November 30, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Modest Proposal

Modest Proposal's Neal Augentstein reports that the band's reunion show last week was packed out and a big success (though maybe not financially).
The sold-out crowd packed the small performance area even before openers, The Reply, took the stage. Many in the audience had seen the bands in the 1980s. Through the years many had fallen out of touch, but retained the commonality of being in D.C.'s mod music scene more than two decades ago.
His reports the past couple of months around the band's reunion have been fun to read and hopefully will inspire some other "old timers" to get back together as well.

Here's pretty cool video from the show. This is HD size and doesn't fit all that well in the blog, but you can watch it all on Youtube.

Modest Proposal -- Nobody Says No

November 29, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Swinging Cats

Busy travel day today for me and about a bazillion other Americans. I'm hoping to have time tonight to final Modcast #148 and get it posted. In the meantime just a quick video to keep you satisfied. This is from 2-Tone labelers, The Swinging Cats. Over at the excellent blog Marco On The Bass you can read about the band's newly announced reunion plans.

The Swinging Cats -- Never on Sunday

November 28, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Saints

One of the great original punk bands, The Saints were Australia's answer to The Ramones and The Damned. Over the past four decades they've continually turned out great punk styled garage rock, and have finally evolved into a down and dirty rock and roll band with a heavy 60s blues sound.

The Saints -- Stranded

November 27, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Low Miffs and Malcolm Ross

Sparks? No. Talking Heads? No. Queen? No. Bowie? Killers? Martha & the Muffins? Franz Ferdinand? Television? No. No. No. No. No. The Low Miffs and Malcolm Ross? Of course! Aztec Camera, well only a bit. That bit being the addition of Malcolm Ross, formerly of the Aztecs (as well as Orange Juice, a band I'd desperately like to forget but keep running into) to The Low Miffs for a brand new release. The Low Miffs are a Glasgow band in the same vein as Franz Ferdinand (who happen to be some of the Miffs' biggest fans), pop tunesters with a keen ear for unique hooks to blend with familiar sounds and styles. All of that gives you a band that sounds fresh and new, while at the same time sounding for all the world like Sparks, as they do on "Cressida" or bringing to mind Queen like on "Dear Josephine". Meanwhile, this new video showcases the big, bold voice of Leo Condie, all the while echoing The Killers in sound and style.

The Low Miffs and Malcolm Ross -- Cressida

November 26, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Madd

The Madd are a garage rock, power pop band from Rotterdam. Their debut release Beat Incurable in 2007 was a tour de force of garage rock, a straight forward sixties beat album. The group attacked those songs with a raw intensity and unbridled energy. Their latest release, Are Pretty Quick, has the same levely of energy, but there's a polish and maturity that the first album lacked. Interestingly they also have collaborated with hip-hop rapper Dio, producing a unique blend of rap and beat music.

The Madd -- You, Can Be My Baby

The Madd -- Going All The Way

Dio feat. The Madd -- Baby

November 25, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Irene

Every once in a while, more often if your lucky, you stumble across a band that just does it for you. You know what I mean, every song they sing, every hook, every jingle, every jangle, every single vocal drop, just works. You like it. That's how it is for me with Irene. Here's a nice pop band, dare I say it, a twee sounding pop band, with a crooner for a singer. No, really. The band pumps out this perfectly beautiful pop music, and there's this bold, loungified vocal over the top of it all. It's gorgeous in both it's surprise and likability.

Irene is a Swedish pop band, with loads of sixties influences, a clear love of soul and power pop both. And over the top of it all is this sort of lounge thing, thanks to big, bold, deep and booming voice of "Bobby" on vocals. The music isn't lounge music at all, but the voice is one that cold martinis and manhattans are served behind all the time (at least in the cool cocktail universe where stuff like that really happens). The music is an ifectious concoction of northern soul horns, power pop guitars, and a firm grasp of what make a good pop song. The band has released a slew of singles, a record's release to be sure, with even a Christmas holiday offering in the mix. From 2005 through 2008 they have turned out some really great recordings, the standouts being "Stardust", one of their earliest, it's short and sweet, and has a great soul vibe under the pop guitars. Also good is their cult "hit" "Baby, I Love Your Way" which could have dropped off any Style Council album in their early days. It's a straight forward bit of pop with soulful horns and catchy hooks and melodies.

