EL VY, DM3, and Motobunny 

Sound Advice

click to enlarge EL VY
  • EL VY


Return to the Moon


File next to: The Arcs, Nathaniel Rateliff, Vampire Weekend

Matt Berninger of The National and Brent Knopf of Menomena formed EL VY in the summer as a way to have some collaborative songwriting fun. The success of Return to the Moon's title track suggests it was a good idea. Unexpectedly, EL VY even sports some dance rhythms and bad jokes. Berninger, king of the morose baritone voice, shifts from profundities to potty-mouth, heeding an important lesson from the '70s supergroup era — that side projects should not take themselves too seriously. On songs like "Paul Is Alive" and "Happiness, Missouri," EL VY follows the path of 2015 supergroup projects FFS and Thunderbitch — don't worry about masterpieces, just have a good time. Consequently, Return to the Moon is not a heart-stopper, but enjoyable enough for parties and long car drives. — Loring Wirbel

click to enlarge DM3
  • DM3


West of Anywhere

Alive Naturalsound

File next to: Shoes, Cheap Trick, Raspberries

If you were into power pop, the '90s was a decade of riches. You could blissfully ignore all that dreadful hair metal and the woolly, flannel-shirted grunge scene, and instead enjoy high-octane, hook-filled pleasures from Jellyfish, Redd Kross, Matthew Sweet, Michael Penn, The Posies ... on and on. And then there was Australia's DM3, who made few commercial inroads in the U.S., but could still lay claim to the phrase "maximum power pop." The group managed to place one of their tunes — the delightful "Show You" — onto the last of the celebrated Yellow Pills compilation series. But there's so much great music in the relatively slim DM3 catalog that this best-of compilation doesn't (and doesn't need to) include that tune. Filled with shoulda-beens and never-weres, West of Anywhere is 18 tracks of melodic, infectious power pop in the grand tradition. — Bill Kopp

click to enlarge Motobunny
  • Motobunny



Rusty Knuckles

File next to: The Bangles, Amboy Dukes, Joan Jett

It's quite a tightrope walk to create music that rocks hard — really hard — yet maintains a strong, hooky, sing-along kind of vibe. Motobunny manages it. Fronted by two women and with a three-man backline, the group combines the sneering energy of Detroit rock (The Stooges, MC5) with the bouncy pop of Katrina & The Waves and The Go-Go's. Crunchy power chords, deep riffs and Bonham-level hits on the drumheads propel sing-along melodies with solid vocal harmonies. All five members have extensive pedigrees that help explain wildly disparate musical influences, but the fact that it all works together so well can only be put down to chemistry. Motobunny could reveal themselves to be that rarest of acts: all things to all people. Or at least all people who appreciate a near-perfect mix of solid rock and melodic pop. — Bill Kopp


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