WES HOLLYWOOD – Dynamite (Q&A)

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Wes Hollywood has a new album out and it’s Dynamite.

Imagine Ray Davies and Elvis Costello having a punch-up in the front row of a Cheap Trick concert.

It’s exactly what your thinking… explosive Midwestern Power Pop steeped in 60’s British Invasion and 70’s New Wave. 

 

‘Dynamite’ was released late November. And Wes Hollywood has a reason for releasing new music at the end of the year. Read all about it but more important … check out these new songs, they are great!

 

 

Can you still recall the moment music became important to you? What happened?

 

No, that is to say, it never was unimportant. A lot of people don’t hear music, it’s just “aural wallpaper” to them. I don’t get that. One of my earliest memories is receiving a 45rpm of “Sunshine on my Shoulders” and scratching out John Denver’s name with a marker and writing my own in its place. I suppose that was the exact moment!

 

 

Which is the song you wish you had written every time you hear it? And why?

 

“Walk on by” by Burt Bacharach & Hal David. It has the most infectious melody. It’s kind of perfect, as far as songs go. Anybody who has ever covered this song has done a great job with it… it can’t be played badly, the music and vocal melody don’t allow for that.

 

What would change if Disney called and told you they were going to use your song in their next movie?

 

Oh, believe me, I’d love to get a check from the mouse. It certainly would allow me the luxury to put out more releases. I suppose if Disney is sniffing you out you’re already on a lot of folks’ radar so it could lead to a record/distro deal, that would be nice.

 

 

So what about putting your ultimate band together? No restrictions. No limitations. If you want David Bowie on backing vocals and Prince on guitar, go ahead.

 

It’s a tricky question. I’m afraid I would be the weak link in any supergroup I would assemble. I’d like to front the Stranglers, hows that? However, I would much rather write songs for people, that’s kind of where my head is anyway when I write… “This would make a great Cheap Trick song” or “I can see Petula Clark recording this.”

 

What’s up for the rest of the year?

I’ve always had a habit (whether it is subconscious or just a coincidence, I will never know) of releasing albums toward the end of the year. This is great if you want to be on the tips of reviewers minds for “year-end lists” but I feel sometimes the release gets lost in the madness of the holidays. Having said that, I will continue to promote the record while submerging myself in the madness of the holidays and then start playing out to support of the new album in the new year.

I can hear music …

If you are looking for some Sweet Sweet Music play lists, here you go.

 

Power Pop – Young Timers = a greatest hits 2000 – now. Lots of new music!

 

 

 

Power Pop – the 90s

 

 

 

Power Pop – The Heydays (1975 – 1985)

 

ORBIS MAX – A Pocketfull of Tunes (Q&A)

‘The songs usually start out as a crude phone recording. Just the mic on the phone, acoustic guitar, whatever words you have and a lot of la la la singing of melodies.’, says Craig Carlstrom. 

Writing and recording in the modern age.

Orbis Max knows all about. Orbis Max is an Internet Recording Collective.

 

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Read the story about their new record (buy) and how it came together.

Sweet Sweet Music talked to Craig Carlstrom and Dennis George.

 

 

 

What was the biggest fun during the making of the last album?

 

Craig: The biggest fun was getting to play with my old pals again. And meeting and collaborating with new friends we’ve met on the internet. I’m all their biggest fan. I love hearing the parts they contribute to the songs. We’re just a bunch of old friends having a laugh writing and recording together.

 

All the recordings are done from everyone’s various locations via file sharing.

 

We haven’t all been together in the same room at the same time in decades.

 

 

At what point, during writing, rehearsing, recording, did you knew you were on to something special?

 

 

Craig: I think we start realizing we may be onto something, as everybody’s parts get added. The song shifts and changes with every overdub. It’s magical. I like to say the songs take on a life of there own.

 

The songs usually start out as a crude phone recording. Just the mic on the phone, acoustic guitar, whatever words you have and a lot of la la la singing of melodies.

 

Then our guitar player Don Baake makes a rhythm guitar and drum loop backing track. Once an arrangement is hammered out, he makes a backing track to start overdubbing onto.

 

A lot of the time the music is ready weeks before the lyrics and melodies are finalized. Once the vocals started getting put on, we can tell if we’ve hit the mark or not.

 

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The music industry has changed a lot (or so they say). What did it bring you? And what not?

 

 

Craig: The business has completely changed. There’s no record biz anymore. Anybody can make a CD with an interface and a laptop.

