Tuesday, May 31, 2011

CD Review: Popinjays - Flying Down To Mono Valley

Note: This review originally appeared in the Illinois Entertainer in 1992.

Flying Down To Mono Valley, the American debut from England’s Popinjays, is so abundantly rich with catchy melodies and harmony vocals, it’s jarring to discover the bitter lyrics within these pop confections. Led by vocalist Wendy Robinson and guitarist-vocalist Polly Hancock, the band distributes abrasively clever put-downs throughout all 11 songs.

On “Too Jung,” which features an irresistible arrangement, a woman informs her abusive lover of her affair with his best friend by explaining, “He says he feels the same as me, and we laughed at how upset you’d be.” “Nothing” reduces a young couple’s courtship and subsequent life together to a series of mundane events within modern society. At times reminiscent of Debby Harry, Robinson’s alluring voice adds an ironic touch to tracks like “Snowblind,” “Monster Mouth,” and “Vote Elvis.” “We Love You,” which hints at the Rolling Stones’ song of the same name, offers another highlight with its energetic arrangement and sarcastic message.

Monday, May 30, 2011

CD Review: Juliana Hatfield - Hey Babe

NOTE: Pam and I attended a moving tribute to America’s veterans this morning at Palatine’s Memorial Service, and saw a guy handing out flyers. He was promoting a pair of concerts that were being held later in the day at Durty Nellie’s as part of the Wounded Warrior Rockfest. The second concert runs until 10:00 PM, so if you’re in the Palatine area, you might still have time to catch the bands Some Years Later and Tarrington. Durty Nellie’s is located at 180 N. Smith Street in Palatine.

If I had known about this earlier, I would have mentioned it in Friday’s Slumgullion column. While it’s probably too late for most people to participate tonight, it looks like the Wounded Warrior Rockfest organization will be holding more benefits in the future. Check out their website for more information.

In last Friday’s Slumgullion, I mentioned that Juliana Hatfield's new CD, Speeches Delivered To Animals And Plants is set to be released on her Ye Olde Records label August 30th. Here’s a review of her solo debut Hey Babe that I did for the Illinois Entertainer in 1992.

Singer-songwriter Juliana Hatfield was a member of Blake Babies, an intelligent and multi-talented band that somehow never caught on with the public. If she’s hoping to make a bigger splash on her own, this impressive debut could certainly do the trick. Hey Babe offers a similar approach to The Go-Go’s and The Bangles, but with an added punch on guitar that occasionally borders on grunge.

Hatfield’s band of rotating musicians is particularly hard-edged on “Nirvana,” “Quit,” and “Get Off Your Knees,” and she consistently matches their firepower with her vocals. The other tracks are more pop-oriented, with the fetching “Everybody Loves Me But You” serving as the perfect choice for the first single. “Ugly” is a touching acoustic ballad about an insecure girl, while the pleasant melody of “Forever Baby” adds an ironic touch to its depiction of a naive woman clinging to her abusive boyfriend.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Slumgullion #63

Logo from t shirt created for International Pop Overthrow - London. Taken from David Bash's Facebook page.

London Crawling. Hand out the cigars and pour the champagne. International Pop Overthrow has given birth. In the interest of sexual equality, let’s not say whether the baby is a boy or a girl; only that it’s healthy and rocking out in England. At 5:45 PM today at The Bull & Gate, London will join the sprawling family of International Pop Overthrow, that celebration of power pop and indie rock that’s staged in cities like Liverpool, New York, Los Angeles (where it originated), Seattle, Milwaukee, and Chicago.

Tonight’s inaugural set opens with international superstar Ben Dlugokecki, and also includes the equally famous Kyle Vincent, Dan Clews, and Penguin Party. Okay, none of these guys rival the drawing power of Lady Gaga, but as in IPO’s other locations, the fun is in discovering new talent. I’ve come across several impressive acts I had never heard of before IPO founder David Bash corralled them for one of his Chicago showcases. Plus, tonight’s lineup includes The Len Price 3, whose 1960s style garage rock actually has won them fans around the globe, including Little Steven Van Zandt. IPO - London will have a showcase each night at The Bull & Gate from tonight through Monday. And yes, the ever-present, globetrotting Dave Rave will be performing.

