May 31, 2009

From the Vaults: Modcast #53: Back on Track

Once more into the vault my friends, once more into the vault. Step back in time, to a time when the modcast was young and fresh. Take a giant step outside your current listening constraints and journey with me all the way back to the warm, breezy, barbecuey days of mid-summer 2007. I've opened up the vaults and dusted off a classic modcast that I think you'll enjoy. Again.

Welcome to Mr. Suave's Mod Mod World and to the start of our second season. I apologize to all the listeners of the mod world for my scheduling mishaps of late and promise to keep to a better, and more consistent schedule in the future. I think you'll agree that this week's show pretty much makes up for having to wait a few extra days to enjoy it.
Bonus Video: Libertines -- Don't look back into the sun


May 30, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Walter Wanderley

"Walter Wonderley's fiendishly bouncy Jetsons space-party sound brings to mind visions of poolside conspiratorial conferences of Swiss bankers in girlwatcher shades and emigre Nazis clutching pina-coladas while disposing of ill-gotten gold bullion amidst tanga-clad chocolate babes." -- Stuart Swezey, Exotica: Ports of Pleasure and Dancing in the Isles
There's nothing at all like the magical bossa nova sound created by Hammond B3 star Walter Wanderly. His instrumentals were like bits of summer sun saved for rainy days. Wanderley was probably best know for his top 40 hit Summer Samba (featuring the incomparable Astrud Gilberto on vocals). But all of his "New Swing" latin-jazz music is memorable. It is hard to turn the CD player off; hard to put on a different record; hard to tune out the DVD in the car stereo, whenever Walter's music is shining through.

American audiences were first introduced to the Brazillian bossa nova sound -- and latin jazz -- with Antonio Carlos Jobim's Black Orpheus soundtrack in 1959. In 1964 Stan Getz and the swank sounding Astrud Gilberto struck gold with bossa nova-influenced jazz hit "The Girl From Ipanema". So, when Walter Wanderley (along with Sergio Mendez & Brasil 66) burst upon the American music scene in 1966, American's were ready and practically begging for a bossa nova super star. Wanderley provided. His Hammond B-3 organ was the perfect vehicle to drive the bossa nova craze that lingered through late sixties. on the song here, "Chegan├ža (The Great Arrival)", you will hear the quintessential Wanderly organ along with a very exotica feeling set of sounds including whistles, kettle drums and more.

Born in Brazil in 1932, Wanderly was a bona-fide supestar in his homeland long before achieving the same status in the United States. Having studied at the Lyccu de Artes and played with Brazillian masters like Joao Gilberto and Joabim, he had a string of hits like Desafinado, Song of the Jet, and the origianl instrumental version of The Girl from Ipanema.

Wanderley's single "Summer Samba" took the US by storm in 1966, spending more than a month in the Top 40, and the album Rain Forest from which it was taken stayed in the charts nearly a year, and went platinum in 1970. Later, during the 1970s, Wanderley moved to San Francisco and experimented with a more fusion jazz like sound. Sadly, he died of cancer in 1986.

Walter Wanderly -- Chegan├ža

May 29, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Summer Suns

The Summer Suns are one of the most aptly named bands ever. Summer springs to mind everytime I hear them, and the music is definitely sunny. The Australian group produced some fantastic power pop in the late 80s and 90s, although I only discovered them recently on Myspace. Their sound is purely sixties pop with some folk overtones, but done much as you'd expect of an 80s power pop band. Interestingly, the group includes an Aussie power pop legend, Dom Mariani (of Stems, Lime Spiders, DM3 fame), so it's no surprise that the group is tight, the guitars jangle, the drums shiver, and there are hooks aplenty. The song here, "She's My Kinda Girl" is more poppy than most of the others, yet is perfectly representative of the overall vibe of the band.

The Summer Suns -- She's My Kinda Girl

May 28, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Spencer Davis Group

Mod favorites Spencer Davis Group were a very bluesy, soul soaked, mid-sixties R&B band. Formed by Spencer Davis in 1963 the band's most famous member was easily Stevie Winwood who's blistering organ work fueled the groups biggest hits, as well as spicing up its less commercial but far superior blues and soul numbers. The best known tracks are the radio friendly, "Gimme Some Lovin'", and "I'm A Man", which thanks to teenage Winwood's vocals is a gritty, organ driven floorshaking bit of rythm & blues that rivals anything from Georgie Fame, The Animals or Yardbirds of the same era. The song here, "Somebody Help Me", isn't the bluesiest of the group's, but it is indicative of their British invasion type blue-eyed soul. By 1968 Winwood had left to form Traffic, and while the Group continued, it never had quite the same impact as in its earliest incarnations.

