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Brooklyn Vegan

Sloan‘s new Christmas 7″ is out now, featuring two new original songs: Chris Murphy turns in “Kids Come Back Again at Christmas” and Jay Ferguson contributes “December 25″ on the flip. While “Kids Come Back at Christmas” is a very good modern holiday song, with a nice sentiment, “December 25″ is a great Sloan song, period; a wistful, piano-driven number really only nods to Christmas in the title. You can stream both sides below.

Meanwhile, Jay from Sloan has given us hit Top 10 of 2016, a mix of albums and singles, including The Lemon Twigs, The Avalanches, Chris Murphy’s other band, TUNS, and more. Check out his list with commentary, below......

9. The Junior League – Also Rans
My New Orleans by-way-of Long Island compadre, Joe Adragna, has made—perhaps—his best LP. In fine voice throughout, it makes me wonder what a record of him fronting a melancholic orchestra would sound like. He’s prolific enough to get around to it by the time this year is out.

 

Crash Chords

http://crashchords.com/cc-autographs-ep-57-feat-joe-adragna-a-k-a-the-junior-league/

The Clothes Maiden

The Junior League is the brainchild of Joe Adragna, who brings to life noteworthy Indie-Pop sounds for your ears. The Junior League oozes 60’s-oriented Pop with a modern twist; creating music that is both unique and familiar. Heavily influenced by artists such as The Beatles, The Monkees, The Who, Sloan, The Lemonheads and beyond, The Junior League creates a dose of nostalgia for the modern times.

the-junior-league-release-the-stars-in-our-eyes-the-clothes-maiden

Recently sharing the latest single “The Stars In Our Eyes,” The Junior League proves to be an Indie Rock mainstay in the music scene. On The Junior League’s latest endeavor, Also Rans, frontman Joe Adragna makes delightful indie rock. From start to finish the record is laced with vibrant harmonies, and indie pop sweetness.

 

Bringing friends in for the ride such as Jay Ferguson of Sloan, he also recruits the help of Scott McCaughey of Young Fresh Fellows and Minus 5, which Adragna has also played with, on the new record. A breath of fresh air in the music world, The Junior League pens honest, down to earth songs that blend life experiences, both past and present. With doses of happiness and anger intertwined throughout, the lyricism and music are equally inspirational, as Adragna finds new and interesting ways to build his masterpieces.

Paste Magazine

The Junior League is the musical project from mastermind Joe Adragna. Focusing on his latest endeavor, Also Rans, Adragna takes us on quite an exploration that stands the test of time.  Teetering back and forth from an updated indie pop sound to the nostalgic 60s, he offers up a delightful record that gets better within every listen. 

Adragna’s attention to detail shines through as every note, lyrically and musically, placing a sense of perfection. Also Rans sugary-sweet tone is notable in key singles “On/Off” and “The Stars in Our Eyes,” which have been making the rounds throughout the Spring and Summer. 

Throughout the record we hear elements of swirling guitars, astounding vocals and harmonies, and keys that are to die for. Enlisting a help of a few friends such as Sloan’s Jay Ferguson and Young Fresh Fellows’ Scott McCaughey and J. Murphy, the record is tied together with a team effort and a true labor of love.

Keep the hits coming Junior League…we’re listening.

Also Rans is available now:  https://thejuniorleague.bandcamp.com/album/also-rans

Huffington Post

THE JUNIOR LEAGUE’S “THE STARS IN OUR EYES” EXCLUSIVE

According to The Junior League’s Joe Adragna...

“As a kid, I used to ride in the back of my parents car with my sister, listening to WCBS-FM playing songs from the 50s and 60s. This song sort of documents trips down the Hutchinson River Parkway or over the Throggs Neck Bridge back home to eastern Long Island, listening to that music. An exercise in nostalgia, which is fine as long as you don’t get lost in it.”

Vents Magazine

Home / Music / Artist Interviews / INTERVIEW: The Junior League

INTERVIEW: The Junior League

Hi Joe, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

I’ve been good, thanks!

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “On/Off”?

Yeah, “On/off”… I originally set out to do something that was kinda like Squeeze if they were covering a Gary Lewis and the Playboys song. My demo even had the same kind of piano/organ combination that you’d find on a track like “Count Me In”, which is a personal favorite. It didn’t come out like that–and most likely, for the better!!

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

I don’t think so, but I know I was thinking about how ugly verbal arguments can be. Just because a fight doesn’t get physical doesn’t mean it isn’t violent. I respect people who choose their words carefully, especially when they’re angry, because most people don’t–and they can say pretty horrific things to each other. Some things can’t be explained away with an “I didn’t mean it that way”.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

Not at the moment. I’m not sure how that would work, but I’d like to see it!

The single comes off your new album Also Rans – what’s the story behind the title?

Well, maybe three quarters of the way through working on the record I realized that a lot of the songs dealt with characters that fell short somehow. I had the song “also rans”, which I wrote about the frustration of playing in a semi or unsuccessful band, and I realized that most of the songs were about “also rans”, you know, people who just didn’t or couldn’t win for whatever reason. So, I just called the whole thing “Also Rans”.

How was the recording and writing process?

Well I did most of the recording myself in my home studio. Occasionally, JJ (Murphy, Thee Shambles) would record with me there, but everyone else that contributed to the record did their parts at their respective places. I’d send them tracks and they’d do their bits. It was a very enjoyable, relatively painless process!! As far as writing, I had about half the songs written when I started recording. Some were a couple of years old. Some were restructured from old demos. The rest were written as I was recording.

What was it like to work with Jay Fergunson and how did that relationship develop?

I was a huge Sloan fan–I still am. I used to drive pretty far to see them play, and at the second or third show I saw them play, I guess around 1997 or 98, Jay and I hung out and chatted about music. We found we had a lot of common interests, so we exchanged addresses and stayed in touch, became friendly. He’s a great guy–very smart, very talented, very kind. He asked me how it was going with recording while I was working on “also rans” and I told him I had a song that I liked but was lacking the keyboards I’d wanted for it. He offered to have a listen, and next thing I know, he’s done these really great keyboard parts that make the song. I was really thrilled–and appreciative that he did it.

What live experiences get to inspire the lyrics on this record?

Bitterness, depression, spite. You know, the usual. Hahaha. No, seriously I either write about stuff that happened in the past, or maybe stuff that I know about but am not involved in personally. I overhear so much! Hahaha. Some of the songs are personal–“the Stars In Our Eyes” is personal to me. It’s about heading home from a relative’s place in Connecticut when I was a kid, sitting in the backseat, driving down the Hutchinson River Parkway, over the Throggs Neck Bridge, back to Long Island, listening to WCBS-FM when it was still oldies-oriented. An exercise in nostalgia, I suppose.

Any plans to hit the road?

No plans to “hit the road” per se, but I’m bouncing around doing some shows. I’m actually sitting in the airport now waiting to fly to NYC for a couple of shows. Maybe I’ll listen to WCBS FM while I’m there. I doubt they play 50s-60s music anymore, right?

What else is happening next in The Junior League’s world?

I’m actually halfway through another record, and hope to have it out next summer. Playing some shows as well. About to have a track on the new International Pop Overthrow compilation… just keeping busy!

Independent Artist Buzz

The Junior League is the brainchild of Joe Adragna, who brings to life noteworthy Indie-Pop sounds for your ears. The Junior League oozes 60’s-oriented Pop with a modern twist; creating music that is both unique and familiar. Heavily influenced by artists such as The Beatles, The Monkees, The Who, Sloan, The Lemonheads and beyond, The Junior League creates a dose of nostalgia for the modern times. A breath of fresh air in the music world, The Junior League pens honest, down to earth songs that blend life experiences, both past and present. With doses of happiness and anger intertwined throughout, the lyricism and music are equally inspirational, as Adragna finds new and interesting ways to build his masterpieces. 

Today we catch up with Joe Adragna of The Junior League for an exclusive Indie 5-0.

Listen: The Junior League “On/Off” (feat. Jay Ferguson of Sloan)
https://soundcloud.com/thejuniorleague/06-on-off


1. What artists influenced you to make music, even from early on in life?

The Beatles were the most important influence on me. I heard “I Want To Hold Your Hand” on the radio when I was 4, and that was it. I was never the same after that. I taught myself how to play drums playing along to Ringo.

2. What is the inspiration behind the new single, “On/Off”?

Musically, I was just trying to write something that was like Squeeze, although I don’t think it turned out that way. Originally, it sounded like Squeeze meets The Monkees! Jay (Ferguson) really transformed that song with his excellent keyboard parts. Lyrically, I was just writing about how violent verbal arguments can be. People really have a go at each other, and sometimes you can’t just say “Oh, I didn’t mean it that way”.  That’s the whole “You can call it an accident again” bit–how many times have you told someone “You didn’t mean it” or “You didn’t mean it that way” ?

3. What was it like working with Jay from Sloan and Scott of Young Fresh Fellows on the new record?

It is unbelievable, because they are ridiculously talented. Everything they touch becomes better because they are so, so good–I mean, every Minus 5 record or Sloan record is proof of that. On top of that, they have been good friends to me and that means an awful lot. They are both super encouraging and they make me feel like I might even know what I’m doing, hahaha. 

4. When creating songs, what are some of your key inspirations?

Honestly, it depends on what I’m into at the moment. Fifties and Sixties pop music is kind of a constant for me, but really, it depends on what kind of phase I’m going through. If I'm listening to a lot of, say, The Intruders or something, I want to write Philly soul sounding stuff. If I’m listening to Every Mother’s Son, then it’s total bubblegum time. For example, “The Long Goodbye”, the last song off Also Rans, was initially inspired by the Johnny Mathis album Two Guitars, Open Fire, which I forced JJ (Murphy) to listen to while we were having some drinks one night. The next day, we wrote the music. Does it sound like Johnny? Nope. But I sat there humming to JJ and telling him, “Play the jazz version of that chord!”, hahahaha.

 
5. How were the songs recorded? Did you have a hand in the process?


I recorded them at my home studio, so I was very involved with the process. I generally play most of the instruments myself on the records. The only outside help was the contributions of Scott (McCaughey), Jay (Ferguson), Boz (Boorer), Deni (Bonet),and  JJ (Murphy), who all played on parts of the record, and Matt (Le May), who mixed most of the record. All my pals who contributed did their bits at their respective spaces, and I put it together at mine. It was an incredibly fun and easy way to work.

 

No Depression

ARTICLE

Getting Familiar with The Junior League

The Junior League, also known as the brainchild of Joe Adragna, has been making the musical rounds for the past several years under the moniker. Creating a heavenly brand of Indie-Pop-Rock, The Junior League bring a captivating sound to the table that is equal parts unique and familiar. Currently sharing the brilliant new single, "On/Off," which features the infamous Jay Ferguson of Sloan on keys ,The Junior League take flight with their new release, Also Rans.  In the past couple of weeks we had the honor of catching up with Adragna, regarding his plans and future of music for 2016.

