Power Pop

New album: The Needs || Special Needs

True story: In a special plot to make it near impossible for music bloggers to find any information on their already impossible to google band name, The Needs decided to title their new record Special Needs. Thanx guys.

Fortunately, their bandcamp page has some intel*. The Needs were started by two influential musicians from Norway: country star Bendik Brænne, and Maciek Ofstad of melodic metal outfit Kvelertak. The needs sound neither country nor metal. Rather, the band plays modern powerpop not unlike Fountains of Wayne in their most upbeat and uptempo version. The music of The Needs sounds polished, but they do not overdo it. Rather, the band strikes just the right balance between radio friendly powerpop, and faster and louder songs where the band will please fans of old school pop punk.

The latter category made me fall for Special Needs, with songs like Funny How, If I Could Only and Still Spinning as primary examples. But admittedly, the more radio friendly stuff is excellent as well. The Needs may not know how to name their band and records, but they’ve got hooks and strong melodies in abundance.

* Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find the new record on Bandcamp or Soundcloud.
Add to wantlist: Discogs

New single: Radio Days || Psychotic Radio

Last month, Italian power pop heroes Radio Days released their 7″ single Walk Alone, with a track taken from their 2021 album Rave On! on side A, and the new song Stuck Inside My Mind (Lose Control) and a cover of David Bowie’s Suffragette City on side B. Only a few weeks later here’s Psychotic Radio, with a sympathetic power pop cover of their friends of Psychotic Youth’s Mercy on the A side, and on the B side 1998, a perfect classic pop song with a summery feel, about lasting memories. Now the radio stations have to discover it too…

Psychotic Radio is out now digitally through Ammonia Records, and releases November 26 on 7″ vinyl through Snap!! Records Spain.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

PS To round out the story: Psychotic Youth released a single with the same title on the same day, covering Radio Days’ Tomorrow and also performing a new original song.

New album: The Feeders || Kerchoo

Here is a new release that brings me an equal amount of excitement and melancholy. Kerchoo is the debut full-length of The Feeders, featuring Chicago scene veterans Sam Vicari, Eli Caterer (Smoking Popes) and John Perrin (NRBQ). The sense of melancholy hit me immediately. It’s hard not to think of the late Kim Shattuck while listening to Kerchoo. But that sense of melancholy quickly makes room for excitement, because Kerchoo is so much more than a throwback to the Muffs. The altpop of the Feeders is catchy and punchy, a bit like Superchunk channeling Teenage Fanclub, or Superchunk playing good Weezer songs.

Shoutout to music writers who’ve already submitted their AOTY lists. You are missing out on this one. Quite the year for Eccentric Pop, who brought us the new Dan Vapid And The Cheats this week, and earlier this year that awesome Evening Shadows record.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Eccentric Pop

New album: Dan Vapid And The Cheats || Escape Velocity

Singer, songwriter and guitarist Dan Vapid probably needs no introduction, having played in pop punk hall of famers Screeching Weasel, The Riverdales, The Methadones, The Mopes, and The Queers. His latest release is his fourth with The Cheats. It’s called Escape Velocity and is a mighty fine collection of mid-paced catchy pop punk tunes. Dan Vapid and The Cheats sound silky smooth on the record, effortlessly churning out hooks and ear worm melodies. A song like Burning Questions is an immediate addition to the pop punk canon.

Espace Velocity had a tough delivery, with the band deciding to stop recording due to the pandemic, only to resume 18 months later safely vaccinated. The band then had to face another setback: vinyl plants that can’t keep up with demand. That’s why for now you can only stream the record online, or buy it on cd. The vinyl release will arrive sometime between spring and summer in 2022.

You’ve got to feel for the band, but Escape Velocity is the kind of rewarding record you willingly add to your wantlist, patiently waiting for its arrival in your collection.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Eccentric Pop

New album: Crabber || Who Let The Ducks Out?

Jigsaw Records is absolutely spot on by describing their latest release as a dead ringer for Washington DC’s Dot Dash with a touch of Comet Gain. Like Dot Dash, the music of Crabber (Hamburg, Germany) is influenced by a lot of the good elements of ’80s music. Call it janglepunk or reverb- and guitar heavy powerpop, Crabber sounds punchy and melodic. Timeless tunes destined to be overlooked of course, because this kind of music is unlikely to be regarded as hip or fashionable. Let’s hear it for bands that don’t care and write music like this regardless of current trends.
Oh, and don’t be fooled by the title, Crabber are no jokesters. This seriously is good music.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Chime School || Chime School

Believe it or not, but at some point this year I had the guts to complain about the lack of good indie pop records in 2021. Fast forward 7 or 8 months, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The amount of must-own modern jangle and twee classics released this year has become mind boggling – click on our jangle pop tag to discover all the Massage’s, Quivers, Telephone Numbers, Umbrellas etc who made this such a great year for the criminally underrated good kind of pop music.

Even late in the year, the modern classics keep coming in, with Chime School as the latest addition. Straight from the Bay Area to our Hearts, Chime School is the brainchild of Andy Pastalaniec (Cruel Summer, Seablite, Pink Films / Odd Hope).

The jangle pop on the self-titled debut LP by Chime School sounds instantly familiar and ready to be gobbled up by fans of ’80s indie pop and twee. But I expect the classic underground pop feel and the upbeat tunes likely will appeal to fans of power pop and college rock as well.

