Friday, September 9, 2016

Bleu - A Watched Pot

A Watched Pot - the third record of Bleu - was supposed to follow Redhead but got into a lot of trouble.

A Watched Pot cover

A Watched Pot was recorded with John Fields in 2005 for Aware/Columbia Records.
A few weeks after finishing the record Bleu was dropped from the label (as well as many other artists) because of downsizing of Sony.
This didn't stopp him to play his songs and stream them and new ones at Myspace (Do you remember Myspace? It's so long ago!). The record was never released on CD or digital ... until 2009! 

These four years were full of creative work: Bleu moved from Boston to L.A., put out L.E.O.  - Alpacas Orgling (a project with Mike Viola, Andy Sturmer of Jellyfish and Jason Scheff of Chicago), founded The Major Labels (a power-pop project with Mike Viola and Ducky Carlisle) and released Aquavia (the first and maybe last record of The Major Labels), and worked as a producer.

The A Watched Pot sessions resulted in these songs (I'm not sure if this list is complete and absolutely correct):

- Save Me
- Boy Meets Girl
- Come 'n' Go
- The Blame Game
- It Can't Be Bad (If It Feels So Good)
- Go
- I Won't Fuck You Over (This Time)
- What Now
- What Kinda Man Am I
- No Such Thing As Love
- The Penguin Song
- I'm In Love With My Lover
- Kiss Me
- One Day
- Singin' In Tongues
- When The Lights Go Out
- A Watched Pot
- Take Cover

The retail version was finally released on July 14, 2009 with the following track list:

1 Save Me
2 Come 'N Go
3 No Such Thing As Love
4 Boy Meets Girl
5 Kiss Me
6 I Won't Fuck You Over (This Time)
7 When The Lights Go Out
8 What Now?
9 Go
10 One Day
11 What Kinda Man Am I?
12 The Penguin Song (hidden track)

I'm In Love With My Lover and Singin In Tongues were used for FOUR (the follow-up of A Watched Pot in 2010) while The Blame Game, It Can't Be Bad, Take Cover and A Watched Pot were released with Besides, a compilation of B-Sides and previously unreleased material in 2011.

Bleu said: ”It truly means the world to me to finally get this record released. It always feels good to put your art out in to the world, but after all I've gone through for this material to see the light of day, the reward is particularly sweet.”

I am so glad Bleu was finally able to release this album.
A Watched Pot may not be as upbeat as Redhead was, but these songs are so strong - it would have been a shame not to have it out in the world.
It's a perfect record, in terms of production, clever lyrics and wonderful harmonies - all is carried by the wide ranged strong voice of Bleu.

I won't go into detail about the songs, just listen to them! Only one thing: there is not one single song on this record that is not addictive, catchy and marvelous.

Here are the official videos for No Such Thing As Love And Come'n'Go:

Listen to A Watched Pot here:


You can buy the record at the official website:

Rooney - Calling The World

Calling the World is the second studio album by Rooney. With three years of recording, about 50 songs in total and John Fields producing (!), the album was finally released in 2007.

Robert Schwartzman (lead vocals, guitar), Taylor Locke (lead guitar, backing vocals), Ned Brower (drums, backing vocals), Matthew Winter (bass guitar) and Louie Stephens (keyboards, piano) present nothing less than their best record to date (in my humble opinion).

You can easily discover many influences, like Queen or E.L.O. - and Powerpop all over the record.

To sum it up: It's so good, it's in heavy rotation since weeks at my turntable. You might experience the same...

P.S.: Though there was a new Rooney record out in 2016 ("Washed Away"), it's sadly not the same level as "Calling The World". With "Washed Away" the only remaining member of the band is Robert Schwartzman.

Jon Brion - Meaningless

Jon Brion released his first - and last - solo album "Meaningless" in 2001. Initially to be released on Lava Records, the album was finally sold independently by Brion on his own "Straight to Cut-Out" label through his website & CD Baby.

The lyrics (e.g. "Ruin My Day" and "I Believe She's Lying") and the brilliance of the songs themselves are stunning. "Trouble" and "Walking Through Walls" are pop music at its best. This is a joy to listen to and I highly recommend it.

1. Gotta Start Somewhere
2. I Believe She's Lying
3. Meaningless
4. Ruin My Day
5. Walking Through Walls
6. Trouble
7. Hook, Line, And Sinker
8. Dead To The World
9. Her Ghost
10. The Same Mistakes
11. Voices

Because this album was ridiculously overlooked, there is no preview on amazon as usual, but just listen (and as I suggest buy!) it on

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Mark Bacino - Not That Guy (Single)

After devoting the last few years to producing and mixing for various artists, composing for television-film-advertising and writing for publications such as Songwriter’s Market and Guitar World, Mark Bacino finally returns to his post as power pop, singer-songwriter with the release of a new single, “Not That Guy”.

Not That Guy” not only signals the musical return of the artist TimeOut NY once called “A trad-pop, wonderboy…,” but it also marks the first of several, single song releases Bacino has planned for the coming months. 

