You don’t get to hear powerpop like this in 2014 much.
Detroit’s Nick Piunti goes back a long way – to 1975 to be precise. The incessant debut single by Piunti’s teenage band Dwarf ‘Gotta Get Louder’ / ‘I Won’t Be Back’ has recently been reissued on New York’s Sing Sing label (the original has sold for big bucks on eBay). It’s no surprise either as this is a proto punk/powerpop/bubblegum/heavy-glam attack that recalls Jook if they had been American. All Who-ish power chords, pounding rhythms and an almost mod urgency as echoed by The Raspberries if they had stemmed from Detroit. ‘13 In My Head’ from the new album of the same title echoes the sentiment of that nearing 40-year-old single. Newly renamed as The Take, Dwarf hit LA, only to find that powerpop was all but over and the gig going teenagers preferred pouting, spandex wearing poodles.
That’s been the thing with Piunti ever since. The three chords and wham bam thank you mam mentality of the classic pop song of the mid-60s has never left him. He’s been back off and on since, but it’s the chiming guitars, driving beat and hummable melodies of 13 In My Head that caused the most attention, gaining many nominations for the “powerpop album of 2013” from its original Bandcamp download release, with MOJO magazine including ‘It All Comes Down’ on their covermount Songs In The Key Of Paul CD.
Now on vinyl and with an extra two tracks Sugarbush give this timeless album a physical release on the format it should be heard.
With the tight confines of powerpop (in which a good writer can still do so much) it’s always easy to box artists together without much thought. But Piunti genuinely is in the same league as recent progenitors like The Shazam, Fountains Of Wayne and Cherry Twister. Red Kross, The Replacements and Cheap Trick are also good pointers. This is powerpop with a modern rock edge, informed by the mid-60s but produced in the same manner that led alt-rock to sell millions in the ’90s. Piunti’s rough vocals stand out front like a young Rod Stewart giving Paul Westerberg advice on how to front The Replacements as the Beatley massed vocals later appropriated by Queen, 10cc, ELO and Jellyfish add needed sweetness to the mix.
In an alternate reality this would undoubtedly grace the top of the charts.
Link for full MP3 download at the top of this page.