Breaking news: Monomyth, The Foreign Films, The Red Button, and Pseudonym


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cassetteForgive your intrepid musical reporter if some of the headlines aren’t exactly ‘breaking’ time-wise. Our foreign bureau is understaffed. And we have to make our own coffee. But I’m pretty confident that some of these artists will be breaking news to someone …

HPFHalifax combo Monomyth sound like a nice 1960s beat group whose record has been messed with by some discordant indie interlopers. The effect is delightfully jarring, often surprising, and essentially disarming. Things start out sounding familiar but end up somewhere different. “Falling in Love” sounds like a hit single put into low gear, not quite taking off conventionally but really doing its own thing. Or “High on Sunshine” has a chorus worthy of all those great 1960s country-rock classics, set in a mess of fun melodic distractions. Some tracks are cast in more familiar registers, like the band’s eerie reincarnation of The Replacement’s on “Re: lease Life (Places to Go)” or the catchy, jangly “Drinking in Bed in E.” I love the vocal harmonies on “Cool Blue Hello” with its occasional conjuring of a Bernard Sumner/New Order vocal at times. Other tracks seem to contain a tension between straight up guitar pop and a discordant indie sound, particularly “Go Somewhere” and “Palpitations.” “New Year’s Review” has a great punked up 1970s pop feel. This is one of those fun, ‘out there’ records: hooks aplenty but not quite delivered how you might expect them.

the-foreign-films-e1515176018440Hamilton’s The Foreign Films have a major triple album project – The Record Collector –  they have been getting out over the course of a number of years. The records appear under a number of names, in a manner that is bit confusing. No matter. The material is fantastic. Check out the crisp pop rock elegance of “Broken Dreamers” or the swinging hookiness of “Land of the 1000 Goodbyes.” Reaching back in their catalogue I love the Bowie-esque “Lucky Streak” with its killer lead line or chugging rhythm guitar-centric “Yesterday’s Girl,” both from 2011’s Fire from Spark. Or note the snaky lead guitar hook that stiches together the melodic “Another World Behind the Sun” from 2007, chock full of Magical Mystery Tour motifs.

the-red-button-now-its-all-this-cover-minTechnically The Red Button’s recent Now It’s All This is a compilation/re-release, combining the duo’s two previous albums but adding an EP’s worth of new material. These guys have their Beatles’ chops down but they’re also talented and original songwriters, so the obvious John/Paul influences are worked up into exciting new material. If you missed the original releases, this is a fantastic collection. If you’ve got them already, there’s still some great new tunes here, like the collection’s title track “Now It’s All This.” Personally, from the whole collection I love the Costello-ish “Hopes Up,” “I Could Get Used to You,” and the wonderful “She About to Cross My Mind Again.”

Now It’s All ThisHopes Up

PseudonymSan Francisco’s Pseudonym have a dreamy pop sound, a pleasant melodic drone that seeps into your brain with indelible effect. They remind me a bit of a more lofi version of The Mighty Lemon Drops, accent on a more acoustic vibe. Exhibit A: album opener “I’m Fine,” a slow burn, ear worm song if ever there was one. Things pick up tempo-wise with a more insistent, surging feel to the hooky “All the Little Things.” Other highlights include the very catchy “Victimless Crime” and the more spare, acoustic numbers like “Don’t Leave Me This Way” and “We Had a Deal.” Altogether Pack of Lies is a solid collection.

Money has not gone out of style in 2018. Monomyth, The Foreign Films, The Red Button and Pseudonym would all love take your denominated paper featuring politicians or royalty. Though I’m sure they’d settle for e-dollars too.

Should be a hit single: Sitcom Neighbor “Tourist Attraction”


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sitcomneighbor3I don’t think I’ve been this excited about a band since I overheard The Shins in some small town bookstore in 2005. This specific song is so hooky perfect it hurts. From the elegant arrangement of the instrumentation to the low key sweetness of the vocals, everything just comes together to create a hook that won’t quit. Just try to hit pause after hearing the line “I don’t know how local you are …” The magnetic pull of this tune is subtle but strong. It was pretty much hit play, hit repeat for me for a couple of days.

