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American Legend Matthew Sweet Discusses Insecurities, His Love of Power Pop and the Making of “Under the Covers Vol.2”

927451112_lMatthew Sweet is one of the world’s best known Power Pop artists, with classic albums like “Girlfriend”, “Altered Beast” and “100% Fun”. In 2002 Sweet teamed up with Pete Droge and Shawn Mullins to form the Alt. Country group The Thorns, and in 2005 he teamed up with Susanna Hoffs of The Bangles for “Under The Covers Vol.1:” a series of their favorite ‘60s covers. Now, after last year’s “Sunshine Lies,” his 11th album, Sweet has released a sequel with Hoffs, “Under The Covers Vol.2,” which mines the pop and rock hits of the 1970’s. I was honored to speak with him during his tour in support of the new release.

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CD Review: Concrete Class by The Lonely H

There is nothing ordinary about Seattle based classic rock quartet The Lonely H. Fronted by the charismatic, 6’7″, 19 year old Mark Fredson, a man hard to miss in any room for both his height and booming voice, and accompanied by the Brothers Whitman – Eric Whitman (guitar) and Johnny Whitman (bass) – and drummer Ben Eyestone, The Lonely H have more swagger and set their site’s on nothing short of being the next Allman Brothers Band.

Unlike the pop nature of their last album Hair, this one leans heavier on the rock and roadhouse blues formula. In fact fans of the Bob Segar and Wilco will enjoy the honest and memorable songwriting here. Highlights include “Cold Blues” and “Diggin’ A Hole” with Fredson’s howl, and pumping melody. “Going Out West” rocks a bit harder, like vintage AC/DC or Jet. The most country-fried song here is “Singer” which will sit right with fans of The Eagles. The guitar rock twang and memorable hook makes for excellent listening on “Other Side Of The Water.” It’s not perfect, as the stripped down acoustic “Phoenix” and “River” reveal the groups vocal limitations clearly. The group then redeems itself with the catchy “Girl From Jersey.”

Overall this album is clearly a winner — fans of classic rock can safely turn up the volume here and enjoy these young’uns.

My Space | Amazon

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CD Review: Spygenius – Songs from the Devil’s Typist

Sometimes you get lucky and a great band just pops up, like Spygenius. This electric four piece from London, starts with a Beach Boys a capella opening (“Dumb Angels”) then gets all hippy funky, similar to the 1910 Fruitgum Company with “The Ballad Of Dr T.F. Bundy & His Hirsute Sweetheart.” The next track “I Want That Girl” sounds like Jack Bruce (Cream) fronting for a Doors/Jellyfish hybrid. The band mashes together some diverse 60’s and modern influences, in a very original way. Songwriter Peter Watts does a great job here mixing the psychedelic stew of chords and harmonies on “Gilgamesh” as well.

The album highlight here is the quirky masterpiece “Pineapple Drive” where it’s jammed together in a party atmosphere. The humor here is akin to Bonzo Dog Band, without being too over the top silly. Then the album’s serious side appears on “13 Years (May Song)” where they channel Crosby/Stills/Nash. As the album progresses the sixties influences fade. The softness of the “A Bottle Of Reds & Two Good Friends” will remind many of Rick Gallego and Cloud 11. The latter tracks have a more modern feel (“Wintergarden Summertime”) sounding a little like Green and Yellow TV.

Overall an outstanding album that is sure to hook you in and keep you humming. I will go out on a limb here and say this eclectic mix deserves a spot on our year end “best-of” list.

My Space | CD Baby | Lala

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CD Review: Roger Klug – More Help For Your Nerves

The new, and greatest release from Roger Klug— ten years in the making, is everything power pop fans have been waiting for. Fans of Roger Manning, Steve Eggers, Bleu, Mike Viola, will find everything to love about this album. Full of variety and complex melodies, it will take many listens to really appreciate everything here.

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CD Review: The Simple Carnival – Girls, Aliens, Food

The Simple Carnival does not rock. Pittsburgh based singer/songwriter Jeff Boller couldn’t agree more. After all “there are a million musicians who play rock better” he says. Instead Boller excels at sunny pop melody so sweet and bubbly, you may even think you’re listening to a kids album. But you’re not, and like Mitch Friedman’s “Game Show Teeth,” it’s good natured and inventive pop melodies that are a joy to listen to. Try to imagine if Harry Nilsson and Brian Wilson collaborated on Sesame Street and you get the idea.

