Power Play

Fort Collins's favorite pop label is positively Not Lame.

Such an endorsement didn't go unnoticed by Brodeen. "Receiving Gallagher's "blessing' is a huge deal," he says spiritedly. Asked why his bands have developed more of a following in England than in the old U.S. of A., Brodeen becomes even more passionate. "In England, there's a really basic appreciation for the art of a well-written song, a well-crafted piece of music that taps into classic musical archetypes," he says. "In this case, those archetypes are the Beatles. They're the Alpha and Omega for lots of rock and roll. The kind of music that Not Lame deals with parades that out front."

So how does a guy from Fort Collins -- a city that's not exactly known as a hotbed of international pop -- unearth all these talented acts? Since Not Lame put out its first releases in spring 1995, Brodeen has discovered raw talent at festivals like the Los Angeles-based Poptopia and the International Pop Overthrow. Sometimes the music just falls into his lap.

"The first tape I ever received in late 1994 was a tape from a New York-based band, the Rooks. The first song that was on there was this amazing song, and to me, they're a very special band," he says. As opposed to Myracle Brah (which Brodeen says takes a more streamlined Revolver-ish angle) and the Shazam (inspired by the Move -- Jeff Lynne's band before the Electric Light Orchestra -- and a whole bunch of "real big-ass" '70s rock and roll), the Rooks are a "more cerebral, very sophisticated type of pop," he says. "[The Rooks] are like a 25-year-old bottle of cabernet that you open and you have to sit it on a table for an hour and a half before you can even begin to pour and enjoy it properly."

Power-poppin' out all over: Bruce Brodeen (left) of Not Lame Records is a man with a plan.
Evan Lewis
Power-poppin' out all over: Bruce Brodeen (left) of Not Lame Records is a man with a plan.

Lead guitarist Kristin Pinell isn't surprised to hear that kind of praise for the band's music from a label owner who is clearly more interested in the perpetuation of his favorite sounds than in cashing in on record sales. "Bruce supported us from the beginning," Pinell says. "He had a very good vision of how we should market the band to find the people who like the music. He really found us a niche," she says.

Brodeen is hoping to find a similar niche for his latest project, a Posies boxed set of unreleased demos and B-sides. Because the Posies are a recognizable name and a band that even the non-initiated identify as power pop (just try to deny the chorus of "Dream All Day"), Brodeen feels the release "will add some validating aura to the label." When the Posies set is released in August, it won't mark the first time Brodeen has issued material centered around a name act, however. The double CD Full Circle: A Tribute to Gene Clark finds some of Brodeen's favorite pop artists covering songs written by Clark, the co-founder of the Byrds who's credited with later inventing newgrass. Brodeen says that response to the recording, which was released earlier this year, has been "universally outstanding. It looks like there's already a re-pressing on the horizon, and that's very unusual." Among the contributors on the record are the Merrymakers, Myracle Brah, the Shazam, the Gripweeds (Pinell's other band), Sid Griffin from the Longriders, Steve Wynn from Dream Syndicate.

Brodeen, his label and the bands on it may not be household names. Maybe in a better world -- a world that appreciates the well-placed meaty hook, love longings set against an electric backdrop of guitar crunch -- they would be. Doesn't sound lame at all.

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