It seems that the band members have gone their separate ways with different projects for the time being. But one can hope they all decide to collaborate for one or more new songs.

Irene -- Baby, I Love Your Way

Irene -- Stardust

Irene -- By Your Side

November 24, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Fleshtones

They've been dubbed America's garage band. They were one of the original bands that made CBGB's cool in the 70s. They're the subject of their own documentary, and a great biography called "Sweat". They took their own first single from 1979 and turned it into the theme music to Tom Hank's Bachelor Party in 1984. Amazingly, they've never charted higher than 174 on the Billboard charts, and yet are a favorite band of artists both mainstream and indie. They're The Fleshtones. here they are some 30+ years into their existence and they just produced their 19th full length release. Part of the New York punk/new wave scene of the 70s, their sound has always been less punk, more pop, with a sort of frat rock vibe, which seems to have suited garage rock fans just fine. It's a great mix of 50s rock, 60s R&B, and 70s power pop, which the band has the uncanny ability to make sound fresh and new. Here is "Soul Struttin" from their 1982 release Blast Off, and "Late September Moon" off of what might be the band's best release ever, 2005's Beachhead.

The Fleshtones -- Soul Struttin'

The Fleshtones -- Late September Moon

Pardon Us for Living, But the Graveyard is Full [Trailer]

November 23, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Powder

You can be forgiven if you think Powder was a part of the British invasion, as there's no doubt they wished they'd been. Instead, they were a four-piece band from San Mateo, California that managed to pound out a freakbeat sound echoing The Who and The Creation. The band covered a lot of Who tracks, and their originals were definitely mod. The sound was pure sixties power pop with some folk and country overtones spread through some of the tracks, similar to some of the things Mike Nesmith and The Monkees were doing at the same time. Here is their take on one of the most covered of Who songs, "So Sad About Us" which Powder does justice, and the best of their own tracks, "Gladly".

Powder(The Art Collection) -- So Sad About Us

Powder -- Gladly

November 22, 2009

From the Vaults Modcast #48: Back to the Mod

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 spring of 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. I've got a nice mix of power pop. garage rock and brit pop. And, I've got one of my favorite garage bands, The Funseekers. In 1989 they came out and played the American Mayday 89 show I sponsored in LA and I while they slept on my kitchen floor I got a chance to know the guys and have to say they were probably the most authentic bunch of garage rockers I've ever met.
  • The Jags -- Evening Standards
  • Gore Gore Girls -- Hard Enough
  • The Movements -- Cry For You
  • Groovie Ghoulies -- Criswell Predicts
  • Dodgy -- Waiting for the Day
  • The Rewinds -- Ghostriders
  • Elastica -- Annie
  • The Penthouse 5 -- Today is Just Tomorrow's Yesterday
  • The Sorrows -- So You've Got What I want
  • The Move -- So You Wanna Be a Rock-N-Roll Star
  • The Funseekers -- Welcome to My Love

Bonus Video
The Groovie Ghoulies -- Island of Pogo Pogo

November 21, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Anydays

British band The Anydays are a guitar driven power pop band with a heavy sixties mod influence. The band has quite a range moving easily from the sixties flavored "Backyard", to the garage power pop sound of "Here She Comes" to an almost bubblegum pop sound of "Monday Morning" complete with la-la-las. Not as aggressive as The Len Price 3 with whom they share a certain affinity, they still bring an intensity to some well written, tightly played songs.