What comes first when writing, the music or the lyrics? Why so?

Generally, the music comes first. I think it's easier for me to come up with the music and have a basic idea of what I'd like to sing over it. The lyrics almost always come last. Funny thing is, I'll know what the song is going to be about when I'm doing the music a lot of times---I just don't know how I'm gonna say it!

Also Rans  is a delightful record from start to finish. What is the theme and concept behind the record?

There really isn't a theme, although I guess you could say that most of the characters in the songs are losers to some degree. I don't know that I thought about that before I started writing and recording the record, but by the time I did the song "Also Rans" I realized that is what most of the record was about, hence the title.

Your vocals are silky smooth with an incredible Pop-Rock edge to them. What vocalists do you look up to and how did you craft your vocal style?

I grew up listening to lots and lots of 50s and 60s pop music, especially The Beatles and The Monkees. I'm not quite sure I have a vocal style, to be honest. I'm just a product of all the music I've absorbed over the years. I think Evan Dando is a great singer, as is Michael Nesmith. 

What kind of instruments do you use on the new record?

I used a 60s era ludwig kit, zildjian cymbals, a Fender Mustang bass, an Epiphone Casino, a Fender Telecaster, a Martin acoustic, an Epiphone Dove acoustic, some cheap acoustics......oh, and a Les Paul Special. I used pro tools keyboard sounds on the stuff I played on, but I know Scott (McCaughey) and Jay (Ferguson) used real keys on the stuff they played on.

Do you record the new album on your own, or did you head to the studio with an outside producer?

I did it on my own at home, mostly. My friends who helped me did their parts at their respective spaces. 

You teamed up with Jay Ferguson of Can-Rockers Sloan for the latest single "On/Off." How did the collaboration come together?

I met Jay at a Sloan show years ago.  We had a great chat and exchanged emails and became friends. I think Sloan is fantastic, and Jay is a fantastic writer and musician. When I was working on Also Rans, Jay asked me how it was going. I told him about "On/Off" and asked if he'd give it a listen. He did, and then came up with the fab keyboard bits. I was really thrilled--and I appreciated the help! He's a great guy. I was very lucky to have him, Scott, Boz, Deni and JJ help out on the record. 

What is the inspiration behind the new single, "On/Off"?

I think people forget words are like fists. People can really do damage with words. I think people can say  "Oh, I didn't mean that" but the pain lingers regardless. 

With elements of Indie, Pop Rock and Classic Rock, how do you combine those elements to craft your own, unique sound?

Honestly, I don't know. I'm just a big fan of music and I get excited about stuff. If I listen to Paul McCartney play bass, I want to go write something that will give me the excuse to play bass in the style of Paul McCartney, you know what I mean? Or if it's raining outside and I hear "Run To Me" by The Bee Gees, I get all melancholic and want to write some sad pop song, hahahaha. To me, there isn't much difference between those three genres. Wendy and Bonnie, followed by The Who, followed by The Intruders......I should have been around during AM radio!

Where do you see The Junior League as a musician, 10 years from now?

I'd like to still be putting out records, and writing things that people would like to listen to.

 

 

 

Paste Magazine

https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2016/05/the-junior-league-on-offmp3.html

Goldmine Magazine

JUNIR LEAGUE The Junior League – “Also Rans” The Junior League’s first album was titled Catchy and it certainly was. Their latest is called “Also Rans,” which they’re certainly not. Actually, “Also Rans” may be even catchier than Catchy was. Confused? Don’t be. Just know that these guys sound a bit like Elvyn (with equal does of acoustic and electric guitar), with songs that rock and pop with equal abandon. Well-crafted stuff, indeed; I especially dig the thick, jagged guitars on “If It’s You,” the moody “The Long Goodbye” and the “Tired of Waiting For You”-tinged “Also Rans,” which could serve as an anthem for a million up and coming bands. Grade: B+ - See more at: http://www.goldminemag.com/blogs/dozen-new-reviews#sthash.QJ9P42D8.dpuf

Colorado Springs Independent

The Junior League

Also Rans

Kool Kat Musik

File next to: Sloan, The dB's, Minus 5

Indie label Kool Kat Musik has carved out a solid (if exceedingly tiny) niche as a purveyor of power pop, that oft-maligned subgenre of music that features sharp hooks, strong melodies, and — say its detractors — a slavish lack of originality. But even listeners who aren't won over by powerpop's charms may find Also Rans an impressive release. Listeners might hear subtle country-rock shades of The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield and other exponents of that shimmering, jangly electric guitar sound. The Junior League manage that without the slightest whiff of retro-mindedness. Largely driven by J. Adragna with the able assistance of Scott McCaughey (Young Fresh Fellows, Minus 5), The Junior League's top-notch songwriting and arrangement sometimes recall the best of '80s rock, as on the hypnotically alluring "On/Off." Easily one of 2015's best releases. — Bill Kopp

The Big Takeover

Hi folks!
Since I have now completed my two countdown radio shows for the Top 50 albums of 2015 — see the Big Takeover “Radio” button above to hear one song from each — here is my complete list of the 100 best albums, 50 best archive/retrospective/reissue releases, and 30 best stand alone singles and EPs of this previous year. My best bets on another great year for music, old and new. (Never mind the cranks, here’s the good stuff as ever.) Plus several “honorable mentions” that barely missed out. Hope this little list inspires you to find, or give a second look too, a few cool releases you might miss otherwise that you end up truly loving. Otherwise, lists are for time-wasting. Not my bag. But as I listened to all of these a great deal this year, perhaps you might like some of them, or will be glad to see them recognized if you are already enjoying them.

Cheers to you all and happy new year.

Jack Rabid’s picks, 2015’s 100 Best Albums (new recordings)

1 Royal Headache – High (What’s Your Rupture?)
2 Swervedriver – I Wasn’t Born to Lose You (Cobraside)
3 Don McGlashan – Lucky Stars (Don McGlashan)
4 The Chills – Silver Bullets (Fire)
5 Wire – Wire (Pink Flag)
6 The Decemberists – What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World (Capitol)
7 Robert Pollard – Faulty Superheroes (GBV Inc./Fire)
8 The Granite Shore – Once More From the Top (Occultation U.K.)
9 The Shifting Sands – Cosmic Radio Station (Fishrider NZ/Occultation U.K.
10 Whitehorse – Leave No Bridge Unturned (Six Shooter)
11 Sam Vicari – Giving Up (Sip City)
12 Lou Barlow – Brace the Wave (Joyful Noise)
13 Three Hour Tour – Action and Heroes (Martian)
14 Cheatahs – Mythologies (Witchita)
15 Triptides – Azur (Croque Macadam/Requiem Pour Un Twister)
16 Paul Smith & The Imitations – Contradictions (Billingham U.K.)
17 The Black Watch – Highs & Lows (Pop Culture Press)
18 The Urinals – Next Year at Marienbad (Happy Squid)
19 Martin Newell – Teatime Assortment (Captured Tracks)
20 The Twerps – Range Anxiety (Merge)
21 Belle & Sebastian – Girls In Peacetime Want to Dance (Matador)
22 Robert Forster – Songs to Play (Tapete)
23 Whyte Horses – Pop or Not (Not On Label)
24 The Popguns – Pop Fiction (Matinee)
25 Killing Joke – Pylon (Spinefarm)
26 Roger Lion – Roger Lion (Team Love)
27 La Luz – Weirdo Shrine (Hardly Art)
28 EZTV – Calling Out (Captured Tracks)
29 Donovan’s Brain – Heirloom Varieties (Career)
30 D.O.A. – Hard Rain Falling (Sudden Death CAN)
31 Ron Sexsmith – Carousel One (Cooking Vinyl)
32 Astrid Williamson – We Go to Dream (One Little Indian UK)
33 Co-Pilgrim – Slows to Go (Battle Worldwide U.K.)
34 Nada Surf – Live at the Neptune Theater, Seattle, March 24, 2012 (Mardev)
35 Death Cab For Cutie – Kintsugi (Atlantic)
36 Idlewild – Everything Ever Written (Empty Words U.K.)
37 The Shondikes – Psychotic Make Out Music (The Shondikes)
38 Salad Boys – Metalmania (Trouble In Mind)
39 No Joy – More Faithful (Mexican Summer)
40 Ultimate Painting – Green Lanes (Trouble In Mind)
41 Dråpe – Relax/Relapse (Riot Factory)
42 Totally Mild – Down Time (Bedroom Suck/Fire)
43 John Howard & The Night Mail – John Howard & the Night Mail (Tapete GER)
44 Christopher Paul Stelling – Labor Against Waste (Anti-)
45 Pointed Sticks – Pointed Sticks (Northern Electric/Sudden Death CAN)
46 Pins – Wild Nights (Bella Union)
47 The Monochrome Set – Spaces Everywhere (Tapete GER)
48 The Nils – Shadows and Ghosts (Cobraside)
49 Dot Dash – Earthquakes & Tidal Waves (The Beautiful Music CAN)
50 Day Ravies – Liminal Zones (Strange Pursuits/Sonic Masala)
51 Miranda Lee Richards – Echoes of the Dreamtime (Invisible Hands U.K.)
52 Novella – Land (Sinderlyn)
53 Pugwash – Play This Intimately (As If Among Friends) (Omnivore)
54 Nap Eyes – Whine of the Mystic (Paradise Of Bachelors)
55 Chatham Rise And Thelightshines – We Are the Sun (Split Album) (Picture In My Ear)
56 The Furious Seasons – My Love Is Strong (Stonegarden)
57 Beach House – Depression Cherry (Sub Pop)
58 Adolescents – La Vendetta… e un Piatto Va Servitor Freddo (Frontier)
59 Wilco – Star Wars (Dbpm)
60 The Lovely Intangibles – Tomorrow Is Never (The Lovely Intangibles)
61 Daniel Wylie’s Cosmic Rough Riders – Chrome Cassettes (Daniel Wylie)
62 Stay – The Mean Solar Times (Picture In My Ear)
63 Jello Biafra & The New Orleans Raunch and Soul All-Stars – Walk On Jindal’s Splinters (Live) (Alternative Tentacles)
64 Ash – Kablammo! (Earmusic)
65 Tim Lee 3 – 33 1/3 (Cool Dog Sound)
66 Strawberry Whiplash –Stuck In The Never Ending Now (Matinee)
67 The New Dylans – Meta (Caveat Emptor/Morphius)
68 N. Lannon – Falling Inside (Badman)
69 The Junior League – Also Rans (Greenleaves Sound)
70 Mike Gale – Finger Bone From Swan Wing (Battle Worldwide U.K.)
71 17 Pygmies – Isabel Ii (Abaddon Rising) (Trakwerx)
72 Pete Astor – Spilt Milk (Slumberland)
73 Low – Ones and Sixes (Sub Pop)
74 Penetration – Resolution (Polestar U.K.)
75 Inventions – Maze Of Woods / Blanket Waves (Temporary Residence)
76 Mercury Rev – The Light in You (Bella Union / PIAS)
77 Girls Names – Arms Around a Vision (Tough Love)
78 Car Seat Headrest – Teens of Style (Matador)
79 The Soulphonics – Heart Full Of Soulphonics (Scratched)
80 Latvian Radio – Until Tomorrow Gets in the Way (Bellpid)
81 Various Artists – Static Waves 4 (Saint Marie)
82 Ransom & The Subset – No Time to Lose (Ransom & The Subset)
83 Andrew Wasylyk – Soroky (Empty Words U.K.)
84 New Candys – New Candys As Medicine (Picture In My Ear)
85 Sad Magazine – Sad Magazine (Sad Magazine)
86 Mammoth Penguins – Hide and Seek (Fortuna Pop!)
87 Tamaryn – Cranekiss (Mexican Summer)
88 Neil Young + Promise Of The Real – The Monsanto Years (Reprise/WEA)
89 Promised Land Sound – For Use and Delight (Paradise Of Bachelors)
90 Static Daydream – Static Daydream (Saint Marie)
91 Lanterna – Backyards (Jemez Mountain / Badman / Independent Project)
92 Red-Sided Garter Snakes – Endless Sea (Blue Apple U.K.)
93 Great Northern – Tremors (Great Northern)
94 Kurt Vile – B’lieve I’m Going’ Down (Matador)
95 Johnny Marr – Playland (Warners/ADA)
96 Tommy Keene – Laugh in the Dark (Second Motion)
97 Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard – Django And Jimmie (Sony/Legacy)
98 Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell (Asthmatic Kitty)
99 Joanna Gruesome – Peanut Butter (Slumberland)
100 The Orange Peels – Begin the Begone (Mystery Lawn/Minty Fresh)
HM The Juliana Hatfield 3 – Whatever My Love (American Laundromat)
HM X_X (Aka X The Jazz Destroyers X) – Albert Ayler’s Ghosts: Live at the Yellow Ghetto (Smog Veil)
HM The Minus 5 – Dungeon Golds (Yep Roc)
HM The Sonics – This is the Sonics (Revox)
HM SPC ECO – Sirens and Satellites (Saint Marie)
HM Sleater–Kinney – No Cities to Love (Sub Pop)
HM The Red Telephone – Places You Return (Raise Giant Frogs)
HM Mikal Cronin – MC3 (Merge)
HM The Stratford 4 –Keep Your Crazy Head on Straight

