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AMERICAN POP PROJECT

A while back I reviewed a couple of issues of Shredding Paper zine; the people behind this zine also run the American Pop Project label, which like their zine has an overall emphasis on indiepop and melodic punk. They're also rather partial to surf music. I have a batch of 7"s and CDs from the label, which make up a large proportion of their total output. Starting with the 7"s, there's a double 7" EP from Dave Parasite (of Parasites), Back to Demo. These solo recordings were made by Dave as demos for Parasites. All instruments are played by Dave, and recorded in his basement. The 6 tracks here are punky powerpop with a strong emphasis on melody. The music is much more tuneful than I was expecting; I wasn't familiar with Parasites before and thought from the name that they probably made noisy shoutathons. In fact the tunes here are as strong as those of any pop song; they just pack an extra punch. One of the tracks is a faithful to the original cover of the Buzzcocks' What Do I Get?, which gives a few hints of the sort of direction Dave Parasite is coming from.

The Multiple Cat have a 3 song 7", Welcome To.... The first track, Juillet, is an excellent mix of uptempo 80s-style indiepop, piano, trumpet, and a healthy dose of quirk factor. Slapped by the Invisible Hand combines old-school indiepop, off-centre noisepop and early 80s-sounding synth. Little Pieces is another indiepop song that combines the old-school, mid 80s sound with something rather more off-centre. A very impressive EP from a band I'd like to hear more from.

Dragstrip's The Heliocentric World Of Dragstrip 7" features a surf instrumental version of Blue Oyster Cult's Don't Fear the Reaper, a combination so seemingly bizarre that it actually works. The other track here is Sun Ra, another instrumental in which indiepop, surf and psych-rock are effectively combined. This band have some interesting and unusual ideas and are another band I'd like to hear more from.

Jenny Mae is both the name of the singer and the band. She/they have a 7" called A New World Record, featuring 3 songs. Dairy Boy is a sophisticated kind of music which contains influences from funk, hiphop, pop, indiepop and a few experimental undertones. Drapes (Megamix) is less eclectic, and isn't the 80s style dance music its subtitle suggests. Instead you get old-school indiepop with a slight hint of country - it's good stuff. I'd Do The Same For You is a laid back piano-led song somewhere between indiepop and pop proper, with an added psych-rock influence in the guitar solo.

Mark Brodie and the Saboteurs' Tiger Rock 7" features 3 tracks of instrumental surf music that sounds authentically 60s. One track is by Mark Brodie, and the other two tracks are covers of tracks by Rocking Tigers and The Challengers. Much like the artwork, the music is very retro and a little bit kitsch; if you like 60s instrumental guitar music you can't go wrong with this.

The Leslies' That's Me 7" has spoof Led Zeppelin artwork, but don't be fooled, this is definitely indiepop. The four songs here are taken from four different periods of the band's history, from 1995 to 1997. That's Me brings together elements of old-school indiepop, powerpop, 60s-ish vocal harmonies, trumpet and rock guitar soloing (but not so much rock that it stops being pop). Favorite Waste of Time is indeed a cover of that famous song, and the Leslies make it into a great slice of indiepop. Boy is brilliant catchy janglepop that sounds equally influenced by 60s pop and mid 80s indiepop. Cinema Song is great jangly 80s-ish indiepop. The Leslies have an album called Totally Brilliant, and whilst I've not heard it, if the music on this 7" is anything like their other stuff then it's well named. Highly recommended for fans of old-school janglepop.

Alien Crime Syndicate's Supernatural is a mix of spaced-out pop and dance beats. Really Got A "C" is strong catchy powerpop with a few spacey noises thrown in near the end. The band, which I'm assuming is the same Alien Crime Syndicate that features Joe Reinecke (ex-Meices), has since got pretty popular, so grab this rare early offering while you can.

Moving onto the CDs, The Foxymorons have an album, Rodeo City, out on AmPop. Their sound is very full for a two-piece band, and the album spans a wide spectrum of pop, from powerpop to laid-back balladry to songs that remind me in places of The Tyde, and more in between. At times they actually do sound like a two-piece, like on the homemade-sounding minimalism of Something Out There. Nashville is, as the title suggests, country tinged. As well as the tracks listed on the cover, there's a bonus track that's somewhere between powerpop and country-rock. I'm particularly keen on Irene, an excellent slice of well crafted harmony pop.

Study of the Lifeless' self titled album is out on AmPop. This band also seem to be a two-piece and if this is so, they are another two-piece with a big sound. Most of their music is an atmospheric, spaced out, dreampop wall of sound that is hypnotic and uplifting at the same time. Other tracks are less spacey but still classable as atmospheric noisepop; kind of on the borderline between shoegazing and old-school jangly indiepop. Excellent stuff, highly recommended for fans of My Bloody Valentine, late period Secret Shine, or the various shoegazer stuff Projekt put out.

American Pop Project have teamed up with the Candy Floss label for their Pure Spun Sugar compilation. Along with the twee title and cover art, the sleeve proclaims "Less punk than you can handle" and "noise" with a slash through it. This compilation isn't completely noise-free as it features fuzzpop and songs that nod towards shoegazing, but there's certainly no extreme noise, and everything here has a strong emphasis on melody. There's a lot of familiar names here like Dressy Bessy, Poastal, Cuckooland, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Jenny Mae and Azalia Snail. Cuckooland have a song called Rock On, which features a big epic synth sound and humorously lifts riffs from 70s rock and metal songs like Smoke on the Water. The Brian Jonestown Massacre effectively combine psych-rock, mid 80s indiepop and shoegazing. The Cherry Smash's Split Screen is brilliant indiepop with shoegazer-type bursts of noise. Dressy Bessy's Makeup is the excellent ultra-melodic summery pop we've come to expect of them. The Sleazy Beats have an ode to Phil Spector which includes lots of musical references to Spector-penned songs. Azalia Snail has done some weird stuff in the past but her track here is a melodic janglepop instrumental with psychedelic tinges. Overall, an excellent indiepop compilation, well worth a listen.

Hang 10 is, as the title suggests, a surf-inspired compilation. Some of the music is yer actual surf music, other tracks are punkpop/indiepop with lyrics about surfing and/or summer. There's a couple of Beach Boys covers (Fun Fun Fun and Surfer Girl). Again there's loads of familiar bands here, such as Cub, Man or Astro-Man?, McRackins, Helen Love, The Queers, Phranc and J Church (the last of these covering JAMC's Kill Surf City). This album is heaps of summery fun; this stuff has me grinning from ear to ear. This highly recommended compilation is actually volume one so it looks like there's more to come. I for one eagerly await future volumes!

For more info on American Pop Project visit www.shreddingradio.com/amp.html or email shreddingpaper@netscape.net

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Text Kim Harten, 2005.