Around the dial: Whale House, Pink Beam, Tommy and the Rockets, and the Kickstand Band


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Today’s turn around the dial is all about contrasts, music that combines discordant elements but in way that resolves the tension via a great hook.  Whether channeling experimental rock or 1950s song structure or a revived beach fun ethos or dreamy vocal harmonies, its all about melody.

a2912673195_10Let’s begin in Eau Claire, Wisconsin where Whale House are a band of many colours: proudly experimental on a number of tracks, languidly acoustic-strummy on others, and straight out rockers when the amp gets knocked up to eleven.  It’s all there in their latest trio of songs, with “Red Sun” and “Think of Me” covering the experimental rock and “Freeway” focusing on melody.  I love the cover shot for the latest single with its space cruiser speeding into some crossword time-space anomaly!  Songwise, the obvious single to me is “Freeway.” The song kicks off with a super nice trippy guitar line that threads it way through the song, brought into contrast by a chorus that brings on a stronger attack from both guitars and piano, and vocals that have a nice, ever-so-slightly punky quality, hinting at alienation yet curiously endearing at the same time.  Warning: repeated listening will imprint the guitar line on your brain like the Apple home screen on your TV (in this case, not a bad thing).  Previous releases from Whale House are also worth exploring. Check out their 2013 single “Stand Out” or “Smoke Signals” and “Dark Rituals” from their 2014 EP The Negative Space (the latter track sounds like a spot on 1980s FM radio staple).

a2456399115_10Rockford, Illinois is the home base of Pink Beam, a band whose new album, Big Vacation, is a strong debut that fires all over the poprock map.  “Sleep When You Are Dead” evokes the Beatles’ Abbey Road, particularly “Because,” but that’s just a teaser as the song develops its own unique direction.  “Floozy” is a great rollicking rock and roll romp while “Michael” has a 1970s soft rock vibe reminiscent of some early Chicago (not the ballads and minus the horns).  But the tour de force is the wonderfully weird “Jamie,” a story song about regret, though perhaps never told quite this way before.  Its distinctive sound – think early 1960s tragedy ballad run through the 1970s fifties revival – effortlessly shifts between a sweet poprock melody and a great discordant vocal counterpoint.  Pink Beam are onto something original here.

a3130381154_10Then there is something so 1978 about “Silly Teenage Love” from Tommy and the Rockets, a one-off musical project comprised of Danish poprock songwriter Thomas Stubgaard and three members of the New Trocaderos.  The song kicks off with the tight guitar and compressed vocal sound so perfected by Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds in their legendary Rockpile band.  Sure the record exudes that beachy 1960s sound too but it’s the distinctive 1970s poprock drive that gives it the oomph.  “Silly Teenage Love” is included on the album Beer and Fun and Rock and Roll, which pretty much sums the whole point of the exercise: a celebration of sunny summer beaches and the libations that make them rock.

a0807090862_10A wonderful blend of vocals marks The Kickstand Band’s new EP, Summer Dream.  Comparisons to indie darlings Jake and Eliza immediately come to mind.  As with them, this duo’s musical debts are a curious mixture of past and present: early sixties Brill Building pop, 1950s vocal harmony, late 1970s and early 1980s poprock a la Dwight Twilley or Marshall Crenshaw.  “Stay Inside” charges out of the gate and shifts deftly between three different interesting and distinctive vocal motifs, including close harmonies and swooping background oohs and aahs with a catchy set of hooks.  “Fall Back” sounds like those early 1960s sincere girl ballads but switches it up into the chorus to a late 1960s California pop harmony sound.  Title track “Summer Dream” kicks off with a whole load of reverb-drenched vintage guitar before dropping out for a eerily quiet verse that gives way to a blast of hooky chorus.  EP number three is the charm for this duo.  Previous releases certainly have highlights but Summer Dream is where the songs and their sound really comes together.

Try out these recordings from Whale House, Pink Beam, Tommy and the Rockets, and The Kickstand Band for free.  You can listen to their whole albums on Bandcamp before deciding that you really can’t live without them.