The Anydays -- On My Way

The Anydays -- Rollercoaster

The Anydays -- I Feel Free

November 20, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Naomi Star

Power pop bands that smartly blend sixties pop with indie rock and infuse it with folk rock don't come along too often. The Naomi Star do (maybe did?)exactly that, and they do it exceedingly well. The band has lots of influences from The Monkees and The Beatles to Badfinger to The Posies. Seeing that list you might think you know what to expect, but you'll get more than you bargained for. They take those influences and mix them together in an intoxicating blend of kinder, gentler power pop, maybe more akin to the seventies than any other era. The first of their releases I became familiar with was Sunshine Girl, with its fabulous power pop title track that has the seventies bubblegum and rock mixture that Sweet made famous, sans the glam. Their latest release Through The Eyes, is a smooth record styled after late sixties, early seventies pop groups like The Bee Gees, and Badfinger and popsters like Dwight Twilley and Marshall Crenshaw. Surprises abound as the songs flow effortlessly from one to another, even when you go from the seventiesesque S"he Told Me" to the more modern indie rock of "Moneyman" and "Powerpop Nugget". And then another slick shift sideways to the Mike Nesmith-like "Anjoulie". From what I've read online it looks like perhaps they've gone on hiatus or broken up, if anyone knows for sure let me know.

The Naomi Star -- She Told Me

The Naomi Star -- Powerpop Nugget

November 19, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Parties

The best $.95 I ever spent got me the new EP from San Francisco mod combo The Parties. The EP, Cryin Shame, wasn't supposed to be out until next week, but you can get it right now at Amie Street. This new release picks up right where their 2008 record Can't Come Down left off. The title track is a great bit of sixties sounding pop music blending jangling, at times twanging, guitar hooks with bluesy harmonica and some great vocal harmonies. While all five tracks are great, I was particularly entranced by "Kensington Avenue" which with it's psychadelic overtones sets it a bit apart from the soft sixties feel of the rest of the EP. Overall it's a tightly produced release with nice, tight musicianship. The whole thing gave me a nice warm, beach like feeling, which is nice when you're listening to it in Seattle at the bus stop during a typical November downpour.

The Parties -- Kensington Avenue

November 18, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Quantic

If you like jazz and soul, then you will definitely dig DJ Will Holland's work as Quantic. In the past decade he has produced a fistfull albums that blend jazz, soul, and modern latin, hip-hop and electronic sounds into some very beautiful music. Besides recording his own original music -- on which he plays guitar, bass, drum, or sometimes all three -- he has also recorded a number of releases of deep funk and soul with the Quantic Soul Orchestra. His sound is most obviously soul and jazz, but clearly owes a debt to trip-hoppers like Portishead, acid-jazzsters like Corduroy, and latin-soul maestros Pizzicato Five (no, really). Giving them a nod is fine, but Quantic's music whether solo or in groups is clearly his own. He mixes old and new together in a beguiling, and at times eclectic, way. His 2004 release, Mishaps Happening, is probably his best solo release with some nice light bossa flavored songs like the title track, but also some serious acid jazz like the album closer "So Long". In his role as leader of the Quantic Soul Orchestra his collaborations with soul singers Alice Russel and Spanky Wilson have produced some of the finest deep funk/nu-soul around -- such as "When You're Through" and "Feeling Good". Of late he's removed himself to Colombia where he's put together a latin jazz group Quantic and his Combo Barbaro, producing a marimba based batch of soul jazz songs. If Quantic is heading up the project, from funk to jazz to marimba, you can be sure it's going to be good.

Quantic feat. Alice Russell -- So Long

Quantic Soul Orchestra - End of The Road (Live)