 

It opened up a whole alternate reality for us. The digital technology has allowed us to record with each other, even we’re scattered in all directions on the map. You can’t make any real big money anymore. But the internet has allowed us to interact with tons of like-minded musicians in a cyber community. Supporting and encouraging each other. We’ve gotten a ton of airplay on internet radio. There’s a lot of extremely talented people out there. The public craves new music by Indie artists that lamestream commercial radio won’t play. The entire scene is pretty much a DIY grassroots trip. So if you have no delusions of fame and fortune, you can enjoy making music and being heard. But if you’re looking to make a living, don’t quit your day job.

 

Dennis: I love the blank stares I get when I try to explain to people how I’ve been recording music in a band for almost three years now, doing about 16-18 songs with guys I’ve never met face to face! ??? “ Well, it’s all done online, with Dropbox file sharing.” ???

 

The meaning of ‘success’ has changed over the years. When will the new record be a success?

 

Craig: When will the new record be a success. Just getting it released is a success as far as I’m concerned. Don’t get me wrong, some sales would be nice. If some people hear it, and it gets some nice words written about it and some airplay, then it’s a success.

 

 

Can you still recall the moment music became important to you? What happened?

 

 

Craig: Music became important to me the night I saw The Beatles on Ed Sullivan. I was 10 years old. A life-changing moment. Wasn’t exactly sure what I just witnessed, but man, I sure liked it. Was never right in the head after it! Lol.

 

Got a Sears and Robucks acoustic guitar for Christmas 1965 and never looked back.

 

Proud?

 

Craig: Yes I’m extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished. Especially the way we’ve done it. Via file sharing. I think these recordings sound like we’re in the same room, playing with each other.

 

We played together so much growing up, that there’s a chemistry between us that kicks in automatically. We know what each other’s going to do before we do it. We trust each other’s musical instincts.

 

 

Which is the song you wish you had written every time you hear it? And why?

 

 

Craig: Fall Down by Thomas Walsh. Performed by Pugwash. That song kills me every time I hear it. The first time I heard it, I played it 10 times in a row. It’s just a perfect pop song.

 

 

Do you feel part of a community, the power pop community?

 

 

Dennis: I think we all feel very much a part of the power – Pop community. At this stage of the game, they are our biggest audience, lol. We root for each other with each new song that is picked up by one of our online DJs, who are also mutual friends and a central hub for all of us. We correspond with many of our fellow musicians who become friends, contributors, and co-Conspiracists in this game we’re all obsessed with.

 

 

If the budget was unlimited, how would you record the next record?

 

 

Dennis: If money were no object, I think we’d find a way to get together for a few weeks to bang out an entire album together, all in one room together, in a creative frenzy, if we’d survive it, lol. Even better if we could buy all the technology to allow us to see each other and play together in real time, from our distant locations, each night after work. We could do a lot of creating that way, cover a lot of material, go with the good stuff when the muse strikes and throw out the chaff.

HOT NUN – Born to Blaze (Q&A)

‘Every artist should make a loud, fast dumb rock record once in a while.’, says Jeff Shelton. His band Hot Nun just released Born to Blaze.

It might be ‘dumb’. It, for sure, is ‘loud’ and ‘fast’. Most of all, it’s GREAT!

 

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What was the biggest fun during the making of the last album?

 

Over the years, HOT NUN has been an outlet for me to explore the more aggressive side of power pop…to release the barriers, crank the distortion and cut loose. The most fun and liberating aspect of making music are not limiting yourself to any boundaries. Every artist should make a loud, fast dumb rock record once in a while.

 

 

 

 

Can you still recall the moment music became important to you? What happened?

 

Spring of 1982 when the local Top 40 station switched over to “new wave” and opened the door to a floodgate of modern rock artists I had never heard before…most of whom were making extraordinarily unique and ground-breaking music. Will there ever be another Wall of Voodoo or Oingo Boingo? I doubt it.

 

Which is the song you wish you had written every time you hear it? And why?

 

Just the other day I was listening to Kirsty MacColl’s original version of “They Don’t Know”. This one ranks right up there with God Only Knows…or the best of the Beatles. Not a note wasted or out of place. To this day it’s one of the most glorious pop songs ever written…and I lament the fact that she left us way too soon.

 

If the budget was unlimited, how would you record the next record?

 

It probably wouldn’t be a HOT NUN record because I would go full on Sgt. Pepper and ask for every instrument under the sun …and hours upon hours of time in a huge warehouse studio to amuse me. Mellotrons, pianos, organs, walls of synthesizers….a string section at my beck and call and an interpreter to score melodies for them to play. I wouldn’t waste money on engineers or “producers” but on time and toys!

