums on Voxx in the process.
Drop Of The Creature was recorded in 1986 and was released in 1987. Almost immediately, the album catapulted The Steppes on to the international stage. Featuring a front cover photo of the band dressed as Edwardian dandies with a purple, tie-dyed back drop and a shot of a ruined castle on the reverse, it was an album that oozed atmosphere and style. Recorded on a low budget, basically live, but with some guitar and vocal overdubs, its diversity allows repeat listenings without tiring and is proof that big budgets do not necessarily produce good music. The opening cut, A Play On Wordsworth, is a frantic and inspired fusion of West Coast acid guitar exploration and poetic vision. Its afterburn is cooled by the wistful acoustic charm of Somebody Waits. Holding Up Well can only really be described as Country Joe and the Fish meets Fairport Convention, as liquid guitar licks interplay with keyboard runs, soaring vocals and Jim Bailey's solidly complex drumming. Make Us Bleed is similarly exhilarating as Tim Gilman lets fly with the most achingly beautiful riff in the mid section of the song. In contrast, See You Around is class psychedelic guitar pop and when the LP gets weird, it does so with grace, as during the bizarre Black Forest Friday - a piece of music that opens out like an acid warped musical box - and Bigger Than Life, which is soaked in backward fuzz guitar. John's and Dave's distinctive vocal harmonies are constantly magnetic throughout, intertwining around lyrics that combine Romantic Mysticism, acid visions and more down to earth boy meets girl imagery.” (From

Download : The Steppes - Drop of the Creature

Beagle - Sound On Sound (1992)

“Beagle was a Swedish guitar pop quintet led by vocalist/songwriter Magnus Borjeson and guitarist Calle Hakansson. Officially formed in 1991 after its members met in school, Beagle secured a record deal on the strength of the first two demo songs it recorded. Sound on Sound was released in 1992 and helped kick start the Swedish guitar pop scene, but after its follow-up, 1993's harder-edged Within, the band broke up due mostly to a loss of cohesion. Borjeson and another Beagle member formed a new band called Favorita.” (From AllMusicGuide).
Ranked nr. 155 on 'Shake Some Action: The Ultimate Power Pop Guide' by John Borack.

Download : Beagle - Sound On Sound

Numbers - Add Up (1979)

The Numbers were :
Coleman York (drums, backing vocals)
Jim Kennedy (rhythm guitar, backing vocals)
Ed Blocki (lead vocals, bass guitar)
Peter Evans (lead vocals, lead/rhythm guitar, keyboards)
Colin "Archie" Gerrard (keyboards vocals; replaced Kennedy 1980)

“With Canadian record label Attic Records always on the cutting edge of new, innovative ways of developing talent while keeping costs low, they hit on the idea of a no-frills label called Basement Records. Their first signing was Toronto act, The Numbers, in 1979. The band went into the Soundstage studios in Toronto in October of that year with Jack Richardson's son Garth Richardson producing.
Attic co-owner Tom Williams wanted the Numbers to be the first album released in 1980 so, at 9:00 AM on New Year's day, key radio music directors and journalists were sent a copy of the album 'Add Up' to their homes along with a Bloody Caesar alcoholic beverage. The ploy worked as The Numbers received a bit of activity with the first single, "Sideways Elevator", but when it came time to follow that up with a second album the band demanded a larger production defeating the ability for Basement Records to live up to its mandate. As a result the band made a deal to re-sign with Attic Records under the new name Hot Tip (whereby Jim Kennedy was replaced by keyboardist Colin Gerrard). Unfortunately, the band broke up shortly after its two singles could be released in 1981.” (from Canoe’s Canadian encyclopedia of music).
This album, along with The Heats – Have an Idea is my favourite power pop album at this moment. Every song is catchy as hell, absolute power pop perfection. It’s a shame this was never released on CD.
Note : This album was posted last year also on Wilfully Obscure blog, a fantastic blog that I recommend to anyone. You'll find this blog on my favourite blog list.
Ranked nr. 134 on 'Shake Some Action: The Ultimate Power Pop Guide' by John Borack.

Download : Numbers - Add Up

Expressos - Promises and Ties (1981)

Promises and Ties by Expressos it’s one of the best new wave power pop albums of it’s time. If you like Blondie or The Pretenders, you really should give this a listen. Female vocals, excellent song writing and tuneful melodies combined for a great listening experience. A fantastic album!

