Friday, December 21, 2007
The Absolute Powerpop Top
100 125 Discs of 2007, #1-5
5. Smith & Hayes-Changed by a Song. This really was the McCartney/Wilbury/David Grahame-styled disc many of us have been waiting for; for the Beatleheads out there, this was the disc of the year. Somewhere out there, Jeff Lynne is wishing he wrote "Nothing But Love".
4. Wiretree-Bouldin. This was the first great disc of 2007, and it held up through the entire year. Kevin Peroni followed up on one of 2005's best EPs and proved he was capable of a quality full-length. He's managed to create his own idiosyncratic sound that might be best described as the Wilburys meet indie rock. "Whirl" is one of those songs that I can never tire of, and makes the hours spent in search of something new to listen worthwhile.
3. Josh Fields-Josh Fields. I enjoyed this so much that I felt it necessary to fudge the EP/LP divide. Clocking in at seven songs, it's probably closer to an EP than a full-length, but it's just long enough to compete with the big boys. It's a perfectly realized example of radio-ready popcraft with hooks galore and even pretty good lyrics for the genre. The opening 1-2 of "Clock Keeps Ticking" and "Steal The Air" is about as fantastic and dynamic a kickoff to a disc that I've heard, and the slower numbers like "Dragons" (a killer rewrite of "She Talks to Angels" and I mean that in a good way) and the lovely "(Take a) Photograph" are equally as outstanding. Someone get this in front of some radio PD's.
2. The Foreign Films-Distant Star. Very few discs truly blow me away upon first listen, but this one did (hence the siren in the original post). This was the Cotton Mather record we thought we'd never hear again, even moreso than the Mather offshoots, Future Clouds and Stockton (each fine discs in their own right), that were released this year as well. That Bill Majoros pulled this off in the context of a double disc makes it all the more of an achievement.
1. The Red Button-She's About to Cross My Mind. As has been well-chronicled on this blog, I originally gave short shrift to the disc when it came out (although not that short, given that I had it at #8 at midyear). But this was the one disc that I kept coming back to, and the more I came back to it, the more I loved it. Whereas a piece of pop genius like "Ooh Girl" was apparent to me at first listen, it took a few trips back to fully appreciate a track like "Floating By", which might have been the best example of the "McCartney sings the cheery verses while Lennon sings the cynical bridge" dynamic since "We Can Work It Out" with Swirsky in the McCartney role and Ruekberg as Lennon. That the track is filled out with a Alpert/Bacharach horn section accompanied by Ruekberg's "ah-ah-ah" singalong of the horn parts propels it into the next dimension. Meanwhile, the couplet "She holds my attention/she breaks my resolve/she poses more problems than I'll ever solve" from "Can't Stop Thinking About Her" brings a smile to my face every time I hear it, and then there's the closer "It's No Secret", which with its near-perfect melody, heartfelt lyrics and wonderful harmonies makes it the natural successor to The Beatles' "If I Fell". Don't make the same mistake I initially did - while it's easy to dismiss this as a tuneful pastiche or a genre exercise, there's a real depth to it that rewards repeated listens. While some may cynically refer to the entire power pop genre as an effort to remake The Beatles or Big Star or Badfinger, this is one disc that deserves to be called an equal to its forebears. Here's hoping this wasn't a one-off project.