 

Every family birthday, same story. Again, you have to explain what kind of band you are in. What’s the story this time for aunt Jenny and uncle Clive?

 

For people who don’t know “power pop” or the nuances of indie & alternative music, I would describe my album as music you can hum along with and pump your fist to at the same time. If your mom likes it AND it also rocks, it might just be HOT NUN.


Hot Nun is Jeff Shelton (former Spinning Jennies/Well Wishers) and Braden McGraw (Disastroid/Headslide)


 

P. Hux talks about This Is The One

‘Honey Sweet Baby’ has been haunting me for months now. The song has it all. Those lyrics, that melody. Beautiful!

P. Hux released This Is The One a couple of months ago and it is packed with great songs.

 

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At what point, during writing, rehearsing, recording, did you knew you were on to something special?

 

The title song for THIS IS THE ONE began as a throwaway track. It had energy, but it was just a rough idea. My drummer Ricky did his take in 15 minutes. The words weren’t finished. I actually asked Robin Zander to sing it because the original melody was too high for me, but that didn’t come to pass.

 

Still, I thought there was something there, so I re-wrote the melody and that did the trick. It began to sound really good. I kept making improvements, adding little bits here and there and the final product, including the Greek cicadas (!), kinda blew my mind. I was so pleased that we’d pulled the song out of the trash bin and turned it into something I was proud of. From that point on, I felt like the whole album had some magic to it.

 

 

The meaning of ‘success’ has changed over the years. When will the new record be a success?

 

Great question! “Success” is no longer defined by hard numbers like sales and chart position. My records all sell about the same amount and without a huge marketing budget, I don’t expect that to change.

 

So, I judge success by other criteria. First of all, is the record good? Did it turn out the way I wanted? With THIS IS THE ONE, I’d say absolutely yes. Success!

 

Did it receive radio play? THIS IS THE ONE is receiving radio play on some great stations. Again, with little to no marketing budget, that is a success, for sure.

 

Are my fans and critics excited? THIS IS THE ONE has received an over the top reaction from fans of my music. Many people are saying it’s my best ever or best since “Deluxe” etc. That’s a true gauge of listener interest.

 

I’m still making records, and maybe even making the best music of my life. That’s a huge success in my mind.

 

 

Magic can happen when you are playing in front of a crowd. Can you recall such a moment?

 

I’ve had many moments in front of a crowd that has felt magical. Two come immediately to mind. 1983, the Pier, Raleigh, North Carolina. My band Rick Rock had a hit with our single “Buddha, Buddha” b/w “Sputnik.” No one knew anything about us other than those two songs, but we’d secretly rehearsed for nine months. We had a full set of polished music and the crowd stuck with us for the entire show. We could do no wrong. They chanted the band’s name as a football crowd might, and we were brought back for encores…despite being the opening act on the bill.

 

A wonderful night. May 23, 2006, at Shepherds Bush Empire in London. I was on a UK tour with The Orchestra (ELO Former Members). London was our ninth show, so every note in the set was locked down tight. As a band, we couldn’t have sounded better. We opened with Evil Woman and when we got to the chorus the heaving crowd sang it louder than we did! They kind of blew us back a little bit, to our surprise and delight. From that point forward it was ON. The love between band and crowd couldn’t have been more intense. The whole night was spectacular, musically, emotionally, physically.

 

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If the budget was unlimited, how would you record the next record?

 

I would pick a sunny destination with a great studio. I’d send plane tickets to all my musical friends. I’ve played with so many great musicians over the years, it would be a dream come true to get them all together with nothing to do but hang out and make music.

 

What would change if Disney would call and tell you they are going to use your song in their next movie?

 

I HAVE a song in a Disney movie. Nothing changed! The song is called “Wake Me Up (When The World’s Worth Waking Up For)” and it appeared in Disney’s “The Other Sister.” Yes, I’ve made a few hundred dollars, but other than that…no big deal. Now, if I were to write all the music for a remake of the Lion King, yeah, that would probably change things.

 

KEN SHARP talks about ‘Beauty in the Backseat’

‘There is always a thread of sadness and melancholy with much of the songs I write.’, says Ken Sharp.

His latest record ‘Beauty in the Backseat’ was released a couple of months ago.

Muen magazine raves: ‘…the “feel good” record of the upcoming fall season, Sharp’s latest beams golden rays of sunshine—casting Beatles-sized hooks, while brimming with Beach Boys inspired appeal.’.

Already nominated for two awards in LA Music Critics Awards for Best Album and Best Pop Artist.

