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Jason Panella

Power Pop

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San Francisco power popsters The Orange Peels return with a new album early in 2010 called 2020. I predict the release of 2030 in 2020. The Orange Peels are basically Allen Clapp and whoever he can gather around him, so if you've heard any of the previous Orange Peels albums (my money's on the fact that you haven't), then the new one won't startle you with its innovations. It's supremely tuneful, minimally powerful (I'd give it a 3 on the 1-10 power pop power scale; the electric guitars don't exactly pack a wallop), and occasionally annoyingly sung by a guy who, God bless him, sometimes exhibits the adenoidal whine of Eric Carmen and The Raspberries. But Clapp really does write some engaging, hook-filled melodies, and many of these songs could have been mid-'70s AM radio hits. Sadly, he's arrived 35-40 years after Bread and America. He coulda been a contendah, and earned a guest spot on The Captain and Tennille Variety Hour.

Edited by Andy Whitman

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Tonight, The Lonely Forest headlined a big show at the Showbox, supported by Telekinesis and The Globes.

Chris Walla played with Telekinesis, and is also producing the next Lonely Forest album.

These guys are ready for the big time.

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Power pop:

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Certain songs just beg to be replayed. This one, called "We Sing In Time," by Anacortes, Washington quartet The Lonely Forest, got replayed about 10 times when I first heard it. It's still good for about three or four plays per day. It's the most infectious song I've heard so far this year. The rest of the album can't quite live up to this power pop gooey sweetness, but the other fourteen songs are worthwhile, too. The album, called We Sing the Body Electric, is out April 21st.

The Lonely Forest's new record is out today, and has a new recording of this song. It's kind of amazing.

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The new-ish Telekinesis album 12 Desperate Straight Lines is perfectly serviceable power pop; not great, but consistently catchy and loud, which is about all I ask. This is a downbeat breakup record disguised as a sunny popfest with buzzing, overdriven guitars and memorable singalong choruses. There's no filler; just 12 songs of power pop goodness.

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I had iTunes on shuffle the other day, and the title track from Jon Auer's The Perfect Size EP came on. I'd almost forgotten how much this release rocks. There are a few originals that are solid as can be, and a fantastic, melancholy cover of Guided By Voices' "Gold Star for Robot Boy." I might actually like it more than the original. But the title track really is the main attraction. It's three minutes of fuzzy, 4/4 Cheap Trick glory, complete with twin-guitar solo.

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Certain songs just beg to be replayed. This one, called "We Sing In Time," by Anacortes, Washington quartet The Lonely Forest, got replayed about 10 times when I first heard it. It's still good for about three or four plays per day. It's the most infectious song I've heard so far this year. The rest of the album can't quite live up to this power pop gooey sweetness, but the other fourteen songs are worthwhile, too. The album, called We Sing the Body Electric, is out April 21st.

The Lonely Forest's new record is out today, and has a new recording of this song. It's kind of amazing.

I don't know if anyone other than Kevin is listening to this music, but I've got to say that it's quite good. Sonically, it's nothing new. It's solid, chiming indie rock, highly melodic, with some great singalong choruses. It reminds me a bit of some of the mid-'80s melodic albums from southern indie rockers Let's Active, Guadalcanal Diary, and the dB's. And production wise, this album is a definite upgrade from We Sing the Body Electric, the previous album.

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An oft-bootlegged Rockpile concert has just been officially unearthed and released as Rockpile Live at Montreux 1980. Since Rockpile only officially released one album (Seconds of Pleasure), this effectively doubles the catalog. And it's a worthy addition, too, full of Nick Lowe's whipsmart songs and Dave Edmunds' and Billy Bremmer's rockabilly licks. The band just careens from one great song to another (many released on solo Lowe and Edmunds albums), and the recording quality considerably cleans up what some of you may have heard on the muddy bootleg. Classic power pop.

Edited by Andy Whitman

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An oft-bootlegged Rockpile concert has just been officially unearthed and released as Rockpile Live at Montreux 1980. Since Rockpile only officially released one album (Seconds of Pleasure), this effectively doubles the catalog. And it's a worthy addition, too, full of Nick Lowe's whipsmart songs and Dave Edmunds' and Billy Bremmer's rockabilly licks. The band just careens from one great song to another (many released on solo Lowe and Edmunds albums), and the recording quality considerably cleans up what some of you may have heard on the muddy bootleg. Classic power pop.

I haven't had an opportunity to hear this yet, but it's one of my most anticipated albums of the year; given that Seconds of Pleasure is on my short list of all-time favorites, how could it not be?