Blasts not from my past: Shack, Cast and The La’s


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How did I manage to miss Shack and Cast in the 1990s?  I did hear The La’s at the time but really only the single “There She Goes.”  These bands exude all the essential rudiments of great poprock: sparkly guitar lead lines, great vocal arrangements, with a healthy dose of swing.  They have songs that can be carried off on just an acoustic guitar. Though the members of these bands were contemporaries, the bands themselves broke at different times, which was good because there was considerable overlap in the membership of these three groups.

the-lasReally, The La’s come first in 1990 with their sole proper album, the self-titled The La’s.  As countless re-releases since then demonstrate, the album was actually recorded a number of times through the late 1980s with different producers: John Porter (the Smiths), John Leckie (XTC), Mike Hedges (the Cure), but finally with Steve Lillywhite (Big Country, U2) who upon comparative listens of the different versions really did nail the proper mix.  The band’s creative force, Lee Mavens, was like a mad scientist never happy with his formula.  He argued that the band’s sound was looser than the smooth sound Lillywhite produced, something perhaps better captured on the amazing BBC sessions recorded mostly in the late 1980s and released in 2006.  The La’s is undoubtedly a masterpiece.  Leaving aside the monster single, “There She Goes Again,” picking out the best tunes from this record is kind of like picking out the best Beatles’ song from Revolver or Rubber Soul.  No one is going to agree.  But my own personal faves include the rollicking “Son of Gun,” the sweet downward drift of “Timeless Melody,” the freewheeling acoustic blues of “Doledrum” (particularly the sprightly BBC version), the great guitar hooks of “Way Out,” and the early Beatles sound of “I.O.U.” Son of a GunI.O.U.Doledrum (BBC 1987)

But of course if Lee Mavens had only ever written and recorded “There She Goes” he would still be ripe for a lot of poprock glory.  The song is practically a ‘how to’ of poprock single writing.  The two versions featured here are striking for their differences from the album version.  The first is the original 1988 single where the guitars are a bit more upfront.  The second is an acoustic version recorded by Steve Lillywhite that really captures the range of Maven’s vocals.  Oh what this band might have been if they just had more than one record in them.There She Goes (original 1988 single)There She Goes (Steve Lillywhite acoustic version)

cast_-_band_membersCast features La’s cast off, John Powers, who stuck through the long multiple sessions for the La’s debut, only to leave shortly after to escape Maven’s dysfunctional approach to recording and focus on his own songwriting.  Cast’s 1995 debut, All Change, has some of the La’s acoustic trappings but cast in a broader rock vein – less skiffle, more Who.  The whole record is strong but “Sandstorm” and “Fine Time” stand out.  And unlike The La’s, the record was a hit, producing four top 20 singles in the UK.  Two years later Mother Nature Calls had a great acoustic number in “Live the Dream” as well a strong B-side with “Dancing on the Flames.”  Two more albums followed but by 2001 the band was ready to split.  But their 2012 comeback album, Troubled Times, suggested no diminution in the winning formula, with the swinging acoustic “Bad Waters” a definite highlight.  A new record is set to be released this fall.Fine TimeLive the DreamBad Waters

510c2n1jz4lShack preceded Cast in forming but followed them in gaining commercial success, with the early version the band including Peter Wilkinson, who would leave to join Cast.  After struggling to get three records out between 1988 and 1991 that went largely unnoticed, Shack resurfaced in 1999 with their big breakthrough record, HMS Fable, a seeming distillation of all the acoustic and poprock sounds of the previous decade.  “Comedy” would prove to be the band’s biggest hit but “I Want You” should have been released as single with its swirling vocal arrangements and great hooks.  Discovering Cast and Shack after all these years is kind of like finding another book by your favourite author who is now deceased – you didn’t expect to get it so you enjoy it all the more.ComedyI Want You

I have to include this clip of The La’s appearing as a duo (Lee Mavens and John Powers) on Canadian Much Music television where the clueless Erica Em tries to interview them and in classic understated Liverpool style they dodge her questions but pull off a pretty amazing vocal and acoustic strumming performance.

Today old bands never die, they just live on forever with Facebook and webpages.  Check out these for The La’s, Cast, and Shack.

Re-inventing sixties retro: The High Learys, The Young Sinclairs and Whalers


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music-studio-194058_1920The 1960s were such an explosively original decade in music that countless bands just keep riffing off its influences.  Hey, that’s OK if you want to be a bar band cover outfit, but with bands pushing original music it can sound more than a little derivative.  The trick is to take your cherished influences and meld them into something new.  Today’s bands all manage to signal where their debts lie while cashing out with something more original than just homage.  Perth, Australia’s The High Learys walk the finest line on their earlier material with the catchy “Clear My Mind” mining organ riffs that sound like they were lifted directly from records by the Zombies or the Animals.  But just one year later the band has transformed those influences into a more original, sixties-influenced indie sound on “Cabinet,” with its fabulous fuzzed out guitars and swirling organ.  Roanoke, Virginia’s The Young Sinclairs acknowledge their love of sixties poprock but refuse to live in the past, as is apparent on the single “Girl, I’m for Real,” which effortlessly blends Bryds and REM influences into a new mix.  Austin, Texas’ Whalers roll out a killer sixties guitar lick on “Cheat on Each Other” that has the hook and timbre of the original era but the vocals are pure 1990s.