 

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“24 Hours A Day,” that’s classic you, that’s classic Power Pop, isn’t it?

 

Yes, that song is total full on power pop with big capital letters! The song “24 Hours A Day” was inspired by a cool album that I love by The Partridge Family called “Sound Magazine.” There was a song on that album with the same title and I always loved that title. As a challenge, I tried to come up with my own song with that title.

 

I’m very happy with the song as it is pure power pop and goes over well when I played it live. But with my new album, “Beauty In The Backseat,” I have to stress that it’s not just a power pop album but covers a much broader spectrum of music. It’s all over the map, you’ll find R&B/soul pop, baroque rock, ’70s glam and more.

 

 

 

 

You have your own style, by using a lot of different influences. Does that come naturally?

 

 

In terms of my influences coming out in my music, that is natural. I have diverse musical tastes and love everything from Elvis to the Beatles, Stevie Wonder to Hall and Oates, Small Faces to Todd Rundgren and all points in between. I think I’m now more comfortable being free to allow the variety of influences I have come out in my music instead of writing music that just fits the power pop mode.

 

 

You are “on the sad side of the note” most of the time?

 

 

Yes, that is very perceptive of you. There is always a thread of sadness and melancholy with much of the songs I write. My “New Mourning” album lays all the sadness and darkness in the grooves, lots of “blood on the tracks,” so to speak. During the writing and recording of that record, in particular, I was going through a very tough time and the deep blue melancholy is reflected in all the songs. But what I try to do so you don’t want to slit your wrists being totally bummed out is I often counteract the sadness in the lyrics with music that has an uplifting and upbeat melody.

 

My new album, “Beauty In The Backseat” is a much more upbeat album lyrically, although there are some songs on there that delve deep into melancholy like “No One Seems To Stay Together Anymore,” “Sinking” and “The Hardest Part.” Those are among my favorites on the album and are profoundly sad lyrically.

As my life has its share of dips and valleys I find the sadder songs reflect more of what I’m going through but try to counteract that with songs infused with a much more positive flavor and lyrical slant.

 

 

Nowadays recording a record seems easier then getting it heard. How do you manage?

 

 

Yes, I agree with that. There is a proliferation of people making and recording music and that makes it much more difficult to break through and reach an audience. How do you garner attention and an audience is a major challenge for lesser known artists like myself around the world.

 

 

Those last 2 album covers are beautiful. Looks like you found a theme?

 

Certainly, with those two albums, there is a visual correlation with the covers. My next album will have an album cover that is something different from that vibe. Glad you liked the two covers, I came up with the concepts and two very talented friends/ designers worked hard on those—hats off to John Sellards and Bernie Hogya.

 

 

Looking forward to 2019?

 

 

Yes, I’m very much looking forward to 2019. I hope to have another album out by the end of next year. I’m focused on working hard at my craft in an effort to keep getting better as an artist and songwriter and I want to push myself to get music out on a more regular basis. BIG kudos to my co-producer Fernando Perdomo for helping me realize my musical dreams.

 

Sweet Sweet Music – Best of 2018

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3 Best Records of 2018

 

  1. Bird Streets – Bird Streets
  2. Sloan – 12
  3. Rob Bonfiglio – Trouble Again

 

117 Best Songs of 2018

 

