This album release snuck up on me, and I put it on my radar as soon as I saw when it was dropping. While eager to hear it, I did not have this one as something I had to hear right away as I enjoyed the first EP but wasn’t blown away by it. Then, I gave this album a listen… and another… and another… and well you see where this is going. This album is a gamechanger for future expectation (when we get there), but let’s invest a lot of time into the present as this album gives us 10 songs in less than 30 minutes with not one second wasted. With influences ranging from glitter glam, 70’s blues hard rock, and rock n roll. Gyasi, currently based in Nashville, has followed up his first EP with a classic, timeless feeling album that will likely be on many end of the year best album lists as the number of people who hear it.

The lightning guitar riff by Gyasi that launches ‘Colorful’ tears a hole in the soul and immediately gets the body moving. ‘I’m not normal; I was born colorful’ is not just a lyric; it is a statement of intent from an artist who has invested blood, sweat, and tears into finding out who he is. The guitar solo allows a reprieve before an epic race to the finish of the song and one final chorus. We change gears immediately with the acoustic power pop jangle of ‘Androgyne’ affirming that you can be anything you want to be. In a world of bullies, this can serve as an anthem for those that don’t fall into the society ordained categories and give them a voice. The bluesy ‘Young Love’ takes some Led Zeppelin influences with Gyasi using a higher vocal here to create an awesome hook in the chorus.

One of the early singles follows with ‘Tongue Tied’ shaking and grooving down the back alley with another addictive chorus. The added harmonica showcasing another element we have not heard. This one recalls some Rolling Stones vibes. The bluesy ‘Blackstrap’ brings some horns into the mix and creates an even stranger musical refrain. This song has proven to be an incredibly fast grower as I was not initially blown away by it and now think it is one of many favorites from the album. The chorus comes from early glitter glam and attaches itself to your brain.

‘Wilde Childe’ starts us down the back half of the album with a straight forward beat giving way to an almost robotic refrain in the chorus. This song might actually be the one that grabs me the least, but I am still singing it and not wanting to skip it when I play the album so maybe I call it the runt of a very strong litter. Some acoustic and slide guitar introduce ‘Bring Your Love’ which again recalls a bit of Led Zeppelin especially with that vocal hook in the chorus making me think of something like ‘Ramble On.’

The final trio begins with the upbeat ‘Nightcrawl’ which shimmies and shakes on an addictive beat that with the piano riding on top of it feels part Bowie and part musical number. The guitar cuts through at all the perfect times, and the hook is cut deep into my brain at this point. When I think about my favorite songs of the year, this one will be on the list. It segues into the glam glitter rocker ‘Kiss Kiss’ which features some more awesome piano work as well as some saxophone. The chorus is perfect and would make a perfect partner with something like ‘Almost Faded’ by the Sweet Things. Similar to ‘Nightcrawl,’ this one will likely garner a lot of attention from me for my favorite song of the year. Closing number ‘Little Tramp’ is an acoustic strummed rocker that is part T.Rex and could have fit seamlessly into the soundtrack for ‘Almost Famous.’ The gentle acoustic outro allows for a breath and provides one of two options. You either go right back into the beginning or allow it to transition to Gyasi’s first EP. Either way, you are a winner.

While Gyasi handles most of the instruments here, I do want to recognize the following who also play on the album:

Ammed Solomon and Gaelen Mitchell- drums

Dylan Whitlow- bass on ‘Young Love’

Don Steck-harmonica on ‘Tongue Tied’

Stefan Forbus- sax on ‘Kiss Kiss’

This album exceeded all my expectations and has left trails of glitter all across my favorite albums of the year. I would love to see a Gyasi/ Sweet Things tour happen where everyone can forget what year it might be and just celebrate for an evening. I cannot recommend this one enough if you want some enjoyable rock n roll that has a reverence for the past as well as a passion for the here and now to create 10 timeless songs.  2019 became even more awesome when we got this treasure of an album.

‘Androgyne’ is available Here.

