Archives for posts with tag: Paisley Underground

Feels like one great weight has been lifted off the world this past week. The world is still in the midst of a pandemic of course, but let’s celebrate the little bits of hope and light when we can. We needed a lift.

Music gives us a lift too. Balloons filled with helium may also give you a lift. An album of uplifting jangle pop with a cover image of a person floating away beneath dozens of colourful balloons is therefore an inviting prospect. Don’t know if the image on the cover of the latest album by LA power-pop band Exploding Flowers is a reference to the cover of Rain Parade’s classic “Emergency Third Rail Power Trip” album, but the music certainly shares a common lineage with the ‘Paisley Underground’ generation. Here’s the title track “Stumbling Blocks”:

The album is jam-packed with jangling ultra-melodic guitar pop that will appeal to fans of Rain Parade, Let’s Active, Windbreakers etc., (check the glorious “Timing is Everything” and “Amongst Burnt Out Stars” on the album). But it also has a more urgent post-punk ‘New Wave’ kind of power-pop energy throughout. That mix of complementary over-lapping styles, together with the quality of the songwriting and abundance of melodic twists and turns, keeps the album on the ‘high-rotate’ playlist at PopLib HQ.

“Stumbling Blocks” is available on CD from Canadian label The Beautiful Music, a consistently reliable source of underground jangle-pop and power-pop today. Check the excellent TV Personalities tribute album series TBM has curated over the past decade.

The Sprinfields

“This Perfect Day” is the sparkling opening track from a recently-released compilation by jangling US  guitar band The Springfields called “Singles 1986 – 1991” just released on Slumberland Records.

The names Ric Menck and Paul Chastain should be well known to anyone familiar with 1980s and 1990s guitar pop. The Springfields, along with related bands Choo Choo Train and The Big Maybe, preceded the eventual formation of melodic guitar-pop heavyweights Velvet Crush, all sharing common sonic ground with the likes of Matthew Sweet and, through producer Mitch Easter, with his band Let’s Active.

While everyone talks about The Springfields influences being The Byrds and The Hollies the glorious opening track “This Perfect Day” seems more in thrall to The Beatles legendary B-Side “Rain” and the rolling feel of “Ticket to Ride”, with its effervescent melodic bass-lines, drum rolls, phased vocals and masterclass in crisp intertwined layers of sun-bright jangling guitars. It’s one of my all-time favourite songs.

The album collects the 5 singles they released on Sarah, Picture Book, Summershine and Seminal Twang plus an extra track not previously available on vinyl.The other songs do tend to follow that Byrds/ Hollies melodic jangle template more, and also overlap with both West Coast US Paisley Underground bands like Rain Parade and UK guitar pop bands like Primal Scream around the time of their first singles and album.

One explanation for why those first two songs “This Perfect Day” and “Bicycle Song” (or “Happy Bicycle”) sound different is that these songs –  the exact same recordings  – were actually released on a 7″ single as Choo Choo Trains (“This Perfect Day”/ “Happy Bicycle” on Picture Book Records.  It’s a single I’ve had – and adored – for years (thanks Richard).

The Springfields “Singles 1986 – 1991” compilation is an essential compilation for fans of pop with harmony vocals and guitars that jangle and chime.

Choo Choo Train single

Big Quiet_Unblinking Ear RecordsMy friend Dean has for many decades referred to musicians of particular note as Gods or Goddesses. I’m assuming he is referring to the Greek classics, wherein the Greek Gods were considered deities with dominion over certain aspects of nature. I have no hesitation in declaring US musician and producer Mitch Easter the God of Jangle. As if to prove his dominion over that art-form, and that his powers remain undiminished into his 5th decade, here’s the Mitch Easter produced Big Quiet with “Interesting Times”:

Mitch Easter’s production credits started in 1978 with The Sneakers, and, in the early 1980s, included R.E.M. releases up to their classic “Reckoning” album, his own exemplary band Let’s Active, and also Game Theory, Windbreakers,  Australian bands The Someloves and Hummingbirds, and Velvet Crush, Dot Dash… a who’s-who of jangling power-pop since the 1980s.

“Interesting Times” by Big Quiet fits in that ‘Paisley Underground’ lineage perfectly. It’s the title track from a new album out 3 May 2019 on NY label Unblinking Ear Records.

It’s all here: the strum & jangle, the pounding reverb drums, the guitars that sound like sitars, the powerful vocals and big chorus hooks… phew. Big Quiet are Marisa Cerio (Rickenbacker & vocals), Chris Matheson and Pete Smith, and the Brooklyn, NY based trio’s jangling power-pop is dialed up to 11. Stunning.

The album “Interesting Times” is available to pre-order on Bandcamp now. Why wouldn’t you?




Blades of Joy.jpgSan Francisco band Blades of Joy have a self-title album coming out on 21 September, and “Be Kind” is the spell-binding first song shared from it.

“Be Kind” is a perfect pop song with a hint of early Bangles and Rain Parade. It manages to evoke something of the spirit of both Paisley Underground era US guitar pop and a bit of British 80s ‘indie’ label guitar pop too.

Can’t find much about Blades of Joy other than that the band features members of a couple of other San Francisco bands SWANOX and DISSOLVE) and their self-titled first album is released on San Francisco label Melters Records on 21 September 2018.