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Sunday, 5 February 2023

Strange Neighbors - Party Of None


Lyrically, Power Pop is not known for depth. It has progressed beyond I love you, yes I do, you know its true, but not into the intelligent, wit laden realms of the generations below the 60 plus brigade. They compare more with Intelligent Indie whose Guitar Pop has far more gravitas.

A prime example of the new breed are New York City's Strange Neighbors. The quartet produce a riff laden, chorus driven batch of songs that combine melody and a real adeptness in the writing that allows both humour and everyday observations to thrive.

Yes they can rock and do, but the arrangements show creativity and a determination to add diversions, never ever relying on the splendid riff to bring home the message. They are equally comfortable slowing things down as Simple Song more than adequately reveals.

You will have heard Hotline Psychic on the last IDHAS 10 Song Mix, a song that just hooks you. All cynical lyrics with a rapid verse and earworm chorus. Whoa! Is Me as also been a selection on a previous "Listening To This Week" and that could very well be the band's signature song.

Skeleton Boy is an absolute Power Pop gem and would get even greater attention, but for the two aforementioned blinders. It is hook laden with two ace Guitar interruptions. Then there is Window Watching which has a hypnotic rhythm to it and yet another killer chorus. Strange Neighbors could very well become a hi octane version of The Beths.

You can listen to and buy Party Of None here. You can find out more about the band here.


The Features - The Mahaffey Sessions 1999


My love of all things Self, drew me to The Features. Finding that Matt Mahaffey and Seth Timbs's label Spongebath Records label, I managed to pick up a copy of the EP around 2001 and the next time, I heard about them they were on Universal and released the Exhibit A debut album.

The band went on to record another four albums before going silent in 2016. Then about a year ago, I heard that this could be released. I had no idea that it existed, although I'm some songs were released on singles or compilations. So this is like heaven to me.

These 10 songs were for the the planned debut album, but Spongebath went to the wall and so the recordings were shelved. Recorded at Mahaffey Home Studio in Murfreesboro, these reveal a splendid Power Pop album with an added keyboard slant.

As soon as you hear the opener, you know that you are gonna enjoy your ride. Serious could be The Cars going Power Pop and that Cars style keyboard is present throughout the album. Kari-Anne has a similar feel, but the keyboard is a little more 60s, although I'm reminded of The Knack.

Armani Suede is Sparks going Funk yet Exorcising Demons is more 60s Beat. Oh My Love is New Wave joy, maybe even a little Steve Nieve Attractions vibe on the organ. Paid To Think is great UK New Wave circa 1978. 

331/3 has a driving Bassline and Dark Room has a real Glam Rock stomp about it. There really is so much to like here. It is an ideal way for Power Pop Forums to talk about the past about a 2023 release. Here's hoping there might be a revival of The Features, it would certainly be welcome.

You can listen to and buy the album here.


Saturday, 4 February 2023

The Habit Of The Rabbit - Living In A Hole In The Ground


I was brought up on 70s Rock and you forget just how splendid it could be. I listen to little of it these days, probably because so much has happened musically since, but then you hear an album like this and have a word with yourself about how you should go back there more often.

The album is a heady mix of both American and British Guitar Rock, the biggest surprise is that the trio are from Madrid. There is a real power in the way that they play and they are comfortable letting a gripping riff do the the heavy lifting.

There are big hints of British influences like Free and The Faces, yet there are equal parts of American Classic Rock, even Southern Rock  and Where Nobody Knows How To Laugh is Country Rock of the highest order and what a Guitar solo breaks out.

Keep It Out even adds a little Psych feel into what is mainly out and out riff rock. Half Unknown is fine Boogie Rock and Engraved On The Stone could be Power Pop in another life. The Story Of The Kelly Gang is pure Surf Rock.

For all this variety, what The Habit Of The Rabbit do best is Classic Rock and the best example is Watching The Sunrise which is like Joe Walsh leading The Faces. I mentioned what a great Power Trio they are, but the vocals knit everything together beautifully. Highly Recommended!

You can listen to and buy the album here.


The Happy Somethings - A Gathering Of Sorts


The Happy Somethings return with their wonderful brand of chirpy Indie Pop and there isn't much joy in the UK since the Brexit nonsense descended on us like a big cloud of doom. This trio definitely do their bit and as always at Name Your Price.

There is a splendid lyrical adeptness and wit in tackling the everyday banal. Song titles like I Wish You Could Sing Like Tracy Thorn and all wrapped in melodic catch singalong joy. However this seemingly simplicity is a ruse at times.

Take for instance ,Stand Together which is an Indie, almost Psych Pop, Guitar Fuzz out and Worried Fools is great Jangly melodic Folk. The standout here is the sheer Pop of Anglepoise. Delivered as a sort of playground song but backed by Indie noise.

Tracey Thorn is delivered twice, once as a You and closes with an I. The former is delivered as a vocal ensemble in a 70s style strum along. The latter is a much moodier doleful acoustic tale of sheer frustration. Highly Recommended!

You can listen to and buy the album at Name Your Price here.


Thursday, 2 February 2023

The Foreign Films - Magic Shadows


As I finally get in to 2023, there are some superb albums to tell you about, none more so than the return of The Foreign Films. Over a consistently stellar career, I still consider The Record Collector one of the finest albums ever and the triple vinyl version is like a work of art.

