Power Pop

New single: Stephen’s Ruin || Runaround

International poprock hunters Big Stir Records have uncovered another gem for their single series. Stephen’s Ruin are five lads in their early twenties from Düsseldorf (Germany) who clearly are inspired by all the good stuff from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s. With a mix of beatmusic, classic powerpop and rock-n-roll, and some sweet vocal harmonies for good measure, Stephen’s Ruin approach pop perfection on this single. Runaround  is the kind of song I could play all day. It’s energetic, full of hooks and melody, and the final 30 seconds give me butterflies. Tonight is a bit more mellow in comparison, but a worthy flipside nonetheless. If you like The Reflectors single I wrote about yesterday, I guarantee you will like this as well.

Oh and you know what’s crazy? This is the second coming of Stephen’s Ruin. For a short period in the ’80s Stephen’s Ruin created a fun blend of beat, psych and mod/punk. 30 years later two sons of original band member Stephen Leech decided to breathe new life in the band, together with three friends.



Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: The Reflectors || All Made Up

The Reflectors’ debut album made it to #7 in my Album top 50 of 2020. You bet I get excited when I discover a new record is coming. So excited in fact, that I almost forgot to write about All Made Up, which is the first single from that new record. All Made Up is a classic ’80s powerpop single with infectious palm muted guitars and a catchy vocal melody that seems directly taken from Bruce’s Dancing In the Dark. The B-side to the single, Every Time I, won’t be on the new album, but shows the punchier side of the Reflectors and could just as well have been on the A-side as well. If these two songs are any indication, the new Reflectors record will be pretty pretty good. The album title is Faster Action and the release date is as of yet TBA.  Cant wait!



Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Time For Action Records

New EP: Los Traiciones || Express

Please meet Los Traiciones, a cool looking four-piece from Buenos Aires (Argentina) that plays energetic power pop which will appeal to fans of Black Lips, Bee Bee Sea, The Parrots, etc. They have now released the (digital) EP Express, with three guitar-driven hits with a lot of who-oh’s that you can sing along to right away, even if you don’t speak the language. What a great discovery!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Teenage X || The Point Of Everything

If I had to do an one word review of the new self-titled EP by Canadian powerpop band Teenage X it would be HOOKS! Or HITS! Teenage X create the kind of massively catchy and well produced punk infused powerpop songs that would have been radio hits in a different era. It’s a glorious return by the Toronto band who’s been together for almost 14 years, but hasn’t released new music since 2013. In fact, according to the band’s Facebook page, they started recording this EP in 2019 and finished it right at the start of the pandemic. Anyhow, The Point Of Everything was worth the wait. Let’s hope, it’s a sign of more to come.



Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Dany Laj And The Looks || Ten Easy Pieces

It’s the NHL playoffs and when I noticed Dany Laj rooting for the Habs aka the Montreal Canadiens, I had this voice in my head saying “I am definitely not writing about this dude’s new record.” You see, I support the historical rivals of the Habs, and am basically programmed to hate anything Habs related. But then I actually listened to Laj’s new record, and suddenly that sports rivalry felt kinda petty and trivial.

Ten Easy Pieces, out now on We Are Busy Bodies, is Laj’s third record with The Looks and his very best yet. It’s a well chosen title, because the music is an highly accessible mix of different forms of upbeat pop, including powerpop, ’60s, Paisley Underground and even some country influences. Ten Easy Pieces is a sympathetic and carefree record full of hook filled and punchy sunshine pop that evoke images of some of the best music of the sixties, seventies, eighties. The videos provide some old school entertainment as well – watch You & Me, and one of my favorite tracks on the record; Don’t Keep Me Guessin’.

So congrats Dany Laj on a great record. And on the Habs making it to the Semi-Finals whereas my team got beat by the freakin’ Islanders. Okay, gonna watch this video of the Bruins beating the Habs in Game 7 overtime on repeat now.



Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: Freedom || Freedom

There’s no shortage of hard-to-google bands on this blog, but we have a new leader on the board that will be hard to beat. The name of the band? Freedom. The title of the new record? Freedom. So yeah, my information about the release is limited to this: Freedom are from Stockholm and this is their first LP. It’s currently digital only, but will be available on LP this summer; order directly through the band on Bandcamp or contact them at their Facebook page.