Comfortably Numb In Palatine. Echos of Floyd will be performing a 10:00 PM show at Durty Nellie’s in Palatine tonight, as part of the Monsters Of Mock series. The club’s website promises the show will feature all the lasers, fog, projections, and mind-altering lighting you’d expect from a tribute to the famous 1960s sitcom barber. Actually, the band, which is comprised of veterans of the Chicago music scene, will be performing the music of Pink Floyd. With an admission price of $5, money won’t be that big of hit.

Summer Of Love. Beatles fans can kick off June in style by dropping by Martyrs’ on the 1st to catch Tributosaurus Becomes The Beatles Vol. 4. Martyrs’ is located at 3855 N. Lincoln Avenue.

God (45 & 33RPM) Speed. Best of luck to Favorite Records, which is holding its Grand Opening at 1535 W. Division tomorrow. The store carries 45s. LPs, publications, and art. The web address I found doesn’t appear to work yet, but you can find them on Facebook.

Even More Fun Than The Oscar Mayer Weinermobile. The Chicago Sun-Times recently picked up a story by Jack Gruber from Gannett News Service about The Hard Rock International 40th Anniversary Memorabilia Tour rolling into Chicago next Thursday. An 80-foot long truck packed with things like Jimi Hendrix’s Gibson guitar; the coat John Lennon wore on the cover of Rubber Soul; and Buddy Holly’s eyeglasses will be on display inside a truck parked outside the Hard Rock Cafe at 63 W. Ontario. The exhibit, which is free and suitable for all ages, opens at 11:00 AM.

The Unlike Button. The four woman band The Like has announced via its Facebook page that it’s canceling all upcoming gigs and going on an indefinite hiatus. Founding members vocalist-guitarist Z Berg and drummer-vocalist Tennessee Thomas have reinvented their band in the past; switching from indie rock to a neo British Invasion and 1960s girl group sound on the 2010 CD, Release Me. One of The Like’s Facebook followers posted a joke that Berg and Thomas will someday return with as 1980s revivalists, but here’s hoping whatever they decide, it will be soon. Meanwhile, I’m still kicking myself for not seeing The Like when they played in Chicago last year.

Tomorrow Comes Next Friday. Sci-fi rockers Tomorrow The Moon, which includes guitarist Steve Gerlach from The Bad Examples, will be kick off a triple bill at 10:00 PM next Friday, June 3rd at Darkroom. Made By Man and Cleveland’s spooky, coed rockers Mr. Gnome are the other acts scheduled to perform. Darkroom is located at 2210 W. Chicago Avenue in Chicago.

Rare Byrd Sighting In Beverly. Roger McGuinn, who wielded a mean 12-string guitar and sang lead on many hits by The Byrds, will be performing June 3rd at the Beverly Arts Center. The center is located at 2407 W. 111th Street on Chicago’s south side. Tickets are $30, $27 for members.

All The Byrds Together. Meanwhile, The Second Disc newsletter is reporting that The Byrds will be one of the first four artists featured in the Sony Legacy label’s new The Complete Album box set series. The Byrds’ collection contains the band’s entire output from Columbia in a single package, with each album sporting its own miniature sleeve. The box set can be pre-ordered from PopMarket.

How Would You Like A Million Dollars? The Arboretum Of South Barrington will hold a Summer Block Party on June 11th that will include a live performance from the hit musical Million Dollar Quartet. The mall is located at 100 W. Higgins Road, at the corner of Routes 59 & 72.

