Monday, May 30, 2005

Sebastian Bach

An Absence of EmpathyI know you have all been sitting around wondering what has become of good old Sebastian Bach. Well since attempting a foray into musical theater, Mr. Bach has lent his voice for the latest Frameshift album. The only reason I even found anything on Frameshift is that the first album they put out featured James LaBrie of Dream Theater fame. I have only taken a listen to a couple of samples from, but what little I have heard is interesting. You can hear for yourself what the former Skid Row font-man sounds like today here:Frameshift: The Absense of Empathy

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Procupine Tree - Deadwing

DeadwingAfter a few recommendations, I picked up 2002's In Absentia and was impressed. Now with the release of Porcupine Tree's Deadwing I would really call myself a fan. The album is a creative combination of Dream Theater guitar work, Coldplay style contemplative melody, and lyrical explorations worthy of either of the Anderson's, Ian or Jon. What impresses me the most is the smooth competence with which these various musical sources are folded into each other. Excellent craftsmanship is evident as songs move from the crunch of guitars to moments of tranquil reflection. This is an album and a band that is worth a listen. Pull out you headset sit back and take it all in, there is enough depth to keep you digging for days.

In AbsentiaIn Absentia (2002)

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Super Furry Animals

If you haven't already (how many posts will I start with that phrase?), you gotta check out a band called Super Furry Animals. For many of you guys, I shared a collection of theirs ("Songbook, Vol. 1: The Singles") with you back in November, but I just recently got their first two albums ("Fuzzy Logic" and "Radiator"). Great stuff!

Fuzzy Logic [Bonus Tracks]Radiator [Bonus Tracks]

From their bio at

Super Furry Animals were one of the first post-alternative bands, fusing together a number of disparate musical genres -- including power pop, punk rock, techno, and progressive rock -- creating a shimmering, melodic, irreverent, and willfully artsy rock & roll.

Also from the review of "Fuzzy Logic": "Each song floats by on irresistible, catchy vocal harmonies, while the music alternates between glitzy overdriven guitars and sighing, sweeping keyboard, guitar, and string backdrops." And from the review of "Radiator":

As before, the group displays a gift for catchy, deceptively complex melodic hooks, but now its songwriting and arrangements are mind-bogglingly intricate and eclectic. Songs boast intertwining melodies and countermelodies, with guitars and keyboards swirling around the vocals. Similarly, the production is dense and heavy with detail, borrowing heavily from prog rock and psychedelic pop, but pieced together with the invention of techno and played with the energy of punk.

From the review for "Songbook...":

It could be argued that Super Furry Animals were the great British band of the late '90s, boasting bright, zippy tunes that put Blur to shame while incorporating electronica more seamlessly than Radiohead, but since the Welsh quintet cheerfully traveled outside the mainstream ... they were always a cult band.

I couldn't have said it better myself, thus the quotes. Check these guys out!

Friday, May 20, 2005


Erasure is still together and doing concerts! Who knew?!? I thought that they had broken up or one of them died or something (oops... just noticed that Bell has revealed he's been HIV positive since 1998... I don't mean to make light of this, I'm just saying what I had thought happened).

Anyway, if you like pure Pop and you're feeling nostalgic for the synth sound of the '80s, "Erasure Pop!: The First 20 Hits" is an excellent CD to get. Actually, forget the nostalgia, many of these cuts have aged surprisingly well. Great pop songs are timeless in a way, aren't they?

Monday, May 16, 2005

Nick Mason’s Memoirs

Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason has just put out a book chronicling his experiences in the band. Called "Inside Out: A Personal History of Pink Floyd," it explores a lot of stuff that is common knowledge of the band-Syd Barrett was loony, Roger Waters was egocentric-but it could be a good read because it's coming from as inside of a source as you can get. Besides, the reviews say that Mason comes across as a regular guy, not some puffed up, pretentious art-rocker who has more wealth than you. Which probably demonstrates that Waters didn't contribute anything to the book.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Sloan Greatest Hits Package & DVD

Singles 1992-2005 [Bonus DVD]I'm not a big fan of greatest hits compilations. My long-standing theory about those kinds of albums is that if you like each song on that album, there's an excellent chance that you'd enjoy the songs in their proper context, plus you'd probably discover a song or two that you'd like even more.