November 17, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Ella Fitzgerald

The First Lady of Song, that's Ella Fitzgerald. She is the greatest female jazz singer and carried a voice that could hardly be rivaled. It was like a sunbeam bursting through a cloudbank, it came shooting at you only to bathe you in the sweetest, silkiest sounds. If you're not greatly familiar with Ella the best thing to do is familiarize yourself with her early work with Dizzy Gillespie. While she started out at places like the Savoy Ballroom doing big band swing and jazz, it was the bebop sound of the mid to late 40s that fit her freewheeling style. Her work with Gillespie kicked off her scat singing, where she "tried to do [with my voice] what I heard the horns in the band doing." And it was amazing. From the 1940s on Fitzgerald established herself as one of the greats, if not the greatest, scat singer in jazz alongside of Scatman Crothers and Mel Torme. Over the years she knew how to tap into the current music scene zeitgeist and was able to do some great cross-over work during the sixties -- as she did with her 1968 cover of Cream's "Sunshine of Your Love". In the seventies she returned to a more pure jazz sound that solidified her as the genre's leading lady. "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" was recorded with the Tommy Flanagan Trio in 1974 in Paris. The song's sound amazingly winds it way right through her own life history from belting boldness, to spunk scatting, to that deap and throaty greatness that epitomized her later years. It's an amazing retrospective of her signature sounds, complete with zound-zound-zounds and bah-bah-bawawadoozooya-yeahs at the end.

Ella Fitzgerald -- Sunshine of Your Love

Ella Fitzgerald -- I Can't Give You Anything But Love

Ella Fitzgerald -- One Note Samba

November 16, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Pillbugs

If you like your sixties rock tinged with freaked out guitars, spacey reverb, and healthy dose of psychadelia than The Pillbugs are for you. The band has been making music for more than a decade and have several releases to their credit. The sound is pretty typical sixties stuff, very much in the vien of The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour and The Who's Sell Out and Tommy. Other psychadelic bands like Plasticland have gone head over heels into the exoticness of psychadelia and end up being way overproduced at times. Not The Pillbugs, they maintain a firm grasp on the pop song framework. Their songs benefit from the band's grasp of The Monkees and The Beatles, as well as their love for the more trippy late sixties psychadelic sounds of Syd Barret, The Move, and Cream. This makes all the difference in the world, keeping their songs tight and listenable, while at the same time giving you a taste of more experimental sounds from the fringe. Their 2007 album Monclovia is the one to pick-up, a sort of "best of" compilation of the band's work. "Life As It Happens" is a very Who-like tour de force of guitars, drums and keyboards, while "All In Good Time" is more power poppish with it's bouncy melody and catchy hooks. Sadly, one of the members died from cancer last year, so I'm not clear on whether the band will continue on or if there are any new recordings in their future.

The Pillbugs -- LIfe As It Happens

The Pillbugs -- All In Good Time

November 15, 2009

Modcast #147: The Big Power Pop Show Part Deux

Welcome to Mr. Suave's Mod Mod World. This is the second of my big power pop shows, because as I pointed out last week, one modcast alone couldn't contain it all (go for part 1). So I've put together another near dozen perfect power pop songs. Some you'll be familiar with, and a few you might not. What are you doing reading this? Get to downloading the show, pure musical enjoyment is on the way.

Gary Valentine -- The First One (1978)
Raspberries -- Go All The Way (1972)
The Secrets -- I Can Dance Better (1982)
Shoes -- Your Very Eyes (1979)
The Last Ones -- Bit of You (1982)
The Shirts -- Time (Has Seen Me Lonely) (1980)
The Peasants -- Here She Comes (1980)
The Headboys -- Schoolgirls (1979)
The Scooters -- Big Brother (1980)
The Now -- I Wanna Go Steady With You (1980)
The Zippers -- It Hurts (1981)

The Headboys -- The Shape of Things To Come

Shoes -- Tomorrow Night

November 14, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Mojo Men

The Mojo Men were one of the lesser known San Francisco garage psychadelia bands of the sixties. Maybe that's because they liked a woman who "talks like my sister, walks like my brother, looks like my father and cooks like my mother." Doesn't exactly sound like a winner does she? Never the less, the song really cooks with a great mix of bluesy harmonica and fuzzy guitars. The band was most notable for being produced by Sly Stone, and really only had one other hit that isn't nearly as good as this track here, "She's My Baby."

The Moje Men -- She's My Baby

November 13, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Libertines

If someone wants to make a modern rock movie filled with drama, tension and love/hate relationships then they need look no further than The Libertines. The band's history is classic rock and roll, one of sex, drugs and ... well, libertinism.