Pledge Your Love To Juliana. Juliana Hatfield’s Speeches Delivered To Animals And Plants is the latest CD to be funded entirely by fans via the PledgeMusic site, and the singer-songwriter plans to donate some of the proceeds to the Save A Sato animal shelter in Puerto Rico, and the Northeast Animal Shelter in Massachusetts. In a recent press release, Hatfield notes, “I really think that PledgeMusic and similar sites are the future of music, especially for people like me who have devoted cultish fanbases but who have never sold a ton of records and don't really fit in anywhere at major labels.” Speeches Delivered To Animals And Plants is set to be released on Hatfield’s own Ye Olde Records on August 30th.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Jeff Gave Rock & Roll To You

Alan Freed, Brian Epstein, Ed Sullivan, Bill Graham, Michael Lang, Little Steven Van Zandt, and Buddy Monaco. These are guys who are well known for bringing rock and roll to the masses. And now Jeff Kelley, host and creator of the Sunday Morning Coffee With Jeff Internet show, would like to join their ranks.

Rock music has always been part of Kelley’s entertaining melange of unintentionally hilarious industrial and instructional films, original skits, monologues, and vintage TV commercials. Reporter Willy Deal covers live bands with his On The Road feature, and Kelley often matches a modern rock tune with a B&W clip of seductive maidens dancing in some 1950s exploitative flick. But now, as he’s contemplating ways to revamp his format, he’s inviting indie rock bands to contact him about having their music on Sunday Morning Coffee With Jeff.

A band’s song could be used over the opening credits (see the May 21st episode for how this works) or somewhere else in the show, and Kelley would provide a link to band’s site. He’s particularly keen on using musicians who make their music available for free downloads. If this experiment works, it could be beneficial for them as well as Kelley. He has an entertaining show, but is always searching for ways to widen its appeal and make it more entertaining. Kelley can be contacted at coffeewithjeff@gmail.com

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

45 RPM Memories: The Go-Go’s - “We Got The Beat”

The Go-Go’s performed “We Got The Beat” on the Dancing With The Stars season finale last night. The cameras spent more time on some dancers than the Go-Go’s themselves, but it looked like Belinda and Co. were having fun. The Go-Go’s recently released a 30th Anniversary edition of their first effort, Beauty And The Beat, which contains a bonus disc of live performances. They’ll kick off their tour with a gig in Las Vegas in just a few days.

This 45 was released on the Stiff label in the UK a year before I.R.S. put out Beauty And The Beat, and sports a colorful cover that taps into the band’s early punk roots. I had no idea who The Go-Go’s were when I bought it, so the magic of cutting edge marketing must have worked on me. Although “We Got The Beat” would propel The Go-Go’s into the mainstream, it’s fun to consider that it came out in the same year as Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” and has a similar guitar-driven intro. It was composed by guitarist Charlotte Caffey, who has always seemed like the quiet member of the group.

“We Got The Beat” was an anthem for kids who were tired of the same old music. The reference to getting out of school evokes images of summer, but Caffey might have also meant it as a metaphor for freedom. At any rate, it’s an energetic call to action with fun harmonies and an irresistible melody.

It’s always a bonus when the B-Side of a single is a good song as well, and that was the case with “How Much More.” Penned by Caffey and her fellow guitarist Jane Wiedlin, it benefits from their frenetic strumming, Belinda Carlisle's evocative vocals, and Gina Schock’s galloping beat. It’s the tale of a female stalker who follows a guy around every night, and feels she’s about to lose her mind when she spots him with another girl. Interestingly, she doesn’t hate her competition. She simply notes, “She’s looking good just like I would/If it could be me.” Fate is the real villain in this song, which combines a modern arrangement with the 1960s girl group sound.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Band Across The Water; Band Across The Sky

Watch out for the migrating birds. Eimerman finally gets to play outside. Photo from The Britannicas Facebook page.

The Britannicas recently posted a fun video for “(Talkin’ ‘bout) Summer” on YouTube and Facebook. The song is on a recently recorded 3-sided single that once again finds this inventive trio working in perfect harmony even though each member lives in a different country. Vocalist-guitarist Magnus Karlsson makes his home in Sweden; vocalist-drummer Joe Algeri resides down under; and vocalist-bassist Herb Eimerman is from the States.

