Sweet and syrupy.
November 4, 2010 6:36 PM   Subscribe

Help me fill my ipod with more powerpop... specs inside.

I love 50s/60s music. I have a hard time finding current tunes I really am into.

The exception is my overwhelming love for the group 'Fountains of Wayne'.

The reasons include their inclusion of 'The Zombies' and 'The Hollies' as some of their major musical influences - and as they are two of my top five favorite bands...

I don't know enough of music - or rather how to word it. I know what I like and that's all I can tell you.

FOW has cutesy, quirky lyrics and an unusual (for modern times) sound that ... a lot of people tells me sounds 'silly'. I just think it sounds fun and happy. 'Syrupy'. Yeah that.

Given what you know -- what else might I like? I promise to stick to my golden oldies but I'd like to enjoy some more up to date tunes as well.

Thanks, hive!
posted by mittenbex to Media & Arts (49 answers total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
Ever listen to Matthew Sweet? Not syrupy, but definitely "power pop".
posted by lex mercatoria at 6:45 PM on November 4, 2010

The New Pornographers
posted by Threeway Handshake at 6:50 PM on November 4, 2010 [6 favorites]

Is 90's considered "current"? If so, look no further than the Smoking Popes. Start with "Born to Quit". Expand from there as you see fit.
posted by Ufez Jones at 6:55 PM on November 4, 2010

If you like Fountains of Wayne, the wikipedia section on contemporary power pop might be useful for you, as well as Fufkin.com's recommendations for '90s guitar pop. From the Fufkin list, I will most strongly endorse Matthew Sweet's Girlfriend, The Posies' Dear 23 (any Posies, really), Cotton Mather's Kon-Tiki (I've heard it called "the greatest album of the '90s that you've never heard"), Myracle Brah's Life on Planet Eartsnop (hard to find but AWESOME), and Teenage Fanclub's Bandwagonesque. Also check out Fufkin's lists for '80s and '70s guitar pop; virtually everything they list is essential, and there literally cannot be enough good things said about Big Star in particular -- seriously, Big Star is one of the greatest American bands ever, and September Gurls is simply the greatest power pop song ever written. Bar none.

Have fun!
posted by scody at 6:58 PM on November 4, 2010 [5 favorites]

2nding The New Pornographers -- my favorite band.

For more fun powerpop, try Brendan Benson and The Eames Era.

For a more specifically 50s/60s sound, may I suggest Saturday Looks Good to Me, Gold Motel, and -- if the kitschy girl-group sound is not a turn-off -- The Pipettes, particularly their first album.
posted by eugenen at 7:11 PM on November 4, 2010

Try Sloan and Brendan Benson.
posted by PhatLobley at 7:16 PM on November 4, 2010

I love Fountains of Wayne too. Matthew Sweet, especially Girlfriend, is terrific, and has a similar big, produced sound, but isn't in any way quirky. I am a New Pornographers megafan but I wouldn't say they're anything like Fountains of Wayne except they're both powerpop.

Honestly, I think your best bets are the Blue Album, by Weezer, and the first few Cars albums, and heck, listen to "Surrender" and see if maybe you like Cheap Trick.
posted by escabeche at 7:16 PM on November 4, 2010

If nothing else you should hear the song "Fountains of Wayne Hotline" by the great Robbie Fulks.
posted by nicwolff at 7:20 PM on November 4, 2010 [3 favorites]

I second alligator's list above, especially Wondermints, Jellyfish, Falkner and Manning. BONUS if you can get a hold of the out-of-print The Grays CD "Ro Sham Bo" from 1994.
posted by drinkcoffee at 7:21 PM on November 4, 2010

Oh, and there are tons of gems to be found browsing the PowerPop Overdose blog.