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  1. The Late Show – Sha La La (Wake Me When You’re Done)
  2. Sloan – Spin Our Wheels
  3. RVG – Vincent van Gogh
  4. Fireproof Sam and the Network Stars – Old Trope Academy
  5. Bird Streets – Direction
  6. Culture Abuse – Dozy
  7. Ruler – Petrified
  8. Gretchen’s Wheel – Plans
  9. Van Go – Miles Away
  10. Tony Clifton – Making Love
  11. Extra Arms – Why I Run
  12. Rob Bonfiglio – Passenger Seat
  13. Sunshine Boys – Tripping Through Time
  14. Ex Norwegian – Team No Sleep
  15. Car City – (Don’t) Give Up on Love
  16. Jeff Whalen – The Alien Lanes
  17. P. Hux – Honey Sweet Baby
  18. Ash – Confession in the Pool
  19. Albert Hammond Jr. – Far Away Truth
  20. Mozes and the Firstborn – Sad SuperMarket Song
  21. Sure Sure – Friends
  22. Autogramm – Jessica Don’t Like Rock ‘n’ Roll
  23. The Innocents – Teardrop Kiss
  24. The Grip Weeds – Casual Observer (To a Crime)
  25. Bent van Looy – Never Look Back
  26. Guided by Voices – Cohesive Scoops
  27. Bob Mould – Sunshine Rock
  28. Sweden – Back Again
  29. Last Great Dreamers – Primitive Man
  30. Nick Piunti – Temporary High
  31. Valley Lodge – Stand
  32. Hurry – Jamie
  33. Chris Church – Fall into Me
  34. Michael Slawter – Summer’s Kind
  35. Caddy – Contagious
  36. The Foreign Films – Shadow in The Light
  37. Rooftop Screamers – Talk About It
  38. Dave Paulson – Turning Around
  39. Hot Nun – Anyway
  40. Chris Richards and the Substractions – Call me Out
  41. Scott Gagner – Ghost of Me & You
  42. Paul Collins – Killer Inside
  43. The 1984 Draft – Wedding
  44. Dot Dash – Gray Blue Green
  45. The Chills – Complex
  46. Matthew Sweet – Out of My Misery
  47. The Bottle Kids – Her Heart Is Much Worse Than Her Bite
  48. The Stan Laurels – I Want To Believe
  49. The Gunboat Diplomats – If Summer Could Stay
  50. Anchor & Bear – Walking Around
  51. Jackie Daytona – California
  52. Bryan Estepa – No Ordinary
  53. Caper Clowns – Paper Trail
  54. Mooner – The Whole World Falls Down
  55. Smash Palace – It Happened To Me
  56. Michael Simmons – Rudderless Day
  57. Lane Steinberg & His Magical Pony – You’re Not Connected to the Internet
  58. The Davenports – Where Shall We Hang Elena?
  59. Lisa Mychols – One Revolution
  60. Greg Pope – Forget About You
  61. Three Hour Tour – Standing Still
  62. Dave Sheinin – Lies
  63. Tim Jackson – Better late Than Never
  64. Arthur Alexander – Psycho-Automatic
  65. Tom Curless – Always Bloom Forever
  66. The Glad Machine – Homecoming
  67. Phil Yates & The Affiliates – My Favorite Bag
  68. Andy Reed & Jason Reed – The Welcoming Song
  69. Super 8 – Turn Around Or
  70. Stoner Control – Gimme Some Space
  71. The Good Sax – She Knows
  72. Gentle Hen – She’s Got it Bad
  73. Young Scum – Wasting Time
  74. Kai Danzberg & Lisa Mychols – Let Me Know
  75. The Maureens – 4AM
  76. The Yearlings – Evelene (You’ve Go to Know It)
  77. The Beths – Future me Hates me
  78. The Genuine Fakes – Issues
  79. The Thin Cherries – I Don’t Know You All
  80. The Rallies – All of Us
  81. Mike Pace and the Child Actors – Escape The Noise
  82. The Great Affairs – Trippin’ over Me
  83. The Pretty Flowers – Cream of Canvas
  84. Pale Blue Dot – I know
  85. Claw Boys Claw – Suck Up The Mountain
  86. The Interrupters – She’s Kerosene
  87. Jeremy & The Harlequins – Remember This
  88. Elliot Schneider – I Second That Amendment Blues
  89. Mylittlebrother – Love song for an Island
  90. Bad Moves – Cool Generator
  91. The Hunna – NY to LA
  92. Billy & Dolly – Archies
  93. The Connection – Checking
  94. Simon Love – God Bless The Dick Who Let you Go
  95. In Deed – Don’t Need, Don’t Care
  96. Deniz Tek – Eddie Would Go
  97. Three Hour Tour – You Never Know
  98. The Cherry Bluestorms – She Said She Said
  99. Everet Almond – Keep Quite Now
  100. Streetcar Conductors – Pushover
  101. The Cherry Drops – One More Try
  102. The Newds – Freebasing Your Love
  103. Addison Love – Anything’s Right
  104. Andrew McMahon In The Wilderness – Paper Rain
  105. Thrift Store Halo – Concrete Sky
  106. Even – Pretender
  107. Aaron Lee Tasjan – The Truth Is So Hard to Believe
  108. Luv Dot Gov – What’s Going On
  109. The Gold Needles – My Summer’s Angel
  110. The Persian Leaps – Time Slips
  111. Mike Viola – King Kong Hand
  112. Danny Wilkerson – You Still Owe Me a Kiss
  113. David Myhr – Lucky Day
  114. Smokescreens – Waiting For Summer
  115. The Longshot – Love is for Losers
  116. Paul McCartney – Who Cares
  117. Bill Lloyd – Satellite

Listen to most of these songs and other Power Pop ‘Young Timers’ on Spotify.