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Author: Gerald Stansbury

 

 

The Exploding Hearts were vocalist/guitarist Adam Cox, bassist Matt Fitzgerald, guitarist Terry Six, and drummer Jeremy Gage.

Shortly after the release of their debut studio album, Guitar Romantic, Cox, Fitzgerald, and Gage were killed in a car accident on July 20, 2003, after which the band ceased to exist.

The bands sound was born from power pop and new wave – punk drawing from the classic acts such as Buzzcocks, The Boys, The Only Ones. There was a brief groundswell of bands in the northwest part of the USA along with The Exploding Hearts The Briefs also rose to prominence from the same scene. The band signed to Dirtknap Records who released their debut album in 2003.

On July 20, 2003, the band was headed home to Portland on Interstate 5 after having played a show at the Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco. It is believed that Fitzgerald, who was driving, fell asleep and lost control of their van near Eugene, Oregon. Cox, 23, and Gage, 21, were thrown from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene and Fitzgerald, 20, died at a hospital. Guitarist Terry Six, 21, and manager Rachell Ramos, 35, sustained only minor injuries. The band disbanded in the aftermath of the accident having lost such vital members under such tragic circumstances.  Man, these were just kids when this tragic accident happened with their whole lives in front of them.

A compilation album was released by Dirtnap Records in 2006. In 2009, their song “Modern Kicks” is a classic slab of punk rockin’ power pop and has since been covered by bands who just got what The Exploding Hearts were all about.

Terry Six joined former members of the Portland-based band The Riffs, Gabe Lageson, Colin Jarrell, Alan Mansfieldwent, and established the Portland-based power pop band, The Nice Boys. They released a 7″ single on Discourage Records entitled “You Won’t See Me Anymore” b/w “Lipstick Love” and a S/T full-length album on Birdman Records but that’s it no more music.  it was such a shame as The Exploding Hearts had so much to offer but their star shone so brightly yet briefly. Play some ‘Guitar Romantics’ today and pay tribute.

The Cry! did a pretty decent cover of ‘Modern Kicks’ (remember them?) anyway enjoy some awesome power pop and remember The Exploding Hearts today of all days. there is also a rumour that a movie is in production on the band but as yet no details are available so we can neither confirm nor deny this as being a fact. There isn’t a huge resource of information on the band but there are two terrific albums and some youtube footage.  Go check em out and if you can pick up a record you won’t regret it.

 

Wow,  Every now and then a record comes and absolutely knocks you off your feet from the first listen to the last refrain of the guitar on the last track of the album. Well, Jordan Jones did that to me from the first minute I dropped the needle and the acoustic guitar sounded the battle call for ‘I Wrote You A Song For Me’.

An absolutely blistering ray of sunshine of an album that just screams summertime and plonks a big fat smile across my chops as I drift away lost in the music.

 

Sure,  its nothing more than ten songs with varying tempos played with traditional instruments in a power-pop Rock and Roll style.  Its got swirling organs – acoustic guitars,  overdriven clanging electric guitars and a sweet vocal not a million miles from the late great Marc Bolans tone.  When you sprinkle in some magic dust and glamtastic harmonies – for me, you’re onto a sure-fire winner and this self-titled ray of Californian sunshine is quite simply fucking Brilliant!

‘My Somebody’ plugs straight into a slab of power pop Posies style but with a heart and soul belonging to Ronnie Lane and some of his Faces style of writing tunes that subtle yet awesome melody.  From the swirling organ to the instrumental breaks that lie behind the slightly distorted riffs – Damn this is good.

Without jumping ahead let’s not ignore the opener that grabbed my attention before the first bar had finished. ‘I Wrote You A Song For Me’ is some street fighting riffs on the old acoustic guitar. A melody so sharp you can hang your hat on it – followed by an almighty arrangement. You might think I’m getting a tad carried away here but this album really is twelve inches of sunshine and great songs.