The sound is also classic -- classic Britpop with mod and punk overtones throughout. Both frontmen -- Pete Doherty and Carl Barat -- cite their biggest influences as The Jam and The Kinks, but also have pointed out that they were enamored of the '79 sound of The Buzzcocks and The Clash (indeed Mick Jones was their on again off again producer for both their albums). Clearly, the classic mod sounds of London were right at home with The Libertines. Theirs was a brasher, garagier, and often more swaggering sort of mod sound. It hearkened to days gone by, but pushed forward by modernizing the power pop guitarishness of 90s Britpop. The song here, "Time for Heroes" is quintessential Libertines -- a polished and professional sloppiness that only comes from great talent and great arrogance (and and most certianly some great drugs -- at least for Mr. Doherty). A couple of things that The Libertines never lacked.

The Libertines -- Time For Heroes

The Libertines -- Don't Look Back Into The Sun

November 12, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Quick

One of the bands that helped to launch the late 70s power pop explosion was The Quick from California. The band was years ahead of other power pop acts like The Knack, Plimsouls, Shoes, 20/20 and so on, and really pioneered the sound that was later the foundation for American power pop, punk and new wave. Their impact and influence far outpaced their achievements during their measley three years of existence. They only had one album, and they never toured outside of California, and yet they were influential in reviving the Whiskey A-G0-GO and creating the Los Angeles club scene in the mid-70s. They had a solid power pop foundation, channeling all the right groups from the British invasion like The Beatles, The Who, and The Kinks -- evidenced by their great covers of The Beatles "It Won't Be Long" and the Four Seasons "Rag Doll".

But they didn't just play the same old power pop, they moved the genre ahead by incorporating synthesizers and experimenting with fusing classical music and film scores into their rock and roll, not unlike Roxy Music, Sparks, or David Bowie. (Not surprising when you learn that Earl Mankey -- one time guitarist for Sparks -- produced the album. Mankey also produced and worked The Pop, The Last, The Eddies and other power pop groups over the years) One of The Quick's great songs was made famous by KROQ's Rodney Bingenheimer and later became a staple of power pop bands everywhere, "Pretty Please Me", which was a cult hit of sorts for both The Dickies and Redd Kross. Eventually, the band broke up, with rummer Danny Benair going on to be in the Weirdos and then The Three O'Clock, and singer Danny Wilde who went on to form The Rembrandts and penned their song "I'll Be There For You" which became the overplayed theme to Friends.

November 11, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The New Mastersounds

The New Mastersounds are exactly that. The band actually started out in the late 90s as a trio, calling themselves Mastersounds. The New Mastersounds solidified their original line-up, and the new name, in 2000 with a 7" recording of one of their rehearsals that caught the attention of Northern Soul champion Keb Darge. (Of course, we might speculate too that these New Mastersounds are a tribute to the original Mastersounds of the sixties -- Wes Montgomery and his brothers' group. No doubt that Wes had some influence on The New Mastersounds.)

While they are hailed as a funk group, and leaders of the 'new funk' scene, they really are more of a soul jazz band to my (tin) ear. Yes it's funky, it's definitely soulful, but there's also a heapin' helpin' of down and dirty jazz roiling along just under the surface. From their first full length release in 2001, Keb Darge Presents The New Mastersounds, to their brand new record (sixth studio release) just now available on iTunes and coming soon on vinyl, Ten Years On, I hear as much jazz as soul, funk or anything else.

Still, the soul is always present, especially on greasy tracks that could even put wes Montgomery and Jimmy Smith to shame like "Return to Gijon". Or the funky soul of King Comfort with Dionne Charles handling vocals. And the funk is never far away as was obvious from the gitgo with "Stay on the Groove" or "The Rooster". And it is still very present, if less raw and more polished, on smoove tracks like "Limsy" and "Chocolate Chip".

