Endless online debates about a beloved pop rock genre.

Spend some time exploring power pop fan pages on Facebook and three things become quickly apparent:

1. This is a passionate and opinionated community of music-lovers.

2. There are a lot of super obscure bands you’ve likely never heard.

3. Almost nobody can agree on the definition of “power pop.”

This third point, the lack of fundamental clarity about what defines the genre, underscores a lot of discussions these days; delivering endless joy and bottomless frustration to fans who will happily spend hours extolling and debating bands like Shoes, 20/20, the Producers, the Shivvers, the Nerves, Phil Seymour and other…


A wistful take on London’s Swinging Sixties

Photo via Pixabay; Free to use (CC0)

For years, I groped to accurately describe how the Kinks’ song “Waterloo Sunset” made me feel. It was a very specific kind of melancholy that hovered somewhere between nostalgia, sadness and resignation (though no combination of those words did the feeling justice).

Then I stumbled on the word anemoia, coined in 2012 by John Koenig for The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows:

Anemoia — n. Nostalgia for a time you’ve never known.

“Imagine stepping through the frame into a sepia-tinted haze, where you could sit on the side of the road and watch the locals passing by. Who lived and died…


CRIME FICTION

A Power Pop Heist (Book 1)

That’ll Be The Day: A Power Pop Heist is the first book in a series of short, music-themed crime fiction novelettes.

Want to start from the beginning? Here’s chapter 1:

Chapter 5

Fucking drummers.

Charlie “Chaz” Caldwell was a high school dropout with a pill problem, but he owned a vintage Ludwig drum set. For that reason alone, the Sharp brothers had desperately wanted him in their band. Jamie played bass and sang while Jack filled out the sound with his guitar, but good rock drummers were in short supply back then. Chaz’s timing…


RIFF LIVE CHALLENGE

An unbelievable mid-90s concert at a historic LA theater

Photo by Del Adams from Pexels

Whenever somebody asks about my ‘most LA experience,’ I usually tell them about the time Beck opened for Johnny Cash at the legendary Pantages Theatre in Hollywood.

That I witnessed this strange 90's pairing is reason enough to recount it here, but the setting is what took the night from mind-blowing to magical. Located near Hollywood and Vine, this stunning Art Deco landmark is where I have since seen musicals like The Lion King, Wicked, and Hamilton.

But in January 1995 — long before I embraced touring Broadway productions — it…


CRIME FICTION

A Power Pop Heist (Book 1)

That’ll Be The Day: A Power Pop Heist is the first book in a series of short, music-themed crime fiction novelettes.

Want to start from the beginning? Here’s chapter 1:

Chapter 4

The Sharp brothers went to the backyard for a smoke. Sluggish bugs buzzed around Jack’s ears in the afternoon heat. Jamie pushed a copy of Rolling Stone across the plastic patio table. The magazine was folded open to a short news story.

Restaurant Chain Founder Scores Rare Beatles Record

A valuable replica of The Quarrymen’s “That’ll Be The Day/In Spite Of All The Danger” 78 might have found…


She’s a Poptimist with a taste for the Beatles, I’m an old rocker

Photo by Mike from Pexels

There’s a stack of records in the living room that’s mostly mine. Globe of Frogs by Robyn Hitchcock and The Egyptians is currently spinning on the turntable. Before that it was New Day Rising by Husker Du, Under the Bushes, Under the Stars by Guided by Voices, and The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us by Beach Slang.

There’s a smaller stack of records in my teenage daughter’s bedroom that mostly belong to her. The portable turntable in there sometimes sees more action than the one in the living room these days. …


CRIME FICTION

Rock ‘n’ roll, rare guitars, vintage vinyl, and criminal mayhem.

“Write What You Know”

Music and crime fiction are two of my greatest passions. So, I created a series of books about a desperate rock band that turns to a life of crime.

The action revolves around the Sharp brothers and their quest to steal a rare Beatles record from a wealthy collector. Jack is fresh out of the Oklahoma State Penitentiary; Jamie runs a struggling record shop in Tulsa. The road trip that follows is the violent family/band reunion that neither of them wanted.

Word On The Street

Here’s what a few talented crime authors had to say about That’ll Be The Day:

“Rock and roll, rare…


The murky origins of an Easter family tradition

Photo by S.W. Lauden

I’ll be the first to admit that the 2011 Universal Pictures movie, Hop, isn’t exactly a classic. But once a year, like clockwork, my family gathers around the TV to watch it. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

This holiday ritual has murky origins. I want to say we first watched Hop in a public park while on vacation in Florida. We were all younger then — and hopped up on Easter candy — so can’t be blamed for deciding that this film absolutely needed to become a cherished holiday tradition.

Not familiar with Hop? Here’s the IMDB synopsis


Our favorite songs change meaning over time

Photo by Alena Shekhovtcova from Pexels

Do you know the Wilco song “A Shot in the Arm” from their 1999 album, Summerteeth? It contains some of the most evocative lyrics that frontman Jeff Tweedy ever sang:

The ashtray says you were up all night
When you went to bed with your darkest mind
Your pillow wept and covered your eyes
And you finally slept while the sun caught fire

There were plenty of nights in my life when I filled ashtrays until dawn. These days, I’m much more of a morning person. …


One year since the music world lost a talented songwriter and founding member of Fountains of Wayne (book excerpt)

Adam Schlesinger performs in Baltimore, Maryland on August 4, 2007. (UPI Photo/Alexis C. Glenn)

Adam Schlesinger, a talented musician and accomplished songwriter, died one year ago today from COVID-19 at the age of 52.

Schlesinger was the co-founder, bassist and co-songwriter for beloved power pop band Fountains of Wayne—along with guitarist/vocalist Chris Collingwood—which scored a 2003 hit with “Stacy’s Mom.” Fountains of Wayne released five studio albums, including Fountains of Wayne (1996), Utopia Parkway (1999), Welcome Interstate Managers (2003), Traffic and Weather (2007) and Sky Full of Holes (2011). The band’s line up also included guitarist Jody Porter and drummer Brian Young.

“I really miss the feeling we both got watching each other’s wheels…

S.W. Lauden

LA-based writer and drummer. I publish crime novels, and non-fiction essay collections about music. Medium focus: Music, Books, Culture. Twitter: @swlauden

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