Similar to how they work on their audio projects, each member filmed his bit separately, and the footage was eventually edited into a single video. Not surprisingly, Eimerman had to wait for the Chicago area weather to get warm enough for him to venture outside for the shoot. Watching the clip, it looks like he might be at the Morton Arboretum in suburban Lisle. Karlsson did his bit, with help from his daughter, near a body of water, and Algeri, who plays a Rickenbacker guitar and drums in the video, stayed mostly indoors. It’s not super slick, but the homespun approach does convey the idea of savoring the season. The three-sided digital single is available for a free download at Algeri’s site and it’s definitely worth checking out.

Karlsson’s “(Talkin’ ‘bout) Summer” is a breezy tune that celebrates the season when the “sun shines bright and the kids get noisy.” As usual, the ringing guitars recall The Byrds, but there are some lush Beach Boys style harmonies as well. The well-crafted “Bleed Between The Lines” was composed by Eimerman with a nod toward The Beatles. The title may sound violent but actually the message here is one of togetherness, and how various lives flow into each other. Algeri keeps the focus on the mid-1960s with the shuffling beat and whimsical lyrics of “I Work At The Post Office.” The arrangement recalls Jeff Beck’s version of “Hi Ho Silver Lining” as Algeri spins the tale of a daydreaming postal worker, and fades out with a silly chant of “lick, stamp, lick, stamp.”

Monday, May 23, 2011

CD Review: Red Light Driver - Celeste Celeste

Celeste Celeste is the third release from Red Light Driver, an Indianapolis-based quartet that got its start in 2006. The six-song EP follows a pair of releases that scored well on college radio, and could attract a larger following with its inventive mix of garage rock and space age effects. It’s odd to find an pair of inconsequential snippets (“Enchanting” and “Interlude”) on such a short CD, but the remaining songs make Celeste Celeste worthwhile.

The title track is propelled by drummer Drew Reed’s steady beat, while singer-guitarist Derek Osgood and singer -bassist Mike Contreras create well-crafted but hard-edged harmonies. It’s a catchy song with an instrumental passage fueled by Osgood and Jonathan Harmon's guitar playing. The mid-tempo “The Away Anthem” has a beguiling, shimmering pop feel, and Red Light Driver crafts an energetic gem via fun vocals and ringing guitars on “Diamond Rough.” “Canterbury Tea” is a longer, exotic experiment featuring the band weaving a psychedelic tale of a mysterious woman and her dangerous brew.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Slumgullion # 62

Yeah, This Is Bill Lumbergh Calling. Just wanted to let you know that New Millennium Theatre is hosting Lumbergh’s Birthday Party at Sheffield’s at 3258 N. Sheffiled in Chicago tomorrow night, May 21st, prior to their performance of Cubicle! An Office Space Musical at Theater Wit. Just so you know, there’s gonna be food, beverages, a raffle, and a silent auction. So, yeah, you probably should be there.

Hobbes Still Has It. The comic website Pants Are Overrated had a fun item earlier this week for people who still miss the daily adventures of Calvin & Hobbes. As mentioned in the Mediabistro and eBookNewser online newsletters, Tom and Dan of Pants Are Overrated created a strip that depicts Calvin as a married adult, with a young daughter named Bacon who’s kind of a female version of his childhood self. It’s a clever and heartwarming homage that captures the spirit of the original strip. Long Live Calvin & Hobbes, and thank you, Pants Are Overrated.

Go-Go Dancing With The Stars. Rock N Load had a recent Facebook post announcing that The Go-Go’s came out way on top in a recent fan vote to pick an act for the “Design A Dance” segment on Dancing With The Stars. The Go-Go’s will perform “We Got The Beat” on the DWTS May 24th Season Finale. The song is from the ground-breaking Beauty & The Beat album, which is being released in a special 30th Anniversary edition. The Go-Go’s will kick off their upcoming tour with a date in Las Vegas a few days later on May 27th, and they’ll join The B-52’s for a night of outdoor fun at Ravinia on June 17th.