Download : Expressos - Promises and Ties

The Pinkees - The Pinkees (1982)

This is another rare album from the Ultimate Power Pop Guide. The Pinkees self titled album from 1982 ranks at number 123 on that list and was never released on CD, only on vinyl. A beautiful pure power pop album reminding of The Beatles. The singer even sounds like John Lennon. If power pop is your game, get this right now!

Download : The Pinkees - The Pinkees

The Pinkees - Danger Games

sâmbătă, 21 iunie 2008

The Big Dish - Creeping Up on Jesus (1988)

“The Scottish pop trio Big Dish formed in 1983 around vocalist and guitarist Steven Lindsay, guitarist Brian McFie, bassist Raymond Docherty, and saxophone/keyboard player Ian Ritchie. Signed to Virgin by 1986, the group released the album Swimmer, which pleased critics but failed to reach the charts. Second LP Creeping Up on Jesus also failed to ignite despite several excellent songs, and Big Dish were dropped from Virgin after the label's attempts to request song material were rebuffed. Essentially a duo of Lindsay and McFie by the turn of the decade, Big Dish signed to EastWest and released Satellites in 1991.” (From AllMusicGuide).

Download : The Big Dish - Creeping Up on Jesus

Big Dish - European Rain

Yankee Rose - Yankee Rose (1980)

I didn’t find anything about this band or this album on the net, all I know is that this fantastic power pop album from Yankee Rose ranks at number 121 on the list of the best 200 power pop albums of all time (or the unauthorized best of - the ultimate power pop guide).
I know this album is very hard to find even for the most passionate power pop collectors, so here is your chance to listen to this little jewell. A must have for any power pop fans! Enjoy! And stay tuned for other power pop rarities!

Download : Yankee Rose - Yankee Rose

Furniture - Food, Sex and Paranoia (1989)

“The British pop band Furniture was founded in London in 1981 by vocalist Jim Irvin, guitarist/pianist Tim Whelan and drummer Hamilton Lee. A 1983 self-financed EP, The Boom Was On, won the trio a contract with the Survival label, and after swelling to a five-piece with the additions of bassist Sally Still and keyboardist Maya Gilder, they began issuing a string of singles, later collected as the LP The Lovemongers. After jumping to Stiff Records in 1986, Furniture released "Brilliant Mind," which reached the Top 25 on the UK singles chart. The group's future appeared bright, but within weeks of issuing the follow-up, "Love Your Shoes," Stiff went into liquidation; Furniture's 1986 album The Wrong People was picked up by ZTT, but after only 30,000 copies were pressed the record was abruptly deleted. After a three-year court battle, the band was finally able to remove themselves from ZTT's grip; signing to Arista, they resurfaced with 1989's Food, Sex and Paranoia, but the long hiatus destroyed any chart momentum they had accrued, and the record quickly vanished. Furniture dissolved in 1991.” (From AllMusicGuide).

Download : Furniture - Food, Sex and Paranoia

Shoes - Black Vinyl Shoes (1977)

“Most bands start out trying to bang their songs together in someone's living room, but Shoes certainly made more of that experience than most people. Jeff Murphy, Gary Klebe, and John Murphy were three pop obsessives from Zion, IL, who bought a four-track, found a drummer (Skip Meyer), and started putting songs on tape in Murphy's living room with all the care their primitive circumstances would allow. While the results were intended to be used only as a demo, Black Vinyl Shoes eventually attracted the attention of PVC Records, who gave the homemade set a nationwide release; the album's positive press eventually earned the band a major-label deal. Like their contemporaries and kindred spirits the Scruffs, Shoes were one of the few interesting pop bands to emerge in the mid- to late '70s who were very obviously not new wave; Shoes were pop classicists in the manner of the Beatles and the Raspberries, and if their low-tech recording setup dictated a leaner and more basic approach than the Fab Four, the thick guitar lines, smooth backing harmonies, and trickier-than-they-sound melodic structures made it clear their back-to-basic style was a nod to past rock glories as much as a call to jangly arms. But Shoes also had their own set of quirks to bring to the table (again like the Scruffs, Shoes had an unusual perspective on the male/female relationship), and there's an understated, off-kilter wit to songs like "Tragedy," "Do You Wanna Get Lucky?," and "Capital Gains" that's as delicious as the band's rich, satisfying songcraft. Black Vinyl Shoes is an album whose somewhat primitive production actually works in its favor; with 15 tunes to record and only four tracks on hand, Shoes made a record that was about melodies, hooks, and harmonies, and the result was an album that helped kick start the '80s pop revival -- and still sounds fine almost a quarter of a century later.” (From AllMusicGuide).