Mark explains: “Given my schedule as producer, composer, mixer and sometimes hack, music journalist, I’ve found myself a bit time challenged of late when it comes to recording music for myself as an artist. Rather than wait to amass an album’s worth of new material before sending it out to the world, I thought why not just release the new tunes as I finish them?” 

An up-tempo, piano-driven, pop rock ode to the trials of “friend zone” banishment, “Not That Guy” features Jay Sherman-Godfrey (Laura Cantrell, TMBG) on guitars/bass/keys and Joe McGinty (Ryan Adams, Ronnie Spector) on piano.

Buy "Not That Guy" on iTunes or

For more information on Mark Bacino, please visit

Mark was so kind to have a Q&A with PowerPopSquare (thanks Mark!):

Q: Tell me about the new song “Not That Guy.” How did it come into being?

A: Well, “Not That Guy” is one of a batch of new tunes I’ve written. I guess it came into being like most of my songs do - just me sitting with an acoustic guitar, messing around with different chord patterns, humming different melodies until I find something that strikes me as interesting.  Once I had the music in place, somehow I came up with the idea to write some lyrics about a guy who been permanently banished to the “friend zone” by this girl whom he’s madly in love with.  As the lyric developed, I expanded the story - we learn the girl has a boyfriend who treats her with indifference and despite our hero treating her with love and respect, in her eyes, he’ll never be more than “just a friend.” Ultimately it’s really just a play on the classic, unrequited love theme.  Unfortunately, whether you’re a guy or a girl, I think we’ve all been there, so hopefully folks will find the song relatable.

Q: Who are your musical idols or which musicians do you admire most?

A: Wow, that’s a tough one. There are so many musicians that have had a great affect on me.  Too many to name, but if I had to quickly pick just a few, I’d probably have to go with two legends - Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson. Paul for his sheer tunefulness, just a born songwriter.  And Brian for the same, plus his production prowess.  What an incredibly musical mind.

Q: Will there be a new full-length record in the near future?

A: I have about an album’s worth of new songs written and I’ve been slowly recording in fits and starts, but given my schedule as producer, composer, mixer and sometimes hack, music journalist, I’ve found myself a bit time challenged of late when it comes to recording music for myself. As such, I started to think, rather than waiting to finish an album’s worth of new material before sending it all out into the world, why not just release the new tunes as I finish them? So that’s the plan for now. Not to say it won’t change.

Q: Is there anything outside making music / producing you do to rejuvenate your creativity?

A: I’m still a huge fan of music, so I try to listen to as much as I can, by a variety of artists, to nurture and spark my creativity.  Doing that continues to inspire and seems to hit the reset button for me.  I also love to read.  I find that too has a similar effect.

Q: Do you remember what your first record was?

A: The first record I had as a little kid was a vinyl, 45 single of “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” by B.J. Thomas.  Loved that record.  Later I came to find out that the song was, of course, written by the great Hal David and Burt Bacharach.  Seemed I had pretty good taste in songwriters.  Not that I cared back then.  I just loved the tune.  It’s funny, but if you listen to the music I make, and then you learn that “Raindrops…” was my first record, it actually explains a lot.

Q: What is Power-Pop for you? Are you able to define the genre?

A: I think Power-Pop’s definition is pretty broad these days, generally encompassing any kind of ultra-melodic, slightly retro-ish music.  That said, I’ve always thought of it in more specific terms.  Like songs with big, crunchy guitars, big hooks, big harmonies and big drums.  Kind of like if you took, say, the early Beatles and had them play through big Marshall amps with maybe two Ringos instead of one (no offense, Mr. Starr).  Cheap Trick or The Raspberries are power-pop bands to me.  Folks have categorized my music as power-pop and I’m guilty of sometimes using the term to describe what I do as well, but I think while I’ve certainly made some power-pop music, I’m not a hard-core power-pop artist.  Maybe only in the broad sense of the definition I described earlier.

Q: What’s your opinion regarding streaming services like Spotify and Deezer? Is this the end of the road for music distribution? 

A: It’s certainly a heated topic these days. I’d say as a music fan, I love streaming.  I, personally, subscribe to Spotify and totally love having nearly the history of recorded music at my fingertips, at all times.  That said, as an artist/working musician, streaming and the lackluster royalty rates that currently source from the companies who facility the format, certainly make it harder for musicians to make a living.  Ultimately, I think it’s important not to demonize the technology.  It seems folks love streaming and anything that gets people listening to more music has to, ultimately, be good for the music maker.  Despite many a musician’s protest, we’re never going back to the old forms of distribution.  As such, I think our energies would be better focused on coming together as artists and seeing how we can work collectively to try and make our piece of the streaming pie a little more fair/lucrative.  I’m optimistic.  I think it will happen, but it may take a good long while.

Q: Tell me your 3 lonely island records!

