Emperor Penguin – Soak up the Gravy

 

Emperor Penguin is back with a new album Soak up the Gravy. It will be released on January 17th on CD via Kool Kat Musik and is available now to stream and downloadfrom all the usual online outlets.

The album comprises 14 original tracks and the new songs are as eclectic as ever, with inspiration ranging from Japanese kids’ cartoons to the philosopher Thomas Aquinas. There are noisy guitars, catchy tunes and some more elaborate arrangements and productions than on previous EP releases. The album opens with art rocking pop tune ‘Hello Picasso’, features a live brass section on the anthemic ‘Hole in Your Soul’, has a guest lead vocal from ‘Queen of Power Pop’ Lisa Mychols on the jazzy ‘Speedwell Blue’ and closes with curry-flavored psych-pop epic ‘The Burning Man’. It’s a selection box of delights with something for everyone.

 

EP_SUTG_CD_COVER

 

Neil Christie explains.

 

 

 

What was the moment you knew you were on to something?

 

We’re still waiting for that moment…

 

How did this record come together?

 

Same way as usual: we work independently on the idea for a song. The writer usually shares a rough Garageband home demo with the rest of the band, who make suggestions for amendments, edits, and additions to music and lyrics. Usually, we do this by making changes to that original demo and then sharing them around. A song can evolve through various versions over a few months before ending up in its final form. Or sometimes, as with Nigel’s original demo for Brand New Yesterday, the first time we hear it we all just say, ‘Yeah, that one’s done.’

 

For the latest album Soak Up The Gravy, we wrote the songs over a period of about six months and then spent another few months recording and fiddling with them in spare time over evenings and weekends. Neil did a home mix in Pro Logic of all the demo’d tracks and then we took the tracks to Bill Sherrington at Crown Lane Studios in Morden for final mix and mastering.

 

 

When did you decide to start asking for opinions on the new songs?

 

The only opinion we seek when working on new songs is each other’s. If one of us comes up with something the rest of the band likes, then together we try to turn it into a song. Sometimes, like a cat setting before its owner a mangled bird, one of us submits something that displeases the others. In that case, we delicately flush the rejected song down the toilet.

 

As an artist, you chose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?  

 

Completely comfortable: the world is equally indifferent to our sentimental displays as are we ignorant of its opinion.

 

Any ideas about how to turn this one into a million-seller?

 

Haha haha. No. All suggestions welcome.

 

You can pick 3 co-writers to write new songs with. Who? … and Why?

 

Lyrics are tricky. So, I’m going to go for John Donne, Philip Larkin, and W.H. Auden. They each have a wonderful way with words.

 

What’s the gig you will always remember? And why?  

 

Prince, at Koko in Camden. An amazing performance and he made it all look like effortless fun. Genius.

 

 

 

When was the last time you thought ‘I just wrote a hit!’?

 

If we thought that, we were dreaming! But we’re not really thinking about writing hits. We’re just trying to write songs that, when finished, seem… not ugly and awkward and wrong. A good song sounds unexpected yet somehow inevitable and correct. If you can hear the effort that went into nailing it together, then something’s not right.

 

Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?

 

If a song drops in the middle of the internet and no-one hears it, does it make a sound?

 

Which five records would you bring with you for your stay on Mars?

 

Here’s today’s list. Tomorrow’s will be different. When do we actually depart for Mars?

 

The Beatles – Revolver

Joni Mitchell – Blue

Television – Marquee Moon

The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds

Al Green – Greatest Hits

 

Playing music in front of a crowd. What’s all the fun about?

 

It’s simultaneously terrifying and difficult and – when it goes well – exhilarating.

 

You can’t control the way people ‘hear’ your music. But if you could make them aware of certain aspects, you think, set your songs apart. What would they be?

 

If our songs are in any way distinctive, it’s because of the things that we couldn’t change even if we wanted to. In the same way that it’s hard to disguise your handwriting or your accent, the way we play is just who we are. Lyrically, we do try to write about subjects that are a bit less well-worn than genre clichés. So, there are songs on the new album inspired by everything from Samuel Taylor Coleridge, to government public information films of the 1970s, to the philosopher and Saint Thomas Aquinas.

 

Vinyl is back, Spotify is ruling, tickets for concerts are becoming more and more expensive, everybody can record songs, social media is the marketing tool, Coldplay stops touring … how will the music industry look like in 5 years?

Who can say what changes will be brought in the next five years by technology? But let’s hope that the current grim political climate will provoke a culture of musical revolt. The Thatcher years gave us punk. Let’s hope a musical upheaval that is equally exciting and provocative comes out of the Trump / Boris mess.

Norman – Buzz and Fade

 

There are albums of unknown bands that sound like albums of very famous bands. ‘Buzz and Fade’ by Norman is such an album. The quality of the songs is so high that it is hard to believe that Coldplay is better known than Norman. The two bands don’t have much in common but they both write melodies that you accept from the first listen that they must have always been there. If that is the definition of ‘timeless’ then Norman makes timeless Indie Pop. It rocks and pops and it is above all very pleasant.

 

norman

 

Eric Nordby explains.

 

 

How did this record come together?

 

We’ve been a band for 15 years now, and as time has gone on people got wrapped up in life; School, families, careers, and we’ve always tried our best to make room for Norman because there’s something special about getting in the same room with these guys.  It’s like that same feeling when you don’t see someone for a year and then you get coffee and you feel like you saw them the day before.  It feels like that to play music with this group.  That being said, we had a major undertaking in releasing something new.  We recorded this album for a bit over a year and a half in Portland, and although it’s been 5 or 6 years since we’ve put something out, we want to make sure that we’re putting out something that really deserves the listen, and something we’re really excited about playing live.

 

 

 

When did you decide to start asking for opinions on the new songs?

 

We were stuck in this musical whirlpool for a while, writing demos, messing with ideas and had just over 20 different ideas and songs we had penned, and it seemed like we just needed to get another voice in the room.  Adam, our drummer suggested a producer he had the opportunity to work with earlier in the year that might be a clear candidate for producing the songs and perhaps help shine a light on what would be good to work on.  When we first played demos to Danny he immediately trimmed the list down to 14 ideas, then 11, and from there we went into the first session with producer, Danny O’Hanlon.  It was brutal some days.  Danny challenged the hell out of us, to write a cohesive album and not just a personal diary of songs.  The songs needed a voice and to tell a story in 3 minutes.  I felt like I was back in songwriting class and guitar 101 some days.  Ultimately I believe we all became a better band because of it, and there was some real unity we had going into recording the album.  We weren’t allowed to hide behind what our ideas of what the songs should be anymore.  The songs were stripped of what we found familiar or comfortable.  I remember the first sessions we were told we weren’t allowed acoustic guitar, harmonica, no piano tones, only synth and electric.  In the same way, you become attached to a certain genre or sound it’s easy to become attached to a composition, lyrics, or what a song is about, that the song becomes this linear thing that isn’t necessarily as good as it could have been had you given in to letting the elements of the song serve the overall compassion.  So, I guess share your music, and collaborate, because there is a lot to be gained from that kind of vulnerability.