Baby, You Can Push My Car Around On The Floor. Toynk sells all kinds of cool things through its online site and at its store at 430 N. York Road in Bensenville for adults who are still fascinated with toys. Among the new arrivals is a series of miniature taxi cabs and buses decorated with Beatles album covers, such as Magical Mystery Tour, The White Album, Let It Be, and Hard Days Night. The vehicles are also available in sets of four.

Ow, My Head. David Drazin who along with Frank Carr, Lake Sirmon, and myself, was a founding member of the Famous In The Future comedy group, has gone on to a successful career as a film accompanist and musician. One of his numerous projects is leading the seven-piece jazz band, The Ambassadors. Their performance at the Glendora Ballroom in Chicago Ridge this Sunday from 2:00 to 5:30 PM is likely to include the Drazin original composition, “Chicago Gin Head Stomp.” Details can be found at The Illiana Club Of Traditional Jazz site.

Steal This Meeting. The first meeting for performers interested in being part of the Abbie Hoffman Died For Our Sins Theatre Festival XXIII will be held at the Mary-Arrchie Theatre on Sunday, June 5th. Artistic Director and free spirit Rich Cotovsky will once again become Abbie Hoffman for the three-day celebration of performance art, which will be held this year on the weekend of August 19th through the 21st. I performed with the Famous In The Future comedy group at Abbie Fests I through XX, and I’m sure my old mates will be cooking up a new batch of songs and skits for this year.

And They Don't Mean Dylan Thomas, Whoever He Was. Black Forest Theatre, who are also Abbie Fest veterans, have a Bob Dylan’s 70th Birthday Bash going on tomorrow night at Cafe Mozart in Evanston. Several local musicians will be involved in the tribute, which will run from 7:00 to 10:00 PM.

Here Comes The Summer. The hard-edged power pop band Go Time! will be celebrating Memorial Day a bit early next Saturday, May 28th at Sylvie’s Lounge ar 1902 W. Irving Park Road in Chicago.

Ram On. Singer-guitarist Phil Angotti will be performing Paul McCartney’s Ram album in its entirety, with help from Steve Dawson, Tommi Zender, Carolyn Engelmann, Casey McDonough, Dick Schmidt, and assorted other musicians at SPACE in Evanston tomorrow night. There will also be a second set comprised of some of McCartney’s other tunes.

Ralph And What Army? Singer-guitarist Ralph Covert of The Bad Examples and Ralph’s World is staging Acoustic Army #4 at FitzGerald’s Sidebar at 6615 Roosevelt Road in Evanston tomorrow night. The event is being billed as “a solo acoustic evening for adults of hits, rarities, new songs, and requests.” Showtime is 9:00 PM.

Right Place, Wrong Time. The Wrong Boys, a new band comprised of veterans of the Chicago music scene, will be playing tomorrow night at Mister Mo’s Sports Bar, at 7214 W. College Drive in Palos Heights.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

CD Review: The Oohs - Llamalamp

Springfield, Illinois quartet The Oohs are seven-year vets of International Pop Overthrow - Chicago, and have released three CDs. Their Saturday afternoon gig at this year’s IPO was an impressive display of energetic musicianship and harmonies that culminated with a rousing cover of ELO’s “It’s A Giving Thing.” More of the same can be found on the 2006 release, Llamalamp, which is The Oohs’ latest, and by some accounts, most ambitious undertaking.

Sandwiched between opening and final snippets of exotic Eastern music are 15 well-crafted and consistently melodic tracks, with vocal arrangements that could only be called adventurous. That said, some power pop fanatics might find themselves backing away from overtly commercial fare like “Settle For Human” or “Get It Straight” that sound like they could have been recorded by Toto or Asia. “Emotion Left Unspoken” and “Sunny Day” have more of a theatrical flair and “The End Of Our Days” could have been a sea shanty.

But even if The Oohs come across as a little too polished at times, they haven’t forgotten how to cut loose with an early Beatles inspired gem like “That’s What’s She Said!” They even lovingly swipe the riff from “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” to back the nasty putdowns of “Pretty.” “Strange World” has a guitar-driven, hard-edged arrangement, while “One Step Closer To Nowhere” flashes a classic power pop allure.

