Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Marshall Crenshaw.

That's not my title, but the title of a great blog post at Jefitoblog that reviews and chronicles the career of one of the true power pop gods, Marshall Crenshaw, complete with downloads and YouTube clips from throughout the years.

It's extremely well-written, well-thought and comprehensive, and I agree wholeheartedly with most of the thoughts about Crenshaw's various releases. (A few points of disagreement: I think the songs on Field Day are overall better than those on the debut, and I rate Life's Too Short higher than Mary Jane and 9 Others, but those are minor quibbles.) And I feel better now knowing that I'm not the only one who thought his most recent release, 2003's What's In The Bag?, was his worst and the only good thing on it was his cover of Prince's "Take Me With U".

Highly recommended reading.

Top EPs of 2006.

Hope everyone had an enjoyable Christmas and/or Hanukkah, and I appreciate all the feedback and readership associated with the top 100 list.

As promised, here are the top 10 EPs of 2006. While nothing here listed quite approached the perfection of my top 2005 EP, David Mead's Wherever You Are, there are still some excellent releases here, and all are worth a listen.

1. Kit Ashton-Blindsided
2. Hotel Lights-Goodnightgoodmorning
3. Russell Crawford-Hearing All That's Heard
4. The Comfies-Close to Me
5. Ari Shine-Age/Occupation
6. Codaphonic-Good Morning Radio
7. Mitch Linker-America
8. Frankel-Chatterbox
9. The Vandalays-Happy Ever After
10. The Doll Test-Gasoline & Banks

Coming very soon: My favorite tracks of 2006, and right around the first of the year, my early line on the best of 2007 from discs just released in the last couple weeks of December and some early 2007 advances.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Absolute Powerpop Top 100 of 2006.

UPDATE: Now fully annotated.

Here it is - hyped for weeks, finally here just in time to print out and hang on the Christmas tree. Or something like that. First, a few housekeeping notes. For the most part, I was true to the year of release. However, I made some arbitrary rules about a few 2005 releases. For reasons explained earlier, Andrew LeDrew's Ladies Lookout is on this list because its original fall 2005 release was limited to a select few in Canada. On the other hand, I am not ranking Pop Is Art's Epiphany (even though I did before) or Millicent Friendly's Downtime, even though they're both popping up on a lot of 2006 lists despite a 2005 release date. Also Roger Joseph Manning Jr's The Land of Pure Imagination is actually a re-release of 2005's Solid State Warrior with a slightly different track listing, so that's out too. (For those curious, all three would have probably placed in the 30s).

I also have deferred some "2006" releases to 2007, most notably the new Ed James, which I have but haven't listened to yet and just came out in the last week or two; the new Cloud Eleven (which I don't have yet - hint, hint Ray Thank you Ray); and Buva's All That Humming, which I did feature a few weeks ago - although it's available from CD Baby at the moment, it has a nominal 2007 release date and the artist himself seemed somewhat surprised it was already up for sale.

Also, EPs are not included (there will be a separate post in the next few days), nor are reissues, compilations, soundtracks, etc. Finally, there were a couple of fine releases that quality-wise are as good as many if not most of the top 100, but which were relegated to "honorable mention": Doug Powell's Four Seasons and Michael Carpenter's SOOP #2. The former because it was a type of b-sides/rarities comp, and the latter because it was a disc of covers. Again, both were fine discs, but I didn't feel right ranking them among the new discs of original material.

So with all of my quirky criteria out of the way, here's the list:

1. Bob Evans-Suburban Songbook
2. Supraluxe-Supraluxe
3. Andrew LeDrew-Ladies Lookout
4. LEO-Alpacas Orgling
5. The Format-Dog Problems
6. The Goldbergs-Hooks, Lines & Sinkers
7. Rhett Miller-The Believer
8. Chris Brown-Now That You're Fed
9. Copperdown-Something True
10. David William-One Way Ticket
11. Gregg Swann-Everybody's Got to Be Somewhere
12. The World Record-Guitars Forever
13. Geoff Smith & The Tonewheels-S/T
14. Cheap Trick-Rockford
15. The Damnwells-Air Stereo
16. Jeff Larson-Swimming In The Make Believe
17. Lolas-Doctor Apache
18. Edmund's Crown-Regrets of a Company Man
19. Monkeeman-Monkeeman
20. Fresh Mowed Lawn-Fresh Mowed Lawn
21. Red Guitar-Beauty Will Save The World
22. The Hazey Janes-Hotel Radio
23. The Nines-Calling Distance Stations
24. Travis Hopper-All The Lights In The City Tonight
25. Justin Levinson-1175 Boylston
26. Third Floor Story-Songs From The City
27. Phil Ayoub-Schoolbus Window Paper Heart
28. Bryan Estepa-All The Bells and Whistles
29. Orson-Bright Idea
30. The Junior League-Catchy
31. The Champagne Francis-I Start to Daydream
32. The Rewinds-The Rewinds
33. Gary Henson-The Coast Is Clear
34. Warren Zanes-People That I'm Wrong For
35. Willie Nile-Streets of New York
36. The Vestals-Songs About Girls...and Other Mysteries
37. The Mains-The Higher You Get
38. Chris Murphy-Elbow Room
39. Waterloo-Out of the Woods
40. David Mead-Tangerine
41. The Fags-Light Em Up
42. Magneto-Resistance Is Futile
43. Shane Nicholson-Faith and Science
44. The Slides-The View From Here
45. The Mellowmen-Tomorrow's Sound Today
46. The Green & Yellow TV-Sinister Barrier
47. Pernice Brothers-Live a Little
48. Chris LeDrew-Stronger Man
49. The Skies of America-Shine
50. Silver Sun-Dad's Weird Dream
51. The Yayhoos-Put The Hammer Down
52. Fran King-Beautification
53. Scissor Sisters-Ta Dah
54. Rob Laufer-The Iron Age
55. Daniel Wylie-The High Cost of Happiness
56. The Feeling-Twelve Stops and Home
57. The Minus 5-The Gun Album
58. Barnacle Bill-Towards The Pebbled Shore
59. Mike Elgert-Days Gone By
60. Dave Stephens-Stories For Copper
61. Evan Hillhouse-S/T
62. Portastatic-Be Still Please
63. Grapeland-Reality Show
64. The Sails-S/T
65. Starter-Through The Morning Sky
66. Ben Kweller-S/T
67. Sean Lennon-Friendly Fire
68. The Winnerys-Daily Urban Times
69. Partly Dave-Own Up
70. Central Services-S/T
71. Dave Stoops-Spill Your Drink
72. Linus of Hollywood-Triangle
73. Brian Fennell (Barcelona)-Safety Songs
74. The Virtues-Where Were You
75. Feel-Steps to Reach a Human
76. Brindley Bros-Filled With Fire
77. Greg Hoy-Tastemakers & Heartbreakers
78. Chris Staig-Davenport
79. Jon Auer-Songs From The Year of Our Demise
80. Paper Airplane Pilots-Western Automatic Music
81. Skytone-Echoes In All Directions
82. Kevin Lee-Flip The Switch
83. Jay Bennett-The Magnificent Defeat
84. Tide-S/T
85. Mark McAdam-Cavalcade
86. Albert Hammond Jr-Yours to Keep
87. The AV Club-S/T
88. Anders Parker-S/T
89. Tommy Keene-Crashing The Ether
90. Patty Hurst Shifter-Too Crowded on the Losing End
91. Tim O'Reagan-S/T
92. Corin Ashley-Songs From The Brill Bedroom
93. Don DiLego-Photographs of 1971
94. Carey Ott-Lucid Dream
95. Archer Avenue-We Watched The Headlights
96. The Foster-Walker Complex-S/T
97. Blue Cartoon-September Songs
98. Saul Zonana-Love Over Money
99. Minibar-Desert After Rain
100. The Luxury Liners-Nonetheless

Honorable Mention:

Sloan-Never Hear The End of It
Paul Schneider-Escape Velocity
The Ladies & Gentlemen-S/T
Tommi Zender-Will Work For Harmony
Gin Blossoms-Major Lodge Victory
The Speeds-Sing It Loud
Doug Powell-Four Seasons
Michael Carpenter-SOOP #2
Yesen Damen-The Never-Beginning Story
Mike Barnett-Nowhere Tennessee
Tom Taylor-Dear Diary

UPDATE: The iron law of making lists like these is that almost immediately you remember that you left something off. Right now, there are two discs (watch this space for more) which I omitted that either deserved to be in the 80-100 range or at least honorable mention:

Nigel Clark-21st Century Man
My So-Called Friend-S/T

In honor of these omissions, here's a clip (sorry, couldn't find a full-length mp3) of "Omission" by Mark DeCerbo & Four Eyes from their fine 2005 release, Sweet On The Vine:

Omission (clip)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Absolute Powerpop Readers' Top 10 of 2006.

First of all, thanks to all of you who have expressed their condolences over the passing of my father. It was great to hear from all of you, and we're all doing as well as could be under the circumstances.

Now, on to the reader poll. I received about a dozen lists, and those that didn't order them I gave 5.5 points to each disc listed (which is 10+9+8 etc divided by 10). Here's the tally (first place votes in parentheses):

1. LEO, Alpacas Orgling 39.5 (1)
2. The Format, Dog Problems 38
3. Bob Evans, Suburban Songbook 18 (1)
4. Roger Joseph Manning Jr., The Land of Pure Imagination 17 (1)
5. Johan, Thx John 15
6. The Skies of America, Shine 12.5
7. Ben Kweller, S/T 11 (1)
8. The Oohs, Llamalamp 10 (1)
tie Cheap Trick, Rockford 10 (1)
tie The Weepies, Say I Am You 10 (1)

A pretty clear cut top two, even given the relative small sample size. The Format appeared on the most ballots, but amazingly didn't get a single #1 vote. Both will be in my top 10, and the top 100 list is still on (probably to be posted next week). In the interim, I will likely post my favorite 20 songs of the year, although I won't be ranking them within the list.

Saturday, December 16, 2006


I felt I owe it to all of my readers as to what's going on with the lack of recent posting and all.

Since my last post a week ago Friday, my father went into the hospital, and on Thursday morning, he passed away peacefully at the age of 75. He was a kind, wonderful, caring and giving man, and successful in two careers (except in between the two when a certain 13-year-old son helped push him into opening an ill-fated record store).

I still plan on doing the top 100 year-end list, and the reader top 10 (thank you for all the responses so far) which will stay open until I actually make the post, so if you haven't submitted a list, there's still time. I probably won't be doing any "formal" reviews until after the first of the year, so for those artists who have submitted discs, I will be getting around to them in time. If something new and notable occurs that I can dispose of with a short post, I still may do that. For example, Kool Kat has just released new discs from Cloud Eleven and Ed James, which I recommend looking into.

In the meantime, thank you all for your readership and patience.

Friday, December 08, 2006

I Want You!

I want you, readers, to send me a list of your top 10 power pop (and I define that term quite elastically as you likely know, so you can as well) discs of 2006. Email me at the link over on the right of the page by December 18 (that's 10 days from now), and after all the lists are in, I'll compile the votes on a 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 points basis. You're also free to leave your top 10 in the comments to this post. I'll accept EPs, and stuff that came out in late 2005 (or things that were buried in 2005 before seeing the light this year, like Andrew LeDrew's Ladies Lookout). But no Sufjan Stevens, please.

NAIRBATLTWA 2: Power Pop Boogaloo.

Yes, the last NAIRBATLTWA went so well that I'm doing another one. Here goes:

The Skies of America-Shine. This is great crunchy power pop from Rob Bonfiglio's (Wanderlust) new band. I've heard the Velvet Crush and Matthew Sweet comparisons thrown around, but what keeps coming to mind when I hear this disc is Collective Soul when they were on top of their game (It almost seems too coincidental the disc is titled "Shine"). Plus, there's a cover of "Come and Get It". Come and get it at Not Lame, where you can stream the whole disc. The bonus offer may be over, but it's still worth buying.

