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Jason Panella

Power Pop

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What are the Power Pop Touchstones?

Beatles?

Beach Boys/Brian Wilson?

Yep, and one more B band, The Byrds. That chiming/jangly guitar has to come from somewhere, and it might as well come from Roger McGuinn.

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It's also specific eras of each of those bands - before they started getting ambitious. It's more like All Summer Long-era Beach Boys, Rubber Soul-era Beatles, and Younger Than Yesterday-era Byrds.

Edited by TheTrout

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Power pop is one of the hardest genres to pinpoint, but also one of the easiest--some stuff you just know as you hear it. I often think of the Beatles "And Your Bird Can Sing" as one of the best prototype power pop tunes: it has hooks overflowing, vocal harmonies, etc...what coltrane mentioned.

I mean, there are always hybrids, but I always tend to classify the ones that lean toward coltrane's list as the power pop artists. For instance, as power poppy as the Ramones were, they still were more punk than P.P. The Smoking Popes and the Thermals I tend to call more power pop, though, since they're more P.P. than punk. Just like Cheap Trick was more power pop than hard rock, or Jellyfish were more power pop than psych rock.

One thing I've always wondered, though, is that many power pop artists always tend to have country elements: Matthew Sweet, Teenage Fanclub, the Posies and--heck--even Big Star drifted toward twang. How to rationalize this? I don't know.

Oh, and as much as I respect R.E.M., I never called them power pop because I never, ever found them to be a 'hook-y' band.

--Electric guitars (of the jangly and chiming variety)

I would also add that lots of modern power pop has crunchy, fuzzed-out guitar dynamics over the chiming variety. Sweet's "Sick of Myself" is a good example, as is lots of Cheap Trick's earlier material.

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Wow... a power pop discussion!! It seems most of the music I love outside the first wave of classic rock fits rather loosely under the power pop or alt-country banners. I believe The Beatles of 1964-1966 were the proto-power pop band and generally the term "Beatlesque" refers to power pop. As part of a cd swap for Christmas last year, I put together a power pop primer for my part. It's not a history of and it's not all-inclusive, and not every band would strictly be classified as "power pop", but all these songs feel like power pop to me.

Anyone who would like a copy, feel free to PM me.

Disc One

1. The Undertones - Teenage Kicks

2. The Beatles - All My Loving

3. The Who - The Kids Are Alright

4. The Monkees - (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone

5. Runt - We Gotta Get You A Woman

6. Badfinger - No Matter What

7. Big Star - September Gurls

8. NRBQ - Ridin' in My Car

9. The Raspberries - Go All The Way

10. Joe Jackson - One More Time

11. Cheap Trick - Surrender

12. The Ramones - I Wanna Be Sedated

13. The Buzzcocks - Ever Fallen in Love?

14. The Clash - 1-2 Crush on You

15. The Jam - Going Underground

16. Eddie and The Hot Rods - Do Anything You Wanna Do

17. The Only Ones - Another Girl, Another Planet

18. Hoodoo Gurus - I Want You Back

19. The Records - Starry Eyes

20. The Knack - Good Girls Don't

21. Aztec Camera - Oblivious

22. Miracle Legion - The Backyard

23. dB's - Love Is For Lovers

24. Rick Springfield - I've Done Everything For You

25. The Rubinoos - I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend

Disc Two

1. The Kinks - Better Things

2. Marshall Crenshaw - Cynical Girl

3. Bodeans - Angels

4. The Plimsouls - A Million Miles Away

5. Tommy Keene - Places That Are Gone

6. The La's - There She Goes

7. The Beat - Let Me Into Your Life

8. Matt Keating - Pull Some Strings

9. Richard X. Heyman - Falling Away

10. Guadalcanal Diary - Pillow Talk

11. The Pursuit of Happiness - New Language

12. Adam Schmitt - Waiting to Shine

13. Scruffy The Cat - My Baby, She's Alright

14. Material Issue - Diane

15. Matthew Sweet - I've Been Waiting

16. The Leatherwoods - How Can I Miss You?

17. P. Hux - Lives Like A KIng

18. The Lemonheads - Into Your Arms

19. Fountains of Wayne - Leave The Biker

20. Guides by Voices - Glad Girls

21. Old 97's - Barrier Reef

22. Buzz Zeemer - Break My Heart

23. Jesse Malin - Wendy

24. The Futureheads - Skip To The End

25. Baby's Coming Back

It might be the cd I've listened to the most in 2007.

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Nice list Teek. Have you contacted Rhino yet? If not, I see the start of a box set.

Rhino Presents: Power Pop!

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I always thought the early Who were more Power Pop than the Beach Boys, actually.

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I always thought the early Who were more Power Pop than the Beach Boys, actually.

Amen. The pre-rock opera Who ("Substitute," "Pictures of Lily," etc.) were really proto power pop.

