Vegas With Randolph-Rings Around the Sun. The Mid-Atlantic region's answer to Fountains of Wayne returns with its third full-length album, and much in the manner of their previous release Above the Blue, the new album consists of singles they've put out in the interim plus several new tracks. This time around they've enlisted the help of power pop luminaries such as David Myhr (Merrymakers), Andy Reed (An American Underdog) and Brandon Schott and the result is their strongest disc to date. Opener "You Set the World on Fire" sets the album on fire with some classic-sounding power pop, "Salt Water Taffy" and "Cool Things" draw the FoW comparison in stark relief as everyday pleasures are turned into pop odes, and "Everybody Wants an Atom Bomb" somehow condenses the last 75 years of US geopolitics into 3 1/2 minutes of catchy-as-hell power pop. Elsewhere, they write about stuff that interests them: "My Lost Colony" is ostensibly about the lost colony of Roanoke that was the basis for a recent Sleepy Hollow episode, and who doesn't love a "Snow Day"? And Myhr, Reed and Schott lend their talents and harmonies to the anthemic title track. One of 2013's best from a band that just keeps getting better.
Roseland-Roseland. This Greensboro, North Carolina band isn't strictly power pop; rather, they're highly melodic folk/rock, alt-country, Americana, whatever you want to call it. But if you listen hard, you can hear some Teenage Fanclub in there if it makes you feel better. Regardless, those who love a good melody with sweet harmonies will want to check this one out. "Plans to Ride" is a brilliant opener with its "fell in love with a rolling stone" refrain and jangly melody reminiscent of The Jayhawks or CSNY, and "Long Hard Way to Fall" sounds like a lost Gary Louris/Mark Olson collaboration. Meanwhile, "In Between" could almost pass for one of Alex Chilton's more acoustic-leaning early Big Star tracks, and "Nice Place to Go" is lovely in its simplicity. As far as I'm concerned, this is the best album of its type I've heard all year, and if you pop leanings take you to the folk or country side at all, this is a must.
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