I love the 1960s-meets-1980s synthesis embedded in the work of The Romantics, J. Geils, the Cars, the Go Go’s and so many others. Today’s feature artists are cut from the same cloth. I’ve dubbed them ‘paleo’ poprock because they effortlessly channel the essential melodic and rhythmic elements of the style. Listen closely and you’ll hear the very DNA of poprock.
The Tearaways are a jaw-droppingly good band. They emote an early to mid-1960s vibe, featuring their own distinctive brand of Beach Boys-style harmonies and Merseybeat jangle. And the songs! It seems like every one is loaded full of hooks. You can check out a fairly detailed review of the band corpus on an earlier post on this site. Their more recent efforts are a bit harder to nail down. Mention of a spring 2019 full album release entitled We Grew Up on AM Radio appeared on the band’s Facebook page but the record itself is hard to track down. Instead, I could find only about half an album of singles available in the usual locations. But, hey, I’ll take that. “Sweet Sounds of Summer” certainly covers the nostalgic AM radio theme, segueing to a full blown side trip into The Archies “Sugar Sugar.” “Manchester Girl” gives us a delightful blast of Mersey-ness on a tune that would easily fit on any Paul Collins record. But my fave from their latest batch of singles is “I’ll See You Again,” a solid rush of shimmery poprock goodness. A new album can’t come fast enough.
With The Empty Hearts it’s hard not to feel that rush of excitement that accompanied all the best new wave bands. It was a time when a ringing guitar seemed to able to kickstart what had become a moribund rock and roll scene band to life. And with former members of The Cars, Blondie, The Romantics and the Chesterfield Kings in the band, I mean, how could the group go wrong? Their self-titled debut deservedly received accolades from all quarters, including yours truly. Now back with The Second Album, it’s accolade time again. Early release single “Coat Tailor” kicks the album into high gear with Romantics-style up-front guitar and hooks. Ringo Starr stops in long enough to add touch of Beatles-rhythm to the delightfully jangle-heavy “Remember Days Like These.” From there the record offers up a wide range of familiar mid-to-late 1960s and early 1980s sounds, like a great J. Geils soul vamp on “Well, Look At You,” or the Cars vibe on “Come and Try It,” or the Kinks-ian feel to “The Haunting of the Tin Soldier” or what sounds like a great lost Romantics single, “If I Could Change Your Mind.” The whole record is a breezy, fun party album from players who’ve mastered the hooky rock and roll oeuvre.
Dave Rave has had an incredible career, as a member of legendary Canadian punk/new wave bands like The Shakers and Teenage Head, and then in more straight up rock and roll outfits like The Dave Rave Group and Dave Rave Conspiracy. Over the last decade he’s put out a raft of great records as a solo artist and with his Minnesota backing band The Governors (you can get caught up on these releases here). Now Dave Rave and Governors have a new double album out, January and June, with 18 cuts that cover off everything from sixties garage rock to melodic jangle. The record takes on an impressive range of styles yet still sounds coherent. There’s a sixties garage vibe to “Nowhere to Rumble” and “Leaving Doors Open,” a Stonesy slow grind to “Trangression” and Ray Davies flavour to “Medusa Without Snakes,” and a sixties psychedelia to “Summer is Gone” and banjo folky feel to “My Little Town.” I love the lively bass work on “You’re Worry” and 1979 ska sound and killer organ fill on “Pull the Trigger.” But the undeniable choice for a double A-sided single here should the combo of the light and jaunty, earwormy “I Don’t Think So” with the classic FM rock radio-sounding “Walking Down the Boulevard” with its distinctive rumbly and jangly guitar lead lines. January and June is another no-nonsense rock and roll release from Dave, chock full of delightful surprises and reliable hooks.
A great band is one that just gels on stage or in the studio. They so know the rock and roll motifs they can reliably work off each in sometimes predictable, sometimes surprising ways. The Tearaways, The Empty Hearts, and Dave Rave and the Governors are such veterans, paleo-poprockers that turn out great tunes with apparent ease. Get your dose of their rock and roll via the conveniently provided hyperlinks.