Tag Archives: Revolver

T.G.I.F. – Ten 2010 Bridesmaids

Putting together a “best of” list is hard for me, because there’s so much out there to enjoy every year and many albums appeal to me in different ways. Lists are subjective, of course (despite what Rolling Stone may insist) and try as I might I can’t put six pounds of stuff into a five pound bag. So while I consider the Top Ten an honor, the near misses – Bridesmaids, as I’ve been calling them – are no slouches either.

To beat the tired drum again, anyone who is claiming that there is no great music being made simply isn’t trying hard enough to find it. I’m out there beating the bushes constantly and I can’t keep up with it; certainly even a cursory attempt to widen one’s horizons would be richly rewarded (there’s a bunch of links at right for starters). And as always I welcome the emails from readers that start “have you heard…” as they often open new doors for me as well.

So this week, in no particular order, let me present Ten 2010 Bridesmaids – albums that didn’t make the Top Ten but weren’t far off. When I post the full “best of” lists in January these will certainly be there, so give a listen and be rewarded! (Amazon links included – many on sale right now!)

And on this TGIF Friday I’m especially thankful.

01) Peter Wolf – Midnight Souveniers…Like fine wine, Wolf just gets better and better with age. A far cry from his kinetic J. Geils frontman image, Pete has quietly entered the small plateau of artists perpetuating organic, honest music for the ages. A musical archivist flexing his talents.

02) Smash Palace – 7…If the cover art’s nod to Revolver doesn’t tip you off, let me. Smash Palace is in the upper tier of powerpop bands with traces of Cheap Trick, The Beatles, Tom Petty and Badfinger in its mix but a fresh and original sound. Solid songwriting, incredible vocals, songs that are pure ear candy. Radio’s loss; your gain.

03) Paul Thorn – Pimps and Preachers…”If I could be a tear/rolling down your cheek/and died on your lips/my life would be complete”. Holy shit. I’m new to Thorn’s world, but this is a gritty brew of John Hiatt, Warren Zevon, Bob Seger and Alejandro Escovedo. I am on board now.

04) The Master Plan – Maximum Respect…You were so sure that you didn’t get a record from The Del Lords, The Fleshtones or The Dictators in 2010. Well, you were wrong! The collaborative side project is back for a second album and as you might expect, it kicks ass! If “BBQ” doesn’t get you hopping, you are a zombie.

05) Teenage Fanclub – Shadows…Back after a five-year break and sounding like it was a day. Fannies know what to expect, for the uninitiated, think a sophisticated pop blend of XTC, Big Star and some classic California sunny pop (Beach Boys, CSN). A little subdued for some, I prefer to call it atmospheric.

06) New Pornographers – Together…The phrase “greater than the sum of its parts” sets the bar very high when talking about this collaborative unit, but damned if I don’t find every one of their albums irresistible. Any band that can make whistling as cool as a snapping snare drum is okay by me.

07) Graham Parker – Imaginary Television…Another guy who just defies the calendar and continues to pump out great songs; he’s a better singer, songwriter and guitar player now than in his popular prime. Also be sure to pick up his live set with The Figgs.

08) Deadstring Brothers – Sao Paulo…Imagine the Gram Parsons / Keith Richards sessions in the Stones’ golden era were invaded by Ronnie Wood from The Faces. Wine flowed. Tape rolled. Absolute gospel – rock – country blues bliss.

09) The Hold Steady – Heaven Is Whenever…Just missed…I thought the personnel change would impair their urgency and their passion but they are as good as ever. The first five songs are absolutely perfect and the album would be worth it if it ended there.

10) Nick Curran – Reform School Girl…I wasn’t a follower of Curran but damned if he isn’t channeling Little Richard, Phil Spector, Fats Domino, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and The Sonics on this album. This is a party whittled down and stuffed in a jewel case; besides – how can you not buy an album with a title like this one?

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Under The Radar: Splitsville

It began with a four song EP given away at Poptopia.

Obviously with a name like Pet Soul, the songs were a tribute to the transcendant moments in the careers of The Beach Boys and The Beatles. Although both groups were prolific singles machines in the 60’s, each band sought to delve deeper and create more substantive work. Many consider Revolver and Rubber Soul to be the apex of The Beatles like Pet Sounds is for The Beach Boys.