Powerpopaholic

Dave Bash’s Top 125 albums of 2015

DavidBashAs you might know, International Pop Overthrow CEO and Founder David Bash has an extensive list of the years best power pop music in several categories. I will showcase his “top 125” on this post. He also gets into the Top EPs, Top Live albums,  Top Compilations, Tributes, Re-issues, etc.  so definitely check out his complete list on Facebook.

Many of these albums where on my top 25 and if I had a top 50, I would easily add them, but Dave does a great job each year and I have to review a few I missed! Here it is:

  1. The Grip Weeds-How I Won The War (Jem)
  2. Ryan Hamilton-Hell Of A Day (Fannypack)
  3. Pugwash-Play This Intimately As If Among Friends (Omnivore)
  4. Martin Courtney-Many Moons (Domino)
  5. The Butterscotch Cathedral-The Butterscotch Cathedral (Trouble In Mind)*
  6. John Howard & The Night Mail-John Howard & The Night Mail (Tapete)
  7. The Gurus-Espacio Abierto (Rock Indiana)
  8. The Stereo Twins-Good News (Self-Released)
  9. Jimmy Haber-Joy Acid Pact (Self-Released)
  10. The Turnback-Are We There Yet? (Self-Released)
  11. The Wellgreen-Summer Rain (The Barne Society)*
  12. The Nines-Night Surfer and The Cassette Kids (TAS Gold)
  13. Yorick van Norden-Happy Hunting Ground (Excelsior)
  14. Reno Bo-Lessons From A Shooting Star (Electric Western)
  15. The Maureens-Bang The Drum (Self-Released)
  16. Elvyn-Valley of the Kilowatt Hour (Little Wagon)
  17. The Junior League-The Also Rans (Kool Kat)
  18. The Belltowers-Day Breakaway (Proper)
  19. Serpent Power-Serpent Power (Skeleton Key)
  20. The Wind-Re Wind (Self-Released)
  21. The Cherry Drops-Life Is A Bowl Of Cherry Drops (MuSick)
  22. Greg Pope-Fanboy (Octoberville)
  23. Daniel Wylie’s Cosmic Rough Riders-Chrome Cassettes (Daniel Wylie)
  24. Pop 4-Summer (Satellites Group)
  25. Squeeze-Cradle To The Grave (Virgin)
  26. Ex Norwegian-Pure Gold (Dippy)
  27. Taylor Locke-Time Stands Still (Lojinx)
  28. Groovy Uncle & Suzi Chunk-Life’s A Gift (Trouserphonic)
  29. The Most-Invasion Completed (Copase Disques)*
  30. Zombies of The Stratosphere-In Technicolor (Self-Released)
  31. The Connection-Labor of Love (Rum Bar)
  32. A Fragile Tomorrow-Make Me Over (Mpress)
  33. Mikal Cronin-MC III (Merge)
  34. The On and Ons-Calling (Citadel)
  35. C. Duncan-Architect (Fatcat)
  36. Junebug-Pongo vs. Corporate Vampires (Planet 8)
  37. William Duke-The Dark Beautiful Sun (Familiar)*
  38. The Corner Laughers-Matilda Effect (MLM)
  39. Dr. Cosmo’s Tape Lab-Beyond The Silver Sea (Sugarbush)
  40. The Beatophonics-The Beatophonics (Echophonic)
  41. Sam Vicari-Giving Up (Sick City)
  42. Jordan Andrew Jefferson-The Only Way Out Is In (The Oxide Shed)
  43. Brandon Schott-Crayons & Angels (Curry Cuts)
  44. David Divad-Healing Hands (Self-Released)
  45. Susan James-Sea Glass (Self-Released)
  46. Cloud Eleven-Record Collection (West Coast)
  47. The Magnetic Mind-…Is Thinking About It (Heavy Soul!)
  48. The Ravines-Everything’s Fine (Self-Released)
  49. Fireking-Double Trouble (Blueberry Pie)
  50. Summer Fiction-Himalaya (Burn Brightly)
  51. Nic Hessler-Soft Connections (Captured Tracks)
  52. Mark Pountney-Mark II (Inner Smile)
  53. Dr. Cosmo’s Tape Lab-Coconut Summer Drop In (Canteen)
  54. Tommy Sistak-Short Songs (Self-Released)
  55. The London Souls-Here Come The Girls (Feel)
  56. The Guise-Forthcoming (Sound Ideas)
  57. John McCullagh and The Escorts-New Born Cry (359 Music)
  58. The Modulators-Try Try Try (Kool Kat)
  59. The Weeklings-Monophonic (Jem)
  60. Zach Jones-Love What You Love (Pioneer)
  61. The Shakers-A Whole Lotta Shakers! (Soundflat)
  62. Jacco Gardner-Hypnophobia (Polyvinyl)
  63. Three Hour Tour-Action and Heroes (Martian Record Corp.)
  64. Leaders In The Clubhouse-Won (Self-Released)
  65. Glamweazel-The Art of the Meltdown (Self-Released)
  66. Tame Impala-Currents (Interscope)
  67. Honeywagen-Jamboree (Rock O Plane)
  68. The Lunar Laugh-Apollo (Lekites)
  69. Kurt Baker-Play It Cool (Rum Bar)
  70. Steve Robinson & El Woltil-Cycle (Sunshine Drenchy)
  71. Eureka Machines-Brainwaves (Wrath)
  72. The School-Wasting Away and Wondering (Elefant)
  73. Mama-Estandar (Rock Indiana)
  74. Onions-Shame of The Nation (Self-Released)
  75. The Parkas-In Stereocolour (Self-Released)
  76. The Webstirs-Now You’ve Really Done It (Ginger)
  77. The Stoneage Hearts-Hung Up (On You) (Off The Hip)
  78. The Loons-Inside Out Your Mind (Bomp)
  79. The Kennedys-West (Self-Released)
  80. Wilson-Old School, New Rules (Pink Hedgehog)
  81. Dave Rave & The Governors-Sweet American Music (RaeBeat)
  82. BC Camplight-How To Die In The North (Bella Union)
  83. Tobias Jesso Jr.-Goon (Arts & Crafts)
  84. The Supernaturals-360 (Satchel Britchett)
  85. Slim Loris-Love Fear (Self-Released)
  86. Kontiki Suite-The Greatest Show On Earth (Self-Released)
  87. Nick Piunti-Beyond The Static (Self-Released)
  88. Peter Fedofsky-The Sound & The Fury (Self-Released)
  89. Steve Thompson & The Incidents-Rainbows & Arrows (Self-Released)
  90. Jeff Lynne’s ELO-Alone In The Universe (Columbia)
  91. Simon Love-It Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time (Fortuna Pop!)
  92. Gordon Weiss-It’s About Time (Gornpop)
  93. Vanilla-2.0 (Self-Released)
  94. Split Sofa-Thornby Park (Daisychain)
  95. The Flower Machine-Tangerines and Opium Trees (Self-Released)*
  96. Cameron Lew-Welp… (Self-Released)
  97. Dana Countryman-Pop 3! Welcome To My Time Warp! (Sterling Swan)
  98. Dot Dash-Earthquakes & Tidal Waves (The Beautiful Music)
  99. Pseudonym-Revolving Door (Trivial Pop Songs)
  100. The Sunchymes-Present… (Calliope)
  101. The Orange Peels-Begin The Begone (MLM)
  102. The Cool Whips-Goodies (Self-Released)
  103. The Ballantynes-Dark Drives, Life Signs (La-Ti-Da)
  104. The Allrightniks-Two Places At One Time (Grandin Road)
  105. Paul Starling-The Wild Wolf (Self-Released)
  106. Autos Detroit-Startup Completed (Self-Released)
  107. The Unswept-Today! (Draco)
  108. The Lilac Time-No Sad Songs (Tapete)
  109. The Piper Downs-Heartbreak’s A Disease (Couldn’t Get Signed)
  110. The Ace-Riot Of Sound (We Dig This)
  111. All Day Sucker-Denim Days (Big Wow)
  112. Kyle Vincent-Detour (SongTree)
  113. Lips & Sticks-Songs From The Shelf (Self-Released)
  114. Koes Barat-Koes Barat (Sub Pop)*
  115. Caddy-The Better End (Kool Kat)
  116. Larry O. Dean-Good Grief (Zenith Beast)
  117. Marston-The Invisible Girl (Self-Released)
  118. Brian Wilson-No Pier Pressure (Capitol)
  119. Steve Baskin-Dead Rock Star (Self-Released)
  120. Ryan Allen & His Extra Arms-Heart String Soul (Two Brains)
  121. Magic Bus-Transmission From Sogmore’s Garden (Self-Released)
  122. Ronnie D’addario-A Very Short Dream (Homburg)
  123. The Seasongs-Buscando El Sol (Self-Released)
  124. Suite 100-The Only Cure For Gravity (Self-Released)
  125. One Two Die Four-Another (Self-Released)

Power Pop News

Top 15 Power Pop Albums of 2015

Below, you’ll find the Top 15 power pop albums of 2015, in my estimation. Click on the visual below each title to read a previous review of the disc. Additionally, I’ve listed the top 5 not power pop discs of 2015. Feel free to comment any any or all in the comment area at the bottom of this post. Thanks.

