Friday, April 4, 2014

Jet

Jet was an Australian rock band formed in 2001 in Melbourne. Pure, honest and inspiring rock.
Listen to the songs and you'll instantly recognize their major influences like AC/DC, The Kinks, Oasis - and in many parts: The Beatles


The band consisted of lead guitarist Cameron Muncey, bassist Mark Wilson, and brothers Nic and Chris Cester on vocals/rhythm guitar and drums.

Get Born - cover art
They mainly were famous for songs like Are You Gonna Be My Girl or Rollover DJ, but you should definitely look out for their lesser known tunes like Shine On or Timothy.


Shine On is a tribute to Nic and Chris Cester's father, who died from cancer in 2004. The song was written by Nic Cester from the perspective of his father encouraging those who survive him to shine on.

Shine On - cover art

Jet sadly disbanded in 2012 and left the following announcement:

"A Message To Our Fans: After many successful years of writing, recording and touring we wish to announce our discontinuation as a group. From the many pubs, theatres, stadiums and festivals all across the world it was the fans that made our amazing story possible and we wish to thank them all. Thank you, and goodnight."

Shaka Rock - cover art

The group sold more than 6 million records. And it's really sad this chapter may be closed definitively.



Discography:
  • 2003 - Get Born
  • 2005 - Shine On
  • 2009 - Shaka Rock

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

+ + + News April 2014 + + + (Dan Wilson, The Both, Badger, Ken Stringfellow)

Dan Wilson - Love Without Fear

Love Without Fear - the new record of Dan Wilson - will be out April 14, 2014.
If you don't know him: Dan was lead singer of Semisonic (Closing Time, Chemistry), wrote songs for Adele (the record '21'), produced a Jeremy Messersmith record and wrote for many famous artists.


You still can preorder the record (digital, CD, LP, signed, deluxe versions etc.) at pledgemusic: http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/danwilson



The Both - The Both

Critically acclaimed musicians Aimee Mann and Ted Leo have joined forces for a collaborative project they call The Both. The duo's self-titled debut will be released April 15 via SuperEgo Records. Building on a friendship forged while they were on tour together last year, it was Leo's solo sets that piqued Mann's interest in getting on stage with him and writing music together. Of the project, Mann notes, "Honestly, I feel like for the first time, I'm part of a rock band."
 

Listen to Milwaukee at Soundcloud!

Badger - Time Will Tell

The debut record of Pat Badger (from Extreme) is already out for pledgers at Pledgemusic. It was produced by Bleu McAuley. And there are at least two tracks written by Bleu (the long lost "When It Rains It Pours" and "Freak Me Out" from the "Blizzard Of '05" record).


Ken Stringfellow - Paradiso In The Moonlight

Paradiso In The Moonlight is a limited edition of 300 double vinyl heavyweight LPs capturing the Ken Stringfellow experience live at The Paradiso, Amsterdam in 2012 (including a 1080p video download of the entire concert, mp3 and 24/48 uncompressed audio files). It will not be released on CD.


Ken says: "Anytime you assemble a dozen or so great musicians and let 'em rip, the results are bound to have an epic tinge. It's a spectacle just to see that much talent spread across one stage. But this night at Amsterdam's iconic Paradiso venue had another aspect to it - it nearly didn't happen at all. I was coming from a stateside recording session, and between Hurricane Sandy and mechanical delays, my flight barely made it and I barely made those flights.  At each airport on the way I was forced into in a full-bore run with all my stuff to get to my gate. Arrive I did, and thank effin G, as the rescheduling of musicians, venue and me was a math problem best left at the outer edges of cloud computing. In my mind, I was overwhelmed by the fact that I almost missed making this happen, and you can see a mix of desperation to capitalize on this unlikely gathering and the sense of triumph where one lone man has overcome the cruelty and caprice of the indifferent gods...this is not a simulacrum of epic-ness...it is itself Epic."

Here's Drop Your Pride, live at the Paradiso:


You can preorder it here (release: June 9, 2014): Lojinx

Friday, March 7, 2014

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty OST

There are very few movie soundtracks that are so different, inspiring and outstanding to outlast the popularity of its movie - the soundtracks of Magnolia or American Beauty are two perfect examples for me.
All of a sudden The Secret Life of Walter Mitty OST happened to me. And it stuck since then.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty OST (cover art)
Side A (yes, on vinyl) opens with the epic Step Out by José González to Dirty Praws (Of Monsters And Men) and Stay Alive (José González) - it left me breathless.