And that's a great list, Teek. I might present my power pop list sometime; I've been working on a list for a while and this might motivate me to finish it.

Anyone have the Nuggets collections floating around? Didn't Rhino release that?

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Wow... a power pop discussion!! It seems most of the music I love outside the first wave of classic rock fits rather loosely under the power pop or alt-country banners. I believe The Beatles of 1964-1966 were the proto-power pop band and generally the term "Beatlesque" refers to power pop. As part of a cd swap for Christmas last year, I put together a power pop primer for my part. It's not a history of and it's not all-inclusive, and not every band would strictly be classified as "power pop", but all these songs feel like power pop to me.

Anyone who would like a copy, feel free to PM me.

Disc One

1. The Undertones - Teenage Kicks

2. The Beatles - All My Loving

3. The Who - The Kids Are Alright

4. The Monkees - (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone

5. Runt - We Gotta Get You A Woman

6. Badfinger - No Matter What

7. Big Star - September Gurls

8. NRBQ - Ridin' in My Car

9. The Raspberries - Go All The Way

10. Joe Jackson - One More Time

11. Cheap Trick - Surrender

12. The Ramones - I Wanna Be Sedated

13. The Buzzcocks - Ever Fallen in Love?

14. The Clash - 1-2 Crush on You

15. The Jam - Going Underground

16. Eddie and The Hot Rods - Do Anything You Wanna Do

17. The Only Ones - Another Girl, Another Planet

18. Hoodoo Gurus - I Want You Back

19. The Records - Starry Eyes

20. The Knack - Good Girls Don't

21. Aztec Camera - Oblivious

22. Miracle Legion - The Backyard

23. dB's - Love Is For Lovers

24. Rick Springfield - I've Done Everything For You

25. The Rubinoos - I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend

Disc Two

1. The Kinks - Better Things

2. Marshall Crenshaw - Cynical Girl

3. Bodeans - Angels

4. The Plimsouls - A Million Miles Away

5. Tommy Keene - Places That Are Gone

6. The La's - There She Goes

7. The Beat - Let Me Into Your Life

8. Matt Keating - Pull Some Strings

9. Richard X. Heyman - Falling Away

10. Guadalcanal Diary - Pillow Talk

11. The Pursuit of Happiness - New Language

12. Adam Schmitt - Waiting to Shine

13. Scruffy The Cat - My Baby, She's Alright

14. Material Issue - Diane

15. Matthew Sweet - I've Been Waiting

16. The Leatherwoods - How Can I Miss You?

17. P. Hux - Lives Like A KIng

18. The Lemonheads - Into Your Arms

19. Fountains of Wayne - Leave The Biker

20. Guides by Voices - Glad Girls

21. Old 97's - Barrier Reef

22. Buzz Zeemer - Break My Heart

23. Jesse Malin - Wendy

24. The Futureheads - Skip To The End

25. Baby's Coming Back

It might be the cd I've listened to the most in 2007.

Wow, some longtime favorites there, Teek, that I forgot in my earlier posts, particularly Hoodoo Gurus, Guadalcanal Diary, The La's, and NRBQ. And ah yes, "Teenage Kicks." Here's one of my favorite quotes:

"I just mark with an asterisk those tracks that I want to play on the radio. 1 asterisk means might play, 2 asterisks means should play, and 3 asterisks means must play. Uhm, I try to restrict myself to 3 asterisks, but if I get very enthusiastic I put 4 or even more. The Undertones' "Teenage Kicks" got something like 28 asterisks, but that was just a fit of madness."

-- Legendary BBC DJ John Peel

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I thought the Who were Maximum R&B :D

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I've been working on a power pop mix CD for almost half a year, and every time I think I have it, it ends up not working out. But--after being inspired by Teek's list--I think I GOT IT. Here it is:

1) the Beatles- "And Your Bird Can Sing"

2) Nick Lowe- "So It Goes"

3) Teenage Fanclub- "Sparky's Dream"

4) Velvet Crush- "Ash and Earth"

5) Big Star- "Back of a Car"

6) Cheap Trick- "Come On, Come On"

7) Elvis Costello & the Attractions- "(What's So Funny About) Peace, Love and Understanding"

8) Gin Blossoms- "Hey Jealousy"

9) the Nerves- "Hanging on the Telephone"

10) Guided by Voices- "Gold Star for Robot Boy"

11) Jellyfish- "the Ghost at Number One"

12) Matthew Sweet- "Sick of Myself"

13) Micheal Penn- "Try"

14) Superdrag- "Sold You an Alibi"

15) the Posies- "Solar Sister"

16) Dave Edmunds- "Girls Talk"

17) Todd Rundgren- "Couldn't I Just Tell You"

18) the Undertones- "Teenage Kicks"

19) Squeeze- "Pulling Mussels (from the Shell)"

20) Flamin' Groovies- "Shake Some Action"

21) the Records- "Starry Eyes"

22) Sloan- "Losing California"

23) Marshall Crenshaw- "Mary Anne"

24) Jason Falkner- "Untitled"

I had to take so many good songs off so it could fit on one CD, from the Lemonheads ("It's All True"), Urge Overkill ("(Now That's) the Barclords"), Superchunk ("Hyper Enough" or "1000 Pounds"...yes, I think Superchunk is technically a power pop band in most ways), the Who ("Substitute"). Still, I got lots of good tunes on. I could probably listen to this CD for years and not get bored.

