SWEET SINSATIONS - Lisa Mychols (Rev-Ola)
Since the '80s, the definition of "good pop" has been dumbed down from that which is catchy and memorable to that which is atmospheric and somehow "hip". Call me a traditionalist, but I much prefer strong songwriting, which is why this new Lisa Mychols CD is such a breath of fresh air in a seemingly smog-ridden pop climate.

If that makes this California songstress the giant fan that blows the air pollution out of Pop City and sets the standards straight, then so be it. With well over a decade of writing and performing under her belt, Mychols takes a fresh approach to songwriting, seamlessly blending Brill Building romanticism, mid-’60s innocence, and occasionally even the edge of more pop-oriented Ramones and/or Buzzcocks for something that, in spite of its inspirations, defies comparisons.

Mainly, "Sweet Sinsations" lives up to its title with a string of hooky anthems that would be hit singles in a perfect world. "Rocket to Mars" is a bouncy, buoyant ditty combining childlike space fantasies with a poppy arrangement, while the playful drum machine (read: not loud and obnoxious like hip hop or dance music) on "Turn the Radio On" complements the sing-songy verses rather than impeding them. The title track, “Rock in the City (Tonight)” and “Gonna Get That Boy” show her rocking tendencies with a youthful verve that harks back to the British Invasion. Similarly, the infectious, breezy "Oh! To Be In Love" recalls Bones Howe’s production values, while “Hit Big” revisits the riff from "Come On Down to My Boat" in harder-edged, pop punk fashion.

Whatever thorny path Lisa travels, it seems, she leaves behind roses - and ones that only continue to bloom the more you play this CD. Believe it: Unless a few classic punk or grunge records with pop tendencies count, "Sweet Sinsations" is the best American pop record since the late ’70s power pop explosion. And the fact that it hasn’t found a U.S. label only shows how stupid the record industry is. But we already knew that. - Doug Sheppard