12/7/06

Behold the Pop.

I am a huge, huge sucker for the power pop - especially old school. The Rubinoos, Nick Lowe, Graham Parker and the Rumour, Squeeze, Jellyfish and Todd Rundgren & Utopia, to name just a few. If you never heard of them, you never worked in a record store* in the 80's, and nothing has been written in the last ten years that perfectly captures the pop sound.** Rooney came damn close. Fountains of Wayne probably came the closest, and if it wasn't for Rachel Hunter as Stacy's Mom, you probably wouldn't know who they were either. Be warned, it doesn't float everyone's boat.

It's melodic, it's exuberant, it's fucking happy, sometimes even when the song is about something sad. A handful of the more current bands I enjoy incorporate a pale measure of this pop sound -- bands like Bowling for Soup, Nine days, Nerf Herder, Silversun Pickups, American HiFi and New Found Glory come to mind.

A perfectly crafted pop song is a thing to behold. It's impossible to listen to true, honest to god, sugary-sweet pop music and not be instantly transported to a better place in your head.

So without further ado, I present Head Automatica, my new favorite fantastic pop band.

It's so over the top it's amazing. You can listen to the whole CD there, and it will start playing when you hit the site if you have a quick connection.

Enjoy. Turn it up and dance around. Play some air guitar power chords. I won't laugh, I promise. Because I'm doing it too, and I can't dance for shit.

I'll be back with something mildly amusing shortly.

*flat discs of vinyl, with a single, spiral groove that runs from the outside edge to the inside spindle. In this groove resides a teeny, tiny group of musicians who play their music while being chased by a gigantic needle of death. You need a microscope to see this. Alcohol helps too.

** If you know of something fantastic that I'm unaware of, please share.

31 comments:

  1. From one Utopia/Todd/Kasim fan to another, I am on bended knee thanking you for sharing this little gem with us. I've only listened for a couple of minutes and I'm headed to Best Buy straight from work to buy this. Amazing!

    As for the dancing, my boss might object, but once I get this home, it's DANCE PARTY, BABY!

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  2. CruiserMel,

    Going to see Kasim & dUgE in schenectady next month. Should be fun!

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  3. Oh yeah? Did you see them there back in Sept? I flew up there and got screwed by the tropical storm and pulled up in front of the club at 12:30. Missed the dang thing. But I CAN give a review of the Days Inn.

    I'm going to The Bitter End show though on the 29th! I started praying for no delays already.

    Thanks again for this tip. I've already sent the web addy to 3 friends of like minds.

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  4. No, I was flying back into town that same night. This time, I leave at 6am the next morning.

    So god is a fan of the pop? Or are you praying to a lesser deity?

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  5. You bet he's a fan of pop. He just felt like messin' with me that particular day, so he churned up a tropical storm that totally blew my flight plans. So literally, I took 24 hours out of my life, only to see the Philly airport for several hours and stay at a hotel in Albany, and fly back to Dallas the next day. My friends have gotten a hoot outta my misfortune.

    BUT NOT THIS TIME, NO WAY, NO HOW.

    I did happen to get a videotape from that show when a fan read about my plight on Kas' website. She felt bad for me. Todd fans rock. Completely. Glad to hear you're cut of the same cloth. :)

    By the way, you're gonna love the show, if you haven't seen him before. It's a great night out!

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  6. Anonymous10:16 PM

    If you wanna check out an awesome blog for all Head Automatica related news... check out danceinmyblood.com

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  7. Utopia was awesome. "Hammer in my heart" is one of the all time greatest tunes.

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  8. I don't know if this really counts as power pop, but as a fan of other power pop groups like Fountains of Wayne and singer/songrwriters like Sean Altman, I would highly recommend you check out The Bogmen—specifically the album titled "Life Begins at 40,000,000." It's superb.

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  9. What about The Darkness? Do they count?

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  10. Based on the bands you've listed, I suggest you check out Hot Hot Heat. Their last two albums are great and if you get a chance to see them live, check them out. They put on a great show. You can hear stuff from the latest album on their website www.hothotheat.com. Goodnight Goodnight is a personal favorite. It's one of the greatest breakup songs ever in my opinion, second only to Ween's song Piss Up A Rope.