Download : Shoes - Black Vinyl Shoes

vineri, 20 iunie 2008

Able Tasmans - Hey Spinner! (1990)

“One of the many bright lights of the New Zealand pop scene of the 1980s, Able Tasmans formed in Auckland in 1984. Originally a trio comprised of keyboardist Graeme Humphreys, bassist Dave Beniston and drummer Craig Baxter, they initially offered a tongue-in-cheek, '60s-influenced aesthetic typified by songs like "Nelson the Cat?!!".
On this mini-album this obscure New Zealand group delivers some of their best upbeat Byrds-esque guitar pop on record. Of the five albums they produced in the late '80s/early '90s, the signature of their sound is the keyboard-driven melody, subtle acoustic arrangements, and propulsive rhythm section. The sound is quite close to a more folk-sounding Stereolab, with vocal harmonies from the Brian Wilson songbook.” (From AllMusicGuide).

Download : Able Tasmans - Hey Spinner!

The Able Tasmans - Hold Me 1

Let's Active - Big Plans for Everybody (1986)

“Mitch Easter carved his place in music history as a hip producer in the '80s, most notably for the early R.E.M. albums Murmur and Reckoning; unfortunately, these achievements often overshadowed and distracted him from giving his full commitment to his own recording career with Let's Active, a band that, between 1983 and 1988, released some of the finest Southern power-pop/jangle-pop of the decade.
After a short stint with the Sneakers, a band he formed with future dB's Chris Stamey in North Carolina in the late '70s, Mitch Easter set up his legendary Drive-In Studios in 1981 and formed Let's Active with bassist Faye Hunter and drummer Sara Romweber. The trio released a six-song EP, 1983's Afoot, on IRS Records. In 1984, the band released the more experimental Cypress. While the EP and album sold modestly, they found a strong following in the emerging alternative/"college rock" audience. Hunter and Romweber left shortly after the release, leaving Let's Active as essentially a solo project for Easter. Romweber later went on to join Snatches of Pink.
Easter recruited drummers Eric Marshall and Rob Ladd, along with multi-instrumentalist Angie Carlson (Hunter returned temporarily for bass duties) for Big Plans For Everybody in 1986, another critically praised yet commercially undervalued album. The harder-edged Every Dog Has His Day, which replaced Hunter with a full-time bassist, John Heames, was released in 1988. Following a small-scale promotional tour of college campuses, the band hung in limbo -- no subsequent albums were recorded. Easter has continued producing into the '90s while infrequently playing with other bands, including Velvet Crush and Vinyl Devotion.” (From AllMusicGuide).

Download : Let's Active - Big Plans for Everybody

The Rubinoos - The Rubinoos (1977)

“For a brief moment, the Rubinoos seemed to be the last hope for pure pop music, carrying on the tradition of the Raspberries with an engaging blend of innocent bubblegum and power pop. The band was formed in 1973 by teenage friends Jon Rubin (vocals, guitar) and Tommy Dunbar (guitar, keyboards, vocals) along with Royse Adler (bass) and Donn Spindt (drums), but it wasn't until 1977 that they made their recording debut for Beserkley Records. The single, a cover of Tommy James' "I Think We're Alone Now," made an appearance in the lower reaches of the U.S. charts, giving the indie label their first hit. The same year, their self-titled debut LP received rave reviews all-around but failed commercially.
This little gem is a celebration of pop music. There's no other way to describe this record. Catchy tunes with a touch of tongue-in-cheek, mixed with exuberance and joy make this record as much fun as when it was first released.” (From AllMusicGuide).

