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35 Reviews in 7 Days, Part 4

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The Windbreakers were a pop beacon in the often stormy musical ocean that was the mid-to-late ‘80s, and indie label Mark Records has reissued the band’s 1985 debut album, Terminal, with five bonus tracks (four live cuts and the rare track “Lonely Beach”). The sweet/sour push and pull between Bobby Sutliff and Tim Lee is proudly on display throughout, with most of the album’s eleven songs still sounding fresh. The Sutliff-written tunes are generally janglier (is that a word?), and his Rickenbacker-drenched “That Stupid Idea” and punchier “New Red Shoes” are both slices of pure pop perfection. Lee’s “Changeless” is another winner, as is the cover of Tom Verlaine’s “Glory,” which shows that the band could do much more than just be happy/poppy all the time. Grade: A

HEIRS OF FORTUNE – Circus of Mirth

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Dedicated to the late Gary Littleton (publisher of the seminal ‘90s pop fanzine Audities), Circus of Mirth is a solid, meat-and-potatoes record that generally falls on the softer side of the pop spectrum. Terry Carolan, a talented singer/songwriter who first met Littleton when they were both part of the Tampa, FL pop scene back in the 1970s, had a hand in writing seven of the tracks and sings lead; his “Goodbye My Friend” is an elegant, slide-guitar-filled elegy to Littleton that recalls the stately goodness of Badfinger. Another highlight is the warm, nostalgic “Aster Street Days,” another beautiful, ‘70s-tinged pop confection. Grade: B

THE TOMS – Applestation

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Tom Marolda created one of the most excellent one man band pop manifestos ever back in 1979, when he self-released The Toms LP. It’s difficult to follow up pop perfection, but Marolda has certainly had his moments in subsequent years, including (but certainly not limited to) the killer title track to his Four Letter Words cassette back in the ‘80s. While The Toms tilled the Beatles '64/’65 soil, much of Marolda’s new one, Applestation, is reminiscent of what The Toms might have sounded like if Marolda had been listening to Sgt. Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour rather than Hard Day’s Night. The opening tracks, “Hello to Life” and “Campus in the Month of May,” are perhaps the two best, but there is plenty to like throughout. (Excepting the nutso pseudo-rap moment “Love Your Pharmacy,” which may be the only song ever to use the terms “lactose intolerant” and “erectile dysfunction.”) Kudos to Marolda as he keeps on keeping on. Grade: B+

BART MENDOZA – Paris Yesterday: Demos 1996-2007

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Southern California mod-pop semi-legend Bart Mendoza (The Shambles, True Stories, Manual Scan) has released this intimate-sounding 14-song collection of demos – some but not all of the acoustic variety – on Spain’s Snap Records. It’s low-key, unassuming stuff (as befits its genesis), but it’s wholly tuneful and plenty of the songs are total earworms, including “Bleeding,” “The Patron Saints of Could’ve Been,” “Taking Jaded” and the jaunty “After Awhile.” As bare-bones song sketches go, these are some of the coolest I’ve heard in some time. Someone cover one or three of ‘em and make Mendoza a millionaire, okay? Grade: B+

THE CONNECTION – New England’s Newest Hitmakers


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Perhaps the ultimate rockin’ power pop party band currently traversing the Eastern Seaboard, the Connection have never failed to please since their inception in the early part of this decade. These two releases on the always-cool Rum Bar Records both hit shelves last year, but are worthy of special mention because they’re both flat out great. New England’s Newest Hitmakers is a compilation of the band’s 2011 debut and its EP follow up, remastered for your listening pleasure. It’s all guitars all the time, and whether it’s irresistible originals such as “I Think She Digs Me” or “My Baby Loves to Rock and Roll” or kickass covers of the Ramones and the Real Kids, the power, energy and pure rock and roll spirit is contagious as hell. A line from the opening cut, “It’s All Right,” tells you everything you need to know: “I’m only thinking ‘bout girls and getting two-dollar beers.” Grade: A

Just For Fun is a rockin’ little covers record, and sports ten expertly chosen and enthusiastically performed tunes from the likes of the Del-Lords, Sylvain Sylvain, Cheap Trick, Buddy Holly, the Rolling Stones, and Gary Lewis and the Playboys (the jangly gem “I Can Read Between the Lines”). It’s bookended by Bob Seger’s “Get Out of Denver” and George Thorogood’s “Get a Haircut,” and the fun doesn’t let up from start to finish. Grade: A

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