 

 

 

As an artist, you chose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so? 

Sometimes sharing the songs that feel like they’re a story from the pages of your life is the most challenging.  One of the hard parts with that is being able to disconnect from the music in a way that serves the song, so it can exist without you and mean something to someone else. And of course, it’s uncomfortable.

 

Any ideas about how to turn this one into a million-seller?

I’m sure we could come up with some kind of scheme scheme.  Maybe get the cops on our side by saying people need to buy a copy as a diversion to their parking ticket.  Or it could be alike a Willy Wonka golden ticket thing where they win a free horse or something if they get the ticket from the album, like a lottery.  Make the album super rare by burying all the copies at the garbage dump like the ET Atari game, and then 30 years later everyone tries to find that RARE album and it becomes this mystery that everyone is trying to uncover, bootlegs everywhere, t-shirts, hysteria.

 

 

 

You can pick 3 co-writers to write new songs with. Who? … and Why? 

 

Ray Davies – There’s something really special about how honest and sentimental and appreciative for the small things in life.  Ray does this turnaround in songs like “Do You Remember Walter” and “Some Mother’s Son” this is victorious and celebratory even when life dishes out the unexpected.

Laetitia Sadier – Would absolutely love to write something colorful and wild with one of my favorite songwriters.  Laetitia is always challenging the way I experience music, and her voice is absolutely gorgeous.

Nils Frahm – When I hear a composer that interacts with the world in the way Nils does it reminds me of how small and insignificant I am.  In the same way, I respect the landscapes that someone like John Cage or Brian Eno create I always have immense respect and admiration for those that can capture human experience musically without words.  I also am fascinated with the explorative approach Frahm takes to his works.  They are an adventure that I’m in for.

 

 

Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?

 

Absolutely getting heard is more difficult.  There’s so much out there and it’s hard to get the attention.  There’s so much music now, and it’s available everywhere.  It’s almost like you have to be an Instagram influencer or have to have the promo dollars to get a record into the hands of the right people.  I don’t want to risk sounding like an old man, because I do find new music on Spotify and look up bands new and old on blogs still, discovering most new music online unless I’m in a record store or listening to local college radio.  It’s one of the perplexing challenges of putting out a record.  How do I get people to discover it?  I think it’s one of the greatest challenges a musician faces.

 

 

 

Vinyl is back, Spotify is ruling, tickets for concerts are becoming more and more expensive, everybody can record songs, social media is the marketing tool, Coldplay stops touring … how will the music industry look like in 5 years? 

 

This year vinyl just surpassed CD sales for the first time, which is exciting to read.  I particularly enjoy vinyl as a format for the sake of the artwork and craft that goes into making a record.  I think as dark as it seems, there’s going to be this continued devaluing of music that happens, but there’s always going to be a love, need and desire for what music brings, and that’s culture, story, and memory.  I think the hard part for a lot of artists is being able to make a living as a musician, and nowadays looking to avenues like music licensing is becoming more commonplace.


 

As always Don wrote a pretty amazing review. Check it here!

Dan Israel – Social Media Anxiety Disorder

From the fiercely catchy, horn-driven power pop of the album’s opening track, “Be My Girl,” to the dark, moody contemplative drone of “Still I’m Lost,” the songs on Social Media Anxiety Disorder span a wide variety of textures and styles, pushing the boundaries of Israel’s past work. We get to hear what it sounds like when Israel works with two accomplished producers with divergent styles and approaches, and we also get to (brace yourself) hear Israel rap. A little, anyway (while also embracing stream-of-consciousness ranting and raving, that some may even find comedic). “Just Can’t Take It” finds Israel wearing some of his deep love of ‘80s synth-pop on his sleeve, while “125” takes on a haunting, psychedelic tone amidst abstract lyrical directions, and many longtime listeners might well be quite surprised at the many new and uncharted (for Israel, anyway) musical directions taken on “S.M.A.D.”

 

danisrael

 

How did this record come together?

I am a pretty prolific songwriter.  Especially since I quit my day job in 2017 – I worked for the Minnesota Legislature for 21 years and finally quit the job to do music full time a couple of years ago. Since then, I think I have had more time to work on songs and song ideas, so I had quite a surplus of ideas coming into 2019.  Then, we had a really bad winter in Minnesota (2018 to 2019) and I think it really just forced me inside and gave me a lot of time to focus on the songs.  The world seems to have been in a lot of turmoil and I had some personal turmoil that maybe fueled the songs too.  I had all these strong song ideas, and even though I had just put out an album in 2018 (“You’re Free”), I decided to work with two new producers (Jon Herchert and Steve Price) and make this record right away this past spring of 2019.  We got to work on it and it was out by October 2019, due to lots and lots of days spent in the studio, and tons of great contributions from very talented guest musicians.

 

 

 

As an artist, you chose to show your emotions to the world.  Is it always comfortable to do so?

No.  Not always comfortable.  But for me, it’s necessary.  I’m not someone who can “keep it all inside.”  Never have been.  I think my songwriting is just an extension of my personality – I want to share my experience, my stories, with the world.  Always have been that way, ever since I was a little kid, I was telling people my stories.  But there can be blowback – believe me!  I am OFTEN accused of “over-sharing”, both in my songs and in my public comments, social media posts, etc.  It can be really hard to walk that line between showing enough of my inner state and showing TOO much of it.  So no, it is NOT always comfortable, but I essentially feel like I have no choice.  This is who I am.

 

Any ideas about how to turn this one into a million-seller?

No.  None.  Well, not really.  I don’t understand the music business anymore.  Not sure I ever did, but especially not here in 2020.  I really don’t understand the WORLD in 2020.  I do know that if my music was to be more “contextualized” – that is if it was to be used in movies and TV shows where the emotions and stories could be “demonstrated” by pairing them with scenes and images that corresponded well to the songs, I think it’s possible it would be embraced by a much larger audience.  But a million-seller these days, for a rock album?  Who even sells a hundred thousand records in rock these days?  I’m not sure I want to know.  Not very many artists, and frankly many of the rock artists these days who DO sell a lot are…not very good.  But I do want more commercial success – you better believe I do.  I need a record label, first of all – someone who helps me push this out there.  That would be a good start – some kind of indie label deal and/or some film/TV placements.  Let’s go with that!  I also need more touring support – someone to help me book shows in Europe and around the US so I can bring my music directly “to the people” more often and with better shows.  All of that would help – but I still doubt I’d sell a million!

 
Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?

