More often than not, the musical “supergroup” (that is, a collection of musicians known for previous work who join forces in a new band) demonstrates the vast and precarious disparity between concept and reality.
Yet The New Pornographers, an indie collective featuring notables A.C. Newman, Neko Case, and Dan Bejar of Destroyer, have been going strong for 15 years now and producing some of the most memorable rock records of the new millenium.
While their respective individual catalogs run the gamut of indie genres, together the New Pornographers craft what may be the finest power-pop in recent memory.
Their sixth studio album “Brill Bruisers” hit shelves this week. Like standout albums “Twin Cinema” and “”Mass Romantic.” the new record somehow amalgamates each musician into huge hooks and joyous choruses while leaving each contributor’s singular songcraft intact.
If you’re a New Pornographers fan, here are five other artists worth checking out:
Though he cut his teeth on hardcore punk, Ted Leo shifted gears into indie pop with his backing band the Pharmacists around the same time the New Pornographers were beginning to make records. Leo has followed a similar upward trajectory since, albeit a somewhat more prolific one.
Fans of shiny melodies, enthusiastic vocals, and nearly-tangible energy in their music will find much to love here.
As influential as it was short-lived, the original Big Star lineup out of Memphis, Tenn., perfected the art of delivering heartbreaking tunes gift-wrapped in a bright-eyed rock style dubbed "power pop." As detailed in the documentary "Nothing Can Hurt Me," Big Star was one of the first truly great rock bands tragically underlooked by contemporaries and endlessly revered after its demise.
The songcraft of Alex Chilton and Chris Bell, particularly cuts like "O My Soul," "Feel," and "September Gurls," went on to influnce a countless number of like-minded acts who found the best cure for melancholy is melody.
The dB's were one of the first groups to carry on the power-pop tradition of Big Star; that's understandable, as founding member Chris Stamey backed up Big Star frontman Alex Chilton on bass shortly before forming his own group.
Sadly, the North Carolina band hasn't achieved the status of '80s college rock contemporaries and I.R.S. labelmates R.E.M., but the dB's debut "Stands for Decibels" remains an alternative classic. Also, the band found enough of a fanbase to recently reunite for their first new album in 25 years.
Denver band Science Partner is a Colorado supergroup in its own right featuring ex-Dualistics member Tyler Despres, Maria Kohler of Kitty Crimes, and Carl Sorensen, who Westword once dubbed "Denver's hardest-working musician."
But that's not reason enough for the band to be listed here: the real comparison is the endless catchiness of debut album "Rocky Mountain News," which contains marvelous hooks and witty lyrics to boot.
The founding members of Bishop Allen spent their formative years at Harvard University playing in hardcore punk and DEVO cover bands before moving on to the gracious indie pop they've spread across 12 EPs and four full lengths, the latest of which, "Lights Out," saw release earlier this month.