“Tourist Attraction” is the opening track on the band’s 2017 release, Shag, a record that made a whole lot of year end ‘best of’ lists on the power pop blogosphere, usually near the top. Descriptors like ‘Beatlesque’ were fairly common. Somehow I missed its June release, as well as a pretty stellar 2012 album (Charm) and nice 2007 self-titled debut. My bad. Yet despite all the accolades accompanying these three long players the band’s impact on the internet seems pretty slight, with precious little coverage or, frankly, that much band presence. So this is me, shouting from the rooftops, “Sitcom Neighbor’s “Tourist Attraction” is solid gold ear candy!” And you can take that to the bank. Get it. Now.

Tourist Attraction

Sitcom Neighbor do have one piece of internet real estate. Hit like on their Facebook page here. And purchase Shag wherever quality recordings are sold.

Poprock Record’s should-be hit singles of 2017


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recordWhat were the biggest hits that weren’t in 2017? Who were the biggest should-be stars? In our alternate universe here at Poprock Record, these guys were all over the charts, the chat shows, the scandal sheets, as well as memed all over Facebook, Snapchatted by the kids, and Instragrammed into oblivion. Jesus, they were so popular you are well and truly sick of them by now. But sadly for our poprock heroes, the universe is not just ours to define. In the world beyond our little blog, they could all use another plug.

First, a few ground rules. The choices are drawn from the pool of songs I featured or found in 2017 and were released in that year. This is not a ‘best of’ list. This blog does not have the kind of coverage that would allow for such ‘omniscient view’ judgments. I cover things as they crawl past my attention, which means as often as not I’m featuring tunes I missed from 1994 as terribly exciting and ‘new’ to me. Nor is inclusion here a knock on the acts I’ve covered but not included. If I put them up on the site, I like’em. But there is something about this collection of tunes that lingers, sticks in my mind, and has the staying power I associate with classic 1970s AM radio hit singles. And we’re offering a ‘two-four’ of hits because, well, we are Canadian. The hyperlinks on the artist name take you to the original post and the featured songs.

So here we go – our annual list of Poprock Record’s Should-Be Hit Singles of 2017:

  1. Daisy House “Languages” / “Leaving the Star Girl”
  2. The Rallies “Don’t Give Up”
  3. Aimee Mann “Patient Zero”
  4. Fastball “Just Another Dream”
  5. Los Straightjackets “Rollers Show”
  6. Terry Malts “It’s Not Me”
  7. Wiretree “J.F. Sebastian”
  8. The Front Bottoms “Peace Sign”
  9. The Molochs “No More Cryin’”
  10. The Primitives “I’ll Trust the Wind”
  11. Tommy and the Rockets “Hey Daisy”
  12. Soccer Mommy “Out Worn”
  13. Robyn Gibson “He Doesn’t Love You Like I Do”
  14. Greg Kihn Band “The Life I Got”
  15. Max Bouratoglou “Drum”
  16. Richard Turgeon “Bad Seed”
  17. Freedom Fry “Strange Attraction”
  18. Daniel Romano “When I Learned Your Name”
  19. David Myles “I Wouldn’t Dance”
  20. Chris Lund “Tell Me”
  21. The Strypes “Grin and Bear It”
  22. Together Pangea “Money On It” / “Better Find Out”
  23. Propeller “Summer Arrives”
  24. The Mylars “Forever Done”

DH CRDaisy House dominated my playlist this year, both their current record and their back catalogue. They channel the 1960s but never let it wholly define them. They have two amazing singers and one fabulously talented songwriter. They deserve all the accolades the internet can hand out. If this were 1970 they’d probably be headlining The Flip Wilson Show tonight. The Rallies were an accidental discovery that turned into an obsession. Their whole album is great but “Don’t Give Up” makes my heart twinge every time. Aimee Mann and Fastball ably demonstrated this year that veterans can still turn out fantastic, career-defining albums. And I got to see both of them live! Los Straightjackets did Nick Lowe proud, producing a phenomenal tribute to his body of work. “Rollers Show” was my go-to summertime happy tune.