Spencer Davis Group -- Somebody Help Me

Spencer Davis Group -- I'm A Man

May 27, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Phobes

In a recent post about the Slickee Boys I mentioned that Washington DC had spawned some good bands over the years. Perhaps none had the unrealized potential -- three full length releases not withstanding -- of the late 90s group The Phobes. Combining equal parts mod, power pop, and garage punk sounds, the band had a sound that was super sharp, and very compelling. From the slow, soulful, organ based R&B song "Lesson Learned", to the spikey power pop of "Pick It Up", the band showed a wide range of ability. And some top notch production values didn't hurt -- such as on the song here "He's Alright" a straight ahead mod tune that is my favorite from their sophmore release The Beginning Or The End. The band broke up in 2005, but it seems they've reunited for some gigs in Spain just in the past few months. Perhaps some US shows? A new records? One never knows, but one can hope.

The Phobes -- He's Alright

The Phobes -- Hold On Tight

May 26, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The 75s

St. Louis has spawned a really good power pop, girly punk band in The 75s. Their songs are, short, strong and full of 1977ish buzzsawing guitars and crashing drums ala the Buzzcocks. At the same time you can't help but think of Dollymixture, Nikki Corvette, or even Sleater Kinney when you hear the female vocals. The song here, "This Is Goodbye", is a brand new one according to their myspace page, but be sure to tune in the others as well, especially "Finders Keepers". You won't be disappointed.

75s -- This Is Good Bye

May 25, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Hermit Crabs

Yet another worthwhile band from Glasgow, Scotland, the Hermit Crabs formed in 2003 and have matured nicely since then. Their first full legth album, Saw You Dancing landed to some rave reviews in 2007 and was full of sweet pop with lo-fi sensibilities, nigh on twee if one can still use the term. Their latest EP Correspondence Course from February of this year is indie-pop to be sure, but with a bit more emphasis on the pop. The song here, "I Don't Know How", is intricately arranged with both a simple sound, yet lush feeling, and a catchy chorus that will stick with you for days at a time. I know.

Hermit Crabs -- I Don't Know How

May 24, 2009

Modcast #130: Sum-Sum-Summertime

Welcome to Mr. Suave's Mod Mod World, and welcome to summer. Like it or not, this is the obligatory summer show. Can't wait til the summer comes. How can I tell it's summer in Seattle? Please, there were two momentary sun breaks today, and Metro was smellin' pretty ripe on the way home.

Listen Now

So what do you do when the sun is out and the mercury thaws, you head to what were just voted the worst beaches in the United States -- those right here in western Washington. You will see that Jet Set Six are opening the show with "Let's Go To the Beach". Apparently they've never been to the beaches in Washington. Being from New York that isn't surprising.

Other surprises on this show? These aren't surprises, but they are special treats, especially when you put them all together. How about Ronnie Mayor former lead singer of The Tours, or the Cute Lepers now recording on Joan Jett's Blackheart Records label, or mod trumpeter Alan Brown's version of Sunny. All perfect for a sunny day. So, get our your chaise lounge, stir up a gin and tonic, and soak in some rays while the music plays.

Jet Set Six -- Let's Go To The Beach (2005)
Ronnie Mayor -- Can't Wait 'Til The Summer (1980)
Cute Lepers -- It's Summertime Baby (2008)
The Excessories -- Summer (2001)
Armstrong -- Sunshine Feeling
Ben From Corduroy -- Good Day, Sunshine (2008)
The Alan Brown Set -- Sunny (1969)
The Shakes -- Hyperion St. Bridge Song (Sunshine City) (2006)
The Bratchmen -- Summer Sun is Back (1993)
Fiery Furnaces -- Here Comes The Summer (2005)

Bonus videos

The Cute Lepers - Berlin Girls

Jet Set Six - The Perpetual Bachelor

May 23, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Tunes

Here you have a Finnish band made up of the cream of the crop of Finland's power pop best, and yet all rounded up and put together by American bassist Rikki London -- The Tunes. He put them together for a George Harrison tribute and the band stuck together and put out one of 2005's best power pop albums, Bright Yellow Sun. The song here, "Valerie" is not a cover of The Monkees, but rahter an outstanding original that echoes the sixties sounds of The Monkees, The Zombies and The Turtles.

