cryI was introduced to The Cry in early 2012 when I stumbled across the then-digital only release of their S/T debut album. Delivering twelve power pop tracks in the Exploding Hearts vein I was completely blown away by their songwriting skills and impeccable delivery. Well, two years have passed and the band have just finished up recording their second album and had the courtesy of sending me a promo, to which I’m much obliged.

Kicking off with the B.T.O.-esque Discotheque, the band launches into ten tracks of perfectly written power pop gems with a healthy dose of rock ‘n’ roll, garage and glam thrown in for good measure – and there’s even some shuffle to boot! Influences intact I still hear a band that’s matured and have taken their songwriting skills to a whole new level. Somehow this affair got me thinking of The Clash circa Give Them Enough Rope – not that they sound anything like it, but I can sense a similar development as touring, writing and gigging made them gel as a band that in a similar manner let their influences shine through without aping anyone.

The end result is a true party album with ten consecutive hits, a great sounding effort delivered with sweat and passion and every time it ends I find myself wanting to hear more – the tell-tale sign of a truly great record. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if this made Best of 2014 lists towards the end of the year. A+. Get it.

Sample track: 

Bandcamphttp://thecry.bandcamp.com/
Websitehttp://www.thecrypdx.com/

Beyond Veronica

September 3, 2012

More emails, this time from Portland’s Beyond Veronica hepping me to their second album Hard Times For Dreamers released earlier this year on Fetish Pop Records. A dozen tracks are offered here, mostly of the mid-tempo variety with some nice hooks and a pretty retro 70s Power Pop feel – musically they actually kinda reminded me of Seattle legends The Heats!

The band is good and tight, vocalist Bonnie Veronica got a nice voice that kinda brings to mind early The Pandoras (especially on tracks like Fade Away where that 60s retro garage feel gets more evident) and unlike a lot of bands these guys offers up a wide variety when it comes to the song material, making it a pleasant experience for the listener. Check ’em out!

Sample track:

Bandcamp:
http://beyondveronica.bandcamp.com/
Website: http://www.beyondveronica.com/

The Jimmy C (update!)

April 19, 2012

Well, I already wrote about this Australian musician back in January (you can read about it here), and recently had the fortune of interviewing him for the upcoming issue of German music magazine  CRKO (where you’ll find this blog in a column format from now on), and not only is he a talented multi-instrumentalist but such a sweet, down-to-earth kinda guy I’m making an extra effort to promote him (arrogant rockstar wannabees take note!) With about 30 new songs written and recorded – you wanna talk ‘prolific’? – there’s a 5-track rough-mix sample available on his Bandcamp starting today.

Being a big fan of his previous album Glamour & Fame (if you’re looking for great-sounding 60s styled pop make sure you check it out) I was pleasantly surprised to see his songwriting and arranging skills having matured, and as a fellow musician it was great to see him move away from genre and instead focusing on songs – style be damned. In it’s rough format this is still a great collection of tracks and it’s obvious Jamie has found his voice. Now all we can do is sit back and just enjoy the fruits of his labor. The songs are free to download so what are you waiting for?

Sample track:

Bandcamp: http://thejimmyc.bandcamp.com/
Website: http://www.thejimmyc.com/

The Guitars

March 8, 2012

Wow! For a great slice of Motown-meets-60s-Bubblegum check out The Guitars debut release High Action! Perfectly produced, this Ohio quartet offers up seven songs of amazing soul-pop-bubblegum that takes you back at least 40 years in music history. With brilliant musicianship, some serious songwriting talent and a really gifted vocalist, these guys are sure to make some waves in the future.

Four releases so far, including tons of free downloads (including a X-Mas EP where they cover The Sonics)! The EP is also available as a vinyl 10″ so make sure you check them out!

Sample track:

Bandcamp: http://theguitars.bandcamp.com/
Website: http://www.wearetheguitars.com/

Fear of Lipstick

January 20, 2012

Canadian quartet Fear of Lipstick serves up a take on Pop Punk that’s very refreshing on their latest album Seasons. Nice staccato guitars, singalong choruses and tons of hooks bringing to mind the classic ’77 sounds of Buzzcocks and a bit of Generation X – without ever trying to ape the bigger names of the 90’s Pop Punk explosion (a common problem in that scene I gotta say). Add a great production steering clear of the lo-fi camp and good vocal delivery and you got a nice little gem on your hands!

You get fourteen high-energy pop blasts on the album that’s available as a free download (yay!), and the vinyl version will be released later on this year by German label P Trash Records.