Greg_Kihn_Rekihndled_coverI won’t review every selection from the two-four, but I will say that I think the mix of poprock I feature on the blog is evident here. There’s fast and slow, country and rock, guitars and keyboards, etc. And then there’s always the hooks. Case in point: check out the 42 second mark on Greg Kihn’s “The Life I Got.” If you don’t feel the excitement he creates with some classic poprock guitar arpeggiation and the subtle vocal hook you’re kinda missing what we’re doing here. Here’s hoping 2018 is as hit single worthy as this past year has been!

songs_bond_songsI am going to sneak in an honourable mention for what I consider the compilation of year: Songs. Bond Songs: The Music of 007. This Curry Cuts collection has so many gems, working with material that is frankly hard to redefine. Standout tracks for me include Lannie Flower’s amazing reworking of “The James Bond Theme,” Freedy Johnston’s beautifully spare rendition of “For Your Eyes Only,” Jay Gonzalez’s nicely understated take on “A View to Kill,” and Big Box Store’s wonderfully retooled version of “Die Another Day.”

As always, let me make a plea to support the artists so we can continue to enjoy all this great music. In a way, we are living through a melodic guitar-based music renaissance, in part due to the breakdown of the old commercial music industrial complex. But what is replacing that old system is not clear, particularly the ‘making a living from music’ side of things. Visit the artist sites, go to the shows, buy the records – and repeat.

A pair of aces from Daniel Romano


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RomanoCanadian Daniel Romano serves up a winning musical hand with the surprising release of not one but two new albums to kick off this new year. The records showcase two strong sides of his eclectic songwriting personality: country-folk and poprock.

NervelssNerveless starts out strong with it’s title track, the spare and roomy arrangement recalling a classic 1970s sound. From there it’s pretty hard to choose highlights – there are just so many great songs here! “Anyone’s Arms” hits all the poprock marks with its great pumping piano and hooky acoustic guitar – very 1970s power pop. “Good Will” and the “Devil’s Handshake” exhibit Romano’s great talent to embed no end of catchy elements to sweeten the basic song hooks. “I’ve Never Tried to Understand” has a lovely grand and sweeping pop song structure. “Bored Enough to Love” starts out like it’s almost going to launch into “I Got You Babe” before turning into a creative pastiche of different styles.

HTBy contrast, Human Touch is a more muted folk and country effort, the title perhaps a nod to some other guy’s paired album release from the early 1990s. The album kicks off with the very subtle built up on “Bring Me to the War.” “An Earthly Stretch of Colour” is a nice folky number with strong acoustic lead lines and slow burning hooks. “Don’t Fool Me” has that aching country ballad sound. But my favourite track is undoubtedly the understated title track, which sounds to me like a great lost 1970s country rock classic.

You might just be asking, what’s in the water up there in Canada? Supremely talented poprock songwriters/performers seem to be in abundance – guys who really know how to deploy a hook like Gregory Pepper, Jeremy Fisher and Daniel Romano –  they represent some of the very best the country has to offer. Get over to bandcamp or Romano’s website to check out these new releases in full.

Welcome back to the 1980s: Bleachers, Dreamcar, Paramore and The Strypes


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stranger-things-80s-moviesThe wild popularity of the Netflix series Stranger Things told me something was up. This wasn’t some cleaned up riff on the 1980s like That Seventies Show was for the previous decade, but all the ugliness of the period in living colour. Big hair, badly fitting clothes, and that legacy of 1970s botched renos cast against a backdrop of deeply sonorous yet strangely ominous keyboards. Imagine Krafwerk playing in the  background of Three’s Company. Then when Walk The Moon’s spot on reproduction of a 1980s pop dance single “Shut Up and Dance With Me” hit the top of the charts I knew it was ‘welcome back 1980s, all is forgiven …’

