Power Pop

New EP: Neil Jung || Infinity is Whatever

Brooklyn based four-piece Neil Jung were all ready to go early 2020 with their first shows played and their debut EP recorded and set for release. Then that kinda big thing happened and Neil Jung opted for the let’s postpone and wait-it-out approach. Now, in 2023, the band has found a steady heartbeat again, ready to take on whatever the world throws at them. That starts with the release (finally!) of Infinity is Whatever, an EP that is simply to good to leave on the shelf. Of the six songs, I like the middle two the most. Washing Machine and Washer both sound like power pop songs through the ears of kids who grew up on indie rock.

Neil Jung are back before they even started. Let’s see where they will take us next. Buy the Infinity Is Whatever Tape at the band’s Bandcamp page.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Cinema Hearts || I Want You

“Your heart rate is higher than usual.” My sports watch sounds worried. Me? Not so much, because I have a plausible explanation: I’ve been listening repeatedly to Cinema Hearts’ new EP I Want You.

Cinema Hearts is Caroline Weinroth, and she loves ’60s Girl Group Pop as much as ’80s DC Punk. That simple factoid alone sends my heart racing in excitement. Then I pressed play and the I Want You EP sonically has next to little in common with Minor Threat, Teen Idles, Fugazi and Rites of Spring. If there is any noticable influence, it’s the passion simmering underneath the songs. Weinroth sings like she means it, with a level of conviction and attitude that juxtaposes nicely with the polish shine of her music. Touching upon themes of independence and female empowerment (“I want you, but I don’t need you”), The I Want You EP is extremely poppy and like The Pipettes in the mid ’00s, Cinema Hearts provide an faithful yet fresh update of the ’60s Girl Group experience. I can see fans of Best Coast and Alvvays going crazy for this EP as well.

I Want You will be out eventually on vinyl (currently estimated to arrive late 2024) on Burnished Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Big School || Don’t Cry I’ll Be Right Back

By now, the list of bands and labels I follow on Bandcamp is so huge, I frequently get surprised by a notification mail of a new release by a band I totally forgot about. Take Big School out of Welland (Canada). They released one of the catchiest records of 2018 with It’s Really Real. Five years later, Big School return with Don’t Cry I’ll Be Right Back. And boy, this band seems incapable of writing a song that doesn’t provide an instant sugar rush.

Compared to their previous output, Big School sound bigger and more polished than before, almost like they don’t care anymore if they are considered as a power pop, a pop punk, an alt pop, a garage or an arena rock band. Put Big School in a small local venue or in a hockey arena, and they will fill the room and reach the back of the room no matter what.

Don’t Cry I’ll Be Right Back is a sticky sweet confectionary masquerading as power pop punk. Think of it as Def Leppard, The Lemonheads, Jacuzzi Boys and All-American Rejects in one convenient bubblegum wrapped package. Needless to say, I’m lovin’ this record.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: The Uppers || Manic Melodies

Wanda Records is one of those label on a mission to keep the spirit of ’77 punk and power pop alive. They are succesful at doing exactly that, just take a quick look at their roster, or just press play on their latest release. It is a 4-song EP by The Uppers (Missouri) that follows their sold out debut EP on on Boulevard Trash and No Front Teeth.

Stimulation is quite the EP opener. The bam-bam bam-bam-bam drums and guitars set the tone for a high octane powerpop’n’roll fest. It is followed by the glammy and bratty Madam Please, and the insanely catchy pop punk hit Don’t Start. That chorus! The Uppers close the EP with Slide, which sounds like a lost anthem from the late ’70s UK punk scene.

If your battery needs charging, try playing the Manic Melodies EP and you are good to go. It is out now through Wanda, Boulevard Trash and Spaghetty Town Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Datenight (US) || Clueless And Hangless

Datenight (US) released Mother’s Day right around the start of Summer. It was a messy lo-fi ball of excitement kinda record. The end of Summer officially is still a week away, but would you look at that, Datenight (US) have just released another one! Clueless And Hangless sees the Nashville band continue the trajectory of Mother’s Day of becoming less frantic and loud as their earlier work. There still is plenty of nervous energy though, and the lo-fi recordings have a demo like feel to them. Who knows, perhaps these are actual demo’s or stuff the band had lying around from previous recording sessions. It’s hard to tell with a band like Datenight (US). It’s not like they provide any information alongside the release.

