David Bash dishes on some of the best new pop releases in recent weeks
Here’s my first Pop-O-Rama of 2022.
Sorry it’s so late, but it will be worth the wait…I think! 😉
Artist: Trevor Blendour
Album: Falling In Love With…
★★★★1/2 (4.5/5 stars)
Blendour is also the bass player of the Iowa-based instrumental combo, Surf Zombies, and while he appropriates some of that band’s exuberance on his debut album, Falling In Love With…this is power pop all the way, with a dollop of ‘50s influence for taste! Every song herein is fun and upbeat, even if some of the lyrical themes of unrequited love aren’t. Fans of bands like Fountains of Wayne will eat up tracks like “Don’t Mean Maybe” and “Falling In Love”, and…well, just about everything else! A thoroughly enjoyable listen throughout, and you must check out the charming video of the first single, “Carly Please”. Falling In Love With…will likely wind up on many a “Best of 2022” list!
Album: Eden Roc
★★★ (3/5 stars)
Yes, it’s that Alessi, the brothers who fronted the excellent ‘70s band, Barnaby Bye, and released several albums under their own name on A&M later in that decade. They’ve actually been recording quite a bit lately, and Eden Roc is their latest…and it’s certainly a solid effort. The identical twins aren’t quite in the same voice as they used to be, but they still sound fine and still write sophisticated pop songs with strong, if sometimes a bit slick, production values. Most impressive is the album opener, “Suite”, which as you might guess is made up of a few song bits and really showcases their vocal harmonies. Other exemplars are the country-flavored “Sugar Plum”, “Always Love You”,” and their smooth take on one that Lennon/McCartney gave away, “I’m In Love”. It’s always gratifying to see artists from back in the day still doing it well, and long may Alessi run!
Artist: Rosalie Cunningham
Album: Two Piece Puzzle
Label: Esoteric Recordings
★★★★ (4/5 stars)
If you thought UK prog-rock was a thing of the past, think again because Rosalie Cunningham is a very faithful and capable practitioner of the craft! Two Piece Puzzle is Cunningham’s second solo album, and here she’s got her melodic sensibilities in order, although the term “order” is used loosely; as with most good prog rock, there are more twists and turns than on a roller coaster! Vocally, Cunningham will remind one a bit of Sonja Kristina of Curved Air, but occasionally you’ll get Maddy Prior, particularly on some of the psych-folk tunes, like “Donny, Part II” which, by the way, gleefully borrows some bits from Queen. Other faves will be the rousing “Duet”, “Scared Of The Dark”, “Suck Push Bang Blow” (yes, that’s right), and the bonus track, “Number 149”, which has the most irresistible chorus you’ll hear in a modern prog tune. You may never solve this Two Piece Puzzle, but you’ll certainly enjoy trying!
Artist: Lannie Flowers
Album: Flavor of the Month
Label: SpyderPop/Big Stir
★★★★1/2 (4.5/5 stars)
This Kennedale, Texas veteran of them thar power pop wars just keeps getting better and better with each release, and longtime fans will know that this is saying a lot! The term “sanguine power pop” may sound like an oxymoron, but it really fits Flowers as, while his tunes rock, they also give the listener a peaceful, easy feeling (without ever sounding like Eagles). Flavor Of The Month is made up of remixes of tunes Flowers released as internet singles over the course of 2021, and these are more polished and really jump from the speakers. Exemplars are the Beatle-esque “Lost In A Daydream”, “Good”, “The One”, “Where Did All The Fun Go”, the slide laden “Doin’ Fine” and the title song, which is the most rockin’ on the album. Yet another winner from this amiable Texan!
Artist: The Rave-Ups
Label: Omnivore Recordings
★★★★ (4/5 stars)
The Rave-Ups were a darling of the Los Angeles “college radio” rock scene of the late ‘80s/early ‘90s, appearing in Pretty In Pink and scoring radio/MTV hits like “Respectfully King of Rain” and “She Says (Come Around)”. Sadly the band broke up at the peak of their powers, but fans will be absolutely chuffed to know that they’re back with a fine album, Tomorrow! Don’t expect too many of the rockin’ sounds of the aforementioned songs, though: Tomorrow is a more of a country-rock affair. There are fun numbers like the opener, “So, You Wanna Know The Truth?” and “Violets On A Hill”, but most of the album’s tunes are more laid back, like “Roll”, “The Dream of California” and the title track. Jimmer Podrasky is still in fine voice, and the band is as tight as ever. Highly recommended as a quintessential Sunday morning record that you can listen to anytime.