BEST BOYS ELECTRIC – Brett Pop Affairs EP

It’s not immediately clear what (or, indeed, whom) “Brett Pop” is, but it’s obviously really important to this group of musicians from Bremen. Immersing themselves in a retro, cartoonish world, Best Boys Electric are out for fun. Sure, music can be deep and cerebral, but that’s not so much a focus here, as these guys set out to stoke up good times throughout this EP.

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VARIOUS ARTISTS – Harmony In My Head: UK Power Pop & New Wave 1977-81

Back in the 90s, Rhino Records released two compilations celebrating the birth and subsequent explosion of power pop in the US between 1975-1981. Entitled ‘Come Out & Play (American Power Pop 1975-1978)’ and ‘Shake It Up (American Power Pop 1979-1981)’, those discs are an invaluable addition to any power pop collection, introducing many to the works of Pearl Harbor & The Explosions, 20/20 and Earth Quake, alongside more familiar cult recordings by Shoes, Off Broadway, Cheap Trick, Chris Bell and far more besides.

‘Harmony In My Head: UK Power Pop & New Wave 1977-1981’, a 2018 box set from Cherry Red Records exploring the UK power pop and new wave scenes, is every bit as wonderful as those US-centric discs, presenting the popular and familiar alongside some also-rans and bands whom never made the big time.

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SHOES – Black Vinyl Shoes: Anothology 1973-1978

The American power pop scene from the mid-70s to the early 80s provided a goldmine of great music. Over the years various compilations have provided a great insight into the burgeoning scene’s classics, self-released gems and genuine obscurities. Delving far deeper than Cheap Trick and the Raspberries, recordings by The Flashcubes, Fotomaker and Earth Quake have become much loved favourites for music fans looking for the melodic charms of Badfinger, but also for the flair and sparkle of the soon-to-be in vogue new wave scene. …And then there were Shoes. In a land where band names didn’t need to be easy to find with search engines Shoes were potential kings, but so much of their early work proved elusive to find. For the many power pop geeks who’ve fallen in love with a couple of their later records – 1979’s ‘Present Tense’ and 1981’s ‘Tongue Twister’, specifically – this finely put together 3CD anthology throws a lot of light upon music that led the band to that career pinnacle.

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Rhythmically Admired: Elvis Costello’s ‘My Aim Is True’ turns 40

In the autumn of 1977, a most unlikely star made his big breakthrough on the UK music scene. A jerky and energetic man sporting Buddy Holly spectacles, Elvis Costello was to make regular appearances on Top of The Pops over the next couple of years. The power in most of his musical arrangements was immediate, but lyrically, this was a man who was a cut above. Spewing more sneering puns than anyone would likely hear on hit singles until Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine would make their breakthrough in 1989, Elvis cut a very distinctive presence.

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