Tag Archives: power pop

Spike Vincent’s Self-Titled EP is Well Worth Settling Down With

Spike Vincent, S-T EP (Burger; Dinosaur City)

Spike Vincent – pictured above with a glorious coiffure exuding an Italia ’90 Rudi Voller or Hard Target-era Van Damme vibe – hails from Hurlstone Park, Sydney, Australia. After releasing a couple of 7” singles on local label Dinosaur City Records, Vincent recently exhaled a self-titled EP chock full of shimmering, emotive indie guitar pop.

Where previous singles were self-produced, the EP sees Vincent backed by a full band as part of a live, in studio recording. The intimate, unpolished “live to tape” process serves as the perfect setting for the bruised romance of the EP’s six tracks. Highlights abound: “Lie in the Dust” swoops and darts – but never quite alights – like a long-lost The Church single (Vincent’s tone, particularly in the lower register, calls to mind that band’s Steve Kilbey); “Get Over It” is a luxurious internal monologue debating the merits of a relationship’s ‘next step’; closer, “I Like You” a somewhat tortured love note with a sing-along chorus and lines like “if I like you/will my soul turn into gravel/…will my life start to unravel”.

Vincent’s self-titled EP is available now, via Dinosaur City and Burger Records in the US. You can grab a copy on his bandcamp while having your data pilfered on fbook (too soon?) and instagram.

Album Review: “Rot”, by Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys

Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys, Rot (What’s Your Rupture?; R.I.P. Society; Agitated Records)

Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys are a four-piece hailing from Sydney, featuring members of bands including Royal Headache and Red Red Krovvy.  Following on 2013’s great debut, Ready for Boredom, the group released Rot this past November, and it’s amazing.

Rot finds the band barreling through an 11-song, 30 minutes and change set of fuzzed-out power pop that recalls folks like Wreckless Eric or a punkier Replacements.  The combination of the raw, strained emotion in singer Joe Sukit’s voice over the grin-inducing melodies crafted by guitarist Ben Warnock is a potent one, and the band pulls off wry piss takes like “Expanding Horizons” and “Company”, and wistful reflections like opener “Away” and album highlight, “Device”, with equal aplomb.  As closer, “Turn of the Page” ascends to an extended call and response between saxophone and a crunchingly beautiful solo worthy of ‘Starry Eyes’, the album leaves you with a hopeful sense that, despite leaving some scars, its titular degeneration is clearing.

Rot is available now, courtesy of a trio of labels: What’s Your Rupture? (US/Canada), R.I.P. Society (Australia, New Zealand) and Agitated (UK/EU) – pick your fave currency and buy a copy.  The group also have a few tour dates coming up down under (sorry) – you can find them on the band’s fbook page.

Highlights include:  “Victoria”; “Away”; “Device”.

Laurie Spector’s Debut as Hothead Hits All the Right Notes

Hothead, S/T (Sister Polygon)

Hothead is the solo alter ego of songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Laurie Spector, who has played in DC bands like Gauche, Foul Swoops and Chain and the Gang.  Her Hothead debut (released on cassette by the fantastic Sister Polygon) contains seven tracks, including a cover of “You Should All be Murdered” by Sarah Records sly indie pop titans, Another Sunny Day.

The cover choice feels apropos, since standout tracks here like “How It Goes” conjure up the same emotions, with jangle perk offsetting the more acerbic lyrical aspects.  Spector’s Hothead arrangements, though, are less wide-eyed, with each track smothered under a heavy cloak of reverb.  Spector sings withering kiss offs to “disaffected pseudo intellectuals” (“Rocco”) and and those for whom she “feel[s] nothing in love” (“Inside Loop”) at times  with a kind of drunken snarl, her voice buried deep in the mix (even when accompanied solely by acoustic guitar on the strummed ballad, “Marilyn”, her voice sounds like it’s coming from a different room).

Musically, in addition to indie jangle-pop, there’s shades of 70s AM rock (which, in turn, brings in aspects of folk and bluesy country) and power pop.  Add in some playful ornamentation (“Hothead” (the closing track) features what sounds like a recorder(?); “Rocco”, handclaps) and some eye moistening melodies – seriously, we double dog dare you to listen to the chiming guitar leads in “How It Goes” or “Inside Loop” without a wistful smile filling your face – and what you have is an immensely satisfying listen.  Is “lo-fi power pop” an oxymoron? Maybe, but who cares when it’s this good.

The self-titled album is out now, and is available digitally on Bandcamp (tapes are sold out).  A tour is also imminent (though, sadly, not near us *sniff*), so go say ‘hello’ if you’re in the area – dates here.  There are also some great discussions with Spector on the ideas and processes behind the album, courtesy of Impose Magazine and WAMU’s bandwidth.fm.  Check ‘em out.