Just about any type of music fan should enjoy the old time goofiness of “What Have You Done To My Girl?” which depicts a guy who would rather believe his main squeeze was abducted by aliens and replaced with a mean-spirited clone than accept that she’s simply gotten tired of his careless ways. It’s like hearing Paul McCartney turning “Honey Pie” into a Halloween song.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

CD Review: Fountains Of Wayne - Utopia Parkway

With the next Fountains Of Wayne CD, Sky Full Of Holes, due out on August 2nd, it might be a good time to look back at one of the band’s earlier releases. Here’s a review that originally appeared in the Illinois Entertainer in 1999.

For Fountains Of Wayne, poking fun and having fun pretty much go hand-in-hand. The band’s songwriting duo of vocalist-guitarist Chris Collingwood and bassist-vocalist Adam Schlesinger are well known for coupling barbed social observations with bouncy pop melodies.They take a similar approach to Squeeze, but with unabashedly American references that conjure images of shopping malls and roadside diners.

The Squeeze comparison seems particularly apt for “Hat And Feet,” a playful blues shuffle built on the cartoon image of a guy flattened by his girlfriend’s cruelty. On the more energetic “Red Dragon Tattoo,” a young geek is “fit to be dyed,” hoping to impress a gal with his new body art. The rocking “Go, Hippie” lampoons an aging flower child and tosses in some Hendrix style jamming, while the more wistful “A Fine Day For A Parade” paints a sympathetic portrait of an elderly woman.

The irresistibly catchy “It Must Be Summer” contrasts a sunny arrangement with a frustrating situation where a guy pines for a woman who’s too busy out having fun to spend time with him. “Laser Show” hypes a trip to the Hayden Planetarium as if it were a major rock concert, while “Lost In Space” offers a character study of an attractive woman who may not be human. The disappointing title track, a generic take on the life of a struggling musician, is the only misfire on an otherwise witty and entertaining album.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

CD Review: Supergrass - I Should Coco

I’ll always remember how when the first Supergrass CD came out in 1995, then Illinois Entertainer editor Michael Harris told me they were a Terry Flamm band if he ever heard one, and suggested I do the review. He was right about me really liking their music.

My wife Pam and I had a DJ for our wedding who was willing to play just about anything we wanted, including songs we brought to him on CD, cassette, or vinyl. Per our request, he played “Psycho Chicken” by The Fools instead of “The Chicken Dance,” and at the end of the reception, he played the final track from I Should Coco, which is “Time To Go.” The DJ liked it so much he played it twice, and said he was going to use it other weddings.

Unfornutately, Supergrass broke up within the last year. Anyway, here’s the review I wrote for the Illinois Entertainer.

You have to admire a band that’s not afraid to sound like The Smurfs on their debut album. Then again, the catchy “We’re Not Supposed To,” with its chirpy vocals and childlike lyrics, is the 10th track. By that time, Supergrass has firmly established themselves as one of the UK’s more interesting new acts.

Hailing from Oxford, England, the trio follows in the high-energy tradition of The Undertones and Buzzcocks. The album kicks off with a rollicking quest for a fun night out, “I’d Like To Know,” which features the highest harmony vocals this side of Lou Christie. Supergrass rips through a number of energetic gems, such as “Caught By The Law,” “Lose It,” “Strange Ones,” and “Lenny.” They cap off this flawless effort with “Time To Go,” an acoustic Syd Barrett style charmer that could become the ‘Last Call’ song for bars. Like a night spent in an English pub, I Should Coco is a blast of eccentric fun.

Monday, May 16, 2011

CD Review: 92 Degrees - 92 Degrees

92 Degrees performed an impressive set at International Pop Overthrow - Chicago this past April that included new material. Hopefully, a CD is on the way. Here’s a review of their debut effort, which appeared in the Illinois Entertainer in 1995.

