Everyone knows how much I adore I Was a King, so when they share another single, you better believe I’m going to have it up here on the site. This is one of the shorter numbers on their new effort, Slow Century, hitting you with the immediacy of their warm melodies. One of my favorite things is the way the vocals combine to harmonize in this really beautiful way as the song bounds forward; those harmonies rising and falling during lines like “on your driveway” or “your voice so faint,” bring a smile to my face as I listen again and again. They’ll release their new album on March 8th, just a month away!
I’ve been writing about how much I enjoy the power pop of I Was a King for quite some time; it seems that’s about as long as TFC’s Norman Blake has been a fan, as well. Now, the band has teamed up with Norm (producer) to bring you a powerhouse of an album…and below you can stream the first single. It’s absolutely everything you’d want, with huge churning guitar chords ringing out while the band all share in vocal roles that bring you closer to the warmth of the fire. There’s a lot of power-pop out there, but I feel like no one’s doing it quite on the level as this bunch; if this is the last new song you hear before heading into the weekend, your life will be better for it. Look for Slow Century to drop in March of this year!
Listening through to this Sam Hoffman track, I’m struck by his melodies; they have this dreamy sense of longing, letting all of us look on to bigger and better days. Behind those notes rides a crunchy guitar, giving the song a gritty backbone that builds contrast for the two distinctive sound. That’s all before I even mention the harmonies by the backing bunch behind Sam; that really makes things jump off the tape and through your speakers. If you’re looking back over the year and wandering if you missed anything, then go on out and listen to Fairweather, Sam’s debut LP.
Grand Union is going to be a new act you’ll want to keep an eye on, particularly if you’re of the guitar pop/power pop persuasion. It came to my attention by a post of Frode Stromstad, known to many as one of the principal songwriters in I Was a King. Somehow, somewhere, Frode made friends with like-minded individuals and formed this new band, recorded a few jams, and now it looks like we’ve got two great new 7″s coming our way. I think both songs we can sample at the moment are pretty spot on, so I’m not going to delve too far into specifics…just leave them here for you to enjoy. They both drop on October 26th.
Everybody who’s anybody is in Eyelids; the group consists of various members of GBV, Decembrists and the Jicks…to name a few. As of right now, we’ve only got the lead track to listen to, but boy is it a doozy. There’s definitely nods to the various members guitar pop resumes, those this is spun in a softer manner, fluffier almost. I guess in my ears its like a great power pop song, but with all the power sucked out…though I like the nice noodling guitar on the song’s back end. Sucker for harmonies and “oohs”? You’ll want to get in on the listen. Maybe More is part live, part Peter Buck (from some band REM) recorded sessions…you can grab it HERE.
One of my favorite albums this year is the latest Spook School LP; having so many songwriters in one band really makes the whole listen refreshing. Why does that matter with Proud Parents? Well, the group employs a similar strategy, with three vocalists/songwriters helming the ship. On their new single that recently popped up, its clearly visible, trading verses/choruses with one another while guitar chords dance around the vocals and cymbals constantly crash through your speakers. There’s something innately catchy; the band just seem to be having a blast, and that grabs me. The band will release their debut for their new label, Dirtnap Records, later this year!
Power-pop is a lost art, in a certain sense. It’s been adopted by the masses and overused by lazy writers like myself. But, The Shut-Ups aren’t here to establish themselves as torch-bearers, they’ve been writing new-wave inflected pop tunes since the early 00s…longer than most people’s awareness of power pop as a genre. The riffs are huge, balanced by soft vocal turns and keyboard lines that wiggle in and out of the mix. It’s carefree pop music for the masses, if only the masses would take a moment to listen. They’ve just completed their fifth album, Just Another Generation, an album centered around the theme of time; it drops on April 13th.
There’s something so pure about the perfectly executed pop ditty that I find it hard to turn such tracks off, just like the Hurry tune below. There’s nothing heavy about it, and in fact, it seems the volume on distortion is perfectly balanced by the usage of acoustic guitar. Cascading guitar lines work their way throughout, cut in half by these rad little vocal harmonies; it’s like listening the greatness of Nada Surf being played with a youthful vibrance. The band’s new album, Every Little Thought, will be released on February 23rd via Lame-O Records.
Just a few weeks ago I dropped the B-Side to the latest single from I Was a King, and now we’re here to tell you to check out the A-Side. While the band’s penchant for power-pop definitely shines through, particularly with Frode’s vocal delivery…there are hints at a slightly heavier vibe. Their beautifully distorted chords seem just a step lower, deeper, bringing in almost a brooding feel to the melodic sound; it sort of matches the opening moments of the “Run.” No one does it better in my opinion than this band, so I’m looking forward to their completed LP, which is said to drop next year!
While Frode was working with the No Ones, I Was a King was momentarily on hold. But, just this last week they’ve rekindled my love affair with this short little blast of power-pop. It comes with the promise of another glorious single (I’m betting), but just pressing play below will have you marveling at what a punch the band can pack in 1.5 minutes. They still know their way around the perfect melodic vocal turn; I couldn’t be more excited to hear more from them going forward. This tune comes out on the new single on November 10th, with promise of a full-length to come later next year!