You’d think i’d break five months of silence with some yet-to-be-released, white-label, promo-only B-side REEEEEmix… No. It’s a Los Angeles band that hasn’t put out a record since 2006. But hey, it’s new to me (discovered via Pandora of all places). Irving serve up carefree pop in a variety of flavors – thanks in part to the fact there are five songwriters in the group. My personal favorite is “I Can’t Fall in Love,” which I can’t seem to listen to less than twice in a row.

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Space Needle

For a brief moment in the ’90s (I’m talking like, three years), Jud Ehrbar, Jeff Gatland, Anders Parker were responsible for some of the most underrated music of that decade. Reservoir (Ehrbar’s ambient-ish side project) and Varnaline (Parker’s Americana/altcountry-ish side project) were impressive enough, but Space Needle’s two albums, Voyager and Moray Eels Eat the Space Needle set the standard for melancholic, noisy (and often very lengthy) art rock that modern acts like Animal Collective and Black Dice are still trying to catch up with. Why were they so overlooked? Some blame Zero Hour, the record label shared by all three bands at the time, and their distribution deal with folk-friendly Rounder which landed their records in patchouli-soaked bookstores instead of the appreciative hands of adventurous nutters like you and me. (The silver lining is that you can pick up the entire Zero Hour catalog at CD exchanges for the price of a BK value meal.) For those who’d rather have history packaged for them nice and neat like (and can afford a king-sized value meal), Eenie Meenie Records last year reissued select tracks from those two Space Needle albums on one CD called Recordings 1994-1997). Enjoy the trip…down memory lane.

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Scissors For Lefty

I’d be a bit surprised if, as an astute pop music aficionado (as most of our readers are), you have yet to stumble across Scissors For Lefty during your daily downloading sessions. This California quintet of bosom buddies with a hankering for The Beatles and a good boogie-down have steadily spread their sound in and around the West Coast and the UK. Their debut album hit first on British shores last October and this week L.A.-based Eenie Meenie Records is finally bringing the album home. “Lay Down Your Weapons” borrows Weezer’s guitar-attitude and mixes it with the more playful, dance-able moments of The Cure. If this song doesn’t win you over immediately, peruse their e-card and be sure to check out “Ghetto Ways.” That should do the trick. For the next two weeks Scissors For Lefty are making their way up California, then across to the Midwest. Catch ’em if you can.

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From Bubblegum to Sky

You’d think Memphis, with its extensive musical history, would get some decent bands coming through on tour. Nope. From Bubblegum to Sky, aka Mario Hernandez, is not coming anywhere near Memphis, as they’re playing Athens, GA tonight. They play a bouncing, harmonizing, and energizing pop, proof that good pop is not limited to the influences of the ’60s and ’80s — there’s a whole decade in between! Somebody in Athens, please go see From Bubblegum to Sky tonight. Let me know how it goes.

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To be fair, if we do one Apples’ side project, we’ve got to another, right? This time it’s Robert Schneider, going where no Brian Wilson has gone before, and that’s rock ‘n’ roll. Quite a change of direction, but this is probably what he sings in the shower.

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Blue-Eyed Son

California South Bay punk rocker ditches his band (40 Watt Domain) and gets in touch with his melodic, singer-songwriter side. The preferable results fall on the pop scale somewhere between the Judybats and a more cheerful Elliott Smith.

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