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To anyone who likes Cheap Trick's first three (or four) albums: check out some of their recent material, especially the self-titled disc from 1997 and 2006's Rockford. Both are really solid power pop albums that move away from the drivel they made during the '80s and most of the '90s.

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I know I'm going to KILL myself in this, my very first post on this board, but I love power pop a lot and I'm so glad that Andy hipped me to this board so that I can start doing some research on all these bands that I haven't gotten to yet. New Pornographers and Zumpano are probably some of my favorites in this thread - I've still not had a chance to revisit my childhood (I saturated myself with R&B and Hip Hop in the 90s and ignored everything else) so this will be a good time to do that.

But, I'm killing myself because one of my guiltiest of pleasures, I think (and I'm already blushing), can be considered for this thread. It's not something that's going to go down in the history books as anything but fluffy kids music (it's played on Radio Disney for God's sake) but The Click Five fit the description of power pop to a tee. Listen to Pop Princess and tell me that, while your child is growing up and being subjected to awful music from their friends, it doesn't bring a smile to your pop heart ears (I mean, if we're mentioning The Rubinoos, come on).

And now that I've disgraced myself, I'll go back to reading and learning.

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For this thread Andy said Power Pop was "his true musical love" and it got me thinking about what could be my own, and I think I never really had a "true musical love". Or more exactly, my "true musical love" often seems to be the one I'm getting into for a while. For a while I could have thought my true musical love was folk music. But two months ago, I found myself drowning into the Spector sound. All the stuff this guy made with so many bands and artists, even the most "dumb" one (it's told he tried to be the most dumb possible), just can't cease to captivate and fascinate me. This man actually created a sound of dreams against reality. That may be why he became kinda mad (I think he is).

Spector didn't make Power Pop (I don't think so). But he made a sound, and a sugary music, that is just my current "true musical love".

The thing that shocked me lately (sorry for being off topic, but I keep on my little rant here), is that for the matters that got Spector involved lately, the media introduced the man like "the famous producer of the solo Beatles albums". I hope it's not like that in the US, but in France it's incredible how he's not well-known for all what he did in the sixties!

Needless to say his magnum work concerns the sixties era...

Edited by Hugues

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For this thread Andy said Power Pop was "his true musical love" and it got me thinking about what could be my own, and I think I never really had a "true musical love". Or more exactly, my "true musical love" often seems to be the one I'm getting into for a while. For a while I could have thought my true musical love was folk music. But two months ago, I found myself drowning into the Spector sound. All the stuff this guy made with so many bands and artists, even the most "dumb" one (it's told he tried to be the most dumb possible), just can't cease to captivate and fascinate me. This man actually created a sound of dreams against reality. That may be why he became kinda mad (I think he is).

Spector didn't make Power Pop (I don't think so). But he made a sound, and a sugary music, that is just my current "true musical love".

The thing that shocked me lately (sorry for being off topic, but I keep on my little rant here), is that for the matters that got Spector involved lately, the media introduced the man like "the famous producer of the solo Beatles albums". I hope it's not like that in the US, but in France it's incredible how he's not well-known for all what he did in the sixties!

Needless to say his magnum work concerns the sixties era...

I think Spector is primarily known as the "Wall of Sound" producer in the U.S. That certainly encompasses some of those solo Beatles albums, but it also takes in The Ronettes and The Righteous Brothers, even The Ramones. Personally, I'm not a big fan of the sound or the man, but he is undeniably a major force in the music of the 1960s, and a somewhat major force into the 1980s.

Re: "my true musical love," I have to say that I have about eight, maybe ten, true musical loves. Power pop is certainly one of them. So is singer/songwriter folk music. So is Americana/roots/alt-country/country rock/whatever you want to call it when people sing with a twang. So is bluegrass. So is Celtic music[1]. So are blues and jazz, two genres of music I rarely write about here. So is punk. So is classical, which I don't think I've ever written about here. I'd be hard pressed to choose a favorite from that list. Fortunately, I don't have to. I love them all.

[1] Or the traditional music of the British Isles, or music loosely influenced by the traditional music of the British Isles. That's for you, Martin.

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Pretty safe to say that at this time Phil Spector is toast.