I have to say I really appreciate the band's approach to their live shows. Much like the Grateful Dead, they get it that live music makes fans bigger fans. Audience audio recordings of New Mastersounds live performances are allowed for non-commercial purposes ONLY. Audience tapers, please be respectful of other showgoers by being as unobtrusive as reasonably possible.When I hear how great a band sounds from a live recording I can only imagine how great they must sound in person. That's what drives me to want to see them live, to make the extra effort to go to a show, and to spend more time and money on them. That being said, I sure as hell hope they come back to Seattle sometime soon, since I was out of town and missed their Bumbershoot appearance earlier this year.

Be sure to check out this hi-def video of the studio session for "San Frantico", the lead track on the new album.

The New Mastersounds -- Chocolate Chip feat. Chip Wickham

The New Mastersounds -- Drop It Down

November 10, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Briefs

I can relate to this video in more ways than one. It could be one of Mr. Suave's theme songs to be sure. Gotta love the punk rock.

The Briefs -- Poor & Weird

November 9, 2009

Mod-A-Day: "The Mod Sound -- Modest Proposal"

I first put up the post below about Modest Proposal (almost exactly two years ago to the day) in 2007 to highlight a band that I've always really liked, but didn't seem to get the attention it deserved. Their 1987 album, Single Minded, became one of my favorites as soon as I heard it, and I think it would for anyone who listened to it today for the first time.

The original post surprised me by attracting more comments than any of the posts I've written. In fact, it attracted the attention of Neal Augestein the lead singer of Modest Proposal (you can check out the modcast he hosted here). Neal got in touch with me recently to let me know that he was getting the band back together. And, now here it is a reality. More than that, the band is in the happy spot of already having sold out their return, Saturday, Nov. 28, at Comet Ping Pong in Washington DC.

Of the reunion Neal writes:
"We can't wait to get on stage again, and we're thrilled people still want to see us, 25 years later."

I think we sound now like we wanted to sound then. The music's muscular and taut, even if WE may not be anymore."
And they do sound great. This weekend I led off the modcast with an an exclusive -- a brand new Modest Proposal recording, a song written 25 years ago and yet never recorded. "Already An Angel" has the sound I remember, but also benefits from production that the band's earliest recordings did not (download the modcast to check it out). I'm including here an older track that I think captures their sound perfectly, "The Look In Your Eyes", which was on their 1987 album as well as on one of Unicorn Records 7" releases, Phase III Mod Bands, on which Modest Proposal appeared with The Toasters, The Risk and The Outlets.

I suppose the big question is will MP continue to perform together? "I assume we'll ask ourselves that same question after the reunion show," says Neal.

Here are a few pictures of the boys in action today as they prepare for their upcoming gig.

Modest Proposal -- The Look In Your Eyes

Original Post:
Hailing from Washington, D.C., Modest Proposal was a mid-80s mod band that had a pure power pop sound with slight tinges of punk. I wish I could write up a nice long bio of the band and what their complete discography was like. As far as I can tell, this single might be their complete discography. I've posted the A side here, Seen Your Face Before, though the B side Nobody Says No actually appeared on at least one other compilation from Unicorn Records. This track is really tight and the band is pretty good. It's a great bit of power pop.

In addition to this single, I know the band was featured on a late 80s "Phase II Mod Bands" 7" EP from Unicorn that also included the Risk and The Toasters. I may be delirious from smoking too much crack, but I think Modest Propsal actually did release a full length LP that had a mostly grey/white cover and the photo of which was of a pair of pointed shoes peeking out from beneath some very cool, tightly pegged slacks, that had a simple cut with a button on the hem. Now, this could have been from a different band (maybe Manual Scan?), I really can't recall. (Don't ask where the album is today, it's a sad story. And a long one. I blame Mrs. Suave, that's all I can say for now.)

