Power Pop

New album: Fuzzy Vox || Program & Control

Did you know the mysterious story of three young boys that enter an empty 80’s arcade room filled with flickering neons, in order to play an old arcade game called Program & Control? That’s what the third album by French power pop / garage rock band Fuzzy Vox is all about. Then you’ll understand why computer sounds have been added to the guitars and drums and how to interpret lyrics like “Suddenly I’ve found my treasure” (Charm) and “A drunk guy took my ankles somehow” (Mario Kart). Nice approach, and the music is also quite entertaining, not a bad soundtrack for a night out at the game hall.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: The Shang Hi Los || “Kick It Like A Wicked Bad Habit”

Boston based rock n roll band The Shang Hi Los plays music that could be from one of the many great compilations with 60’s nuggets, only sounding better. It’s all there in their catchy 3-minute sing-along songs: a combination of two good voices, doo-wop harmonies, cheerful guitar riffs and a boosting drumbeat. The only cover – Chicago’s Saturday In The Park – is the weakest track on this EP, that says enough. “Kick It Like A Wicked Bad Habit” is out now digitally and on CD through Rum Bar Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Airport 77s || Rotation

Although they occasionally dress as such, the Airport 77s are not airline pilots, but they play their guitars and drums with enough energy to take flight. Bassist Chuck Dolan, drummer John Kelly, and guitarist Andy Sullivan came together over a shared love of obscure 1970s power pop, so not surprising that they cover Bram Tchaikovsky’s Girl Of My Dreams on their self-produced debut album Rotation. The other seven tracks are own work, a selection from the slowly but surely built up repertoire of more than 100 songs, just as good (according to the band bio, the premise was that “the original material had to be good enough to follow Jessie’s Girl in the set”). The music is power pop like power pop is meant to be, but the lyrics really bring a smile to your face – just listen to (When You’re Kissing On Me Do You Think Of) James McAvoy, an ode to the Scottish actor: (“If Coldplay was his jam / Would you say they’re your favorite band? / It’s like you don’t give a damn about human dignity.”)

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New Album: Hjelle || Det Måste Inte Vara Så Här

Hjelle is the singer for Swedish pubpunkband extraordinaire Bäddat För Trubbel. Det Måste Inte Vara Så Här (It Must Not Be Like This) is his third solorecord. It was released last month by the Swedish Ken Rock Label, but only just arrived on Spotify which is how I discovered its existence. The record consists of 15 short and sweet lo-fi tunes that border between pubrock and rock’n’roll with the occasional and very welcome sax-solo. If you like Bäddat För Trubbel, I am pretty sure you’ll dig this as well.

Add to wantlist: Discogs || Hepcat.se

New compilation: Various Artists || Fakes

I’ve always had a weak spot for cover compilations, particularly when the originals are classics and the recreations sound faster, angrier of weirder. So thank you, Drunk Dial Records for asking some of today’s best punk and garage acts to cover their favorite song of fictional artists from movies and tv shows. The result is a highly entertaining compilation. What about Pavid Vermin covering The Beets from ’90’s cartoon Doug? Or Jiffy Marx & kcar doing a delightfully weird version of Sugar Sugar? Or Berwanger doing Welcome to the Dollhouse? What about Careful making this Mitch & Mickey song actually sound good? And bless Charlie Continental for changing Wet Wet Wet’s Love is all Around into Covid’s All Around (“there was a start, there will be an end”). Though I hope this will ultimately get a physical release, it’s currently digital only. There are worse ways to spend $5. And if you need any further encouragement, all proceeds will be divided between the bands and four charities.


Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

“New” album: The Seeers || Happy Peak

Seeers, where have you been for the past five years*? In 2015, The Seeers were my band to watch and I frequently played their single in the Windian Records Subscription Series featuring the awesome Without Lites. But then…crickets, like they vanished. It’s absolutely a nice surprise (2021, let’s keep em coming okay?) that they released a full length this week. But is it any good? YES! Better than that actually, it’s full of garagepoppunk hits with a healthy dose of psych influences. Crossed fingers for a physical release, because I need to have this in my collection.

*UPDATE: The band informed me that technically this is not a new release. Happy Peaks was recorded back in 2015 on a Tascam 4-track tape machine. It was never released and this is the first time it’s made available online. Regretfully, this the last recorded material of The Seeers. They stopped being a band in 2016.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: The Feels || She’s Probably Not Thinkin’ Of Me

You may have heard She’s Probably Not Thinkin’ Of Me by The Feels last year. If you, like me, LOVE powerpop that song probably made a lasting impression. Originally, the song was planned to be part of a perfectly titled EP 11 Monthly Listeners Can’t Be Wrong! I am not sure what happened, but that EP has not been released yet. Fortunately, Hurrah! Musica will release the single on a 7″ next month. The B-side is excellent as well.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

“Coolest song” of 2020: The Weeklings || 3

One of my favorite “radio” shows is Little Steven’s Underground Garage, with which hero Steven Van Zandt makes an important contribution to keeping Rock ‘n’ Roll alive (I made a Spotify playlist with tracks I heard over there; if I don’t know what to listen anymore, this always offers good fun). Every week he plays the best rock and soul music of the past 60 years (Beatles, Stones, Byrds, Yardbirds, Crystals, Ramones, Springsteen, Who, Fleshtones, Kinks, Otis, …), but also new tunes from his own Wicked Cool Records and other labels . The Underground Garage listeners have once again been able to vote which of those new songs they consider the “Coolest Song in the World” of last year. At the top of the 2020 list is 3 from The Weeklings, an American supergroup performing Beatles covers and Beatles-inspired power-pop originals. Below you can see one of the three videos they made for the single (there is also a lyric video and a dance party version). Hey!

Add to wantlist: Discogs || The Weeklings Shop

Looking Back || Niek’s Overlooked Records of 2020

I’ve been checking out several 2020 AOTY lists in the past couple of weeks and have to admit: I missed a few. It happens, right? Perfection is overrated anyway. Here are 20+ releases from all kinds of musical directions that I either overlooked or was too quick to dismiss in 2020. They are on my wantlist now, that is all that matters. Click below to check them out. As always, I’ve included links to the purchasing locations for these releases. ICYMI also check out my favorite 2020 albums, singles and EPs, 2020 playlists and Dennis’ 2020 AOTY list. Happy new year!

Best of 2020 Playlists || Niek’s Favorite Songs of 2020

At the start of each year, I create a playlist to keep track of newly released songs I like. Then, at the end of the year, I pick out the best song from this list to create a year-end mixtape, a playlist I like to return to every now and then, and revisit or rediscover songs and memories of a specific period of time. The thing is, I am not a very efficient person. So basically I drag songs to the playlist for 350 days resulting in quite the mess – the playlist currently has 1944 songs, almost 92 hours of music. Then, with the year coming to its close, I frantically go to work trimming down the playlist to its essence. That’s the hard part, because I am way better in adding stuff than throwing things away, or so I am told.  I usually end up with a playlist around 300-400 songs, in spite of my good intentions to keep it shorter. This year is no exception. What I did do differently this year however, is split up the songs in two playlists that reflect my two musical taste buds: a playlist with more straightforward punk, powerpop and garage hits from 2020, and one playlist with a little less distortion (i.e., indiepop, jangle, twee, but also postpunk, and more fuzzy and surfy popsounds). As always, one song per artists. Click read more to check them out. Hope you’ll like ’em, and will uncover some new favorite tunes! BTW, in case this is my final post of the year, take care, be well and see you in 2021!

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