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The saga of Dwight Twilley is the classic story of the right guy in the wrong place at the wrong time. It would have never been easy for a man from Tulsa, Oklahoma to bust into the rock 'n roll mainstream, but Twilley also happened to arrive on the scene in the mid-'70s, a time when Anglophile power pop was in disfavor. Just ask Alex Chilton and Big Star. Twilley and songwriting partner Phil Seymour delivered two superb albums -- 1976's Sincerely and 1977's Twilley Don't Mind -- experienced barely a ripple of critical acclaim, and disappeared from view.

He's resurfaced with new solo albums periodically, and the past five years or so have seen a resurgence of interest in his music. Nada Surf covered Twilley's "You Were So Warm" (from Sincerely) on last year's fine If I Had a Hi-Fi (a case of the criminally unappreciated covering the criminally unappreciated), and he's now the subject of a rock 'n roll documentary. The resulting soundtrack for the film (called, appropriately enough, Soundtrack) has just been released, and it's a wonderful reminder of all that is special about his music. The songs, all written and performed by Twilley, are rueful, funny, and deeply personal, and if his voice is a little weathered and frayed around the edges, he's lost nothing in the way of memorable pop hooks. Take a listen, explore the back catalog, and revel in the wonders of one who slipped under the radar.

Edited by Andy Whitman

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I'm a fan of the original recording of Teenage Fanclub's "Everything Flows," from 1990. I gotta say, though, this recent live version — which features a much less youthful band — is a million times better.

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I'm listening to Army Navy's sophomore album, The Last Place, free on Rdio right now. I haven't been able to give it the headphone or car stereo test yet, but it's a fine follow up to their debut (which is one of my favorite pop records of the 2000s). It fits the "difficult second album" bill quite well — the songs are a bit more complex and less immediately catchy than the stuff from their first album. Should provide rewarding on multiple listens, I think.

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The saga of Dwight Twilley is the classic story of the right guy in the wrong place at the wrong time. It would have never been easy for a man from Tulsa, Oklahoma to bust into the rock 'n roll mainstream, but Twilley also happened to arrive on the scene in the mid-'70s, a time when Anglophile power pop was in disfavor. Just ask Alex Chilton and Big Star. Twilley and songwriting partner Phil Seymour delivered two superb albums -- 1976's Sincerely and 1977's Twilley Don't Mind -- experienced barely a ripple of critical acclaim, and disappeared from view.

He's resurfaced with new solo albums periodically, and the past five years or so have seen a resurgence of interest in his music. Nada Surf covered Twilley's "You Were So Warm" (from Sincerely) on last year's fine If I Had a Hi-Fi (a case of the criminally unappreciated covering the criminally unappreciated), and he's now the subject of a rock 'n roll documentary. The resulting soundtrack for the film (called, appropriately enough, Soundtrack) has just been released, and it's a wonderful reminder of all that is special about his music. The songs, all written and performed by Twilley, are rueful, funny, and deeply personal, and if his voice is a little weathered and frayed around the edges, he's lost nothing in the way of memorable pop hooks. Take a listen, explore the back catalog, and revel in the wonders of one who slipped under the radar.

Twilley's songwriting partner, Phil Seymour, released a couple solo albums in the early '80s. The second album, called 2, is fairly nondescript, but the eponymous solo album from 1980 is a power-pop gem, evenly split between Beatles '65 homages and rockabilly swagger. There's a song here called "Baby It's You" (a Seymour original, not The Shirelles tune) that is so infectious that it ought to be quarantined and accompanied by a Center for Disease Control warning.

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Twilley's songwriting partner, Phil Seymour, released a couple solo albums in the early '80s. The second album, called 2, is fairly nondescript, but the eponymous solo album from 1980 is a power-pop gem, evenly split between Beatles '65 homages and rockabilly swagger. There's a song here called "Baby It's You" (a Seymour original, not The Shirelles tune) that is so infectious that it ought to be quarantined and accompanied by a Center for Disease Control warning.

Looks like Seymour's debut is going to get the expanded reissue deal in a few months (at least, according to Wikipedia it is).

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An oft-bootlegged Rockpile concert has just been officially unearthed and released as Rockpile Live at Montreux 1980. Since Rockpile only officially released one album (Seconds of Pleasure), this effectively doubles the catalog. And it's a worthy addition, too, full of Nick Lowe's whipsmart songs and Dave Edmunds' and Billy Bremmer's rockabilly licks. The band just careens from one great song to another (many released on solo Lowe and Edmunds albums), and the recording quality considerably cleans up what some of you may have heard on the muddy bootleg. Classic power pop.

