Power Pop

New album: Kids On A Crime Spree || Fall In Love Not In Line

Has it really been ten years since Kids On A Crime Spree emerged seemingly out of nowhere with their debut (mini)LP We Love You So Bad? It was love at first sight. An one-sided love perhaps, because the three-piece has been playing hard to get in the past decade, only releasing a handful of songs on three singles, two of which were splits with different bands.

No hard feelings though, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and all that. But seriously, Fall In Love Not In Line was worth the wait. The reverb heavy bubblegum powerpop of these ten songs surely will create some tsunami sized waves in the underground pop scene. The opening combo of Karl Kardel Building and When Can I See You Again? alone is worth the price of admission. All Things Fade and Boomdoom are also standouts, but you won’t find any fillers on Fall In Love Not In Line. Whatever they do, Kids On A Crime Spree make it sound all so spontaneous and effortless, almost like they can’t help writing hits like these.

What a week for Slumberland Records who simultaneously released that amazing Artsick record last Friday. If this is the bar for the good kind of pop music in 2022, we’re in for a treat.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: Teini-Pää || Maailma Kyllä Odottaa

I only took one look at the cover and I already knew that I would enjoy this one. Then I saw the bandname and recalled Teini-Pää’s killer EP from 2019 (Täynnä kysymyksiä), and the band’s cover of SOS by ABBA, and I got really excited. Maailma Kyllä Odottaa (The World Is Waiting) is the band’s debut full length, and I’ve been playing it all morning. Teini-Pää are Jesse, Johanna, Luca, Reetta, and Sara from Helsinki. With three guitarists, one bass player and a drummer, Teini-Pää plays a catchy form of powerpop that has as many hooks as their songtitles have vowels. If you’re looking for a comparison: kinda like the Finnish Go-Go’s.

The opening 1-2-3 punch of Heartbreaker, Downtown, and Ote Lipsuu sets the stage for a record that is as fun as it is rewarding. While I prefer the punkier side of the record, Teni-Pää is unafraid to show their pop sensibilities (and talent!) with the more subdued Soitellaan and Kissat Ja Koirat – two songs reminiscent of the melancholic indie pop of Alvvays. In addition to 11 Teini-Pää originals, there is a gratifying cover of Cub’s Pillow Queen, sung in the band’s native language (Silmät Kiini).

I’m going to play this a lot this year. And I don’t think I will be the only one. If Google Translate doesn’t lie, Maailma Kyllä Odottaa will be out on vinyl through Soit Se Silti. Straight to the wantlist it goes!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Roxies || Don’t Wanna Dance Because I’m Told To

Two weeks ago, I wrote about how The Roxies would release their debut full length sometime this year. Apparently, that turned out to be sooner than later. And that is fine by me, because with this record and the one by The Cheap Cassettes that was released last week, 2022 is off to a highly promising start for fans of power pop.

The Roxies are from Berlin, although their singer Matthew is originally from England. In addition to powerpop, The Roxies cite ’77 Punk Rock, Garage, Post Punk as influences. To my ears, they sound like a late ’70s, early ’80s classic powerpop band though. Expect strong songwriting with a rock-‘n’-roll heart.

Don’t Wanna Dance Because I’m Told To is the kind of record where, with each play, you’ll increasingly notice how well constructed the songs are. You’ve probably already heard the major hits Beat Of The Street and Down, and songs like Stereo and Lovedrunk also have that instant likeability. But I also really like the more subtle Scapegoat, with its great build up to something that isn’t necessarily a chorus, but nonetheless tickles my brain in all the right places.

Now that they have finally arrived, I hope The Roxies are here to stay. Don’t Wanna Dance Because I’m Told To is out now on Family Spree Recordings and Dirt Cult Records. We’ll have two please!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Kung-Fu Girl || Sunset Park

I’d like to nominate Sunset Park by Japanese four-piece Kung-Fu Girl as the most fun release of 2022 yet. Sunset Park is the follow-up to the band’s 2019 self-titled debut – a record I regretfully overlooked. On Sunset Park, Kung-Fu Girl have found the perfect synergy between the cute charm of indie pop and the energy and upbeat quality of pop punk.

Kung-Fu Girl namedrops Tiger Trap, Dressy Bessy, Tallulah Gosh, Go Sailor and The Apples In Stereo as influences, which at the very least showcases their good taste. While good taste doesn’t automatically translate in good music, in the case of Kung-Fu Girl you need not worry about that all. Call it poppy indie punk or punky indie pop, or whatever; If you like energetic pop music with warmth, a pulse and an edge, Sunset Park will make your day!

Ghost Girl Friend and Rabuka, just two of the many hits on Sunset Park, may sound familiar since earlier versions of the songs were part of a cassingle from 2021  – that cassingle also included a cool cover of a GBV classic by the way. The updated versions of the songs sound crisp and fun, but Sunset Park has many songs equally great or even better, like Yesterday, 8 Minutes Of Magic, and hhltm.

Sunset Park is out now on CD at Testcard Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Dany Laj And The Looks || RetroSpectacle

I used to own a shirt with the following text on the front: “I Only Listen To Bands That Don’t Exist Yet.” The shirt, of course, was a snarky reference to elitist music fans debating trivial preferences, with exclamations like “I prefer the demo,” or “I only listen to the live version from that one show back in the ’80s.”

But still, I can relate to music fans prefering the early material of artists. The early stuff often has a level of spontaneity, naivety, energy and pureness that is hard to retrieve in later releases. That certainly applies to RetroSpectacle by Dany Laj and The Looks. Without taking anything away from the band’s past couple of records of energetic powerpop, which have been decidedly great, I may like this greatest hits compilation featuring the best songs of the early records and singles even more.

