Power Pop

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

New album: The Other Ones || The Other Ones

The self-titled debut from London (UK) band The Other Ones sounds like it’s from a different era. I cannot put my finger which era exactly though, early eighties perhaps? Anyway, on their best songs, The Other Ones hit that sweet spot between punk, (power)pop, garage and rock-‘n’-roll, with a singer whose voice fits perfectly in this kind of music. A song like Forever Young is waiting to be picked up by Little Steven’s Underground Garage.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: State Drugs || Live. Laugh. Love.

With so much music coming out weekly (daily!), it’s easy to overlook records that demand a little bit more attention to fully appreciate. Live. Laugh. Love by State Drugs is such an album. Although the music spoke to me immediately, I was underwhelmed at first, perhaps due to the somewhat understated way of singing by the band’s frontman. I am happy that I gave the record another try though, because it contains premium quality midpaced punkrock, with fine guitar work and songs that increasingly get under your skin. The band operates somewhere between the altpop of the Lemonheads and the melodic punkrock of Samiam, most noticably on songs like Goonies or Threat Level Midnight, two of my early favorites on the record. Give this one a spin. No, scratch that. Give this one a couple of spins. You won’t regret it.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New single: The Rubs || I Want You B​/​W Sleepin

Let’s start the week off right. Seemingly out of nowhere, Joey Rubbish (aka Joe Montanaro) returns with a new two-song single by The Rubs. If you’re not familiar with his work, Rubbish is a master in writing lo-fi bedroom gems at the intersection of 60s pop, garage, rock n roll, and punk – I usually refer to it as lo-fi powerpop. I am not sure how, but Rubbish has that special knack to only write A-side singles. Naturally, I am a big fan. His previous records The Rubs Are Trash (2015) and Impossible Dream (2017) both made my AOTY lists.

Perhaps most surprising about the new single is its length. Usually, Rubbish writes 2 or 3 minute songs. The two new songs are a combined 10 minutes. Despite my short attention span and preference for shorter songs, I think these new songs are excellent. They are even more pop-oriented than the songs on Impossible Dream. I especially like the A-side I Want You. It’s got Keith Richards guitar riffing and the kind of old school synthesizer you used to hear in cheesy movies. It’s SOOOOO catchy. Okay. The Rubs are back, and a new LP on Hozac is in the works. All is well.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

Throwback Thursday: The Plimsouls || Zero Hour EP

This week’s Throwback Thursday features a band that were not obscure, but not necessarily big sellers either. It is a band cherished by many, and critically acclaimed by plenty. I am talking about Peter Case’s follow up to legendary powerpop band The Nerves: The Plimsouls. Last year, I finally managed to add their 1981 self-titled debut to my collection, a must own for any fan of powerpop and one the greatest powerpop records of all time. A year before their debut, the band had already teased their greatness on the Zero Hour E.P.  The title track was a minor hit locally – I  love this electric performance of the song on a LA tv station. There are worse Rabbit Holes on the internet than watching eighties powerpop videos, right? The EP also includes one of my all time favorite powerpop songs: How Long Will It Take, listen below.

Add to wantlist: Discogs

New album: The Ratboys || More Songs About Girls And Heartaches

‘They sing Everybody Loves The Ramones and this Belgian rock band clearly does that too’ – that’s what I wrote about The Ratboys’ Click in my music year-end list of 2020. Now here’s the follow-up with the title More Songs About Girls And Heartaches, and that is an equally striking description. More fun it is: twelve straightforward power pop / punk rock tunes, including two covers: Talkin ‘in your Sleep (The Romantics) and Zero Hour (The Plimsouls).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Ricky Warwick || When Life Was Hard And Fast