The Offramps-Hate It When You're Right. This band is out of Michigan but sounds like more Minneapolis, as in The Replacements circa 1986. And the price is circa 1986 as well, as this disc is going for a mere $7 at CD Baby. You can download three tracks (plus a Cheap Trick cover) at their website, and/or stream my favorite song from the disc, "Hallmark Holiday", at their myspace page.

Central Services-Central Services. I'm probably giving these Seattleites short shrift here by not making them CD of the Day, so make sure you check them out. They have a Posies/Teenage Fanclub sound, and the acoustic ballad "Fun (While It Lasted)" makes me think they summoned Elliott Smith's spirit via Ouija board. Letting it play while I type here makes me think it'll make my top 100 list easily. Head on over to myspace, where you can download three tracks, or over to their site, where several other of the tunes are streaming. Or you can stream and/or buy at CD Baby.

The Morning Stars-You Can't Change The World. 80s and 90s Britpop directly from Hamilton, Ontario. Don't let my brevity on this disc fool you - they have the tunes (especially "Wrong"). CD Baby | MySpace

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Broken West (f/k/a The Brokedown) news.

Since I already revisited Joe Kennedy earlier today, why not check in another band I featured earlier in the year? So here's some news about a band many of you may know as The Brokedown, who were forced to change their name to The Broken West. In case you were wondering why, here's what the band had to say:
Perhaps you have noticed something a little bit different about our profile. We are no longer called the Brokedown. We are now The Broken West. This will take some getting used to. Here's the story, in an attempt to head off future explanations: The Brokedowns threatened to sue us if we didn't change our name. We're a real band, with a real record coming out, so we don't have a lot of time for frivolous lawsuits with wayward Nazi-youth punk bands. So we changed it. We hope you all can adjust, as we have (kind of).
Anyway, the big news with The Broken West is that they're about to put out a full-length disc through Merge Records, titled I Can't Go On, I'll Go On, which is due out January 23.

They have three tracks from the album on their myspace page, although one of them ("Down In The Valley") was on their great 2005 EP, The Dutchman's Gold. For more on that EP, and a couple of still-working mp3 links, head to my original post from March right here. In case you don't want to click through, here's what I had to say about them back then: "Although a lot of bands have both power pop and alt-country influences, they managed to create a fairly unique sound of their own that draws from the best of both. They cite Big Star, ELO, The Byrds, Rolling Stones, Wilco, Flying Burrito Bros. as influences, with good reason."

mp3 of the Day: Joe Kennedy-Slow Down

About nine months ago, I featured Joe Kennedy's Van Cortlandt Park as the CD of the Day, and mentioned that he had recorded a couple of new songs. One of them was "Slow Down", which has become one of my absolute favorite songs of the year. Back then, it was only available to stream, but now it can be downloaded, so here it is:

Slow Down


Wednesday, December 06, 2006


The acronym above stands for New Albums I Recommend But Am Too Lazy To Write About. So I'll list 'em here with a brief comment and then urge you to check out the links.

Paul Schneider-Forever Debts. It's not often that I make a power pop discovery through Pitchfork, but they did turn me on to this NYC artist who reminds me a lot of Tommy Keene. Sample at CD Baby (although it's temporarily out of stock). It's also available at iTunes. His previous disc, Escape Velocity, is available from eMusic. MySpace.

Ryan Lindsey-White Paper Beds
. Lindsey is a touring member of the Starlight Mints, and his solo disc is high quality indie pop. CD Baby | MySpace

Portastatic-Be Still Please. Speaking of indie pop, here's an oustanding disc from the side project of Mac McCaughan (Superchunk, co-founder of Merge Records). "I'm In Love (With Arthur Dove)" and "You Blanks" are two great tunes that will be on a "best songs of 2006" list that I'm toying with producing. It's on eMusic, which is also the best place to sample, although you can hear a few full tracks on MySpace.

