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Dynamo Bliss - Poplar Music CD (album) cover


Dynamo Bliss

Crossover Prog

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4 stars I must admit to having a real soft spot for this group. Their musical influences and ideas really appeal to me and I believe they have huge potential. This is their second album and the band have deliberately gone for a more 'poppy' than progressive sound with this album. According to the band, they are going to release another, more progressively-oriented album later this year.

With the clear influence of the Beatles and ELO as well as a little twist of their own whimsy, the album flows along with catchy hooks and vocal melodies. It doesn't have the same avant garde approach or nostalgic feel of the first album 21st Century Junk, but it has a purposeful and simple songwriting approach that reveals a real flair for melody. There is a sense of experimentation in simple songwriting here, a flexing of musical muscles that are still developing.

I do think that some of the tracks are a little under-developed and could have possibly been fleshed out a bit, but short but wonderful tracks such as 'And Forever' and 'Blue Halos' really show the huge potential of this band. I just wish someone would put them in a bigger and better studio and allow them to get a bit more depth in their production. Some kind of orchestral backing and a little more emphasis on the drums would really ramp things up. Its a good album and worth adding to the collection. Keep an eye on this group. I believe in them!

Report this review (#919923)
Posted Tuesday, February 26, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars I really liked this band's first album, "21st Century Junk". As another reviewer mentioned, reference points are early ELO and 10cc. Strong song writing and excellent vocal harmonies.

This album also has excellent song writing, and the performances are top notch. Unfortunately, the production quality is very poor, and significantly inferior to their previous recordings. This album sounds un-mastered or unfinished. Very tinny and thin. It also does not seem particularly progressive, either by definition or genre. These are great art pop songs in the tradition of the aforementioned bands.

This album could be significantly improved by sending it in for a professional mastering, but it would not change it's nature. While I personally really enjoy this record, it is not likely to impress most of the Prog Archives community.

*Update* The band has remixed and remastered the album and the result is a significant improvement. While the songs lean toward pop, the new mix uncovers the proggy details. Upgrade to 3 stars!

Report this review (#934774)
Posted Sunday, March 24, 2013 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
3 stars If you visit the Bandcamp page you will discover that they have tagged this album as "10CC, Beatles, pop, progressive rock, art rock, Beach Boys, Beatlesque, classic rock, Electric Light Orchestra, ELO, mellotron, power pop, prog, vocal harmonies", and I reckon that they've pretty much got it right. This is the second album from the Swedish trio and it was released in February this year, although there has already been another since then which I have yet to hear. The band themselves are Mikael Sandström (electric and acoustic guitars, banjo, accordion, pedal steel), Stefan Olofsson (vocals, keyboards, zither, guitar, bass, percussion) and Peter Olofsson (drums), and I am sure that the spelling of the first word in the album title is quite deliberate and nothing to do with language confusion, as in many ways this makes me thinks back to the heady days of the Seventies and the music from Laurel Canyon.

This definitely has as much to do with the psychedelic scene as it does with the prog, lashings of harmonies and great hooks make this a pop album that is just a joy from start to finish. I have been listening to quite a lot of music recently that has been hard work and has required many plays before I have been able to really get inside what was going on, but that definitely isn't the case here as this album is like a breath of fresh air as it just bounces around Americana and brings a smile to the face of the listener. Sometimes you just don't want to wade through 'Ware and Peace' and need something far more lightweight that doesn't take the work, and that is the case here. One for the Summer.

Report this review (#967789)
Posted Friday, May 31, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Swedish band DYNAMO BLISS was formed in 2005, and after honing their craft for some time released their debut album "21st Century Junk" in 2010, with the EP "Circadian Rhythm" following shortly after in 2011. Two years later and Dynamo Bliss returns as recording artists, releasing two full length albums just a few months apart. "Poplar Music" is the first of these.

After listening through this album, I feel like I've just attended a quiz show on TV. One where I've missed half the vital questions, and witnessing the entire audience facepalming me why doing so. Or to put it this way: All the songs on this disc has an agonizingly familiar sound to them, containing recurring brief details I'm pretty sure are well thought out homages to specific artists and even songs, but in half of the cases I really can't pinpoint neither in a general nor specific direction.

