Friday, December 21, 2012

The Absolute Powerpop Top 100 of 2012, #1-50.

And here's what you've been waiting for, the top half of the top 100. A few words on my #1 pick follow the list:

1. Salim Nourallah-Hit Parade
2. Shoes-Ignition
3. Scott Warren-Dyed in the Wool
4. Cliff Hillis-Dream Good
5. Kevin Martin-Throwback Pop
6. David Myhr-Soundshine
7. Jay Gonzalez-Mess of Happiness
8. Lannie Flowers-New Songs Old Tories
9. The Honeymoon Stallions-Moonlighting
10. Ruby Free-Introducing Ruby Free
11. Oberon Rose-Wunjo
12. Sitcom Neighbor-Charm
13. Bill Lloyd-Boy King of Tokyo
14. Gavin Guss-On High
15. Paul Rocha-Crayons
16. Tim Husty-A Step Back
17. Holmes-Complication Simplified
18. Throwback Suburbia-Shot Glass Souvenir
19. Chris Richards & The Subtractions-Get Yer La La's Out
20. Redd Kross-Researching the Blues
21. Secret Powers-More Songs About Her
22. JP Cregan-Elba
23. Jeff Litman-Outside
24. Jackdaw4-Dissecticide
25. The Blood Rush Hour-Shrink
26. Smash Palace-Do it Again
27. The Stars Explode-Between the Lines
28. Aimee Mann-Charmer
29. Wanderlust-Record Time
30. Didn't Planet-We're Going Nowhere
31. AC Newman-Shut Down the Streets
32. Steven wright-Mark-My Plastic World
33. The Breakups-Running Jumping Falling Shouting
34. The World Record-Freeway Special
35. Dave Birk-Speed Queen Mystery Date
36. Stay-The Fourth Dimension
37. Rob Bonfiglio-Mea Culpa
38. Slink-Desert Gem
39. Hidden Pictures-Rainbow Records
40. Jared Lekites-Star Map
41. Latvian Radio-Kill the Static
42. Minky Starshine-Womanity
43. Trapper Schoepp & The Shades-Run, Engine, Run
44. Mike O'Neill-Wild Lines
45. Dan Miraldi-Sugar & Adrenaline
46. Frank Bango-Touchy Feely
47. Eliot Bronson & Yonder Orphans-Milwaukee
48. The Roseline-Vast as Sky
49. The CRY!-The CRY!
50. Electrolic-Live on Land

I went with Salim Nourallah's Hit Parade at #1 for several reasons - it was the album I enjoyed the most, the one that grew on me the most with repeated listens, and most of all it felt to me like a contemporary Beatles album with Nourallah playing all four parts. The wonderful "38 Rue de Sevigne" opens the album with a slow build into full-fledged McCartney-esque goodness, while the title track and "God Damn Life" (which are both thematic cousins of "Working Class Hero") bear a profound John Lennon influence. Meanwhile, the ringing guitars and lyrics that speak of disappointment yet hope in someone else of "The Quitter" feel like George Harrison, while the faux-disco "Travolta" mixes humor and pathos in much the same way Ringo's Beatle tunes did. In the past I've always enjoyed Nourallah's songcraft even though it felt cold and distant at times, but here he takes a warm and wistful look back at life from middle age (life's "hit parade" as it were) and the result is the best album of his career.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Absolute Powerpop Top 100 of 2012, #51-100

Here's the bottom half of the top 100, with the top half to follow tomorrow.

51. Paul Bohan-For Now & Ever
52. Any Version of Me-A Matter of Time
53. Jason Karaban-Shift
54. Bryan Scary-Daffy's Elixir
55. Even-In Another Time
56. fun.-Some Nights
57. Dan Kibler-Dan Kibler
58. The Figgs-The Day Gravity Stopped
59. The Condors-3 Item Combo
60. Nick Frater-Throw Money
61. Nada Surf-The Stars are Indifferent to Astronomy
62. HighMay-The Upside
63. Well Wishers-Dreaming of the West Coast
64. Bryan Dunn-Sweetheart of the Music Hall
65. Pete Donnelly-When You Come Home
66. Peter Buzzelle-Museum of Peter Buzzelle
67. The Shins-Port of Morrow
68. Justin Kline-Cabin Fever Songs
69. Jud Norman-Baby Step
70. The Afternoons-Fan Fiction
71. Matt Webster-Army of One
72. Conceptus-Trebly Feelings
73. The Mike Benign Compulsion-Martha
74. Fallon Cush-April
75. Hannah Cranna-A Real Nice Parade
76. Eric Miller-Voices of Mirrors
77. The Honey Wilders-Singles for Singles
78. The Pozers-The Sun's Going Down
79. Dale Murray-Dream Mountain Dream
80. Acid-Acid
81. Snakehips-Must Be Present to Win
82. Drobinko-Drobinko
83. Kurt Baker-Brand New Beat
84. Ken Stringfellow-Danzig in the Moonlight
85. Saul Zonana-Fix the Broken
86. Archie Powell & The Exports-Great Ideas in Action
87. Brendan Benson-What Kind of World
88. Mark Lane-Something New
89. Kevin Bents-The Honors
90. The Brixton Riot-Palace Amusements
91. The Successful Failures-Here I Am
92. Lightships-Electric Cables
93. Veneer-Songs About Gardening
94. Mozley-II
95. Hall of Ghosts-A Random Quiet
96. Hot Freak Nation-Lifetime to Lifetime
97. Nelson Bragg-We Get What We Want
98. One Like Son-Start the Show
99. The Squires of the Subterrain-Sandbox
100. Mark Heineke-Lovely

