by Eric Sorensen
Belated Happy New Year to my fellow jangly music fans and to all Pop Geek Heaven subscribers. Not many new discs featuring jangly tunes have been added to my music library over the past two months. I’m not sure if this is a reflection of trends in the indie music community or my waning efforts to track down new material … or both. Thankfully, pal Ray Verno continues to download some excellent tracks on the INTERNET and he includes them in his Byrdsian compilations. By the end of December, I had accumulated enough new material to compile my final Jangle Pop compilation of 2012. Here is a quick summary of the artists, disc and tracks featured in that final compilation:
Love Explosion – Jeremy. This disc features twelve tracks by Pop All Star Jeremy Morris. Love Explosion showcases Jeremy’s guitar chops and his ease at blending 60s, 70s and 80s pop-rock influences into his own original material. “Best Is Yet To Come” features plenty of chiming twelve-string riffs, and “Save Me From Myself” and “Radiant Future Days” also fall into the Byrds-inspired category. Jeremy proves again that he stands head and shoulders above his peers when it comes to writing, recording and expanding his pop repertoire. Once a year, I am pleased to say “Long may you run, Sir Jeremy!”
Our Little Secret – Edward O’Connell. I could have sworn that I wrote about this gem of a disc two years ago – when it was released and it made several Power Pop Top Ten lists for 2010. Other writers have likened O’Connell’s music to Nick Lowe, Rockpile, Dave Edmunds, Tom Petty, Marshall Crenshaw, Elvis Costello and Richard X. Heyman. Washington, D.C. area music fans (like myself) will even hear some similarities to the Graverobbers, Kevin Johnson and the Linemen and the High Back Chairs. These latter influences are no surprise when a check of the recording credits shows that D.C. stalwarts like Karl Straub, Bill Williams and Scott McKnight (among others) all had a hand in this disc. The sum of the parts is a terrific power pop disc that includes some achin’ for airplay jangly tracks like “Acres of Diamonds,” “I Heard It Go” and “Cold Dark World.” Our Little Secret is a disc that Edward O’Connell will be proud of for years to come. Order a copy of this sparkling disc from www.edwardoconnell.com.
Speaking of Bill Williams and Scott McKnight – I have been fortunate to see them perform with fellow singer/songwriter/guitarist Arch Alcantara as the acoustic trio version of the Jelly Roll Mortals on several occasions. The Jelly Roll Mortals always treat D.C.area music fans to a variety of cover tunes and original songs. Edward O’Connell (mentioned above) likens the Jelly Roll Mortals to the Buffalo Springfield – since the band features three very talented singer/songwriter musicians. Long may you run, Sir Bill, Sir Scott and Sir Arch!
Since I have wandered off course to discuss live music, I might as well mention that my wife and I drove to Marlton, New Jersey in November to see Christopher Westfall (a John Denver devotee who really does sound like John Denver!) perform his annual show at the Wiley Home Auxiliary. Dr. Westfall (a dentist) treated the audience of 300 to two dozen soft rock tunes that featured Chris on four different guitars and on piano. We first saw Christopher Westfall perform on a Princess Cruise ship trip to Alaska in 2006, when Chris – accompanied by 60 members of his fan club – performed each day at different locations on the cruise ship. It may not be jangly music, but Westfall’s clear tenor voice, his musicianship – and an occasional acoustic 12-string guitar – make his infrequent live performances well worth seeking out. You can learn more by visiting www.chriswestfall.com
Floor Your Love – the Floor Models. Many thanks to fellow jangleholic Ray Verno for finding this obscure 80s album that represented a blend of New Age pop with chiming Rickenbacker 12-string riffs. Standout tracks include “You’ll Come Around” and the band’s cover of John Wicks’ classic jangly song “Hearts In Her Eyes.”
Strawberries & Chocolates – the Tor Guides. This disc features Sunshine pop with strummy, jangly guitars. It’s all good – especially “We Don’t Go Out Very Often” and “In This World Of You.”
Last but not least, Bruce Brodeen and Pop Geek Heaven have released the superb two-disc, 30-song compilation Power Pop Planet Volume One. Standout jangly tracks include “Let It Go” by Sitcom Neighbor, “When Reality Hits You” by the Genuine Flakes and “Checking The Weather” by the Sunchymes. Whether it is under Bruce’s former Not Lame moniker or his current Pop Geek Heaven banner, any compilation that Bruce releases is worth adding to your pop music library. This is not obsequious deference to this column’s website – it’s just the truth! (Ed. Note: “Power Pop Planet – Volume 1” is SOLD OUT. Look for “Volume 2” in March)
For those of you wondering what the prolific artist Les Fradkin (RRO Entertainment, singer/songwriter, Rickenbacker 12-string and MIDI guitarist) is up to these days, Les (Beatlemania) and Joey Molland (Badfinger) and Mitch Weissmann (Beatlemania) will tour as Molland and Weissman and Fradkin (https://www.reverbnation.com/
Until next time, jangle on!