Cupid's Carnival-Everything is Love. This London band appears to have sprung up out of nowhere - I can't find a website, Facebook page or anything else for them. Given how Beatlesque they sound, perhaps the Fabs have resurfaced in the lowest-key way possible (remember those Klaatu rumors from the late 70s?). OK I know that's ridiculous but whoever they are, they've dropped the best Beatles-influenced album of 2016 to date on us with Everything is Love. It opens with the McCartney-esque "Girl" complete with Harrison-like slide guitar, "Working Girl" has a driving melody, and "I Was the Boy" drifts into psych-pop territory. There's even a cover of "A Whiter Shade of Pale" here. But the real fun comes at the end with the title track, a Lennon-styled ballad that sounds like a Beatles outtake, and "Sunny Days", the latest variation on "Mr. Blue Sky". Whoever these guys are, they should take a bow.
EDIT: As helpful commenter Rick notes below, some of these tracks were released in 2008 under the band name Cherrystone (which in fact I reviewed on these pages). So before you buy, check the recesses of your mp3 collections - you may have some of these songs already.
The Well Wishers-Comes and Goes. I believe this is Jeff Shelton's eight full-length album as The Well Wishers (plus an EP), and they've all been so consistently good that I've just about run out of things to say about them. So in other words this is less a review and more of a notification that there's a new Well Wishers album out there you need to pick up. The differences between this one and the others is slight; it's a bit more consistently rocking than 2014's A Shattering Sky. "Impossible to Blame" opens the album and from the first few notes you know you're listening to The Well Wishers, while "It's On" has a classic AOR sound to it. Only "In Love With" and "Nobody's Dancing Alone" slow things down a bit from the norm, and the closer "Nature's Son" belies its pastoral name with some of the hardest rock Shelton's undertaken. But as I said, it's a new Well Wishers album - you really don't need me to describe it.
Bill Lloyd-Lloyd-ering. Nashville's Bill Lloyd is essentially one of power pop's elder statesmen, a songwriter's songwriter who's written for some big names over the years, been one-half of the great 80s duo Foster & Lloyd, did a one-off album with The Spongetones' Jamie Hoover, was part of the power pop supergroup Swag and released several outstanding solo albums this century. Many of my readers probably know this already, but somehow this is the first time I've featured one of his releases here so I'll pay him his proper respects. Another thing Lloyd is known for is his penchant for covers, and it seems as if there hasn't been a tribute album in the power pop community that he hasn't contributed a song to. Lloyd-ering is an attempt to collect these scattered covers (many of which are out-of-print) in one collection and even though it misses a few, this is an excellent 12-song sampler. He leads off with the Bobby Fuller Four classic "Let Her Dance" (also memorably covered by Marshall Crenshaw), captures the spirit of the Byrds with "The World Turns All Around Her" and gives John Lennon a run for his money with his version of "Across the Universe", among others. My only quibble is that "When Time Stood Still" from the Jeff Lynne tribute Lynne Me Your Ears was omitted, but maybe that'll be on the Lloyd-ering box set someday.