Splitsville – then a trio of Matt Huseman, Brandt Huseman and Paul Krysiak – were a burgeoning powerpop act on Big Deal Records who had just broken the ice with Ultrasound, their followup to Splitsville USA. Where the latter focused upon childhood fun, Ultrasound dealt with the pain and promise of adolescence (album themes would continue with their third album; Repeater is about the responsibility and accountability of young adulthood). They were clever and poppy and lightweight; fun records, nothing more.

So much like the more mature works of the aforementioned groups, Pet Soul was a revelation. The production is spectacular, squeezing every dollop of the creative instrumentation and pitch-perfect harmonies of the band. Three years later, the band revisited the project and expanded it to a full album without missing a beat, recording in Krysiak’s words “the 1966 album that never was“. So seamless was the project that even the inclusion of their cover of a Burt Bacharach song (“I’ll Never Fall In Love Again”) fit like hand in glove.

Listen to clips of The Complete Pet Soul

The centerpiece of both the EP and the full album is “The Love Songs of B. Douglas Wilson“, which captures the essence of Brian Wilson’s studio genius lyrically, vocally and sonically. It is truly a work of art, and the band members thought so as well. From their website:

Brandt: I’m especially proud of the songwriting. Musically, it was (is) the most ambitious thing I had done: the song has 5 sections that fit together. Lyrically I think it captures the innocence of the Beach Boy lyrics while touching on the darkness of Brian Wilson’s personal life. My favorite part is the finger snaps into the hand claps at the end.
Matt: In my opinion a perfect song. We were having problem with the “breakdown,” which was originally a vocal part. I suggested a theremin. Dave Nachodsky and Paul made it happen.
Paul: Brandt laid down the lead vocal late at night in the far corner of a nearly pitch black studio – just a couple of little red and blue spots shining down on him. Dave Nachodsky and I just watched and listened with our mouths agape, goosebumps rising on our arms and tears welling up in our eyes. No kidding, a truly transcendent moment.

Major kudos to both Dave Nachodsky and Andy Bopp, two studio savants who helped produce and engineer the songs. While this album sounds majestic and beautiful on anything from a computer to a car stereo to a full rig, I highly recommend you grab a pair of good headphones. This is the kind of record headphones were invented for.

Geographically separated, the band now only rarely plays live and has not issued a studio album since 2005’s Incorporated. Hopefully they will continue to record and release new material, but even if they have hung ’em up for good, their legacy is intact, The Complete Pet Soul their crowning achievement.

The Splitsville website and MySpace page.

***

HTTBJ…XXOOIYD!

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T.G.I.F. – Let It Beatle!

I’ve tipped my sizeable cap to Angelo at Power Pop Criminals before; he is an amazingly creative guy with an encyclopedic knowledge of the genre. He’s gone to great lengths to assemble some intriguing virtual tribute albums over the years. Recently he launched the last of his Tribute To The Fab Four series that he started in 2007 – reassembling the original albums with cover versions of each track. As he says, without the Beatles, there would be no powerpop music.

Of course, there are quite a few Beatle tributes on the market, everything from reggae to bluegrass to avant-garde interpretations to straight-ahead homage (like the recent efforts from The Smithereens). But these truly are a labor of love, and although you might not be a fan of every track, I promise you will be rewarded if you check them out.  I think album-to-album they’re as good or better than the commercially assembled releases.

Sure, some of the bands are extremely obscure, even to powerpop fans who dig deep. But you’ll also find a ton of great Beatle covers from famous artists like The Hollies, The Flamin’ Groovies, Aerosmith and Roger McGuinn, and even a couple from one (or two) hit wonders like Moon Martin and The Cyrkle.

Best of all, you’ll hear from many great bands that aren’t household names but are revered by powerpop fans, and rightfully so:  Cotton Mather, Ross Rice, The Blow Pops, The Quick, Walter Clevenger and The Shazam to name but a few.  (And if and when you do get turned onto some new bands in the process, maybe that album or two you purchase from them – you will, won’t you? – makes their day too.)

