A Power Pop Music Blog Where guitars either chime or jangle all the live long day.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Bazillions On Kickstarter

I just wanted to take a moment to spotlight a worthy Kickstarter effort. The Bazillions play kid-friendly rock music, and they are fronted by the principles of the powerpoptastic Humbugs. If you have small music lovers in your home you should definitely check them out.

Any who.... the Bazillions are looking to produce a collection of their terrific music videos. If it sounds intriguing, please go on over and check it out.



Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Thing Is....

You may have noticed my sometimes sporadic posting has become something more akin to non-existent posting this summer. Well, the truth is I've been having some health issues that have lingered.... and lingered... and finally resulted in my collapsing at home in spasms of pain and agony.

Hooray.

Well, the good news is that during my last trip to the ER they finally found out what was causing the trouble. Ironically, it was the same thing they initially diagnosed me with back in early July before they did further tests and ruled it out. That ironic thing was my gallbladder, which I am happy to say is no longer attached to me because, frankly, I think the sonofabitch was trying to kill me.

I am only two days out from my surgeries (yes, there had to be two of them to fix me), and I am recovering nicely.... which is great because I have plenty more to say and loads more great music I want to share on the radio station.

Very soon I'll feel up to doing both in measurable quantities.  

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Oh My, I'm Hi-Fi

As you may or may not know, I love music and am something of an accumulator. (OK, I'll assume you probably did know that already.)  Back in the day I boasted over 600 vinyl albums, of which I still can lay hold of about 300 or so. I've lost count of the CD's I own, though it is somewhere north of 1500. There is nothing record breaking about those numbers, but it is fair to say I'm ankle deep in music at the best (or worst, depending upon your point of view) of times. 
However, like a lot of people, I drifted away from my stereo. My first set up I got as a Christmas present in 1982 and was comprised of a receiver (35w per channel), a turntable, a cassette deck, and two 3-way speakers. I played the ever living crap put of it. In 1987 I added a $99 Sharp CD player (the DX-600) with money earned from my first real job. 
Over time the cassette player died, was replaced by a newer model which also died, and was replaced by a CD burning deck which took over full time CD playing duties after the DX-600 finally spun its last. (The player drawer on the old Sharp broke down, but I got around that by drilling a hole in the top of the unit which allowed me to use a pen or pencil to pop open the drawer. That's just what you do when you are a broke-ass grad student.) Oh, at some point there was a 5-disc CD player that held sway briefly until I decided I really didn't like it very much and sold it. While all this was going on my original turntable finally succumbed sometime in the late 1990's. As I wasn't playing much vinyl I didn't attempt to replace it.
Next to go was the venerable MCS receiver which died in 2002 after twenty years of loyal service. Luckily I was able to inherit a different model MCS receiver (an MCS 3246 @ 45w per channel) that my parents had stopped using sometime in the early 1990's and was just collecting dust in their basement, so that was a bit of a wash. Shortly after this the CD burner unceremoniously died on me, leaving me to play my CDs on whatever DVD player I happened to be using. 
Eventually, I even had to retire the 3-way MCS speakers, which was a bit of a shame as they were actually pretty nice sounding, but years of wear and tear had taken a toll. Anyway, they didn't really work in the space I had once the wife and I bought our current town home in 2006. They now reside in a closet waiting for the day I have more room to work with and the money to invest in refurbishing them.
The net effect of these changes has been to slowly degrade my ability to even claim to have a dedicated stereo system. 
That is going to change. Actually, it already has begun to change. It really started with the speakers I chose to replace the large 3-ways back in 2011. I invested in a pair of Bose 201 Series V bookshelf speakers and they now reside on top of the armoire that presently houses our A/V equipment. In one sense the Bose really cannot reproduce the sound of the larger speakers, but they work great in my space. I'm sure I could have spent twice the amount for true audiophile level speakers, but I gotta believe the improvement wouldn't have been worth the extra cash to my ears.  
Yesterday, I added the newest member of my newly revitalized stereo system as the Onkyo C-7030 arrived. This is a single disc dedicated CD player and it is light years better than the various DVD players I'd been using for years now. It is also the first dedicated single disc player I've purchased since 1987. (I just say that to make myself feel old.)
Did I mention it looks awesome?
From here my path forward seems pretty clear. Sometime in the next year I will purchase a new turntable and a piece of furniture to house my entire honest-to-goodness stereo system
Of course, that won't be the end of it. The 80's vintage MCS receiver is fine for what it is, but I may decide to upgrade from the old hand-me-down. But that is all the future. For the present I'm enjoying the sounds again.

Saturday, May 25, 2013


Monday, May 6, 2013

Review: Hot Nun - Hot Nun

Sometimes you need a power pop album to be a little like a member of the Lollipop Guild: short and sweet.

The self titled release from the Jeff Shelton led Hot Nun will undoubtedly be one of the more Lollipopest efforts of the entire year.

Those who are familiar with Shelton's main vehicle, The Well Wishers, will find Hot Nun a near cousin in terms of sound and song writing, though the focus is more consistently left on the harder edge of the pop dial.     The result is a gem of a little record perfect for tooling around this summer with the windows rolled down.

"Spirit of '76" is really the tone setter for this album, with its lyrics wistfully looking back to the days when "Robin Zander shouted out loud...." and it used to be on the radio. Add to the sentiment crunchy power chords and a ringing guitar solo and you have all the makings.