That album demonstrated the full range of Bill Majoros's musical ability and the length was no issue, in fact you wanted more. The two albums since then have seen a slight move away from some of the genre variety in favour of a mastery of Pop Rock. 

Both Ocean Moon and Starlight Serenade endorse this opinion and Magic Shadows my be the poppiest album of The Foreign Films career. This is no criticism. Majoros is one of the most listenable of artists and the latest is wonderful.

(Please note : The You Tube Links are UK and Europe only, To view in the States and Canada go here.) 

Majoros is joined as ever by Carl Jennings on Bass, Additional Guitar and Backing Vocals. Keyboards are taken care of by Rob Preuss and he is a big addition. As ever, the mutual appearances on each others albums is continued with The Nines' Steve Eggers on Backing Vocals on two songs.

If anything, Magic Shadows sounds more than a little 80s with its big drum sound and the general vibe. This is never more so on the excellent Perfect Future with the vocal in Russell Mael territory, particularly the Bates Motel period. It is a song that wouldn't be out of place on the Electric Dreams soundtrack.

Something that you will have heard is Cosmic Lover which took pride of place on a recent IDHAS 10 Song Mix. It is an absolute stomper in a Marc Bolan does Spirit In The Sky sort of way. Lost In Time has a real Twin Peaks feel about it, particularly with the driving Bass and haunting Guitar.

Everywhere you look, there are stand out songs. The best of which may be Cinema Girl (Magic Shadows) which has a real gentle Psych Pop feel, yet has a real big production 60s harmonic Pop soundscape with Backing Vocals reinforced by Steve Eggers. It is an amazing 6 minutes that is over way too quickly.

House Of Mirrors is wonderful Toytown joy, a vocal harmony masterpiece. Into The Light is pure Pop, almost Power Pop whilst remaining party-ish. Daydream In The Sun is all American Grafitti and then changes Tempo becoming a "lets do the show right here2 with a Duane Eddy twang.

Rainclouds is a big very 80s way with a guest appearance from Dave Rave on Backing Vocals. There really is so much to like here. If you have even a little interest in Pop Rock this is the album for you. It would be worth the admission for Cinema Girl alone, yet you have the bonus of 10 other splendid songs to accompany it. 

I have been a fan of The Foreign Films from the very off and I have never ever been let down. The keyboards play far more of a part here without ever detracting from the enjoyment. The melody count is off the scale. Magic Shadows is as good an example of how music can change your mood for the best. It is Highly Recommended.

You can listen to the album on all the streaming sites. A CD is on the way and I will update all purchase details as soon as I have them. You can listen to the full album song by song here.


Wednesday, 1 February 2023

Oberon Rose - Purple, Blue & Crimson


Oberon Rose reach their fourth album and this is genre defying Pop Rock. The sheer musicianship of Tommy Oberon matched with the lyrics of Rebecca Rose would be ample, but the ability to offer up a musical jukebox making it difficult to label them and why should we?

Purple, Blue & Crimson is a guitar album, but they aren't afraid to add mellotron and some splendid 60s organ and on Rainmaker even provide a short more modern sample effect. All of these additions completely change what is a more laid back Classic Rock affair,

The title track is a cracking slab of melodic Psych Pop, as good as anything that you'll hear this year. Yet Four Winds is a moody slow affair, a little Country in parts. although essentially 70s Pop Rock with its big chorus and haunting guitar riff. Look out for a great understated solo too.

Abilene is real 60s Beat with its drum pattern and Farfisa like accompaniment, but again the chorus soars. Lazy Eye Of The Dawn is good ole boy Southern Rock with orchestral overtones and when it breaks out into the solo, it takes you to another level.

Broken Bow is a fine example of McCartney Pop, melancholic yet melodic. Seen By Angels is very Eagles until they hit paydirt. Revelation Mountain is a mix of straight ahead Rock with an almost Power Pop chorus and a shuffle on the verse.

The beauty of the album is not just the genre hopping, but how a song starts as one thing and then is changed completely by the chorus or a solo. Purple, Blue & Crimson may remind me of those great 70s albums, but it is a reminder that there hasn't been much of that sort of thing around for a while. When it is done properly, it as amazing. Oberon Rose do it perfectly.

You can buy the album on CD, Vinyl or as a download here. You can listen to the album on Soundcloud here.


Tuesday, 31 January 2023

Listening To This Week


Another cracking selection of 11 Songs that fit the I Don't Hear A Single remit perfectly.

I think many of you know that I don't use Spotify or Apple Music etc. You Tube isn't ideal for anything much and a self compilation raised copyright problems and piracy. So I thought this weekly feature may be the best thing to tell you about these songs. 

This weekly fair is solely for submissions, not the usual stuff that we dig out ourselves.  Please investigate the artists further. 

Oberon Rose - Purple, Blue & Crimson 

Canadian Invasion - Songs Your Girlfriend Likes 

Shape Of The Sun - Have You Had Enough 

Pastis - Champagne For The Heartache 

Zepet - Picking Up The Pieces 

The Beaten - Rank & Title 

Loud Humans - Rough Country 

Escape Ring - Winning The War 

The Cruz & The Dukes Of Harlem - Stuck In Here 

The Hollow Frays - Guy Jim

Echo Tongues - Satan Is Calling Me