Yes.  Absolutely, it is. It’s not that it’s THAT easy to make a record – it still takes work, and time, and money – but it definitely is cheaper than it used to be, with digital technology.  You still have to really spend a lot of time to make something worthwhile.  But manufacturing costs are way cheaper and all of that.  What’s hard is getting it to be heard, above the “noise” of so MANY releases out there, constantly.  The lower costs have frankly made it easier for EVERYONE to make a record – which is great, but hard too, when you’re someone like me on his 15th record and it seems like you’re competing for attention with everyone who ever had a song idea and a basement recording rig.  I am not saying people shouldn’t make their records – but the flood of music has definitely made it harder to get my music heard.  The Internet is a great tool for promotion, and yet also terrible because there is so much “overload” and of course the payments for streaming are SO bad, but that’s another subject for another day!

 

 

 

Which 5 records would you bring with you for your stay on Mars?

Well, first of all, I’d be very scared to GO to Mars, but that was not the point of your question!  This is always a tough one, but I’ll try not to overthink it – here goes:
Beatles – White Album

Rolling Stones – Exile on Main Street (hey, if I’m only getting 5 records, you’d better believe I’m going to bring as many double albums to Mars with me as possible!)
Bob Dylan – Bringing It All Back Home (I’m a huge Dylan fan, so very hard to pick one fave, but I’ve been SO into this one again lately)
Tom Petty – Hard Promises (same as my Dylan problem, can’t really pick just one, but I’ll go with that one for now)
Robert Johnson – The Complete Recordings (I always go back to this one)

 

Meet The Speedways!

speedways

 

One record, one gig. At least that was the intention, but the plans have changed. Fortunately. In May the follow-up to ‘Just Another Regular Summer’ will be released, the sensational good debut album. The Speedways is Matt Julian’s band and he is inspired by the music of Paul Collins, Cheap Trick, The Cars, Tom Petty and The Exploding Hearts, among others. And the good thing is, you can hear that inspiration on all songs.

Buy here.

With every song you write are you learning to become a better songwriter?

 

Kind of yeah. You learn what it is that you do best. Lyrically I always try to improve. I do think that the more you write the more bad habits you lose – which is a good thing – Your arrangements become better and you don’t over complicate things as much.

 

As an artist, you chose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?

 

I had a moment on stage once when I was singing ‘Regular Summer’ where I suddenly realized I was telling a room full of people what a broken man I am! ..but for the most part, it’s not an issue at all. I like to write that kind of sad songs.

 

 

Any idea how to turn this one (forthcoming new album ‘Radio Sounds’) into a million-seller?

 

I think that ship sailed a long time ago! but I do believe whatever level you are you should aim to make a ‘hit’ record. You have to allow yourself the chance to think “what will I wear on Top Of The Pops?” otherwise there’s no point making a record is there? It’s gonna be a strong album and I hope people like it – a million of them!

 

What’s the gig you will always remember & why?

 

The first one (which was supposed to be the only one) at The Finsbury in London. Lots of friends made the effort to be there and we played a great set. The Baby Shakes were on the front row singing along next to my monitor. It was the most ‘Power Pop’ moment in history. We’d only had a couple of rehearsals but we nailed it. I also thought the show at the Wurlitzer Ballroom in Madrid was great too. Our first time in Spain and it was a busy night. People knew the words which was flattering as fuck! I really enjoyed that one.

 

When was the last time you thought “I just wrote a hit”?

 

I always think that! There’s a song on the new album called ‘In A World Without Love It’s Hard To Stay Young’ that I have a good feeling about. Not that I think it’ll be a hit single! – just that people might like that one. I remember thinking ‘Reunion In The Rain’ would have been a hit for the Ronettes in 1964…

 

speedways2

 

You can’t control the way people “hear” music, but if you could make them aware of certain aspects you think set your songs apart, what would they be?

 

I don’t know as anything sets them apart. It’s hard to answer without sounding delusional! I write catchy songs with themes of disappointment & regret. They’re quite melancholy I guess, but not in an emo way!..more of a Del Shannon way. I could never write party songs or political songs. I mean, I enjoy those kinda songs by other bands, it’s just not something I’m good at. I think love songs are the backbone of all forms of pop music & I try to write them as sincerely as I can. The first album was a ‘love letter’ to a moment in my life, the second album has songs that are a response to ‘Regular Summer’ but there are a few genre pieces too.

 

MORE KICKS – S/T (Q&A)

morekicks2

 

‘British Invasion played with a Punk Rock attitude’. It has been done many many times before. Still, if done right it is irresistible. More Kicks, a trio (Sulli – vox/guitar; Kris – drums; Paolo – bass/vox) from London, does it right. 11 short songs and an intro, what more do you want? Nothing! Whatever may happen, at least listen immediately to You Left a Stain on Me, She’s a Reaction and the superior Ain’t That Just the Way.

 

Sulli explains.

 
How did this record come together?

 

More Kicks had been a band for just over a year when we went into the studio. We started off as a three, briefly became four, then back to three again. I think musicians have a romantic view of being a trio. A ‘power trio’, people will say to me. But then very few bands actually do it because it turns out to be pretty fucking hard to pull off. I would recommend it though. There is always more legroom in the van, fewer plane tickets to buy, plus you only have to split the £50 London gig fee three ways, instead of four.

Anyway, we knew we wanted to capture the band as a live proposition, and also that the best way to do that was on tape. Gizzard Recording in London is all-analog and run by a great guy called Ed. He worked at Toe Rag Studios before setting up his own place. It’s incredible – anyone with even a small gear fetish will go in there and leave as a fully-blown analog pervert.

We only had four days for everything (recording and mixing) so we made the conscious decision to trust our instincts. If it felt good, we just move on – don’t need to waste time listening back. It was probably the most tiring but easiest recording session I ever took part in. It sounds completely natural and I’m proud of every second of it.

 

When did you decide to start asking for opinions on the new songs?

 

Pretty quickly. What usually happens is I write a song in my flat in North London. I demo it immediately – making the demo is part of the writing, really. I have a little home set up which actually grew after recording the album. As I mentioned, the studio we went to turned me into a slight analog pervert – so after recording there I bought a small Studiomaster mixing desk and a few bits of outboard gear, notably a tape delay.

After I’ve finished the demo, I go out to the shop or to the pub down the road, listening to it on my headphones. That’s my test to see how it sounds out in the real world – rather than in my claustrophobic demo-headspace in the flat. If it still feels good then I email it to Paolo (bass) and Kris (drums) to get their opinions.

 

The response is usually ‘Sounds cool! Let’s try it!’ or ‘Hmm I’m not sure. But let’s try it!” so then we start to knock it around in rehearsal. I like to think my/our quality control is quite high. There are quite a few demos that I’ve finished but never sent to them and there aren’t too many More Kicks songs that we drop or decide are too shit to play. But then again, I suppose most bands think that.

 

morekicks

 

With every song you write, are you still learning to become an even better songwriter?

 

I am always worried that I will never write another good song but the evidence suggests I still have some time left. The new songs we have for album #2 sound fantastic. All of the More Kicks album (except Young Enough, which I wrote years ago and resurrected for More Kicks – at Kris’ insistence) was written in about 12 months. So that cliche about ‘You have your whole life to write the debut album, then only 12 months to write the second record’ doesn’t apply for us.