Also, check out Tsar's first (self-titled) album.
posted by scody at 7:35 PM on November 4, 2010

you want power pop? you want Big Star.
posted by TrialByMedia at 7:41 PM on November 4, 2010 [2 favorites]

Check out the collection "Titan Records: It's All Pop!" for some real gems of power pop from the late 70s and early 80s. (Including one of my favorites, "Radio Heart" by The Secrets, which will burrow into your ears for DAYS.)
posted by BitterOldPunk at 7:48 PM on November 4, 2010

The first artists who come to mind are The Raspberries, Lesley Gore, the Close Lobsters, Tight Pants Syndrome, and Ringo Shiina. All of 'em have that sort of retro power-pop sound.
posted by limeonaire at 7:52 PM on November 4, 2010

By the way, while the Wikipedia section on contemporary power pop linked above mentions Guided By Voices, I don't know that I'd count the band as power pop across the board. That said, Bob Pollard did start off pretty much wanting to be The Who.

If you want a good intro to GBV's power-pop side, I'd suggest picking up a copy of Human Amusements at Hourly Rates. It's full of the band's pop gems.

In particular:

"Everywhere With Helicopter"
"I Am a Tree"
"Echos Myron"
"Game of Pricks"
"Surgical Focus"
"Chasing Heather Crazy"
"Motor Away"
"Teenage FBI"
"Watch Me Jumpstart"
"Exit Flagger"
"I Am a Scientist"
posted by limeonaire at 8:12 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Fountains of Wayne are great. Especially their first album.. so here's my power pop picks. I'm sure there's going to be some overlap between my list and others' above. Some of them are essentials.

[I'm sorry, I don't have any links. I have the songs, but please excuse the fact that I'm not going to search YouTube. Recommended songs are in parentheses.]

Bay City Rollers (Bye Bye Baby; SATURDAY Night)
Bram Tchaikovsky (Girl Of My Dreams)
The Raspberries (Go All The Way -- Makes me melt every single time. I almost can't listen to this song it's so good. You will like this one.)
Cheap Trick (I Can't Take It; Surrender -- They have other really half-decent power pop songs)
Todd Rundgren / Utopia (really)

Jason Falkner (Take Good Care Of Me)
The Flashing Lights (Aunties and Uncles; Been Waiting; Friends You Learn To Hate; Keep It To Yourself)
Greenberry Woods (Oh Janine) (plus the post-Greenberry Woods band is called Splitsville)
Jellyfish (Baby's Coming Back is just about the most perfect song ever) (I also LOVE their cover of Wing's Jet from their Fan Club album)
I think the Lemonheads (/Evan Dando) can kind of be in this category.. Purists might disagree? (Confetti; I Just Want To Be Your Steve McQueen; there are some other really nice songs that really fall into the category)
The Posies (Dream All Day; I May Hate You Sometimes; their cover of the Zombies' Brief Candles)
Redd Kross - I couldn't love Redd Kross anymore than I already do.. I think fans of power pop.. and the baroque pop of, say, the Left Banke, would appreciate the different eras of Redd Kross. The 1984 EP 'Teen Babes From Monsanto' might be my favorite (if only for 'Heaven Only Knows' -- a Shangri-Las cover -- and their version of a song that was sung on Bewitched, 'Blow You A Kiss In The Wind'). Then there's Phaseshifter, which was my introduction to the band. I bought it 15 years ago when I was in junior high, and I've loved the band ever since. (Monolith and Saragon are my two favorite songs, but the whole thing is fantastic). (Two other songs to recommend -- 'I'll Meet You Halfway'.. 'Star Lust' .. They did a great cover of the Carpenter's 'Yesterday Once More'). I LOVE REDD KROSS.
I think there's a little bit of the power pop in the Rezillos ('Destination Venus')
Matthew Sweet is god of power pop.. If you haven't heard him, get his singles collection.. move on to Girlfriend and 100% Fun. He's an underrated guitarist and has a great voice. His collaborations with Susanna Hoffs have some good points.
I'm going to say SOME Teenage Fanclub (try their album, Thirteen)
Zumpano (Oh That Atkinson Girl)

I think even the Strokes kind of flirted with a power poppy sound (first two albums), but that might be stretching it.