I am finally listening to this live Rockpile album today, and loving it. In addition to doubling the Rockpile catalog, it also provides a nice flipside to Seconds of Pleasure. That album is very Nick-centric and is really pure pop; this one is all about Dave, and is straight, stomping, wonderfully ragged rock and roll. Of course, it's an absolute blast.

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This is my favorite long running thread and I returned recently from SXSW where I witnessed some transcendent power pop highlights - including a mid-day set by Ben Kweller and a Big Star Third tribute featuring Jody Stephens, Chris Stamey, Mitch Easter, a string section and a host of guest stars that was a little wobbly but truly inspiring. But even more thrilling was a jam-packed show by the almost original dB's quartet (bassist Gene Holder couldn't make the trip but was replaced by Mitch Easter) which featured such fan favorites as "Love is For Lovers", "Neverland" and "Big Brown Eyes". They also did 4-5 new songs from an upcoming album, Falling Off the Sky, that did nothing to tarnish their legacy. The second to last show I saw in Austin was Peter Case and Paul Collins performing songs by The Beat, The Plimsouls and The Nerves. The Beat's debut album is a power pop masterpiece and they must have done 6-7 songs from it. It was a little weird to attend what is arguably the music industry's most influential new music showcase (SXSW) and see a band performing only songs from 30 years ago, but boy do those songs hold up. It's such a narrow audience that treasues these songs, but the "mature" crowd had ear to ear grins.

Over the weekend I picked up the new one (Leaving Atlanta) by Gentleman Jesse, who seems to have lost his Men but retained his uncanny knack for jittery guitar stoked romps that are instantly memorable. On first listen, it reminds of I'm The Man-era Joe Jackson fronting The Plimsouls.A must have for power pop lovers.

http://www.douchemasterrecords.blogspot.com/

Edited by Teek

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Why are Brendan Benson, Fountains of Wayne, and Nada Surf not massively successful? When did effortless melodicism and endless pop hooks go out of style?

Don't tell me. I know the answers to those questions. But this stuff still sounds timeless to me. It just never gets old, and it's perfect music for crusing in the car. Okay, the car is a 1976 Chevy Nova. But still.

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Even though I owned and loved albums by Big Star, Fountains of Wayne, Teenage Fanclub and the Lemonheads, and even though I felt like a bit of a rebel among my friends for having a positive opinion of the twang-less Summerteeth, I didn't know I was a fan of power pop until this article, which I can safely assume I read over a dial up connection the weekend after it was published. (Big Star came through REM and the rest were pretty easy to find organically...I was in a record store that was playing FOW and left with the album, exactly like the Beta Band gambit from High Fidelity).

http://www1.salon.com/ent/music/feature/2000/08/02/frisbie/index.html

In one of those crazy conceptual continuity moments, I saw this CD for 25 cents at my local shop within a week of the review. Still sounds good and reminds me of why I like Power Pop so much.

Re-reading it the Salon article a decade plus later, I giggle when I notice who the author is. Not a name I recognized at the time.

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I haven't visited this forum in quite a while, so today I popped in (pun intended) only to find this cool long-running thread. Like someone else stated, I listen to many different genres of music, but I always come back to power pop and never get tired of listening to it. So many of my favorites have already been mentioned: Badfinger, Gin Blossoms, Teenage Fan Club (my favorite album: Songs From Northern Britain), The La's, Fountains of Wayne and Dwight Twilley, whose album Jungle has one of my favorite DT songs - "Why You Want To Break My Heart" (as a side note, Susan Cowsill sang on that album).

Like many of you I'm mystified that some of these bands, like TFC, didn't have a bigger impact. But it's nice to find others of a like mind.

Thanks to those who posted lists - listening to Brendan Benson right now on Spotify. new_scatter.gif

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The AV Club recently published a beginner's guide to the first wave of power pop. It's a good read, especially with Noel Murray at the helm.

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A good way to start are the DIY series. I could almost get all of them used (cheap price).

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The AV Club recently published a beginner's guide to the first wave of power pop. It's a good read, especially with Noel Murray at the helm.

 

I've revisited this list several times. On the most recent go-around, I decided to check out Tommy Keene. I'm glad I did. The guy has been releasing solid power pop albums since the early '80s with little-to-no fanfare. 

 

I didn't realize it until almost 20 years later, but I first encountered Keene when he played with Paul Westerberg on Letterman's show (where he delivered a tasty, tasty solo).

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2cu34XsOZs0

 

 

I started working my way through Keene's solo albums during the summer. I listened to five total, I believe, and all were at least remarkably solid or, in several cases, stellar. One of his best tunes, "Places That Are Gone," gets a nice live treatment on Conan's show (with a spot from Jay Bennett on guitar.)

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nCj0nw24UaQ

Edited by Jason Panella

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