Sunday, December 9, 2018

ARTHUR ALEXANDER'S One Bar Left reviewed!


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Power Pop is a touchy subject. Everyone that is familiar with the genre has their own definition of what Power Pop is. Half of those people will challenge other people’s opinions while the other half don’t even want to discuss it – they just want to enjoy the music.  But that is just the genre’s fanbase – the artists themselves are a different story. Some embrace the Power Pop community while others try to distance themselves from it, not wanting to be attached to a genre that still thrives under the radar but seldom rises to the top of the charts. For a musical genre that is so simple, there is so much confusion surrounding it.

So, let’s try to approach this in a manner that doesn’t ruffle any feathers. Power Pop is always about the song. Massive hooks, jangly guitars, melodic bass lines, and an uptempo beat are Power Pop’s calling cards. It all starts and ends with the song:  a killer chorus is nothing without a great verse, bridge, and middle eight. The guitar riff should be melodic as well. You can skip a guitar riff or leave out a middle eight if you feel so inclined but everything else has to matter. The true heart of Power Pop is Rock ‘n’ Roll. If it ain’t Rock ‘n’ Roll, it ain’t Power Pop. Most of the old school Power Pop artists understand this. For example, Paul Collins is a Power Pop pioneer and his fantastic songs are built around the roots of Rock ‘n’ Roll.  Another example is Arthur Alexander, formerly of The Poppees and Sorrows. Born in Poland, he pursued the American Rock ‘n’ Roll dream by moving to the East Coast and diving into the hedonistic Rock/New Wave/Power Pop life style. And thanks to those old records, we should be grateful that he did because he wrote and recorded some truly memorable records.

While Power Pop fans continue to debate their own genre and mainstream music critics have already written Rock Music’s obituary, Arthur Alexander quietly released an album that is pure Rock and pure Power Pop and everybody needs to hear it. ONE BAR LEFT basically picks up where Sorrows’ classic 1981 sophomore album LOVE TOO LATE left off. Influenced by The Beatles, The Kinks, and the late ‘70s New York Punk scene, ONE BAR LEFT is chock full of great melodies, chunky guitars, frantic beats, cool harmonies, and the energy of kids one-third his age. This is Rock ‘n’ Roll, dear friends, but it is also Power Pop. “One Bar Left” is a bluesy rocker with some unexpected Pop-oriented chord changes. “Psycho-Automatic” is classic Power Pop. ‘(She Got Me) Wang Dang Doodle” is a great Rock track with some fine 12-string guitar riffing that accents the song’s hooks. “Un Peu Plus Longtemps” is another Power Pop delight and appears later on the album in English (“Just A Little Longer”). “Bring It On Home To Me” is a unique and fresh take on the Sam Cooke classic. “Mary Lou Mary Lou” offers a musical twist on his influences with keyboards and some funky bass added to the mix. “It’s You” is a ‘50s influenced ballad that could have been produced by Alan Parsons. “Hard To Get” sounds like Sorrows would have sounded had they made it to ’84 and then were remixed in 2018. “Shot In The Heart” is an anthemic Pop gem with some ‘80s keyboards driving it forward. The enormously catchy “Can’t Get You Out Of My Dream” will make many ‘Top Power Pop Songs of 2018’ lists. You know, I could go on and tell you that “Hello Suzanne” is a lovely acoustic ballad with French accents or that “I’ll Get Your Love Someday” is influenced by early Beatles albums but I’m kinda hoping that you’ve stopped reading this and are already ordering a copy for yourself.  And I haven’t even mentioned every song – there’s 17 essential tracks that you need to hold close to your heart and absorb into your system. 

In short, ONE BAR LEFT is one of the finest albums of the year. Buy it and you’ll believe, too!

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