Thanks to Powerpopulist for today’s suggestions.  Bands love fan mail so send yours to The High Learys, The Young Sinclairs and Whalers via the web.

Bosco Rogers get Post Exotic


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boscorogers-googooAll popular music is synthesis, really. Everyone is influenced and the best somehow take their influences and combust them into something that sounds very different from where they started – so different that people mistake it for something totally new.  Bosco Rogers is that perfect distillation of influences that breaks out into a new sound.  It would be easy to pick out the various familiar musical motifs from the 1950s through to the 1980s on their debut album Post Exotic – the fifties Chuck Berry swinging guitar lines, the psychedelic meets glam meets garage rhythm section, the great textured vocal effects – but that wouldn’t do it justice.  These guys are masters of the produced sound: each element of any song is placed into the mix ‘just so’ for maximum impact and effect. Is it surprising that the band’s two members run their own separate recording studios in the south of England and France?  Not really.

xqfwfjpjYet this would be of fleeting effect if the material itself was not strong.  And it is.  It is hard to pick out just a few highlights from this album as each song contains its own special bit of ear candy, some great original sound, a distinctive instrumental choice, a hook that won’t let go.  If pressed, I’d have to steer listeners to the super folk blues sound of “Anvers” with its catchy psych pop middle section, or the hypnotic whistle motif of “The Middle.” Then again title track “Post Exotic” has a seductive guitar swing, “Beach! Beach! Beach!” is an alternative universe beach party staple, “Drinking for Two” recreates the sunshine pop sound using classic 1960s vocal arrangements, “Roses” oozes 1980s synth pop, and so on.  In a world of individual song downloads, Post Exotic rewards the listener with the complete album experience: all player, no filler.

One can only hope that Bosco Rogers will be touring in support of this amazing first album soon.  Keep up with their tour and music news on the their Facebook page.

Breaking news: Get Inuit, Steve Ison, Mr. Sanka, and Public Access T.V.


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get-inuitDrop everything and focus your attention on these breaking tunes, hot off the musical presses!  Get Inuit hail from the southeastern county of Kent, England where nary a real Inuit can be found.  Undeterred, they have crafted a distinct, noisy kind of poprock.  Give their latest single a chance to get through to the chorus and you will be rewarded with some solid hooks.  “Teriyaki” kicks off with some cramped sounding vocals, which fatten up and take off into a soaring melody-drenched chorus.

0008208101_10Moving north, Birmingham, England’s Steve Ison defies easy labelling, melding folk, poprock, and indie sensibilities.  Both “Boy” and “I’m Leaving” sound infused with a bit of Donovan 2.0, while “From the Morning” and “I Woke Up from the Dead This Morning” both are faintly reminiscent of the Lilac Time, vocally at least.  Ison is a musical iconoclast whose songs never quite go where you expect them to, which is wonderfully liberating.

Mr. Sanka brings Los Angeles (Young & Sick) and London (Mustafa and James) producers together in a dance-pop supergroup that is definitely more pop-than-rock than is typical for this blog, but I just couldn’t resist the addictive bass-line, swooping background vocals, and killer unusual chorus of their first single, “Flight Mode.”  I love the precision production – every sound is just so crisp.  There’s no reason why we can’t squeeze a bit of dancing in here.

screen-shot-2016-09-01-at-11-36-29-am-compressedOver to New York City for the almost released debut album from the shamelessly rock and roll indie band Public Access T.V. who lament their musical genre’s end on their new single “End of an Era.”  In fact, guitar rock and roll is clearly back with the success of bands like Vant, Catfish and the Bottlemen, and the Vaccines.  So though the boys sing on this single that “the kids don’t like rock and roll anymore” don’t believe it.  Never Enough is chock full of great new guitar poprock and drops in just three more days.

Get yourselves over to the internet locations of Get Inuit, Steve Ison, Mr. Sanka, and Public Access T.V. to check out their available recorded music and upcoming live shows.

Broody poprock: Hayden and Greg Laswell


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How do they do it?  These sad sack, broody troubadours somehow manage to plant a subtle hook into their otherwise melancholic melodies that keeps you coming back for more.  Toronto’s Hayden and San Diego’s Greg Laswell have gravelly delivery and a general air of somber introspection surrounding their particular brand of broody poprock.

