We do occasionally rock here at Poprock Record. But we seldom rawk. The long hair, the spandex, it’s just not our thing. But there are a few border cases, bands on the edge of rawk yet anchored by strong melodies. Today’s crew all have their amps cranked up to eleven but the hooks are still there.
Vancouver’s Head exude a strong 1980s vibe, in a good way! The lead off single from their new album Dear Father is “Road to Ruin,” a catchy slice of 1980s FM radio pop rawk that sounds just a bit Pat Benatar at times. But my heatseeker single would be the great, synth-driven “Love Lies.” There’s a real ear worm in the chorus. Cardiff’s Junior have the California punk pop sound down on “Veronica,” a track that works with crunchy guitars but you know would also sound great unplugged. If there was any concern that last year’s resurrection of Thrift Store Halo was just come-back luck, check out their latest killer double-A side single, “Concrete Sky/Every Time with You.” The latter particularly combines a jangly 1960s feel with more jagged guitars and vocals. Again, I could totally see this song done up as a retro Merseybeat number but, hey, it really works in its present form too. Wild Animals are from Madrid and their brand new album is The Hoax. For me, the single should be “Science Fiction,” a track that blasts out of the gate on a wall of guitars while the vocal melody line seems to just float on top. Last up, Kitchener Ontario’s Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs. These guys mix so many rawk styles with some really sweet melodies – and it works! I can hear a bit of Springsteen with a whole lot of Thin Lizzy on “Tough,”a rockin’ rollicking tune with screaming guitars, brash vocals, and a load of hooks in the chorus.
New finds and fresh music from old favourites in this edition of breakings news, with an accent on unusual band names.
Freedom Fry keep turning out great singles. The combination of Parisian-born Marie Seyrat and American Bruce Driscoll produce a sophisticated brand of dreamy poprock, full of hooks. We previously highlighted “Stop, Stop, Stop” and their remake of Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot’s “Bonnie and Clyde,” as well as their holiday single “Oh Santa (Bad World).” Now they’re back with a fresh, swinging slice of easy-going, car-driving, breeze-in-your-hair poprock called “Strange Attraction,” also the title track from their to-be-released EP. This song bodes well for what is to come.
Thrift Store Halo have a great name, great artwork and a great story. And their music is pretty good too. Dial back the time machine to 1998 and TSH appear on the verge of breaking with an album in the can, major label interest, and a possible national tour with an up and coming band called Train. A few bad decisions later and the band split, members heading for law school, a lucrative art career, and home renos. And that was a shame because their only full length album, World Gone Mad, is a lost treasure. Personal fave tracks include “Crashing In” and “With You Here.” But the lure of rock and roll proved too strong and now the band is back after a near 20 year absence with a snappy new EP, Pop-Rocket. The new album sound is a bit leaner, reminding me a bit of Ike in their prime. Stand out tracks: “Get Over You” and “I’m Not Through.”Get Over YouI’m Not Through
Sophie Allison is Soccer Mommy, a one-woman, bedroom-recording, Bandcamp phenomenon. Up to now her songs have been defined by their spare, stripped down intimacy, but on her new EP Collection Allison strikes up the band to give some old material more life and new material a decidedly more polished debut. “Out Worn” is new song that nonetheless adds to Allison’s litany of despairing lonely relationship songs but check out the languid guitar lines and sibilant hooky vocals, sometimes drifting to the dreamy side only to be righted with some great background vocals. Repeated plays definitely brings extra benefits.
This blog loves Dropkick so there is no surprise we think the new Andrew Taylor solo release, From the Outside Looking In, is pretty special. All the Dropkick strengths are here: driving rhythmic guitars, layered lead and background vocals, and hooks a-plenty. “Someone” takes off and never quits, propelled by a strong rhythm section and some pretty sweet vocal harmonies. “Who We Really Are” channels just a hint of Teenage Fanclub with its loping pace and earnest, sweet sounding vocal delivery. “Standing Still” is a swinging dollop of country poprock. Another should-be hit album from a key member of Scotland’s most under-appreciated melody makers.
Rounding out this entry is a band I just saw open for Declan Mckenna at his great recent debut on Canadian soil: Dan Luke and the Raid. Who? Exactly. I’d never heard of them and I don’t think most of the audience had either. But from the moment they got started, they had the audience in the palm of their hand. Bowling Green, Kentucky’s latest find played a strong set of catchy tunes, most of which are still not available anywhere. So for the time being, check out “Black Cat Heavy Metal,” an ever so slightly psych-poprock number. I do look forward to the EP release, if only to hear the wonderful “Tragic Symphony” again.