Here they are:

1) Reno Bo – Lessons from a Shooting Star


2) Elvyn – Valley of the Kilowatt Hour


3) The Turnbacks – Are We There Yet?


4) Mooner – Masterpiece


5) Ryan Hamilton – Hell of a Day


6) The On and Ons – It’s the On and Ons Calling


7) The New Trocaderos – Thrills and Chills


8) Caddy – The Bitter End


9) The Connection – Labor of Love


10) Greg Pope – Fanboy


11) The Travel Lanes – Lets Begin to Start Again


12) Kurt Baker – Play It Cool


13) Nato Coles and the Blue Diamond Band – Promises to Deliver


14) The Modulators – Try, Try, Try


15) Joe Adranga & Junior League – Also Rans

Top 5 Not-Quite Powerpop Releases of 2015:

1) Peter Case – Hwy 62


2) Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin – Lost Time
3) Dave Edmunds – Rags & Classics


4) Wreckless Eric – AmERICa


5) Squeeze – From the Cradle To the Grave

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Ice Cream Man: Power Pop and More

Introduction background music - Tony Hatch Orchestra - Sounds Of The 70's 
Nevski - Alligator (Single) 
The Optic Nerve - Penelope Tuesday (Single) 
Rocket Bureau - Choozy Suzy (Single) 
Swedish Polarbears - Winter (Single) 
Tommy Lorente - Un Certain Savoir Faire (Single) 
Surf School Dropouts - Destination Sunshine (Second Nature LP) 
The Roaring 420s - Sweet Destiny (You Can't Get Out Alive LP) 
War Poets - Daydream (Searching For The American Dream) 
The Chamberdeacons - World Of The Lonely People (Gigant LP) 
Aerial - Why Don't They Teach Heartbreak At School (Why Don't They Teach Heartbreak At School LP) 
Rick Hromadka - Twice A Sunny Day Tomorrow (Trippin' Dinosaurs LP)
The Manics - Everybody Knows (Please Panic, It's The Manics LP) 
Jeremy Porter and The Tucos - Hey Kentucky (Above The Sweet Tea Line LP) 
Ryan Allen And His Extra Arms - Angela 97 (Heart String Soul LP) 
The Dying Elk Herd - Don't Let The Riverbeast Get You (For Real This Time LP) 
ZX+ - Pet Sematary (Don't Drink The Water LP) 
Baby Shakes - Summer Sun (Starry Eyes LP) 
Soft Hearted Scientists - Surfarella (Single) 
Matthew Shacallis - Do You Love Me (Reach The Stars LP) 
Lazy Eye - Rich Man (First Thing Tomorrow EP) 
Nick Parker - Terry and June (Angry Pork And The Occasional Bird LP)
Daniel Wylies Cosmic Rough Riders - Yesterdays a Waste Of Time (Chrome Cassettes LP) 
Rooni - You Only Die Once (Single) 
Phenomenal Cat - Satellites (Single) 
The Allrightniks - The One (Two Places At One Time LP) 
Little Clara and Les Chacals - Tu Es Ma Seule Idole (Un Pas Apres l'Autre LP) 
Mat Le Rouge - Soul Raid (Single) 
Charlene - Bad News (Single) 
The Supernaturals - Control Me (360 LP) 
Yorktown Lads - Sick Of Me (Songs About Girls And Other Disasters LP) 
The Novatones - She's Out (For Monies Sake LP) 
Sunrise Highway - She's Got Me Buzzin' (Windows LP) 
The Sonics - I Got Your Number (This Is The Sonics LP) 
Nick Piunti - Heart Stops Beating (Beyond The Static LP) 
Katie Hallam Featuring Robbie Allen - Don't You Ever Call (Young But Wise EP) 
The Popguns - Alfa Romeo (Pop Fiction LP) 
Gretchens Wheel - Why Try (Fragile State) 
Best Coast - Heaven Sent (California Nights LP) 
The Baron Four - Walking Out (Single) 
The Youth - Vicious (Nothing but.....LP) 
The Vortex Buzz - Nothing Can Bring Me Down (Single) 
The Sons Of Mod - The Hamburg Stomp (We Baptize You In The Name Of Mod LP) 
The Vanjas - Forget About That (Sings And Plays Rock And Roll LP) 
Muscle Souls - Mark On The World (Mark On The World LP) 
The Most - Turn Away (Invasion Completed LP) 
Grovy Uncle Featuring Suzie Chunk - Your Tiny Mind (Life's A Gift LP) 
Kurt Baker - I Got You (Play It Cool LP) 
The Bubblegum Complex - Betsy's (Gonna Break Your Thumbs) (The Big Record LP) 
Travel Lanes - 100th I Told You So (Let's Begin To Start Again LP) 
Instant Flight - Dazzled Eyes (Around The Gates Of Morning LP) 
Dr Cosmos Tape Lab - The Painted Birds (Beyond The Silver Sea LP) 
T.C Folkpunk - Here Crumbles The Bride (Lamest Fast Words LP) 
Caddy - Beautiful Strange (The Better End LP) 
Joel Sarakula - Chelsea Gun (The Imposter LP) 
Jimmy Haber - Big Black Hole (Joy Acid Pact LP) 
Elvyn - Ellie (Valley Of The Kilowatt Hour LP) 
The Fallen Leaves - Passing By (If Only We'd Known LP) 
The Zags - Play It Loud (The Zags LP) 
The Time Sellers - Nothing's What It Seems (Single) 
Vista Blue - It's Rizzo (Take Me Out EP) 
Phil Ajjirapu - Talk (Sing Along Until You Feel Better LP) 
X-Ray Cat Trio - Miss October (Ice Cream Man Power Pop And More "Got It Licked" LP) 
Fezz - Good Christian (Single) 
Oh! Gun Quit - Voodoo Meat Shake (Eat Yuppies And Dance LP) 
Mikey And The Drags - I've Got A Bottle (Make You Mine LP) 
The Dustaphonics - Party Girl (EP) 
The Stoneage Hearts - First Kiss (Hung Up (On You) LP) 
Yellowstone UK - Melanie Paxton (The Victory Club LP) 
The Ace - The Losers Game (Riot Of Sound LP) 
The Brittanicas - Got A Hold On Me (High Tea LP) 
Chris Richards And The Subtractions - No Action (Elvis Costello Cover)(3peat - The Covers That 3 LP) 
The Junior League - Also Rans (Also Rans LP) 
The Steve Deaton Three - Duke Of High School (The Steve Deaton Three LP) 
Dann Morr - I Remember You (Shouting Into The Wind LP) 
The Floor Models - Letter From Liverpool (Single) 
Grant Lindberg - Impossible Girl (Super Mega LP) 
Phil Yates And The Affiliates - Little French Earthquakes(No Need To Beg LP) 
The Sunchymes - Through My Eyes (Present LP) 
Mooner - Why Don't You Want To? (Masterpiece LP) 
Deco Auto - Empty Gestures (The Curse Of Deco Auto LP) 
Jared Lekites - Five Seperate Lives (Five Seperate Lives LP) 
The Modulators - What's On Your Mind (Try Try Try LP) 
Gordon Weiss - My Love Still Grows (It's About Time LP) 
Paz Anitiguana - Charlie Don't Surf (Specialized 4 LP)

Pop That Goes Crunch

Top 40 Albums of 2015

Caddy -- The Better End

We’ve taken some time off lately. Unfortunately, real life occasionally interferes with what is really important.

Nevertheless, we’re back with a run-down of the top long-players of 2015. This year, the list is expanded from 20 to 40, and there will be no list of the top songs of the year.

The decision was made to focus on longer form works, and recognize more artists for releasing music that is engaging over the course of eight or more tracks. Each of the albums on the following list would be a worthy addition to the collection of any serious music listener. A couple of entries were released in late-2014, but were were much more a part of the previous twelve months than they were of 2014.

Caddy’s The Better End captures the number 1 spot on this year’s list. The August 30, 2015 review on this site noted that Thom Dahl spiced his long-player with “rather liberal doses of layered, often jangling and chiming guitars, entrancing mid-tempo rhythms, swirling harmonies, beguiling tempo shifts and sunny, relaxed vibes straight out of early-70s Southern California.” Run, don’t walk, to your nearest electronic portal and get this record immediately, either digitally, on CD or on vinyl. Its one of the finest releases in recent years.

Although each of the long-players on this year’s list fit within the broad spectrum of melodically-based rockin’ pop, there is substantial variation in the mix, including old-school rock, acoustic pop, baroque pop, Americana, punk rock, and much more. Links are provided for your sampling, streaming and, of course, purchasing.

 1.  Caddy — The Better End

2.  Pugwash — Play This Intimately (As If Among Friends)

3.  Nick Piunti — Beyond The Static

4.  William Duke — The Dark Beautiful Sun

5.  The New Trocaderos — Thrills & Chills

6.  Love Axe — South Dakota

7.  Stereo Tiger — Two Weeks

8.  The Hangabouts — Illustrated Bird

9.  The Junior League — Also Rans

10. Susan James — Sea Glass

11. Ryan Allen & His Extra Arms — Heart String Soul

12. Cleaners From Venus — Rose Of The Lanes

13. Daniel Wylie’s Cosmic Rough Riders — Chrome Cassettes

14. The Turnback — Are We There Yet?

15. Michael Carpenter — The Big Radio

16. Steve Robinson & Ed Woltil — Cycle

17. Mono In Stereo — Long For Yesterday

18. Kurt Baker — Play It Cool

19. The See See — Once, Forever & Again

20. The Nines — Night Surfer and the Cassette Kids

21. Pop4 — Summer

22. Gordon Weiss — Its About Time

23. The Popguns — Pop Fiction

24. Yorktown Lads — Songs About Girls And Other Disasters

25. Gretchen’s Wheel — Fragile State

26. Summer Fiction — Himalaya

27. Travel Lanes — Let’s Begin To Start Again

28. Joel Boyea — Here Again, And Lost

29. Three Hour Tour — Action And Heroes

30. DC Cardwell — Pop Art

31. Trip Wire — Get In & Get Out

32. Dr. Cosmo’s Tape Lab — Beyond The Silver Sea

33. Brandon Schott — Crayons & Angels

34. The Corner Laughers — Matilda Effect

35. Watts — Flash Of White Light

36. Nato Coles and The Blue Diamond Band — Promises To Deliver

37. Jonathan Rundman — Look Up

38. The Weaklings — The Weeklings

39. Plastic Macca — Sensation

40. The Connection — Labor Of Love

Absolute Power Pop

TUESDAY, DECEMBER 29, 2015

The Absolute Powerpop Top 100 of 2015, #1-50

So here it is, the top 50 of 2015. 51-100 can be found here, and the year's top EPs are coming tomorrow. One special mention that I didn't include in the list was Jon Latham's Real Bad News. It's an Americana/alt-country album that probably didn't fit in on a power pop list (although it's a fine line involved in leaving it off, given some other selections). Had I included it, it would have been in the middle of the top 10. Some other random thoughts: If this really is Michael Carpenter's last album, he's going out on top; if someone told me at the beginning of the year that Bryan Adams would make my top 10 I would have laughed, but I enjoyed his new Jeff Lynne-produced album more than the one from the man himself; Mitch Gettman is an artist I haven't written about, but I've really enjoyed his last few albums, so I'll advise you to check him out; and it didn't get much buzz, but warhorse singer-songwriter Freedy Johnston came back with his best album since his early-mid 90s heyday. Finally, you probably already have, but if you haven't check out Powerpopaholic's top 25 of the year as well. Our top two are the same (albeit in different order), along with 3 others that both make our top 10. And then we each have some the other doesn't list at all, proving that there's a ton of great music out there from 2015. Here's hoping 2016 lives up to its predecessor.