1280x1280Having said that, Hayden would be hilarious if he wasn’t so morose.  With song titles like “Lonely Security Guard,” Weight of the World,” and “Blurry Nights” he manages to make Morrissey seem cheerful.  Some songs are mini-sketches – both “Hollywood Ending” and “Lonely Security Guard” are vignettes performed with cinematic feeling, while others – “No Happy Birthday,” “Home by Saturday,” “Weight of the World” – just channel a sordid sounding sadness.  This is not a criticism.  I’m totally for sordid sounding sadness sometimes. Others step out of type with a more upbeat sound, if not sentiment.  I love the simple piano riff that propels “Damn This Feeling” or distinctive guitar lines that undergird “The Place Where We Lived” and the majestic “Blurry Nights,” a track with ‘hit single’ written all over it.  Hayden is currently touring behind a 20th anniversary edition of his first indie cassette tape release Everything I Long ForHollywood EndingWeight of the WorldDamn This Feeling


Greg Laswell’s early material hardly qualifies as broody at all, just a touch here and there.  “That it Moves” and “The One I Love” from 2008’s Three Flights from Alto Nido are hooky with just a hint of darkness.  “That it Moves” has a great build up, plateauing into a solid poprock gem.  “The One I Love” kicks off cheerily enough then gets its brood on in the chorus. But this year’s Everyone Thinks I Dodged a Bullet is full-on Hayden, including extra gravel in the vocals and some moody electric guitar lines on the catchy title track.

That it MovesThe One I Love

Moody people need money to drown their sorrows.  Visit Hayden and Greg Laswell online and give some thought to the kind of scotch your music-appreciating cash would buy.

Porter Block Party


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61shhrqsull-_ss500_ss280Powerpopaholic turned me on to Porter Block’s latest album Hard to See Beautiful, and particularly the wonderfully lush single, “Long Gone.”  So I decided to take a stroll down Porter Block lane.  Wow, what a catalogue!  Over six albums and one EP Porter Block have produced a polished, subtlely hooky, sometimes amusing body of work.  Mostly the work of duo, Peter Block and Caleb Sherman, the band defies easy categorization or comparison.  Early 1980s melodic poprock like Marshall Crenshaw maybe, or amongst contemporaries perhaps Pete Yorn.  One thing I really like about the band is their unabashedly commercial bent, commercial in the sense of polished and pristine in performance and musical adornments.  Again, in the early 1980s this was not exceptional as a host of great songwriters and poprock bands were keen to seduce audiences with every slick sound they could (think Split Enz, the J. Geils Band, the Cars, etc.).  What set them apart from more vacuous and contrived commercial output were the songs and the heart.  Porter Block are a lovely return to these values.Wonder About MeSolitary HotelDie a Little Every DayLong Gone

e650fbd0ce4260da14b139ddfeba15487f0bbebeI’ll admit, my first pass through the catalogue was selective, just four songs: “Wonder About Me” from their 2007 debut Suburban Sprawl, “Solitary Hotel” from the 2007 EP of the same name, “Die a Little Every Day” from 2010’s Peter Block, and “Long Gone” from this year’s Hard to See Beautiful.  At first listen, I thought they were nice, bordering on pretty good.  But after a week on replay their subtle hooks had gotten under my skin – pretty good became pretty great.  So I went back for more.  There’s too much to share here but there are a few songs you’ve just got to hear, like the hilarious “Lars,” the folk/country “Blackberry Girl,” two stellar vocal performances from Gowanis Yatch Club, and the John Waite “Missing You” period sound of “True Enough” and “Second Wind.”LarsBlackberry GirlMorning Finds YouMoving Around the SunTrue EnoughSecond Wind

Porter Block leave a light footprint on the internet, though they do have a Facebook page.  Such melodic talent really deserves closer scrutiny.  You can watch a short video about the making of their latest record here, featuring producer and poprock wunderkind Mike Viola.