Download : The Rubinoos - The Rubinoos

joi, 19 iunie 2008

The Clean - Compilation (1986)

“The Clean were one of the most influential New Zealand bands of the post-punk era. The band formed in the town of Dunedin in 1978, when Hamish Kilgour (drums) and his brother David (guitar) recruited David's school friend, guitarist Peter Gutteridge. Soon afterward, they opened for New Zealand punk rockers Enemy.
The Clean were one of the first bands in the country to play original material. They carved out a distinctive noisy but melodic sound, distinguished by David's screeching, distorted guitar. When the Kilgour brothers decided in 1979 to relocate the band to Auckland, Gutteridge had already left the lineup. The Clean played with a rotating bassist before David quit the band and moved back to Dunedin. Once he was back home, he was introduced to bassist Robert Scott and the two started playing together; news of his brother's new musical relationship prompted Hamish to move back to Dunedin and begin the Clean again.
Compilation offers a nearly complete overview of the Clean's legendary early recordings, including the classic "Tally Ho" single and highlights from their two EPs (Boodle Boodle from 1981 and 1982's Great Sounds).” (From AllMusicGuide).

Download : The Clean - Compilation

The Clean: "Anything Could Happen"

The Chameleons - Script of the Bridge (1983) + What Does Anything Mean? Basically (1985) + Strange Times (1986)

“The atmospheric pop band the Chameleons formed in Manchester, England, in 1981 from the ashes of a number of local groups: vocalist/bassist Mark Burgess began with the Cliches, guitarists Reg Smithies and Dave Fielding arrived from the Years, and drummer John Lever (who quickly replaced founding member Brian Schofield) originated with the Politicians. After establishing themselves with a series of high-profile BBC sessions, the Chameleons signed to Epic and debuted with the EP Nostalgia, a tense, moody set produced by Steve Lillywhite which featured the single "In Shreds."
The quartet was soon released from its contract with Epic, but then signed to Statik and returned in 1983 with the band's first full-length effort, Script of the Bridge. What Does Anything Mean? Basically followed in 1985, and with it came a new reliance on stylish production; following its release, the Chameleons signed to Geffen and emerged the following year with Strange Times. The dark, complex record proved to be the Chameleons' finale, however, when they split following the sudden death of manager Tony Fletcher; while Burgess and Lever continued on in the Sun & the Moon, Smithies and Fielding later reunited in the Reegs. In 1993, Burgess surfaced with his proper solo album Zima Junction. He and his band the Sons of God toured America the following year.” (From AllMusicGuide).

The Chameleons – Script of the Bridge (1983)

“With two years, numerous radio sessions, and incessant gigging under their belts since their debut single, "In Shreds," the Chameleons came to the studio determined to make a great first album with Script of the Bridge. To say they succeeded would be like saying Shakespeare did pretty well with that one Hamlet play of his. Script remains a high-water mark of what can generally be called post-punk music, an hour's worth of one amazing song after another, practically a greatest-hits record on its own: the John Lennon tribute "Here Today," "Monkeyland," "Pleasure and Pain," "Paper Tigers," "As High as You Can Go," the breathtaking closer, "View From a Hill." Starting with the passionate fire of "Don't Fall," Script showcases how truly inventive, unique, and distinctly modern rock & roll could exist, instead of relentlessly rehashing the past to little effect. The scalpel-sharp interplay between the musicians is a sheer wonder to behold, the Dave Fielding/Reg Smithies guitar team provoke nothing but superlatives throughout, and John Lever and Mark Burgess make a perfect rhythm section -- while the crisp production of Colin Richardson and the band adds delicate synth lines and shadings, courtesy of early touring keyboardist Alistair Lewthwaite, and just the right amount of reverb and effects on the guitars. Add to that the words of Burgess, one of the few lyricists out there who can tackle Big Issues while retaining a human, personal touch, and it all just adds up perfectly. The best one-two punch comes from "Second Skin," a complex, beautifully arranged and played reflection on the meaning of music and fandom, and "Up the Down Escalator," an at once harrowing and thrilling antinuclear/mainstream politics slam.” (From AllMusicGuide).