bleachers-strange-desireBleachers really nailed the 1980s sound on their 2014 debut, Strange Desire. It was like Jack Antonoff went through all the great records from that decade and isolated the keyboard and drum sounds from various hits to act as the palate for his own songs. I couldn’t stop listening to “Rollercoaster” with its Springsteen-esque wistful opening that gives way to an insurgent and relentless poprock mini-masterpiece. I could just laud the whole album – it’s that good – but check out the John Waite “Missing You” meets Hall and Oates loping rhythm of “Wake Me” or the frosty ‘I’m so cool being this indifferent’ English vibe of “Like a River Runs.” 2017’s Gone Now complicates things with a host of guest producers but the 1980s resonance is still there, particularly when he’s channeling Prince on songs like “Hate That You Know Me” and “Let’s Get Married.” Personally, I really like the pastiche quirkiness of “I’m Ready to Move On/Mickey Mantle Reprise,” which sounds like a Fun b-side.

Wake MeI’m Ready to Move On/Mickey Mantle Reprise

For others the 1980s influence is more muted, sometimes temporary (maybe just one song), or operates at the level of gut feeling. Dreamcar have been dubbed a new wave supergroup, which is not something anyone would have predicted from former members of No Doubt and AFI. “Born to Lie” has all the right 1980s bombast, with stentorian hooks hit home via a tapestry of overlapping vocal parts. Imagine some of the new romantic bands mingled with Asia, from their first album.  Paramore’s excursion into the 1980s is more one off and atmospheric. It’s there in the keyboards, it’s there in the vocals, but really “Grudges” fits the label in the prelude to the chorus and chorus.

Born To LieGrudges

StrypesA more serious engagement with the 1980s comes from Ireland’s The Strypes. The buzz around this group’s early material had Roger Daltrey, Paul Weller, and Jeff Beck lining up as fans. And why wouldn’t they? The band was doing British blues like the pros, but with an inspired spring in their step. Hey, that’s fine for people who like that sort of thing. But I love the Who, the Rolling Stones and the Jam when they leave the blues behind and develop their own distinctive, more melodic songwriting styles. So I was thrilled with the transformation of the band on their most recent release, 2017’s Spitting Image. Now the blues sinks into the background in favour of more 1980s poprock stylings of Rockpile and the Jam. Things rocket out of the gate with “Behind Closed Doors” and never look back. Just check out the masterful poppy roll out of “Grin and Bear It” or Jam-like intensity of “A Different Kind of Tension.” And then “Black Shades over Red Eyes” has the easy swing of Elvis Costello’s first album, with a bit of Springsteen thrown in. The album still shows its blues roots here and there, with a particularly bluesy sense of melody on “Oh Cruel World.” An acoustic EP of the record is also great, particularly the stripped down version of “Grin and Bear It.”

A Different Kind of TensionOh Cruel WorldGrin and Bear It (acoustic)

Like decades before it, the 1980s will be broadly mimicked for a while but that will tire. It’s long-lasting contributions will show up more subtlely. Let’s give Bleachers, Dreamcar, Paramore and The Strypes a hand (and some cash) for getting it all started with such talent.

Merry melodies!


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treeI grew up in a totally secular home where Christmas was largely understood as a kind of socialist event. A little something for everyone, and something thoughtful (rather than expensive) was the gift-giving philosophy. Holiday tunes rather than Christmas hymns were de rigueur. My mother had a stack of 45s that would come out every year– Bobby Helms, Brenda Lee, Rolf Harris – you get the picture. So, for me, it can’t be Christmas without some merry melodies!