I get mail! The Pinecones, Butch Young, CLIFFS, Cupid’s Carnival


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Not the paper-through-the-letterbox kind of course – more like email, messenger, Facebook, etc.  Still, the point is: people write and let me know about new releases they think would work for the blog.  It tells you something about the state of the music biz that sometimes it is the artist themselves pitching their wares.  Oh well.  Not all the suggestions work for this site, but I’m pleased to report that most do.  So today’s post focuses on what has come to the Poprock Record mailbag recently.

a3977225149_16The good people at Soundscapes in Toronto alerted me to hometown pop melodians, The Pinecones, who describe themselves on their Bandcamp page as “makers of jingle jangle and sha la la harmony rock.”  Ya, that pretty much captures it.  “Gloomy Monday” reminded me of some super mid-1980s poprock indie bands: a catchy tune performed in a raspy, loose, completely at ease sort of way – too clear to be garage rock but with a great laid back feel.  Check out the hilarious video featuring school kids grappling with their own gloomy classroom rituals.  Other highlights for me from their 2015 outing, Ooh!, include sha la la ememplar “That’s the Way I Want to Do It” and the XTC-ish “Kimberly Keeps.”

a0025790022_10Butch Young joins a long list of performers transformed by the Beatles and their influence.  There is hardly a note of his recent Mercury Man that does not bear the mark of the Fabs.  But where he takes that influence is not merely homage – there are some great songs here.  The title track has a very 1970s Beatle-influenced sound, a time when so many bands like Badfinger and ELO continued updating the style of the masters.   “One Foot In” expands the musical footprint, adding a bit of Beach Boys and a host of other vocally-oriented 1960s bands.  “Dime Store Jesus” sounds a bit 10cc to me, in a good way.  But my favourite track is, hands down, “Asteroid,” with its whimsical loping pace and great organ, piano and vocal parts.

cliifsI love performers with a great range of performance styles.  The ‘all caps’ band, the CLIFFS, come from a number of prior musical commitments – The Blurries, Apples in Stereo, Deathray Davies, and more – but none sound like this new venture.  The CLIFFS’ new album, Bill, You’re Only Human, is a stripped down punky poprock effort.  “Volcano” goes along in an understated way until you get to the chorus, which winds up a great hook through the repetition of the title.  Both “Jimmy Monet” and “Future Tense” seem to channel a low key Fountains of Wayne influence to my ears.  “Crash” has that distinctive 1970s punky take on early 1960s disaster poprock.  Probably my favourite track on the album is “I’m in Love with Tonight.” The title of the song is all the lyrics you get, but it still draws you in with its wonderful arrangement, adding a subtracting layers to good effect.

cupidscarnivalRounding things out is Cupid’s Carnival from their recent Everything is Love release.  This is a band that wears their Beatles’ influences on both sleeves.  A lot of the material here has been released by the same musicians under other names (Cherrystone, Roland Skilton) but not in these versions.  This recording really ups the complexity of their Beatles vibe.  “Girl” is a perfect example.  The opening guitar slide sounds like it was lifted right off George Harrison’s early solo records but the vocal arrangement is more Meet the Beatles or Something New.  Wow.  These guys know their Beatle motifs and combine and rearrange them in original ways.Girl

Visit Cupid’s Carnival, CLIFFS, Butch Young, and The Pinecones online and tell’em Poprock Record sent you.

365 days ago …


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sdAS… I started this blog, with some trepidation, excitement, and a strong sense of purpose – to let anyone who might stumble across it know about all the great music I’d been finding, particularly those who might think that all the best music was in the past.  My point, repeatedly stated over the past year, is that if you love music from 1950s through to the 1990s, people are taking up those influences today in wonderful, creative, and surprising ways.  I have always loved all kinds of music, across a host of genres (e.g. rock and roll, country, jazz, etc.), but if I had to boil it all down, my favourite music is built out of a great song, something catchy you can sing on your own without accompaniment and still get a sense of the tune.  For me, that has always been best represented in the broad category I call poprock.

IMG_5908In the pantheon of emblematic poprock I would start with Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers, segue to the Beatles and the Byrds, and carry on into the 1970s from there.  I got started with my parents’ record collection, which covered most of the classics from the 1950s and 1960s.  I was a child of the 1970s and the swan song of top 40 radio.  I came of age with New Wave and all the early 1980s alternative scene.  My first big discoveries on my own were performers like Elvis Costello, Marshall Crenshaw and Joe Jackson, and bands like XTC, Squeeze and Split Enz.  Music has always been a huge part of my life.  I started collecting records as teenager and by my late 30s had amassed nearly 6000 pieces of vinyl: 5000 long players and a 1000 45s (I’ve since ‘focused’ the collection down to about 1700 units).  There were a few years where I lost touch with a lot of the new music that coming out as I bore down on completing graduate school and getting a permanent job, but I still caught the occasional show or discovered some new band.  Over the past few years, I’ve ramped up that process of music discovery with great results.