Opening with the gentle harmonies on “Really, Really Weird” it sparkles with it’s catchy chorus. The impressive “Caitlin’s On The Beach” shows off for you Beach Boy fans out there. “Flirt” has a ’70s styled piano pop bounce similar to Seals & Crofts that is just infectious. The angelic a cappella overdubs on “Nothing Will Ever Be As Good” are so crisp, that it’s comparable to Jeffery Foskett. The mid tempo “Misery” is another story-styled song that reminds me lyrically of Andrew Gold or Henry Gross. Even the last track, “Hey Lancaster” builds to a shimmering crescendo of vocals and keyboard overdubs. Boller plays all thirty or so featured instruments himself, layering their sounds one at a time in his basement studio.

Every track is solid throughout and “Girls Aliens Food” should rightfully be called a soft pop masterpiece. It’s a precise musical craftsmanship that shouldn’t be missed.

My Space | CD Baby

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Aaron Kupferberg

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CD Review: Makes Your Ears Smile by The Campbell Stokes Sunshine Recorder

Pop virtuoso, Andy Morten (The Nerves, Bronco Bullfrog) has put his twenty+ years of musical knowledge to the test on his solo effort known as The Campbell Stokes Sunshine Recorder. He’s rediscovered his love for British 60’s sunshine pop, and you will too, after you hear it.

This starts with a very sarcastic outline of a lame emerging power pop artist (wink, wink) in “Track One” where he starts out “I’m too sloppy for power pop, ’cause I never know when to stop and all my chord progressions sound the same.” Then the sunny “She Looks Good in the Sun” covers the period as well as The Parade or The Merry Go Round with delicate guitar riffs and psyche-pop rhythms that are just magical. Next we are paying lip service to 60’s wannabe pop star with “Tony Hazzard” complete with kazoos and conceited lyrics about a fop who thinks “if Paul McCartney does it why can’t I?” Next, both “Bye Bye Mrs. Bumble” and “Everybody Loves the Good Times” are a light Beatlesque hodgepodge. The wonderful title track “Feel The Sunshine” has a strong hook and uptempo beats sure to put a spring in your step. “TV Jingle Man” mixes Brydsian jangle and Kinks storytelling styled lyrics.

Every track is a winner here – even the bonus track on this disc gets better with repeat listens. It’s a perfect gift for the musical anglophile, and I am a sucker for this retro stuff when it’s done so lovingly with such self-deprecating humor.

MySpace | CD Baby

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CD Review: The Spongetones – Scrambled Eggs

When I last left Jamie Hoover and company it was a celebratory return to form, with “Too Clever By Half”. The Spongetones are one of the few, great power pop bands from the early 80’s that have outlasted almost everyone else. This time the band jams with a terrific opener “All the Loving” and it’s full of jangle and strum that harkens back to their Beatlesque traditions. And like your favorite comfort food, it’s easy to lap up.

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CD Review: Sad Sounds of the Summer by Chris Richards

Detroit’s Chris Richards and the Subtractions have released their latest collection of hook-laden, power pop. Richards has been doing this for a long time (since 1989) and the experience shows. The crunchy guitar riffs lead the opening “I Can’t Quit Her” and more sweet melodies and luscious harmonies follow. There is enough rich reverb on the Raspberries-like “Consolation” and heavy rock guitar on “I, Miss July” that it demands repeat listens. Richards has expanded the popularity of the group worldwide, where he explains, “I’ve been fortunate to have my records released and do well in Spain, Sweden, Japan, and Australia and both the press and fan reaction have been amazing.

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CD Review: The Webstirs – So Long

Preston Pisellini and Mark Winkler have formed the Webstirs’ backbone for 16 years, and after 2000’s indie-pop gem, “Radio Racket,” they moved on to other projects. Well, after seven long years, Chicago’s Webstirs have roared back to life.

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CD Review: Manifesto of a Broken Heart by The Ravines

Great albums always slip through the cracks on release, only to be championed by impassioned fans years later. The Ravines first CD Manifesto of a Broken Heart was actually released back in 2005, and if you like the sound of Crowded House, Squeeze and The Gin Blossoms, then this album needs to be heard.