That said, I gotta endorse this new greatest hits package by Canadian power-pop band Sloan, called "A Sides Win: Singles 1992-2005." Sure, there's a new track on it-no big deal in this day and age of downloadable music. However, the accompanying DVD is what draws me to this compilation. The DVD has a documentary of the history of the band, plus their music videos on it. So I'll probably be getting it.

For those of you who aren't all that familiar with Sloan, and yet enjoy the power pop, you should check into getting this album for yourself. These guys are moderately successful in their native country, but they just have not been able to scratch the mainstream surface stateside (although they just played at Coachella this year and toured with Jet last summer, so they are not as obscure as they used to be). To me, it's a big ol' mystery. For the last decade, these guys have been putting out some great Beatlesque pop infused with some good ol' butt kicking rock 'n roll (Plus they are tremendous fun live). There's no reason that they shouldn't have had at least one of their tunes trickle down to the radio. But that hasn't happened, and now you have an opportunity to listen to what the wizards at Clear Channel don't want you to hear. Although there are a couple of killer songs left off the compilation (probably because they weren't singles), there's plenty of great songs on there that will give you an idea of how cool this band really is.

Power Pop Book

Was just over at the Not Lame site and came across this!

Looks like they are putting together a book on the history of power pop with an album of rarities and unknowns included. The price seems about right, especially considering this may make a good present for someone who might want a little more education in the roots of power pop. Includes must have lists from artists (Jason Falkner and Robbie Rist included) as well as journalists.

(post written by Joe)

Thursday, May 12, 2005

IPO is Coming

Mark your calendars everyone, because the International Pop Overtrhrow is coming back to the Los Angeles area for the 8th consecutive year (have they really been doing this thing for that long?). The dates are set between July 22nd and August 7th. Hopefully, there will be a couple of good artists that will make their way out here. I checked the lineup for the Chicago IPO that happened recently; not a whole lot of huge names on there, but it did feature sets by Enuff Z'nuff (!) and The Elms. Being that this is L.A., the town where this festival originated from, I expect to see one or two pretty good artists hit the stage. The list isn't out yet, but I wouldn't be surprised to see the bill contain past IPO faves like Jason Falkner, The Rosenbergs, or The Nines (who I think are slated to release their third album this year-I know they recorded a couple of songs with XTC frontman Andy Partridge a little while back). Can't wait to go out to a venue with the rest of your power-pop nuts so we can argue about what bands rule and what bands suck.

(post written by almaniac)

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

New Weezer album! Wooooooo!

Make Believe (Dig)Back in 1994, Weezer put out one of my favorite power pop albums of all time, "Weezer," (aka The Blue Album, since they pulled a Peter Gabriel and named their third album "Weezer" as well). Sure, the radio tried to call it different things, like alternative and emo (at least, they point to this album when emo's roots are hunted down). At its heart, it's good ol' fashion power pop, which describes the band at its best moments.

Their latest album, Make Believe, came out on Tuesday, and from what I've heard so far, it's in many ways a throwback to that first blue record. This time around, they got long time veteran producer Rick Rubin to help craft out there sound, and the result is good time pop with snarling guitars and-get this-sunny, almost positive lyrics, something not necessarily expected from frontman Rivers Cuomo, who almost became the nerdy version of Morrisey on Pinkerton. Plus, this album contains the most fun power pop song that will be released this year. It's a song called "We Are All On Drugs," and it is as catchy and addictive as a big ol' heaping spoon of smack.

(post written by almaniac)

eels - Live at the Galaxy Theatre in Santa Ana, CA

Just got back from the show. It was great! I haven't heard the new album, but based on what I heard tonight, I'll be picking it up. After reading Jon's review of the new album, I was a little reluctant about the show, since I really dig the more up-tempo stuff. I'm happy to report that the strings section, or the "eels girls," was a great addition to the band and sounded fantastic. They had their moments rocking out as well. There were 3 encores. The third was with the house lights on and for only one song, a cover which I can't name, but I recognized the song. If it comes to me, I'll post it.