Minibar-Desert After Rain. This UK band by way of Santa Monica specializes in a pop americana sound in the vein of The Wallflowers, Del Amitri, Jayhawks, Gin Blossoms etc., and they put out a couple of major label discs earlier in the decade (perhaps you remember the minor hit "Holiday From Myself" - a great track, seek it out) before going it on their own. The new one is outstanding, and can be found on CD Baby. It isn't on eMusic, but is on iTunes. Also make sure you check out their myspace page: in addition to a couple of tracks from the new one, you can also stream their cover of one of Ryan Adams' greatest unreleased tracks (while with Whiskeytown) called "Choked Up".

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

CD of the Day, 12/5/06: The Fags-Light 'em Up

Well, here it is: the POWER pop record that many of you have clamoring for. Detroit's The Fags have melded power pop in the Cheap Trick vein along with glam rock a la T Rex to come up with one of the best combinations of heavy rocking and melody to come down the pike this year. Aside from Cheap Trick and T Rex, you can hear traces of everything from The Raspberries to TSAR's first album.

No rocking album is complete without a killer opening track, and The Fags oblige here with "Tonite" (as in "t-t-tonite"); "Truly, Truly" follows, a melodic gem with a more modern feel to it; "Here's Looking at You" slows things down ever so slightly but still rocks; Cheap Trick is written all over this one, and frontman John Speck sounds like a raspier Robin Zander here, but not moreso than on "Greatest Movie Ending", which sounds right off of In Color. And the first single from the disc, "Rockstar", is a killer tune that Oasis, Jet and The Vines wished they could have come up with to salvage their latest releases. Here's the mp3:


The disc has good distribution through Idol Records, meaning you can find it on Amazon (the best place to sample all the tracks) and all the other big etailers (or if you live near a hip enough store, probably there too). Or you can add it to your next Kool Kat or Not Lame order.

Friday, December 01, 2006

EP of the Day: Codaphonic-Good Morning Radio.

This trio from Nashville has come up with a contender for EP of the Year. Good Morning Radio is Codaphonic's debut, but its craft and self-assurance could easily fool the listener into thinking they've been around for 10 years.

The title track starts off things, and it's a great tune that doesn't outstay its welcome at nearly five minutes. The "ooh las" in the chorus and backing the verses, along with frontman Cody Newman's "do do do do" singalong about 3 1/2 minutes in, make it a transcendent pop song. One of the artists the band name-drops in its promotional material is Harry Nilsson, and while "Hollawalla Omacalla Wee" doesn't sound precisely like a Nilsson track, it embodies his goofy spirit in the service of a great pop tune. "Can We Talk?" is a punchy rocker; "Hearts Will Roll" has a title worthy of Westerbergian wordplay and a driving, herky-jerky rhythm; "Don't Be Surprised" is a Tories-inspired power pop gem, and the closing "Ritalin", with its piano-and-horns backing and satirical lyrics, will make Ben Folds insanely jealous the moment he hears it for the first time.

Here are a couple of mp3s to grab:

Good Morning Radio

The EP just became available in the last few days on CD Baby for a reasonable $7, and if you'd rather stream than download, the two tracks above plus "Can We Talk?" are on their myspace page.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

CD of the Day, 11/28/06: Buva-All This Humming

Buva is LA's Tom Wolfe, and All This Humming, his full-length debut, is a keeper. His 2003 EP Daydream created a bit of a splash, and All This Humming lives up to the promise of the EP.

This is high-quality softer (not quite soft) pop, and Wolfe's vocals sound like a cross between Matthew Sweet and Eric Matthews. Sonically, the music's in there as well, similar most to Sweet's balladry with some (much) lighter orchestral touches than Matthews. The first five tracks, in fact, comprise the best collection of this sort of pop that you'll hear all year, with "Heart Don't Say" and "Rolling By" particular standouts. Those five are followed by the bright jangle of the uptempo "Something That I Need to Hear", which hints at what the album might have sounded had Wolfe decided to go with power in his pop (as he did a bit more on the EP), and "Look Ahead" while have others wondering about all that humming coming from you when you sing along to its irresistible "ba-da-ba" chorus.

