September 11, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Frank Popp Ensemble

Frank Popp Ensemble is a mod combo out of Germany headed up by DJ, graphic designer and farfisa organ meastro Frank Popp. The group blends swingin' go-go music with northern soul, freakbeat, bossa nova, and sixties pop creating a sound that early on in their history was not unlike that of Pizzicato Five, Mother Earth, or early James Taylor Quartet.

Their first album Ride On! was a fantastic tour de force of mod sounds from soul to psychadelia, all with a great sixties meets the 21st century vibe. It was eclectic, bouncing from loungey bossa nova infused tracks, to DJ sampled pieces, to pure northern soul songs. The single, "Hip Teens (Don't Wear Blue Jeans)" was an international success, and the album has been rereleased with slight variations several times over the past eight years.

Earlier this year the group dropped its second full release, this time with a harder, more guitar driven sound. The new album's first single, "Hey Mr. Innocent" has a heavy bass line and ringing guitars punctuated by the fabulous vocals of Ms. Sam Leigh-Brown; "Dead End Street" opens with a thundering Who like guitar riff, while "Countdown To The Sun" and "Change" have a sort of Style Council era Paul Weller feel to them. Still soulful, the new album is not as loungey or jazzy to my ear, but even as different as it is from Ride On!, it's a great new chapter in the group's story.

Frank Popp Ensemble -- Live Wire (from Receiver)

Frank Popp Ensemble -- Belly Bossanova (from Ride On!)

The Frank Popp Ensemble - Hip Teens (don't wear blue jeans)