It seems natural the Chicago-based power pop trio 92 Degrees would find a home on Shoes’ independent Black Vinyl label since both bands are heavily influenced by British Invasion music. Co-produced by Shoes vocalist-guitarist Jeff Murphy and 92 Degrees, this self-titled full-length debut shows an emphasis on strong melodies, ringing guitars, and harmony vocals. It’s almost completely comprised of love songs, with the only exception coming via the nasty sentiments of the hard-hitting “Mrs. Jones.”

Love is a subject this band handles well, particularly on energetic tracks like “In Her Glow,” “Sharon Won’t,” and “She’ll Never Know.” Lead singer-guitarist Steve Steffens wrote all 11 of these catchy gems (“When I’m Gone” was co-written with bassist-vocalist Mike Galassini) and his vocals consistently evoke Revolver era Beatles. Steffens and Galassini consistently combine for some airtight harmonies while drummer Dane Svoboda provides a steady backbeat.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Slumgullion #61

All right. I’m wearing my I Survived The Blogger Malfunction of 2011 t shirt, and I’m ready to roll with this week’s Slumgullion.

First of all, I heard from Russell Carter, who heads Russell Carter Artist Management regarding The Bangles’ Sweetheart Of The Sun EP. He says it will be available through the band’s website in the near future. Regarding the upcoming Bangles CD, Carter added, “Matthew [Sweet] tracked a substantial part of the basic tracks at Lolina but more basic tracks and overdubs were recorded at Sue's [Hoffs] home studio. Jim Scott mixed it at his studio.” Vocalist-guitarist Vicki Peterson thanked me for the review via a Tweet, and added that The Bangles have more vinyl releases on the way.

Former Doctor Who star David Tennant has been spending time on a variety of projects since leaving the show. He’ll be providing the voice of a young Charles Darwin in an upcoming 3D animated feature film by Aardman (the people who gave us Wallace & Gromit), called The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists. The film is scheduled to be released on March 30th, 2012. Hugh Grant and Salma Hayek are also lending their voices to the project.

Congratulations to Aimee Mann, a singer-songwriter known for her introspective lyrics, on being one of the performers who were invited to the White House to participate in Poetry Night. Mann, who recently tweeted, “Back in LA and still amazed that I got to play at the White House and meet the POTUS and FLOTUS,” is currently working on her next CD.

The Power Pop Overdose blog brought news earlier this week of the upcoming Sky Full Of Holes CD from Fountains Of Wayne. The disc will be released on Yep Roc Records August 2nd, and Fountains Of Wayne will start touring in August and September to support it.

We’ll all be ready to wear our love like heaven this summer. The Second Disc newsletter has news on an expanded two-CD edition of Donovan’s 1966 flower power masterpiece, Sunshine Superman that’s due out on June 6th.

Promoter David Bash returns to Liverpool next Tuesday to kick off another round of International Pop Overthrow. All of the performances (and there are well over 100) will take place at either The Cavern Pub or the Cavern Club, with the latter having a Front Stage as well as a Back Stage. Little Steven favs The Len Price 3 have a 3:00 PM gig at The Cavern Pub on May 21, and Sparkle*jets UK will be at The Back Stage of The Cavern Club on the 21st for what looks like a 2:00 AM show. As usual, there will be some Yanks among the UK many acts, including IPO veteran Jeremy, L.A.-based power pop band Maple Mars, and Chicago’s own The Queue. Canadian Dave Rave, who’s intent on performing at every city on the schedule, closes out IPO - Liverpool 2011 with on midnight show on the 24th.

While he’s in Liverpool, David Bash might want to check out the Beatles-adorned wall surrounding the Hard Days Night Hotel. Back in 2007, renowned Beatles artist Shannon was commissioned to paint the walls, which had been set up to keep people from stealing bricks, hardware, piping, and other assorted materials as souvenirs. As far as I can tell from a recent Facebook post from a Shannon, the wall is still in place. The Hard Days Night Hotel is now open, and (sigh) one of my many pop-oriented dreams is to stay there some night.