The music is pretty great though. Freedom plays blue collar music with soulful vocals – it’s hard not to think about Bruce Springsteen when listening to this record. Fans of Gaslight anthem and particularly Nato Coles And The Blue Diamond Band will go wild for the band’s sound. While Freedom opts for a slightly more authentic rock sound relative to those bands, they play their songs at sufficient pace to also draw in fans of punk, garage and powerpop. All in all, for an impossible to google band, Freedom are an awesome find.



Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Treetops || Rev It Up!

If you listen closely, you’ll hear a motor getting started in the opening seconds of the new Treetops album Rev It Up! The Florida band keeps that motor running throughout album opener Easy Street. It’s a fun pubrock’n’roll hit straight from the garage, and one of my favorites on the record. Hangin’ On is another fun old time rnr song, but The Treetops play a mixture of styles on Rev It Up!

The Treetops clearly are a band that in addition to rock-‘n’- roll, also love soul & disco (Something In The Air), blues, and boogie woogie. I think the lo-fi sound fits the band well, but ultimately, these songs likely are experienced even better in raucous live performances.


Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: The Cudas || Alien Vacation

South African songwriter / multi-instrumentalist Reinhard Leon van Biljon thinks that The Cudas is a cooler name to put on an album cover than Reinhard van Biljon. Given the music he makes, power pop with fuzzy power chords, new wave synths and tambourine shaking, I agree this is a wise choice. Anyway, he single-handedly wrote, performed, produced and mixed his new (digital) EP Alien Vacation, about “the places we can go // beyond what we could know”. These are four fun summer songs that also non-aliens will dance to at upcoming beach parties. For fans of Tommy and The Rockets, Weezer, Kurt Baker.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Randells || Kicks

After about 30 seconds of album opener and title track Kicks, the Randells sing “All I want // All I need // Is some bubblegum punk.” It’s a call to action, because the Swedish band is here to bring exactly that. Sure, the cartoonesque and pretty cool album cover of a kick-ass girl with bubblegum under her Chuck Taylors is not necessarily original. The same applies to the music, but I have no issue with at all when the songs are this catchy and fun. The Randells are like the adolescent love child of Teenage Bottlerocket and The Yum Yums who causes an earworm pandemic. If I had to do an one word review of this record, it would be HITS! Out now on Monster Zero Records.




Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Monster Zero

New album: Brad Marino || Looking For Trouble

It’s here at last, Looking For Trouble aka the new Brad Marino record. And let’s be honest, if you’ve ever heard his music, you kind of know what to expect right? Brad Marino is in the major league of powerpop, and I suspect that  at this point in his career, he doesn’t even have to try to write a more than decent record. It’s evident from album opener Even The Score however that Marino did in fact try.  A lot actually. Even The Score opens a time portal to early seventies Stones – one of his biggest infuences, Marino explained earlier on our blog. It’s also Marino’s first attempt at adding some slide guitar to his songs, which I think works extremely well.

Even The Score is followed by Taillights Fade, a tune I am fairly certain will get people dancing at shows, or at the very least having a blast. Local Show is another one to put a smile on my face (“It’s a local show || Which means nobody will go”). It even has a Leader Of The Pack like monologue (“Hey man, can you get me on the guest list?”) – the video is a cameo fest. I could go on, singling out tracks, but it’s basically hit upon hit. Marino draws influences from rock-‘n’-roll history, and these songs sound instantly familiar. There are nods to classic rock, Phil Spector (the new version of False Alarm), Beach Boys (Take Your Time), girl group (Fell In Love Again) and pop punk (Something For Nothing and What Do You Know).

Overall, Looking For Trouble is a celebration of rock-‘n’-roll history that should skip the wantlist and go straight to the collection. By the LP at Spaghetty Town (USA), Ghost Highway (Spain), or Beluga Records (Sweden). Rum Bar Records has the CD.



Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Spaghetty Town || Beluga Records || Rum Bar Records

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