FH XmasThis year’s mix runs the gamut from power pop to new wave to mash ups to folky acoustic. Coventry’s own The Primitives kick things off with their trademark mix of hooky power pop on “You Trashed My Christmas” from the Elefant Records special holiday album. Love the use of the bells! Then to Sunderland, UK where The Futureheads keep the energy up on their “Christmas was Better in the 80s.” There is something about the vocal delivery of this band I love. This song sometimes exudes the sonic feel of their first album but also develops in different directions with kooky abandon, pushing the boundaries of traditional holiday fare. Then we tamp things down a bit with the pleasant melodies of Cleveland’s own Bears on their “I’m a Snowman.” While technically just a winter themed number, who can resist the fun organ sounds and sweet harmonies? Not I. Rounding out this first batch of tunes is the eclectic West Coast poprocker Spirit Kid with his new wavishy “Santa Claus is His Name.” This song is an interesting mix of old and new influences – in many ways, a very late 1970s take on 1950s motifs worthy of David Edmunds.

FF HSOk, let’s shift gears here in round two. Ohio-based Over the Rhine seem to be channeling Jennifer Warnes in full Leonard Cohen mode on their winter themed “Snow Angels.” Lovely piano and an understated vocal give this a haunting and lasting quality. In the ‘something completely different’ file, check out Mojochronic’s unusual and very effective mash-up of “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” with the Police’s “Roxanne,” interspersed with dialogue from the original stop-motion animated movie. Mike Viola’s Candy Butchers bring us back to familiar territory with their poprock ode to seasonal forgiveness on “Give Me a Second Chance for Christmas.” Just listen to these holiday-coated hooks! Viola is a master of the poprock form. The Franco-American duo Freedom Fry return to the holiday music scene with their great Holiday Soundtrack EP. Their reinvention of the traditional classic “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” as a hooky keyboard-based instrumental is pure ear worm brilliance, while their time shifting “Next Christmas” vibes a very Simon and Garfunkel melodic warmth, particularly in the chorus. Wrapping up this season’s musical presents is a brand new acoustic Christmas contribution from Pop Etc. “All I Want for Xmas (Just My Baby)” is a swinging pop gem, sure to become a regular addition to your seasonal playlist.

Snow AngelGive Me a Second Chance for Christmas

To have readers who make the bands I write about just a little more popular by checking them out, buying their songs, telling their friends, etc. is really the best present I could ask for this holiday season. So don’t disappoint me – I’ve been good. Visit The Primitives, The Futureheads, Bears, Spirit Kid, Over the Rhine, Mojochronic, the Candy Butchers, Freedom Fry and Pop Etc. today!

Around the dial: The Front Bottoms, The Morning Line, Fur, Gordy Garris, and Mike Daly and the Planets


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Car radioThis turn around the dial offers up some real variety, from melodic indie to spacey jangle to neo-1950s to straight-up heartland poprock.

front-bottoms-going-grey-raining-video-streamWith a name like The Front Bottoms I just assumed the British vaginal slang meant they were from somewhere in the UK. But New Jersey hasn’t been part of the United Kingdom for hundreds of years so I guess you can’t judge a book by its title. Nor can you judge a band by its past efforts. I’d heard some cuts from this group years ago and it wasn’t particularly my cup of tea with its mostly-talking-rather-than-singing vocal style and attitude-oriented punk esthetic. But something happened on their 2015 release, Back on Top – the band dramatically increased the melodic quotient of their songs while actually singing a bit more, with “Cough it Out” and “Help” (great keyboard opener!) real stand-out tracks. This year’s Going Grey just solidifies this new sound. The hit single for me is clearly the anthemic “Peace Sign.” The song opens with lovely echo-y keyboard and builds from there, from spare verses to crunching choruses that hit you with hooks that make an impact. Even the bridge is worth mentioning – it’s the musical equivalent of edging given the way it holds the melodic tension. Other album highlights include the staccato groove of “Bae” with its surging chorus and the hooky drone of the more musically muscular “Grand Finale.” But really, the whole album hits all the marks of intense listenability.

