If you looked up “pop” in the dictionary, I’m pretty sure you’d be referred directly to the Sugar Stems. Formed in Milwaukee in 2007, this band has been delighting power pop fans for several years with its shamelessly sweet melodies and upbeat, impossibly catchy songs. And if there’s one person on earth who was born to sing hook-driven feelgood pop of this magnitude, it would be the talented Betsy Heibler. With ties to both classic power pop and the phenomenal early 2000s Wisconsin punk scene, the Sugar Stems bring plenty of power to go with their dizzying sugar rush of pop.
Betsy (The Flips) and Jon (Teenage Rejects, Catholic Boys, Tuff Bananas, Sticks’n’Stones, Rumble) Heibler started the Sugar Stems in the fall of 2007 with bassist Steph Swinney Conard (also of The Flips) and soon added Drew Fredrichsen (Leg Hounds, Jetty Boys) on guitar. The band issued a single and LP before releasing Can’t Wait via Screaming Apple Records (Germany) and Dream On Records (Japan). Can’t Wait is now seeing a North American release via Dirtnap Records on April 9th.
This terrific LP shows “growth” in all the best ways. Without abandoning its signature honeyed melodies and high-spirited candy pop style, the band has made a more mature and consistent album that’s definitely its best to date. But it’s the more melancholy tracks that really showcase Betsy Heibler’s development into one of the finest songwriters working today. Songs like “Make Up Your Mind” and the gorgeous “Love You To Pieces” are steeped in the timeless traditions of Brill Building and British Invasion pop, yet feel entirely fresh in the year 2013. Even when the songs themselves are not exactly happy, there’s something about the Sugar Stems’ music that just makes you feel good.
Praise for the Sugar Stems:
“It’s delightfully easy to love the Sugar Stems. The group’s bright, upbeat, hair-tousled power pop is played to perfection on both 2010’s Sweet Sounds Of… and the brand-new Can’t Wait.” – AV Club
“The Sugar Stems are just like every great power pop band: endearingly dorky, smart, and probably having a lot more fun than the cool kids” – Get Bent
“Led by Betsy Heibler’s bright as a bell vocals which are delightfully reminiscent of 80’s-era Jane Wiedlin and Susanna Hoffs, the Sugar Stems’ jangly, accessible sound is instant ear-candy for those craving some smart, straightforward pop.” – My Old Kentucky Blog
“Milwaukee’s premier purveyors of guitar-fueled pop.” – On Milwaukee