The Tunes -- Valerie

May 22, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Everyday Things

The 2005 release, Lighten Up Francis, from Everyday Things had as many influences from 1965 as from the modern era. The album is a nice, power pop piece of cotton candy from top to bottom. You can't ignore the Beatlesque style throughout, but at the same time there are a number of other interesting and eclectic influence at play. The baker's dozen songs move from the simple sixties beat sound of "Just Out of Reach", to the 80s new wavish pop of "Life Goes On", to the garage rock of "I've Got My Eye on You", to the jangly pop of "Colleen Colleen", to the driving piece of garagish power pop featured here "Time To Realize". Everyday Things know how to play power pop, and they're not stuck in the sixties. The power pop of Big Star, The Romantics, The Smithereens and The Posies can all be heard lurking in and about different tracks. While the album will likely never deliver an earth shattering, world changing experience, it will give the typical power pop fan hours of listening pleasure.

Everyday Things -- Time To Realize

May 21, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Go-Go's

Some of the best, and most fun, power pop ever produced came courtesy of The Go-Go's. Starting out as a punk band in the late 70s, formed by Belinda Carlisle and Jane Wiedlen (both of whom had interacted --not really played-- with other punk bands), the band moved quickly towards a power pop/new wave style rather than a hard punk sort of sound. And it paid off.

Their first album, Beauty & The Beat is still a huge achievement, mostly because it represented the first album by women who played their own instruments, and wrote and sang their own songs. While the album went to #1, their most famous single "Our Lips Are Sealed" barely broke the top 20. The song was co-written by Wiedlen and The Specials' Terry Hall -- his later group Fun Boy Three had their own UK hit with the song. Interestingly, the Go-Go's had friendly relations with both The Specials and Madness, and at times you can hear a bit of ska creeping into their own sound.

The Go-Go's had an interesting career. Their sound was pure power pop and appealed to the not-so in crowd of the late 70s and early 80s. At the same time, the band knew how to position itself and tweak their sound to appeal to the in-crowd of the late 70s and early 80s. Thus you have an all girl group that played with The Germs and X at the Whiskey, and yet were topping the mainstream music charts a few months later. They covered the whole spectrum of cool music, from surf such as "Surfing and Spying" to sixties beat "Cool Jerk", to pop punk like "Johnny Are You Queer Boy", "Skidmarks on My Heart", "This Town", and the song here "How Much More".

Go-Go's -- How Much More

Go-Go's -- Lust To Love (live 1982)

May 20, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Plasticland

You'll see sounds. When you listen to Plasticland you will see sounds as colors, no doubt about it. As the garage revival of the early 80s kicked off on either coast you had the paisley underground on the west coast, and a fuzzed our garage rock revival on the east coast. And there in the middle you had Milwaukee garage revivalists Plasticland embracing the psychadelic flower-power sounds of the late sixties.

Their first full-length record dropped in 1984, appropriately titled Color Appreciation. It was a tour-de-fource of mod sounding psychadelia with clear influences from The Creation, Smoke and early Pink Floyd. The group's second album upped the lush sounds and swirlingness, yet adding a jangly component more evocative of The Byrds. The production values were far superior and the album was a big step forward. Later albums in the 80s were more of the same, not bad but not exactly making any new advances in the band's sound.

Plasticland never garnered even the success of bands like The Fuzztones or Three O'Clock, seen perhaps as a drug-induced trip down memory lane. In fact, their version of flower power was anything but. Rather than being derivative of the sixties, they actually created a modern sound that was unique and maybe too creative. In the end they probably lacked achieving more widespread exposure by being from Milwaukee as opposed to New York or L.A.

A nice compilation, Make Yourself A Happening Machine, appeared in 2006, although it was too over representative of their first album and left out some of the best songs from later releases. It did include the song here, "Flower Scene", which was one of the best off their sophmore release Wonder Wonderful Wonderland.

