MIKE PACE AND THE CHILD ACTORS – Smooth Sailing

Previously of Oxford Collapse, singer-songwriter Mike Pace takes a different approach on his 2018 LP ‘Smooth Sailing’. Recorded with his other band The Child Actors, the album moves away from the indie rock of their 2015 LP ‘Best Boy’ and is – in Mike’s own words “a big pop record…or something like it, recorded by a forty year old who grew up on indie rock and later discovered the joys of soft singer-songwriters, AOR and prog through bargain bins.

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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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DOT DASH – Proto Retro

Washington based power pop combo Dot Dash are very prolific for a DIY band. Not necessarily on a Guided By Voices scale, but they’ve released six albums over a seven year stretch and gained some very positive support across the net in the process. Some of their earlier works can sound a little ragged and mixed stylistic choices could sometimes make the band seem impulsive, but when on form, it’s always been possible to hear their post-punk and power pop influences shining through the budgetary constraints.

2018’s ‘Proto Retro’ absolutely blows previous efforts out of the water. With a budget that would suit many of the power pop bands of the early 80s – Shoes, Automatics, Off Broadway et al – Dot Dash now sound like a band full of confidence. Along with the vastly improved audio comes vastly improved songs and in material like ‘Fast Parade’ – a three minute belter with the kind of ringing guitars a thousand Big Star wannabes would kill for – they’re a band ready to reach out to a bigger audience.

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