Highlights include: “Inside Loop”, “How It Goes”.

“Do What You Want To”, the New Single from Olympia’s VEXX, Puts the Strut in Punk

VEXX, “Do What You Want To” (M’Lady’s Records (US): Upset! The Rhythm (EUR/UK))

Olympia’s VEXX made an immediate impact on ears/minds/souls in 2014 with their debut, self-titled EP.  Then followed last year’s equally fantastic, if more nuanced, “Give and Take” 7”, which saw the band stretch their scorched earth punk/hc with touches of the serious blues and r&b riffage hinted at on debut tracks like “Strength” and “Ocean Shores”.

Now, VEXX returns with “Do What You Want To” – the first taste of new EP/mini-LP “The Wild Hunt”.   It’s a groovy amalgam of punk/blues crunch and 70s power-pop strut, with a seriously killer Chuck Berry riff and a rhythmic shimmy evoking visions of spandex jumpsuits and the sounds of The Sex Pistols to Sweet to the Runaways.

If your issue with power-pop is its tendency towards a more mawkish (and male-driven) take on romance/‘getting some’, fear not gentle reader.  For while singer Maryjane Dunphe is enticed by the person who’s caught her eye, they receive the titular line to do as they wish – no falsetto plea to ‘go all the way’, here, as the track begins to unravel before ending abruptly with a shriek.  All killer; no filler.

“The Wild Hunt” is due in October as a joint release of two excellent labels: M’Lady’s Records out of Portland, OR and the UK’s Upset! the Rhythm – and is available for pre-order now via either/or.  Do what you wanna, &etc.  While you’re doing that, you can check out more about VEXX here.

New Track: Dot Dash, Rainclouds

Dot Dash, “Rainclouds” (The Beautiful Music)

 

This D.C.-based quartet has been releasing records since 2011 – though, in the interest of full disclosure, I must admit to having missed the boat on these guys up ’til now.

The lineup is packed full of D.C. scene muscle, featuring vets of acts such as Minor Threat, Government Issue, Youth Brigade, Swervedriver and Julie Ocean. “Rainclouds”, taken from new album Earthquakes and Tidal Waves – out now on The Beautiful Music – arrived in our inbox from the band themselves (THANKS!).

The song cleaves a channel between the punkier side of power-pop and the woozy, post-punk take on pop of mid-period Wire (the band’s name is taken from the title of a Wire song, though not one from that period).  Lead singer Terry Banks sounds…go with me…a bit like a two-faced Janus – one side Colin Newman; the other, Robyn Hitchcock – fronting first album Cheap Trick, The Records or Hoodoo Gurus, throwing kiss-offs to a friend ‘neath a perpetual dark cloud: “summer breezes dancing through the trees/and you can put, the blame on me/your concrete shoes are giving you the blues/I’m footloose and fancy free”.  Throw in some sweet falsetto and you’ve got the makings of a breezy, yet muscular track.  Can’t wait to listen to more from the band.

Check the band out on Facebook and/or Twitter.  Earthquakes and Tidal Waves is available on iTunes or via the band’s Bandcamp page.

New (To Me!) Band of the Day: Sheer Mag

7” (Wilsuns RC)

“Button Up” (Katorga Works)

Sheer Mag are a Philadelphia-based outfit with an obvious love of ‘70s rawk.  Many reviewers have pointed to the obvious indebtedness to blues/hard “classic” rock stalwarts like Thin Lizzy (hell, the band’s logo on their Bandcamp page even looks like a cross between those of Lizzy, Van Halen and, um, early Voivod) and their take on muscular, blues-y riffage.  I can’t help but hearing tuneage that would’ve fit nicely with a lot of the 70s output of labels like Stiff Records.

That is, gloriously throwback rock and roll; a messier version of the slick sound of ‘70s FM rock radio.  Bands indebted to a leaner, simpler, catchier vision of blues rock; more T. Rex stomp than Led Zeppelin pomp.  There’s more than a hint of the fuzzed-out power pop of a Wreckless Eric or The Only Ones on songs like “Hot Lovin’” and “What You Want” from their debut 7” (even the song titles are as ‘70s as bellbottoms and shagwagons, no?).  Singer Christina Hallady’s pipes sound like they’re fittin’ to burst under the weight of all that fuzz, as she channels the fiery throatiness of the likes of Joan Jett.  On new track, “Button Up” (from an upcoming 7” to be released on Katorga Works), the band sound (a bit) less charmingly messy, but more anthemic.  Building from a straight-up Chuck Berry as channeled by Angus Young riff, the song uses an overlay of surprisingly shimmery guitar to accent the proceedings.

This shit is fun – get out your hair brush and sing along, then get out of the house and check them out on tour.