I’ve been reviewing and watching the career of Suzy Callahan for several years now. And I gotta admit, she just keeps getting better and better. “Big, Helpless Sleep” starts off with a folksy banjo line on “Don’t Even Be Nice” and then comes in Suzy’s signature swooning vocals. Poignant and thoughtful lyrics are sprinkled throughout the album. Just when you have a favorite song, you find yourself in love with another and then another and so on. Many musicians struggle to find their voice, often creating forgettable tunes or after they have written a gem struggle to follow it up with an equally great song. Not so with Suzy Callahan; her brand of indie pop-rock is mature, smart and most of all damn likable. Isn’t it time for her to stop being dubbed “under the radar” and be acknowledged as the pop genius she is?
Posts tagged pop-rock
Songwriter Ryan Groff has a keen ear for what’s coming up in the attention deficit plagued world of indie pop music. “Yes Yes Yes” is magnetic with a stick-to-your-ribs infectiousness that boasts tremendous range and creativity. Each song is a different passionate approach to moody music. Whether it’s a power pop anthem, an epic dreamscape, a Radiohead-esque passionate account, a beautiful piano ballad, or a raw singer/songwriter theme, Elsinore seems to just “get it” more than most indie bands.
These are the endearing stories that makes being a music reviewer that much more rewarding. Jon Troast is a paycheck-to-paycheck musician who recently completed a 100 Concerts in 100 Days tour, performing in gracious people’s living rooms. The album is a melting pot of Americana, pop-rock, folk, and indie singer/songwriter fare. Blessed with earnest lyrics with working-collar melodies, Jon Troast’s “Living Room” is a testament that struggling musicians can get by if they try hard enough, self-promote the right way, and frankly get out there and perform in front of people. Oh did I mention he doesn’t plan on charging for his shows in 2010, but just will rely on album sales alone to get by? So what are you waiting for? Help a man out and be rewarded with gift of strong songwriting and the wordplay of a true traveling minstrel.
Watch a video of Jon playing at a barn:
Love the albums byline/disclaimer: “All harmonies are real. Self-produced and self-released. No politics and nothing corporate.” Music industry, this is a big call-out from one of the more important independent groups out there writing pop music that, given the chance, could easily act as a trash compactor to all the drivel that you’d “hear” on American Idol. (If you ask why I put hear in quotes, it’s because the whole damn thing is a farce of over-dubbing and effects). The Kimberly Trip has over the years been one of the best female-fronted outfits that I’ve had the pleasure of hearing. To review them, is like to critique gods and goddesses from age-old mythology; there’s simply not enough you could write to justify their influence and awesomeness let alone their legendary status. How could a band possibly not be awesome when they have a song called “There’s No ‘I’ in ‘Team’ (but there’s a ‘u’ in ‘stupid’)”? Love-struck pop melodies from this Sacramento pop outfit are unleashed with nary a care of ensuring that they fit within the cookie cutters known as today’s pop-rock – guess that makes their album title “Generation Stereotype” that much more ironic, eh? You can’t go wrong with a single track on this album, easily the group strongest, which is saying a lot. I declare that The Kimberly Trip has officially made my Top Ten Pop Bands I’d Love to Eat Pizza with. This is a coveted list, for sure!
The second this band loses their lame-o image (do we really need more scenesters that look plastic?), you’ll see them propel themselves even farther than they have already gone thus far. “The Continental Divide” is a magical ride of a melodic alternative rock album that is populated by cynical lyrics with a dash of angst, heavy and catchy harmonies, and a vocal talent just this side of Morrissey. If you could imagine the Smashing Pumpkins playing The Cure songs with Morrissey at the helm, adding a dash of London punk, you’ll have War Tapes on tap. Look for these guys to become really big in the next couple of years.
Fresh off their “Hootenannies” tour in support of their third self-titled album, often referred to as “The Red Album”, Weezer kept that spirit strong by quickly putting pen to paper and releasing “Raditude”. What the band captured best was the spirit and drive discovered on that tour, a tour that often had the band inviting fans (sometimes hundreds) on stage to learn and play Weezer songs similar in vein to old folksy sing-a-longs made famous in the simpler and more open age of the ‘60s. That became the inspiration for the entire “Raditude” album, and indeed became their new “attitude” if you will. Cuomo himself has dubbed “Raditude” as feeling “like the greatest realization of my musical goals”. And if that’s what it is, holy cow what a goal it was. Finding the true standard of Weezer’s gift of infectious melody song after song while keeping things loose and unwittingly surprising, “Raditude” features such surprise gems as “Can’t Stop Partying” with rappers Lil’ Wayne and Jermaine Dupri and “I’m Your Daddy”’s intriguing electro glides. Sleekly produced, the album is once again rich in Cuomo’s intelligent but playful songwriting; Rivers himself knows he can’t take himself nearly as serious as some of his critics and cult-like fans insist he is. It is funny to see to what degree Weezer is willing to bend towards, just to tease everyone that thinks this group is only capable of writing a simple harmonious pop song that you’ll forget as soon as the next one hits rotation. The first single and beginning of the album is the illustrious and gigantic “(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To) I Want You To” (watch the video here). Featuring a MoTown glitzy rhythm, handclaps, three-part harmonies, and lyrics like “The Slayer t-shirt fit the scene just right”, it tells the tale of young love growing old together – interestingly perfectly befitting an old original Weezer fan following the group since “The Blue Album” was the first installment of the mighty self-titled Weezer muses.
Dude. Synth-pop with melodies so infectious they spread faster than HIV at a swinger’s party, Hooray for Earth just is dripping wet with fucking awesome choruses. The Boston-based group plays fun-filled and energetic melodic pop-rock that’s a clear alternative to all of those bland woe-is-me singer/songwriters that seem to dominate the underground scene these days. I love that their guitars sound as big as Lady Liberty. Amazingly tight and a complete uniform good time. Sweet!
Power pop chords chug away with infinite harmonies leaking out and forming a swirling lollipop around which this Baltimore-based pop icon Edward Joseph Neenan forges dynamic songs. He brings to E. Joseph and the Phantom Heart his crafty ability to build bridges between divergent melodies amid smooth grooves in uncanny. The album opener could very well be heard throughout mainstream pop radio with killer guitar hooks and a seminal nod to retro alternative pop-rock. Power-pop this golden needs to be shared with anyone who will listen. Essential.
Cheap Girls debut full-length’s title “Find Me a Drink Home” sounds like it was some side project of Brett Michaels back in the ‘80s. But I assure you it is far removed from that cheapened hair metal. Using poetic lyrics that are far from sober but far from titty bar drunken, Cheap Girls write pop-rock melodies with sweeping power-pop anthems that are guitar-centric and fun-filled but not much else…but isn’t that enough these days?
Modern electronic pop-rock hybrids Baumer unleash their definitive album upon us with “Were It Not for You”, a devilishly catchy album of powerful hooks and electro-pop cleverness. Hailing from South Carolina, their sound may be an odd fit for their surroundings but there is a certain unadulterated humidity about their choruses and fist-pumping verses. Armed with a knack for uncanny lyrics, Baumer levels the playing field with each and every song. Imagine a lesser Muse and you’re on the right track.