Friday, December 14, 2012

EP Friday.

Blair Gilley-Almost Home. Nashville rocker Blair Gilley, after fronting a couple of bands, goes solo with impressive results on his debut EP which brings to mind the likes of Oasis and Green Day in their poppier moments. This is "modern-sounding" power pop that also calls to mind Rooney, especially on the anthemic opener "Hopelessly". The power ballad "My Communication" slows things down to a degree but works equally as well, and the real winner here is the closer "What You Do to Yourself" which sports an indelible chorus. A brash and impressive debut.

CD Baby | iTunes

The Metal Babies-The Metal Babies EP. This band from Sydney caught my eye with their name, an obvious homage to a classic Teenage Fanclub song. The caught my ear as well with their sound, which despite their name isn't a slavish attempt to recapture the TF sound. Instead, they have kind of a "heartland rock" sound which shows on the "This Cloud of Mine", while the opener "In the Dirt" has a Tom Petty feel (as well as an always-welcome "woo hoo hoo" in the chorus). Elsewhere, "Trainwreck" is an enjoyable rocker and the midtempo "Willing to Wait" boasts some fine guitar work. Nothing flashy here, but five above-average tracks that will be welcome on your music player of choice.


Sunday, December 09, 2012

Help Justin Kline help kids at Christmas.

Passing this on from Justin Kline:

Hey there, Justin Kline here with a favor to ask…

My new Christmas song "Once a Year" is available for digital download via NoiseTrade… and 100% of the proceeds will benefit TOYS FOR TOTS... (or you can download it for free too)

Happy Holidays,
Justin Kline

Friday, December 07, 2012

Political Power Pop.

In honor of this very political year (what with a US presidential election and all), here are a pair of releases from artists we've featured before who've decided to make a political statement with their power pop:

Neil Nathan Inc.-Sweep the Nation. We last heard from this rocker in 2010 with the excellent The Distance Calls, and now he's back as "Neil Nathan Inc.", ready to Occupy your music player of choice with Sweep the Nation, an attack on crooked corporate capitalism. Of course you can get political commentary from virtually nook and cranny on the Internet, so the key here is whether the music behind the viewpoint holds up. And here it does, from the kinetic (and appropriately-titled) Matthew Sweet-style opener "Jumpstart" to the anthemic title track to the Tom Petty-esque "For the Lucky Ones". In some respects, Swept the Nation is power pop's answer to Bruce Springsteen's Wrecking Ball, another mad-as-hell-and-not-going-to-take-it-anymore album that still sounded great when you weren't paying attention to the lyrics. Fittingly this album isn't available from any of the big corporate outlets, but only on the artist-friendly Bandcamp.


UPDATE: Now available through CD Baby.

Khalid Hanifi-A Brief Respite from Shooting Fish in a Barrel. Khalid Hanifi has been a welcome presence in the power pop scene for over a decade, whether recording under his own name or as The Maypops. Here Hanifi, an Afghan-American, trades his mild-mannered singer/songwriter power pop to rail against the treatment of his ancestral land and the corporate-military complex behind it. And as in the case of Neil Nathan's record, Hanifi still manages to express himself through some solid songcraft. The loping "Free the World to Death" pulls no punches, and "The Splendor of Empire" is first rate dream-pop with a serious kick. Elsewhere, the acoustic-based "Rock and Roll Frankenstein" and "Whose Idea Was That" sport lovely melodies, and "Hog Futures" is the kind of catchy power pop Hanifi made his name with.

CD Baby | iTunes