Friday, October 4, 2019

Various Artists, International Pop Overthrow: Volume 22, 2019

Album Review

By Henry Lipput

Question: How does one review an amazing three-CD collection of pop music from ten different countries?

Answer: With great pleasure.

International Pop Overthrow: Volume 22 is the latest entry in the long-running International Pop Overthrow series. The first collection was released in 1998 as a single disc and this year's compilation is made up of three discs and 69 tracks by artists from all over the world. Although the International Pop Overthrow festival is essentially a showcase for unsigned bands; over the years, the compilation has featured some signed acts and some who have gone on to be signed. 

International Pop Overthrow (or IPO) is a pop music festival which has been held for the past eighteen years in Los Angeles. It also holds IPOs in various cities around the world including -- and this is really cool -- the Cavern Club in Liverpool. You can get information on the remaining shows this year in New York and Boston on the IPO website.

Volume 22 is a collaboration between Omnivore Recordings and The International Pop Overthrow Music Festival. It includes just about every sub-genre of pop music including power pop, pop/rock, folk/pop, psychedelic pop, garage, indie-rock, and modern rock.

Here's my take on my favorite songs from each of the three discs. Your results may vary.

Disc One: 

The Bishop's Daredevil Stunt Club's "Christine You're  Mean" is power pop in a Raspberries mode. "Sunshine After Rain" from Nick Frater is a real toe-tapper with a lovely pop tune and arrangement. There's some major jangle going on with Danny & the Doorknobs' "Heroine."

The Pecker cut, "They Painted With Their Fingers," has a real cool early Joe Jackson vibe to it.
With the Bird Streets (featuring Jason Faulkner) tune "The Rabbit," we're in Big Star territory. The Kinks, especially their "Everybody's Gonna Be Happy," seem to have been a big influence on Slumberjet's "(Theme from) Our Street."

Popdudes's "Dance With Me Tonight" has a fun early rock and roll arrangement with a swell Sun Sessions guitar solo.

"If You Get Home" by The Lilacs is just good old power pop about a guy worried about when his girlfriend will come back: "I will clean up my room for you / I will be a bridegroom for you." The Wolf Circus indie-pop tune, "I Will Answer," with its perfect pop vocals and a wonderful just-long-enough guitar solo, recalls songs from the first two Marshall Crenshaw albums.

Joanne Hodges is the first woman on this collection and her "Amanda," although a bit denser in sound than other entries in this collection, is a real find.

As I am a sucker for pastiches of Sgt. Pepper / Magical Mystery Tour-era music done well, The Pozers' "The Time and Place" hits the nail right on the walrus’s head. "Sorry" from The Shudders is another indie-pop gem with a top-notch melody.

Disc Two:

The Top Boost and their "Dreaming (featuring Roger Joseph Manning, Jr.)" is a combination of Roger McGuinn's Rickenbacker, a tune like George Harrison's "If I Needed Someone," and some wonderful Beach Boys harmonies.

"She" from The Brothers Steve is another throwback to early Marshall Crenshaw power pop songs like "Rockin' Around in NYC," and The Brothers adapt a line from John Lennon's "God:" "She don't believe in Beatles."

Three Hour Tour show their Beatles influences on the excellent "Lonely Place," with its Lennon-like vocal, Ringo-style drumming, and late-period Harrison guitar. It's a real keeper and a song that could have been on a Cotton Mather album.

The Kinks are back again on Jimmy Haber's upbeat "I Was In Love," a sample of the music hall style that the 60s Brits loved so much (see "When I'm 64") and a song that would have fit easily on The Kinks Something Else album from 1967.

"Turns to Black" is a gorgeous song by The Vinylos with an acoustic guitar lick right out of Lennon's "Julia." I would mention Trotsky Icepick only because it's a really cool band name, but their song "Clutch" is a terrific example of power pop and the band rocks. Emperor Penguin's "Brand New Yesterday" has some outstanding backing vocals and bass line and the lead vocal is nothing to sneeze at.

Sue Hedges from Liverpool brings her sad and beautiful ballad, "I Know Now," to the collection. In case you've forgotten, ballads are pop, too (see McCartney's songs for Cilla Black or almost any Bacharach/David song).

"Joy Comes In The Morning" by The Jeremy Band is a full-throated band attack with twin guitars leading the charge. It would have been a major hit on AM radio in the 60s. Dirty Echoes’ "Mandela" updates a 60s melody with a nifty 80s power pop arrangement.

Disc Three:

"Lord Cornelius Plum" from The Anderson Council has its roots in 60s psych-rock by way of The Dukes of Stratosphear with crunching guitars and (!) mellotron. Danny Wilkerson’s "Too Much of a Good Thing" starts with the sound of Supertramp and then morphs into an excellent take on Emitt Rhodes.

The Magnaphonic song "Daydream" is very much in a Mary Lou Lord vein and features a quiet 60s guitar intro and the delicate double-tracked vocals of Marianne Galassini. "Flat Cat" is another 50s throwback, by way of The Stray Cats, from Kimberly Rew and Lee Cave-Berry, with echoes of Bill Black's slapped bass and Scotty Moore's guitar.

The Expected's "The Riff Song" is another first-rate example of early 80s power pop. On Brenyama's "Rick Moranis" the band's Ramones-like urgency in its playing is combined with vocals that are more shouts than whispers. Where's CBGB when you need it?

Rickenbackers take center stage in an intro that is more than a little Phil Spector on Joe Benoit's "Waiting For Revolution." And there's a bridge that just soars. Butch Young makes a widescreen sound worthy of a John Ford western on "Beautiful Dreamer" that recalls George Harrison on his Cloud Nine album (The song has a lot of the sound of Harrison's guitar playing from that period.) or even the best of ELO.

"Saturday in the Sunshine" by The Last Hurrah has a dancing-around-the-living-room beat with its shimmering guitars and Fab vocals. The song is not so much a copy as an homage to Revolver's "Good Day Sunshine."

International Pop Overthrow: Volume 22 is out now on Omnivore Recordings.

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