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Album Review

For his third outing, Doug Powell follows much the same formula as with his first two albums: straight-ahead rock songs with a definite, pronounced pop leaning. Powell's influences are plastered all over this, from Jellyfish-like vocal harmonies to Todd Rundgren's brand of smooth pop and Cheap Trick-style guitar crunch. But thankfully, Powell does manage to mold the record into more than just a sum of its parts. The album's best songs — the uppity rock of "Dinah Might," the soulful pop of "The Scent of a Rose," and the hard rock of "Empty V," amongst a few others — are extremely well-crafted modern pop. While not exceedingly commercial or adventurous, the devotees of verse-chorus-verse song structures and gooey background vocals will agree that not only is More catchy and memorable, but it manages to steer clear of potholes of derivation. With that being said, there are a few flaws that keep More from being a classic. The production is appropriately crisp but strangely tinny, and on the requisite mainstream music rant "Empty V," Powell appropriately gives the musical finger to MTV and their ilk. But the problem is that the listener is torn between believing whether it's appropriate commentary or a cranky old man who is upset that he never got his commercial due. Maybe it's a little of both, but that assessment is probably a bit too harsh given the songwriting expertise displayed by Powell here and with his band, SWAG. And something does seem wrong if a song as infectious as "Rise" isn't all over mainstream rock radio. The true assessment, then, is that More is very much music by a pop fan who hates MTV, for pop fans who hate MTV. It can't be fairer than that.

Biography

Born: Oklahoma

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '90s, '00s

A protégé of Todd Rundgren, Doug Powell is a more straightforward musician than his muse, more along the lines of XTC's Andy Partridge. Like Rundgren, Powell had a run of bad luck with record companies early in his career, but it's easier to carve out a place for oneself away from the major labels than it was in the late '60s...
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More, Doug Powell
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