Man, things sure have been busy around here, what with Son #2 getting married, Son and Daughter-in-Law #1 having their first child, and our first grandchild, the boys and I going to see Weezer and Pixies and my wife and I going to see Styx and Joan Jett, with an upcoming vacation for the Mrs. and me, leaving me little time to truly dive into a new CD that I bought LAST month! Lately, I have become more of an independent artist aficionado, so much so that I have been spending WAY too much time on Bandcamp, checking out new(er) artists. One such artist, I honestly discovered on a whim several years ago but allow this artist to get buried under an avalanche of music at the time. But, lately, I cannot take her newest album out of my CD player for very long. The only other artists who can claim this kind of treatment this year have been Kai Danzberg and his brilliant pop tour de force Pop-Up Radio and Janelle Monáe’s excellent new album Dirty Computer. Today, may I introduce you to Lisa Mychols and her new album Sugar.
Let me begin by simply saying, Ms. Mychols, “Bravo!” You have created one of the shiniest-sounding albums not simply of 2018, but one for the ages. Sugar checks all the boxes for me: power pop, jangle pop, pure pop, however you want to describe it. It reminds me of the early Seventies, when I was young kid listening to McCartney and Raspberries 45s, then another song may take me back to my teenage heyday of 1979, or it just allows me to take a moment in the present to simply enjoy the moment.
Now, a little bit about the sunshiny Lisa Mychols. Back in the early Nineties, Mychols released a power pop lover’s classic album that may be the genre’s best Christmas album entitled Lost Winter’s Dream. Then, she bounced around the Los Angeles power pop scene by jumping from band to band, until she secured a place in the iconic early-Aughts L.A. power pop mainstays, The Masticators. This highly influential band, unfortunately, only released one album, Masticate!, which received widespread praise for its pop hooks and literary lyrics. Still, the band was unfortunately destined for a very short recording career. So, in response, Lisa picked up the pieces in order to re-establish herself as a solo artist.
Over the years, she has quietly released three really good albums, along with a recent remake of the Al Green standard love song “Let’s Stay Together.” Her cover of the song, to me, finally show the world, at least the small portion that heard it, that this woman was talented and soulful, and she should not be simply lumped as yet another power pop artist. This song was risky, yet it proved that she has soul in her voice. And, on Sugar, that lesson/discovery has been carried on into her latest collection of songs. As a matter of fact, this album proves that a forty-something can still learn new vocal techniques that only improve her chosen songs, all of which Mychols had a hand in writing.
“One Revolution” kicks off Sugar. For some reason, I could hear this song bearing some Beck influence in it. As a matter of fact, if “One Revolution” simply had a few quirky Beck production techniques, it would BE a Beck tune. Quickly, “One Revolution” gives way to “Loving You,” a song that suits comfortably in Mychols’ power pop wheelhouse. And, this song is the one that would fit most comfortably in a playlist consisting of power pop classics such as “Go All the Way,” “Starry Eyes” and “You’re My Favorite Waste of Time.”
Mychols has a strong collection of power pop songs on Sugar, including my personal favorite, the bright and sunny “Don’t Wanna Close My Eyes.” Other standouts on this album are “Next to Impossible,” “Endless Daydream,” the sublime girl group feel (Hey Bangles! Cover this song!!!) of “He’s Got Me Dreaming,” the bubblegum pop song “Into Oblivion” and the moody, nearly Tom Petty-esque “Messages to the Muse.” This album is a pop tour de force. And, when I say power pop, I lean more to the softer end of the spectrum, where the artists express the influence of The Turtles, The Grass Roots and those great girl groups from the Sixties.
Without a doubt, Lisa Mychols, often referred to as the Queen of Power Pop, has grown as an artist. But, in doing so, she has created one of the year’s best albums. Sugar is definitely the right type of carbohydrate for your musical diet. Sugar is in the running for my year end listing of best albums. Let’s just say that you have to order this CD online from the artist’s website. The upside is that I actually got a thank you note from her for my purchase. That’s the kind of service that will get me to listen to your album. Hahaha!!!