After over two decades in the business, Italian garage rock/power pop band The Peawees have created more than a musical legacy. Their 2018 LP ‘Moving Target’ provided an excellent insight into the band’s style – a great listen for anyone unfamiliar with the band – delivering great hook after great hook. A tribute to Phil Spector on the suitably titled ‘Phil Spector’ provided an album highlight on a track big on retro riffs and even bigger on sleigh bells.
A new track, ‘You Don’t Know Me’ adds further to the band’s legacy with a three minute, guitar driven blaster that combines the more commercial feel of early 90s Social Distortion with the chorus thrills of Gaslight Anthem, all wrapped up in something that pays homage to ‘I Fought The Law’.
In 2017, Justine and The Unclean made an impact on the power pop and pop-punk scenes with their debut release ‘Get Unclean’. The album didn’t especially break new ground, but between its instant hooks and Justine Covault’s sassy vocals, it didn’t take long for the songs to stick. The album also showed a strong musical talent in mixing bits of punk, power pop, classic rock and even the occasional metal riff together, creating something very potent.
Utilising the “mini album” format – a very 80s trait, but it was good enough for Billy Bragg and it certainly works for Justine – ‘Heartaches & Hot Problems’ values quality over quantity at just six songs and, as you’d hope, there are at least a couple of killer hooks to be found within the all too spritely seventeen minutes.
When people talk about British punk, first, they’ll invariably mention Sex Pistols, The Damned and The Clash. The breakthrough of a whole new wave of alternative music was never limited to the London suburbs, of course, and Manchester’s Buzzcocks were at the forefront of a whole musical revolution.
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.