powerpop Archive

Hundred-word Reviews for Nov./Dec. 2016, Part 7 of 10

Farewell Milwaukee – FM Style: heartland jangle-rock Jangling guitars, good-timin’ harmonica, well-worn chord changes … those are the key ingredients in the musical recipe for this album. Familar echoes of John Mellencamp, R.E.M., Gin Blossoms are found throughout the thirteen tracks. But there’s more at work, too: “Figure You out” has a nice southern soul

Making the Case for Peter Case

Listeners who had been following the work of Peter Case may have been confused – frustrated, even – upon first hearing his self-titled 1986 debut album. The work he had done up to that point was highly appealing, sure-footed power pop and/or indie rock (though the latter term wasn’t in use back then). As one-third

Nada Surf Still Believes in the Rock Album

Brooklyn-based Nada Surf has been called an indie rock band and a power pop group. Drummer Ira Elliot is less concerned with how the group is labeled than he is getting in front of new audiences. And in an era when streaming playlists and downloads dominate, he and his band mates still put value in

Nada Surf: Surf’s Up in Europe

New York City-based Nada Surf has been making albums and touring since 1992. And while their albums fare well among critics, they haven’t managed to break into the top tier of well-known rock bands. At least not in their home country. But in Europe, it’s a different matter. “We’ve worked really hard to cultivate various

Hundred-word Reviews for September 2016, Part 3

Cutting a swath through the pile of CDs in my inbox, here I present five more quick reviews. Maynard Ferguson – Complete High Voltage The 1980s aren’t generally thought of as a fertile period in the jazz idiom. Fusion had had its moment, and what most people though of jazz in the 80s was a

PRIX: The Band that Never Was

In March 1974, Jon Tiven had just turned 19 and was living in New York City. In the next two and half years, he’d find himself deeply enmeshed in a Memphis musical scene and saga that – while the stuff of legend today – went almost wholly unnoticed at the time. He variously played, wrote,

Matthew Sweet: Sweet ’16

Matthew Sweet’s personal journey has taken him from his boyhood home in Nebraska to the nascent, early 1980s music scene of Athens, Georgia to New York City, Los Angeles, and finally back home again. Not surprisingly, his musical journey followed the same path. He began recording at home, eventually went the big studio route, and

Album Mini-review: The Twilight Hours — Black Beauty

File next to: Todd Rundgren, Ben Folds, Matthew Sweet Minneapolis’ Trip Shakespeare was always a band apart; they never fit into most people’s idea of that city’s sound. Scintillating vocal harmonies (featuring brothers Matt and Dan Wilson) and shimmering melodies were their stock-in-trade. When they folded, Dan and bassist John Munson formed the less-quirky, more

Album Review: David Brookings and the Average Lookings – s/t

Power pop is a musical genre for true believers, artists and listeners alike. Relentlessly upbeat – even when the subject matter is melancholy – power pop charges ahead, determinedly uninterested in bowing in the direction of the latest current and transitory musical fashions. Sales figures aside, a lot of great music has come out of

Hundred-word Reviews for July 2016, Part 3

Five more quick reviews of new or recent album releases. Today features a couple of the best of the week’s bunch. Mike Eldred Trio – Baptist Town Nick Curran‘s Reform School Girl was one of the best albums of 2010. JD McPherson‘s Let the Good Times Roll was among the finest releases of 2015. If