Side B continues without deceleration with two songs from Junip (Far Away and Don't Let It Pass) and the beautiful dreamy Lake Michigan by Rogue Wave.


On Side C and D you'll find the gorgeous Rogue Valley with The Wolves & The Ravens but the second half of the record is dominated by cover versions: Escape (The Pina Colada Song) by Jack Johnson, Don't You Want Me by Bahamas, José González with #9 Dream and Space Oddity (it's the original David Bowie song except the first verse which has Kristen Wiig at vocals). A very different version of Maneater (by Grace Mitchell) closes the record.


By the way, if you didn't watch The Secret Life of Walter Mitty yet you should do it, just because the movie is equally good as the soundtrack. It's just an amazing experience.



  
 

Elliott Smith

Elliott Smith was an American singer-songwriter and musician that created beautiful inward and sad-hearted songs with stunning harmonies. He suffered from depression, alcoholism and drug dependence. His lyrics reflect there topics a lot.

After having remarkable success with his first three records (Roman Candle, Elliott Smith, Either Or), his music for Good Will Hunting became extremely popular, which worsened his mental situation even more.

He stated: "After Either/Or, the Oscar stuff happened and that kind of derailed my train. Although it took a lot for it to fully derail."

In 1998 he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song. 
Smith didn't want to perform at The Oscars but unbelievably he was threatened that Richard Marx would play his tune. So he agreed to perform.

Smith later said: "I walked out and Jack Nicholson was sitting about six feet away, so I avoided that area and I looked up at the balcony in the back and sang the song. It was surreal enough that it didn't seem like it happened to me. Everything was in slow motion, and i didn't feel particularly nervous. I just felt like I was in some odd dream that was probably meant for someone else. Everyone was really nice, but the point of the show is the show. It's certainly not me. The point of it is to have a big parade of celebrities."

Elliott Smith at The Oscars in 1998


Elliott Smith - Figure 8 cover

After the release of his most successful records (XO and Figure 8) he started to work on his 6th album From a Basement on a Hill with Jon Brion in 2001.
After finishing half of the record Brion and Smith divided when Brion tried to stop Smith's excessive drug usage and Smith's own discussions about his suicide.
In 2003 - at the age of 34 - he died in Los Angeles. The circumstances of his death are still unclear.
From a Basement on the Hill was posthumously completed and released.

Discography (studio records):
  • 1994 Roman Candle
  • 1995 Elliott Smith
  • 1997 Either/Or
  • 1998 XO 
  • 2000 Figure 8
  • 2004 From a Basement on the Hill
  • 2007 New Moon 

  

Coldplay - Ghost Stories

On May 19, 2014 Coldplay will be back with their 6th album Ghost Stories.
It's still a bit too early to judge what direction the record will have, but according to the two tracks that are already out (the first single Magic and Midnight) it will be quite different from their last album Mylo Xyloto.
It looks like Coldplay got rid of ballast and their arena rock direction and maybe (hopefully) return to what made them so special in the beginning.

Will Champion responded to the idea of having a more stripped down and acoustic record: "Yeah, that might be nice, actually. There’s only so far you can go without becoming pompous and a bit overblown, so we’ll tread that line very carefully. Reset. Recalibrate." (source)

Coldplay - Ghost Stories (cover artwork)

Track list:

1. Always in My Head
2. Magic
3. Ink
4. True Love
5. Midnight
6. Another's Arms
7. Oceans
8. A Sky Full of Stars
9. O

At Target there will be an exclusive edition with 3 bonus songs.

And here are the official audio streams of the first two songs from Ghost Stories:



Friday, February 7, 2014

Mike Viola - Hang On Mike (review)

There are many musicians out there who are said to be underrated and unheard - if I could name one, Mike Viola would be my personal number one.