Following a brief introduction the first song Can You Hear The Sound kicks off the proceedings proper, in an enticing manner that to my ears have quite a lot of The Beatles about it. A simple but effective pop tune with flute and symphonic details adding some nice details. The following three compositions, two uptempo affairs with a piano based ballad in the middle, all strikes me as fairly close in sound to what Electric Light Orchestra explored back in the day. Some lap steel and banjo sounding details aside, my experience of this trio of songs is that they transport you from The Beatlesesque to the more firmly developed sound of ELO that concludes with Blue Halos.

The remaining material leaves me in the clueless department as far as specific associations go however, although I suspect that both 10CC and perhaps even Beach Boys, both of them stated influential artists by Dynamo Bliss, are likely culprits. Gentler, more pop oriented affairs all of them, with smoother harmonies, hand-claps and a distinct mood of summer about them. The piano and keyboard motifs have a nifty gently hammering quality to them that is the most agonizing of the details I can't really place, although at some point I thought I heard something that reminded me of good, old Alan Parsons. Most likely an accidental or faulty observation I guess, much the same about the verse part of final piece In the Country that made me think about good, old Ozzy and his power ballad You're No Different. This latter association limited to the verse part only mind you, as In the Country has a chorus far removed from just about anything Ozzy has ever made with it's banjo-driven escapades and later on the concluding instrumental section also features a lap steel solo supported by the aforementioned banjo.

I'll also skip back a bit to Running Out of Mind, as the subtle psychedelic details on that composition as well as the somewhat jazz-oriented piano solo on this piece does set it somewhat apart from the other tracks at hand.

If you enjoy sophisticated pop music of the kind and variety I tend to describe as art pop myself, and in particular if you're fond of the 1970's variety of it, Dynamo Bliss is a band and "Poplar Music" an album that merits a check. From the bands own description I'd guess that those with an affection for the likes of ELO and 10CC both should be something of a key audience.

Report this review (#1001082)
Posted Friday, July 19, 2013 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars If you have read my previous review of the Swedish band Dynamo Bliss (HERE - you'll understand a bit more what I think of the Progressive Pop that the band plays. But in resume: I really like it! In 2013 the band worked really hard and released two albums with new material, this one called Poplar Music (2013) and Day And Night (2013), as I mentioned, already reviewed.

Poplar Music (2013) doesn't change much from Day And Night (2013), which is obvious when you think they basically recorded both albums together. But that's a good thing! Their explicit influence of Electric Light Orchestra and The Alan Parsons Project (just to name a few) are still here.

After a short (really short) intro we can hear the first chords of 'Can You Hear The Sound' and its upbeat tempo. But it's on the ELO influenced track 'And Forever' that we can see Dynamo Bliss shining. An amazing song with steel guitars and a damn catchy chorus for you to sing along.

After a weaker track ('Over The Rolling Hills') we have another great upbeat ELO kind of track called 'Blue Halos'. 'Savage Minds', the following track, has a melody that reminds me of Utopia around the RA (1977) period. The Progressive Pop of Dynamo Bliss follows up at full power in the track 'Panic In Their Eyes'.

By now one will realize that Poplar Music (2013) is more Electric Light Orchestra influenced than Day And Night (2013). This means that the album is a bit less experimental and much more Pop oriented.

Besides the wonderful keyboard solo on 'Running Out Of Mind' this track lacks something to make it sparkle, and the weird ending is completely disconnected with the rest of the song. 'Been Ostracized' follows the same pattern but this time with some clever interludes that use different time signatures all along the piece. The final son on Poplar Music (2013) is 'In The Country' and it comes with the banjo as an extra. It is a song with melancholic mood and a great chorus and a fitting ending to the album.

I must confess that even if Poplar Music (2013) is a strong album which will please any fan of Soft Prog band like Electric Light Orchestra, The Alan Parsons Project, Utopia, 10cc and Ambrosia, I think it's a weaker album that their next effort Day And Night (2013).

But don't get me wrong here, the Swedish trio Dynamo Bliss is going towards great things, and I'm pretty sure their next albums will prove me right. It's just that this album doesn't really shine that much.

Anyway, Poplar Music (2013) is another album that you should definitely listen at least once and enjoy many times if you like it!

(Originally posted on

Report this review (#1079282)
Posted Wednesday, November 20, 2013 | Review Permalink

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