BaeCough It Out

Morning lineMusic veteran Stephen Smith has been playing in bands and writing music since the early 1980s and his most recent vehicle The Morning Line bears the influence of all that history and experience on their latest record, Smoke. 1960s poprock, some jangle, that slightly muddy 1980s underground sound, with splashes of indie country and folk. “Los Angeles” opens the record with an acoustic guitar and builds a hypnotic pace into something very radio single-worthy. “Anybody Else” unleashes the jangle guitar while “All Mine” sounds very 1960s beat group channeled through 1980s with its great rumbly electric lead guitar. I love the opening to “Polygraph” which builds on a guitar riff in a very 1970s sort of way before segueing into a Graham Parker sound, if Graham was a bit more mellow. “Mailboxes” finishes things with slightly country poprock feel. Smoke is an enjoyable ride – hit play and hit the highway for at least 30 minutes or so.

FurBrighton UK’s Fur sound like an early 1960s British beat group offering up their versions of 1950s classics. The song structures are pure 1950s. “If You Know That I’m Lonely” could easily be mistaken for the sort of material the bubbled all over American radio circa 1958-9 while “Not Enough” mimics that airy ballad style honed to perfection by a legion of boy and girl singers at the cusp of the 1960s. “Trying” updates things somewhat with its fat sibilant lead guitar sound – this one is a bit more pastiche with its modern and classic touches. Would love to see the record collections that influenced this outfit! I love the sound they have created. It is somehow simultaneously both contemporary and wonderfully dated. Can’t wait to check out a whole album by this bunch.

Not Enough

GGWe raved around Gordy Garris’ 2015 release The Pulse for its songs and understated delivery. Garris always seems to squeeze a hook out of his songs with the most bare delivery. Well his most recent album builds on his previous efforts as he becomes a first class songsmith. Never Give Up opens with “Let Me In,” which sounds like Garris going for the hit single with its slow build and smooth background vocals. This one starts sparse (in classic Garris style) but develops a slicker and more commercial sound, but in a good way. And from here there are so many highlights it’s hard to choose amongst them. “Good Times” starts with a great acoustic guitar hook and then gets its swing on with a catchy tune. “All That I Want” showcases how Garris uses a great vocal delivery to bring out the hooks in his songs. “Stole My Heart” sounds very Joe Jackson circa Body and Soul, minus the acerbic delivery. Other highlights for me include “Move Me,” “Remember Me,” “Out of My Mind,” and the ballad “Believe Me.” So, yes, basically the whole album. It’s that good.

MDPWrapping up this twist of the dial is the poppy Americana jangle of Mike Daly and the Planets. This is another performer in for the long haul. Mike Daly’s been making music and records in a host of bands for decades. It shows on this remarkable debut from his new outfit. Just check out the Beatlesque opening tempo of “Never Too Late” and its seamless shift into a great new wave vibe. Or the Costello feel of “No Simple Task” with its swinging melody. But the album’s highlight is undoubtedly the majestic “Salvation,” a song that manages to be both moving and insanely catchy at the same time. And to show where Daley comes from, check out these tracks from his former band, Every Damn Day. I love the banjo that kicks in half way through “Theme From an Imaginary Sitcom” and the full-on Costello-cum-Beatles homage in “It’s All About Tonite.” These are lost gems!

Never Too LateSalvationNo Simple TaskTheme from an Imaginary SitcomIt’s All About Tonight

The Front Bottoms, The Morning Line, Fur, Gordy Garris, and Mike Daly and the Planets are all waiting to be your newest hit makers. Don’t leave them hanging on the telephone.

Loaded with Bears


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BearsThere are a variety of Bears with guitars out there. One has a former guitar player from King Crimson as a member. Another put out an album called Burrito Palace. But this group of Bears is from Cleveland and they peddle something they describe on their Facebook page as “indiepop! Or something else maybe.” They have a sound that is at times DIY and LoFi or even Elephant 6 when they really get excited. Their self-titled debut album Bears arrived in 2006 and the band’s two tonal moods are captured nicely with the moody “How to Live” (check out that crazy haunted movie music organ!) and the more upbeat, boppy “When You’re Away.”