Hang On Mike - released in 2004 - opens with a song that asks "What To Do With Michael". This may be the perfect way to start a record that's in major parts autobiographical.
Bringing up stories from his boyhood ("Superkid"), finding his love ("What To Do With Michael"), troubles of touring and a musical career ("Unexpected Traffic", "Hang On Mike"), family ("Let's Have A Baby") and quite personal, sad and tragically times ("Charlie" and "Painkillers").

"Hang On Mike" cover

Hang On Mike ends with the fabulous "Hunker Down", which lays bare the insight of a musician.
There is a lot of struggling all over the record about being a musician resulting in his final statement: "If there's one thing you're good for, it's another song."

Mike Viola manages it like no other to put serious topics together with catchy and upbeat melody.
I have to warn you: this music is addictive! If it gets you it may never leave you again!

The Candy Butchers live at Joe's Pub in 2004
 
Hang On Mike was remastered in 2010 - only on 180 gram gatefold Vinyl with digital download and 27 bonus tracks (demos, live stuff) - available here: mikeviola.com/store/

 

One more thing:

Mike performs at StageIt - every week 'til the end of the year 2014.

Every month will feature one of his studio albums. In February 2014 the Featured Album Of The Month is “Hang On Mike”.

If you don't know StageIt: it's all about doing a live performance via the World Wide Web.
Pay what you want and get 50 minuntes of live performance and some spectacular stories.


StageIt looks like this...

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Jeremy Messersmith - Heart Murmurs

The singer-songwriter Jeremy Messersmith from Minneapolis has his fourth album - Heart Murmurs - out now on CD, LP and digital. While his last record - The Reluctant Graveyard - was centered on death, Heart Murmurs is about love - with all its perspectives, such as addiction, self-laceration and desire.
If you like smart music, an incredible voice, and a record that has all the indication of being an instant classic, you'll be right with Heart Murmurs.


A stream the entire record can be found at NPR.

A video of the artwork & the included origami at Instagram

Track list:
1 It's Only Dancing
2 Tourniquet
3 Bridges
4 Steve
5 Ghost
6 Heidi
7 I Want To Be Your One Night Stand
8 You'll Only Break His Heart
9 Bubblin'
10 Hitman
11 Someday, Someone


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

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: www.bleutopia.com

Nick Drake

Preamble: No, this is not Powerpop. It's just brilliant music.

A critic once wrote Nick Drake can change your life. This may not be right for everyone, but he may have a point there.

Nick Drake was an English singer-songwriter and musician.
When he was 20 years old he signed to Island Records and released three records there: Five Leaves Left (1969), Bryter Layter (1970) and Pink Moon (1972).


Nick Drake suffered from depression (you'll recognize by his lyrics), especially the last years of his short life.
Nick didn't like to perform live or be interviewed. There is even no known picture of the adult Drake. All that wasn't very helpful for his commercial success. None of its records had more than 5000 buyers at first release.

After finishing his third record (Pink Moon), he stopped all musical work and  moved to his parents in Warwickshire.
Nick Drake died from an overdose of a antidepressant on 25 November 1974 - he was only 26 years old (it's still not sure if it was accident or suicide).

One may find his music depressing, others spiritual or relaxing.
Interesting fact: it's really hard to guess that its music is from the late 1960s / early 1970s. It's kind of timeless.

A good start to listen would be Way to Blue - An Introduction to Nick Drake or just one of his three records.


Discography (studio records):
  • Five Leaves Left (1969)     
  • Bryter Layter (1970)     
  • Pink Moon (1972)
Discography (compilations): 
  • Fruit Tree (1979)
  • Time of No Reply (1986)
  • Way to Blue - An Introduction to Nick Drake (1994)
  • Made to Love Magic (2004)
  • A Treasury (2004)
  • Family Tree (2007)
  • Tuckbox (2013)

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Cry! - Dangerous Game + Interview with the band (update)

The second studio album by The Cry! is called Dangerous Game and will be released on March 1, 2014 (CD/Vinyl/Digital).


The Cry! are Brian Crace (Lead Guitar, Vocals), Ray Nelsen (Rhythm Guitar, Vocals), Dave Berkham (Bass Guitar, Vocals) and  Evan "Maus" Mersky (Drums).
The band's debut LP "The CRY!" received rave reviews from Rolling Stone, Maximum Ronk'n'Roll, and dozens of industry sources.