 

The interesting point we’re at now is that some of the obvious places to go in my head have been used for the debut record. I have to dig a little deeper. So I’m finding that songs are taking a little longer to write. Something like ‘I’m On The Brink’, ‘It’s A Drag’ or ‘Your Vibration’ seriously took about 10 minutes to write from start to finish. Now I have to work a little harder to find new areas.

 

As a band, we’ve grown a lot – there are so many deceptively complicated rhythmic bits and pieces in the newer songs, even if the song still ends up being ostensibly a three-minute pop single.

 

 

 

As an artist, you chose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?

 

I suppose musically, it feels completely comfortable to stand on a stage playing music. Kris, Paolo and I have all been playing music since we were teenagers. It’s totally natural for me to be up there, playing and singing. I don’t feel shy about that at all because nothing will be scarier than playing a Muse song on a nylon-string acoustic guitar in front of the whole school when I was 14. (Don’t ask…)

 

Lyrically is probably more complicated because I wasn’t the main songwriter in a band until More Kicks. (I play in another band called Suspect Parts where I share vocals and writing with my brother-in-arms Justin Maurer). But again, I trust my instincts on what feels good and write very quickly and unconsciously.

 

Also, I’m not writing 100% autobiographical songs. Some songs are about me, some of them I don’t know exactly what they’re about, some are about friends or people I meet, some change their perspective during the song. It’s not an entirely self-obsessed endeavor.

 

Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?

 

Yes probably. Well, it’s definitely easy to record something – although it’s also easier than ever to record something that sounds shit. Recording something that sounds good is as easy/hard as it ever was. Getting it heard is tricky, yep. It seems to me that unless you have a heavy-lifting music industry behind you, the best bet is still to just be active as a band. Tour as much as you can, release new music regularly, try to be in control of as much stuff as you can. It’s not rocket science, in that respect. A lot of bands are really good at posting regularly on social media, appearing to be professional to the outside world. I find that pretty transparent and unconvincing personally, but then what do I know?

 

In the end, we’re all just doing our best with whatever tools we have. I will say that my experience with complete creative freedom (independent one-person record labels, friends doing the artwork, making our own videos, self-booking and driving tours) has been more satisfying than the experience I’ve had with major labels. This suggests that just getting on with things rather than moaning about the changing face of music/the music industry is a much better idea.

 

Playing music in front of a crowd. What’s all the fun about?

 

It’s my favorite thing to do. I am not a nostalgic person but I am a ritualistic person. I love tumbling out of the van and changing from van shoes to gig shoes. Loading heavy stuff into an empty venue that smells of beer or bleach or both. Finding a safe place for my wallet that I won’t forget later. Saying hello to the sound engineer and finding the prospect of soundcheck insufferable even though it’s the first thing I’ve have done that day and it literally takes me three minutes to set up my stuff. Drinking one beer and one water from the backstage fridge. Shaving in the venue bathroom to feel more awake – finding a gap in the mirror between all the band stickers. Walking around the neighborhood to see if there’s somewhere fun for a coffee or beer near the venue. Walking back to the venue and praying for a good number of people to be there. Looking for an old gig poster that I can use to write the setlist on. Asking six people for a pen and then complaining about having to write the names of 10-15 songs. Monitoring how long it takes the support band to clear their stuff from the stage and if it will affect how long we can play for. Deciding to just play the normal set anyway because ‘fuck it’. Setting up my stuff and putting a beer and water next to the setlist at my feet (I will not drink a single drop from either bottle throughout the gig). Looking up to see if I’m the first to be ready. Paolo is always ready before me, Kris always takes longer. Raising my eyebrows at my two friends as if to say ‘Ok, here we go then’. Then 30-40 minutes which go by in a flash. Those little moments where things almost fly out of control but we’re able to catch them. More Kicks gigs are pretty breathless. Literally – the songs are quite fast and there are a lot of words.

What’s up for Power Pop in 20/20?

2020

 

What’s up for Power Pop in 20/20?

We’ve been incredibly busy preparing for the release of our new single, Infinity Girl (available now! https://soundcloud.com/pravdamusic/sunshine-boys-infinity-girl), the video for the song (out on 17 Jan.) and our new album, Work and Love (out 1 May)…and so, that actually describes what’s up for us in 2020. Releasing our new record and playing as much as possible — with a definite wish to play some European dates!
 – Dag, Freda and Jackie (Sunshine Boys)

I’m currently in the middle of a delightful writing streak, thanks to my favorite nylon-string acoustic guitar, a modified Nick Drake guitar tuning, and lots of cozy fires in the fireplace. Songs are pouring out as I fumble around the fretboard, re-learning the instrument with odd new chord shapes and richer, more complex harmonic voicings. I also bought an Organelle (Critter & Guitari) synthesizer/sampler this year which is adding a very interesting contrast to the “thuddy” texture of the nylon-string acoustic.
As for inspiration, I’ve been listening to lots of Brian Eno, Enya, Michael McDonald, Marvin Gaye, Jenny Lewis, Mike Viola, Weyes Blood, Aldous Harding, George Winston, Bill Evans, and Norwegian Disco artist Todd Terje.
According to the iTunes Playlist entitled “LP5,” I currently have 12 strong contenders for the album, and about 10 more in the “LP5 Contenders” Playlist. I plan to write through the spring, go into the studio for my Birthday in late May (is there any better present one can give oneself than studio time?!?), and hopefully release the album around Fall 2021.
– Scott Gagner

I am going to hone my home recording skills and hopefully release 2 albums this year. I will also be doing more visual art. Looking forward to 2020!
– Jhohn Arlie

I’m really excited for 2020. I recorded some new songs over the past couple of months and will be releasing a new single in the next week or so. I’ll also be releasing a couple more singles with accompanying videos over the next couple of months. Including one that features Keith Slettedahl from The 88. In addition to that, I have about 5 more songs I’ll be recording that will be added to the current songs I have recorded and will release a full-length cd hopefully by the summer.
– Mike Collins (Rooftop Screamers)

In 2020 I’m planning on recording the 11 new songs I’ve got for a new LP as well as compiling the odds and sods I’ve got leftover from the last 20 years of songwriting that haven’t fitted on albums or singles into something. I’m not sure how or when any of this will be done though. At the moment everything is pie in the sky.
– Simon Love

Currently, the band and I are planning to play a bunch of gigs and continue to get the word out about the new album in 2020. We also hope to go back into the studio and record a couple of new singles that we are playing live but have yet to properly record.
– Dave Cope and the Sass

 

Which goals have been set for 2020?

My last release was a 31 song, 3 LP vinyl set accompanied by a novella. It was a large, stylistically diverse project. I’m thankful for the positive response it’s received.
This year my goal is to release a highly imaginative yet focused album.
I hope to conjure up dreamy, nostalgic songs that echo the past while simultaneously taking the listener on a new exciting adventure. I’m attempting to say more with less, using specific musical colors to paint a vivid picture; striving for creative and emotional depth while embracing minimalism. It’s my soundtrack to a moonlight drive or a magical summer day waiting in the future. The melodies, rhythms and chords are meant to warm the listener’s heart and to create musical sunshine, hopefully bringing comfort and light in dark challenging times.