What I can recall is taking the album to my tailor "Sal" and having him make me a suave pair of slacks just like those on the album cover. (No shit, his name was Sal and he was a tough old bastard, an Italian bloke with a broken nose, from New York and had relocated to east of LA -- no one ever asked why for obvious reasons. But, the best damn tailor I've ever had.) Unfortunately, not long after on a scooter rally to see Quadrophenia in some shoebox theater at Newport Beach I had a few too many and spilled my bike, ruining a very nicely tailored pair of pants. Cost me the girl I was hitting on at the time, as well. Apparently she didn't appreciate being spilled all over the pavement. Needless to say, it turned out to be a crappy scooter rally. Regardless, I always really liked this track from Modest Proposal, and while I may (or may not) have lost their LP, I still have the single, and it's quite good. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Just don't drink and scoot.

Click here to download Modest Proposal -- Seen Your Face Before

November 8, 2009

Modcast #146: The Big Power Pop Show Pt. 1

Anyone who listens to this show or reads this blog will quickly realize that I'm a big power pop fan. So, I'm finally doing a right proper power pop show. And to kick it all off I've got a Mod World exclusive. If you're a mod power pop fan of a certain age you are probably familiar Modest Proposal -- they were a mid-80s mod band from Washington DC. Opening the show this week is a previously unreleased, --even unrecorded-- song by MP, "Already An Angel," It was penned by lead singer Neal Augestein just about the time the band broke up back in 1986 and the they just got around to recording it about a week ago in prep for their upcoming reunion show. If you don't have a ticket though you are out of luck as the show is now sold out. Besides Modest Proposal there's lots of good stuff on this week's show. Like a kid in a candy store, my eyes were bigger than my stomach so to speak, so this is just part one of the Big Power Pop Show. You gotta love a power pop show so big that one modcast can't contain it.

Modest Proposal -- Already An Angel (2009)
The Records -- Teenarama (1979)
20/20 -- Action Now (1979)
The Pinkees -- Danger Games (1982)
The Pranks -- The Last Ideal (1980)
The Numbers -- Sideways Elevator (1982)
Fingerprintz -- Who's Your Friend (1979)
Kursall Flyers -- Television Generation (1977)
Rick Springfield -- I've Done Everything For You (1981)
Cheap Trick -- Dream Police (1979)
The Last -- Every Summer Day (1979)

Kursaal Flyers -- Little Does She Know

20/20 -- Cherie

November 7, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Birdie

I'm busy, but not so busy I can't at least give you a taste of some dreamy pop courtesy of a most fabulous twee band Birdie. Enjoy.

Birdie -- Let Her Go

November 6, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Spearmint

Spearmint is a British pop band that for lover 25 years has been making some seriously great, northern soul infused, at times tweeish, power pop. Starting out in 1995 the band produced a number of good singles --and one great one-- through the end of the century. The great single was a modern northern soul foot stomper in which they sampled the legendary Dobie Gray. 1998's "Sweeping the Nation" became a big hit for the band and helped to get them recognized enough to begin to get serious label and production consideration.

A year later they put out their first full album (they'd had a comp of singles before that), A Week Away. It's a fantastic piece of guitar centered indie pop with a strong soul influence. Later albums were somewhat less soulful, and a bit more poppy. Their 2006 release, Paris in a Bottle is a smooth, polished piece of electronic poetry with Shirley Lee's style almost like spoken word performance art in places. Throughout their career the band has not strayed far from the kind of music you might have heard from The Housemartins, Beautiful South, The Style Council, or Teenage Fanclub.

You'd think that arriving along with the Britpop phenomena that they would have achieved mega stardom. But, for some reason the public eye sort of passed them by, leaving them as stars of cult status. A good, criminally overlooked band.

Spearmint started out as a five piece, and original members Shirley Lee, Simon Calnan, and Ronan Larvor remain in the group today. Along the way they added Jim Parsons and Andy Lewis. Over the years the band has done lots separately, as well as a number of official Spearmint albums, including 2021's Holland Park. Lee released his own solo stuff -- alhtough since a number of the band played together on it, it really is a lot like just another Spearmint album. Andy Lewis has been busy playing with Paul Weller -- as well as having his own projects where he produces some great soul music. And Jim Parsons front his own side-project, a quirky, indie pop band called telly.
[Updated 2023]

Spearmint -- Sweeping The Nation

Spearmint -- Scottish Pop

Spearmint - Albion

November 5, 2009

Mod-A-Day: Blondie

One of my favorite videos, of one of my favorite songs, by one of my favorite bands, featuring my all time favorite blonde lead singer.

