|THREE HOUR TOUR - B SIDE OBLIVION
John M. Borack - April 19, 2008
It's been too damned long since we have heard new music from this semi-legendary
Midwestern power pop outfit,~but Darren Cooper and the crew have arrived with the
mighty B Side Oblivion, which is sure to stand tall as one of '08's finest pure pop
efforts.~ Co-produced by Adam Schmitt and Cooper (and "inexpensively recorded
and engineered by Adam Schmitt in his basement home studio," according to the
sleeve notes), BSO is chock full of the sort of hyper-melodic wonderfulness that
brings to mind such titans of the genre as Matthew Sweet, Velvet Crush and -
reaching even further back - The Byrds. (The marvelous guitar breaks on the title
track alone positively reek of McGuinn and Co., circa '66).~ Cooper's tunes are
pensive and thoughtful,~but still have the proper instrumental kick (led by an array on
spiky, thick guitar sounds, all played by Cooper) to avoid any hint of wimpiness.~
The glorious "Lady Named Caroline" is an immediate classic, but the aforementioned
title track, the moody "Be There Soon" and the pretty, longing "A Girl That I Once
Knew" ain't far behind.~ Bonus: BSO features the instrumental talents of Schmitt and
Velvet Crush's Paul Chastain on bass and percussive assistance from two of the
best in the biz: Brad Elvis and Ric Menck.
|Absolute Powerpop - October 27, 2010
CD of the Day: Three Hour Tour - Looking for Tomorrow
Darren Cooper's Three Hour Tour is back, and thankfully this time we didn't have to wait
almost ten years like we did for 2008's B-Side Oblivion. Once again, Cooper enlists Adam
Schmitt (who plays bass, co-produced, co-engineered and mastered) and Velvet Crush's Paul
Chastain, and once again he's given us one of the year's best power pop albums.
What makes Looking for Tomorrow even better than B-Side Oblivion is Cooper's desire to
punch things up a little more. The whole disc sounds loud, and leaps out of your speakers. "Pig
in Disguise" is the clarion call here as Cooper "lays (his) cards on the table" with a high-energy
rocker which recalls Guided by Voices. "For Now We Say Goodnight" cranks up the amps as
well and features some excellent drumming from John Richardson, whose drumming resume
reads like a who's who of power pop and Americana. We get a relative chance to catch our
breath after that opening 1-2 with "On Television", a more midtempo track with a great chorus
and fine guitar work from Cooper. And you won't want to escape from "Alcatraz", possibly the
most Beatlesque track on the album, while "All Time Low" is another driving rocker.
Things don't fall off on the back end of the disc either. "All We Need" is a dense,
Revolver-sounding winner, while the title track slows things a bit with acoustic guitars you can
hear in service of a Badfingeresque anthemic melody. "Dead Reckoning" is outright jangle-rock
with 12-string guitars and a Byrdsian melody, and "Gone" rocks as hard as anything else on
the album. And in keeping with the spirit of the disc, Cooper closes the proceedings with a
cover of the Who's "Heaven and Hell", and when put side-by-side with the rest of the album it
could pass as an original for the unfamiliar. Brad Elvis channels Keith Moon on the drums here,
and you can almost picture Cooper smashing his guitar at the end. Looking for Tomorrow is
one of the year's best, and hopefully Cooper & Company will settle into a new
album-every-2-or-3-years cycle, a tomorrow I'll be looking for.
|The Big Takeover
Issue 67 2010-2011 - Jack's Top 40 by Jack Rabid
#12 Three Hour Tour - Looking For Tomorrow
If this is power-pop the way it ought to be-meaty, crunchy, sharp, catchy, hard-digging,
attacking-consider today's personnel of Darren Cooper's longstanding Champaign-Urbana
outfit. Having returned from a decade's absence with 2008's B-Side Oblivion, Cooper
reassembles his crack team, built around his guitars, bass from stalwart solo star/local
legend/co-producer Adam Schmitt, and drums split equally between The Romantics' Brad Elvis
and John Richardson (Shoes, Tommy Keene, Gin Blossoms, etc.)-plus another cameo from
Velvet Crush star bassist/fromntman Paul Chastain. With a hot lineup like that, you can't go
wrong, and Cooper wastes absolutely none of it with this Sloan/Beatles/Velvet
Crush/Byrds/Move/Cheap Trick/Wilco/Beau Brummels/Badfinger/Last/Posies/Fountains of
Wayne/Teenage Fanclub/Paul Collins' Beat/Raspberries/Who/Flamin'Groovies/GBV/Matthew
Sweet/Baby Lemonade big guitar/big melody/big harmony travelogue. The pounding, busy-fills
drums keep things heavy, much as the acoustic/electric mix is commanding. A final, rippin'cover
of John Entwistle's greatest song-one so good The Who opened concerts with it even though it
was a b-side-"Heaven and Hell" is the fudge icing on this tasty cake. 1-2-3-4: Blast off!