Plasticland -- Flower Scene

May 19, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Combustible Edison

In the cocktail nation that was the lounge and exotica revival there is one musical combo that stands head and theremin above not only today's host of loungecore groups, but often ahead of many orginal lounge/exotica players from the 50s and 60s, and the 90s revival. Combustible Edison has a sound that is like heaven on earth. It is smooth like the best cocktail you've ever had, but has just a hint of a bite, enough to let you know this is serious music. The exotic flavors that flow through their arrangements are different enough to entice, yet somehow familiar in a way that sooths the ear. Add to that the lilting vocals of Miss Lilly and you have some of the suavest lounge sounds around.

Their first full length album, 1995's I, Swinger, was a smashing success and signalled the maturation of the cocktail nation into a full-fledged, nation wide, subculture. The album was so fluid that it hardly seemed as if it weren't 12 different songs, but instead one joyous celebration of all the sounds that cool and strange jazz should be. From the hip, swinging bounce of the "Millionaires Holiday", to the Martin Dennyesque "Breakfast at Dennys", and their homage to spy tunes, aptly titled "Spy vs. Spy". All the great loungemeisters can be heard at times throughout Combustible Edison's work. There's an especially nice Les Baxter like piece, "The Veldt", that is the perfect accompaniment to a martini as the sun goes down. Enjoy the album with a chilled cocktail, on your lanai, at sundown during the splendorous May days of mid-spring. For the truly suave, nothing else can compare.

The groups sophomore release, Schizophonic! (1996), picked up where I, Swinger left off. The smooth vibes that so characterized the first album are again spread throughout, but with a little less swing and a little more quirk. Strange sounds seem to have multiplied on Schizophonic!, giving it an otherworldly feel that was less pronounced on I, Swinger. In addition to all that, Schizophonic! also seems to me more mod, more 60s in its tone and style. "The Checkered Flag", is as cool a 60s mod sounding song as anything Combustible Edison ever did. Add to that the super smooth "Bluebeard", the sophisticated, cocktail evoking "Mudhead", and the organ-jazz and vibraphone sound of "Short Double Latte" and you've got a truly mod recording that any lover of Georgie Fame, Les Baxter or James Taylor Quartet will go crazy over. Even with all of that, the album somehow doesn't quite equal I, Swinger for me. Even when I find myself enjoying it, next thing I know I'm putting I, Swinger on as soon as Schizophonic! is over and setting the CD player to repeat.

Finally, Combustible Edison released their third full-length CD, The Impossible World. in 1998. It is lush, lush, lush. The songs are all tight, expertly produced, and as smooth as silk. Miss Lilly's voice is at it's husky, sensual best, and seems to float effortlessly just above the music itself. By far the most accomplished of the band's recordings, The Impossible World is much more exotic and space-age sounding, while at the same time hinting at a sort of 90s-technojazz-lounge sound. "Laura's Aura" is especially entrancing, with a synchopated backbeat that drives the whole thing along while Miss Lilly weaves her voice through the perfect gaps in the arrangement. There's a feel here of more modern loungish sounds as heard in the influencce of such as Portishead and Stereolab on "Pink Victim". Not to get to far from the classic easy-jazz, lounge sound, "Dior" is a beautiful tune that nicely slows the tempo of the CD and acts a reminder that Combustible Edison is grounded in the smooth sounds of yesteryear as much as they are moving into the next century's lounge. Both "Cat O'Nine Tails" and "20th Century" are typical -- and classic -- tracks that could have fit on either of the previous releases. Probably my favorite is the Mancini-like "Mr. Pushkin Came To Shove" that seemed to hit me just right. The pace of the CD is fast, but is often broken by long silent holes between tracks that can be somewhat annoying. Still, the album moves right along combining the best elements of both of Combustible Edison's first two outings. This is lounge music worthy of the moniker. You will be greatly rewarded for years to come by adding any of these to your collection.

Combustible Edison -- Checkered Flag

Combustible Edison -- Pink Victim

Combustible Edison -- Vertigogo (From Quentin Tarantino's Four Rooms)

May 18, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Stereoscope Jerk Explosion

If you're like me memories of Saturday mornings as a kid are still a nice way to waste a little time. Such mornings -- in the late 60s and 70s especially -- were chock full of hour and hours of cartoons, bowls of sickly sweet cereal guaranteed to give you cavities, and other such kid-friendly, sugary goodness. That explains Stereoscope Jerk Explosion in a nutshell. And I mean that in the most complimentary of ways.