1. Michael Carpenter-The Big Radio
2. Reno Bo-Lessons from a Shooting Star
3. Mooner-Masterpiece
4. Wade Jackson-Whiskey Alpha Delta Echo
5. Elvyn-Valley of the Kilowatt Hour
6. Nick Piunti-Beyond the Static
7. Sam Vicari-Giving Up
8. Bryan Adams-Get Up
9. Martin Courtney-Many Moons
10. Coke Belda-Nummer Zwei
11. Tobias Jesso Jr-Goon
12. Pop4-Summer
13. Steve Robinson & Ed Woltil-Cycles
14. Three Hour Tour-Action and Heroes
15. Tad Overbaugh-Beauty & Barbed Wire
16. Marco Rea-Wallpaper Music
17. The Nines-Night Surfer & The Cassette Kids
18. Mitch Gettman-Dichotomy
19. Michael Collins-Last Laugh
20. Freedy Johnston-Neon Repairman
21. Jeff Lynne's ELO-Alone in the Universe
22. Minky Starshine-Pop Jewelry
23. Greg Pope-Fanboy
24. The Orange Humble Band-Depressing Beauty
25. The Ravines-Everything's Fine
26. Stereo Tiger-Two Weeks
27. The Junior League-Also Rans
28. Sports Fan-Minor Hits in Major Keys
29. Ryan Allen & His Extra Arms-Heart String Soul
30. Yorktown Lads-Songs About Girls and Other Disasters
31. Tommy Keene-Laugh in the Dark
32. Cloud Eleven-Record Collection
33. Zombies of the Stratosphere-In Technicolor
34. Kontiki Suite-The Greatest Show on Earth
35. The Roseline-Townie
36. Mark Pountney-Mark Two
37. The Small Square-S/T
38. Taylor Locke-Time Stands Still
39. Hidden Pictures-Ottomans
40. People on Vacation-The Chronicles of Tim Powers
41. Ocean Carolina-Maudlin Days
42. Brandon Schott-Crayons & Angels
43. Scot Sax & Suzie Brown-Our Album Doesn't Like You Either
44. Kevin Martin-Future Friends
45. Wilder Embry-Smolderoldingpictureaid
46. Kyle Vincent-Detour
47. Dan Israel-Dan
48. Billy Shaddox-I Melt, I Howl
49. Tom Rich-American Fantasy
50. Ryan Hamilton-Hell of a Day

OffBeat Magazine

Burning Bright: The 50 Best Albums Of 2015

We’ve polled our writers and editorial staff and have gathered 50 of our most recommended albums of the year. We didn’t include reissues and only included releases reviewed in 2015. Some titles released in December will be considered in the 2016 “best-of” list. 

We understand the difficulties in ranking and decided this year to only rank the Top 10. We hope that the readers use this list merely as a guide to the best music that Louisiana has to offer: There’s a lot of great music out there!

 


Jon Cleary, Go Go Juice, album cover1. Jon Cleary:

Go Go Juice (Thirty Tigers)

 

“Boneyard” is the happiest song you’ll ever hear about dying (or specifically, about not dying just yet); and the groove underlines the song’s message: “Before I make it to the boneyard, I’m gonna have some fun.”

—reviewed September 2015 by Brett Milano

 

 


 

Terence Blanchard - Breathless2. Terence Blanchard:

Breathless (Blue Note)

 

Breathless with its funk and groove vibe as heard on the trumpeter’s self-penned, “See Me As I Am,” and elsewhere, clearly reveals Blanchard’s New Orleans musical roots.

—reviewed July 2015 by Geraldine Wyckoff

 

 


 

McDermott-and-Nealand3. Aurora Nealand and Tom McDermott:

City of Timbres (Independent)

 

McDermott’s musical imagination is matched here by a player of such virtuosity in Nealand that even his most outside-the-box thinking is instantly realized.

—reviewed Jazz Fest Bible 2015 by John Swenson

 

 

 


galactic-into-the-deep-1020x10244. Galactic:

Into the Deep (Provogue)

 

Eight different singers appear over these 11 tracks, and it’s the first Galactic album that’s all about the songwriting, rather than the grooves or the jams.

—reviewed July 2015 by Brett Milano

 

 

 


write-bros-first-flight5. The Write Brothers:

First Flight (Independent)

 

Right off the bat the record is great fun to listen to, a damn good excuse to raise a glass to the deep fried whimsy of “Cup Full of Soul,” the happy go lucky love-is-gone ballad “Losin’ You” and the merry lost ambition anthem “Ballad of Lito Benito.”

—reviewed February 2015 by John Swenson

 

 


4532813845630_1_756. Christian Scott:

Stretch Music (Ropeadope)

 

The brilliant trumpeter challenges the mainstream and hard-boppers with electronics, a large ensemble rather than a combo and music that is often somewhat ethereal. That by no means diminishes the passion and inspiration heard in his horn.

—reviewed November 2015 by Geraldine Wyckoff

 

 


steve_riley_Voyageurs7. Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys:

Voyageurs (Independent)

 

It’s a deep listen with highlights too numerous to mention. … Riley’s vocals soar over a swelling chorus and leave the listener with frissons (goose bumps), the ultimate Cajun music high.

—reviewed June 2015 by Dan Willging

 


letters-cover-052615-page-0018. Nicholas Payton:

Letters (Paytone Records)

 

Nicholas Payton serves up an alphabet soup with fully developed flavors and tasty surprises. It’s exemplary of the great musician that he is.

—reviewed September 2015 by Geraldine Wyckoff

 

 

 


OuRuLwhp9. Jamison Ross:

Jamison (Concord)

 

As a vocalist, Ross doesn’t simply sing a song; he feels its depth and musical possibilities and shares the joy of discovery.

—reviewed July 2015 by Geraldine Wyckoff

 

 

 


The-Deslondes10. The Deslondes:

The Deslondes (New West Records)

 

The album is awash in sin and loneliness set to mournful piano and horns, and achieves the uncontrived purity and raw emotion that New Orleans, and now the outside world, loves about this band.

—reviewed September 2015 by Frank Etheridge

 

 


 

 

…The Next 40

(in alphabetical order)

 

79rs GangFiyo on the Bayou (Sinking City Records)
—reviewed February 2015 by David Kunian

Brint AndersonCovered in Earl (Independent)
—reviewed December 2015 by John Swenson

Germaine Bazzle: It’s Magic (Musik Bloc)
—reviewed March 2015 by Geraldine Wyckoff

Spencer Bohren: Seven Birds (Valve Records)
—reviewed Jazz Fest Bible 2015 by John Swenson

Boyfriend: Love Your Boyfriend: Pts, 1 & 2 (Independent)
—reviewed January 2015 by Robert Fontenot

Dee Dee Bridgewater, Irvin Mayfield & The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra: Dee Dee’s Feathers (Okeh)
—reviewed August 2015 by Geraldine Wyckoff

Chubby Carrier & the Bayou Swamp Band: Zydeco Stuff (Swampadelic Records)
—reviewed December 2015 by Dan Willging

Dash Rip Rock: Wrongheaded (Drag Snake)
—reviewed November 2015 by Brett Milano

Kristin Diable: Create Your Own Mythology (Speakeasy Records/Thirty Tigers)
—reviewed March 2015 by Stephen Maloney

Big Chief Alfred Doucette: Originals (Independent)
—reviewed January 2015 by David Kunian

Feufollet: Two Universes (Feufollet Records)
—reviewed March 2015 by Nick Pittman

Nigel Hall: Ladies & Gentlemen… Nigel Hall (Feel Music/Round Hill Records)
—reviewed December 2015 by Geraldine Wyckoff

Hot 8 Brass Band: Vicennial (Tru Thoughts)
—reviewed November 2015 by Geraldine Wyckoff

Billy Iuso: Overstanding (Nawlins Music)
—reviewed June 2015 by Brett Milano

The Junior League: Also Rans (Kool Kat Musik)
—reviewed December 2015 by Rory Callais

Doug Kershaw & Steve Riley: Face to Face (Valcour Records)
—reviewed February 2015 by Dan Willging

Dayna Kurtz: Rise and Fall (Kismet/M.C. Records)
—reviewed May 2015 by John Swenson

Sonny Landreth: Bound by the Blues (Provogue)
—reviewed July 2015 by Robert Fontenot

Colin Lake: One Thing That’s For Sure (Louisiana Red Hot Records)
—reviewed October 2015 by Brett Milano

Lonely Lonely Knights: Lonely Lonely Knights (Independent)
—reviewed August 2015 by John Swenson

Louie Ludwig with the Moss Pickers: Elevation 13 (Independent)
—reviewed Jazz Fest Bible 2015 by Robert Fontenot

Papa Mali: Music Is Love (429 Records)
—reviewed April 2015 by Brett Milano

Naughty Professor: Out on a Limb (Ropeadope)
—reviewed April 2015 by Frank Etheridge

Sarah Quintana: Miss River (Independent)
—reviewed September 2015 by John Swenson

The Revelers: Get Ready (Independent)
—reviewed Jazz Fest Bible 2015 by Dan Willging

Jimmy Robinson: Three (Independent)
—reviewed August 2015 by Brett Milano

Kyle Roussel: Rookie of the Year (Independent)
—reviewed January 2015 by Geraldine Wyckoff

Royal Southern Brotherhood: Don’t Look Back: The Muscle Shoals Sessions (Ruf Records)
—reviewed Jazz Fest Bible 2015 by Dan Willging

Kermit Ruffins & the Barbecue Swingers: #imsoneworleans (Basin Street Records)
—reviewed Jazz Fest Bible 2015 by Geraldine Wyckoff