Friday, November 19, 2010 Three Hour Tour - Looking For Tomorrow
Three Hour Tour returns and this time Darren Cooper's pop vision is joined by Adam Schmitt,
Brad Elvis and Paul Chastain (Velvet Crush). Unlike earlier efforts, Looking For Tomorrow
emphasizes the "power" part of power pop. Cooper's heavy guitar chords on "Pig In Disguise"
reminds me of Bob Mould's band Sugar, with a pounding beat and straight ahead melody.
"For Now We Say Goodnight" is another gem with a hook filled riff that inspires air guitar
theatrics. Things slow down a bit on "Alcatraz" with it's measured tempo it recalls Richard X.
Heyman. My favorite tune here is the anthemic "All We Need" with just the right amount of
riffage, melody and solid harmonies. All the songs work spectacularly well, and other
standouts include the jangling "Looking for Tomorrow" and "Dead Reckoning." No filler here
and very consistent all the way through. One of the best rock releases this year, fans of
Myracle Brah and Guided By Voices will also flip for this. Makes my top ten list for 2010 and
highly recommended to crank up on your stereo.
|Bruce Brodeen - Not Lame Recording
Three Hour Tour - Looking For Tomorrow October 2010
Amazing new album from one of the power pop genre`s finest acts, Three Hour Tour. This is
classic modern power pop - think lots of Velvet Crush and Matthew Sweet. As great as "B
Side Oblivion" was back in 2008, "Looking For Tomorrow" tops it in spades. Darren Cooper,
leader of Three Hour Tour, delivers full-throttle.
No doubt, Cooper is back and delivers the powerful statement power pop fans long for. You
will hear refrains of Myracle Brah`s Andy Bopp, post-Beatles/Badfinger, Velvet Crush and just
a insanely refreshing batch of songs all over the 10 tracks here.
Featuring the massive talents of Brad Elvis, Adam Schmitt, John Richardson(Tommy Keene,
Gin Blossoms) and Paul Chastain(a band called Velvet Crush); these three names are, come
to think of it, all you need to know that this CD ROCKS - huge. No question: One of 2010`s
very, very best. Period. No more hyperbole needed, just a fact.
BIG TIME EXTREMELY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
|Luna Kafé - US - Illinois - Full Moon 176 - 01/19/11
Three Hour Tour Looking For Tomorrow
Looking For Tomorrow is Darren Cooper's Champaign, Illinois-based outfit Three Hour Tour's
return to shelves. It's a follow-up to B Side Oblivion (2007). Before that there was the singles
collection album 1969 (1996). Darren Cooper is a multi-talented veteran of many pop bands,
including the 1980s group Choo Choo Train -- a band featuring Ric Menck and Paul Chastain,
who later started the semi-legendary Velvet Crush. Chastain contributes to Looking For
Tomorrow, which is a true power pop gem. Vintage power pop, old school style, done with
punch and pride. Not to forget powerful melodies strutting with catchiness.
Velvet Crush is a good reference to pinpoint Three Hour Tour, as is the world of Matthew
Sweet. Add Bob Mould's pop-muscular Sugar, plus the Posies, Guided By Voices, and
Myracle Brah, and we're just about there. One could also mention classic 1970's acts like
Raspberries, Badfinger and Big Star. And, one might also mention 1960's bands like The Who
and The Small Faces, just to make sure to draw the full line backwards. Darren Cooper has
written 9 of the 10 tracks, the last one is a loose and brilliant take on The Who's "Heaven and
Hell". The other players are: Adam Schmitt (bass, keyboards), drummers John Richardson
(Gin Blossoms, and others) and Brad Elvis (of The Romantics, Handcuffs, Elvis Brothers), and
the aforementioned Paul Chastain (who's also played with Matthew Sweet).