Download : The Chameleons – Script of the Bridge

The Chameleons - What Does Anything Mean? Basically (1985)

“Easily the high point of the Chameleons' fascination with digital delays, pedals, and making the studio an instrument, the band's second album still is seen by many a fan as being just a little too lost in the production to have the same impact as Script of the Bridge did, despite equally excellent songs. The decision must ultimately be the listener's, but in the end the production argument is much more a quibble than a condemnation -- no matter how you look at it, What Does Anything Mean? Basically proved to be that rarity of sophomore albums, something that at once made the band all the more unique in its sound while avoiding a repetition of earlier work. Ironically, the first track, "Silence, Sea and Sky," turned out to be the least Chameleons-like track ever, being only a two-minute synth intro piece played by Mark Burgess and Dave Fielding. But with the gentle intro to the absolutely wonderful "Perfumed Garden," lyrically one of Burgess' best nostalgic pieces, it rapidly becomes clear exactly which band is doing this. The empathetic fire that infused Burgess' words for songs like "Singing Rule Britannia (While the Walls Close In)," a poetic attack on the Thatcher government, finds itself matched as always by brilliant playing all around. John Lever's command of the drums continues to impress, and Fielding and Reg Smithies remain guitarists par excellence; the searing, sky-bound solo on "Return of the Roughnecks" alone is a treasure. The sublime combination of the rushing "Looking Inwardly" and the soaring, blasting rip "One Flesh," leading into a relaxed instrumental coda, anchors the second side, while "P.S. Goodbye" provides a lovely, melancholic conclusion to an astounding record. CD copies include the 1981 "In Shreds"/"Nostalgia" single as bonus tracks.” (From All MusicGuide).

Download : The Chameleons - What Does Anything Mean? Basically

The Chameleons - Strange Times (1986)

"If there was a should-have-been year in the Chameleons' history, 1986 would clearly be it, and Strange Times demonstrates that on every track, practically in every note. Signed to a huge label, with production help from the Dave Allen/Mark Saunders team who worked on the Cure's brilliant series of late-'80s records (here providing a more balanced sound between guitar effects and direct punch than appeared on What), the Chameleons delivered an album that should have been the step to a more above-board existence on radio and beyond. Right from the start, a stunning upward spiral of a guitar riff begins the unnerving character study "Mad Jack," the bandmembers mix their skills, experience, and songwriting ability perfectly and take everything to an even higher level. The first half continues with three more stunners: "Caution," a semi-waltz that moves well, pulls back, and then slams home, "Tears," a crushingly sad, acoustic ode to personal loss, and "Soul in Isolation," combining a huge majestic wallop with Mark Burgess' anguished study of alienation. And just when you think it couldn't get any better -- "Swamp Thing," the definitive Chameleons song, complex, building, tense, epic, perfectly played (John Lever's drumming is simply jaw-dropping, the Reg Smithies/Dave Fielding guitar pairing totally spot on), and with one of Burgess' most poetic, personal lyrics. It just keeps going from there, the second half covering everything from more sweeping tunes ("Time," "In Answer") to bare-bones melancholy ("In Answer," "I'll Remember"). From back to front, Strange Times could never have enough praise." (From AllMusicGuide).

Download : The Chameleons - Strange Times


Droogs - Stone Cold World (1984)

“Los Angeles-based band, The Droogs's greatest success has come in Europe. While their garage band approach has yet to capture an American audience, their recordings have received an enthusiastic response overseas.
Formed in the early-1970s, the Droogs chose a cover of Sonic's "He's Waiting" for their debut single in 1973. Their second single, released five years later, "Set My Love On You", showcased the songwriting of vocalist Ric Albin and his brother and guitarist, Roger Clay. Other original tunes were included on the multi-artist samplers, Saturday Night Pogo, in 1978, and Ahead Of My Time, the following year.
The Droogs experienced a major change with the arrival of former Textones and Dream Syndicate bassist and keyboards player, Dave Provost in the early-1980s. Provost made his presence felt on a four song EP, Heads Examined, in 1983 and their debut full-length album, Stone Cold World, in 1984.” (From AllMusicGuide).

Download : Droogs - Stone Cold World

miercuri, 18 iunie 2008

The Silencers - A Letter From St. Paul (1987)

“The Silencers are a Scottish rock band formed in London in 1986. Their music is characterized by a melodic blend of pop, folk and traditional Celtic influences. Often compared to Scottish bands with a similar sound like Big Country, Del Amitri and The Proclaimers, The Silencers have distinguished themselves with their eclectic sounds, prolific output and continued career. Their first single, "Painted Moon," was a minor international hit and invited critical comparisons to Simple Minds and U2. In 1987 they released their first album A Letter From St. Paul, which included "Painted Moon" and another minor hit, "I See Red." (From Wikipedia).

