powerpop Archive

Gonna Raise Hell: Cheap Trick’s ‘Dream Police’ at 40

Though they had released three excellent albums to date, in 1978 Cheap Trick was still laboring in relative obscurity. The Rockford, Illinois band’s releases – 1977’s self-titled debut, In Color from later that same year and 1978’s Heaven Tonight – had each sold better than the last, but none cracked the top 40 album charts.

Album Review: Big Star — In Space

To those who followed Alex Chilton’s musical activities in the 1980s and beyond, the thought that he would ever revisit his Big Star-era music – much less put the band back together – seemed extraordinarily unlikely. So when it finally happened, with original drummer Jody Stephens plus the Posies (Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow), it

Single Review: The Embryos — Singles Club Volume 2

I was already predisposed toward liking this 45 before I heard it; The Embryos’ Open the Kimono (reviewed a few months back) is an instantly likable collection of chiming, catchy pop-rock. “Popular Character” has shades of Raspberries, Pilot and Matthew Sweet. So yeah, it falls loosely into the popwerpop subcategory. But if that’s not your

Album Review: International Pop Overthrow Volume 22

Now comes the 22nd volume in a long-running series of compilations chronicling the current state of powerpop. If this set is Exhibit A, the evidence is strong that it’s in fine shape. Right out of the gate, this new collection fires on all cylinders: the first seven tracks are all powerpop gems of the highest

Hundred-word Reviews for September 2019, Part 2

More capsule reviews! New music! Vinyl titles are noted with the designation (LP). Fastball – The Help Machine If you’re a certain age, you remember “The Way.” If you were especially sharp in those days, you might know the even better “You’re an Ocean.” Fastball’s approach struck me as a kind of American answer to

Hundred-word Reviews for September 2019, Part 1

Once again, it’s time for a passel of quick reviews. Twenty in all – ten today, as many tomorrow. All deserve a listen. Titles on vinyl are noted as such (LP). Waiting for Henry – The Gospel of Moby Grape As a serious fan of the star-crossed band name-checked in the title, I had to

Hundred-word Reviews for August 2019, Part Three (Archival)

Time for a look at ten new albums featuring reissued, compilation and/or archival material. Rock, jazz and beyond. Collect ’em all, kids! Soul Asylum – While You Were Out / Clam Dip & Other Delights Minneapolis’ Soul Asylum labored in relative obscurity for quite awhile before their national breakout. They became a household name with

Don’t Forget All About It: ‘Nazz Nazz’ at 50

Building upon the disparate influences of Philly soul, Jimi Hendrix, the Who and Laura Nyro, Nazz was quite a unique group. Though today the foursome is remembered chiefly as the band Todd Rundgren played in before launching his own idiosyncratic solo career, Nazz can lay claim to being one of the first power pop groups,

200-word Reviews: Five Vinyl Records

Few people are mas pleased as myself to witness (up close and personal) the vinyl revival. I’m not getting into the warmth-versus-digital argument; all I know is that as an old-school type who began purchasing LPs at age eight, I will always prefer the vinyl LP format. Plus, the artwork and liner notes are better

Even More Hundred-worders for May 2019

I’m determined to keep my backlog of music-for-review to a manageable size. Making that happen means that once again it’s time for ten of my quickie reviews. So off we go. These are all new or very recent titles of new music. Girls on Grass – Dirty Power I really like this record. Right off