Looking For Tomorrow is probably looking more for yesterday than tomorrow music-wise. yet
it's a solid and delicious record if you're into pure, pleasant power-pop. Clocking in at 36
minutes it's also a perfectly lengthy record, if you're asking me. Opener "Pig In Disguise" is
Matthew Sweet meets Bob Mould's Sugar, and a good starter for the album. This and the
following songs prove Darren Cooper to be a song-smith crafting his tunes with passion and
skill (and he's a great guitar player). No bullshit, no fake make-up, simply stripped elegance.
The only problem is that it might - sometimes - sound too perfect. But, by all means... this
aside Looking For Tomorrow is half an hour of good company. Just check "All Time Low" and
"Dead Reckoning". And the Who cover. Thumbs up.
|Ray Gianchetti - Kool Kat Musik
Three Hour Tour - Looking For Tomorrow October 2010
WOW!!! The follow-up to 2008's "B Side Oblivion" is finally here! Once again co-produced
with Adam Schmitt, this dynamic power pop duo have partnered to deliver another stellar
effort that's brimming with hooks and crunchy guitars, once again bringing to mind icons of
the genre like Matthew Sweet and Velvet Crush! Darren Cooper's again ably assisted by
Schmitt and Paul Chastain on bass and John Richardson and Brad Elvis on (Keith Moon-like)
drums! "A bracing and vibrant record that sees Cooper firing on all 4's, and that's full of great
melodies and pop hooks. The songs are all perfectly crafted power pop delights delivered
with some absolutely blistering guitar work. As a fan both of great songwriting and great
guitar playing, there are few more thrilling moments in rock for me than songs like 'For Now
We Say Goodnight' which opens with an off-the-chart intro, the gorgeous verses that follow,
only to segue back into a scorching instrumental break. Amazingly consistent, throughout the
years and various incarnations, Cooper continues to craft and play top-notch classic power
pop along the lines of Badfinger, The Raspberries, and Beatles. Does it get any better than
this? Nope!" - Max Humphries This start-to-finish PURE POWER POP gem ends nicely with
a very cool cover of The Who's "Heaven and Hell"! Dare we say that, like "B Side Oblivion",
this one's probably gonna land on a lot of year-end Top 10 lists? You bet! Can't say enough
about this! GREAT!!!!
|Kool Kat Musik - Ray Gianchetti
Action and Heroes - 10/29/15
Has it really been nearly 5 years since we last heard from Darren Cooper (a/k/a Three Hour
Tour)? Well, as we scribes like to say, it's been a long time coming (but well worth the wait),
but he's back with his heavy friends (Brad Elvis - and his Keith Moon-like drumming which we
love so much, Adam Schmitt - we miss you!, and John Richardson) in tow on another (typically)
top-shelf collection of power pop! It's the kind of power pop records (stacked high with powerful
crunchy guitars) that they just don't make like this very much anymore, folks. "Cooper's a
song-smith crafting his tunes with passion and skill (and he's a great guitar player).Vintage
power pop, old school style, done with punch and pride. Not to forget powerful melodies
strutting with catchiness. No bullshit, no fake make-up, simply stripped elegance." -
LunaKafe.com Looking for what should be ranked as the best pure "power pop" record of the
year? Then look no further! This is fact, not hype. We'll take a new Three Hour Tour record
anytime! Welcome back Darren! GREAT!!!
|Innocent Words.Com - Paul Barrel
Action And Heroes November 1, 2015
Holy Moly, this is the album I’ve wanted to hear for quite some time. The internationally acclaimed power
popsters Three Hour Tour (THT)
Fronted by mastermind Darren Cooper, ‘Action and Heroes’ once again pulls together his partnership with
Adam Schmitt and drummers Brad Elvis and John Richardson. Cooper, the primary songwriter, also tackles
the vocals, guitars, bass, percussion, piano and organ. He also co-produced the album with Schmitt.
There’s a lot going on with this album, all good. The 11 tracks are all fairly new, written since the last release,
with the exception of “Somewhere,” which dates back to 1986 when Cooper was in the Housepets. Still, all
flow nicely and cohesively. There seems to be a thread of jaded optimism running through the lyrics, and it
couples nicely with the minor-ish/mid-tempo music … almost as if the protagonist is fed up with the current
state of affairs and looking back to a comfort zone just knowing that there’s still capacity to bring it all back.