But..........He learned his craft under Leiber and Stoller. In the history of pop craft he is a milestone. Lot's of instruments, most of them playing unison lines, it was a way to really make the hooks jump out of tiny Am radio speakers. Once multi-tracking became wide spread the approach was unnecessary.

I would say that he didn't transition to stereo well but he did produce All Things Must Pass and Imagine.

He did come up with some pretty cool tricks/arrangements. Multiple drummers, tons of percussion, multiple guitar players. He even used multiple bass players. Had Piano players double the bass line.

He helped Sonny Bono learn his craft. Employed Jack Nitzsche

If Brian Wilson is a touchstone for Power Pop, then nods must be made towards Phil Spector.

I love Phil Spector, for the simple reason that there is something magical in a room full of people making music together and for a while he was really really good at making that happen.

Of course there are the murders and the craziness and well, that part isn't fun at all.

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Of course there are the murders and the craziness and well, that part isn't fun at all.

not power-pop at all, but I was intrigued when Jason Isbell admitted that his solo album's first track, Brand New Kind Of Actress, was about the Spector situation. The lyric had gotten my attention ("just put the piece away"), with the anxiety creeping into his delivery at the end, but he was subtle enough to not spell it out.

You little greasy guy, I don't care what you did

in 1965 before the wife and kid.

I'll leave my jacket on. So sorry I can't stay.

Just put the piece away.

Put the piece away. Just let me call a cab.

We'll go our separate ways, we'll go our separate ways.

Just put the piece away. I don't care what you did

back in younger days. Just put the piece away

.

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smooth.death.take.it.slow,

Since your post I have been playing the Jason Isbell a lot.

I have a sadness because my heart has become callous towards Paul McCartney. I was forced, by the Utubes to pull out some short haired Beatles CD's and remember a few really glorious years of pure pop goodness.

Hugues, thank you for the reminder.

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I'm one of the rare people that loves the early Beatles over the trippy latter-day band. I grew up listening to my dad's LPs; the early Beatles albums were (and are) golden to me...stuff like "Please Please Me" and "All My Loving," even all of the album cuts ("There's a Place" is a favorite). Wow, Hughes, thanks for the clip!

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I'm one of the rare people that loves the early Beatles over the trippy latter-day band.

Oh, you too? :)

Paul and the band also sang "I'll Get You" on that tour - that I still like as well!

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The new Sloan album Parallel Play is a perfectly wonderful addition to the Power Pop canon. There's nothing you haven't heard a thousand times before, but it sounds just great, has some ringing power chords and singalong choruses, and the songwriting (from all four bandmembers) is consistently strong.

The other power pop album I keep coming back to, although it's now almost two years old, is The Broken West's I Can't Go On, I'll Go On. It's uneven, and I end up skipping about half the songs. But there are three songs here -- "Down in the Valley," "Shiftee," and "You Can Build an Island" -- that are just towering power pop achievements, and whenever I play one, I have to hit the Back button on the iPod about ten times so I can listen to it again and again. "Shiftee," in particular, has that great descending guitar line that made "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" so memorable. I hate the word "Beatlesque." So it's not. Call it Harrisonesque.

Edited by Andy Whitman

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Thanks for the tip, Andy. I'm thinking of picking up the new Sloan with my eMusic bit this month. I love how the four guys split the songwriting on the album (rather than having mostly Pentland and Murphy pieces...I'm a big Jay Ferguson fan).

Any idea if / when you'll get an advance for the new Matthew Sweet? Part of me is terrified to hear it, but another part holds out that it'll be a power pop masterpiece. The cover art is at least cool.

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Exhibit #273,896 on why this music still matters: the debut album from Army Navy, out October 14th. The leader of this band, one Justin Kennedy, used to co-lead a band called The Pinwheels with Ben Gibbard. His voice sounds like Ken Stringfellow or Jon Auer from The Posies. His guitars sound like Teenage Fanclub. It's melodic, whiney nerd rock. It's nothing you haven't heard 273,895 times before. But I'm still a sucker for jangly guitars and multi-tracked harmonies and singalong choruses.

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Just throwing this out there: The Broken West's sophomore record, Now or Heaven, is the finest, most addictive power pop album I've heard this year. (If you even want to qualify it as power pop; it doesn't fit that label as neatly as their debut did.)

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Just throwing this out there: The Broken West's sophomore record, Now or Heaven, is the finest, most addictive power pop album I've heard this year. (If you even want to qualify it as power pop; it doesn't fit that label as neatly as their debut did.)

Ermm. I reviewed this one for Paste (the review isn't out yet). I didn't see it that way. I thought it was a huge disappointment, and that the debut album was vastly superior. The words "sophomore slump" came to mind; the notion of using up all the good songs on the first album. I missed things like hooks and guitars.

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