What are your success criteria?

My definition of success is based on creative and personal happiness. Follow your bliss and inspiration, it will lead to wonderful things. Therefore, creating an album I love is very satisfying. At the same time, I’m always hopeful my music will reach a much wider audience. The past year has been an exhilarating roller-coaster ride; From beautiful highs to very serious health challenges. Luckily, I’ve successfully recovered.
I’ve become very mindful of small steps forward.  Success is not just monetary;
I’m very hopeful that great music/art will result in good commerce, but love, health, friendship and art are on the top of my list.

Which ideas will finally become reality?

Seeing an abstract idea come to life is always thrilling.
I think of it as creating an imaginary jukebox, spinning “greatest hits” from a parallel dimension. I’m also attempting to illuminate my new songs in musical color corresponding with the changing seasons. From the psychedelic technicolor of spring to colder, stark reverberations of winter. The sounds I’ve dreamt up are slowly coming to life, becoming reality.

What’s up for 2020?
I’d love to play more live shows, especially in Europe. I hope to continue writing, recording, producing and collaborating. I plan to release the new album with plenty of creative visuals. That’s going to be a very important component of the project.
Audio visual experimentation in general. Overall, it’s so important to keep a sense of wonder alive and to continue to grow as an artist.  I’m lucky to have a fantastic circle of creative people around me. I’m very optimistic about 2020 being a year of magical potential.
– Bill Majoros (The Foreign Films)

Yes, plans! West Coast solo tour with Tony Leventhal of The Mockers, French Solo Tour April, I Don’t Fit In book comes out on Hozac Books, Alive Records set to release ‘Another World: Best of the Archives’, details to follow! West Coast solo tour is in March.
– Paul Collins

The Resonars are gonna play Burgerama 5 in LA on March 14, touring Europe with Lenguas Largas in April/May, and hope to have a new LP out by summertime on Midtown Island Records. The Midtown Island and crew and I will continue to record the finest rock and roll music Tucson has to offer.
– Matt Rendon (The Resonars)

What do we see in 2020? Ah yes, whatever it is, The Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club should be seeing it clearly in the year of perfect vision. While we have lots of new jams in the works, we are not so quick to shed the old for the new, continuing to tour our latest effort, “End Over End”, an LP in which we take great pride. But, looking into that New Year crystal ball…yes it is fading out of the fog and into clarity…we foresee a trip to la la land! We have played some great places in the past, including New York, Liverpool and London, and this year the fortune-telling orb displays the letters “L. A.”! Stay tuned…
– William Giricz (The Bishop’s Daredevil Stunt Club)

Not sure about any new Well Wishers music on the horizon for 2020…but I’m looking forward to recording some new material with Trip Wire. I also just finished a new novel called “The Last Best Place”. Should be out shortly after the new year.
– Jeff Shelton

Futureman Records has a pretty packed slate coming up, with the XTC Tribute we’ve been working on for over a year finally seeing the light of day. Also have new stuff coming from Coke Belda, Tom Curless and the 46%, Pop Co-Op and Gretchen’s Wheel. And we have the honor of re-releasing one of our all-time favorite albums, King Radio’s “Are You The Sick Passenger?” Smart pop with lots of strings, our sweetest of sweet spots. Plus new The Legal Matters, 2020’s gonna rule!
– Keith Klingensmith (Futureman Records, The Legal Matters)

For 2020 we’ll be trying to promote our brand new 7-inch, “Hit the Floor.” We recorded it at Ardent Studios in Memphis, where Big Star, Gin Blossoms, and so many others made their great records. We then had it mixed and mastered by Perry Leenhouts of the Travoltas. The record came out great, and we just got them in here at the very end of the year. So those will start shipping next week. Vista Blue will likely slow down in 2020 for the first time in five years, but we will be starting a new project called Ralphie’s Red Ryders. All of our songs will be based on references to the film A Christmas Story, an idea that will probably be much funnier to your American readers! We’re planning our CD release for November, but we may do a digital single or two along the way as we write and record the tracks. Those are our only current plans for 2020. Thanks for the support as always!
– Mike Patton (Vista Blue)

My new album is being mastered late February/early March so I’m looking at a Spring release. I haven’t performed live shows for a while so if I could figure out a way to get back out there that could be fun. I’ll continue to write and record new material. Beyond that, I’ll just walk the earth lol!
– Ed Ryan

I’m currently working on my next album, which is approaching the halfway point of completion. So my immediate plans are to finish writing and recording the rest of the album. It will probably be finished by spring. My goal is to make something honest, challenging and not too easy to categorize…which is hopefully what people have come to expect by now! In addition to releasing the album, I hope to continue to participate in interesting projects and collaborations with other artists.
– Lindsay Murray (Gretchen’s Wheel)

I plan on new a The Junior League record for next year (an updated version of a record I put out under my own name years ago called “Fall Back”) as well as maybe an EP. Also planning to play shows in places I haven’t played or have never played next year!
– Joe Adragna (The Junior League)

The High Strung are in the midst of recording (in a couple of basement studios) a 30+ song double album tentatively titled “Southfield: The Center of It All.” We hope to have it completed and available by autumn of 2020. The five of us have very exciting personal, family, and creative things happening this year! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and the readers of the Sweet Sweet Music Blog!
– The High Strung

The Newds will finally release the ‘Drawing a Line’ album as the money is in place to do so ha. Also, The Newds has already recorded 3 tracks for our Stripped (Acoustic album) which be a very simple album focusing on our songs. We are back in the Cavern in May for more live fun, hope to see some of you there.
– Paul Meagher (The Newds)

We’re finishing up the new album this Saturday (mixing notes etc.) and plan on releasing the new LP in early 2020. Same old me but a new band and of course new songs. We recorded this album with the band all playing together in the studio. Still some overdubs of course but I really dig the vibe we have on this batch of songs.
– Nick Piunti (Nick Piunti & The Complicated Men)

In 2020 I will be bringing my tour playing “Touched” and more to Spain, and back to the USA for more dates, and will be performing in Lebanon as well. But, even more significantly, we will be finishing up our work on the Posies ninth album, and hopefully, getting it out as well!
– Ken Stringfellow (The Posies)

For 2020, Peter Holsapple Combo heads to 30A Songwriters Festival in Florida this January, then the band goes on hold for most of the year while I restart my solo acoustic career as well. I put out four records in 3 years, and I feel like I could keep on doing this until I die. That’s good, right?
– Peter Holsapple

We actually JUST released something brand new, which is a cover of “Linus and Lucy” from the Peanuts cartoons. You can find that here.
Apart from that, my new album that came out this year was the biggest thing I’ve ever done, and a huge dream of mine for so long, that I haven’t really thought much what to do beyond that.
I think I’d like to release a few singles, so I don’t keep people waiting too long. I was happy to release one already, feels good to keep things going!
And since I have a live band now, I’d love to tour more.
Maybe another music video too. Who knows what the future holds?
– Juan Antonio Lopez (Sofa City SweetHeart)