Stereoscope Jerk Explosion is a french band enamored of sixties beat music, chock full of psychadelic organs and moog sounds galore. It's guaranteed to fill your minds eye with swirling colors, funny faces, and a great desire to dance your ass off. Comparisons to Stereophonic Space Sound Unlimited, Ursula 100, Cucumber, Frank Popp, and Mike Flowers will abound.

The best is to let the group speak for itself, so check out this song here "Jerk A La Vague". They also have a groovy webpage at, complete with all the swirling colors, music, and videos that one would expect.

Stereocope Jerk Explosion -- Jerk A La Vague

May 17, 2009

Modcast #129: Make Some Time

Welcome to Mr. Suave's Mod Mod World. Got an eclectic show this week with lots of different types of stuff. The new Joe Jackson Live at the BBC just came out a couple of weeks ago and I've been listening to it continuously, and it's just excellent. The version of Got the Time here is one of the best Jackson ever recorded. Other gems include some nice, rockin' power pop from Star Collector and OK Go, some groovy sixties pop music from The Groop and Yellow Balloon, and a nice set of 2-Tone bands doing easy listening, lounge ska. A little something for everyone.

Star Collector -- #1 (2000)
Joe Jackson -- Got The Time (2009)
Classics -- Audio, Audio (1979)
Dramarama -- Anything, Anything (I'll Give You) (1985)
Remington Super 60 -- The Impractical Guide To The Opposite Sex (2002)
The Groop -- Time Fire (1967)
Yellow Balloon -- How Can I Be Down (1967)
Madness -- Return of the Los Palmas 7 (1980)
The Swingin' Cats -- Mantovani (1980)
The Specials -- Holiday Fortnight (1980)
OK Go -- You're So Damn Hot (2002)

The Specials -- Rat Race

Madness -- Return of the Los Palmas 7

May 16, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Slickee Boys

Washington DC has produced some pretty damn good groups over the years from Bad Brains to Modest Proposal. Early on though there was The Slickee Boys who produced their first full-length LP in 1977 and continue to reunite annually for New Year Eve shows. Their highwater mark was their sophmore release, Here To Stay, in 1982. It was an eclectic album, just like the band. There was the psychadelic freakbeat of "Porcelain Butter Kittens", the spiky power pop of "Forbidden Love", the garage rock of "Glendora", and the song here, "Girls Want To Be With The Girls", a decidedly 80s bit of new wave that has an organ riff that brings The Doors to mind. The band went on to more fame the next year riding a wave popularity thanks to one of the first DIY videos ever featured on the then young and fresh MTV, When I Go To The Beach.

The Slickee Boys -- Girls Want To Be With The Girls

May 15, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Jolt

You could say that The Jolt were Scottland's answer to The Jam. But really that would be like answering a question that hadn't been fully asked since the two bands share remarkably similar timelines. The Jolt came together in Glasgow in 1976, started gigging in 1977, quickly became label mates of The Jam at Polydor and released their debut LP in 1978.

Originally touted as a punk band, it was obvious in listening to their sixties styled power pop that they were much more than that. They were a full blown mod revival band with ringing power chords, crashing guitars and all the angst you might expect. Heavily influenced by The Who, the single here, "I Can't Wait", was their third, and best. Their album is quite good with lots of original material and a couple of top notch covers. Unfortunately, by 1980 just as the mod revival was really getting going the band had disintegrated with members ending up in other up and coming mod groups like Small Hours.

The Jolt -- I Can't Wait

May 14, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Carrots

Despite proudly proclaiming themselves a crunk/funk/punk band on their myspace page, The Carrots are none of those. Rather they are the embodiment of a 60s girl group, as much as a band can be when two of its six players are male. The Carrots (complete with lots of nifty matching outfits) succeeded in creating a nice girl group sound, almost too much. The first EP's four songs were all sweet and cute, but with a simple elegance that made calling it twee just that much more wrong. The sixties soul influences were plain to hear, and a pleasure, none more so than on the song here "Secret Since '99". The second EP was, thankfully, more of the same. In fact, it's almost more sixties girl group sounding, proving that The Carrots are continuing to hone their sound and resisting the urge to sell out. Be sure to check out the documentary video on their myspace page as well.

The Carrots -- Secret Since '99

May 13, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Modesty

Today, I'm going to treat you to a brand new band out of Sweden. Sweden has consistenly produced some of the best mod friendly music over the years whether it be power pop, acid jazz, soul, or whatever. I don't know what they're putting in the water over there, but whatever it is they should spread it around.