At the same time, the underproduced quality of the songs has always been part of the appeal of the band. On Clueless And Hangless, Datenight (US) bounce around between punk, garage slacker rock, indie rock and powerpop. It’s a fuzzy unhinged mix that is packed with poppy hooks.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Bark || Loud

Singing bassist Tim Lee and singing drummer Susan Bauer Lee are not only a married couple, but they also make up rock ‘n’ roll duo Bark. The veterans of the American DIY indie rock scene, now based in Water Valley, Mississippi, borrow elements from garage rock and power pop (and heartland rock and British invasion pop), but we can’t really label their music as such. On their new album Loud – that title was only a matter of time – you’ll hear ten uplifting and catchy songs full of cheerful melodies and catchy harmony choruses. Tunes that are original but sound familiar upon first listen, easy to fall in love with.

Loud is out now digitally and on vinyl LP through Dial Back Sound / Cool Dog Sound. Also featuring Matt Patton (backup vocals, bass), Bronson Tew (guitar), Jay Gonzales (keys), Schaefer Llana (backup vocals) and Jimbo Mathus (organ, tambourine).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: Friends Of Cesar Romero & The Manxx || Friends Of Cesar Romero & The Manxx

The mutual appreciation between Friends Of Cesar Romero and record label Snappy Little Numbers makes total sense, doesn’t it? I mean, is there a better way to describe the concise power pop songs of J. Waylon Porcupine than snappy little numbers? The latest FOCR release is another welcome addition to the impressive catalog of FOCR and SLN. On the single, FOCR is matched with Denver three-piece The Manxx. Each of the bands contribute a song, and they team up to do a raucous cover of Feel Real Good by The Drags. FOCR’s You Lied is an eighty second garage power pop banger built on a proto-garage rock riff and organ. Super catchy of course. That also applies to You’re Losing Me by The Manxx with its surfy guitar licks and talksinging that is full of bite.

Buy now (name-your-price-download) at Snappy Little Numbers.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: The Underbites || Four Songs About Girls

NYC quartet The Underbites released their debut LP Sort It Out in 2022. The follow-up EP is called Four Songs About Girls and features four songs…well you get the picture. The EP contains eleven minutes of ’70s powerpop’n’roll and ’90s poppy punkrock (RIYL Swingin’ Utters) – Three originals, one Little Richard cover (The Girl Can’t Help It). Unpretentious yet convincing, The Underbites are here to provide a good old time.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Smug Brothers || In the Book of Bad Ideas

What percentage of bands release more than a handful of records? Bands that release over 15 have to be a small minority. Smug Brothers are in that group, making it all the more surprising that their latest may very well be the band’s best record yet. Disclaimer: I haven’t listen to everything Smug Brothers put out through the years, but this one really strikes a chord. Perhaps it’s because it’s front loaded with 89 Lullabye and Stiff Arm At The Still Water, two songs that make my power pop heart beat faster. It’s not the only time Smug Brothers display their power pop side. Let Me Know When It’s Yes is not just a perfect title for a power pop song, Smug Brothers absolutely created a modern classic that should be added to the power pop canon. Think Big Star meets Gentleman Jesse and The Whiffs. As a whole, In the Book of Bad Ideas is a tasteful and diverse indie rock record that gets better with each play.

Given the much to low amount of listeners on Spotify, I am inclined to call Smug Brothers a criminally underrated band. But I guess I have been guilty of the underestimating as well. My bad! But honestly, if there is a better record in the band’s discography than In the Book of Bad Ideas, we are all better for it!

In the Book of Bad Ideas
is out now on LP at Anyway Records.
Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: The Suttles || Third Stroke

The Suttles are a Parisian band who wish they were around in the late ’70s supporting the likes the Jam, the Undertones, The Beat and Joe Jackson. Formed in 2020, Third Stroke is the third LP of The Suttles. It’s due for release September 22 on Topsy Turvy Records, but it’s already available on Bandcamp – not sure whether this is intentional or someone pressed the public instead of the private function. No complaints on our part, Third Stroke is another fine release by the band, a record that sits nicely next to recent LPs by Les Lullies and Cyanide Pills. Let’s say that seventies power pop, mod and pop punk are in trusted hands with Max, Julian and Fred. The nine originals (sung alternately in English and French, and even one in Spanish) are supplemented with a cover of Fairchild’s 1971 bubblegum powerpop gem I’d Like To Make You Mine.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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