The John Sally Ride just put out a new single called Far From Eaten Out. There will be another single or two, then an entire new album. Your blog had a lot to do with the new album. When you interviewed me, I mentioned hoping to play with a guitar player named Joe Pampel. He has joined the band and his guitar playing has truly added to the band. Thank you for making this happen!!
– John Dunbar (The John Sally Ride)

For 2020 I want to do something else with Caddy than recording a whole album and do everything all over again. So I decided to record a mini-album with covers that will hopefully be released in the spring. It will be 6 songs, hidden gems that I don’t think many have heard but totally fit into my Caddy sound. It should be a lot of fun and not so much pressure and time-consuming to write and record my own songs. But I will probably start doing that later in 2020 .
I’m also releasing the first Caddy album ‘Electric Hero’ digitally 17. January.
– Tom Dahl (Caddy)

I am releasing a covers album called “That’s All Folks” and a compilation of unreleased tracks called “Sad Balloons” under the Argentinian label Eternal Sunday. Also, I will be playing lots of solo gigs in Spain.
– Juan Pablo Mazzola (Baby Scream)

Lots of new products being recorded and released as The Toms and my alternate band HORIZONTAL LADIES CLUB!
– Tom Marolda (The Toms)

I’m releasing a new full-length record in February called ‘Kingdom of Sleep’. I’m playing two weeks’ worth of shows in Belgium in February. More music to follow hope you’re well.
– Jonny Polonsky

I was signed to Tender Loving Empire in Portland, which was a huge dream come true for me. I’ve always been a fan of the label’s roster and am really excited about all of it.I have a new record releasing on 2/14/2020, and will be going on tour for about five weeks in the spring. First a west coast leg, then an east coast.And maybe some international touring later in the year. It might be fun, it’ll surely also be a lot of work!
– Mo Troper

I have been working hard this year and a new record is coming in 2020. I finally found a dedicated band so this record will be billed as ‘Tom Curless and the 46%’. Mostly band tracks with a few solo tracks with me playing everything peppered in. I am excited as this is shaping up to be a strong record. Hopefully, a Futureman records release in the spring. Stay tuned more to come!!
– Tom Curless

2020 is going to be a fun one. From a producer standpoint, there is a record coming out from an artist named Amy Petty that I’m very excited for everyone to hear. We are also close to wrapping up ‘The Legal Matters’ third album which is coming along nicely. I have also assembled a Tom Petty tribute record that features a lot of the artists that I record and produce. It should be out in mid-2020 as well.
– Andy Reed

2020?…. working on the new Arthur Alexander album, the re-release of the second Sorrows album “Love Too Late”. Also hopping to finally break out of the LA club scene and take Arthur Alexander Band on the road and do some touring in the US as well as Europe. No rest for the wicked!
– Arthur Alexander (Arthur Alexander Band/Sorrows)

My plan for 2020 is to record a new album. I have always wanted to do a freeform album. I am not going to worry if one song is Country and others are Pop Rock or Swampy Blues. Usually, when I start an album I have a pretty clear idea of what I am trying to do. On this one, I will keep it loose. That is my plan for 2020.
– Eric Blakely (The Bottle Kids)

After releasing my last album early in 2019 I did not record any new music this year and only wrote one new song. I hope to get back on track in 2020. Also, I did a great full band show in August 2019 and hope to do another one in the spring.
– Eytan Mirsky

I’m looking forward to 2020. I’m going to start working on a new record over the winter. As of now, I’m not sure when it will be released, but it will be at some point in later 2020. I have a lot of new material written, so I’m looking forward to pushing myself a little bit during the recording process. I think it will take me in some new directions and build off of the last few records I’ve released. I don’t want to repeat myself, so I’m going to take my time with this one. I’m also starting to work on some new shows for the spring and beyond. I have some dates in the works and will start listing them over the winter. Other than that, that’s about it. 2019 was a great year for me musically and I feel my music reached a lot of new ears, so I hope to continue that trend in 2020!
– Johnny Stanec

In 2020 I will

1) work on a book I’m writing

2) tour with The Orchestra

3) tour my own music and compile songs for a new album

4) see my eldest daughter off to college

5) vote

6) learn something new.
– Parthenon Huxley

We’ve brought in a new bass player who is rapidly learning our catalog. You’ve not seen us live, Bill, Jeff and me all took a turn at the 4 string but we’ve decided to streamline the live show and cut the instrument switching. We’ve got a recording date in January for an already written next album and I’m booking us show after show.
– Marty Schneider (Trip Wire)

Hopefully more collaborations with other Indie Artists. Release more singles in 2020. Then take the 2019 singles and any 2020 songs and a few oldies from the archive, then post a downloadable compilation album on line. If any artists out there are interested in collaborating, please message me (Craig Carlstrom or Orbis 2.0 Facebook page). Looking to hear from lyric writers, singers, co-writers.
– Craig Carlstrom (Orbis Max)

For 2020 there will be a live album with the Mighty Sparrow (mixing now!), after that an exciting collaboration with Steve Burdick of The Wind which we’ve been working on for three years, and more songs with Dave Foster, more Murderers Row recordings, and possibly I’ll finally meet Alex from 8X8 and we’ll do something head-to-head.
– Lane Steinberg

The Lunar Laugh has a lot planned for 2020 already. We are concentrating doing more touring in the US (west coast, south, midwest and possibly east coast). We also are planning on a couple of new singles along with filming music videos. We have been readying our first-ever live album. Additionally, we will be working on our next studio album as well as prepping for individual solo projects.
– Jared Lekites (The Lunar Laugh)

Well, we will continue to play wherever and whenever we can with shows and festivals lined up already through the year in the UK, Belgium, Germany, and Norway. The big news though is that we have a new album out in May. Called “Don’t Blame Yourself” it’s our best one yet. Harder and more varied than the previous three, it has 13 songs of the highest genius? Our goal is that the entire world, apart from Uzbekistan (because you have to have a goal to improve next time!), will hum along!
– Duncan Reid (Duncan Reid and The Big Heads)

We released our debut mini-album, ‘Hipsters and Aeroplanes’  on the American, Kool Kat Musik label, in September 2019. It’s done well for us, making it into Kool Kat’s Top Sellers and picking up some great reviews.
And we have just released two brand new songs through the Big Stir Digital Single series ‘Wooden Buddha’ / ‘Ghosts of Rome’ – both tracks are taken from our forthcoming, full-length album, to be released early 2020 (once again on the Kool Kat Musik label) !! More info coming soon…
– James Stryring (It’s Karma It’s Cool)

In 2020 I will continue working on new music and hopefully release my new record, which will definitely be different from my records before. Though, there is no release date yet. Besides that, I’m working on other artists’ stuff.
– Kai Danzberg

Well, a bit of an 11th-hour effort. I wrote a new festive themed song on Friday which I hastily recorded and released on Saturday. I wish I’d released it earlier (say, 1st December!) but, as I say, I didn’t exist until Friday so that’s that. It features Christopher Walken!

