The June-Green Fields and Rain. Rainbow Quartz has had a great second half of 2010, with new releases from the likes of The Volebeats, The High Dials, The Parties and The Gurus, but the cream of the crop is Green Fields and Rain, the sophomore effort from Parma, Italy's The June. This is a Grade-A mix of psychedelia and Beatles-pop not unlike some of Noel Gallagher's more poppier offerings in Oasis. The sitars and "Tomorrow Never Knows"-like opener "Feel the Sunshine" is a treat, as is the Merseyside pop of "Good News" (replete with a Beatles-like "oooo" in the chorus). "Pete on the Street" is an irresistible pop confection, and "I'm Looking Out" recalls "Strawberry Fields Forever", favorably. I'm not always the biggest fan of bands going blatantly retro, but these guys have the songs to back it up. You have my permission to swoon over The June.
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Lannie Flowers-Circles. A couple of years ago, Texas' Lannie Flowers released "Same Old Story" which was essentially a medley of 36 songs of about one minute each. It received a lot of love in the power pop community but didn't make my lists since it didn't lend itself to my preferred listening habits of shuffling the most recent two months of albums I come across. It was either listen to it all the way through to the exclusion of other stuff, or have one-minute out-of-context snippets pop up randomly in my playlist. It was more my problem than Lannie's, so I'm thrilled to report he's released a new album which consists of 15 proper 3-4 minute tracks. And the talent he showed in 60-second bursts has transitioned nicely to full-length songs as Circles is another year-end contender for me. The title track is killer power pop in the vein of Jason Falkner and Jim Boggia, "Turn Up Your Radio" will have you doing just that (assuming it played stuff as good as this), and "Not in Love" might just be the quintessential power pop track with its straight-up hooks and handclaps. Circle this one on your shopping list.
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