Download : The Silencers - A Letter From St. Paul

The Verlaines - Bird Dog (1987)

“The literate and dramatic New Zealand guitar-pop band the Verlaines formed in 1981; led by singer/guitarist Graeme Downes, the group's original roster also included guitarist Craig Easton, keyboardist Anita Pillai, bassist Philip Higham and drummer Greg Kerr. Both Easton and Pillai quickly exited, and the Verlaines remained a three-piece for the remainder of the decade;
Crafty New Zealand pop group lead by song craftsman Graham Downes that leaned heavily toward Baroque classicism on this exquisite collection of tales from 1987. Their art was in the subtlety of arrangements, and the group was pivotal in defining the complex simplicity of the Flying Nun sound alongside the Clean and the Chills. The Verlaines were certainly the first of the family in the '80s to embrace truly classical modality in their delicate pop sound, and the result is Bird Dog, as a sophisticated and glorious album of Downes' distinct genius, whose only peers would be Robert Forster and Martin Phillips. Although his craft may be fastidious, the Verlaines have mastery of rendering it effortless on Bird Dog. Later their sound may have become a little more stilted, but for a group so ahead of their time, anything is forgivable, although many fans of this character and eccentricity displayed here may believe the edge was lost in the '90s when they pursued a straighter MOR sound. With Hallelujah All the Way Home and Some Disenchanted Evening on either side of this release, it is difficult to think of another group who made three albums of this quality in five years.” (From AllMusicGuide).

Download : The Verlaines - Bird Dog

Verlaines - Bird Dog

marți, 17 iunie 2008

The Abecedarians - AB-CD (1988)

The Abecedarians were a three piece out of Newport Beach, California, consisting of Chris Manecke on vocals, guitar, keyboards, flute, and drum machine; Kevin Dolan on drums; and John Blake on bass. They took their name from an obscure anabaptist sect, quoth Wikipedia:
"Abecedarians were a 16th century German sect of Anabaptists who affected an absolute disdain for all human knowledge, contending that God would enlighten his elect from within themselves, giving them knowledge of necessary truths by visions and ecstasies, with which human learning would interfere. They rejected every other means of instruction, and claimed that to be saved one must even be ignorant of the first letters of the alphabet; whence their name, A-B-C-darians. They also considered the study of theology as a species of idolatry, and regarded learned men who did any preaching as falsifiers of God's word."
The Ab's were together from 1983 to 88, and to this day are still a bit of a mystery. Information about them online is scarce and pictures of the band are even harder to come by. The Abecedarians sound is characterized by lead-man Manecke's deep, rich and distinctive vocal delivery and idiosyncratic lyrics; along with guitarwork that swims in a gravy-like sea of reverb. the rhythm section is a sturdy, restrained anchor for the atmospherics their songs swim in, with the occassional synth part thrown into the mix for good measure. The band would alternate between more upbeat, poppy, synth-driven post-punk and slower, sludgier, and decidedly stranger dirgelike material.

Download : The Abecedarians - AB-CD

The Blow Pops - Charmed, I'm Sure (1993)

“Milwaukee quartet the Blow Pops were one of the great indie power pop bands of the early '90s, but they broke up after only two albums, too soon to really benefit from the Internet-spawned growth of the underground power pop scene that started around 1995. Although they can be difficult to locate due to their limited distribution, the Blow Pops' two albums are revered by many fans of the style.
One of the key albums of the early days of the '90s power pop renaissance, the Blow Pops' 1993 debut is one of those rare contemporary power pop records that both salutes its '60s and '70s influences and delivers the songs with a crisp freshness that makes it sound like more than another attempt to be the next Raspberries. Plasticland's John Frankovic produced the album with little of the over-the-top mannerisms of his own band (though he does sneak a little lysergic glitter onto a few tracks), keeping the songs front and center. Those songs, by either Mike Jarvis or Tim Buckley, are uniformly sparkling, with catchy guitar riffs, singalong choruses, and the sort of clever arrangements that reveal new facets on repeated listens. The opening "Wake up Mary" is the most immediately catchy tune, but the album's real highlight is the closing "Under the Big Top," a knowing nod to the age of "A Quick One While He's Away" and "Excerpt From a Teenage Opera." The Blow Pops connect four songs into a perfect little miniature rock opera, with sound effects and clever links and interludes. It's a commendable bit of experimentation and easily the most fun tune on the whole album. Charmed, I'm Sure (the title is a wink at Charms candy, makers of the bubblegum-filled lollipops known as Blow Pops) can be difficult to find, but it's well worth the search.” (From AllMusicGuide).