“We’ve come a long way since Jerry Lee // Rock and Roll ain’t dead // It’s just lost // In its mystery” – the intro to the great song You’re My Rock ‘N Roll pretty much sums up what you can expect from Ricky Warwick‘s new album. Fans of 70s rock will have a blast. The sound, the vocals, the guitar solos, the riffs, the drumbeat – everything on this album is as big as the smile on my face as I listen to it. The Northern Irish musician / songwriter combines his extensive experience (New Model Army, The Almighty, Thin Lizzy, Black Star Riders) with youthful appetite for writing and playing, he’s having friends like Joe Elliott (Def Leppard), Andy Taylor (Duran Duran) and Dizzy Reed ( Guns ‘n’ Roses) who contribute, and he knows how to alternate hard rocking tracks with ballads with lyrics that a certain type of women could post on their Instagram account. The ‘Deluxe Edition’ has a second disc with entertaining covers like You Spin Me Round (Like A Record), Oops! … I Did It Again and I Don’t Want To Grow Up. Have you ever been to a rock concert where the band is having such a good time that they don’t want to stop, playing all the songs they know how to play? This is the album equivalent of that. When Life Was Hard And Fast is out now through Nuclear Blast.

Add to wantlist: Nuclear Blast || Ricky Warwick Shop

New album: Sam Coffey And The Iron Lungs || Real One

The first self-titled Sam Coffey And The Iron Lungs record was released a decade ago. Back then, the band sounded like a garage band with a country twang. In the next ten years, the band has made quite the transformation. I first fell for the band with their 2014 album Gates Of Hell, a record  that had just the right mix of powerpop, rock-‘n’-roll and garage influences. The band then opted for a bigger sound on their 2018 record, again a self-titled one. Suddenly, here was a record full of fist pumping anthems made for arenas and hockey rinks. Today, the band released their follow up, titled Real One. It is the logical next step for the band. The band sounds more confident, more diverse and more ambitious than ever. The band has always wore its influences on its sleeves, and although this still unmistakingly is Sam Coffey, this one could also appeal to fans of Bruce Springsteen (listen to Magic and Sounds Alright), Thin Lizzy (She Knows), 80’s glam (Back With The Gang and Spirit Of The Radio), and even Billy Joel (15 minutes). If I am not mistaken, Gates of Heaven is the longest track the band ever recorded. It’s a 7 minute rock opera that starts out as a power ballad, turns into a groovy rock song, ultimately ending in fade out with some excellent female backups and group vocals. So yeah, plenty of fun to be had with this record, and plenty to discover upon further listens as well. And thoughout it all, I don’t think Sam Coffey has ever sung this well. You bet I am impressed with this record.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New single: Appaloosa / BBQT || Split

Smart move by No Front Teeth Records to release a split 7″ with Appaloosa and BBQT. The bands are sonically similar (glammy punkrocknroll), and share a similar attitude. If you like Appaloosa it’s safe to say you’ll like BBQT and vice vera. Appaloosa are a new band to watch, can’t believe I missed their 2020 EP. If you haven’t heard BBQT before, I recommend their full length Let’s Go as an  entrance point. Vinyl release coming soon!

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Dry Look || Take Me To The Dive

Illinois have been the home of some of powerpop’s finest bands (Shoes! Vertebrats!). Check out the Buttons, From Champaign To Chicago compilation by Numero Group to get a sense of the states’ Cheapest Tricks. I’d like to introduce you to a contemporary Illinois powerpopband: The Dry Look. According to the band’s FB page, Take Me To The Dive is “not The Dry Look album we deserve, but it’s The Dry Look album we get.” I like it plenty though. The Dry Look plays the scrappy and snotty style of power pop that fans of Needles//Pins, Sam Coffey And The Iron Lungs, Mother’s Children, and Gentleman Jesse will appreciate.  Illinois Boi is a standout track reminiscent of the Clash. Peter, Do You Need Her is short but sweet. And, with Caracas Affair, the band gives a respectful nod to the Ramones’ Havana Affair. The release is currently digital only (name your price download), but I kinda hope it will get picked up by Alien Snatch! Records as it would fit perfectly on that roster.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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