You’ll need Windows RAR software to unpack the files, you can download that here. And you’ll need the password, which is listed on each tribute page.

So pay it forward…and Thank God It’s Friday. Here’s a ten-spot, thanks to Angelo:

ppc beatles

Please Please Me

With The Beatles

A Hard Day’s Night

1965 / Beatles For Sale

Revolver

Rubber Soul

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Abbey Road

The White Album

Let It Be

animbeatles

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COMPliments

I just got through another round of mixtape exchanges recently; this one (SOTT a/k/a Son Of Tape Tree) started out as a quarterly cassette swap years ago, but has recently been more of a semi-annual affair. Might have been fifteen or twenty people the first time around, this latest run was thirty-five…I think there are only two of us who have been participants in every round.

The music, as always, is eclectic and varied, but most of the entries feature artwork that has only gotten more majestic over the years. Being able to burn CDs in a few nanoseconds instead of forty minutes per cassette (at blinding double-speed!) has made the process effortless. For those of us who make these puppies with great care, it gives us more time to focus on the music. A great mix is like your personal radio station, great music but it needs to flow. That’s where most people blow it.

But I digress…which is my segue into today’s topic – online mixes. There are tons of sites posting old vinyl to CDR/MP3 (I have a couple of favorites in my Blogroll) and occasionally they will get creative enough to offer a personal collection of themed music. My two favorite genres are powerpop and garage, so I thought I’d give some props to a couple of sites that feature ones I am currently enjoying.

Crawling to the wreckage

Crawling to the wreckage

Three volumes of great power pop singles as well as some cool garage collections. I can’t print the name of the website here, but it rhymes with muck the fummies.

My buddy Angelo at Power Pop Criminals has made a ton of out-of-print pop vinyl available as MP3 rips, but he also has a knack (no pun intended) for making great Beatles tributes like this one and this other one. More to be found if you search. And he makes great powerpop comps, too.

Doesn’t matter how tuned you are to the garage scene, if you grab a garage comp, there are almost always bands you have never heard of. Some very cool garage comps can be downloaded here and  here.

"Mixdisc" just doesn't have the same ring to it...

"Mixdisc" doesn't have the same ring to it...

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Magnet (Magazine) – Opposites Don’t Attract

I used to really enjoy reading Magnet, one of the few magazines that really seemed to go out on a limb and find some new bands to trumpet. Their year-end take on important groups and albums – like any such list – was an enjoyable read, chuckles be damned, and I’d always scribble a name or two to follow up on.

But then I remember stopping whatever I was doing when Rolling Stone arrived in the mailbox so I could devour it cover to cover. Do that these days and you’ll get (1) paper cuts from the eleven free-floating subscription cards, (2) nausea from the perfume and cologne samples and (3) even more nausea from the words found buried between the fashion pages. But I digress…we’re talking Magnet today.

I get their teaser emails announcing what’s in the upcoming issue. Normally I glaze past the bullets without anything reaching out and catching my eye; another Sleater-Kinney feature or perhaps the newest adventures of the bass player who used to roadie for Walt Mink but now is producing six bands out of his Astrovan…I get it, he’s really, really indie. But today, I could not forgive the following:

The Beastie BoysPaul’s Boutique just turned 20. MAGNET re-examines one of the greatest pop albums of all time, right up there with Radiohead‘s OK Computer, the BeatlesRevolver and Bob Dylan‘s Blonde On Blonde.

Exfuckingscuse me, but what??

Unless this list of “greatest pop albums of all time” is on a one-page-a-day calendar, you do not mention The Beastie Boys in the same breath as The Beatles or Bob Dylan, ever. Ever! It’s not that I don’t find the Beasties entertaining; I wore the grooves out of “She’s On It” and I will always fight for my right to party. But Hey Ladies, get serious –  one of the greatest pop albums of all time? To paraphrase what  Joe Piscopo as Frank Sinatra would say…”I got pieces of albums like that in my stool!”

See? Not lyin'.

See? Not lyin'.

So how can I take their other offer seriously – the one where their “resident expert” will tell me which Replacements tracks I need and which I am wasting my time listening to? I don’t think so. So for God’s sake, Magnet… Let It Be. You Stink.

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