New Jersey’s The Skullers have a great new single, a cover of a 1977 Richard Hell b-side called “I’m Your Man.” Their take marries a 1970s new wave sensibility with a more recent and fresh sound not unlike the UK’s Vaccines. But the new single is not why we’re focusing on the Skullers here. I have to draw your attention back to their killer 2017 single, “Can We Do That Again.” Described by some writers as neo-rockabilly and bop, I think the sound is pretty timeless. From the hooky lead line opener to the swing in the chorus, the vocals and guitar gel in a way that could put this song in any number eras, including this one.
This blog is really one long testimonial to the Beatles’ influence on all sorts of popular music, past and definitely present. Indeed, my shorthand for describing what I do here to any random person is to say the blog features new music that builds on the legacy of the Fab Four. Today we attend to that influence more directly with bands that wear their Beatles love on their sleeves. Sometimes it’s the sound, other times it’s the subject matter, or it can just be an inspired cover.
On sound, Rob Clarke and the Wooltones nail the distinctive elements of the Merseyside scene circa 1963. “Brown Paper Bag” is strongly reminiscent of the Liverpool’s Big Three, a band briefly thought to be able to rival the Beatles (until 1964 came along), particularly their version of “Some Other Guy.” Cupid’s Carnival also mine the early Beatles sound on two different versions of their most recent single “She Don’t Care” (from their new EP Clapham Junction), one a straight up rock and roll treatment, the other featuring a more flamenco-style rhythm. But unlike a host of more derivative Beatles copy-cat acts, this homage works because the songwriting and performance are so strong. Addison Love also has the 1960s sound down but his contribution is more notable for its lyrical content. With a focus similar to Ken Sharp’s “She Hates the Beatles” (featured recently on this blog here), Love’s “Like the Beatles” suggests he just can’t sustain a relationship with someone who doesn’t relate to John, Paul, George and Ringo. Poor kid. Lucky for him, the Beatles’ popularity shows no sign of diminishing! Rounding out our Beatles love is a cover of “Paperback Writer” from the B52s. There is no shortage of Beatle’s covers but this one caught my ear because while it remains fairly true to the original there is a fresh sense of fun about it, as one would expect from this group. Recorded in 2004 for use in a car commercial when the band didn’t even have a record contract, the song remains officially unreleased and unavailable for purchase.
Cupid’s Carnival – She Don’t CareCupid’s Carnival – She Don’t Care (Flamenco Version)Addison Love – Like the Beatles
All the power pop blogs are talking at me. I don’t hear every word they’re saying but it’s hard not to catch the drift. They’re pretty bonkers over this crew of performers and for good reason. They pop rock! Today I play catch up on some pretty superior tune-age. What’s fun in the ever-so-slightly competitive world of blogging is seeing who puts up what and when. Early adopters are cool! But even when we post the same things – and why not? It’s all about supporting the music – it’s fun to notice how we don’t necessarily highlight the same songs. Here I’ve tried to shine a light on some different cuts from these new albums.
Like Danny Wilkerson. His self-titled solo debut is chock full of should-be hits but my ear got caught on “How She Lost My Heart” with its subtle Beatle and Badfinger-isms. And it’s just a great catchy tune!How She Lost My Heart
Another project burning up the power pop blogosphere is Bird Streets, which brings together John Brodeur and Jason Falkner in a truly winning combination. Bloggers and radio programmers have hit upon “Betting on the Sun” as the break out hit single and it’s hard not to agree. But here again I’m drawn to the more unusual “Thanks for Calling” with its bevy of unexpected hooks tucked in here and there.
In the ‘he keeps getting better and better’ category, Nick Piunti’s new album Temporary High is a treat, kinda like Mike Viola meets Tom Petty. This guy puts pop and rock together like a pro! Again, I’m hard pressed to single out just one song. The opening title track blasts out of the gate with ‘hit’ written all over it, the guitar and organ on “You Invented Hell” are exquisite, while “If This Was Right” strikes the more mellow melodic sweet spots. But I’ve settled on “No Return” which I think would not sound out of place on a Marshall Crenshaw or Mike Viola album. I’ve always been a sucker for the more sibilant, chimey, melody-drenched material.
A record I was really looking forward to was Rob Bonfiglio’s Trouble Again and it does not disappoint. Bonfiglio is a master of the compressed late 1970s poprock sound, evident in the hit single-ish “Passenger Seat.” But don’t overlook “Tears” which channels a bit of ELO and 10CC. Really, the whole record is eminently listenable.Tears
Rounding things out on this post is a selection from Caddy’s Ten Times Four. The ear is naturally drawn to the crashy, bouncy crunch of opening track “Miracle Turn” with its ear worm worthy hooks. Yet I found myself seduced by the more midtempo, Teenage Fanclub-ish elegance of “Reverie.”Reverie