Bears 22007 saw the release of two EPs, Shortest Day of the Year and Summer Tour. Here’s a song from each: “You Can Tell” features the band’s signature strummy sound while “Wait and See” has a very Apples in Stereo vibe. The latter song appears again on the band’s 2008 LP Simple Machinery with a lighter, more keyboard heavy arrangement. From the same record, “Your Help” opens with an Amélie-like accordion sound and a vocal that exudes Morrissey on a good day. “Who Knows” came out the same year as a stand alone single and represented a sonic departure for the band with its early Elvis Costello organ burst at the start and various intervals of the song.

Greater LakesProductivity slowed up after 2008. Aside from a holiday EP, fans had to wait for 2012’s Greater Lakes but it was worth it for the soaring and peppy “Wash My Hands” alone. In fact, the whole record had a stronger punch to the songs and arrangements. 2014’s double A-sided single “Friends/Choosing Your Words” is the last release from Bears, though more recent recordings from spin off projects are now emerging (see the Kalaika project here). “Choosing Your Words” has a lovely loping rhythm which seems to coda this band’s efforts in style.

One gets a sense from the self-effacing tone of the band’s self-penned history on their website that they had no illusions about becoming some kind of superstar success story. But I just discovered them via that great iTunes ‘listeners also bought’ feature so if we times that by 10,000 other random discoveries who knows? Check out the full complement of recordings and contact info for Bears on their Bandcamp, Facebook and band website.

A second helping of Ezra Furman, David Myles, Berwanger and Good Old War


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new releases 2If I liked them once, chances are I’ll probably like them again. So new releases by previously featured artists are always exciting.  At least, until I get through the preview stage – then some are, on occasion, disappointing.  But not this crew. It’s all pretty solid stuff from artists that I particularly dug the first time I encountered them.

EFEzra Furman blew into my 2015 with a tantalizing catalogue of material: neo-1960s girl group meets Bob Dylan transitioning out of folk music, with just a dash of new wave and punk and cross-dressing. He lit up the now-closed Silver Dollar in Toronto with an eclectic and electric show that autumn with a both in-your-face punk and deeply vulnerable performance.  This guy is a must-see performer if he comes near your town. Furman has a new album – Transangelic Exodus – set to drop in February of next year, with a few teaser singles available now. But I prefer here to draw from his year old EP Big Fugitive Life, which nicely showcases the incredible range of his talent. Just check out “Little Piece of Trash” with its neo-1950s vibe, particularly that honking sax. But just when you think Furman is doing nostalgia he breaks out an amazing frenetic chorus featuring great punky-new wave hooks. “Teddy I’m Ready” is another strong track from this EP with its brilliantly understated and tender vocal.Little Piece of Trash

real-love-coverCanadian David Myles is surely a reincarnation of Buddy Holly. He looks the part and his new album Real Love sounds like it takes up where Buddy would have left off in 1959. Myles has an amazing ear for the period – there’s a bit of Elvis, a lot of Marty Robbins, a hat tip to Roger Miller, and Buddy obviously. And yet this is not just a space age revival record. Unmistakable contemporary twists can be heard all throughout the album. Title track “Real Love” stretches its melody out of its neo-1950s groove here and there. The horns on tracks like “Look at Me” don’t quite obey the period norms. But as with all Myles releases, it is the songwriting that pulls everything together. The subtle and understated performance of “If You Want Tonight” underplays its classic song structure. I can hear Elvis or Marty doing this one. “Cry, Cry, Cry” is so Buddy. “Everybody Knows” opens large with a scat vocal reminiscent of so many Roger Miller records but quickly segues into a catchy period number. “Easy” also sounds very early 1960s with its slightly discordant vocals. Myles is big time love-song-singer and fittingly the album ends with the beautiful “Crazy to Leave.”  Slip this baby on and teleport to those make-believe simpler times.