Irene Sage: Love Is Good (Independent)
—reviewed June 2015 by John Swenson

Paul Sanchez: The World Is Round Everything That Ends Begins Again (Independent)
—reviewed January 2015 by John Swenson

Johnny Sansone: Lady on the Levee (Shortstack Records)
—reviewed Jazz Fest Bible 2015 by John Swenson

Greg Schatz: Everything That You Wanted (Hot Spazz Records)
—reviewed August 2015 by David Kunian

James Singleton: Shiner (Independent)
—reviewed April 2015 by John Swenson

Marc Stone: Poison & Medicine (Louisiana Red Hot Records)
—reviewed Jazz Fest Bible 2015 by Frank Etheridge

Sweet Cecilia: Sweet Cecilia (Old Man Records)
—reviewed April 2015 by Dan Willging

T-Monde: Yesterday’s Gone (Valcour Records)
—reviewed by Dan Willging

Seva Venet: Revisiting New Orleans String Bands: 1880-1949 (Threadhead Records)
—reviewed January 2015 by Tom McDermott

Woodenhead: Live at Tipitina’s (Independent)
—reviewed June 2015 by Brett Milano

Yojimbo (now ROAR!): Ghost Birthday (Independent)
—reviewed February 2015 by David Kunian

OffBeat Magazine

Joe Adragna, the North Shore-based mastermind behind one-man (with help from an extensive list of friends) band the Junior League, understands the value of doing more with less. Throughout The Junior League’s discography—and most recently with the September release Also Rans—Adragna has produced records of layered, jangly pop rock with an unmistakable band feel despite mostly recording alone. Adragna’s experience as the drummer for a Monkees cover band has shown him how classic power pop is constructed from the ground up, and he has taken those lessons into the Junior League’s impressive output.

However, while Adragna can ably mimic a full band by himself, doing more with less, Also Rans is at its best when he shows that less is more. Much of the album is jam-packed with sounds, but Adragna’s pop influences shine brightest when used with restraint. “On/Off” features an eerie sparse piano over a driving verse that explodes into a lush chorus enveloped with sugary vocal harmonies. “A Dagger and a Kiss,” whose country-fried guitars ride a groove that is less “rock” than “roll,” starts by giving ample space that is filled with more and more guitars and effected vocals as the song progresses, making the extensive studio treatment feel earned. Adragna is clearly a gifted musician and talented songwriter who is at his best when he allows his songs to ride without training wheels.

 

The Big Takeover

the junior league

also rans

(Greenleaves Sound)

New Orleans’s Joe Adragna has real talent apparently not matched to commensurate popularity, as he excellently satirizes in his catchy title-track tribute to fellow semi-popular, struggling, dogged bands. But this writer and our Mark Suppanz, who lauded You Should Be Happy four issues ago, are not alone in noticing his ability. YSBH featured guests such as R.E.M./Minus 5/Young Fresh Fellows’ Scott McCaughey, Morrissey’s Boz Boorer, and Susan Cowsill; this one returns McCaughey and Boorer and entices our fave Sloan’s Jay Ferguson on the winsome “On/Off.” Perhaps next album Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow will cameo; for on his fifth album (four as tJL, one solo) Adragna’s unfailing jangle pop, heavier power-pop, and ’60s melody mix can be positively Big Star-ish and ’80s R.E.M.-ish—like the post-chorus, loud “The One I Love” guitar chunks in “If It’s You”— and there’s also a sweet Matthew Sweet sigh and hard Sloan bounce (via Sloan’s love of The Beatles’ Abbey Road’s guitars) to him as well. Songs always win. (thejuniorleague.bandcamp.com)

Sweet Sweet Music Blog

PASSPORT: Joe Adragna (The Junior League)

joe_adragna

What was the biggest fun during the making of Also Rans

JA: Probably collaborating with my friends. I am very lucky to have talented friends help me out on the record. You know, I send stuff to Scott (McCaughey) and he just sprinkles his fairy pop dust on it and the songs sound beautiful! Scott, Jay, Boz, Deni, JJ, Matt….those guys make it so much fun. They’re my friends but I’m also a huge admirer of each of them. I’m very lucky. I think the other big fun was recording my bits all at home. I like not having to go anywhere! I wasn’t under a time crunch or rushed, and I could do whatever the hell I felt like!

If we want to know you, which song do we have to listen to? And why?

JA: Probably The Stars In Our Eyes and The Long Goodbye. Why? Because I’m nostalgic and fatalistic, hahahahaha.

The music industry has changed a lot (or so they say). What did it bring you? And what not?

JA: I can’t say the music industry has done much for me, really. I haven’t really been in a position to have it do much. That said, independent record stores and labels such as Kool Kat and Euclid have been helpful for sure. I think at this point the artist can do most things on their own. That said, I’d love to be able to put out vinyl and have it not break the bank! Or perhaps get the music out to more people.

Who is the best musician in the world nobody has heard of yet? And why will this change very soon?

JA: Well, my first inclination is to say the best musicians in the world are my friends that helped me on the record! But since they’re known……there is a local singer/songwriter named Joe Kile who just released a record that is really, really good.

She tells you she will decide on a 5-song-mixed tape if there is going to be a second date. Which 5 would you put on?

JA: This is hard. I used to do these all the time in high school, and there was never even a first date!!

  1. Graham Coxon: Spectacular
  2. Sloan: Can’t You Figure It Out
  3. The Minus 5: With A Gun
  4. Michael Nesmith: You Are My One
  5. Wendy and Bonnie: I Realized You

What’s up for the next couple of months?

JA: Already working on another record. I have 10 songs on the go! Maybe setting up shows for next year in NY, and points elsewhere!

 

Powerpop Carolina

Previous to his new LP, Also Rans, I’d never heard Joe Adragna and his band, The Junior League. The New Orleans based Adragna has a voice that lands somewhere between Peter Hollsapple and Chris Mars of The Replacements (If you’ve never heard Chris Mars’ solo work, it blows The Replacements away, imo). And at times, tracks on Also Rans remind me a little bit of Holsapple’s post dB’s band, Continental Drifters (who also called New Orleans home, btw). A Minus 5 / Scott McCaughey presence is also very evident here.

alsoWith all the requisite jangle and hooks, fans of Brit-influenced power pop will surely dig Also Rans – but there’s a fair amount of diversity in this collection for those with a wider palate. “Before You Go” has a Who-like drive to it and the right amount of jangle and quirk to please the REM crowd. “Please (I Need You To Go)” brings to mind 70’s sunshine pop. “If it’s You” is a nice bit of garage-pop and very catchy. The tempo slows for a few moments with the well placed “Disappearing Act” and things pick back up with the very Hollsapple/Continental Drifters like “Smarter Than That”.

Perhaps the best track on Also Rans is “On/Off”, one giant hook from start to finish with a little bit of a synth-pop feel, this isn’t normally something I’d gravitate toward. But in this case, I have to make an exception. “On/Off” sounds as if it must have been a hit “back in the day”. You’ll ask yourself where you’ve heard this one before. But you haven’t. Trust me.

Also Rans comes with a 5 song bonus disc and is scheduled for CD release on October 2, exclusively at Kool Kat Musik.

Powerpopaholic

Joe Adragna (aka The Junior League) continues to produce excellent music year after year and this new album is no exception. The Junior League has more of a retro-sound to start with Also Rans, as the title track is a shimmering janglefest that’s a little like a jam between The Zombies and REM. And although there is lots of great power pop, its got plenty of stylistic variety.

The sound of producer Scott McCaughey’s (Minus 5) influence is pronounced on the mid-tempo gem “The Stars In Our Eyes.” Then the catchy “Before You Go” has a great hook that doesn’t let go and it leads to the sweet “Please (I Need You To Go)” with its bouncy tempo. We then shift to a modern expansive sound on “On/Off” including a synth piano added by Sloan’s Jay Ferguson, and this approach follows through on the slower “Broken and Mine.” Joe goes light (“Disappearing Act”) and heavy (“If its You”) and you’ll find not a single note of filler. Highly Recommended. Also Ranscomes with a 5 song bonus disc and is scheduled for CD release on October 2, exclusively at Kool Kat Musik.

Absolute Power Pop

The Junior League-Also Rans. Joe Adragna is back as The Junior League with his latest opus, but the title is false advertising (or false modesty) as these tracks are anything but "also-rans". Like last time out (2013's You Should Be Happy), Scott McCaughey helps out, and this time Sloan's Jay Ferguson contributes keyboards and vocals on "On Off", one of the album's top tracks. Other standouts include "A Dagger and a Kiss" with its insistent guitar hook, and the bright power pop of "Before You Go". You can pre-order the CD from Kool Kat as well.

Something Else

For the past several years, Joe Adragna has been making music as the Junior League. Based in New Orleans, the singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer regularly recruits select musician pals to submit their talents to the sessions. For Also Rans, the Junior League’s latest album, special guests include Scott McCaughey, Jay Ferguson, Boz Boorer and J. Murphy.

A stimulating listen from pillar to post, Also Rans (available via Kool Kat Musik) reins in as a power-popping prize, fringed with roots-rock instincts. Assured vocals, blooming with lucidity, conduct the show — while the songs are sharply-constructed and executed with expression and enthusiasm. The performances are smooth enough to warrant accessibility, yet flashes of punk-like energy often sashay through the matter, resulting in no absence of thrilling loops and spirals.

Slinky rhythms give way to rather funky footing on the Junior League’s “A Dagger And A Kiss,” and “Please (I Need You To)” mixes strummy country-slanted riffs with honey-soaked Beach Boys aspirations to a dazzling aftermath. The spirit of the Southern California legends is further summoned on the gentle beauty of “Broken And Mine,” a mesmerizing momentum, clipped of a new wave bent, drives the keyboard heavy “On/Off,” and “It’s You,” which features amazing guitar dynamics, rocks hard with determination.

Spotted with chilly synthesizer fills, the Junior League’s “Disappearing Act” proposes an inventive blend of space age artiness and Badfinger-inspired pop, “The Long Goodbye” is soft and jazzy, and “Smarter Than That” stomps and snarls to a penetrating shuffle. The title track of Also Rans, as well as “The Stars In Your Eyes” and “Before You Go,” are pretty much straight-forward radio-friendly pop rockers, marked by grand hooks, harmonious singing, solid percussion, and gripping grooves by the gallon.

Each and every song on Also Rans consists of wildly catchy openers and closers, prompting the album to be a thoroughly realized set of songs that move from strength to strength with unbelievable ease. If you’re on a tight budget and can only afford one record, the Junior League’s latest is the one to buy!

The Equal Ground

The New Orleans Advocate

New Orleans’ Junior League rocks to a Beatles beat, Saturday at Gasa Gasa

Popular music cycles through genres and styles at a dizzying pace, but Joe Adragna staked his flag on classic pop music. His work is the product of a musical world that begins and ends with The Beatles.