For me, Chime School is the kind of act that evokes a sense of gratitude, the kind of band that makes me want to share their music with any willing ear I cross paths with. Honest question: in recent history, has there been a better year for jangle pop than 2021? Chime School is out now on Slumberland Records. It is a no brainer, buy it.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Slumberland

New EP: Las Infrarrojas || Las Infrarrojas & Indy Tumbita

Whenever Spanish labels Hurrah! Música and Family Spree Recordings have new music out, they have my full attention. Their latest release is a joint one and might be my favorite release of theirs this year: Las Infrarrojas & Indy Tumbita. It is the latest single of Las Infrarrojas, an awesome foursome from Spain, and I can’t believe how I missed their first two 7″s.*

The sunshine pop of Las Infrarrojas is informed by many influences, from ’60s girl group and rock’n’roll to surf and psych. Here is a band that knows how to write timeless melodies. Their songs ooze major summer vibes, quickly washing any autumn dread away.

I’m not going to put a spotlight on any individual tracks, because this is a quadruple A-side single that I need to have in my collection ASAP.

* Fun Fact: all three Las Infrarrojas singles have an A-side with songs sung in English, and a B-side sung in Spanish.

Add to Wantlist: Bandcamp || Family Spree Recordings

New album: The Be Positives || Everything About…

Manchester’s four-piece The Be Positives blend rock, blues, folk, and country influences into a sound that bands like 22-20s, Little Barrie, and The Zutons made about 15 years ago, but with a dash of 70’s Big Star added. Let’s file their sophomore full-length Everything About… under the power pop category. That album title is somewhat overpromising, because the lyrics don’t teach us much about the band (from Rain & Stormy Weather: “Well If it wasn’t such a simple question // Then I would have given it a little thought // And if I’d given her a different answer // Then yes I think it would have come to nought”). What we do know: Mike Seal (guitar, keyboards), Simon Mayne (guitar), Rob Hatton (bass), Callum Darley (drums, percussion) can all sing, and they know how to write varied, melodic songs. These are 11 tests of prowess, ranging from energetic rockers to acoustic ballads. Standout tracks are the garage fueled Please Please Please (“You got me feeling like I am a disease // Yeah you got me going”), and the catchy pub rocker Goodbye (“No I have never been the type // To get help for myself // I just pretend the problem’s someone else’s”). Stream the full album below.

Everything About​… is out now digitally and on CD through Think Like A Key Music; a vinyl LP is available early 2022.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Fortitude Valley || Fortitude Valley

I’d like to introduce you to Durham’s (UK) answer to Auckland’s (NZ) The Beths: Fortitude Valley! Their self-titled debut provides the ear candy that can only be the result of hitting the sweet spot between indie pop, powerpop and pop punk.

Fortitude Valley is fronted by Laura Kovic, who you may know as the keyboardist of Tigercat. She found her bandmates through the much missed Fortuna Pop! label. Those bandmates? Bassist Greg Ullyart from Night Flowers, Nathan Stephens Griffin (drums) and Daniel Ellis (lead guitar). Ellis also plays in Martha, which is probably my favorite UK pop punk band of the past decade. I love how several of the chord progressions and guitar fills on the record are reminiscent of that band, most notably on the sweet album opener Baby, I’m Afraid.

While decidedly pop-oriented, the music of Fortitude Valley is quite the departure from Kovic’s previous output. “In the past I’ve usually written more gentle melodic pop songs,” she explains in the press release, “but I’ve tried to move away from that slightly on this album and experiment with adding more deliberate bite to my songwriting. Nathan, Daniel and Greg definitely helped to make it more punk.”

The record is timely as well, touching on themes like the passage of time, friendships and relationships growing apart, and feelings of insecurity, depression, and anxiety—as well as searching for love and salvation—, and maintaining to sound joyful and fun throughout. Having two kittens from rescued street cats at home, I can particularly relate to All Haill The Great Destroyer, “a tribute to Margie the rescue cat who destroys everything for fun and is an absolute legend.”

So yeah, what I’m trying to say is that I completely fell for the ear candy of Fortitude Valley. Disclaimer: SO MANY HITS!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Fika Recordings

New album: Mythical Motors || A Rare Look Ahead

When Robert Pollard looks in his rearview mirror it’s likely he will see Mythical Motors. Mythical Motors is a four-piece from Chattanooga, Tennessee and their latest release A Rare Look Ahead is the band’s 15th (!) album. The prolific songwriting and album releasing is not the only link between Mythical Motors and Guided By Voices. A chance encounter between Matt Addison and Brad Smith at the very first Robert Pollard solo show in 2006 led to the start of Mythical Motors. Mike Brown joined on bass soon after, and it took some line up changes before the band settled on Johnny Wingo as 2nd guitarist. Sonically, the gbv-fi is strong as well. A Rare Look Ahead has twenty (!) songs, and the indie rock of Mythical Motors is straightforward, up tempo and lo-fi.

And yet, in spite of all these similarities, it would be selling the band short to project them as mere copycats of GBV. In fact, the songs on A Rare Look Ahead harbor many influences, including The Clean, Wire, R.E.M, Superchunk, and the C-86 scene. The songs are short, and filled with hooks and poppy melodies. That pop sensibility has a strong ’80s vibe. Underground pop that is. Overall, the songs display more vulnerability than the typical GBV record.

If you are like me, by the end of the record you will be siked to take another trip alongside Mythical Motors. And yeah, I know, way too much motor vehicle references in this post. Sorry…But really, give this one a spin.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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