And I wondered, am I even close to being on base? So I asked.
“I think you may have something there,” Coop said. “Adam and I were discussing how much bad music, or non-
music there is these days. Kids just grabbing samples from garage band and throwing them together. Instant
song!” Amen to that, brother.
Whereas THT are known for delivering the power pop goods, ‘Actions and Heroes’ seemingly has more of a
classic rock influence, which is completely fine by me. The performances are phenomenal and Cooper’s guitar
playing remains top notch. In this day and age of processed pop it is refreshing to hear honest to goodness
rock music recorded by someone who’s well versed in his craft.
“This album probably reflects my early influences more accurately than my earlier albums,” Coop
acknowledged, pulling from a personal playlist of everyone from the Beatles to Badfinger to The Who to The
Kinks to early Blue Oyster Cult to The Dictators to original Alice Cooper to Bowie to Mott the Hoople and
more. “I ripped a lick or two from most of my heroes on this one. The album may be more personal to me than
the previous ones mostly due to the fact that I tracked all of the guitars at home, alone. The performances were
‘in the moment.’ Looking back, it all seems like a blur. I listened back to some of the solos and thought, ‘how
the hell did I do that?’ I need to figure out what I played on some of those lead parts, etc.”
And the best news? He’s got a backlog and is planning another release in 2016.
|Absolute Powerpop - November 06, 2015
Three Hour Tour-Action and Heroes
Darren Cooper graces our music devices again with another Three Hour Tour album, his first
since 2010's Looking for Tomorrow. As with his past releases, Action and Heroes is first-rate
power pop that sounds like Matthew Sweet meets The Replacements, and Cooper has some
top-notch help on hand including Adam Schmitt and Brad Elvis. From opener "March of the
Fakers" (which recalls Guided by Voices) to melodic, rocking "Afterlife" to the jangly "Nowhere
Bound", there's plenty to love here on a disc that should make my year-end top 20.
|Powerpopaholic - November 17, 2015
Three Hour Tour - Action and Heroes
It seems like forever since I last heard Darren Cooper’s band Three Hour Tour. Truth is it’s
been 5 years and I’m thrilled we have some new music with Action and Heroes. Darren still has
Adam Schmitt as his engineer and producer, and Brad Elvis covers the drums. The opener
“March of The Fakers” is a heavy with fuzz guitar riffs, war drumming and blistering solos that
wouldn’t be out of place on a Foo Fighters or GBV album. Darren crafts a personal statement
that’s sure to resonate with music fans. It goes without saying that fans of The Grip Weeds,
Myracle Brah or The Well Wishers should get this album immediately.
Overall, the music is high quality power pop, and nearly every track is a compelling listen.
“Afterlife” is a classic rocker and the title track is a sing-along anthem, stating “we could use
another hero in this world.” The late 70’s arena rock influence (specifically Boston) is strong on
the brilliant “Room With A View” and “Tonight.” Darren does get a bit indulgent on the
Zepplinesque “No Guarantee,” but my favorite track here is “Somewhere” with its goosebump
inducing minor chord structure and hook in the chorus. Highly Recommended and it makes
sense to add it to my top ten list for 2015.
JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2011 THREE HOUR TOUR Looking For Tomorrow
Serious powerpoppers will be familiar with the sporadic output of Three Hour Tour, AKA
Darren Cooper, over the last two decades. This, to my knowledge, is their fourth album (if you
count the two singles compilations B Side Oblivion and 1969) and the style and song quality is
just as strong as it ever was.
Ably assisted by fellow Champaign, Illinois pop legend Adam Schmitt, Cooper presents a
heavy but highly melodic powerpop album comprising nine originals and ending with a great
reading of The Who's "Heave And Hell". For those unfamiliar with Cooper's sound, think along
the lines of Dom Mariani's later material circa The Stone Age Hearts as a crude comparison.