If You Want TonightEverybody Knows

BerwangerWe went a bit wild for Berwangers back catalogue when we discovered it here at Poprock Record. The gleeful mixture of classic and indie rock, shamelessly tuneful, vibing a range potentially stretching from the Vaccines to the Tom Petty. The new record And the Star Invaders continues the band’s sonic mission to explore and inhabit new musical territory. Opening track “The Star Invaders” begins with Berwanger’s familiar catchy rhythm guitar but then suddenly shifts into a ‘she’s gone’ mini-chorus that sounds straight out the New Pornographers songbook. The hooks in this song are so addictive they should require a prescription. So too “Horror Show” starts off low key only to break out into a swinging poprock delight at the 37 second mark and never lets up. “Broken Moon” breaks out the acoustic guitars to ghost up a really nice but more meandering melody. All ain all, another strong outing.

GOW POMI couldn’t get enough of Good Old War when I stumbled across their perfectly modulated poprock single “Broken Record.” The production, the tightly arranged acoustic guitars and vocal harmonies, the nice School House Rock nod with the double stop ahhs. Really, it was a mini-masterpiece. How could I know it was an outlier on a record that was itself a departure from their usual sound? In the end it didn’t matter. I fell in love with all the great songs on Broken into Better Shape with its slicker, more produced sound than their previous more folky vibe. Almost as a nod to older fans, the band followed up the record by releasing a series of more acoustic versions of some of the songs from the album. Now their new Part of Me EP scales back the production for a return to their earlier simpler sound. “The River” opens things up with a nice swinging melody, title track “Part of Me” is a finger picking slower mediation on love and belonging, while “Oak Tree” sounds like a traditional country folk ballad you might hear in church, if people in your church could sing. A very nice something to tide us over until a new album arrives.The RiverNever Gonna See Me Cry (Acoustic)

Maybe you didn’t get around to visiting Ezra Furman, David Myles, Berwanger or Good Old War the last time we featured them. Now would be a good time to make up for that.

Should be a hit single: Wyatt Funderburk “Love Will Lead the Way”


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WFI know what you’re thinking. Just what kind of name is Funderburk anyway? I was thinking that too as I absent-mindedly hit play on “Love Will Lead the Way.” And then I didn’t care because this single’s magnetic quality completely drew me in. The chimey guitar made the sparse hair on my forearms stand on end. Then the drum kicked in, setting the scene for a John Waite “Missing You” kind of hypnotic tempo. What followed was a marvelous piece of hit-single-worthy songcraft. “Love Will Lead the Way” has a beautifully restrained musical arrangement, vocals and performance that delivers its melodic punch all the more effectively for it. The later Fountains of Wayne effervescent harmonies were just the icing on the cake. As the song faded out I knew I’d be hitting replay more than a few times.

Before I knew it, I was downloading Funderburk’s entire catalogue from Bandcamp, including two albums from his band Second Saturday, a teenage release and an album of demos. As I skimmed these many recordings I was thinking, who is this fricking poprock genius? All this stuff is great, and that is not even getting to the album that includes our featured single, 2013’s Novel and Profane, which is also, by the way, freakin’ fantastic. The record is loaded up with tunes that sound like a Beach Boys beach party, if Fountains of Wayne and Bowling for Soup were put in charge of updating the sound. I knew I should spend some time with all these recordings and pull together a career retrospective – Funderburk deserves it – but I’m not feeling particularly patient right now. People need to know how great this single is pronto!

Now, if I may be so bold Wyatt, I’m going to mess with the past and reconfigure the release of this single. The current b-side – “The Reason” – is great but I’m convinced that another song from Novel and Profane would turn this baby into a killer double A-sided single. So I’m going to add “Never Seen the Sun” as the new b-side. I love the subtleness of the hooks in this song, particularly in the change up of the lyric measure on the ‘but you’ve never seen the sun’ line. Overall, the tempo and general feel is very Beatles country, with splashes of FOW on the vocals here and there. Brilliant!

It’s hard to find that much out about Funderburk. It appears he is producer that has worked with artists like Kurt Baker, the Wellingtons, and Bowling for Soup, among many others (Funderburk features recordings by many of the artists he’s worked with on his Soundcloud page). But a one-stop career recap is hard to come by. Nevermind. His recording are readily available on Bandcamp, iTunes, and elsewhere. Don’t deny yourself.