Tag Archives: powerpop

It’s a PPC Summer!

Like he has the last two years, Angelo from Power Pop Criminals assembled a superb sampling of sparkling summer songs* meant to be blasted at high volume. Yesterday was the Summer Solstice, after all, so we don’t want to waste any time as the daylight starts fading away!

This year’s compilation features The Knack, The Waking Hours, Michael Carpenter, The Nines, The Liquor Giants and twenty more bands. As always, Angelo added awesome artwork* as the icing on the cake.

Click here to read about the set and download.

If you haven’t gotten the 2009 and 2010 collections, do so. Hope you find a few familiar favorites* alongside some new gems. That’s the whole point.

(*Almost all alliteration accidental.)

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T.G.I.F. – Ten Bangers That Mash

Those too young to remember the allure of full-sized vinyl album covers (not to mention the functionality of the gatefold sleeve) cannot appreciate the passion of those of us who enjoyed spending hours perusing through a record store’s racks. Flipping cover after cover, the myriad or art ranged from the structure of classic jazz titles to the simplicity of an early rock album to the wonderscapes that bellowed forth from the mind of Roger Dean.

But then again, those were days when album credits could make or break the sale of an album – who was the producer, what musicians added their talents as guest artists, who wrote the songs…for those used to the process, it was both an enjoyable diversion and an educational process. Of course, the store employees actually knew something about the music they were selling – “can I help you?” was a sincere question that could be followed up with actual information rather than “Oh, the new Rush album…did you look under R?”

In the waning CD age we still have wonderful art, just smaller. I realize my eyes aren’t perfect, but some of the mouseprint font on CD jackets requires a microscope. Then again, a generation of people now only knows music as files with a name and title display. Progress, I guess, but something has been lost in the translation.

I did notice that hard rock bands haven’t lost the allure of the cover, knowing full well their target audience is primarily young men. But some pop bands figured that out, too…if you want to get noticed, use the visual to get their attention, then hopefully seal the deal with the audio.

So here are Ten Bangers That Mash…ten artists who might flaunt the flag of sexual innuendo but at least have something…um…under their covers to reward you with. And since they’re mostly headbangers, I framed them with a prog rock band from the 70s and one of the best pop bands around right now.

01)  FlashIn The Can

02) ZO2Ain’t It Beautiful

03) Poets and PornstarsPoets and Pornstars

04) Bullets and OctaneIn The Mouth of the Young

05) American SixgunThe Devil in Your Bones

06) WhitestarrFillith Tillith

07) Asphalt ValentineStrip Rock and Roll

08) American HeartbreakAmerican Heartbreak

09) StereosideSo Long

10) FratellisCostello Music

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Under The Radar – Neil Leyton

Blame Canada…

I was first turned on to Neil Leyton through the fabulous Changes One mailing list, a UK-based discussion group that had an eclectic and fanatical drive for honest, uncompromising rock and roll artists. Leyton fits the bill, and I’m ashamed that I don’t pull his stuff off the shelf more often than I do. Or that I never knew about his Canadian glam band Conscious Pilate

The Brighter Side of Her Midnight Sun is a seventeen-track melting pot of rock, folk, glam and spoken word, and for the most part it both stands together and holds up well for a seven-year old release. The track listing is split into two sides with verbose titles that are at once intriguing and foreboding:

  • The Insufferable Permanent Ennui of The Soul side, and
  • The Permanent Damage & Unimaginable Consequence side

Occasionally irresistibly earworm and sometimes simply jarring to the senses, you can almost tell by the song titles when things are going to get pensive and murky (“The Confraternity of The Faithless”) and when you could probably parse a track for a pop mix tape (“Once Upon A Yesterday”, “Whispers”).

Sample a few tracks here

Dedicated to his “chess playing Communist grandfather”, the album is rampant with political and social commentary, but with few exceptions not at the expense of the music. Hell, there’s enough between song chatter, interludes and reprises galore tying the whole thing together that a second and third listen expose new turns of phrase, more musical nuances. I most often got a David Bowie-meets-Bryan Ferry vibe, but that’s because Leyton is an expressive vocalist and many of the tracks are deeply rooted in glam. Besides the aforementioned tracks, I really like “Staring”, “Nine” and the epic nine-minute closer, “Twilight of the Gods”.

Maybe it’s not for everyone, but what is?

Neil’s done a bunch more before and since, including walking the walk as a vocal advocate regarding the paradigm shift in music distribution; his label Fading Ways being a forerunner. And as for Changes OneGood on yer, Ian Tunstull, wherever ye are.

Fading Ways website

Neil Leyton website and Wiki page.

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T.G.I.F. – Ten Trippy Tributes

I bow in your honor

I love, love, love tribute albums. Some are so inventive they occasionally exceed the original. Some are so poorly regimented that they’re fun like an Ed Wood movie is fun. You just have to admire a group of artists taking the plunge, whether it’s a label trying to promote their artist roster or a heartfely bow to some grand master.

I think the pinnacle for me is still eggBert’s Sing Hollies In Reverse, which featured a stunning asssemblage of pop stars, great song selections and some unbelieveable takes on the Hollies canon. Then they wrapped it up in a beautiful package with a well-written and informative booklet. Handled with care. The late great Greg Dwinell is no longer with us, but that album is one of his shining legacies.

Still the champion

But I know most people aren’t like me – tribute albums make as much sense as ducking an artist’s concert to see a cover band. And the funny thing is, I abhor most cover bands. Maybe I like tributes more because of the one-song-per-artist rule, or maybe it’s that I don’t have to watch them…I can just listen. And when the collection creatively juggles so many styles – folk, rock, dixieland, punk, r&b, glam, powerpop – so much the better.

Here are ten tribute albums that might have slipped by you. Click on the links below to listen to sound clips – you’ll be surprised how great some of the cuts are, not to mention some of the famous artists participating on even the tiniest label efforts!

Resurrection of The Warlock  (T. Rex)

Lowe Profile  (Nick Lowe)

Turban Renewal  (Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs)

Uncovered  (Bob Dylan)

We Will Fall  (Iggy Pop)

Brace Yourself  (Otis Blackwell)

Caroline Now  (Brian Wilson/Beach Boys)

Chooglin’  (John Fogerty/ Credence Clearwater Revival)

Blastered  (The Blasters)

Frankly a Capella  (Frank Zappa / The Mothers of Invention)

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