The British rock group meant so much to him that “my mom and dad would wake me at 11 p.m. so I could watch ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ with them.” His band the Junior League’s most recent album, “You Should Be Happy,” shows those roots in the songs’ clarity and immediacy.

The group plays a CD-release show Saturday, Feb. 1, at Gasa Gasa with Pontchartrain Wrecks.

“The Beatles were everything to me,” Adragna said, even though they had broken up before he first heard them. As a boy he played with figurines of John, Paul, George and Ringo while listening to “The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl.” His first Beatles album was 1976’s “Rock ’n’ Roll Music,” and he went back and bought “Meet The Beatles” and others from the band’s early period before eventually graduating to the more psychedelic later music.

At first, his favorite songs were John Lennon’s, but as time passed, he grew to respect and connect to Paul McCartney’s songs more.

“When you watch the movies, John was the funniest,” he said. “It’s cooler to like John because he’s more rock ’n’ roll, but Paul’s such an amazing musician. His bass lines alone are incredible.”

He grew to love other bands from the1960s and early ’70s, including the Rolling Stones, the Who and the Monkees. The latter means so much to Adragna that he leads a Monkees cover band, the Missing Links. It wasn’t until junior high in 1986 when he heard the Smiths and R.E.M. that his musical tastes caught up to his time.

“They dragged me into the modern world,” he said.

Adragna has been the one constant in the Junior League since he moved to New Orleans in 2001. He loved pop music and made demos of songs he wrote, but when he saw Seattle’s the Minus Five, he decided he had to make a record, even if nothing came of it.

He pulled together friends to record his first album, “Catchy,” and has continued a similar pattern for the three albums that followed including “You Should Be Happy.” He has a core band that plays shows and helps out with records, and pulls in guests to add special parts. On the new album, Adragna sings a duet with Susan Cowsill and gets an assist on guitar from the Minus Five’s Scott McCaughey.

For this album, he played the drums, most of the bass and much of the guitar on the album.

 

“Honestly, in the time it would take me to teach someone else the part, I can play it myself. I know that sounds bad, but I get really excited. When I get a bass guitar in my hands, all I want to do is play McCartney runs.”

Adragna cut the album Uptown at Tom Stern’s Blue Velvet Studio. It was a slow process because he had to wait for some of the out-of-town contributors, including Morrissey’s musical director Boz Boorer, to record and digitally send him their parts.

According to Stern, Adragna came into the studio prepared. “He knows what he wants,” Stern said. “He has a set-up at home, so he’s demo’ed most of these songs. I get the feeling that he comes up with the parts fairly quickly. He’s good at doing that sort of stuff.”

Because Adragna’s a drummer who also plays with local garage band the Lonely Lonely Knights, his time is good, says Stern. “Everything’s going to be rhythmically tight. It’s going to sound like a record.”

The album hints at the music in Adragna’s record collection. “Sullen Girl” brings to mind Elvis Costello’s “This Year’s Model” album with its Farfisa organ sound, while the title cut echoes countless garage pop songs. As upbeat as the album is, though, “You Should be Happy” has a strong melancholy undercurrent.

He sees the Smiths as a forerunner for this, where Morrissey couched morose, melancholy lyrics in seemingly easy pop songs. But Adragna says the words don’t reflect his life.

“Melancholy songs are easier to write,” he said. “I’m a happy guy. I have a wife and a lovely son.”

Some songs refer to old wounds and anxieties dating back to high school, while others refer to different kinds of pain, but he writes them in first person to help dramatize them. Besides, negative songs seem to be cooler.

“It’s that Lennon and McCartney thing, isn’t it? It’s much cooler to listen to the angry Lennon than McCartney singing, ‘With a little luck / we can work it out.’ But when I was a kid swinging on a swing set, I was singing ‘With a Little Luck,’ not ‘Mother.’ ”

 

Alex Rawls writes about music in New Orleans. He can be reached at MySpiltMilk.com.

Nola.com

There’s no such thing as eating too much candy, figuratively speaking, for the north shore-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Joe Adragna. Adragna, who drums in a Monkees cover band when not working on his own projects, is a dedicated pop acolyte whose work brims over with passion for the genre’s great artisans: the Beach Boys, Paul McCartney, Billy Joel.

Adragna followed his last album as the Junior League, 2009’s “Smile Shoot Smile”, with “Fall Back” in late 2010, under his own name; the latter was a sharper, more muscled power-pop effort than the jangly confections of his Junior League output, with plenty of the garage clinging to it.

The bittersweet new “You Should Be Happy”, streaming online now, splits the difference between the two, its lush hooks shot through with sweet-tart lyrical yearning. One track, “Samantha Smile”, full of aching teenage joy and want (and more Big Star than Beatles) is even a tribute to the teen love triangle of John Hughes’ “Sixteen Candles”.

On “You Should Be Happy” Adragna gets by with a little help from his friends: alt-pop star Scott McCaughey of the Young Fresh Fellows and occasionally R.E.M. - with whom Adragna has played, recently, in the group the Minus 5 - and Morrissey guitarist Boz Boorer lent their talents to the project. Out of the local ranks, Susan Cowsill (who, along with McCaughey and R.E.M.’s Peter Buck also guested on “Fall Back”) keyboardist Casey McAllister and sax man Derek Houston all appear. 

Powerpopaholic

The Junior League “You Should Be Happy”
After a few solo projects, Joe Adragna puts his sweat into a new Junior League album. Starting with “Keep It Home,” its an excellent roots rocker, assisted by buddy Scott McCaughey (The Minus Five). “Hey Misery” is a Beatlesque piano tune with Pet Sounds styled bass and horns, and even a sax solo. The next song, “One Step Forward (Another Step Back)” has even more Beach Boys styled instrumentation and harmonies.

Adragna then shifts back to a strumming acoustic guitar on the excellent “Samantha Smile,” with a hook filled chorus that reminds me of The Autumn Defense. The heartache ballad “Charming” has a very distinct Queen-like quality in the guitar and strings coda. In fact, the best written ballads I’ve heard this year are found towards the albums end. No filler here, its exceptional all the way around and makes my top ten of 2013 nominee list.

AbsolutePowerPop

Friday, August 16, 2013

Friday Roundup.

The Junior League-You Should Be Happy. Joe Adragna has had a bit of a musical identity crisis. After releasing two top-notch discs as The Junior League in the latter half of the last decade, Adragna re-released the Junior League material under his own name and then gave us 2010's fine Fall Back. He's even called himself Parlophony from time to time. But now he's dusted off The Junior League name for his latest collection of tunes, and the famous Shakespeare quote about roses and names comes to mind as You Should Be Happy continues Adragna's string of excellent releases. As on Fall Back he's assisted by Scott McCaughey, which dovetails perfectly with his Marshall Crenshaw-meets-R.E.M. sound and opener "Keep it Home" with its roots-pop sound and prominent harmonica is its exemplar. The jaunty piano-backed "Hey Misery" is both Brian Wilson-esque and Beatlesque, and the lovely, lightly-jangly "One Step Forward (Another Step Back)" finds Adragna just as home with more introspective numbers. And the legendary Susan Cowsill adds vocals on the raved-up title track and the gorgeous ballad "I Don't Think I'm Kidding (This Time)". So many of the artists I feature on this site are deserving of a much wider audience, but Adragna's songcraft and musicianship really ought to have him prominent in the adult-alternative/Austin City Limits circle of music today. I'll take him over Mumford or any of Mumford's sons.

OffBeat Magazine

Joe Adragna

Fall Back

(Greenleaves Sound)

Joe Adragna, Fall Back (Greenleaves Sound)

Joe Adragna’s a pop purist. As the Junior League, he embraced pop’s exuberance as well as the craft that makes great songs. On Fall Back, the energy’s dialed down and the mood’s a little autumnal, but his affection for a beautiful song is clear, as is his desire to make pop that stays with you for more than the three minutes most of his songs take to say their piece. Sometimes it’s a chorus that catches you—the Byrds-like “You’re Gonna Die Alone,” which doesn’t celebrate that knowledge—a melody you’d like to move into (“Ladders”) or a line that draws you into the song (“I don’t mind drinking until I’m hollow,” for example, in “Far Away”).

Beyond his craft, Adragna’s strength is his voice. He doesn’t show a lot of range on Fall Back, but he doesn’t need to. The warm naturalness of his voice makes his songs sound personal—less like performances and more like things he was thinking about set to four-four time. He plays most of the instruments and would benefit from a more agile rhythm section, but being a one-man band generally suits him well. He gets guest spots from Peter Buck, Scott McCaughey and Susan Cowsill, but they fit seamlessly into his songs, perhaps because they’re pop purists too.

Shindig Magazine

THE JUNIOR LEAGUE
Smile Shoot Smile
Greenleaves Sound CD
www.myspace.com/juniorleague
New Orleans singer/songwriter Joe Adragna is actually a league all on his own, as he writes, produces and plays virtually everything on this, the second Junior League CD. Interestingly there are no photos of Joe. He has chosen to represent the Junior League with shots of 60s beach babes and mini skirts - possibly a wise move! Whilst Mr.Adragna is clearly a fan of The Beatles, The Monkees and many classic pop influences, but he doesn't allow the influences to become blatant. 'Smile, Shoot, Smile' is brimming with subtle, slightly understated melodies, nice harmonies and inventive, economic guitar parts. This is not loud and perky power-pop - on the rare occasions when he does rock it up a bit, as on 'Hey Pop Life', the tunes are nowhere near as engaging as subtler material like 'Man Called Disaster'.
Phil Suggitt

Absolute Power Pop

CD of the Day, 3/16/09: The Junior League-Smile Shoot Smile

Joe Adragna has done it again. The man behind The Junior League, whose 2006 debut Catchy was precisely that and then some, has brought us a new collection of power poppin’ tunes that may even be better than the debut.

As mentioned in my review of Catchy, Adragna might be the next best thing to Marshall Crenshaw in terms of his similar vocal and musical styles. And “Everybody Loves Me (But You)” with its easygoing melodic charm is Exhibit A for this comparison. “Always Last on the Same Route” has enough of a rootsy retro sound to pass for a lost Grip Weeds classic, and the pensive “Man Called Disaster” recalls some of Crenshaw’s recent work. Meanwhile, the rocking (and rollicking) “It’s the End” brings Eugene Edwards to mind, “Memories” has that 60s rock sound down, and “Hey! Pop Life” is garage goodness (Little Steven needs to hear this one pronto). No sophomore slump here.

OffBeat Magazine

The Junior League, Catchy (Greensleevs Sound)


Someone fucked Joe Adragna up but good. The lead singer (and everything else) of this local project literally spends nine-tenths of this debut CD mourning his great lost love, with all the hate and regret and lingering affection that entails, pulling up short only on the final track, the skip-out soundtrack “(We’re the) Kings of the Dead End.” But that little excursion doesn’t exactly end Catchy on a high note because this breakup really hurt. Adragna finds echoes of the pain in every single detail, like the empty apartment, the makeup on his shirt, and the bar they used to hang out in. And then there are of course the great philosophical questions. “Would you believe me if I told you I was a liar?” and “Is this all we ever were, an argument that can’t be won?”