… as for SUPER 8 musical plans for 2020. First off I’ll be picking up from my first single collaboration with America’s ‘Princess Of Power Pop’ Lisa Mychols. As you may (or may not) know, SUPER 8 released a single back in August entitled ‘Timebomb‘ featuring Lisa on guest vocals.

It was meant to be a one-off thing but we had so much fun with that one that we’ve decided to do an EP (scheduled for release early 2020) so keep an ear to the tracks for that – it’s going to be good. Following on from the SUPER 8 ‘Head Sounds – EP’ that was released in October 2019.

… I’ll also be looking to flesh this out into a full ‘Head Sounds’ album (the EP being the trailer as it were) and that’s penciled in for a Summer release. Behind the scenes, I’m also working on a brand new batch of songs for the new label ‘Subjangle’ that will probably end up as another album project. Here’s one of the shortlisted tracks for that.

As you can see then, another busy musical year ahead for SUPER 8!
– Trip (Super 8)

l’m working really hard on songs for a new album, which most likely will be recorded in June. I want to record something memorable, not just another record. I already have 9 songs which I really like. I’m aware of the league I play but I want to record a b-classic.
– Colman Gota

Looking back on this year I started the year with a couple of shows in Japan. But apart from that, it’s been a pretty calm year compared to last year when Lucky Day was released and promoted among other stuff with shows in Spain, on the American west coast, and in Sweden. But, there were indeed two small “signs of life” from me in the form of the film song single “Work of Love” and just recently my participation in a Tages tribute compilation where I’m featured with my version of “Every Raindrop Means A Lot”.
But the question was “what’s up for 2020” and the answer is that it will be very much focused on one (fantastic!) thing. The arrival of a new family member in the form of a baby girl! She’s expected in February and it will be our firstborn so I have no other plans for 2020 then becoming a father and take care of my little family.
So from a career perspective, I guess not much can be expected from the artist David Myhr for a while. But there are songs in the back of my head that I hope someday will find their way out and that I ultimately will be able to share with the world. Any year soon, but not 2020!
One thing that will happen though and which is kind of a nice surprise is a new release from my former band The Merrymakers. Sony Japan will release an album called “The Best of The Merrymakers” which is super cool and which I am really excited about. It will also contain two exclusive bonus tracks. The previously unreleased song “Everything Is Wrong” that was supposed to be on our third album that we never finished. As well as our Paul McCartney cover “No More Lonely Nights” which I remember we were really proud of.
– David Myhr

Extra Arms hope to play more shows in 2020 and work on a new album because CAN’T STOP WON’T STOP.
– Ryan Allen (Extra Arms)

Lots of new music coming out in 2020. The Quincy record has just been released digitally and CDs will be coming in February of 2020. The new full-length Rogers & Butler record (a follow up to this year’s EP ‘Diana Dors’) is scheduled for a May release on Zip Records and a new Smash Palace (Zip Records) record should come at the end of the year, just in time for Xmas. Hopefully, everything will go as planned.
– Stephen Butler (Quincy, Smash Palace, Rogers & Butler)

We’re planning on arranging some new work and hopefully hitting the studio in 2020, as well as touring full band as much as possible in the USA, and solo shows for me in the Spring!
– Johnny Leitera (Tuff Sunshine)

My plans for 2020?

  1. Continue to play live gigs on a weekly basis, including a trip to NYC in April, a week in Denver CO in September and all of the other towns and villages in the NW US, I’ve been performing on a regular basis for over 20 years.
  2. Continue to get behind my new album “Not Changing”, with radio, press, bloggers and events.
  3. Promote my seven earlier unique CD albums to the folks who have been playing “Not Changing”. I have more than that, but those eight albums have all of my published original material.
  4. Master and prepare for release an album of covers, which will include 23 tunes. 12 have never been released at all prior on CD, though two of them were released on vinyl, back in the mid-’80s. Four of them were on tribute albums but never released on one of my albums. Seven were already on one of my seven earlier CD’s but will be re-mastered. It is possible that I may record something else for it, once the time is right to move towards releasing a new album. Here is a tentative tracklisting, with little regard to the running order: “This Is Where I Belong” (Kinks) 2. “Rock and Roll Cowboy” (Cowboys) (same as “Makin’ Bacon”) 3. “You Showed Me” (Turtles/Byrds) (same as “Full Circle: A Tribute to Gene Clark”) 4. “Rebel Kind” (Modernettes) (same as “Seattle-New York-Los Angeles”) 5. “Red Light Moon” (Mike Czekaj) (same as “Jim Basnight Thing”) 6. “I Can See for Miles” (Who) (same as Who’s Not Forgotten”) 7. “Laser Love” (T-Rex) 8. “Happiness is a Warm Gun” (Beatles) (same as “It Was 40 Years Ago Today: A Tribute to the Beatles”) 9. “Cinderella” (Sonics) (same as, “Writes. Sings, Plays”) 10. “Prince Jones Davis Suite” (Medley of “April Snow” by Prince, “Win” by Bowie and “World Keeps Going Around” by the Kinks) 11. “Brother Louie” (Stories) (same as “A Tribute to the Left Banke”) 12. “Lonely Planet Boy” (NY Dolls) 13. “Midnight Mission Hit Parade” (Czekaj) (same as “Introducing Jim Basnight”) 14. “Shot Down” (Sonics) 15. “She Gives Me Everything I Want” (Hollies) (same as “Makin’ Bacon”) 16. “So Much in Love” (Rolling Stones) 17. “Just Like Darts” (Real Kids) (same as “I Wanna Be a Real Kid: A Tribute to the Real Kids”) 18. “New Guitar in Town” (Lurkers/Boys) 19. “It’s You Alone” (Wailers) (same as “Sexteen” 1985) 20. “Do Anything You Want to Do” (Eddie and the Hot Rods) 21. “Princess in Rags” (Czekaj) (same as “Recovery Room”)
  5. I am also preparing to release the original cast album of “Little Rock”, a musical I co-composed with Richard Gray. The show is based on the story of the “Little Rock Nine”, who integrated Little Rock Central High (AR) during the 1957-58 school year. It draws musically from early Rock and Roll, “Delta” Blues, 50’s Pop, R+B and Country. and Rockabilly.
  6. Continue to care for the people in my life who depend on me, like my 18-year-old kid, who is in her freshman year of college, my brother who is 53 and needs 24-hour care, my mom who is 88 and needs 24-hour care and my dog Clyde.

