Tag Archives: Steve O’Connor

Under The Radar: Pop Mafia

Another blast from the trolling tangents of The MP3 Files for Cosmik Debris. Wish I could tell you that these guys are alive and well and making records, but I haven’t found anything since 2003. And yes, I’ve tried Pop Mafia and Popmafia.

The review in Billboard was pretty effervescent: “Remember when rock music was no-frills fun? Somewhere between the new-wave era and the hair-metal movement, rock was simple, unabashedly pop, but aggressive enough to keep punkers happy. Maybe we’re just showing our age, but they sure don’t make music like that anymore.”

I was on board as well. Any time a press release lays down the gauntlet by promising ” the influence of early Elvis Costello and the Replacements” my ears perk up, and so does the high bar. Down at the Astoria is certainly not a stone cold classic like This Years Model or Pleased To Meet Me, but a good fun band and a record well worth your listening time.

Here is my review from 2001…

Let me get this straight…three of the five guys are named O’Donnell, O’Brien and O’Connor, and the band is called Popmafia?

Ahh, never mind, doesn’t matter, because their CD Down At The Astoria flat out kicks ass. They’ve got a skintight hard rock sound down pat, and the production sends it out crisp, clear and loud. Steve O’Donnell’s vocals are strong throughout, ballsy without lapsing into screaming, and bassist Paul Conway and drummer Steve Selezniov are locked into a groove that won’t quit. If Blink 182 covered “She Comes” or “Just Go Away,” we’d all be dancing to the killer hooks. Good songs about sex, love and rock and roll; from the temperate “Believe In Me” to the fiery “Automatic” and the clever “Taintshaker.”

Too many wannabe bands try to combine modern rock with a surf-punk edge and fall flat on their faces; Popmafia never forgets that melody and good musicianship doesn’t mean overkill. Guitarists Matt O’Brien and Steve O’Connor leave no doubt that they’re monsters, but they do it by driving the rhythm and then diving in for clean crisp solos. “Prizefighter” is a good example; as the band slides into double-time, O’Connor rips notes like a boxer nailing his opponent with a flurry of jabs. Hell, make that uppercuts, it’s too good for jabs. I’d love to see these guys open for The Dictators because an audience like that would get it in spades.

Listen to clips and grab a copy via CD Baby.

A later EP Delusions of Grand Avenue also available there.


Filed under Music, Reviews