Finally, filmmaker James Gunn has BRILLIANT taste in music, and he posted a list of his 250 favorite power pop songs of all time a few years back. It's a GREAT list.
posted by Mael Oui at 8:22 PM on November 4, 2010 [4 favorites]

Then, on another branch of the power-pop tree, there are bands like The Amps, the Pixies, and the Breeders (commonality of the three: Kim Deal). None of them are super-happy power-pop across the board, but they definitely have their moments.
posted by limeonaire at 8:24 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yo La Tengo is the obvious omission so far: try Stockholm Syndrome, The River of Water, Season of the Shark, Tom Courtenay, You Can Have It All, for starters.

I always recommend the criminally underrecognized Delgados. Give Coming In from the Cold a try.
posted by cirripede at 8:30 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Ok Go
The Presidents of the United States of America
posted by snowdrunk at 8:34 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Sorry, chiming in again... for 1970s power pop, it's easy for a couple of other essentials to get overshadowed by the force of nature that is Big Star, so be sure to check out the Raspberries and (especially) Badfinger -- if "September Gurls" is the greatest power pop song ever, Baby Blue might arguably be nipping at its heels.
posted by scody at 8:40 PM on November 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh, you also might like Ludo.
posted by limeonaire at 8:44 PM on November 4, 2010

She and Him
posted by octothorpe at 8:46 PM on November 4, 2010

The Shoes esp. the perfect power pop song, Tomorrow Night.
posted by readery at 8:53 PM on November 4, 2010

It seems like we've covered all of the biggies, but I'll add a few more.

You should check out the recently deceased Owsley, especially his self-titled first album. He started his career with a band called The Semantics — Ben Folds played the drums on their demos — who have a much-loved but never released album.

I also recommend Teenage Fanclub. I have a special place in my heart for Thirteen, but Bandwagonesque and Songs from Northern Britain are also great.

A not well known, but fantastic album, is Ruth's Harrison. They had some success with the song Fear of Flying, but the band disolved when the lead singer, Matt Hales, hit it big with a solo track in a Volkswagen commercial (he know goes by the moniker Aqualung). They also had an unreleased album under the name The 45s. I could go on about this, but I'll spare you all.

I'll also mention Mike Viola and his band the Candy Butchers. The song "California Girl" is one of my all-time favorites. And the Gigolo Aunts and their album Minor Chords and Major Themes. And Nada Surf might not be power pop, but I have to list them anyway. They're awesome.

Okay, I'll wrap up by reiterating how important it is to listen to Jellyfish. That's the best place to start.
posted by capndesign at 9:23 PM on November 4, 2010

Nick Lowe - "Cruel To Be Kind"
The Argument - "Speak My Mind"
A. C. Newman - "Miracle Drug"
Imperial Drag - "Boy Or A Girl"
Sugarcult - "Los Angeles" (this song is a guilty pleasure)

I also second the recommendations for Jellyfish / Jason Falkner / Imperial Drag.
Matthew Sweet is also a genius.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:29 PM on November 4, 2010

The Spongetones, and the blog itself.
posted by timsteil at 9:49 PM on November 4, 2010

the recently deceased Owsley

Oh my god, I missed this when it happened! How terribly sad. He really was great, esp. that first solo record.

posted by scody at 9:51 PM on November 4, 2010

How about Aqueduct? Some 50's influence there, I think.
posted by klausman at 10:07 PM on November 4, 2010

The Bicycles?
posted by emeiji at 12:29 AM on November 5, 2010

I am old, and my knowledge of "what the kids are listening to these days" is pretty much limited to whatever top-40s dance crap my 13-yo daughter forces upon me, so I can't help you much there. My favorite flavor of power pop is 1980s jangle pop, so these recommendations are skewed in that vein:

The Smithereens - "Yesterday Girl" (and you may give their Beatles tribute album Meet the Smithereens! a shake)
Material Issue - "Valerie Loves Me"
Guadalcanal Diary "Always Saturday"
If you can stand quirky lyrics that run pretty far down the path toward the surreal, give The Soft Boys/Robyn Hitchcock a listen. There was a fantastic Soft Boys compendium on the Blue recently. Try starting out with "Balloon Man".
posted by drlith at 4:21 AM on November 5, 2010