Sample track:

Bandcamp: http://fearoflipstick.bandcamp.com/
Website: http://www.facebook.com/fearoflipstick

The Dualies

January 16, 2012

Aw, I’m smitten! San Fransisco trio The Dualies blend 80’s New Wave with 8-bit electronics, delivering super-cute modern electropop they call “dancy bitwave” that’s both catchy and charming in the process. Full of nice hooks with a low-key delivery their latest EP Handclaps & Zaps -released in the summer of 2011 – offers up three great-sounding tracks with semi-spoken female vocals.

I gotta admit, at first the combination struck me as a bit odd when I read the tags, but it only took a couple of seconds into the first song for me to get into the band’s sound. Two EP’s and one X-Mas single has been released so far, and all being available for free you should check these guys out!

Sample track:

Bandcamp: http://thedualies.bandcamp.com/
Website: http://www.facebook.com/thedualies

The Cry

January 4, 2012

Well, if we ignore there’s a Swedish garage outfit with the same name that’s been active for 20+ years, Portland quartet The Cry is a fairly new band made up of pretty young guys delivering perfectly executed Power Pop. I gotta admit I was initially freaked out hearing these guys on account of their eerily similar sound to that other great Portland pop outfit The Exploding Hearts (especially considering their heartbreakingly tragic end in 2003), but these guys make it no secret they’re an influence and they manage to pull it off incredibly good!

Twelve tracks are served up on their self-titled debut album and it pretty much sounds like a greatest hits compilation from a veteran band with twenty years under the belt (and these guys are in their teens!). We’re talking massive song writing talent mixing up the classic sounds of 70’s Power Pop with nice 50’s harmonies, completely drenched in hooks – fodder for some heavy radio rotation, I kid you not. Keep a lookout in March when the vinyl version is released in Japan (on S-P Records) and Europe (by Taken By Surprise Records).

Sample track:

Bandcamp: http://thecry1.bandcamp.com/
Website: http://www.thecrypdx.com/

The Jimmy C

January 4, 2012

For a good chunk of charming self-produced music check out Australian native Jamie Coghill’s (under the The Jimmy C moniker) albums on Bandcamp! Oddly enough stating he’s a “mediocre multiinstrumentalist” in his bio, he’s the drummer of Australian outfit The Devilrock Four who started experimenting with 4-track recordings on his own in 2005, ending up with tons of songs released on five different albums and EP’s over the years!

A variety of different garage sounds are offered on the albums available (garage punk, pop, spy themes, groovy instrumentals etc.) reminding me of a more garage version of Beck (especially on the funny Sucks To Be You) via The Ventures with maybe some slight Eagles of Death Metal qualities to the more rocking tracks. His latest offering Glamour & Fame (released on Australian label Off The Hip) offers up some great 60’s styled pop and is highly recommended. Fun!

Sample track:

Bandcamp: http://thejimmyc.bandcamp.com/
Website: http://www.thejimmyc.com/

The Reactions

January 3, 2012

Well, these guys really don’t need that much of an introduction for us collector nerds as their records fetch some pretty ridiculous prices on eBay these days. Formed in Florida in 1979, The Reactions delivered some pretty cool high-energy power pop in the early 80’s, self-released two 7″ EP’s and then folded. Making a name for themselves locally, interest in the band came years later when their tracks started appearing on various bootleg compilations during the 90’s.

Mixing The Buzzcocks with The Ramones we’re talking some pretty basic, three-chord power pop with healthy punk energy injected to it. Seventeen-track Cheap Rewards Records‘ compilation Saturday’s Gone Wild – available as a download on Bandcamp – offers all the material from the previously mentioned singles, with some unreleased rehearsals plus four live tracks. At the set price of nine dollars it’s a bargain compared to the originals.

Sample track:

Bandcamp: http://thereactions.bandcamp.com/
Website: http://cheaprewards.net/

Opposite Sex

January 2, 2012

New Zealand trio (and sometimes just duo) The Opposite Sex offers up a real odd sort of dadaist pop with a hint of darkness to it on their self-titled debut album. With a sound that can only be the result of isolation, the band was formed when female bassplayer Lucy Hunter met future drummer/used bookstore owner Tim Player, with guitarist Fergus Taylor occasionally filling out the line-up. Impossible to describe I’d say it’s minimalist pop music with tons of waltz thrown in, some early art-punk and a slight French ye-ye influence.

Truly a unique, alternative pop band with a sound of their own, their debut is an oddity but charming as hell and really grows on you the more you listen to it. To top it off, Lucy’s sugary, “cutesy” vocal gives it a sort of demented quality that I really fell for. Is “insanely cute” a good description? Anyway, some free downloads and it’s available on CD and vinyl as well!

Sample track:

Bandcamp: http://oppositesex.bandcamp.com/
Website: http://fishriderrecords.wordpress.com/opposite_sex/