‘Understood’ is carefree trash ‘n’ roll as it just throws its arms in the air and rocks out as a good power pop song should. Well, one that’s got a dash of The Boys-style punk rock pumping round its heart. ‘No Makeup’ deffo has a hint of The Faces about it as we tread down the familiar pattern of Girls – love – loss – heartache – breakups –  you know the kind of stuff Rock and Roll has always been about – nothing too heavy here.

I couldn’t pick a favourite that would be unkind to the other track but ‘Rumour Girl’ comes pretty close to the top.  Plenty of energy great harmonies and arrangement.  ‘Waiting’ is a slower more peaceful meander like a Teenage Fanclub song with a real 70s edge to the melody. If you don’t like ‘Be My Baby’ then I’d seriously check your pulse it’s like The Exploding Hearts never went away and a fantastic rocker with jangly guitars mixed in for good measure.

Just to back up my gushing praise of this record it seems to get stronger and stronger and unlike many album front-ending the best tunes this one is easing you in gently so your heart doesn’t skip a beat by the time you reach the simple yet so effective acoustic twelve-string pickings of ‘Do You Want To Hang Out’ with its super harmonica break – it’s as simple as that –  storytelling in the same vein as say a Kevin Jr or a Nikki Sudden its just plain and simple and comes across as effortless and hits the spot so so well. The album ends with the gentle ‘Oh My Heavenz’ yup a song with a glam rock Z on the end.  Jordan Jones has released one of the finest debut solo albums of the year.  This guy should be a superstar it comes across as effortless to Jordan but I’m sure it isn’t.  Don’t think about it just buy this record!

Buy Jordan Jones Here (USA)

Europe Buy Here

Man the opening track on this EP had me longing for some Role Models and Replacements because that’s exactly where Mono In Stereo are pitching this EP.

Hell, it’s on Rum Bar Records so it was going to be a no brainer for me and from the first play I couldn’t not be into this.  It’s ragged – honest – anthemic without being cheesy and wholesome without being sappy its got grit and dirt under its fingernails it’s wearing its Replacements patch on its chest next to its Mellencamp one as the keys swirl and the distorted guitar chords ring out over the steady beat this is a winner in every which way.  The only fault I have is its not a full-length album and only half of one.

‘Different Kind Of Man’ is anthemic but not cheesy as the band sound loose enough to have enjoyed a few pre-recording beers to celebrate such am impressive few tunes.  Damn, they know it, Rum Bar knows it and I know it and if you have any sense you’ll be getting hold of this. ‘Not Your Fault’ has a great melody but its not any single part but the sum of all its parts that makes this record so listenable.

‘Fores’ amps it up and lets in its inner punk rock with neat gang vocals and a fiery tempo part misfits part Gaslight Anthem if there such a thing. (there is now)  To take this home the title track brings up the rear and just puts a big exclamation make on proceedings Records like this should come with a health warning – This Rock and Roll will put a serious strain on your smile and fist pumping the air can be dangerous.  Open another beer and turn it up!

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Author: Dom Daley

With a brand new album out and in the shops the king of power pop took up our invitation to have a chat about his career and the new record.  He shouldn’t need an introduction but seeing as I’m here I’ll give him one for those of you not familiar with any of his work.  He began his recording career with The Nerves back in the early 70’s and weaved his tapestry through the halls Of Power Pop N Roll playing with his band The Beat and as a solo artist he’s penned many a classic tune and continues to this day recording records and playing shows he’s taken the stage with the likes of The Ramones and Green Day over the years and just put out one of the years best power pop albums ‘Out Of My Head’.

