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The Washington Post

The Washington Post
January 9th, 2004
MIKE SHUPP “This Time” Private Mind

Washington Post review 1/9/04

There’s nothing complicated about Mike Shupp’s approach to power pop, nothing to dim the appeal of the jingle-jangle guitar work, the clipped, hammered rhythms or the crafty construction of three-minute odes and laments. On “This Time,” big hooks trump big ideas time and again.

Yet the former Big Bang Theory guitarist nevertheless has something to say, mostly concerning the ins and outs of relationships, and his lyrics tend to be as thoughtful as they are concise. His most intriguing songs neatly summarize personal history and lingering tension in a line or two, creating a love-hate dynamic on “Good Again” or swiftly setting the mood for “All Over Town,” a tale of obsession, sorrow and humiliation. Shupp’s sharp pop instincts are an even bigger plus, though, which is why a song as sad as “Came to This” packs a rhythmic punch, or why “She’ll Come Around” is likely to bring Marshall Crenshaw to mind. Shupp does a lot of multi-tasking here, playing guitar, bass, keyboards and percussion while getting a big, booting assist from drummer Chris Zogby. But “This Time” never sounds as if it were pieced together in the studio. More often than not, in fact, it’s like listening to a power-pop band having a good time in real time.

Appearing Tuesday at Velvet Lounge. • To hear a free Sound Bite from Mike Shupp, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8107. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)

— Mike Joyce
( January 9th, 2004 )
Copyright © 2004 The Washington Post All rights reserved

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Tommy Keene’s Pop With Fizz, at Iota – Wash. Post

The Washington Post
SEP 8th, 2003
Style Section C.03

There’s a certain melancholy to most power-pop, reflecting a bittersweet memory of the days when jangling electric guitars ruled the Top 40, and few power-poppers are more wistful than Tommy Keene. That’s on his recordings, though. In concert, the Bethesda-bred Californian banishes regret with crashing guitar chords. Even such pensive tunes as “Places That Are Gone” and “Long Time Missing” — both of which the singer-guitarist and his trio played Saturday night at Iota — become celebrations…

…opening the show was Mike Shupp, a veteran local power-popper who still lives in the area. Aside from a slight rasp in his voice, the singer-guitarist didn’t deviate significantly from the sound of his recordings. That made his performance less dynamic than Keene’s, but it was still a pleasure to hear Shupp play his tuneful songs, the best of which should air regularly on the phantom Top 40 in every power-pop fan’s mind.

— Mark Jenkins
( September 8th, 2003 )
Copyright © 2003 The Washington Post All rights reserved

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Paste Magazine

Mike Shupp
This Time
(Private Mind)

On Shupp’s delightful third solo release “This Time,” he gives the discerning music lover just what the doctor ordered – catchy melodies, tight guitar playing, and songs with substance.  A true rarity, as you out there still hooked on radio no doubt realize.  Far from the typical tepid tales of lust offered by talentless tots barely old enough/bold enough to even know what lust is, Shupp’s songs have a certain bite and meaning that can only come with life experience.  He’s loved, lived, stolen your girl, lost her again and found another prettier than her and then probably dumped that one!  He’s done it all – and, from the crunchy, poppy sounds of this CD, he does it to a very engaging melody line (and clever lyrics don’t hurt)!  Once again Shupp has crafted a fantastic CD full of the sounds radio should be yearning for.  “This Time” should be the perfect time for those who love great melodies and clever lyrics to discover Mike Shupp. — 4 stars

— Scott Homewood
( Issue #5, Q.3 2003 )
Copyright © 2003 Paste Magazine.  All rights reserved.

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Big Takeover Magazine

Big Takeover Magazine
Issue 52, Spring 2003

Mike Shupp
This Time
(Private Mind)

On his third solo record, Shupp, formerly of Washington D.C. power-poppers Big Bang Theory, swims in the cozy, melodic waters occupied by Matthew Sweet, Tommy Keene, and Paul Westerberg.  Indeed, fans of each of those should find something to enjoy in this tuneful LP.  From the Velvet Crush-meets-Tom Petty title track to the lovely yearning of “All Over Town,” Shupp, accompanied by Chris Zogby’s propulsive drumming, offers a series of tightly focused, well-turned songs.  For aficionados, a veritable pop feast.  (www.mikeshupp.com)

— John Micek
( Issue 52, Spring 2003 )
Copyright © 2003 The Big Takeover  All rights reserved.

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Radio, Radio: Where Are You Now?

Swizzle-Stick.com

Mike Shupp
This Time
(Private Mind Records)

Does anyone remember when songs like Matthew Sweet’s “Girlfriend” conquered mainstream radio?  Sadly, that seems like such a long time ago.  Mike Shupp’s latest disc is a power pop clinic, and another fine representation of precisely what’s missing from the airwaves these days.

Aside from drums, this gifted Washington, DC area based singer/songwriter performs all instruments on This Time.  The end product is a truly pleasing array of hum-evoking melodies in a tradition not too dissimilar from acclaimed former DC scenester, Tommy Keene.

Right out of the gate, the first three tracks (including the title song, “Came To This” and the wonderful Pete Yorn-ish “Another Life”) are a very strong opening statement.  But, this disc is hardly front-loaded.  Several other tunes are equally impressive, including “Ordinary Way”, “Good Again”, “She’ll Come Around”, and the brilliant closer, “Love Comes Down

While This Time navigates midtempo terrain throughout, Shupp’s acute ability to come up with varied hooks, textures and knob-turnings results in enough range to satisfy even the most discerning of pop fans.  For more information, please check out Mike Shupp’s website at www.mikeshupp.com.

 — Mike Sweeney
( April 15th, 2003 )
Copyright © 2003 Swizzle-Stick.com  All rights reserved.

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PopMatters

Mike Shupp
This Time
Private Mind (mikeshupp.com)

This former guitarist with Big Bang Theory has ventured out on his own for the third time with this album.  And like many of his forefathers in R.E.M., The ‘Mats and Husker Du, Mike Shupp knows what works in guitar power pop.  The short but alluring opening title track conjures up songs by BoDeans and Bash & Pop with its tight feeling while still being able to jangle at times.  “Came to This” sets the bar quite high with a basic formula and some great crunchy chords.  There’s a lot of Tom Petty figuratively heard in these ten songs, particularly in the airtight “Another Life”, a mid-tempo melodic pop number.  The quality of each track is what sets him apart from so many others, however straightforward and simple the songs sound.  “Set Me Free” has to be the best track here, a tune with a good flow and length.  “Good Again” and “All Over Town” could be mistaken for Replacements out-takes circa All Shook Down.  Only on “Forgiven” does Shupp stray from the format, resulting in a rather bland effort.  Overall though, it’s a small price to endure for a very solid album.

— Jason MacNeil
( April 1st, 2003 )
Copyright © 2003 PopMatters  All rights reserved.