Power-Pop is Not Dead
I'll tell you right up front that I'm a power-pop fan from way back (thank you, Beatles), so it's no surprise I dig the Broadfield Marchers' new album, The Inevitable Continuing. This is low-fi indie pop with a cool, haunting vibe that ratchets up the melodies and offers up songs with titles like "Leopards with Empty Claws," "Sad Earth Maze" and "Patterns of the Glance." (Gotta love a good, engaging song title.)
One of the aspects of this album that is so interesting is that there are 19 songs, many of them not even cracking the two-minute plateau. And with melodies as breezy and easy as the one in "Stutter Shaker" (as an example), one can kind of get lost in the meandering sweetness of the album.
Led by Louisville brothers Mark and Dustin Zdobylak, Broadfield Marchers seems to capture a time in the 1960s (one reviewer compared this to Sell Out-era Who) and blends it with the same kind of steamy and breathless precision of Iron & Wine. And power-pop aficionado Bruce Brodeen's website, NotLame.com, compares the Marchers to the Shoes, while also mentioning Guided by Voices as a reference point.
This outfit actually sounds a bit like Badfinger to me, with a Shins-like modern twist (and some Teenage Fanclub tossed in for good measure). Really, though, this is just solid and catchy rock 'n' roll. The mournful slide guitar in "Sad Earth Maze," for instance, just reaches into your chest and grabs you, comparisons and genres be damned. And Dustin Zdobylak's vocal delivery is a perfect way to transmit this music – with his brother providing backing vox and Justin Carter providing subtle but solid backdrop on drums, there's a lot of depth to the simplicity of this trio. I mean, the bright and happy "Amazing Wheels" is just one song that will put down roots in your brain. And while on the surface it doesn't immediately seem like anything special, well, in the end it sort of is. And I can't even explain why.
A huge part of the charm here is that Broadfield Marchers don't spend a lot of time on lengthy guitar solos (except on a brave and successful venture in "Circle Avenue Cig Hag"), nor do they give a damn about sounding "radio-ready," which is the downfall of so many bands these days.
Sure, every band wants to hear their songs on the radio, but these guys seem happy to simply be what they are and to let the chips fall where they may. It's like they're saying, "Here's our song; we hope you like it." Nineteen times. In other words, it's more about the songs themselves than any kind of contrived sound or approach. We have enough bands that sound like Bowling For Soup, for chrissakes – it's refreshing and encouraging to hear a band take its cues from something more organic and real, like the psych-pop of the 1960s, the power-pop of the 1970s and even the skinny-tie bands of the early 1980s.
In fact, these guys would have been a natural fit for Greg Shaw's Bomp! Records label back in the 1970s, which was the label to first sign acts like the Flaming Groovies, the Germs and even Iggy Pop when he recorded his first solo album. Bomp! followed these punk beginnings by signing the aforementioned Shoes, as well as power-pop bands like 20/20, the Plimsouls and the Romantics. Truth be told, the Broadfield Marchers would appeal to fans of all these acts.
Once again, Louisville shows us that its music scene is diverse and deep. It's especially telling that more people outside this town seem to know about bands like the Marchers than do those who live here. Enough with listening to canned, piped-in music already – this kind of stuff deserves some attention. March on, lads.
You can find out more at www.rainbowquartz.com.