Back in the early days of The Nerves How come the three of you didn’t co-write the songs together back then?  
When I joined The Nerves I had not begun to write songs yet, it was only after hearing what Jack and Peter were writing that I decided I had to try too. Jack was the main writer at the time and he was adamant about keeping everything separate. Each of us were to write and sing our own songs. He was very helpful to me though. He spent a lot of time listening and critiquing my songs. He was a great mentor in that respect.
Did you ever imagine you’d be part of the band that spawned such a classic song as ‘Hanging On The Telephone’?  
I knew Hanging on the Telephone was a hit the moment I heard it. It was the first day that I had met Jack Lee, he played me the acetate of the demo he had made and it blew my mind!
Did you think your original version was the best?  
I am very proud of our version it stands up to the test of time.
Have you heard the Def Leppard version or L7’s?  
Yes, and I like the credit Def Leppard gave it on their record. 
After you settled on the west coast was it easy putting the band together?
Back then, The West Coast was a better environment for me and the kind of music I was trying to do. After The Nerves, I had the very good fortune to meet Steve Huff. He became my main songwriting partner for many years. Writing with people is a very personal thing, it has never been easy for me to do. I’m that regards I was very happy to meet Paul Stingo who I worked with on the last record, Out Of My Head.
Bomp have done a great job of reissuing all the older stuff that was pretty hard to get hold of and you managed the and sorted out the tours and stuff did that set you in good stead for later on trying to negotiate the deals?
I have been DIY now for many years, there isn’t a lot of hard negotiating really mostly verbal agreements with people who are more or less friends.
They put out the comp in the noughties with bonus unreleased previously songs is that it now the well completely dry or is there more to eventually come?
There might be a few odds and ends but most of the recorded unreleased tracks have been used.
Moving onto more recent times, were you contacted by Green Day for them to include a track on the American Idiot play?
They never contacted me, they just played the song quite frequently but they always told the audience who it was by, I really appreciated that.
Didn’t you join them on stage as well?  that must have been so cool.
Yes, I played ‘Walking Out Of Love’ with them (2 times in a row!) onstage at the Bowery Electric here in New York for the end of show party they had when ‘American Idiot’ closed. Billy Joe was extremely gracious to me, I will never forget how nice he treated me!
You played with a lot of influential punk bands back in the day when it was all fresh and new, how did the audiences take to the difference in sound from say the Germs and the Weirdos compared to your more melodic power pop.
At the time it seemed to me that the audience related more to The Germs and The Weirdos. We always seemed to be on the outside.
You’ve always championed bands and artists in a business that doesn’t always reward the best; hardest working bands or the most talented, who in your opinion were the ones who fell through the cracks are there any noticeable bands you were convinced were going to be stars?
It such a relative question, nowadays my idea of success has changed. If you can somehow make your living doing what you love then you are a success. I think if you can stay in the game that’s a big part of it. That’s what I am trying to do.
From the king of power pop until this year’s release you’ve released three albums with Alive is it as enjoyable making records as it sounds?
Actually making a record is always a pretty gutwrenching experience. I am constantly ripping it apart and building it up again in an effort to make it as good as possible.
Your records always sound like they were made with a smile on your face and you are totally happy with what your doing would that be a fair assumption?
No, but that is the trick, you have to make it sound effortless even though you drive yourself nuts trying to do it!
How do you find recording now compared to back in the 70’s is it easier with technology or not?
It has never been easy and hopefully, it never will. I think you have to make a big effort to create something worthwhile.
In fact, it seems like everyone is trying to get back to recording as we did back in the 70’s!
You’ve also recorded with some exceptional players like Chuck Prophet, Greg and Cyril from the Flaming Groovies to name a few do you get a bigger buzz now making a record or touring?
I enjoy what I am doing a lot now mainly because I think I am more in the present. It was a great experience making the Paul Collins record in SF I got to record with so many fantastic musicians, that record will always be a special one for me!
You also do your own management and play an active role with new bands trying to break through.  Is that still exciting for you or is the industry still a massive ballache.
It’s a tough business that is for sure! Being DIY has its pros and cons, the pros are you pretty much get to do what you want. I have come to accept my position in the business and I’m ok with it. I do what I love to do, more or less on my own terms.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received
From Jimmy the Greek who owned The Downbeat in SF. “You gotta have tight beginnings and tight endings and everyone will think you’re great!”
What advice would you give to a hungry young band looking to someone of your skill and status for advice and guidance?
Work your ass off and never give up!
Finally, when do you begin work on the next album?
Still basking in the afterglow of this one!
and what about some shows in the UK?
Love too, it’s just a matter of working out the logistics.
so until he hits the road and someone in the UK offers him some dates I guess we’ll have to make do with the records which is no bad deal.  So thanks to Paul for taking the time to chat to RPM now go check out the new album at the link.

