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Mid-Week Beat: Power Pop

Music >

tumblr_static_bomp---1978---issue-_18-march-1978---complete-1Do you love hook-laden, guitar-driven pop music with a slightly hard edge? Do you get tingly every time you hear Cheap Trick’s “I Want You to Want Me?” Do you miss the days of un-pretentious rock and roll, when rock wasn’t driven by “concepts” and “explorations?” Well, you may not have known it, but you are a fan of Power Pop!

Power Pop’s heyday is largely considered to have ran from the early 70’s to the mid 80’s with bands like Cheap Trick, Big Star, The Raspberries, The Nerves, The Records, The Romantics and The Knack being its most well-known progenitors. These bands drew influences from the early records by The Beatles, The Byrds, The Who, The Kinks and The Beach Boys, as well as from 60s-era girl groups, doo-wop, “bubblegum” and garage bands. While the genre often ran parallel or even intermingled with genres like glam, punk, new wave, pub rock, mod-revival and college rock, its distinctive characteristics were simple, catchy songs with economical arrangements, crisp vocal harmonies and, most importantly, prominent guitar riffs. The music lacked pretension and, almost always, possessed an underlying sweetness and simplicity, something that often drew criticism from the rock press at the time.


Despite criticism by mainstream rock press, the genre has proved to be one of rock’s more enduring genres with younger bands continuing to produce excellent Power Pop to this day. The genre has a cult-like following with countless blogs, record labels and festivals devoted to it. It’s popularity makes a lot of sense, in my opinion, given that today’s current musical environment is very similar to the one in the early 70s, with a majority of “indie” bands re-hashing the “earnest” beard-folk of the 70s and the pretentious, experimentation of prog rock. Luckily, there’s a legion of young bands willing to strip it all away and just play some honest to goodness rock and roll.

This weekend in New York, there’s a Power Pop festival that not only features young, up and coming Power Poppers, but classic bands like New Jersey’s Modulators and a pioneer of the genre, Paul Collins, member of The Nerves (who are best known for their original version of the Blondie hit “Hanging on the Telephone“) and founder of The Paul Collins Beat. The Beat will not only be playing the Power-Pop-A-Licious Festival on Saturday, February 2nd in New York but also at Club Garibaldi in Milwaukee on Friday, February 8th. You can pick up tickets to the Milwaukee show right over here. 


Another band worth mentioning that will also be playing the Power-Pop-A-Licious festival are the Psycho Hippies out of Brooklyn. They’re like  a harder rockin’ version of The Ronettes and play all your favorite hits from the 50s, 60s and 70s albeit with plenty of attitude. Be sure to check them out on Friday, February 1st at the festival.

Here they are doing an old Phil Spector classic:


So, again, here are links to tickets to these great Power Pop events:

Friday, February 1 and Saturday, February 2 I Power-Pop-A-Licious 2New York, New York

Friday, February 8 I THE PAUL COLLINS BEAT!Milwaukee, Wisconsin

And, for more information on Power Pop’s history and links to some great songs, be sure to check out these great primers and blogs dedicated to the genre:

A.V. Club – “A beginners’ guide to the heyday of power-pop, 1972-1986

Paste Magazine – “A Power Pop Primer: 10 Gateway Songs to a Lifelong Addiction

Pop Geek Heaven – “The Ultimate Power Pop Community and Resource”

PowerPop Overdose – “All music circulated by Power Pop Overdose is to encourage fans to buy the album and support the artist(s).”

Absolute Powerpop – “A place to discover the latest and greatest in power pop releases.”

PowerPop – “An idiosyncratic blog dedicated to the precursors, the practitioners, and the descendants of power pop.”

Image courtesy of Paste Magazine’s “Power Pop Primer.”