The Modesty are a new up and coming mod band out of Stockholm. This track, "Park of Calm" has a definite Britpop feel to it, but with a heavy nod to the 70s mod revival.

The Modesty -- Park of Calm

The Modesty -- Ambassador (featuring the Hong Kong Lambretta club)

May 12, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Pepper Pots

What is a pepperpot? According to Monty Python's Graham Chapman pepperpots are screechy middleaged housewives. Or it could be a firearm. Or a spicy stew. Or in the case of this band, at least the last two out of the three. The Pepper Pots are spicy hot for sure. Regardless, they are the premiere ska band from Catalan -- the northeastern most of Spain. Check that, The Pepper Pots are one of the pemiere ska bands anywhere.

They've got an "old school" ska sound heavily influenced by early Jamaican ska, rocksteady, and sixties soul. The Pepper Pots have made their mark on the international ska scene thanks by producing some of the most soulful ska in many a long year. And, of course, it doesn't hurt to be fronted by three beautiful young women.

Since their inception in 2002 they released two fantastic full length discs, Swingin' Sixties, and Shake It. The first had all the elements one would expect with lots of ska and reggae overtones, but the sophmore release simply outshines it. The group has sharpened their style, tightened up, and the result is simply superb. From the motown-like "My Heart Belongs to You" to the rocksteady soul of "I Can Feel It" and this song here, "I'm In Love" (and I am in love with the organ solo in this track) it's an album of great depth and range. Neither will let you down, but Shake It just hit the right notes for me. Let's hope the trend continues with a third release.

The Pepper Pots -- I'm In Love

The Pepper Pots -- Lucky Girl

May 11, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The New Hearts/Secret Affair

Somewhere along about 1982 or '83 I stumbled across this compilation album with a scooter on the cover called Mods Mayday '79. I was just learning what this new --to me at least-- sound was, this thing called mod.

The band was stocked with groups I'd never heard of before. The internet essentially was still more than a decade off, and music sharing services like Napster even further away still. There was no googling a band's name and finding out every fact about them and listening to every song they'd ever recorded. For a teenager in Upland, California, learning about the sounds from London was a tedious task that required frequenting the few alternative/independent records stores around the southland. And even then you mostly found singles and records from local acts, or for imports it was The Clash, The Police, the Sex Pistols, or on an especially lucky day The Buzzcocks or The Undertones.

So I headed home to discover these wonderful bands with punk like attitudes, and lots of sixties soul. That's how I discovered Secret Affair and I looked long and hard for anything by the band, eventually picking up the few releases that managed to make their way across the pond to the States.

The song here, "Just Another Teenage Anthem" actually pre-dates Secret Affair -- though they rerecorded it later and it has since become identified with them. In 1977 Ian Paige and Dave Cairns formed The New Hearts and recorded "Just Another Teenage Anthem" as their first single. The New Hearts ran into label problems and eventually were dropped, and Paige and Cairns immediately reformed as Secret Affair.

Secret Affair's sound was crisp, claen and sharp, like their dress. It was updated version of sixties power pop that also incorporated some of the elements of British punk rock. It eschewed the psychadelic leanings of some of the mod stalwarts of the sixties, but completely embraced their love of soul and R&B. And the songs were anthemic -- "Time For Action", "Glory Boys", "Days of Change" -- making the whole mod scene that much more cool and arrogant. And, the band embraced that image fully, becoming the leaders of the mod revival in a way that a tremendously successful band like The Jam, or less talented second tier mod scene acts never could.

Secret Affair -- Just Another Teenage Anthem

May 10, 2009

Modcast #128: Go Get It Son

The sun is out, the flu has flown, Beckham will not take the field today against Seattle's Sounders FC. For the moment, all is right in Mr. Suave's Mod Mod World. All will be right in your mod world once you've listened in to this week's modcast. It's a doozy. Cool new tracks from Bubblegum Lemonade, Connett, 110th Street and The Cocktail Slippers -- whose latest video by the way you can check out down below. Rounding it all out is some hammond based acid jazz, some martini minded lounge music, some modish power pop. All in all, this should make your mod world right itself no matter what state it's in.

