International Pop Overthrow 13 – Better Late Than Never

by John M. Borack

David Bash’s International Pop Overthrow franchise celebrated its 13th year in 2010, which meant a 13th compilation of all-over-the-map tunes from acts who played one of the venerable pop festival’s many stops throughout the US and UK. Making my way through the behemoth-like three-disc sets of recent years has become somewhat of a daunting task, but after spending some time digging through volume 13, I unearthed many treasures deserving of pop fans’ attention.

IPO has branched out and broadened its sonic palette since the fest’s inception in 1998; rather than simply focusing on jangly, toe-tapping power pop sounds, the festival lineups (and the CD’s) also include everything from slammin’ punk and synth-flecked indie rock to garage pop and singer/songwriter missives (and from eight countries, yet). This is mostly a good thing, as it’s prevented IPO from being pigeonholed as a festival for cultists – plus there seems to be a little something for everyone. Of course not everything is top-shelf, but that’s certainly to be expected for a 66-track comp, right?

In any event, here are some short, random observations on some of the artists/songs that stood out on IPO 13:

The Royalties: Nice modern power pop tuneage with just enough quirkiness to make it memorable.

Susannah Blinkoff: Oh Susannah, I’d like to hear more of these cute vocals combined with those edgy-yet-catchy guitars.

The Mayflowers: If Jellyfish (the band, not the free-swimming members of the phylum Cnidaria) was Japanese and influenced by the Beatles’ “Getting Better,” it’d sound like this. Which is a good thing.

Deadbeat Poets: Hey, they borrowed the “You Really Got Me” guitar riff!  Or was it “All Day and All of the Night?”  No, wait….”Hello, I Love You?”

Chris Richards and the Subtractions: “I, Miss July” adds up to classic-sounding power pop. (Subtractions…adds up….get it?)

Ulysses: Gary Glitter, meet T. Rex.

Stephen Lawrenson: If Matthew Sweet ever needs an understudy, this could be the right man for the job.

The Dirty Royals: Speedy tempo, lots of harmonies. Very nice.

Nushu: One of the shining lights of the L.A. pop scene offers up one of their hookier, punchier numbers.  Lisa Mychols and Hillary Burton  – you rock!

The Romeo Flynns: Not unlike the E-Street Band meeting Michael Stanley in someone’s garage.  Whether that’s a positive or negative depends on what you think of the E-Street Band and Michael Stanley.

Matthew Pop: With a last name like Pop, it’s gotta be good, right?  The crunchy guitars and the “woo-hoo’s” help make it so.

The Roebucks!!: They have exclamation points!!  I don’t know why!!  They also have an undeniably catchy, mid-tempo swagger about them!!

The Beat Rats: Rough and tumble Merseybeat madness. Wonderful.

The Shamus Twins: I was reminded of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. For sham(us)…

Maxi Dunn: Beautifully atmospheric, perfectly sung.

Popfilter!: Imagine Queen if Queen was really, really mediocre.

The Stanleys: “What Are We Gonna Do?” might be the best thing here. It’s classic, powerful pop that is highly reminiscent of ’70s-era Midwest power popsters The Boys. Turn it up.

Rob Bonfiglio: A winning, soulful, piano-based tune.

Skick: Supercharged female-fronted punk rock.

Jeremy Morris: The Nicest Guy in Pop flies like a Byrd…

The Pondhawks: Imagine a peppy Gerry Rafferty listening to “Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting.”

Tiny Volcano: More Jellyfish (not the hydrozoan or hydromedusae) crowned with a Queen-like guitar solo.

Golden Bloom: Pretty, mid-tempo sunshine pop sounds.

The Secrets: Hypnotically catchy garage-pop.

Zoe Scott: Has an “Every Breath You Take”/”Missing You” (John Waite) vibe.

Agony Aunts: Bouncy, quirky and cool. A highlight of disc 3.

Cosmo Topper: Seriously weird sh*t here. Brown acid, anyone?

The Sunchymes: See Golden Bloom.

Blue Cartoon: A smooth little number from this veteran IPO combo.

The Kings: A potential radio smash in waiting, this one.

Hijinx: Snappy tune, great band name.

The Afternoons: “I Want it Anyway” is what it’s called, and it’s probably the second-best track here. Love that sweet guitar jangle.

Susan Hedges: A grating, ’80s-influenced dance number. Ugh.

The Romeros: Sloppy punk with sax = no bueno.

The Ringles: You gotta give these guys credit for shamelessly appropriating the opening guitar figure from “Stairway to Heaven” for their own wannabe epic – but I guess a bit of turnabout is fair play, since the Zep dudes certainly “borrowed” many a riff back in the day…

Overall, IPO 13 is a damned fine collection, with the many high points making it a more-than-welcome addition to any pop fans’ music library. Great way to discover many heretofore unknown acts, too.  Visit for more info on both the CD’s and the festival.

One thought on “International Pop Overthrow 13 – Better Late Than Never

  1. Hi John,
    Been a fan of oyurs for some time, and now got some music I want to send you on my little label Grown Up Wrong! The big one is an unreleased album from ’76/77 from the Hot Knives, featuring Danny Mihm and Tim Lynch from the original Flamn’ Groovies. It’s an INCREDIBLE record. Second release is a live album by Adelaide band Young Modern, who Bomp! magazine called Australia’s first power pop band back in ’79. I hear them as more of an early 70’s Anglophile thing – Andy Paley’s Sidewinders in the band they most remind me of. Beatles, Byrds and ‘Loaded’ Velvets are what I hear in them – beautifully strummed guitars and great plaintive songs..

    Anyway, shoot me an address if you want cds. If you’re okay with digital just let me know and I’ll sort that. Just sorted out US Distribution through Forced Exposure in the US and Forte for UK/Europe so keen to get work out around the world
    some YouTube links below.

    all the best

    Here’s a great new Hot Knives Youtube clip. This song so shoulda been a hit.

    and some Young Modern stuff
    the Australian Shake Some Action I’ve always thought…. (alas no version on new live-album
    Age has not wearied them….


Leave a Reply