Power Pop

New album: Brent Seavers || BS Stands For

Brent Seavers plays in The Decibels, not to be confused with The dB’s. He just released a solo LP called BS Stands For, which, of course is a nod to the dB’s classic album Stands For Decibels. Well played, Brent.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk about BS Stands For, because it’s a record that fans of powerpop should definitely give a spin. Whereas The Decibels play their powerpop at a faster pace and move into classic pop punk territory (and they do that really well!), Seaver opts for a classic powerpop sound on BS Stands For; a sound that is reminiscent of Paul Collins (listen to My Little Girl), The Romantics (I Wrote A Song), and more recently John Paul Keith (Flatline). It’s upbeat, instantly likeable, and just plain fun. BS Stands For is an explicit, yet heartfelt love letter to powerpop just waiting to be picked up and answered by powerpop fans over the planet.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Les Shirley || Forever Is Now

Forever Is Now, the debut album of Montreal trio Les Shirley, has a budget friendly album cover with a hairmetal font. Add in song titles like Easy Target and Pick Up The Phone, and one could mistake this band for a Donnas ripoff. That’s definitely not the case. What do you get? Straightforward catchy pop tunes with a rock and roll edge, and a full guitar sound. Two-thirds of Les Shirley also play in NOBRO, so you may already know that these women have a knack for writing songs that earworm their way through your brain. Les Shirley is a different beast though, sounding somewhere between Wyldlife and Ex-Hex. Do not expect this record to shatter your world in terms of originality or complexity (who cares anyway), but it’s hard to find any fault in songs like sadgirlsclub, Courtney and hit single Fuck It I’m In Love. For radio stations that may object to that last one, Les Shirley even include a radio friendly version (Forget It I’m In Love).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp 

New EP: Ex Press || Itchy To Move

Drop everything you are doing. Here’s an EP from a new band that absolutely deserves your attention. Don’t worry about your work, you will catch up later, and you will do so fully energized.

Ex Press are Devon Milley & Matthew Fudge, who provide even more evidence that the finest powerpop nowadays comes from Canada. Okay, technically I am not sure whether this counts as powerpop. Ex Press have created their own hybrid of synthpunk, powerpop, new wave and pop punk. On Itchy To Move, Miller & Fudge (not a bad name for a band or a bookstore now that I think of it) are assisted by a strong supporting cast. Most notably, Glassjaw frontman Daryl Palumbo provided keys on the majority of songs and helped recording, mastering and mixing the EP. Palumbo also sings on the lead single Headrest. That single also offers interesting use of horns provided by The Key Group Horns. Watch the video produced by Daniel Fried (TV’s Daniel, Bad Sports, Radioactivity) below. From the high octane opener Mystery to the midpaced moody album closer Act Surprised, it’s hard to really highlight one of the songs. There are no fillers here. Fingers crossed that a physical release is in the works.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

Gimme 5! Jakob Mind Shares 5 Classic Albums That Inspired The One Who Got Away

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. Previous installments feature Rob Nesbitt (The Suitesixteen), Scott Davis (Virginia Trance), Jacob Lewis (Western Threads), and Chelo (Fievre).

In about four weeks, Jakob Mind (Sweden) will release his solo debut ‘The One Who Got Away’ on Lövely Records. It’s a record we very much look forward to. If you are unfamiliar with Jakob’s music, he plays in Rotten Mind and is a master in hitting that sweet spot between garage, punk and power pop – listen to exhibit A:

Based on the first teaser tracks, The One Who Got Away is a bit more stripped down and may be even more melodic and contagious than the most recent Rotten Mind record. Watch The City Burn already is a frontrunner for my favorite song of the year (watch below, exhibit B). Unsurprisingly, pre-orders for the record are going fast.

We are delighted that Jakob wanted to share 5 records that influence his music. Click on read more to see his list. Jakob added words to explain his picks, and we included a video of his favorite song of each record. Thanks a lot, Jakob!

New single: The Erratix || You Don’t Care

Swedish indie label Beluga Records has a talent for unleashing new powerpop and punk bands onto the airwaves. On April 2nd, they will release the debut single of The Erratix of Minneapolis on pink and black wax. It’s a single three years in the making. You can already available to stream on Bandcamp, and I invite you to do exactly that. It’s a must listen for people who like their power pop energetic with plenty of punk attitude, or their punkrock with plenty of pop sensibilities. The tasteful addition of keys give the songs some extra schwung. The band plans to record their first LP in a couple of months. Definitely one to look out for! FFO: The Cry!, Something Fierce, & The Cute Lepers.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Local Drags || Keep Me Glued

Did I order the new Local Drags record before its officIal release date? You bet! Local Drags is fronted by Lanny Durbin who also plays in Starter Jackets and Attic Salt. The songs of Local Drags expertly fuse the pace, hooks and pop sensibilities of powerpop with the energy and straightforwardness of pop punk. The songs have a ’90s alt pop feel as well, helped by the stripped down, crisp and airy production by Luke McNeil (The Copyrights, Starter Jackets, Hospital Job). It’s a combination that I find hard to resist. Admittedly, I needed some time to warm up to Local Drags’ 2019 debut Shit’s Looking Up! but ended up playing it a lot, with Trash Bones as one of my most played songs that year.

