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/

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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 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/

Burger Records Sampler

January 5, 2012

If you’re looking for a contemporary garage rock fix or maybe just curious about the label, US label Burger Records recently released their Burger Records Sampler on Bandcamp. Unfortunately not available as a download, you still get 35 tracks ranging from noisy lo-fi punk to sweet Beatles-esque pop sounds with artists and bands including everybody from Devon Williams and Ty Segall to Nobunny and Personal and The Pizzas.

Starting out as a record store in Fullerton California, the label is making waves in the underground community with a great stable of artists and releasing albums on cool formats like limited-edition cassettes. This release is bound to have something for every garage fan out there so check it out.

Sample track:

Bandcamp: http://burgerrecords.bandcamp.com/album/burger-records-sampler
Website: http://www.burgerrecords.org/

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 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/

Kurt Baker

December 21, 2011

For a slice of classic US powerpop sounds make sure you check out Kurt Baker‘s latest release Rockin’ For a Living. A former member of The Leftovers, Kurt started a solo career in 2010 emulating the sound of 80’s greats like The Romantics, Paul Collins Beat and The Knack – gaining favorable press in the process. With crispy clear production and great instrumentation, the EP offers up six tracks so perfectly executed you’d swear you’re listening to a lost 12″ EP from the 80’s.

We’re talking loud Rickenbackers, genial simplicity and tons of (retro) charm. Hailed by everybody from Ben Weasel to Larry Livermore of Lookout Records, the album is packed with hooks, nice sing-alongs and leaves you wanting more. If Hollywood decides to do a remake of Valley Girl this guy should handle the soundtrack.

Sample track:

Bandcamp: http://kurtbaker.bandcamp.com/
Website: http://kurtbakermusic.com/