"Who Do You Love" is a glorious slice of ye olde Rock 'n Roll which makes you wonder why you don't hear more like it these days. "Win It All" is another forceful tune that seems effortless and intense at the same time, and that's not easy to do. No matter how its done the tune screams to be cranked up loud.

That is kinda the MO for the entire album, which may be one reason why it cuts out after only 8 tracks, one of which is a cover of David Bowie's "Queen Bitch." Its best to not overstay your welcome when you are so relentlessly on point, as they certainly are here.

In the end it maybe about as substantial as the lollipop I compared it to at the beginning of this review. But, damn it all, there sure are sweet while they last.

Grade: B+/A-

Friday, April 12, 2013

Review: Parthenon Huxley - Thank You Bethesda

Parthenon Huxley and I go way back.

Okay, maybe he doesn't know that, but I still remember being a young man starving for new sounds and first hearing his music on the late lamented WMRY in St. Louis way back in the late 1980's. When I picked up and chowed down on that album (Sunny Nights) I remember thinking to myself, "Why aren't there more albums like this?" So, in a very real way, coming across Parthenon Huxley's music led me towards the music I've spent the better part of 30 years devouring. I'm still ravenously hungry. But that is alright, because Mr. Huxley has recently been obliging with a new tasty pop morsel. (And thus endeth the extended food analogy.)

 If you are already familiar with Huxley, Thank You Bethesda will provide you with everything you expect from one of his records: melodic tune follows melodic tune and Huxley's unique guitar work crackles from your speakers. Add unexpected quirky twists and sharp insightful lyrics that keep you singing along and the result is a top notch effort.

"Angeleno" follows in the footsteps of earlier Huxley tracks ("Compromise" off of Sunny Nights and "California" off of the P. Hux release Deluxe) in offering a take on the show business world of the West Coast, though this time around its a bit more sardonic and sounds conspicuously like a goodbye. "Beautiful" is a tune that lives up to its title. "Luckiest Man" is a classic Huxley ballad filled with pop hooks that grips a listener in the first three seconds and doesn't let go.

"Love is the Greatest Thing" is a terrific slice of 1980's style pop/rock anthem songwriting and recording, and a wonderful reminder of why an artist may want to go that route every once in awhile. Besides, I'm always likely to go along with a song that begins with the lyric, "I wanna believe The Beatles, they mean so much to me." Yes. Hell, yes.

Add in a super fun revisiting of the Huxley classic "Buddha, Buddha" and you've got an album which will cause anyone to go back for seconds.

Grade: A-/A

Monday, March 11, 2013

Just Because


I know I've been real quiet of late. Once again real life is making totally outrageous demands on me. Luckily I've been able to accumulate a sizable stack of new (or new-ish) power pop CDs, and plenty on new stuff is popping up on The Pub. Hopefully, I will get new reviews up here in a week or so.

In the meantime I want to share a new release from Jarinus (aka Jaret Reddick and, friend of the Pub, Linus of Hollywood.) I supported their Kickstarter campaign for this record and it promises to be hilarious. My inner 11 year old cannot wait.




Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Pure Pop Pub's Top 15 For 2012

On the Pub "15" is the new "20".

I didn't get around to writing full fledged reviews for all of these, so I will append little capsule reviews as needed.

1. Cliff Hillis - Dream Good

2. The Well Wishers - Dreaming of the West Coast

3. Bryan Scary - Daffy's Elixir

4. David Myhr - Soundshine

5. Secret Powers - More Songs About Her

6. Kurt Baker - Brand New Beat: Second verse, same as the first. Baker's solo punched up Costello/Jackson/Beat sound still delivers the goods in this too too short ten song spinner. Fun first note to last. Grade: A-

7. Bill Lloyd - Boy King of Tokyo

8. Redd Kross - Researching the Blues

9. dB's - Falling off the Sky: As warm and comforting as a favorite sweater, this is a polished and self-assured disc that compares favorably to anything in their catalog. So what if it isn't sexy as shit. Sometimes all you need is a good ol' timey sing-a-long. Grade: B+/A-

10. Lannie Flowers - New Songs Old Stories: OK, this may be a bit of an appetizer - a re-working of older tunes into more fully fleshed out versions - but it is undeniably tasty. "Another Weekend" can make a solid claim to being the best power pop song of the whole year. Grade: B+

11. P. Hux - Tracks and Treasures Vol. I

12. The Condors - Three Item Combo: Pop rock with a purpose; to kick some ass. At times power poppy, at other times rootsy, this offers plenty of listeners to chew on. Grade: B+

13. Gavin Guss - On High: This is a pop album with the emphasis on the pop. And being an album. It reminds one of the best Michael Penn material. (Very high praise in my book.) "Riga in the Fall" is a simply gorgeous tune. Grade: B+

14. Hi Electric - Hi Electric: Its gotta be hard to be a power pop band from Memphis. And damn it all if they don't evoke Big Star in their approach to boot. Talk about inviting the inevitable smack down. Still, the song writing is more than engaging enough to make this a fine first effort, and to hint there could be better to come. Grade: B/B+

15. The JAC - Faux Pas

Honorable Mentions:

I have to mention two releases which also graded out at the B/B+ level and can make the claim to deserving a spot in the Top 15 list as well:

16. Ex Norwegian - House Music
17. Shoes - Ignition

All in all, this was one fine year for new music. Here's hoping 2013 tops it!