Fast forward two years, and Locals Drags’ second album Keep Me Glued immediately clicks. Perhaps it’s from mere exposure: there is a 99,9% chance that you will like this record if you liked the debut, and vice versa. It’s too soon to tell, but right now I would give a slight nod to Keep Me Glued. It’s all hits. Whereas repetition often is a weakness, Durbin has that special talent to turn it into a strength. He also is a master in building up anticipation to ear worm choruses, and those delayed rewards create such a dopamine inducing listening experience that it becomes addictive. Try to resist the one-two punch of Think Straight and the title track…I failed. Keep Me Glued is the kind of record to make you relax, sit back, and bop your head to that snare drum.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs || Stardumb Records

New album: Monty Vega & The Sittin’ Shivas || Closed (No Fun)

It is one thing to worship the Ramones and write songs in the vein of those legends. A lot of bands (can and will) do that. But it’s a completely different animal to write songs that, even to fans of the genre, don’t feel derivative of superfluous. Monty Vega & The Sittin’ Shivas are a prime example of a band that succeed in doing so. Their Closed (No Fun) album is in fact a lot of fun to listen to. Sure, It won’t break the sound barrier in terms of speed nor will it win awards for originality, but it’s got plenty of bubblegum and sugar to keep you focused and energized. These guys know how to write a tune and what this record may lack in hi-fidelity, it makes up with infectious choruses and hooks. And as a bonus, this band knows how to do a cover song. They Don’t Know (written by a sixteen (!) year old Kirsty MacCollmade famous by Tracy Ullman) is a great song in itself (Really!), but the band does it justice – I kind of feel this is exactly how the Queers would cover this, which is a compliment. And I almost did not recognize Rock Rock (Till You Drop) by Def Leppard, which the band dubbed Bop! Bop! (Till You Drop). Make sure to also check out the band’s non album yet excellent version of Springsteen’s Hungry Heart which they recorded for a compilation. With this release, Matt Ellis’ Full Moon Fever, and Bobby Ramone’s excellent Ramones mash-up of Bob Marley songs, the Ramones spirit is still very much alive in 2021.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Beach Things || Beach Things

Sometimes you come across a new release that you instantly appreciate. Take this self-titled debut EP by Beach Things from Singapore. Their sound is tailor made for me. It’s got pace, it’s got melody, it rocks, and it bridges the gap between powerpop, indierock and poppunk. In short: the kind of band that will appeal to a bigger audience. I was not surprised to discover that the members are fans of Ovens, Radioactivity and Marked Men, although Beach Things do not necessarily copy paste that sound. Perhaps the band that Beach Things reminds me of the most is The 101, an early zeroes band fronted by Eric Richter of Christie Front Drive.

Bass player and frontman Izzad told me how natural the songs on the EP came to life: “We started playing around at our rehearsal space earlier this year when our main bands were inactive for a while. We were already hanging out a lot before and we decided to make something productive out of those empty sessions since we all could already play some instruments. We usually warmed up with punk rock covers at the start of our rehearsals but then we started writing songs based off Hakim’s guitars and Sha’s drum beats later on. I would then follow through by singing melodies on top of it and then eventually these songs became a Beach Things release.”

About those primary bands the members of Beach Things come from? They are quite varied and sound nothing like Beach Things. But, they are all pretty cool to pretty great and worth diving into. I particularly recommend the catchy garagepunk of Anxious Living, but give the melodic hardcorepunk of Misissued, the screamo of Naedr, the blistering hardcore of C.L.A.W. and the skatepunk of Rubix a chance as well! With all these projects, what’s next for Beach Things? “We’d just continue this process of writing and releasing music on bandcamp and youtube, there are no definite plans at all. We just play it by ear.” Fair enough, but I definitely hope to hear more from this band.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: Popular Creeps || Split Decision

Big Stir Records emerged from a monthly concert series in LA back in 2016. The label has been releasing weekly digital singles for quite some time now, featuring some excellent poprock and powerpop bands. This week they put out number 120 of the series, and I believe it’s the best one they released this year. It features two new songs by Popular Creeps full of great guitar driven powerpop that fans of Nada Surf and Fountains of Wayne will enjoy. The A-side (do A-sides actually apply to digital singles?) is particularly strong. It’s an uplifting song in spite of its melancholy lyrics about loss. To be specific, it’s about the death of one of the band member’s cat (“If you could talk what would you say, I wish we had just one more day”), but don’t be cold-hearted and cynical about that, it’s a heartfelt great song.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Linnea’s Garden || Nowhere Friday Nights

According to the band’s website, Linnea’s Garden play glampunk you can dance to. I am not sure if that is true, but that may be due to my limited dancing abilities. To my ears, Linnea’s Garden sound more powerpop with a touch of soul than punk on their EP Nowhere Friday Nights. The lead single Non-Dramatic Breakup Song sounds like a lost hit by Milwaukee powerpop legends The Shivvers. It is an instant classic.

Add to bandcamp: Bandcamp

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