Download : The Blow Pops - Charmed, I'm Sure

The Young Fresh Fellows - The Men Who Loved Music (1987)

“If the Young Fresh Fellows had been paid a quarter every time they were compared to the Replacements (which happened even before Paul Westerberg began name-checking them as one of his favorite bands), they probably could have bought a beer for everyone who owned The Fabulous Sounds of the Pacific Northwest. But while the Replacements loved sloppy hard rock and liked to play dumb (or at least dumber than they really were), the Fellows' tastes ran more towards revved-up pop, and their sense of humor struck a near-perfect balance between clever and goofiness. The Men Who Loved Music is one of the band's finest albums, and certainly their most purely enjoyable; by the time the Fellows made their third album, they'd grown enough as musicians to sound tight and versatile without getting self-conscious about it, and their record-making skills had grown by leaps and bounds over their debut. And while nearly every song on The Men Who Loved Music is centered around some kind of joke, the jokes are actually funny (and bear repeated listening) -- there's no getting to the bottom of the cathode ray nightmare of "TV Dream," the clueless nerds of "When the Girls Get Here" are charming in their social ineptitude ("when the girls get here/we'll talk about integrated circuits and things/to show 'em how smart we are!"), "Amy Grant" has the good sense to play for absurdity more than nastiness (even as Grant receives career advise from God and indulges in dirty thoughts about Barry White), and "Hank, Karen, and Elvis" says more about America's obsession with celebrity than most serious songs on the subject. Best of all, take the laughs away from The Men Who Loved Music and you've still got a great record; the wah-wah fueled "Amy Grant" really does cut the funk, "Get Outta My Cave" boats credible hard rock crunch, the rollicking "Unimaginable Zero Summer" beautifully merges tightness and slop (with NRBQ's Terry Adams adding appropriate piano), and "Where the Hell Did They Go?" rocks with palpable joy, despite it's sad subject matter. A gem of an album.” (From AllMusicGuide).

Download : The Young Fresh Fellows - The Men Who Loved Music

luni, 16 iunie 2008

Trip Shakespeare - Across the Universe (1990)

Harvard student Matt Wilson found percussionist Elaine Harris (a Harvard grad herself) after placing an ad for someone with "wicked percussion hands". Matt dropped out of Harvard and returned home to Minneapolis to establish Trip Shakespeare along with John Munson, a Chinese-Language major at the University of Minnesota.
Only a trio at the release of their first album Applehead Man in 1986 (Re-released in 1988), the band expanded to include another Harvard student: Matt's elder brother Dan Wilson.
Trip Shakespeare's music is defined by three part harmonies, catchy guitar hooks and intelligent lyrics.
Across the Universe is a too-rare example of an indie act benefiting musically from major-label treatment. With Fred Maher co-producing, the quartet tightens its sound while maintaining its identity. A new version of "Pearle," originally recorded on Applehead Man, demonstrates how much Trip has grown; the playing is more confident and interactive than ever, with an increased rock edge that doesn't detract from the gentle charm of "Turtledove," "Gone, Gone, Gone," "Snow Days" (sung by bassist John Munson) and "The Crane." "The Crane" was also featured on an EP released prior to Across the Universe, along with three dandy live versions of older Trip tunes.

