January 15, 2022

Big Stir Magazine Issue 6: "Is This Power Pop?" special

The folks of Californian label Big Stir Records try to come up with a definition for the music their are releasing in the new issue of Big Stir Magazine. "Is This Power Pop?" was curated by guest editors John M. Borack and S.W. Lauden. If anything they have set out to broaden the scope. Kate Sullivan makes a case for including ELO:

I get the argument that ELO belongs on the power pop spectrum. In the early eighties, they got kinda power poppy— like “Hold On Tight” and “Rock ’n’ Roll Is King.” Lynne started losing the strings, going more rockabilly, developing the sound that became his signature as a producer for George Harrison, Tom Petty, et al. It’s the sound you hear in the Traveling Wilburys. It roams a smaller musical landscape than classic- era ELO, and yeah, okay, you could call it power pop.

patiently explains that Boston is not worthy:

Sometimes,I get these annoying headaches. I mean, they aren’t really that painful, so I don’t complain too much. However, I will say this: they are usually always caused by the daily bickering on social media about power pop. First off, when some excited music fan proclaims that Boston’s “More Than a Feeling” is power pop and feels the need to write several paragraphs justifying WHY they feel this way, then it probably isn’t power pop. It reminds me of those times when someone tells a joke,and nobody laughs. The so called jester then tries to explain the joke for the next five minutes, but to no avail. The joke still ain’t funny. And Boston still ain’t power pop.

Rex Broome, one the label owners and member of The Armoires, does not adhere to succumbing to self-imposed limitations as well:

Songwriters don't like limits, other than the ones they set for themselves.

For most of my friends who ply the trade, the structural and musical restrictions of power pop are not only acceptable but highly desirable—short and sweet songs, hooks and harmonies, every word and note in its place. Me, I'm a wordy and literary guy who loves Dylan and John Cale (you know, power pop!), but I’m also aware that the world doesn't need another “Desolation Row”... so I too have ardently devoted myself to the economy of language that the three-and-a-half-minute pop song demands in the songwriting process.

There’s profound value in that discipline and structure.

That said, I'm also just punk rock enough to bristle at the idea of anyone telling me how to dress that framework. I’m talking here about the lyrical expectations—the occasional side light that crops up in definitions of the genre, specifying that we’re supposed to be singing about teenage heartbreak, girls and cars. That’s… tough. Prom sucked, it was a long time ago, and I’m kind of over it. When even the larger world of rock and roll is rapidly losing cultural currency, it’s mildly distressing to think that one of my favorite corners of it sometimes insists on juvenilia — or worse, nostalgia — as a prerequisite.

Big Stir Magazine Issue 6: "Is This Power Pop? is available here. It comes with a 20-track CD: Power Pop For Now People: John M. Borack's Selections From The Big Stir And SpyderPop Records Vaults. Featured artists: Addison Love, Kevin Robertson, Danny Wilkerson, In Deed, The Pengwins, Ice Cream Hands, Lannie Flowers, The Armoires,, Plasticsoul, Bill Lloyd, Nick Frater, Popdudes, Sorrows, Sparkle*Jets U.K., The Brothers Steve, The Kariannes, The Reflectors, Librarians With Hickeys, The GoAllTheWays, and Bruce Moody.

» bigstirrecords.com

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