Blondie -- Sunday Girl 1979

November 4, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Prissteens

The Prissteens are a late 90s garage rockin' power pop band made up mostly of females. So far, so good. It gets better, once you start listening to their one and only album, 1998's Scandal, Controversy & Romance. The Prissteens build on a foundation of influences from classic girl groups like The Ronnetes and The Shangri-Las for songs like "I Don't Cry" and "Run Back To You". Then there are the harder sounds of tracks like "The Hound" and "Let Me Run Wild" that expose their infatuation with later, harsher ladies like The Runaways and even The Go-Gos. And then there's the bass heavy garage punk number "What's She Got" that sounds for all the world like something the Pandora's did back in the day. All this was dropped back in the late 90s, and then sadly the band dispersed before cashing in, having paved the way for girl heavy garage rockers who have like The Detroit Cobras, The Raveonettes, The Cocktail Slippers, and others.

The Prissteens -- What's She Got

November 3, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Elements

If you like your rock and roll courtesy of Bruce Springsteen then you'll like The Elements. They have that sort of down home rockin' vibe that seems to emenate so strongly from guys like Bruce, or John Cougar. But, this is rock with a touch of the goodness about it. It wallows in sixties influences, most especially the power chords that have defined serious rock and roll for nearly 40 years.

The Elements have all that going on and more. This is guitar powered rock, that borrows heavily from the classic power pop bands of bygone eras like The Who and Cheap Trick. There's a gritty blue-eyed soul that hints at a raw garage rock edge but never actually gets to that point. On the other end of the equation there is a definite power pop sound and structure, but one that the band doesn't seem to ever fully committ. Still, this is sharp stuff, especially the very Who like track "Caught in a Storm".

The Elements -- A Little Love

The Elements -- Caught In A Storm

November 2, 2009

Mod-A-Day: The Blocked

As best I can tell, The Blocked were an early to mid 90s mod outfit from the UK. They didn't do all that much damage on their first time around, but enough that eventually someone (Detour Records to be exact) saw fit to release a bunch of their recordings. Pretty standard mod revival stuff, but with a few flares here and there that make for good listening. The Kinks-like "Happy Families" is a pretty good track through and through, as is "Keep Your Hands Off Felicity" -- which is their big smash hit, if you believe everything you read on the internet.

The Blocked -- Happy Families

The Blocked -- Keep Your Hands Off Felicity

November 1, 2009

Modcast #145: Mods Ride Again

I'm back baby. You can't get rid of me that easy. Between guest hosts, and sharing a few of the old shows from the vaults, it seems I haven't done a lot of my modcasting of late. A big shout of thanks to the recent guest hosts who've made me look like such an amateurish hack -- Dan from The New Fidelity (Modcast #140), Neal from Modest Proposal (Modcast #143) and Ken from The Shingles (Modcast #144).

But, I'm back on the beat, Pete. And have I got a show for you. Don't believe me? Just listen in.

Enzo Bontempi -- Bangarang (1968? or 2009?)
The School -- Let It Slip (2008)
New Street Adventure -- Small Town Heroes (2009)
Cool Frog -- Much Than You (2009)
Connett -- Soul Clean (2008)
The Madd -- You Can Be My Baby (20090
The Cribs -- We Were Aborted (2009)
Nick Gilder -- Got To Get Out (1978)
The Quick -- No No Girl (1976)
Sweet -- Wig Wam Bam (1974)
Graham Day & The Gaolers -- Wanna Smoke (2008)

Italian Spiderman Trailer (Alrugo Entertainment)

The Madd - Her Big Man