Having just released her excellent new album Venice, Los Angeles’ Lyn Saga is looking at a golden 2013. Through sheer force of her musical confidence, Saga reclaims the term ˜power pop’ from the would-be dismissive music critics of the world. It’s feel good music; galloping songs with a crunch that somehow soothes. Saga, a classically trained guitarist, filters the catchiest hooks of the alternative pop era through personal lyrics into a unique but not unfamiliar experience. We’re thrilled to name her our Pro Artist of the Week. Listen to the title track from Venice below (and note the Weezer nod at the very end):
The Byrds, the Zombies, Fountains of Wayne, OK GO ¦ mop-topped power pop has a long history here in the U.S. and overseas. Its combination of hooks, guitars, swagger, and rhythm has proven to be an indelible attractor. So if you’re into power pop, it’s likely you’ll be into The Yearbooks. The Chicago-based band is made up of singer Sars Flannery, guitarists Eric Hehr and Bill Friel, bassist Drew Potenza, and drummer Adam James. Together, they crank out hooky rockers with karate chop guitar riffs and propulsive rhythms. Start your introduction with She Did It With Her Eyes. It’s angular, edgy, and jagged with airy vocals”part Strokes and part Death Cab For Cutie. Season of Love, with its staccato guitars, throbbing bass, and strutting drums, is the sound of being cool. Listen and learn.
Power-pop rock band Motion City Sountrack are releasing one last vinyl seven-inch to finish their Making Moves series with Drexel University. The release contains two new songs entitled “Severance” and “Major Leagues.” You can hear the latter at RollingStone.com. The songs were recorded at a studio in Drexel University with the help of some student engineers. The record will be released on November 6th under the college’s label Mad Dragon Records.
When the rolls of power-pop royalty are read, before one can go back to early-˜70s ur-power-pop bands like Big Star and Badfinger, you have to hail the genre’s late-˜70s/early-˜80s heyday. Among the handful of acts whose names are invariably invoked in that context”Cheap Trick, Dwight Twilley, The Knack, The Rubinoos, etc.”Shoes are always near the top of the list. The Zion, IL band is considered by the cognoscenti to be one of the quintessential bands to combine melodic pop hooks with urgent rock & roll momentum. Their discography boasts stone-cold classic albums like Black Vinyl Shoes (1977), Present Tense (1979), and Tongue Twister (1980), and most of the rest rate just a step behind them. But Shoes released only one new album in the ˜90s, 1994’s Propeller, and haven’t really been heard from since, until now.
Ignition, the first record to feature new Shoes material in 18 years, will be unleashed on August 14. It features all three original Shoes: Gary Klebe and brothers Jeff and John Murphy, all of whom have always made equal singing/songwriting contributions to the band’s albums. In fact, a key aspect of the group’s sound is the way the members’ individual styles blend together to create a true collective identity. Jeff Murphy says it comes from the fact that Klebe and the Murphys all learned their instruments between ˜73 and ˜74 specifically to start Shoes. That’s part of why we communicate so well with each other, Jeff explains, adding the striking admission, We still don’t know anything about music. We can’t read music, we don’t know what proper chord structure is, or scales, or any of that. But we learned together, so we’re all in the same skill level. We speak the same language.”
Even months after Amy Ray released her latest solo project Lung of Love, it is difficult to listen to it and not hear nuances that weren’t apparent earlier.
Like some of the best movies that need repeated viewings before you begin to grasp the full intent of the filmmakers, Lung of Love is filled with such subtle variegation that repeated listening is a joy. Perhaps some of that variation can be credited to Ray, half of the internationally renowned GRAMMY Award-winning folk duo the Indigo Girls, taking inspiration for the array of artists she enjoys.
I love all the different kinds of music, said Ray. I listen [to] Josh Ritter and Patti Smith and a lot of funky stuff. I always go back to that for inspiration. There is so much good stuff, it’s hard to name it all.
The same, of course, can be said for Ray’s music both in her Indigo Girls’ partnership with Emily Saliers and as a solo artist. On this album, Ray stepped out of her comfort zone”she and Saliers write alone for the Indigo Girls”and co-wrote four songs on this album with producer Greg Griffith.
It only took Francis Ford Coppola two years to follow The Godfather with Godfather II. Even less time separated Charles Dickens’ last serialized installment of David Copperfield and his first for Bleak House. Sometimes artists are able to pick up where they left off pretty quickly, even if their previous project was one of the key works of their career. Other times, however, one has to wait a while for the follow-up to come around. The original lineup of The dB’s definitely fall into the latter camp. It’s taken thirty years for frontmen Chris Stamey and Peter Holsapple”along with bassist Gene Holder and drummer Will Rigby”to finally concoct a successor to Repercussion, their second record together, but now that Falling Off The Sky is set to arrive at last, the faithful are breathing heavy sighs of relief.
All four dB’s were North Carolina boys who grew up playing together in various bands throughout the ’70s before deciding to search for the brass ring in New York in 1978. Heavily influenced by Big Star”Stamey had briefly worked with that band’s mastermind, Alex Chilton, and Holsapple had recorded with Big Star sideman Richard Rosebrough”The dB’s already had a distinct power-pop orientation when they arrived on New York’s nascent new wave scene. So were The dB’s a new wave band? “I guess so, yeah,” allows Holsapple in retrospect, “for lack of a better word. I mean, we’d been making records [in other incarnations] before there was a new wave, back when new wave was a French cinema term, so I guess we sort of fell into that. We certainly weren’t new romantics. For years we sort of rejected the power-pop moniker, just because it seems very limiting, but realistically I guess you would have to say that’s exactly what we were. At this point you can call it anything, I mainly just want people to enjoy it and hear it for what it is.”