powerpop Archive

Album Review: The Swimming Pool Q’s – The A&M Years

The music scene likes its labels, it it has always been thus. It’s the rare band that defies easy categorization and still enjoys some measure of commercial success; one has to play the game to win, so to speak. But one band that critics and others never really could pin down stylewise was Atlanta’s Swimming

Album Review: Big Star – Nothing Can Hurt Me

On paper, it reads like textbook case in how not to succeed, how not to make a mark in musical history: release your debut on a label rife with distribution problems; have one of your two main songwriters leave before the second album is done; record a gauzy, downbeat and decidedly noncommercial third album with

Album Review: Various Artists — Drink a Toast to Innocence

As far back as the 1980s, the great philosopher Huey Lewis proclaimed that it’s “hip to be square.” Good thing, that, because like many of my rock’n’roll fan contemporaries, I got my musical start buying albums (cassettes, really) by some of the soft-sounds purveyors of the early 70s: The Carpenters, Sonny and Cher, Jim Croce

Capsule Reviews: March 2013, Part 2

Here’s yet another in my occasional series of capsule reviews; once again I had a huge stack of CDs deserving of review, but time doesn’t allow for full-length reviews of everything, and these were in danger of gathering dust. They deserve better. As per usual, my self-imposed limit for this particular exercise is 150 words

Capsule Reviews: March 2013, Part 1

Here’s another in my occasional series of capsule reviews; once again I had a huge stack of CDs deserving of review, but time doesn’t allow for full-length reviews of everything, and these were in danger of gathering dust. They deserve better. My self-imposed limit for this particular exercise is 150 words on each album. Deni

Album Review: Hot Nun – Hot Nun

When the self-titled CD from Hot Nun arrived in my mailbox recently, it seemed oddly familiar to me. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but the package’s graphic design was reminiscent – not in actual look, but rather in style – of something else in my collection. When I opened up the gatefold

Album Review: Skrang: Sounds Like Bobby Sutliff

Positive things can spring from tragedy. This isn’t to suggest even for a moment that they mitigate the tragedy, or that they’re some sort of silver lining. But still. I’m not sure how, but I completely missed the music of The Windbreakers. Often mentioned in the same breath as Rain Parade, and associated with the

Album Review: True Hearts – s/t

In addition to their esteemed role as one of the go-to labels for new powerpop (and, I understand, alt.country), Kool Kat Musik has taken on an additional role: powerpop archivist. With their latest unearthing of the 1980 self-titled release from True Hearts, the label continues its fine work. The songs on True Hearts absolutely scream

Book (P)review: Boys Don’t Lie – A History of Shoes

On my desk at the moment is a pre-release Kindle copy of Mary E. Donnelly‘s long awaited book about the Zion, IL powerpop group. Shoes began their recording career in the 1970s and continue to present-day; in fact they’ll be making a relatively rare live appearance soon, at this year’s SXSW. (If you’re going to

Album Review: Jamie & Steve — Imaginary Café

I’ve probably told the story before: growing up in Atlanta, I discovered the Spongetones‘ debut LP Beat Music in the bin of an indie record shop not long after its release. I was taken in first by the cover photos, images that clearly suggested these guys has a Beatles fixation (always a good thing in