Greg Summerlin -- Unlucky in Love (2007)
Cocktail Slippers -- Go Get It (2009)
Connett -- Son (2009)
Bubblegum Lemonade -- Last Train to Clarkston (2008)
110th Street -- Machine Gun (2009)
James Taylor Quartet -- Cleos Mood (2007)
Detroit Cobras -- Nothing But a Heartache (2008)
The Atomic Martinis -- 13 Men & Me (200?)
Jaymz Bee's Royal Jelly Orchestra -- Safety Dance (1996)
The Lounge Brigade -- Iron Man (2002)
The Gwen Stacys -- Five Fingers Song (1997)

Bonus Videos

Detroit Cobras -- Cha Cha Twist

Cocktail Slippers -- In The City

May 9, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Material Issue

I discovered Material Issue in 1991 along with everyone else. By that time the band had already been honing their modish power pop around Chicago and the midwest for a number of years. The initial album, Internationa Pop Overthrow, set the tone that alternative power pop bands would follow for the rest of the decade. It had a nice blend of jangline, ringing, and crashing guitars, as best shown on "Valerie Loves Me". Material Issue took their sixties and seventies influences and instead of writing derivative pop in the same vein as so many other bands of the day, they reinterpreted the sound and moved the whole genre of power pop forward, much as The Smithereens were doing at nearly the same time. Unlike the Smithereens who favored a more mainstream pop sound, Material Issue loved to string together heavier, more alterantive yet catchy hooks in one song along with very memorable melodies, such as with "Out Right Now".

The band went on to produce five albums, the last posthumously. Lead singer, and the band's creative heart and soul, Jim Ellison committed suicide in 1996 leaving behind a nearly finished album. Interestingly, the band's later releases moved away from the first album, which was their most sixties influenced and had the most mod friendly sound of their releases. Yet, the final album Telecomanda Americano brought their sound full circle and seemed to be headed back in the direction of International Pop Overthrow.

The song here, "Somethings Happened to Catherine", is one of their heaviest. It was never released on any of their albums to the best of my knowledge. Rather it was one of a handful of singles the band released and which appeared on various volumes of the Yellow Pills compilations.

Material Issue -- Somethings Happened to Catherine

Material Issue -- Diane

May 8, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Red Button

If you could only listen to one record produced in 2007 you would have to choose The Red Button's debut release, She's About To Cross My Mind. In fact, if you could only listen to one record for the rest of your life The Red Button would be in the top tier of those that might make the cut.

The Red Button is really the pop music vehicle of avid baseball fan and author, singer/songwriter Seth Swirsky. Along with Mike Ruekberg of Minnesota's power poppers Rex Daisy, Swirky has put together a pitch perfect pop album. The songs float easily out of the speakers, caressing your ears with something akin to aural cotton candy. And yet, this isn't sugary, bubblegum pop. It's pop music that has an ephemeral quality such as the swirling, soft psychadelia of "Free", or the harmonies of "She's Going Down", or the very Beattleseque "Cruel Girl". It's so smooth, so accessible that you'd be hard pressed to call this power pop, though it is. The song here, "Floating By", is just one such.

The Red Button -- Floating By

May 7, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Decibels

The Decibels were a power pop band with heavy mod and sixties influences. The band came together with former members of California mod/garage band E-Types, so the mod influence isn't a surprise. The Decibel's level of talent and production quality were a surprise. It's a wonder that the band didn't break through and get more exposure. Their sound is tight, but also accessible to a mainstream audience with catchy hooks, and often clever lyrics. The song here, "Good", is better than that. It opens like something from the mod revival and roars along as a great piece of pounding power pop. A lengthy interview is posted on The Decibel's myspace page.

The Decibels -- Good

May 6, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Creeps

In 1986 The Creeps came screaming out of Sweden with their long hair and sixties look and feel to the delight of garage revivalist around the globe. The band's debut Enjoy The Creeps was an explosion of psychadelic tinged garage punk complete with crunchy guitars offset by smooth and soulful organ work, and lots of reverb. The albums opener "Down at the Nightclub" set the stage for The Creeps and helped propel them to worldwide notoriety. At least in the mod/garage/psychadelic underground.

By 1988 they had cut their hair, their look was a bit more subdued, in some ways more mod you might say. Their sound was mellowing, but a stronger, bluesier sense of soul was starting to shine through. Their sophmore release, Now Dig This, was more soulful, but less rocking. It had an almost honky tonk fell to it at times, gritty, but a prettied up gritty, like "Where My Heart Belongs" and the Prisonersesque "So Long".

