The Die Youngs-Nothing's Broken. Denny Smith's been supplying a lot of the music I've written about on the pages over the last several years, either through his roots-rockin' band The Great Affairs or his harder-rockin' band fORMER. Through that time, he's collected a fair number of tunes that didn't make the albums for one band or the other, and had some other songs kicking around, so why not create a third project? Teaming up with fellow Nashvillian Kenny Wright, Smith gives an album that may not be as cohesive as his other releases, but in my book 13 quality tunes are cohesion enough. So you get some fine Butch Walker-styled "hard power pop" in "As Fine as You Are" and "Dirty on the Stereo", rootsier moments like "Some Things Never Change" and "Crawl", and straight up power pop in "That's My Girl" and the title track. The common denominator here is Smith's radio-friendly sound, even if in this case we're talking about different radio formats.
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Phonograph (UK)-Phonograph Vol.1. Phonograph (I added the "UK" to their name since there's an American alt-country/roots rock band I'm fond of with the same name) is a 4-piece out of London who've made an auspicious debut that David Bash sent in my direction. They have a timeless sound that recalls many of the leading power pop touchstones, and "She Knows It" opens things in grand fashion, a Big Star-influenced number that's quite catchy, while the Beatlesque, midtempo "Waiting for the Sun" and it's "la da da da" chorus make for an instant earworm. Speaking of Beatlesque, "Don't You Bring Me Down" has a real Merseyside 1965 sound and "Fading into You" would fit nicely on one of Badfinger's first few albums. This is probably the most accomplished "classic power pop" debut since Cirrone a few years ago, and could be a year-end best-of contender. Right now, it's download-only from Bandcamp, and you'll have to convert pounds to dollars if you're in the USA, but it's worth it.