IMG_5745Since I started this blog a year ago I have managed to stay on target with roughly one blog post per week.  I’ve also been in touch with a number of poprock bloggers, who’ve given great advice and suggestions for content.  I’ve seen a bevy of live shows over the last twelve months featuring many of the bands I’ve been writing about, one advantage of living in Canada’s biggest city.  But my biggest take-away from this experience has been grappling with the enormous surplus of talent out there.  The world is full of talented people putting out great stuff, if you can just find it.  Our humble efforts here at Poprock Record have been about supporting that process.

To mark one year as a blog I wanted some tunes that exuded fun, joy, and reverence for the music.  Animal House are an Australian band (now based in the UK) that ooze a good time party vibe.  Of their four pretty strong singles presently available for download or streaming “English Girls” is a blast, a fun, infectious table-thumper – just try to not tap something.  The song screams ‘dance to me’ and do it now.By contrast, youthful Luke Potter is a different kind of fun, distinctly more sweet and hooky.  Potter is really more of a ballad guy of the swooning teenage girl variety but his 2014 album, So Sugar, was bit more indie rock band, with a number of catchy tracks.  “There it Goes Again” has a nice vocal arrangement and solid acoustic guitar and band backing that allows the hooks to stand out.Last up is the superlatively talented Adam Levy.  Levy built his career in the trenches with a vast number of studio sessions and tour hours logged backing up major acts.  He is master of many guitar styles with recordings that run the gamut of blues, jazz, Americana and more.  But in 2013 he decided to put out a poprock album, Portuguese Subtitles, a real departure from his larger body of work, and it is an amazing effort.  “Flooded with Light” is a moving, carefully crafted poprock gem, with great vocals and lovely guitar flourishes.  It leaves you feeling good, and that is what we’re all about at Poprock Record.

Catch up with Animal House, Luke Potter and Adam Levy on their band or Facebook pages.

Youth not wasted on these guys: Declan McKenna, Dylan Gardner and Fronteers


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Young people with obvious and amazing talent.  You just hate them, don’t you?  As a former alienated youth I spent countless hours wishing I could be this together artistically at such a young age.  To pull it off as well as this crew is to inspire awe in the original meaning of the term (as in ‘wonder mixed with fear’).  These three examples of musical youth all offer different takes on contemporary music, underlining that ‘young people’ are no more stable as a category than any other cohort of people.

DeclanIn 2015 Declan McKenna broke out of nowhere as a 16-year-old with his homemade single, “Brazil,” a catchy song that is a scathing indictment of the corruption at the core of FIFA and international soccer.  Comparisons to Jake Bugg are common, but only for me because they both attempt to give voice to voiceless and take up political themes in an effortless way.  His second single and video, “Paracetamol,” took up transgender issues.  Part of McKenna’s appeal is the obvious authenticity of his lyrics and performance: imagine a more political Jonathan Richman.  His EP Liar contains his first three singles and one more song, “Howl.”

a0536645580_10Dylan Gardner loves the Beatles and 1960s garage rock but only the former appears as influence on this first record.  Recorded mostly in his bedroom, 2014’s Adventures in Real Time is chock full of poprock hits, if this blog were any arbiter of public consumption.  “Let’s Get Started” and “Too Afraid to Love You” were the official videos and singles, and they are great, but my vote for AM radio top 40 perfection goes to “I Think I’m Falling for Something,” a track that kicks off with great keyboards and a nice horn section before settling into a super lurching poprock sound with interesting vocal arrangements.  So too does “With a Kiss” bolt out of the gate on its acoustic strumming rhythm and a melodic hook that won’t let you go.  “I’m Nothing Without You” has that Beatles majesty, nicely executed on the record but also expertly performed in his bedroom in the video below.  Gardner’s Facebook says he working on his second album.

artworks-000120992890-tnd7ri-t500x500Over to the UK where the Fronteers have been going from strength to strength.  When I heard their first single in the summer of 2015, “Youth,” I was impressed with their harmony vocals and folksy rock sound.  But that didn’t prepare for what came less than a year later.  “Idol” was like a totally different band, though not in a bad way.  Great acoustic opener, hypnotic electric lead riff, and more great harmonies, but watch for the surprise bridge which seems to be channeling some spooky Everly Brothers vibe.  Then just last month they released an EP, Streets We Were Born In, which ups the rock quotient again with tracks like “Full Moon.”

Talent like this suggests these artists might be around for awhile but why not get to know them now?  Declan McKenna, Dylan Gardner and the Fronteers all host very active Facebook pages.