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  11. Marti2:42 PM

    You know, I wasn't a fan of Hot Hot Heat. I think OK GO are doing the same kind of thing, only better. Goodnight Goodnight is a fantastic song, but the rest left something to be desired.

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  12. Interesting. I've only heard a couple of OK GO songs and have liked them. I guess I need to check out more. Have you listened to HHH's previous album? I like both, but definitely prefer Make Up the Breakdown.

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  13. Marti and Motvi - (sounds like a jello-wrestling tag team or something) --thanks for the tips. I'll check them out. I'm a big OKGo fan from way back. Never heard HHH.

    Stephanie - Not to me they don't. I stick them under the category "novelty glam" and I also hate that dude's (?) voice.

    JOAT - do you mind if I call you Jerk? You are right -- Utopia had some good stuff on POV too. Early Todd (Hello it's me, Love is the Answer,Can we still be friends) are all classic, perfect pop songs. He was a master popster when he put his mind to it.

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  14. JV - I bought it. (Popaganda) Can't seem to turn it off. Amazing. Effin amazing.

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  15. Glad to have been of service. I assume Doug's heard it?

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  16. Matthew Sweet doesn't play power pop exclusively, but he has some great power pop songs--especially on Girlfriend. That is just about a perfect CD.

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  17. dB, I have a few of his. good stuff.

    I left out the Producers and the Tories as well.

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  18. Anonymous12:18 AM

    Ahhhh, 80s pop - takes me right back. Loved it - still do.

    The stuff nowadays is getting better though.

    I dig that link though. Very good.

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  19. JV - Um, I have no idea if Doug's heard of them. But he should. Good stuff.

    And the Producers? Don't EVEN get me started on how much I heart those guys. "Sensation" is on regular rotation with me. Actually, I had the priv of having brunch with them in Atlanta way back when they weren't quite anything yet via the boyfriend du jour. Anywho - they were very nice guys. Have to wonder what happened to them.

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  20. JV - for once I hope I can add value to your life. If you've never heard of the music genome project, check out www.pandora.com it's like a website created to answer this post. Also I'm going to email you my favorite Beautiful South song and see if it qualifies. They somehow make you want to dance around while they sing about murdering your wife and hiding her in the walls in vacuum cleaner bags.

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  21. Is some stuff by Badfinger technically power pop? I'm thinking of "Baby Blue" in particular.

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  22. I would consider "No Matter What" by Badfinger to be a classic pop tune, but back then I think they just called it "music."

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  23. John, that's fantastic. Thanks for the link.

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  24. Okay, how about All American Rejects? Would they be classified as pop? I like stuff like this but I have to be in the mood for it. I usually like metal or good old fashioned rock and roll.

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  25. WCG -- AAR is definitely in there.

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  26. Anonymous5:30 PM

    thank you for HA. i'm downloading it as i write.

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  27. Marti9:13 AM

    Motvi, that might be the problem. I've only heard the one album. I'll look into picking up the other b/c I had high hopes for them after hearing GnGn and was thoroughly saddened. Thanks

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  28. Aaah, I hadn't visited your blog in a while- so glad I did, because I had totally forgotten how much I loved Graham Parker and the Rumour. I am going to have to go to Amazon, and buy a CD to replace the album I once had, but now have no way of playing. *happy sigh* Merry Christmas, JV, when it comes. I'll keep coming back every now and then, I promise.xox

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  29. Just happened on your blog through the JCPenney catalog post and am now combing through the back stuff. Have you ever listened to XTC? I would recommend Black Sea, Skylarking, or Oranges & Lemons in particular, although (in my opinion) you can't go wrong with any of their stuff.

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  30. Hey JV,
    A lot of the stuff you refer to as Pop I call Classic Rock, Progressive Rock, or New Wave. Anyway, you may want to check out Porcupine Tree, who are sort of an updated return to the classic 70's PR sound. If you like their stuff and want to get a bit brave, check out Opeth, just skip the metal songs and go for the lighter ones, such as the album Damnation.
    This isn't "happy" music though - it's a bit depressing.

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  31. I'm a fan of Porcupine Tree. I found them via being a fan of Fish from Marillion. I consider them prog, not pop. Thanks for the tips though -- I'll check it out.

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