Category Archives: +++ power pop

Seams

Oh, Seams. Dundee, Scotland’s own. Two tiny four-song EPs (absolutely flawless), then called it quits.

 

What a soaring voice… soaring instrumentals and arrangements. Young brilliance. Perfection. YouTube playlist of “Colours and Maps” EP:

 

This EP is everything perfect about indie rock/pop. Everything perfect. Enjoy.

 

Live acoustic:

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Bess Rogers

I discovered Bess when I found out she was Ingrid Michaelson’s backup singer a few years ago. After hearing Bess’s small handful of albums, I realized she’s a better writer than Ingrid (and I love Ingrid, don’t get me wrong). And I like Bess’s voice a lot, it’s like Ingrid’s but with less affectation, I think. The melodies Bess writes are just more soaring, interesting, and quirky. Still catchy as hell, but something sets it apart from the typical pop. One of my favorite songs of hers is “Weak Link” (the last video featured here).

I think Rogers lives in Ingrid’s shadow, a lot. But hopefully, this post will shine a spotlight on her. Because she’s fucking incredible, by herself. Thanks, Bess.

 

 

 

Velocity Girl

Not sure if I wrote about them already, but…. yeah. Pretty much a staple of my music-listening, since 1994. Sadly they weren’t together long… but man, did they leave a powerful impact. From College Park, Maryland / Washington DC area. A lot of people prefer their earlier work, such as “My Forgotten Favorite” or the album Copacetic, but I think their best work is their last stuff, specifically the Gilded Stars and Zealous Hearts record (1996).

Sarah Shannon (vocalist) now does solo stuff as her own name. Worth your time, if you like her voice (and how could you not?)

Acceptance

Just found out today that they REUNITED TWO WEEKS AGO!!! They broke up in 2006, very shortly after the release of their only full-length album “Phantoms.”. They just announced a reunion, on January 26th, 2015. Fucking awesome.

My good friend Patrick got me into these guys years ago… we were talking about Jimmy Eat World and he said “yeah, they’re kinda like them, you might dig ’em.” I immediately loved this record.

They formed in Seattle in the late 90s… got signed to a major label in 2005, and shortly after, “Phantoms” was released.

Their music is insanely melodic, well-produced (EXTREMELY)… the drums sound so damn powerful (all bands that have drummers that play Truth Drums have perfect production… I don’t know what it is, but god DAMN do I love the sound of Truth Drums)…. anyway… the vocals are pristine, clear, and pure… I love bands with singers who just NAIL it in every possible way.

Without further babbling/bullshit… ENJOY, my friends.

Spotify Playlist of “Phantoms”:

Recommended if you like:
Jimmy Eat World, All Time Low, Bodyjar, early 2000s emo

Wheatus

Yep, that band who did “Teenage Dirtbag” from the 2000 movie “Loser”, with Jason Biggs and Mena Suvari.

But oh man, you’re missing out if you haven’t dug through their discography…. ESPECIALLY the “Suck Fony” record, which of course, is a play on words that really means “Fuck Sony” because they were kicked off their label shortly after the immense success of “Teenage Dirtbag” (and the other single, a wonderful cover of Erasure’s 80s hit “A Little Respect”).

Take a listen to “Lemonade” from “Suck Fony” (the lyric video has some inaccuracies, but oh man it’s one of the best songs about cheating ever made) and “The Song That I Wrote When You Dissed Me.”

And, for extra fun… I’ve included “Teenage Dirtbag” (sadly, it’s censored in the second verse… “her boyfriend’s a dick, he brings a gun to school…”). The song was released about a year after the Columbine shootings, so when you hear it on the radio, oftentimes the “dick” and the “gun” will be removed and replaced with turntable scratching).

Wheatus has been through a lot of hardships and have always come out with their pop songwriting genius, and perverted sense of humor intact. Two thumbs way the fuck up.

Frou Frou

Frou_Frou

Don’t forget about this band, just because the whole fucking world is obsessed with folk/acoustic indie stuff, and lots of crowd-sung “oh, oh, oh, woo-woo-woo” chants).

Just because you heard “Let Go” a million fucking times over the last 9 years doesn’t mean you should discount their perfect (and only) full-length record.

Frou Frou is Guy Sigsworth and the legendary Imogen Heap (who was kicked off her label in 1998 due to low sales… man, I bet those executives are kicking themselves for such a stupid decision).

This record has been one of my all-time favorite albums of all-time. A true desert-island disc. Put headphones on and prepare for one gorgeous, harmonically-rich, melodically fascinating, and electronically stimulating journey.

Don’t sleep on their album “Details” because truly, it’s all about the details, with these songs.

I love Imogen Heap with every ounce of my soul and Guy Sigsworth is just a genius… may she and he continue to have incredible success, and possibly release new Frou Frou material (there is talk of it).

Here’s the “Details” Spotify playlist. LISTEN TO IT IN ITS ENTIRETY!

 

Band of Horses

Band-of-Horses

BOH is a band who, when first hearing their song “The First Song” (coincidentally), I was immediately drawn to.

They’ve been around forever (about 7 years). When indie/emo gods Carissa’s Wierd (spelling error intentional) broke up in 2003, Ben Bridwell (vocals/guitar in Band of Horses — drums, then bass in CW) started a new band, very different from CW, and in my opinion, much better.