Despite a release date of February 6, 2007 being trumpeted on the CD Baby page and his myspace page, you can buy the disc now at the Baby, and catch a few tracks at both myspace and his site.

New eMusic.

The new Figgs disc, Follow Jean Through The Sea, bows on eMu today - these guys have rocked us for years, and the new one is no exception.

Also, we featured Voxtrot a while back, and another of their EPs, Mothers, Sisters, Daughters & Wives is now available.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just want to wish all my readers a Happy Thanksgiving Day (whether or not you reside in the USA), and want to give thanks for the following (aside from my lovely wife and three wonderful boys):

* All of my readers. With so many sites out there, I appreciate all of you who take the time to visit Absolute Powerpop and who inspire me to continue to post.

* The artists. 99% of the discs I feature on here are from independent artists, many of whom have day jobs and who are releasing music for the love of it, and not under any illusions of fame and fortune. I thank you all for the blood, sweat and tears that go into making your discs and for the hours of listening pleasure that I (and hopefully most of my readers out there) have received.

* Bruce at Not Lame and Ray at Kool Kat. Without these guys, power pop on the internet as we know it doesn't exist, and the work they do to bring us artists and their music that we'd never know about otherwise can't be recognized enough.

* David Bash and International Pop Overthrow. These shows speak for themselves. Although I haven't been able to attend (it's tough to drop the kids, my business and everything else to jet across the country; how about an IPO Tampa someday?), anyone who can get the kind of power pop lineups together for these shows deserves our thanks.

* And to everyone else out there spreading the power pop gospel.

Happy Thanksgiving!

More power pop bloggery.

A gent named Kevin runs two fine power pop sites that have actually been around for a while. Many of you may know Power of Pop, a fine web site with power pop reviews and related stories; by some oversight, I never linked to it over on the right. That oversight has been remedied. What I did not know was that he had a separate power pop blog, with the same title. There's some good stuff there, "blurb-o-ramas" noting recent power pop releases, and some interesting interviews (Doug Powell, The Scallions, among others of recent vintage). And kudos to Kevin for pinpointing the true reference/influence of Chris Brown (of Now That You're Fed power pop fame, not the rapper Chris Brown) as Lindsey Buckingham.

New Blue Cartoon!

Not Lame has all the details, including a stream of the full album. If you know Blue Cartoon, you know this is exciting; if you don't, you should.

CD of the Day, 11/22/06: The Alice Rose-Phonographic Memory

The Alice Rose is a band from Austin, Texas, whose lead singer/main songwriter is a dude named JoDee Purkeypile. For those old enough to remember the Smuckers commercials, all I can say is that with a band led by a guy named JoDee Purkeypile, you know they have to be good. The operative style here is melodic pop with a touch of an "indie" sound, and they should have broad appeal to both the indie and pop crowds. Influences to the sound range from Jon Brion to Squeeze to The Beatles to 80s British pop.

Among the highlights: "Light Up" is an atmospheric rocker with a graceful melody; "Save Me" has a Lennonesque feel, almost as if "Hey Bulldog" was slowed down a notch or two; "Lamplight" is oustanding power pop; "Ocean" has an anthemic Coldplay-like sound; "All Over Your Body" is absolutely Beatlesque; and "West" falls into the Jon Brion/Michael Penn camp.

If you want to check them out, they can be found at the usual suspects: MySpace and CD Baby. Would an Alice Rose by any other name sound as sweet? Find out for yourself.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

CD of the Day, 11/21/06: The Goldbergs-Hooks, Lines & Sinkers

Wow. Let me say that again: Wow. This one came out of nowhere. I noticed it last week on Kool Kat's weekly new release email, and it sounded intriguing. Before I could get around to sampling it and checking it out, Andy Goldberg sent me an email offering up a promo copy. I said bring it on, and after listening to it today, my jaw dropped at how good it is. This is perhaps the most fully realized power pop debut since Eugene Edwards' My Favorite Revolution a couple of years ago.