Download : Trip Shakespeare - Across the Universe

The Records - Crashes (1980)

“Although many pop fans consider the Records' debut album, Shades in Bed (aka "The Records" in the U.S.), as their best album, it is this album, their sophomore release, that is the ultimate introduction into the band's world of delicious melodies, great lyrics, and perfect harmonies. Commonly referred to as a power pop band, the Records were always so much more than a band of their time: they were a distillation of what came before, what was happening at the time, and where guitar-based bands were headed. With drummer Will Birch providing the lyrics and guitarist/vocalist John Wicks providing the music, the Records had one of the finest songwriting teams of their era, and were certainly equals to Squeeze's Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook (although with a much lower profile). On Crashes, Huw Gower and his over-powering guitar riffing were replaced by the less abrasive strumming of Barry Martin (uncredited) and Jude Cole, who took over a good share of the vocals alongside Wicks. Cole's vocals added a sweet depth and beauty to the songs, and both his and Wicks' vocals blended together to create a perfect Lennon/McCartneyesque harmony that carried the songs to a new level. "Hearts In Her Eyes," the track that Wicks and Birch had written for the Searchers, sounded more intimate in the Records' hands (although the band prefers the Searchers' version over their own!). "Rumour Sets the Woods Alight," which deals with the mysterious death of former Stone Brian Jones, is dark but uplifting pop at its finest. "Hearts Will Be Broken," one of the finest songs on the album, should have been as big as "Starry Eyes," but wasn't. "The Same Mistakes," "Girl in Golden Disc" and "The Worriers" shine with smart lyrics and great melodies. "Spent a Week with You Last Night" could have fit easily on the Beatles' Revolver album. In all, the original release was nearly flawless, although Craig Leon's production left the album sounding flat where the debut seemed to levitate off of the turntable.” (From AllMusicGuide).

Download : The Records - Crashes

Diesel Park West - Shakespeare Alabama (1989)

“The British pop band Diesel Park West was formed in Leicester, England in 1987 by singer/guitarist John Butler, guitarists Rick Willson and Rich Barton, bassist Geoff Beavan and drummer Dave Anderson.
One of the '80s most striking debuts, the first album from this Leicester, England, quintet is filled with soaring guitar epics, complemented by the powerful vocals and provocative lyrics of frontman John Butler and expertly produced by Chris Kimsey. Heavily influenced by the same jangly folk-rock (Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, etc.) that helped fuel R.E.M. and other alternative darlings, Butler and his bandmates opted for clarity instead of navel-gazing, creating anthemic tunes like "All the Myths on Sunday" and "Bell of Hope," which sounded like instant classics and considered appropriately big topics like religion and history. But the band may have been, as its label claimed, "years ahead of its time" -- while Diesel Park West followed its debut 45 "When the Hoodoo Comes" with several more singles, including the rocking "Like Princes Do" and "Jackie's Still Sad," the group struggled to find an audience, and also failed to repeat the magic of Shakespeare Alabama on subsequent albums. But this outing, now out of print, has become a sought-after item among fans who recognized greatness when they heard it.” (From AllMusicGuide).

Download : Diesel Park West - Shakespeare Alabama

Diesel Park West - All the Myths on Sunday

A Drop in the Gray - Certain Sculptures (1985)

This California-based Scottish-American trio, A Drop In The Gray, were an 80s new wave/rock band. Certain Sculptures was released in 1985 and is one of the best albums of this style that came out in the 80s. New wave/rock bands of that era had a certain formula; guitars and synths and melodic tunes. Certain Sculptures is a must have album and just goes to show how much good stuff came out in the 80s but left unnoticed and neglected.

Download : A Drop in the Gray - Certain Sculptures

duminică, 15 iunie 2008

The Prisoners - A Taste of Pink! (1982)

The Prisoners were a mod revival/1960s garage band formed in 1982 in Chatham, Kent, England. They were a regular live fixture on the London "psychedelic revival" mini-scene of the early 1980s, and often toured with sparring partners The Milkshakes who included Billy Childish on guitar. The Prisoners' sound combined catchy, retro flavoured melodies, punky guitar riffs, a Steve Marriott-esque vocal style and a lead instrument of the then-unfashionable Hammond organ. The Prisoners never met with much commercial success during their original lifespan but have latterly been likened to Paul Weller and The Charlatans. Indeed Tim Burgess of the Charlatans has cited the Prisoners as a major influence.
The band's lineup was: Graham Day (vocals and guitar), Jamie/James Taylor (hammond organ), Allan Crockford (bass) and Johnny Symons (drums). (From Wikipedia).

Download : The Prisoners - A Taste of Pink!