I think their best record without a doubt, is 2007’s Cease To Begin. I feel that BOH has gotten kinda bland with the recent records (which I also feel have a warmer production style that I don’t really like as much as the production and engineering of Cease To Begin.

Here’s the sound of BOH in seven words: epic vocals, weird lyrics, alt-country, gorgeous.

Here are a few of my longtime faves:

Also, check out “The Funeral”, “The First Song”, “Laredo” and basically every single one of their other songs… cause they kick ass.

 

Zolof the Rock and Roll Destroyer

zolof

I think this is another one of those “I wrote about them here, but WordPress ate it” entries…. if that’s the case, then here goes again…

If I can think of one band who just doesn’t get enough love at all, it would be Philadelphia-based Zolof the Rock and Roll Destroyer. When I first heard them, shortly after I moved to PA in 2004, I immediately fell in love with their sound and songs. I have compared them to a mix of Blondie, Metric, Green Day, and the best of the best, of pop music. The songs just have this fire… this fun, heartfelt fire that so very few bands have.

Eight years ago, I interviewed Rach, the singer/keyboardist for a website I used to run called http://www.femalevocals.com, which I never really did anything with, because it was simply too much work. Rach was really cool, fun and funny, in the interview. I asked her serious questions about her songwriting and she would basically explain her process, goofily…. it made me laugh while reading the email. I wish I still had the interview. If I could find it again, I will, and I will post it here in an “interviews” section at Underrated Music.

Without further ado…. yummy tunes:

 

Of note: Anthony Green (now of Circa Survive) used to be in this band. He’s done vocals on their “Popsicle” EP, and Rach did vocals on a recent Circa Survive recording.

No one knows if there will be more music by the band… Rach and Vince (guitars/vocals) got married a while back. I’d love to hear some new tunes, though. Last album was 2007’s “Schematics.”

 

Nada Surf

nada

So I’m a little pissed that some of the entries I wrote months and months back seemed to have disappeared completely from this blog. Case in point– Nada Surf.

Nada Surf is one of those bands that just gets better and better with every fuckin’ album. I mean, seriously. They started out as one of those 90s bands that could have easily been forgotten, after their smash hit, “Popular” (a creative song built from those 50s “how teenagers should act” guides– yes, they actually did exist— which featured an absolutely stunning girl in the video, as head cheerleader):

Fast forward a couple years… Nada Surf released “The Proximity Effect”, with some struggle… as their label or distribution company was experiencing some difficulties… The Proximity Effect was largely ignored by the masses, but critics praised it highly. It’s a weird record, but one that shows the path that Nada Surf was about to take… a path of supremely-crafted indie rock songs, with great lyrics.

Nada Surf came out with Let Go (2003) which blew the doors off of the indie rock world…. just a PERFECT record, and showed their songwriting prowess. Their albums have gotten better and better since. Here’s a few from Let Go… including a live performance of “Blizzard of ’77”

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And here’s a personal fave of mine, “See These Bones” from the album Lucky (2007)… (with Ben Gibbard of Death Cab)

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Here’s a French band covering “Mother’s Day” from The Proximity Effect. Probably one of the most important anti-rape songs, next to Nirvana’s “Rape Me”…… I’d post the original song, but it’s not on YouTube.. this cover does it justice, though… they do it well.

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I hope Nada Surf continue to make music forever… Matthew Caws (lead vocals / guitar) is a HUGE influence on me and my songwriting. Plus, he’s just a fuckin’ cool guy. And also… anyone who is friends with Juliana Hatfield, too… (enough that she’ll cover one of your tunes on a covers record) is aces in my book.

Wheat

OHHHH, WHEAT!!! Holy FUCK, what a GREAT band. Where and when did I discover them? I was in Barnes and Noble on Superbowl Sunday, 2006. I didn’t give two shits about the superbowl (and I still don’t), so I decided to scan random CDs in the music section. I came across their album “Per Second, Per Second, Per Second…. Every Second”, which was released on Aware/Columbia Records (same label that put out John Mayer’s old stuff), in 2003. So I was like, ok…. I really liked the album art and such, so I scanned the barcode and could sample all the tracks from the record….. I was fucking floored. Just perfect songs. PERFECT songs.

Then, in 2007, I saw Elizabethtown for the first time…. which is in my top 5 ALL-TIME favorite films…. and during the final montage (the “road trip / mix CD” thing)…. Kirsten Dunst says… “some music…. needs air. Roll down your window.” And right after she says that, Wheat’s perfect song “Don’t I Hold You” plays. When I discovered it was Wheat, I was like… fuck. New favorite band? No doubt.

I’m listening to the album I wrote about above right now as I write this, and I knew I had to write about them on Underrated Music. Bands this good are just…. it’s just a very special feeling, discovering them and listening to them.

If you don’t love this band’s songs, you have a deficiency in your soul. Love them, SUPPORT THEM. Go to their shows, email them! Do SOMETHING. I think Wheat is the next Crowded House– just PERFECT fuckin’ songs. Studying their music is Songwriting 101, seriously.

And lastly, the gorgeous song from the movie Elizabethtown:

I just realized that the background of this blog, and my other (songwritingandrecordingtips.wordpress.com) has disappeared. Where’s my friggin’ background graphic? This blog looks so monochrome, now. I miss my colorful header graphic. Fuck you, WordPress! Oh, and I just noticed that my Nada Surf entry is fucking GONE from the side menu. What? What OTHER bands are missing? Ahh… Minipop, too. What the FUCK!!