Guitarist/vocalist Dan Kopko has been an integral part of the Boston music scene for years. Maybe you’re familiar with him and know his work with bar room rockers Watts – makers of the excellent ‘Black Heart of Rock ‘n’ Roll’ LP. Or maybe you stumbled across him in 2022 with his newer band The Shang Hi Los, delivering catchy power pop. Whatever your experience of Dan’s work, you’ve been guaranteed to find some great tunes along the way.
Welcome back to the Real Gone Singles Bar, the place where we explore some of the individual mp3s that have landed in our inbox over the previous few weeks. This popular feature has become a home for eclectic sounds, for jumping between genres, and for shining a light on a few famous, but often not so famous musicians. The variety keeps things interesting, but also gives coverage to a few bands that might not gain a full length album review. This week, we bring you a near perfect piece of adult pop-rock, the return of a retro rock/power pop should-be legend, a Beatle descendent dabbling in electronica, and more besides. As always, we hope you discover something new. If you have something you think might fit a later feature, please get in touch.
The debut EP from The Shang Hi Los was a little rough around the edges, but at its heart, it had some great songs. The musical marriage between guitarist Danny Kopko (Watts) and Jen D’Angora (Downbeat 5) seemed to be a perfect one, and their mix of garage rock and retro pop suggested great things ahead. A couple of years on, this full length album is bigger sounding, more slickly arranged and better produced, creating the kind of record that’s almost everything fans could’ve hoped for. By tackling various different styles throughout, it sometimes has a restless spirit, but some strong vocals – aplied brilliantly throughout – ensure the material hangs together well as a showcase for the Boston band’s talents.
A new power pop sensation, The Shang Hi-Los, emerged at the end of 2020. Their debut EP, ‘Kick It Like A Wicked Bad Habit’, served up five tracks of guitar driven, bubblegum inflected fun, big on harmonies and bigger on hooks. If their talents were under any doubt, a spirited cover of Chicago’s ‘Saturday In The Park’ which stoked up the guitars without losing any of the original’s 70s pop flair showed how versatile this new, all star band could be.
It’s only been a few weeks since Rum Bar Records gave out the excellent ‘XOXOXO, Volume One’ sampler showcasing some of their current roster and upcoming releases, but the label is already giving away yet more music to satisfy your underground rock and pop needs.
‘Rocktober II’ features a few current bits and pieces, but in a brilliant contrast to ‘XOXOXO’, it digs much further back into the label’s history, providing a superb recap for those who’ve only just discovered Rum Bar and their family of musicians.