– Jim Basnight

“Our second ep “HEAVY HEART” was just released. Seems like people think it great. Fun times. We will release two great singles this spring and hopefully, make a music video or two. We also plan to do more shows and try to do our first shows outside of Sweden. Please get in touch if you wanna book us (citymazeisreal@gmail.com).
– City Maze

Sunnyboys – 40

sunnyboys

Alone With You is a classic. The song is about 40 years old and has now been reissued in the original version. Sunnyboys 40 has 4 old songs, including Alone With You, and 4 new ones. It is a miracle that there are new songs. Jeremy Oxley, for all kinds of reasons, fails to lead a life in the spotlights. This has ensured that Sunnyboys, certainly in their home country Australia, has a cult status. The band that succeeded in combining surf, new wave, and power pop into beautiful songs suddenly disappeared. And didn’t they have many more songs in store for us?

On Spotify, you can find the old songs on playlists like Aussie Rock Classics or Aussie BBQ. That, of course, says something.

Fair is fair, the new songs are no better than the old ones. The Seeker even reminds me of the best work of The Sonics and that quality is not delivered on the new songs. On the other hand, the new songs are really moving. This is mainly because Oxley’s vocal cords have aged.

Can’t You Stop is an emotional plea and the best new song. It rocks more than it rattles, but the fragility in Oxley’s otherwise tough voice creates a lot of emotion.

Sunnyboys goes on tour again. Just assume that this will be special evenings for the old fans, with lots of singing and the occasional tear.

If you are not familiar with the music of Sunnyboys, go check them out.

 

Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts – This Is The Sound

 

Hell of a Day from 2015 was my introduction to Ryan Hamilton. If you add the cover of that record and the lyrics together, Hamilton seems like the nerd who hides his uncertainty by making jokes about himself. A lot has changed in recent years or I have been fooled. This Is The Sound is completely filled with Southern Flavored Arena Power Pop. Twelve songs, ten sing-alongs. And those sing-alongs are irresistible. How the nerd became a party animal. Get Down summarizes it all, as if John Mellencamp covers a Poison song. The moments of reflection are Girl vs Monster and Won’t Stop Now. I find them somewhat difficult to place among the other ten outbursts, but if you like (country) ballads, then you will enjoy these two songs.

 

Tuff Sunshine – Dig Deeper, Peanut

Have you ever wondered what a Beck record would sound like with only accessible melodies? Or what would happen if Chuck Prophet made a pop record? I do. Quite often too. Maybe I have found the answer to both questions. With his band Tuff Sunshine, Johnny Leitera has found the right balance between ‘strange’ and ‘accessible’, between ‘pop’ and ‘rock’, between ‘eclectic’ and ‘straight forward’. There are ten songs on Dig Deeper, Peanut that are described by Magnet Magazine as ‘immediately likable’. Ten songs that, despite the differences, form such a beautiful whole. And records that form a beautiful whole can take you to your own world. That also happens here. So listen to the entire record, but if you’re only looking for highlights, you’ll end up with Sleepwalking and We Seal Everything with a Kiss.

 

Dave Cope and the Sass – s/t (Q&A)

If it had been John Lennon and Eric Carmen who had gathered a group of songwriters around Laurel Canyon and not, for example, Joni Mitchell and David Crosby, then ‘Dave Cope and the Sass’ could have been made in the early 1970s .

The album is completely new and now we have trouble sticking a label on it. It is pop, westcoast, rock, gospel, etc., a mix that was common at the time, now this album is a special case. But it is also special because of the diversity of the songs, which are also all of high quality.

And I will make it even more complicated, if ‘Dave Cope and the Sass’ is ever transformed into a musical then it won’t surprise me either.

Your music gets compared to Big Star and The Raspberries. Were that your musical influences for this record?

This record was influenced by events and developments in my personal life guided by the musical aesthetic of 60s and 70s British and American rock, power pop and folk music.

Specifically, some of my biggest influences through the years have been The Beatles, David Bowie, Cat Stevens, Funkadelic, The Zombies and The Kinks (in addition to Big Star and the Raspberries as you mentioned).

 

davecope

 

How did the album come together?

 

This album came together as a result of an early project I did known as Dave Cope and the English Breakfast. That project garnered great interest from a patron of the arts who basically gave us a one-album record deal to create another album similar to the English Breakfast stuff.

 

Most of the Dave Cope and the Sass album was recorded in my little home studio with me singing into a Neumann microphone, playing a Fender Stratocaster, a Les Paul Studio, or a Martin D 28 acoustic guitar, some bass (I play bass on a couple of the recordings), and various keyboard/midi parts played directly into Protools. After the initial tracks were completed, Ethan Rider (the bassist for most of the album) came over and knocked out his parts.

 

Then we went into Spice House Sound, a fabulous studio here in Philadelphia run by Alex Santilli, where our drummer, Fred Berman, tracked the drum parts ( I ended up playing drums on “High” but Fred handles the rest). We mixed the record at Spice House Sound and had it mastered by Ted Jensen. Hannah Taylor, a brilliant musician and artist living in Philadelphia did the cover art.

 

 

Seeing Things, that is such an amazing song. When and how did you realize you were up to something?

 

Seeing Things was written over the course of many years. I think I had the initial idea in 2008, maybe earlier, when I came up with the first part of the song. The form was different (the present chorus did not yet exist – just that first verse melody repeating over and over) To be honest, that old version was a bit boring and I wasn’t that excited about most of the tune at that moment. I left it alone for a long time.

 

Years later, when I came back to it, somewhat by accident, I had the proper perspective (and romantic inspiration) to finish it. So it was a combination of an initial spark that was left to simmer for a while, and the passing of time plus new muses and experiences.

 

Easy to imagine that Seeing Things, as From the Moment …, will be picked up by a gospel choir?

 

That would be very interesting if Seeing Things or From The Moment were performed by a gospel choir. I’d love to hear that! Who knows? 🙂

 

Now you get picked up by the Power Pop community. As expected?

 

I’m very happy to have been picked up by the Power Pop community. I’m happy that it’s found a home among fans of music that I’m a fan of too. I’m grateful that people are listening and enjoying this music in a time when this type of music isn’t really played too much on the radio or elsewhere.

 

There are so many options and styles out there these days, I wasn’t sure if this album would find a home. Most of all I’m glad it’s reaching people no matter the genre in which its classified. We’re just trying to spread some love with music and are thrilled to be able to have the chance to do so regardless of how people label the style.

 

Does that easy-going sound come naturally to you? What will 2020 look like for you?

 

Sometimes the easy-going sound comes naturally. Sometimes I have to work at it to get it just right. I’ve been writing songs for a while now so I have certain techniques and methods that have been improved upon over the years. Those techniques can really help in the writing process but it’s the presence of true inspiration that can make the difference between something that’s just ok and something that’s really cool.

So sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it takes a lot of work and maybe time and perspective to get the desired result.

 

What will 2020 look like for you?

2020 we’re playing a lot of gigs in our area and will hopefully play out elsewhere. We’re also going to go back in the studio and do some more recording. I’ll keep you posted…we have some new singles that we’d love to get out there as soon as possible. And as always, I’ll keep writing and trying my best to make good songs.

 

 

davecope1

 

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