VA-If it Feels Good Do It-A Sloan Tribute. Keith Klingensmith & co at Futureman Records have put together one of the best power pop tribute albums I've heard, and given how long Sloan's been out there I'm kind of surprised it took until 2016 to get one. What makes Sloan such a great band for this kind of compilation is that they're the rare band that has four legitimate singer-songwriters. Specifically, you have the 70s AM radio pop of Jay Ferguson, the traditional Shoes-style power pop of Chris Murphy, Patrick Pentland's classic/hard rock-influenced tunes, and the Pink Floyd-esque art-pop of Andrew Scott. So that gives the contributors some extremely fertile ground to draw from, and the results here are pretty great. I'm personally partial to Ferguson's tunes, and here Stereo Tiger and Klingensmith open and close the comp with fine covers of "C'mon, C'mon (Let's Get it Started)" and "I Wanna Thank You" respectively (both from Sloan's career-great Navy Blues album). Another Ferguson track that finds the perfect match of artist and material is The Well Wishers' version of "The Lines You Amend", which sounds like one of Jeff Shelton's creations to begin with. Nick Piunti rescues "Right or Wrong" off Sloan's somewhat forgettable Action Pact and also makes it his own, while other standouts include The Anderson Council's take on Pentland's great rocker "Iggy & Angus" and Andy Reed's fine reading of Murphy's "I Love a Long Goodbye" from the underrated Pretty Together. The only misstep here is an odd version of Ferguson's "Don't You Believe a Word" which Hidden Pictures chose to cover with processed, synthesized vocals (I'm hoping there's a version of that track where they sang it straight as they looked a good match on paper for the tune). The only omission that disappointed me here is that nobody covered Murphy's brilliant and complex "Fading into Obscurity" from the song-medley album Never Hear the End of It. I make rare exceptions for compilations on my year-end lists (like 2013's #1 Drink a Toast to Innocence), but I just might be doing so again in 2016.
Cheap Star-Songs for the Farrelly Brothers. The French band with my favorite power pop legend-based hybrid name is back with their first full-length since 2009's Speaking Like an Elephant, and it's an excellent return. They're kind of an auxiliary Posies, as they've toured with them and Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow play on all their records (including this one) and have produced them as well. So yes, there's an obvious Posies influence here, as well as bands like Nada Surf and Teenage Fanclub. Just about all the tracks here as equally as good, with the moody, driving "Memories", the very Posies-like "Separated from You" and the rocking "What's the Point" more equal than others. (NOTE: I was too lazy to reach out to them to see if these were tracks actually written for a Farrelly Brothers movie, but if not it's a helluva random title).
Propeller-Fall Off the World. First of all, let's talk about that cover. It's an homage to the classic K-Tel album covers from the mid-70s, specifically Music Express, which I once owned and you can see here, so they grabbed my attention there. And the San Francisco band has backed it up with ten seriously power-poppin' tunes, any of which would have proudly found their way onto one of those K-Tel albums. Their sound is kind of a more rocking Teenage Fanclub or a poppier Replacements, and tracks like "Can You Hear Us Now" and "Mismatched Shoes" will have your head bobbing and toes tapping right along, while "Wish I Had Your Picture" channels The Raspberries to great effect. No gooey ballads here, just one kick-ass track after another that can serve as the soundtrack to summer 2016. And it's "name your price" at Bandcamp.