Power Pop

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

New album: The Girls || Armed To The Teeth

The Girls are a band from Wilmington (North Carolina) that cares more about rockin’ out than their Google ranking. It would be a shame if you missed out though. The eight songs on Armed To The Teeth will be right in your wheelhouse if you like your powerpop sleazy and with plenty of rock-‘n’-roll. The Girls have that confident swagger that makes this kind of music work. My favorite track on the album is Schools For Fools, a smooth addition to the extended history of rock songs about (not) going to school. RIYL: Wyldlife, Outtacontroller and Dangereens.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Pogy Et Les Kéfars || Dans Ton Rétro

There is a certain je ne sais quo to French punk and powerpop that just works. One of my favorite discoveries of late is Dans Ton Rétro, the debut full-length by Pogy Et Les Kéfars from Marseille. Technically, a 2017 demo and an EP from 2019 precede Dans Ton Rétro, but it mark the band’s first record as a trio rather than a four-piece. More notable, Dans Ton Rétro is their first album completely sung in their native language, something that comes more natural to the band than singing in English.  The switch definitely pays off, because the French language makes this insanely catchy record even more irresistible. The nine songs on the LP are short, upbeat, angular, and tightly played. And, it’s easy to see this record embraced by fans of powerpop and punk all over the world. Lead single Dans Ma Parka is an absolute blast – watch the video below, and songs like Bye Bye Johnny and Kilomètre-heure are killer tracks as well.

If you told me this was a French classic from the early eighties, I probably wouldn’t have doubted it for a second. But no, Pogy Et Les Kéfars really is a current band, brought forth by an already strong underground scene in Marseille that also includes bands like Sun Sick, Les Hatepinks and Departure Kids. Though admittedly, the band’s inspirations come from a wide variety of music, including French chansons. I think that is reflected in the music, which is not 100% punk, or 100% powerpop, but harbors many influences.

Dans Ton Rétro was recorded at the end of 2019, but faced many pandemic related delays. I can only imagine the frustrations the band experienced after creating something this good and then having to wait this long for the world to hear it. But, let’s not get stuck in the past: Pogy Et Les Kéfars is waiting in the shadows staying sharp by rockin’ out in their music studio and a friend’s garden/living room, ready to conquer the world. I, for one, can’t wait for that. Dans Ton Rétro is out now on No Front Teeth (UK), Crapoulet (France) & Bitume Rugueux (France).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Crapoulet Records || Bitume Rigueux || No Front Teeth

New album: The Speedways || Borrowed & Blue

One of the best powerpop bands of this era return with a an EP full of covers to keep us saturated until the release of their new album – their previous record made it #2 of my favorite records of 2020. The originals are by Hanoi Rocks, Abba, Kirsty MacColl, Billy Ocean, and Roky Erickson. The versions of The Speedways are respectful to the original versions, but played in the classic Speedways style. This is a band at the top of their game, and this EP is a mouth-watering appetizer for the new Speedways album.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Hurrah! Musica (vinyl) || Snap Records

Gimme 5! Stella Maxwell Of Stella And The Very Messed (And Cruiserweight) Shares 5 Records That Influenced The Marigold EP

With ‘Gimme 5!’ we take a peek into the collections of artists we admire. The premise is simple: artists WE like share 5 records THEY love.

There was an instant familiarity when I first heard the Marigold EP by Stella And The Very Messed. It all made sense when I found out that Stella Maxwell of Cruiserweight fronts The Very Messed. Cruiserweight was a pop punk band from Austin that had a great run in the first decade of the 2000s, and the distinct voice of Maxwell was (is!) one of the draws of that band. Together with Cruiserweight alumn Dave Hawkins, she started this new project which is not pop punk, but semi-acoustic and equal parts indie pop, ’90s alternative and americana. It’s more layered and, for lack of a better word, more mature than the music of Cruiserweight, but just as accessible an enjoyable. It’s the kind of music Maxwell’s voice seems made for. In addition to Maxwell and Hawkins, the band also includes Chris Nine (Karaoke Apocalypse, Manhole) and Donnie Adkinson (The Letters Organize, Whores), with Nik Snell (The Cutaway) and Sam Rich (Black Books) recent additions for live shows.

The video for lead single, and my personal favorite on the EP, The Feeling premieres today. The video is an arts and crafts stop-motion piece of creative brilliance. Sonically, The Feeling is a song made for spring with its gently strumming guitars and catchy forward moving bass line. Lyrically and vocally, the song pulls at the heartstrings with its dark and deeply personal undertones. “And now I drink myself to bed and I cry myself to work,” Maxwell sings, and “How can you really miss what you never really knew? I get the feeling, I do ||  How can you really miss what you never really had? I know that feeling, I do.” [post continues below]


New single: Nuevo Catecismo Catolico & Kurt Baker || Quarantine Blues

Quarantine Blues…I have to admit I experienced a sense of dread after seeing that title. I am not exactly a fan of blues, I can’t wait for normal life to return, and am experiencing burnout symptoms of pandemic inspired music. But it literally took 3 seconds to wash that dread away. This single, on which Nuevo Catecismo Catolico partner up with prolific powerpop gatekeeper Kurt Baker offers a highly inflammable combination of powerpop and glamrock. The title track is the perfect antidote for feeling blue about the pandemic, while the flipside is a well executed and fun cover of Rock A La Radio, a 1981 single by French band Bijou – and yes, I added the original to my wantlist as well. I am turning the volume all the way up for this one. Out now on Folc Records!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: West Coast Music Club || Jenny’s Still Got (What It Takes)

That Jenny must be a special woman, considering how often she’s been sung about: Mitch Ryder did it (Jenny Take A Ride), but also Paolo Nutini (Jenny Don’t Be Hasty), Tommy Tutone (867-5309 / Jenny), Sandy Coast (The Eyes Of Jenny), The Killers (Jenny Was A Friend Of Mine), and Chicago (Jenny), to name some of the better known great songs about her. How nice, UK musician collective West Coast Music Club add a perfect guitar pop song to this list. In their lyrics Martin Adams and Peter Madden describe how Jenny is doing now: “She’s the wrong side of forty and seen her share of life // Been a daughter and a lover, a mother and a wife.” Good news to sing along: “Jenny’s still got what it takes // Woo hoo hoo hoo!”

Jenny is a digital single b/w Girl. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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