With upbeat songs full of pure energy, catchy guitar riffs and harmonies The Cry! are a reminiscence to the 50s, 60s and 70s. But they are surely more than that!
You'll instantly recognize their influences like The Beach Boys, Exploding Hearts and The Sweet. The band brings back Rock'n'Roll, Power Pop, Glam and Punk, which makes them timeless.

Dangeous Game are 10 tracks - and 28 minutes of pure musical fun and Rock'n'Roll.


There will also be a 10 track live record ("The CRY! Live at The Banana Stand") released January 21, 2014.


The band was so kind to have a Q&A with PowerPopSquare:


PPS: How did "The Cry!" come about?

The Cry!: Well, I (Ray) wanted to start a Rock ‘n’ Roll band so I wrote some songs. I tried to get Brian Crace, a guitar player I’d heard about, to join but he thought we (drummer Johnny Martinez and I) were kind of losers. I got him to come over to the house one night and we got drunk, egged some houses and bonded. Honestly, that was the beginning of The CRY!
We went out around Portland (OR) looking for a strong bass player that could sing and eventually found Dave (Berkham) playing guitar and fronting his band “Midnight Callers.” We were so impressed that we immediately asked him if he played bass and would help us record a few songs.
At first Dave thought we were losers too but we convinced him to track a few songs with us. In January 2011 we went into Fetish Pop studios in Portland and laid down seven tunes: Waiting Around, I Think I’m In Love, Be True, Such a Bore, Sleeping Alone, I Wanna Know and a cover of Herman’s Hermits Henry IIIV.
Recording went pretty well but when we first sat down heard the playback of our vocals, with backgrounds and all, we knew we had something special. Since that day it’s been CRY! Or DIE!

PPS: Was it difficult to record album #2?

The Cry!: Writing the songs was (and is) the easy part. Dave, Brian and I write a lot of songs so materials were pretty easy to come by. But still this was a much harder record to make. This record took almost two years to complete for a few reasons.
Our first record got a lot of great press and sold a gang of copies well. We knew we had to at least match that effort and really wanted to outdo it. I guess we had a bit of “sophomore blues.”
Next, we were spending all our money on touring (130 shows in 2012), and had no money for recording (Dave is the only one with a “real” job). Probably the biggest thing was that we when got together to record we just started partying too hard and fucking around like mates do.
Finally, we got focused in the summer of 2013. Our drummer, Evan “Maus” Mersky, was starting up a recording outfit called “Red Lantern Studios” He offered to record/engineer at all hours of day and night when the studio didn’t have paying customers. So we did a day here and a week there until the tracking was done. We finished mixing in October of 2013.

PPS: Why do you think vinyl has this huge comeback particularly these days?

The Cry!: Don’t know about other kids but I’m sick and tired of this digital shit. Digital is convenient and great sound quality but is kind of an empty experience. I want something to touch and look at. A vinyl record is more like a keepsake and playing a record is like a ritual event. For me, putting vinyl on the player, hearing the scratches, looking at the pictures and liner notes is kind of a religious thing.

PPS: Who was the last artist or band that took you by surprise?

The Cry!: The new Justin Bieber 7” really got me off…NOT! Seriously, I got to give a shout-out to Wyldlife. There new record is killer. Their songs remind me of how The CRY! lives and that’s what great music does. Tuck (Biters) produced their last record “Time Has Come To Rock & Roll” and it’s a smasher. They are one of our favorite bands these days and we’d love to work with all those guys soon.

PPS: Do you think the internet is good or bad for musicians/bands?

The Cry!: It’s both good and bad. It’s good because it levels the creative playing field and allows more players create solid tracks and get their shit out there to be heard. The CRY! would never have been able to make records or videos without digital tools and the internet.
We do a lot of Facebook, ReverbNation, YouTube etc… On the other hand, it’s bad cause it make it crazy hard for new artists to make money. We are broker than shit… but we look good and have great fans.

PPS: Which genre do you mostly relate to with?

The Cry!: We don’t like being lumped into one or the other. We are obviously influenced a lot by power pop with heavy punk and do wop trimmings.
Honestly, in the end, its only Rock & Roll and we like it!


Official website:
www.thecrypdx.com