A: Oh, such an impossible question!  I’m pretty sure my answers would change daily.  I’ll have to go with some standards then - let’s say The Beatles “Revolver,” The Beach Boys “Pet Sounds” and I’ll throw in Miles Davis’ “Kind of Blue” as well.  Such a hard question!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

+ + + New Music June 2016 + + + (David Brookings, Ken Sharp)

David Brookings and the Average Lookings

The new - self titled - record of David Brookings is out now! Listen to the full album below - it's absolutely worth it:

Ken Sharp - New Mourning

Ken Sharp is back with "New Mourning". The album features various special guests including Rick Springfield who contributes lead guitar to two songs and background vocals on one track, Wally Stocker of The Babys and Prescott Niles of The Knack.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Top Boost - Turn Around EP

The Top Boost, Vancouver's psychedelic garage pop trio, have just released their debut EP "Turn Around". Recorded and mixed in Vancouver and mastered at Abbey Road Studios in London, the record is filled with astonishing good songs.

To assemble The Top Boost, singer/songwriter Hunter Gogo searched for musicians who shared his love for catchy melodies and vocal harmonies informed by classic '60s groups like The Beatles, The Byrds and The Zombies. He found drummer Greg Johnston and guitarist Kirill Yurtsev and together they began to hone their craft, playing live to enthusiastic crowds at clubs around Vancouver.

The band has been working hard writing and performing new material, and have already begun pre-production on a new record.

Listen to the full EP here - I recommend to start with "Turn Around" and "What If She Loves You": 

One final note:  This may be the best debut record I listened to in 2016. I demand to have more of this! The Turn Around EP is brilliance!

Friday, May 27, 2016

The Feeling - The Feeling

Do you remember The Feeling? Ten years ago their debut "Twelve Stops And Home" was not just a quite successful album (No. 2 in the UK charts!) it was also REALLY good!
Sadly their success declined with every following album (I also lost track with them).

Now - 10 years later - The Feeling is back with the fifth - self-titled - album. A record I didn't expect to leave any impact on me. Boy I was wrong!

Instruction Manual for the record "The Feeling":
1) Check your pulse. 
2) Find a source to listen to the record in full (Spotify, Apple Music, Google Music ... or if you're as old as me: buy it on CD or Vinyl)!
3) Turn the volume UP (you know how far you can go, do you?)! Alternative: Headphones!
4) Use this track list: Feel Something // Wicked Heart // Spiralling // Real Deal // Repeat To Fade // Let It Be Gone // What's The Secret? // Sleep Tight
5) Check your pulse. Has it changed?

The Monkees - Good Times!

"Good Times!" is the twelfth studio album by the Monkees - and the band's 50th anniversary. Produced by Adam Schlesinger it bring together Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith and Peter Tork.

The record consists of unreleased songs they wrote together with Neil Diamond, Carole King & Gerry Goffin, Harry Nilsson & Bobby Hart as well as new songs by Rivers Cuomo, Andy Partridge, Ben Gibbard, Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller.

The title track was written by Harry Nilsson. A demo was used to create a duet between Nilsson and Micky Dolenz. 

Travis - Everything at Once (Update May 2016)

Travis are back! Their latest full length record "Everything at Once" is their 8th record and the 20th year of the band (time flies!). It was produced by Michael Ilbert at the legendary Hansa Studios in Berlin.

Travis never disappoints with their records. The opener "What Will Come" impressively shows the strength for lyrics & melody. 
Fran Healy described "Magnificent Time" as the time of everyone's life where boys and girls become adults. A time where everything explodes and you say "Woo-ooh - wait a second, I can do all THAT now?" - a period you never ever get back and you should enjoy it as much as you can. The song itself is also magnificent, by the way.
"Radio song" and "Animal" are dangerously catchy!
And there is "Everything At Once". I had the chance to see it live (it was the opener of the show). Play it LOUD. It rocks!
Listen to the full album below!

If you don't know the history of the band - here's a collection of the best Travis songs:

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Owsley - The possibility of a third record

About a month ago I asked via Facebook:
Just a theoretical question: If there would be enough songs for a proper third record of Owsley, how many people would buy this record or would pay for a crowd funding?

Within 24 hours more than 120 people (just at this Facebook group) answered "YES". They would have bought at least this record, many of them wanted give more money just to get this record out.

Because of this, I thought a next step would be to start a poll and give you some samples of the songs that are already out in the world wide web (at various sources).

These are the songs that are already there. I excluded some collaborations and live recordings. So this is the attempt for a first track list. There are even more songs in the archives.

The biggest problem to get this record done are copyright questions and production costs. It could be helpful to estimate if financing of the record (e.g. by crowd funding) would work well or not. So please answer the poll below:

Would you buy a third Owsley record?

I'd buy the CD for about 20 USD
I'd buy the LP for about 35 USD
I'd buy the CD and LP for about 50 USD
I'd buy the record and stuff for 80 USD or more
I'd buy the record and stuff for 100 USD or more
I'd buy the record and stuff for more than 200 USD or more
Please Specify:

So everyone: let's cross your fingers we get this thing started (or better done).