Tag Archives: Raspberries

New Album! Bobby Emmett

My #5 album from 2009

I’ll forgive you if you think you somehow slipped a Raspberries album in your player when the familiar staccato power chords come blasting out of your speakers on the opening track; I sure did. But quickly the bridge will reassure you that this is a different journey…and then the high octave harmony vocals sell the chorus, and the Todd-like guitar solo stutters and rips across the melodic ribbon…and your jaw, like mine, has dropped.

Bobby Emmett – you know him from The Sights – has stitched together a Frankenstein monster of a record that splashes the DNA of just about every powerpop touchstone you can name into an infectious, joyous blast. That he recorded it in a bedroom and played and sang the vast majority of it himself just makes it that much more amazing. Many albums start strong, an obvious single in the leadoff slot, but four, five tracks in you will find yourself hard pressed to settle upon a favorite.

“Still Wanna Be With You” borrows a line from “1-2-3 Red Light” for the chorus but dunks it into a modern framework not unlike Silver Sun or Farrah (and that vocal flourish at the end is spine-tingling). Sure, the haunted vocal in “Moving Ahn” suggests John Lennon, and the spelling of the song title correctly suggests a mix of Billy Joel and Big Star (think Chris Bell singing “Moving Out”) before the coda drifts into a mash-up of Pink Floyd‘s “Great Gig In The Sky” with “I Want You” (either The Beatles or the Elvis Costello song – your pick).

I say all this with reverence and a straight face. There are enough copycat bands of all genres exhuming the work of their predecessors and passing it off as their own sound, but Emmett has assembled a ten-track killer of a solo album here. Whether it’s the soulful mid-tempo “November” (a hipper “Everything I Own”), the sweet Harrison slide of “Never Waited So Long”, the psychedelic “Love Is Real” or the straight-ahead pop majesty of “Broken Hearted” and “Queen of Hearts”, Emmett is all hooks and harmonies and ear candy. Learning Love is a joyous and stunning effort. 

This review is from the brand spanking new issue of Bucketfull of Brains. Use the link on their page and sign up for a sweet three issue subscription.

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Car Tunes

A few years ago, I wrote two pieces for John Borack’s great powerpop book Shake Some Action. One piece made it in, the other didn’t. Hey, shit happens! I happened to come across it tonight, and since I probably wouldn’t change anything on the list, what the heck? It’s almost Daylight Savings Time, which is almost summer, which is almost drive-around-with-the-windows-down, right? Scroll below the vintage radio and enjoy.

John is reportedly working on a new book – keep your eyes peeled.

(No, I don’t think that’s the title…)

Dirty, filthy rock'n'roll!

Dirty, filthy rock'n'roll!

What is it about rock’n’roll and car radios, anyway?

Maybe it’s the sheer exuberance of driving down the highway on a sunny day, or maybe it’s that the original car radios were just louder, brassier versions of that transistor you sneaked under your pillow at night (post-Boomers, ask your parents about that…). But few things in life can pick you up out of the gutter and give you a sense of immortality than the perfect song coming through the speakers at the perfect time. You smile. You’re bulletproof. Life is good!

Of course, there are many great rock classics that can get you pumped up. The cowbell that opens “Honky Tonk Women” does it to me every time, and I can’t keep the car on the road if “You Shook Me All Night Long” is playing. I’ve butchered the lyrics to “Louie Louie” and missed the high notes in “Bohemian Rhapsody” with the best of them. But for pure unadulterated joy, nothing beats power pop.

Why? First and foremost, the killer hook. It’s immediate, visceral, timeless, and using any air instruments at your disposal, you can play along. The harmonies…usually a little more exacting than their hard rock brothers and sisters, it’s either a seamless harmony vocal or a mind-bending blend of aural delight. And, of course…a chorus to die for. Two or three minutes of airtight, hummable, singable, danceable bliss that makes you forget your inhibitions – and your troubles – as you dwell on the possibility that “this might be the best song I have ever heard…”

So without further ado…and with apologies to about thirty songs that might just be number eleven with a bullet…here are the ten best power pop songs I have ever heard emitting from a car radio. Countdown!

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 10. “Tonight” (The Raspberries)

To many, the quintessential pop band, and for me it’s their finest moment. Eric Carmen’s vocal is electric; he sounds like he’s trying to burst through your speakers and get right in your face. And what teenager couldn’t identify with the subject matter?

 To read the full list, please click HERE.

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