The Major Labels – Major power pop Upstate style
Upstate New York bands have provided music lovers with many memorable musical moments, mine mostly from the early 80’s. Some of these bands and musicians are still creating vital, interesting music today. I was reminded of this when I found the Major Labels CD, 2008’s Aquavia, while going through a pile of CDs in the corner of my office.
I think I need a new filing system. The pile it where there’s still space system doesn’t seem to be working.
The Major Labels are billed as three guys from the Boston music scene, Mike Viola, Bleu (William James McAuley II), and Ducky Carlisle. Power pop connoisseurs know Mike Viola as the driving force behind the Candy Butchers. If you’re not familiar with Mike and you’re a Fountains of Wayne fan, you’ll get to know him soon as he’s opening for FOW on their current tour. Or you may know Viola as the voice singing lead on “That Thing You Do” from the movie of the same name.
While Ducky Carlisle may be known as a Boston area musician, he was also a veteran of the Syracuse power pop scene of the late 70’s and early 80’s. Carlisle produced the first post Flashcubes single by The Most, a power pop band featuring Ducky on drums, Paul Armstrong on Guitar, and Dian Zain as the lead vocalist. Carlisle’s earlier involvement with the Ohms and other bands in the area made him an integral part of the Syracuse music scene.
I remember meeting Ducky after a show at The Orange, an old man bar on So. Crouse (across the street and down a bit from where Faegan’s pub is now) that at the time was trying to update it’s atmosphere so as to appeal to the college crowd. The experiment didn’t work and the Orange closed down not long after, but not before we got a chance to see and hear a few good, local rock bands. Ducky and the band were a lot of fun, if not a bit rough around the edges. Thirty years later he’s still going strong and you can hear the proof on this record as well as another more recent release with Popfilter, a powerpop band fronted by Chris Anderson. Look for more on this release in the 2011 Top 11 article coming in early January.
The Major Label’s Aquavia has some shining moments. It also has some worth forgetting. That being said, powerpop fans will enjoy the high points of this release, particularly cuts like “Don’t Hear A Single” or “Velveteen Queen”. This CD will appeal to folks who couldn’t part with their old ELO and 10cc records at their last garage sale, even at their spouse’s insistence.