"Pig In Disguise", "On Television" and "All Time Low" contain finely carved riffs with mellifluous
vocals and rhythmic melody. Paul Martin
|Rust Magazine - October 31, 2015
Three Hour Tour's Action And Heroes by Eric Peterson
Three Hour Tour is one of those rare bands that manages to both mine a particular moment in
cultural memory as well as make new and individual statements with their music. Pirating the
high seas under a power pop flag, and fending off same-name trespassers (trademark your
band name, kids) they’ve put out some fresh and individual music with killer hooks and an
irresistible guitar-forward sound. Previous albums like Looking For Tomorrow and B Side
Oblivion have presented some of the most solid pop rock tracks from any band, at any time,
and they’ve managed to stay true to their core identity on Action And Heroes – all of which is
Action And Heroes sees Darren, Brad and the boys in a more relaxed and patient space,
perhaps because it’s been five years since their last album came out. The focus here is on the
jam and the rhyme, and their signature poppy take on music has mellowed a bit. The pressure
and the energy of past albums has been stretched out, allowing for a more thorough
examination of ideas and phrases. With time comes wisdom and the pacing of Action And
Heroes allows for each chord and idea to resonate and really seep in, while the band keeps
the same vibe and personality as their other albums. If you’re looking for a retro-fresh pop band
with skills and style, Three Hour Tour is it.
Here at RUST Magazine we’ve been fans of Three Hour Tour since day one and they’re one
of those bands that succeeds through hard-earned talent and individuality. If you don’t know
about Three Hour Tour yet, Action And Heroes will make for a great introduction, check it out!
|John Borack's Power Pop Plus, Goldmine Magazine, April 2016
Three Hour Tour – Action and Heroes
After a much-too-long five year wait, Illinois power pop kings Three Hour Tour are back with
another honey of a record. Darren Cooper is the man in charge at THT headquarters, handling
all the vocals and instruments except for drums. His way with a melody has always been
unerring and that streak continues here at every turn, especially on the title track (great lead
vocal on this one), the ever-so-slightly country-inflected “Nowhere Bound,” and the Dwight-
Twilley-ish “No Guarantee.” It’s easy to take guys like Cooper for granted since he makes
things look so easy, but by the time you hit the final track, “Shifting Sands” (which features
some uber-cool drumming, courtesy of John Richardson, who’s also manned the kit for Shoes,
Tommy Keene and Gin Blossoms), you’ll be hoping it’s not another five years before Cooper
decides to gift us with a new record. Co-produced by Adam Schmitt, another dude who knows
his way around a killer popsong. Grade: A- - See more at: http://www.goldminemag.
|Big Takeover Magazine, Issue 82 Spring 2018 Jack Rabid
Three Hour Tour - You Never Know (Martian)
Like salivating over a favorite restaurant you can rarely dine at, you can taste what you’ll get
from Champaign/Urbana singer/songwriter/guitarist Darren Cooper before you even dig in.
YNK is cut from same cool cloth as 2015’s awesome Action and Heroes, 2010’s terrific Looking
For Tomorrow, 2008’s bountiful B-Side Oblivion, and two ’90s albums: Those fat guitars with
the fleshy meat of 1974 Alex Chilton, melodies like late Beatles or early The Move with hooks
that grab like a industrial staple gun, tracks that flow forcefully like Matthew Sweet and
his/Cooper’s ancestral co-conspirators Velvet Crush (his closest match drank from that same
Champaign), and lyrics that look at relationships like unsolvable Rubik’s Cubes we’re destined
to puzzle over, anyway. I’d cite songs, but that’s needless. You don’t think “Birds of Clay” could
possibly be as great as the title track, nor that “Social Implosion” could be as catchy as
“Firebird,” etc.—but there’s no holes in this cheese, and no lesser courses—again. Like fine
wines from the best vineyard, Cooper’s just routinely remarkable, again.
|Innocent Words - Paul Barrel
Three Hour Tour: You Never Know (Martian)
JUNE 20, 2018
Darren Cooper and crew continue to top themselves. Their special brand of power pop is both
engaging and crushing.
What draws me to Three Hour Tour’s albums is the band’s comprehensive approach to
satisfying the sonic landscape. In addition to the high quality of Cooper’s songwriting, the
production is thick, full and present. It’s ear candy that highlights the tonal delicacies of the
numerous vintage instruments used in recording. Of particular interest is the tasteful chordal
structure employed throughout. Cooper has a wonderful knack of crafting a melody that takes
minor turn which results in a killer hook. This talent is matched only by Rick Nielsen, who
mastered the approach in the early days of Cheap Trick. And I love it as it can have a
melancholy and, at times, devastating effect.
Now that I think about it Three Hour Tour is the perfect name for this band … just as the crew
and guests of the SS Minnow experienced on that fateful day, listening to Three Hour Tour is a
fun time turned upside at a critical juncture.