Nthing Matthew Sweet.
Also, check out Sugar's File Under: Easy Listening, which was not a fan favorite precisely because it's a little more "poppy" than their others. Still a great album, though.
posted by usonian at 4:42 AM on November 5, 2010

You know, you also might check out The Incurables.
posted by limeonaire at 5:27 AM on November 5, 2010

::slapping forehead::

And of course, Adrian Belew, in particular: Young Lions, Mr. Music Head, Here, and (if you can find it) Inner Revolution.
posted by usonian at 5:27 AM on November 5, 2010

Sorry, one more: The Only Ones.
posted by limeonaire at 5:34 AM on November 5, 2010

Oh man—and also, gotta run, no time for a link, but you should look into Ivy, another of Adam Schlesinger's bands.
posted by limeonaire at 5:49 AM on November 5, 2010

The Flaming Lips
posted by empath at 5:56 AM on November 5, 2010

Cannot emphasize The Posies' Frosting on the Beater enough. Pretty much the pinnacle of high-energy power-pop, for me. Check out "Sister Carrie" and "When Mute Tongues Can Speak".
posted by jpolchlopek at 6:14 AM on November 5, 2010

You must try Honeybus. They are a British group from the '60s that had a hit in England but never caught on stateside. Their "best of" record is really great. To me, it is "how were they not a lot more famous" great.

Their one hit was I Can't Let Maggie Go, but they have a number of other good songs. Try How Long, Story, I Remember Caroline, or Girl of Independent Means.
posted by AgentRocket at 6:18 AM on November 5, 2010

Jonathan Coulton, Gene the Werewolf, The Dollyrots, American Hi-Fi, The Melismatics.
posted by richrad at 6:26 AM on November 5, 2010

Big Star, the Posies, the Raspberries, Matthew Sweet (start with Girlfriend, then Altered Beast, then 100% Fun), Teenage Fanclub, GBV is best consumed as a counterpoint to the Replacements so hit both. You might like Paul Westerberg's solo stuff, too.
Oh man, I nearly forgot Cheap Trick! That would have been criminal.
There's so much more, but my brain fails me right now.
posted by willpie at 7:20 AM on November 5, 2010

One more plug for Jellyfish, who as far as I'm concerned are the Beatles of power pop. Spilt Milk is just transcendent.

I wouldn't call them power pop, but you might like XTC; I'd recommend trying out Skylarking then slowly moving backward and forward in their catalog from there.

You might possibly enjoy early 70s bubblegum, too.

Anyway, power pop compilations on Amazon:
Poptopia!: Power Pop Classics of the 70s

Poptopia! ...80s

Poptopia! ...90s

D.I.Y. Come Out And Play-- American Power Pop (1975-78)

D.I.Y. ... American Power Pop 2

(that whole D.I.Y. series is amazing, and there's stuff I'd call power pop on some of the pop and punk volumes)
posted by kimota at 7:25 AM on November 5, 2010

The Belles
posted by nomisxid at 8:50 AM on November 5, 2010

The Orange Peels and Bishop Allen.
posted by hijinx at 11:41 AM on November 5, 2010

Two big omissions so far - Dwight Twilley, esp. "I'm On Fire", and the Plimsouls, esp. "Now",
posted by rfs at 11:47 AM on November 5, 2010

Contemporary: Telekinesis, Apples in Stereo, Favours for Sailors, Free Energy, Harlem Shakes, Spoon, The Takeover UK, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, Tokyo Police Club, New Pornographers

Classic: Nick Lowe, Big Starr, The Romantics, The Producers, The Smithereens, Rubinoos, Flamin' Groovies, The Raspberries,
posted by patnasty at 12:07 PM on November 5, 2010

Please check out Sloan, as other people have said. They have a deep catalog and are underrated, probably because they're Canadian. Earlier stuff is better.
posted by ekroh at 12:53 PM on November 5, 2010

Seconding The Shoes, also
Richard X. Heyman.
posted by chocolatepeanutbuttercup at 1:48 PM on November 5, 2010

Wow, apparently you can stream Sloan's entire catalogue at their website.
posted by ekroh at 5:42 PM on November 5, 2010

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