RetroSpectacle truly showcases Dany Laj’s talent for writing hooky guitar driven power pop, and there isn’t a song I don’t like on this comp. If you are already a fan, the renewed acquantaince with songs like Sweet Pretender (the first Dany Laj song I fell for) and Best Thing In Town will be a joy. If you are unfamiliar with these songs, I envy you for experiencing them for the first time.

Add this to you wantlist. No add this to your cart, and give Dany, Snap! Records, Kick Out the Jam Records (Spain), or Rum Bar (CD-version) your money!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp (Rum Bar) || Discogs || KOTJ Records

New album: The Cheap Cassettes || Ever Since Ever Since

I had to check, but it is really 2022. For the past hour, I swear I was transported to the late ’70s and early ’80s. Why? I was listening to the new Cheap Cassettes record that has been released today. The ten songs on Ever Since Ever Since are a massive throwback to classic US power pop acts like Cheap Trick, The Shoes, The Romantics and particularly The Plimsouls – it appears Cheap Cassettes singer Charles Matthews shares more than a little DNA with Peter Case.

Admittedly, at first I thought this record would work even better for me personally if the songs were just a bit faster. But, this is top notch power pop songwriting that doesn’t need a punk rock pace to be powerful. The songs are melodic, yet gritty and heavily informed by rock’n’roll history. There is even a cover of the Elevators’ 1980 awesome underground hit Your I’s Are Too Close Together.

Ever Since Ever Since showcases a band at the top of their game; a band that has found the magic formula to revive the golden years of classic power pop. All we can do now is sit back, and nod our heads appreciatively to the hits.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

“New” single: The Roxies || The Roxies Are Coming

Powerpop fans rejoice! The Roxies are coming! The Roxies are a Berlin-based classic powerpop band who will release their debut LP sometime this year – a co-release by Family Spree Recordings (Spain) and Dirt Cult (USA).

As a teaser, Family Spree just dropped a 7″ single on Bandcamp that shows a great deal of promise. To be fair, the single dates back to 2019 and the two songs have been available on the band’s Bandcamp for a while now. Regardless, the single is a great reminder that The Roxies are here and will soon unleash their hits onto our planet. I can’t wait!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: Sweet Knives || Spritzerita

Sweet Knives finds it origins in Lost Sounds, the Memphis band that marked the start of the career of Jay Reatard. Jay sadly died in 2010, but Lost Sounds broke up five years earlier while touring Europe. The remaining members all went their seperate paths, playing in bands like River City Tanlines, Black Sunday, Mouserocket, Lover! and Thing. They resumed playing together in 2015 as Sweet Knives.

Spritzerita is the Sweet Knives’ second LP. Officially out next week, and with the vinyl versions expected to arrive this spring, Spritzerita contains 12 songs of guitar heavy powerpop that kinda sounds like a heavier version of Mary Timony’s Ex Hex. Singer Alicja Trout has the perfect voice for this kind of music. It has bite and sugar, giving the songs pop with an edge. Oh Danny and Blockin’ The Lanes are good examples of Sweet Knives hitting the sweet spot between punk, pop and garage. Those are my favorite moments of the record, though I must admit that I also really enjoy the more Sleater Kinney-esque Don’t Think Too Much and the mellow closer Fruitcake.

Spritzerita will be out 1/14 at FDH Records (US) and Push My Buttons (EU). Pre-order now!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

Throwback Thursday: The Groove Farm || Only The Most Ignorant Gutless Sheep​-​Brained Poltroon Can Deny Them Now

Raving Pop Blast! is a small DIY label specialized in garage-punk, pop-psych, lo-fi pop, and guitar based indie rock. Six weeks ago, they dropped a Groove Farm single from 1987 on Bandcamp that features a song I can’t stop playing. I am talking about Couldn’t Get To Sleep. What A Corker!

The Groove Farm 7″ was was recorded & mixed in 8 hours. It was the second release on Raving Pop Blast! and sold a not too shabby 1,500 copies – different times, right? According to the label, the songs were “inspired by listening to ‘Pebbles’ albums and The Barracudas.  It managed to annoy the so called ‘music critics’ of the time, which was pretty much the whole point of its existence.”

Talk to you later, I’m diving into a Groove Farm rabbit hole on Youtube.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New EP: Special Someones || Creative Ways to Make Yourself Feel Bad

I’d like to introduce you to the Special Someones. The four-piece from Massachussets is an exciting new project of Shane Dupuy. Perhaps that name doesn’t ring a bell, but Dupuy is the singer/songwriter of one of my favorite bands from the past decade: Laika’s Orbit. That band has been quiet for a while unfortunately, although Dupuy did release a solo EP in 2020 very much in the vein of Laika’s Orbit – I missed that one completely but it is GOOD.

Dupuy sums up his musical career as follows: “Power Pop is a doomed genre, but I’m gonna keep making it.” At ATW, we’re suckers for a statement like that. And Special Someones is another illustration of how Dupuy’s approach pays dividends. The six songs on the EP may a bit more edgy, scrappy, punk and rock’n’roll as Laika’s Orbit (also because Dupuy shares vocal duties with the less polished Jake Sobol, and the songs were self-recorded in the band’s practice space), but it is essentially jangly powerpop. Kickass powerpop that is.

If this was released a couple of week earlier, I’d included it in my EPs of the year list.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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