They performed a ton of songs, hitting the stage at about 8:40 and playing until about 10:30. Eels songs are pretty short, so you can imagine how many they played. I can't name all of the songs they played, but among them all were "Hey Man (Now You're Really Living)," "Wooden Nickles," "My Beloved Monster," "Dog Faced Boy," "Daisies of the Galaxy," "Souljacker Pt. 2," "I Like Birds," "Flyswatter," "Railroad Man" and more. they did NOT perform some songs you think they would have, like "Novacaine for the Soul," or "Rags to Rags" or really anything from Electro Shock Blues. But I don't have the whole catalog memorized like I should, so I could have missed some tunes. Honestly, I only really know 3 albums from eels, but it was enough to get me to go to the show, and I'm glad I did. Monique and I both really enjoyed it. We were told my some eels show veterans that were with us that this show with the string section was really unique.

One friend that went with us recorded the show and I'm looking forward to hearing how that turned out. Let me know who's interested and if it's any good I'll see that you get a copy.

(post written by Joe)

Advance Warning for Dream Theater Fans

OctavariumI have been a fan of Dream Theater since their 1992 Images and Words, so I am naturally looking forward to the June 7 release of Octavarium. I will certainly get it and will let you all know if it lives up to their status as pro-metal masters.

Sunday, May 8, 2005

Beck’s “Guero” album-the 2nd listening

GueroA few weeks ago, I picked up Beck's "Guero." It was hailed by many critics as a throwback to his 1996 album "Odelay." On my website, I confessed that it was good, but it didn't jump out at me, but it would take me a couple of spins to get into it. Well, I took it for a second spin, and it totally sucked me in.

It's a great album. Like "Odelay," it is peppered with well-conceived samples and stellar production from The Dust Brothers. Unlike "Odelay," he has a wider array of guest musicians helping him out. Not just his normal back-up band (featuring, among others, keyboard whiz Roger Manning, Jr. from Jellyfish), but Jack White of the White Stripes and multi-instrumentalist/vocalist Petra Haden (who did an all a capella version of "The Who Sell Out" earlier this year) come in and lend a hand. The results are as sprawling as "Odelay" is, from the catchy pop of "Girl" and the funky electronica of "Hell Yes" to the earthy, late night cool of "Black Tambourine. The strongest cut on the album is "Rental Car," simply because it's a whirling dervish of a song that is more befitting of a listen rather than a spewing of copy here.

That's the odd thing that I've noticed about Beck more than any other artist. Each one of his albums has needed to grow on me, but when they do, they hook into me pretty deeply. Turns out "Guero" is no exception.

Friday, May 6, 2005

New Candlemass album

CandlemassI thought this site was going to talk about a lot of Power Pop and Indie Rock... and, trust me, it will. But we seem to be on a bit of a metal streak so far. The masters of "epic doom metal", Candlemass have a new self-titled album out. Check the news here. It can be purchased from Amazon (there's a review there, too). I haven't heard it yet... and, while I did consider myself a big fan back in the late '80s, I'm not willing to plunk down the dollars, sound unheard. Doom ain't my thing anymore. I'm more into hope, these days. :-)

Tuesday, May 3, 2005

New Eels album released last week

Blinking Lights and Other RevelationsOn April 26, the Eels released a double-disc new album, "Blinking Lights and Other Revelations". You might know the Eels from their first near-hit of 1996 called "Novocaine for the Soul" or maybe from their appearances on the Shrek soundtracks ("My Beloved Monster" and "I Need Some Sleep"). They started out with a promising debut almost 10 years ago, but then singer/song-writer "E" was hit with the suicide of a sister and death of a parent. So their next release "Electro-Shock Blues", was greatly influenced by these personal events and, while being an excellent album, was much darker and personal. The marketing push from the record label seemed to completely disappear.

In the meantime, the Eels have consistently produced fantastic Adult Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock albums to great critical acclaim. If not for the strong language peppered throughout, these discs would be spun often at my house. I highly recommend you checking these guys out, especially their first album.

Back to the new release... it seems to be a dark re-visiting of a diary of dealing with the past seven years since the deaths of "E"'s family members. So, I have to admit... I'd like to hear this first before I buy or recommend it. But at least now you know. If you hear this one, let me know what you think.

Sunday, May 1, 2005

Excellent Idea

First thing's first: A couple of deserving shout-outs here.

Mad props to Dave Rueter for coming up with this idea. We were just talking one night about us collective music geeks and our need to share our knowledge, and he just said, "You know, we really should put togehter a website for that."

Which leads to my second set of props: Jon Plechas, for putting this site together. I think this roughly makes the 813th Word Press site that he's created in the last twelve months. Top notch, sir.

Can't wait to share some stuff with y'all.