Saturday, November 11, 2006

pop rock(ish) downloads (aka "pock")

Pop/rock might seem like an overly vague designation — after all, rock & roll was catchy and melodic long before it was thought of as pop music, and from the early '60s on, nearly all pop reflected the influence of rock & roll in one way or another. But pure pop took a while to become comfortable with rock's insistent backbeat, and it wasn't until the dawn of the '70s — around the time when rock & roll's first-generation fans were settling into adulthood — that truly equal pop/rock fusions became the epitome of mainstream music (as opposed to pre-rock vocal pop, which still commanded a sizable adult audience for most of the '60s). Naturally, pop/rock's primary focus was on melody — as big, catchy, and instantly memorable as possible, whether the song was a rocker, ballad, or midtempo in-betweener. But the other, less immediately apparent aspect of pop/rock was its emphasis on the professional craft of record-making. The songs were tightly constructed, with no wasted space or prolonged detours from the melodic hooks. The production was clean, polished, and bright, making full use of the advances in recording technology (and technique) that had taken place over the course of the '60s. In general, pop/rock was catchy and energetic enough to appeal to younger listeners, but clean and safe enough for adults as well. Pop/rock, however, was not soft rock; it's important to realize — hard as it may be to imagine today — that the big hooks, rock instrumentation, and definite backbeat gave pop/rock an energy that would have been too edgy for more conservative listeners who hadn't grown up with rock & roll. Naturally, with its commercial accessibility, pop/rock produced some of the biggest stars of the '70s, such as Elton John, Peter Frampton, Paul McCartney & Wings, and Fleetwood Mac; it continued on into the '80s with Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, Hall & Oates, George Michael, and many others. In the '90s, pop/rock became largely the province of well-established veterans, as alternative rock, urban R&B, hip-hop, and teen pop took over the pop charts to the exclusion of most everything else. -AMG


The Autumns slumberdoll (dream pop/rock)
Chin Up Chin Up This Harness Can't Ride Any.../We Should Have Never Lived...
Futureheads, The Skip To The End
Long Winters, The Pushover, Stupid
Modest Mouse Float On, The View, Worms vs. Birds* (indie/alterna pop/rock)
Pinback Fortress (indie pop/rock)

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