Rising Gael, a young quartet of Celtic rockers, will hold a CD release party for their latest effort, IV, at The High Noon Saloon in Madison Wisconsin on June 10th. Cover charge is $5. Rising Gael played a few times at Celtic Fest in Chicago, and was very entertaining.

CD Review: Hoodoo Gurus - Kinky

What better way to follow posts about The dB’s and The Bangles than with one featuring the Hoodoo Gurus? The Australian band doesn’t have a new 45 out, but here’s a CD review I did for the Illinois Entertainer back in 1991.

Usually when someone throws a wild party, it’s only a matter of time before the neighbors complain or the cops show up. Consider then, the strange case of Australia’s Hoodoo Gurus, who have been making a joyful noise since 1984, and still can’t get arrested in the States.

Ironically, “Miss Freelove ‘69,” the rollicking first single released from the group’s fifth album, Kinky, is about a party that gets out of hand. It’s classic Gurus fare, irresistibly catchy with a hefty dose of humor, and the perfect invitation to American record buyers to join the party. College radio stations and longtime fans who already know how much fun the Hoodoo Gurus can be will find another winner in this latest release.

Songs like “Something’s Coming” showcase the band’s 1960s style melodies, clever lyrics, and guitar firepower. “Desiree” and “I Don’t Mind” are power pop gems while “Too Much Fun” has a bit more of a hard rock edge. Bangles member Vicki Peterson adds a pleasant touch on back-up vocals to “1000 Miles Away.” Lead vocalist and chief songwriter Dave Faulkner takes aim at would-be martyrs on “Dressed In Black” when he offers support to a down-and-out friend but makes it clear he won’t stand for any self pity.

45 RPM First Impressions: The Bangles - Sweetheart Of The Sun

Much like The dB’s, The Bangles have released a mid-tempo new song that plays to their strengths. “Anna Lee (Sweetheart Of The Sun)” taps into the mid-1960s California Scene and could have been a Top 40 hit for The Mamas & The Papas. It’s part of a three-song Sweetheart Of The Sun EP that also includes acoustic versions of “Hazy Shade Of Winter” and “Let It Go.”

It’s hard to figure why The Bangles didn’t release this in conjunction with Record Store Day, and what’s even more odd is that it’s only available at Maurice’s, a chain of women’s clothing stores. As far as I can tell, there are no Maurice’s in the Chicago area. I bought my copy from a terrific eBay vendor who shipped it in the blink of an eye.

For some reason, I was under the impression that Matthew Sweet wrote “Anna Lee,” and I may have incorrectly stated that here in the past. Sweet recorded the song at Lolina Green Studios, and has worked extensively with the band on an upcoming CD. “Anna Lee” was written collectively by Debbi Peterson, Vicki Peterson, and Susanna Hoffs, with all three singing in perfect harmony. Derrick Anderson plays bass.

The song exudes an entire field of flower power, starting with the exotic opening lines, “Got a picture of you in the kitchen, without a stitch on./Beautiful and natural as can be.” It’s a melodic tribute to a free spirit who was desired by men and respected by women. “Quiet power, simple grace. No man could put you in your place.” There’s also some festive “bop bop bop” scat singing and a shuffling beat that’s hard to resist. “Anna Lee” doesn’t sound like any of The Bangles’ past hits, which is a healthy sign that their creative juices are still flowing.

“Hazy Shade Of Winter” features Vicki Peterson and Hoffs aggressively strumming acoustic guitars while Debbi Peterson adds a touch of percussion and Anderson plays bass. The Bangles scored a huge hit in the 1980s by pumping up this Simon & Garfunkel tune, but the new scaled back version, with all three women singing in unison, still finds them having fun.

The same could be said for “Let It Go,” a catchy song about accepting the end of a relationship, that originally appeared on the Different Light album.The bare bones arrangement emphasizes how well the song is constructed, and once again, the harmonies are first rate. Even some well-known critics have falsely claimed The Bangles never wrote their own material, but “Let It Go” is just one of their many self-penned power pop gems.

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