Monday, August 25, 2008

Paul Collins Beat: Ribbon of Gold & Upcoming Wild Weekend Powerpop Festival Pick!

Paul Collins Beat

Ribbon of Gold
RockIndiana (overseas) and Get Hip Recordings (USA)

A classic trademark of good powerpop is that it's often instantly likeable. The beat's good, the melodies are catchy, you can sing along to it the first time, and it sounds like what great rock 'n roll should sound like. In many ways, its simplicity makes the album a seminal album that influences many for years to come. The new release from Paul Collins Beat, Ribbon Of Gold delivers as promised. If one knew about frontman Paul Collins, that would be no surprise. He was in early '70s legends The Nerves with future Plimsouls Peter Case, penned "Hanging on the Telephone," which was a hit for Blondie, and also was in '80s new wave legends The Beat (not to be confused with ska revivalists The English Beat). In fact, Paul Collins is credited by many as one of the inventors of "skinny tie pop," the Kinks/early Who derived simple guitar and beat based pop that reached its height of popularity with The Knack that still garners both affection and popularity among (good) music lovers. Afterall, when was the last time you heard anyone say they didn't like Blondie or The Knack? They're just cool to everyone.

Ribbons of Gold is a superb followup to last year's Flying High. As if the history isn't enough to give instant powerpop/jingle jangle rock cred, it was produced in super musically cool Sweden by Chips Kiesby, also known for his work with The Nomads and The Hellacopters. The opening "Hey DJ" is a happy slow beat nostalgia trip when rock radio was something good and DJ's brought you great music and seemed more like music fans than the outdated relics they are now. Not many of us can relate to it, but the song is refreshing and jangles along in a way that's just cool. For those of you who want their music to rawk and care less about the finer points, it's got that too. "I Still Want You" is unmistakenly 80s new wave/powerpop that reminds one of early Police but far better in volume and dimension. The song also highlights Paul's vocal intensity and heart. We've all felt that way before and Paul summed it up in feeling just as we felt it. Another upbeat standout is "She Doesn't Want To Hang Around With You" with it's less than two minutes of pogo beat that definitely brings me back to my high school days of crushes for girls with bob haircuts and neon earrings. It nearly borders on a 'punk' song if it wasn't so happy sounding.

"Big Pop Song" is a slower psychedelic/jingle jangle guitar song. Musically, it's very reminiscent of early Church but the vocals bring a greater strength to the song compared to the more understated, detached style of Steve Kilbey. Instant appeal doesn't mean popularity. Although the songs on Ribbon Of Gold are instantly likeable and catchy, they have a basic purist sense that feels and sounds like great rock 'n' roll. One can't put their finger on it, but if one takes The Jam and only a few others out of the powerpop equation, it seems like more of an American new wave phenomenon. Therefore, this type of Kinks derived skinny tie pop shares some qualities as "American" music or "Americana." Songs like "Falling In Love With Her" take a strong Byrds folk rock flavor, but more than the Rickenbacker sound, the music itself somehow feels like "American Music." Although that term applies more often to country music, which is not a genre that holds merit for many of us in the modern sense, the songwriting tradition is related by people such as Johny Cash, Roy Orbison, and many others. Although this is NOT a comparison to them, it's important to note that there is a tradition shared. It has a feel of being almost earthy in it's simplicity and a story to it. In many ways, Paul Collins' style both in tempo and songwriting transcend the skinny tie feel into a broader sense of American rock music that is suprising. One especially hears it on the title track "Ribbon of Gold" with it's storytelling and beat that almost communicates a sense of traveling, which is what the song is about. It's very hard to describe it, but it has some kind of kinship to "Into The Great Wide Open." What's even better is that it shows that Paul Collins is a great American rock songster that deserves a lot more credit and attention than he currently knows.

Paul Collins Beat is currently touring the US. Upcoming tour dates are:

Aug 27 2008 10:00P The Earl Atlanta, Georgia
Aug 29 2008 8:00P Mohawk Austin, Texas
Aug 31 2008 10:00P Continental Club Houston, Texas

For the Austin date, he's headlining the Wild Weekend Powerpop Festival with Nikki Corvette, The Ugly Beats, The Boss Martians, and many other great acts:

Here's some footage from earlier this year at Cheapo Discs in Austin:

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