Make Me a Mixtape is a segment where we interview artists and have them curate a mixtape of seven songs based around a particular scenario, explaining why they chose each song. This week, we chat with Romero, the blasting power poppers out of Naarm/Melbourne about seven brilliant power pop classics that blew their minds when they first heard them.
Following the release of two singles back in 2020, the Naarm/Melbourne power pop group recently announced their long-awaited debut album, Turn it On!, out April 8 via Cool Death and Feel It Records. Unveiling the title track last month, frontwoman Alanna Oliver's soulful verses are punctured by a swaggering guitar line and a clattering cowbell that battle it out on the dancefloor. Romero is all about big hooks and anthemic choruses, evoking Stiff Records' late-70s cheeky power pop classicists like Nick Lowe, the rapid-fire simplicity of Blondie, and the unabashed rock 'n' roll of The Exploding Hearts all at the same time — it's the music for future hook-slingers and jangle-mongers. Speaking about the new single in a press release, Oliver said, "I was watching a Debbie Harry [Blondie] documentary and one of the quotes was 'She just gets on stage and she turns it on.' As soon as I heard this I paused it and started writing. The lyrics flowed effortlessly. It was such a simple idea to channel that inner power. When I sing this song, I am now a woman who knows what she wants and how to get it."
Since they've mastered the immortality of power pop with their melodic earworms, pop concision, and nitro-fueled intensity, we based the band's mixtape around the classic genre. Since it's impossible to condense a beginner's guide to the world of power pop into seven songs, we had the band collectively narrow it down to seven brilliant power pop classics that blew their mind on the first listen and continue to inspire them.
The Men — "Turn Around"
It's your no brakes, balls to the wall kind of power pop. Really simple, catchy vocal lines, but the shredding, wild drums and perfect guitar tones are what really makes this track for me.
The Shivvers — "No Substitute"
An all-time, all-star group of shit-hot power pop players that somehow plant themselves somewhere in between The Supremes & the best of New York's No Wave rhythms. A floor-filler for prom night when the stashed flasks are getting lighter, the king and queen's moment in the sun is bemoaned, and your crush begins to approach you. Pretty much as good as it gets.
Ramones — "Oh, Oh, I Love Her So"
Not typically the first band or song you'd think of when you hear the term power pop, but it hits hard on every mark and does it fast. This song has a seriously catchy melody with the classic Johnny driven guitar and a bit of jangle for good measure. How could you say no to the Ramones anyway?
The Toms — "Other Boys Do"
A catchy and driving hit from Tom Marolda who released this as a one-man-band studio project in 1979. Incredibly tight and melodic vocal and guitar harmonies, this track is a perfect representation of old-fashioned and flawless pop sensibilities laid over chugging rock 'n' roll grooves.
Sheer Mag — "Button Up"
So much swagger and attitude in the music alone (the outro lead guitar especially sends it home), and the lyrics and vocal delivery make you believe it's okay if no one likes you. The production is the real kicker as with most Sheer Mag material, the entire track sounds compressed within a crunchy, thick gloss of honey.
The Nerves — "When You Find Out"
This song is as smooth as it gets. Hi-hats ticking away like a time bomb, some fantastic chord progressions that are nicely laid back in the mix, and incredible vocal melodies that hook you in right from the get-go. Not to mention the classic '50s and '60s harmonies to bring you home for the chorus. Certified banger.
Big Star — "When My Baby's Beside Me"
The dynamic, yet tortured songwriting partnership of Alex Chilton and Chris Bell has just the right amount of tension to make for a completely blissful and romantic BIG sound. This track places their signature Stratocaster tone behind the wheel of a supercharged V8-Pursuit with a tank full of pure cosmic-Americana groove gas. Riding shotgun is a stupidly catchy vocal refrain that is as layered as the ham sandwiches at the Gundagai Truckstop. Definitely one to smack the car door along to as your baby's beside you on an afternoon drive down the Hume.
Romero's debut album Turn it On! comes out April 8 via Cool Death and Feel It Records.
Pre-order the album below.