 

This would make for a tremendously depressing listen but for Adragna’s pop-rock classicism, which makes the album everything the title promises (especially on “This Is What We Are”) and which skitters eloquently between jangle, garage revivalism and folky alt-pop. “Dead End,” for example, covers its Cheap Trick road trip with a thin sheen of Foo Fightery snot, while “These Foolish Things” pushes the Cult’s “Wild Flower” opening through Soul Asylum-brand alt.country before downshifting into Smithereens territory. It won’t win awards for ingenuity, and it’s about half too slow to make it on radio these days, but for power-pop fiends—and hopeless romantics who deal with rejection by rocking out—it will serve well.

Ink19

The Junior League

Catchy

Greenleaves Sound / Lost Resort Records

Here's a nice-sounding power-pop group consisting of a single musician. Joe Adragna hails from St Augustine, Fla., and plays everything in the band. That’s drums, lead, rhythm, bass, tambourine, you name it. Live gigs and jam sessions are pretty much out of the question, but the record is skilled --if a touch inoffensive.

Mr. Adragna finds a newish path through the well-trod fields of pop/rock. He claims influence from REM and The Monkees, and I believe it. "The Beautiful Room is Empty" could easily be mistaken for a lost Michael Stipe cut, and "Would You Believe" rides on a Peter Tork bass riff. These are reasonably forgettable, but the best cut lurks at the end of the disc: "(We're The) Kings of the Dead End." Producer Jim Devito solos on guitar, the only guest player credited here. The song is chunky and clunky, rhapsodizes about cheap beer and cheaper women and packs a great chorus: "This is better than anything I could do in school." I think this guy is having too much fun, and while he's a strong musician, it seems a little outside perturbation might make him great.

Gambit Weekly

The Junior League
Catchy
(Greenleaves Sound Recordings/Retrophonics)


The "League" part may be misleading -- the album was, in fact, recorded entirely by frontman Joe Adragna -- but the album title is spot on. The debut release from the Junior League, which now does boast bona fide members, is a beautifully woven collection of luminous, melodic '60s-style pop songcraft in the vein of the Revolver-era Beatles or Syd Barrett's Pink Floyd with plenty of tambourines and handclaps. (The band had been playing live in New Orleans since last May, but Adragna recorded the songs solo in Florida in the months following Katrina.) With pop hooks aplenty and a full, jangly sound, it would be easy to karaoke an early Fab Four or Kinks hit over the top of any track, but Adragna's vocals instead stand alone -- plaintive, high and a little intense, recalling Old 97's frontman Rhett Miller. Conflicted love songs shine, as Adragna's split-personality, wry lyrics evoke the optimist/pessimist interplay of some early Lennon and McCartney, on "Hear My Voice" ("I remember our first kiss / too bad you couldn't be there") or "Would You Believe" ("I hate you more with every day / soon you're gonna notice / when you stand on your own I'll be there to knock you down"). Catchy's CD-release party will be Saturday, June 10 at the Circle Bar, 1032 Lee Circle. -- Fensterstock 

225 Magazine

Review: The Junior League - Catchy


 

The Junior League



Catchy (Greenleaves Sound Recordings/Retrophonics)



The Junior League’s CD is a one-man arena show, mixing Joe Adranga’s love of classic pop melodies and harmonies with Cheap Trick-grade power pop. Catchy is exactly the way I would describe the record: songs like the opener “These Tender Things” and “Would You Believe” could have as easily emerged in 1966 or 1986 as they did in 2006, while “Hear My Voice” and “The Beautiful Room is Empty” have a pained openness. Each song is brilliantly crafted, and while they bear resemblance to Adranga’s heroes The Beatles and The Monkees, they eschew any retro trappings, sounding instead timeless and immediate.



Recommended if you like: Your record collection, your new girl/boyfriend, and The Monkees, in roughly equal measures



Essential tracks: “The Beautiful Room is Empty,” “Hear My Voice,” “These Tender Things”

OffBeat Magazine

The Junior League

Smile Shoot Smile

(Not Lame)

I once tried to arrange for the Junior League’s Joe Adranga to interview Micky Dolenz of the Monkees, and to be honest, I felt a little sorry for Dolenz. Adranga has an encyclopedic knowledge of the Monkees and the panoply of power pop, and I feared I was releasing a guy in Spock ears on an unsuspecting Leonard Nimoy.

Fortunately, Adranga has found the perfect outlet for his pop obsessions in his one-man-band, the Junior League, whose songs echo all the usual suspects—the Beatles, Big Star, the Smiths—not through direct reference, but with nascent traits of these bands bubbling up from Adranga’s DNA. Smile Shoot Smile reflects a lot of maturation since the band’s appropriately named 2006 debut Catchy, trading some of the bubblegum for hardier fare.

The Junior League, on album anyway, is all Joe, playing and writing all the parts. In “Everybody Loves Me (but You)” and “It’s the End,” he drops hooks as effortlessly as a pro angler. It’s the deeper waters he explores on this record, however, that reveal Adranga to be more than a sharp-eared pop stylist. The bittersweet edge of “Princess Stephanie” and the scintillating “Man Called Disaster”—opening with “lost in the haze of middle-age / you bask in the glow of trails you blazed”—illuminates the honesty that comes with age.

“What if I Am” touches on the universal tenets of love and longing and self-reflection only reachable by pop music. With a few stylistic tugs in any particular direction, the song could become a country tearjerker, a power ballad, a retro tremor from the jangly alternative era, but because of his careful arrangements, the song stays centered in the here and now, the domain of all great pop music.

The interview with Dolenz fell through, and though Adranga may have been left with Monkees arcana unasked, he’s proven with Smile Shoot Smile that he is fully capable of answering his pop questions all by himself.

Antigravity Magazine

KINGS OF THE DEAD END?

I know it’s rare for a band like Junior League to emerge from New Orleans, but I’d assume it’s rare for a pop/rock band with allegiances to the Beatles and the Beach Boys to come out of anywhere at this point. New Orleans isn’t exactly known for its pop, and I’m just not hearing the handclaps, tambourines, and jangly guitar melodies on Top 40.

Junior League is a year-old local band that is having its record release party for its first release, Catchy, at the Circle Bar on June 10th. I sat down with founder/ vocalist/guitarist Joe Adragna on a drizzly evening at The Balcony Bar to talk about the group and what it’s like to operate as a rock band in New Orleans.

AG: Is Jason(bassist,vocalist) in New York?

JA:Yeah.

AG: So, you all don’t practice?

JA: No, we occasionally play the night before a gig.

AG: How does that work? How do you progress that way?

JA:The thing is that The Junior League is like a rotating cast of whoever’s around.
AG: Really?
JA:Yeah.

AG: You’ve written all the songs.

JA:Yeah. I played it all on the CD. I didn’t have a band.

AG: Oh, so all this on Catchy is just you?
JA: Uh huh.
AG: You’re playing the drums and everything?
JA: Uh huh.
AG: Very impressive.
JA: Thank you. I didn’t have anybody. I sat in my room for two years and recorded songs in my own demo studio. I was bummed out because I couldn’t meet anybody. I was having a hard time, so I just said,“the hell with it. I’m gonna do my thing and record.” I went to the studio back at St.Augustine because that’s where I was living in Florida and my friend Jim Devito, he’s got a great studio with Vox amps and he’s a genius. He’s a really good friend, so I knew I could trust him. It took five days to record the basic tracks, a few to mix, Jim mastered it, and that was it. Jason was in my old band, Tether’s End, and he was a good friend of mine. He offered to come down and play bass.Hesaid,“Sendmethedemos,”andhelearnedthesongs. He’s so talented. (Drummer)Brandon I met down here. I made a friend. It was cool. Brandon was like, “I’ll play with you.” He was in the Vowden Key.
AG: Ideally, would you like to have another guitarist?
JA: Absolutely. I think it would really benefit. I’m pretty crappy on guitar.
AG: No, you’re...
JA: I can’t lead. I’m a rhythm guitar player, man. My guitar heroes are Syd Barrett and John Lennon, and neither were virtuosos.They were passionate.
AG: Your melodies are the strength, definitely. JA:Thank you.
AG: You’ve been playing down here for how many months?
JA:We had our first gig last May. It’ll be a year next month.We played at Rock N’ Bowl with the Public and Girl in a Coma. I was nervous as hell, but it was pretty exciting.
AG: What happens when you have a new song?
JA: I go upstairs, grab my acoustic, record the acoustic part and just demo it right away–put the drums on it.
AG: So you send it to Jason, he learns it, and then comes down and plays it live?

JA: Uh huh.

AG: He’s that professional that you can work like that?

JA:Yeah, he’s great. Brandon, too. He’s like,“what do you want?”

AG: But, you don’t practice with Brandon.

JA: No, Brandon and I practice. Brandon’s super supportive like, “What do you wanna do, man? What’s up?” He’s such a good guy, and I’m really fortunate to be friends with him.
AG: So, are you trying to make a mark locally right now, or do you have your eyes set on a national level?

JA: Man, it’s hard enough to be something locally, you know?

AG: Yeah, that’s what I was thinking.

JA: We got to play in SXSW. We weren’t in it, but we played during the festival. We played the same day with the Public. And we played the International Pop Overthrow Festival in Nashville. I play New York because I’m from there, but I think I’d rather try to get people to like us here,‘cause this is where I live.

AG: Get a base.

JA: Totally. I know it sounds stupid, but when people come to the shows, I’m actually like,“Wow, that’s pretty awesome that they would come to see us.”

AG: Maybe it’s more difficult to get people to come out and see your kind of music in New Orleans, though. Do you feel that way?

JA: A little bit. There’s a lot of talent here. It’s a music city, and there are many talented musicians doing cool things, and I think people are somewhat discerning in their taste, and I think they know BS from not-BS, and they are so many things they can see that perhaps maybe they’re looking at what I’m doing, which is ‘60s-influenced pop music, and I wonder if they’re,“Oh, I can go and see something much more interesting.”

AG: Yeah, and this isn’t from me, but I could see how people would be like, “C’mon, man, we’ve heard that before.”
JA: I love the Beatles, I love Sloan, I love the Minus Five. I grew up liking–when I say pop music, that’s what I mean, not Britney Spears or Jesse McCartney. I mean the Who or Big Star or...

AG: The Kinks?

JA:The Kinks. Definitely. You notice that a lot of national tours don’t come here, and I wonder why. There are a lot of cool venues, there’s a lot of people who like music.
….

AG: The tenth song on the album, “Kings of the Dead end,” sounds like a classic rock song. It has that vocal harmony... JA: “Whoah-oh-oh.” It’s like “China Grove” or something.

AG: That’s it! That’s exactly it!

JA: I better not say that. I’ll get sued or something. 

UPCOMING APPEARANCES

  • April 18, 2018
    the circle bar ,  new orleans, la
     

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