Later albums saw the band progress in a more mainstream direction, gone was the garage punk R&B of the early days. Instead, they added a funkier element, but without losing their soul, ultimately making them more listenable and in line with The Soup Dragons, Wonderstuff and other such acts of the early 90s. 1990 saw the band win a Swedish Grammy for a glammed up funk number, their biggest hit, "Ooh I Like It". Regardless, for me, "Now Dig This" remains their best release.

The Creeps -- Now Dig This

The Creeps -- Ooh I Like It

May 5, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Ace-Tones

The Ace-Tones are a garage punk combo out of Holland that have made their mark on the garage rock world by being both talented and driven. The band produced a handful of singles and full release throughout the 90s, and members have gone on to play with The Fuzztones and other garage acts. Their sound was pure garage rock mixed with power pop. The song here, "In Your Eyes" is a real floor shaker combining sixties R&B with just a hint of psychadelia.

The Ace-Tones -- In Your Eyes

May 4, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Translator

Sorry for the late post today, but here it is at last. Not a mod band or mod song really, but some post-punk new wave from San Francisco 80's band Translator. They're best known for the song here, "Everywhere That I'm Not", but they did some other good stuff as well. Influenced by sixties merseybeat and the Beattles, they had some good guitar pop tunes like "Come With Me" and "Stony Gates of Time". But, they also incorporated a lot of power pop and post punk influences such as Talking Heads and The Pretenders to turn out some sharper new wave songs like "When I Am With You" and "Favorite Drug." Still, "Everywhere That I'm Not" is just such a great song that it's easy to see why some of the rest isn't much remembered these days.

Translator -- Everywhere That I'm Not

May 3, 2009

Modcast #127: I've Got A Feeling

This week on the modcast you will be getting a blast of new tracks from Chris Richards, Beatnic Prestige and Maximo Park. You'll also get treated to some acid jazz Mother Earth, power pop from Bronco Bullfrog and even gospel punk from Mercy Seat. I've got a feeling . . . you're gonna like it.

Chris Richards & the Subtractions - I Can't Quit Her (2009)
Beatnic Prestige - Doubtfire (2009)
Mercy Seat - I've Got A Feeling (198?)
Maximo Park - In Another World (2009)
Mother Earth - Apple Green (1995)
Paul Weller - Bitterness Rising (1992)
Kaiser Chiefs - Team Mate (2005)
The Its - Girls Kick Ass (1997)
The Knows - I Like Girls (198?)
Most Wanted Men - Good Girls (Go To Heaven)(1991)
Bronco Bullfrog - I Got The Rain (2004)

Beatnic Prestige - Suck It Up

Paul Weller Movement at Brixton Academy circa 1990/91

May 2, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Locksley

They look like the Monkees, they play like the Beatles, they tour with Hanson, they're all over Rock Band, and they sound like the Kinks (most of the time, except when they sound a little like the Strokes). They're Locksley. Power pop the way it was meant to be.

Locksley -- Let Me Know

May 1, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Crawling Walls

Just as the first wave garage rock revival was winding down along came one of the best garage rock albums ever. The Crawling Walls released "Inner Limits" in 1985 off the Voxx label and then promptly disappeared forever more. It's unclear if the band lasted more than the time required to record one terrific album. No matter, they did record it and I've loved it ever since I happened across it in Rhino Records and just could sense that it would be something special.

I wasn't wrong. Bob Fountain speaks eloquently with two voices, his and his Farfisa's. His voice fits perfectly here, and has a unique twang that makes it it instantly identifiable. His Farfisa does the same, lending pacing and direction. The tracks are all garage rock pure and simple, but the swirling organ gives it both an exotic psychadelic sound, and a very authentic sixties feel. This is combined with fuzzed out guitar in several surprisingly long songs, with speeds ebbing and flowing as the focus switches back and forth between the musicians. Then there are a number of three minute power pop songs, still combining organ and guitar, but with driving drums that keep them moving at a breakneck pace. The comparisons to Thee Fourgiven, The Fuzztones and The Unclaimed are warrented, but Crawling Walls also added their own unique stamp to the songs, few as they were. It was hard to pick a song to feature since they are all so great but I finally chose "Tell Me Why", and you'll understand why as soon as you hear it.

Crawling Walls -- Tell Me Why