PAUL COLLINS BEAT “Out of My Head” EURO TOUR 2019 – Buy tickets here
This tour will be done completely by train, a new model for the new millennium of touring! Arrive alive and on time!

Feb 7 Stockholm Melodybox
Feb 8 Malmo Folk å Rock
Feb 9 Hamburg Nochtwache
Feb 12 Mannheim Altes Volksbad
Feb 14 Berlin Cortina Bob
Feb 15 Essen Freak Show
Feb 16 Kortrijk Den Trapp
Feb 17 Utrecht dB’s
Feb 18 Brussels CHAFF
Feb 19 France Orleans Blue Devils
Feb 20 France TBA
Feb 21 Clermont-Ferrand Bombshell
Feb 22 Saint-Etienne Le Clapier
Feb 23 France TBA
Feb 25 Alicante Sala Stereo
Feb 27 Valencia Loco Club
Feb 28 Madrid Fun House
Mar 1 Spain TBA
Mar 2 Spain Segovia

Dom Daley.

Montreal, QC-based rock band Sick Things recently released a video for their single, ‘Sick Things’ which coincidentally is the name of the band and the album and the single so even the dumbest Rock and Rolla can remember that can’t they?  sure they can (it worked for me) and if they tune in they are sure in for a treat.  Released earlier this summer on CD this is about to get a spanking new release on wax from the good people at Gods Candy Record and on hearing this for the first time I had to congratulate the label for its good choice yet again.

 

You see the more you dig into to new music hitting the office desk (so to speak) the more patterns seem to appear and right here right now Canada is winning any race for the best straight up power pop rock n roll bands currently releasing music anywhere on the planet.  Damn, there must be something in the water right now because every time I turn on the stereo and play a Canadian band they are killing me with the tunes and Sick Things are no exception and the latest release to hit the death decks that get a toe tap and nod of approval from RPM HQ.

‘Take The Head From The Crown’ doesn’t hang about and goes straight for the kill with a foot stomper as the guitars wail and the floorboards shake this is happening, folks.  Cutting its teeth on 70’s classics like early Kiss, Cheap Trick and a healthy dose of duelling Thin Lizzy like guitars there isn’t much time to shoot the breeze and waffle because drum roll after soaring solo this is good stuff.  Before you have time to wipe the dribble of your chin ‘Boogalooser’ is shaking its backside like the finest show off wanna be guitar slinger in town this is how Biters started I’m sure of it.

It doesn’t stop there – this is no flash in the pan because if anything this record is getting stronger if anything by the time we reach ‘I Got News For You’ the riffs are getting sharper and we’re burning rubber towards Hellacopters territory maybe with a little less attitude but in the same ballpark.  Thank fuck the acoustic guitars come out for ‘We Got It Figured Out’ but only briefly were in for a classic acoustic layered rocker and who doesn’t love those BV’s?

This record is really consistent from start to finish and its quality is relentless I just hope they windmilled their way through the recordings and drank plenty of beer and are living the dream because the likes of Lynott opened up this path for others to follow and whilst the trail is still there we need bands to earn their stripes and pass through the door marked Stage ahead because the bright lights are shining and those electric guitars won’t duel themselves.

It’s got the energy and swing of that debut Black Crowes album and the attitude of prime Thin Lizzy with the melody of Cheap Trick and they even remembered the cowbell – what’s not to like for fuck’s sake this record is as much fun as is legally possible and I’m thinking you should go get some.  Eleven slices of prime good time with extra slices of solo on top – buy it!

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