Although nominally a band, it's pretty much all Andy Goldberg here, and the comparisons that leap to mind are several: Marshall Crenshaw, Michael Carpenter, Walter Clevenger, the aforementioned Mr. Edwards, and to head back to the 70s, Badfinger and Nick Lowe. Normally at this point of the review I tout the top tracks on the disc, but I really can't do that here as all ten are nearly equally outstanding. So head on over to The Goldbergs' myspace page, where you can download and/or stream three tracks. Then pop on over to either Kool Kat (where they also reacted with "Wow!") or CD Baby (where as always you can sample the rest) and pick it up. Although I want to listen a few (dozen) more times before ranking it, all I can say right now is that Bob Evans and Supraluxe need to be looking over their shoulders.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Big Bob Evans news!

That's big news about Bob Evans, not news about someone named Big Bob Evans.

Anyway, Suburban Songbook, the #1 disc of 2006 to date here at Absolute Powerpop, is finally available worldwide, albeit through iTunes. There's no album discount, meaning that the 12-song disc is $11.88. It's still worth every penny (and then some). For those without an iPod, you can still get the disc by downloading iTunes and buying it through the iTunes music store. You can then copy the 12 tracks to a playlist and burn a cd from it. This also gives you the option to rip the burned CD to straight mp3s if you're using a non-iPod mp3 player.

So while it may take a wee bit of effort from the non-iPodders out there, I don't want to hear any more complaining about selecting a #1 disc that was only available in Australia.

New at eMusic.

A few items of interest were added today:

* Sunflower, a 2-song "EP" from The Meadows. Their self-titled debut was featured on this site. I haven't listened yet, but it appears that "This Is a Call" is a Foo Fighters cover.

* A reissue (or digital reissue) of the Gigolo Aunts' first album, Flippin' Out. These guys, who have been around for what seems forever, have finally called it quits and have recently released a compilation of covers, b-sides etc (including an interesting "hidden" track acoustic cover of "Cum On Feel The Noize") called The Pride of Potsdam, available at Kool Kat.

* Nigel Clark's 21st Century Man. Clark used to be the frontman for 90's Britpoppers Dodgy, and his solo debut here is quality singer-songwriter pop somewhere in between Neil Finn and Brian Wilson.

As always, even non eMusic subs can listen to the samples at these pages.

CD of the Day, 11/20/06: Pat Buchanan-St. George

This one's been out since last December, and with its late-in-the-year release, I probably gave it short shrift for my year-end list. So I'll do my best to remedy overlooking it by giving it a plug today. Buchanan isn't a true power popper, but he isn't a completely wimpy soft popper either; he's simply just a great pop craftsman.

St. George is his second solo release (he was once in The Idle Jets), and it kicks off with the gorgeous ballad "Sweet Amnesia", which you won't be forgetting. For me, the highlight of the disc comes in the middle with two great mid-tempo rockers, "Halo" and "We'll Talk". "The Same Tree" is another gem as well.

Get the disc at Not Lame, sample it at CD Baby.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

CD of the Day, 11/19/06: Grapeland-Reality Show

Grapeland are a two-piece from Sweden who bill their sound as "Swedish Americana", and their own comparisons of their music to Tom Petty and REM are pretty much in the ballpark. I would put them in the "roots pop" category as well, but however you want to classify them, the key element here is that they have the tunes.

The title track starts off the proceedings, and it's a great americanarocker. "Pretty Ones" follows with a bit of a "Queen of Hearts" melody to it, "Phobic Phil" sounds like it could have come from a Warren Zevon album, and "Bric-a-Brac", my favorite on the album, reminds me of Walter Clevenger crossed with REM.

The album can be bought and sampled at CD Baby, while four of the tracks can be streamed (or downloaded) from their myspace page, including "Reality Show" and "Pretty Ones". If roots rock/pop is your bag, add Grapeland to your cart.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

New LeDrew!

Just got this email from Not Lame:


Over the summer you picked up either(or both) the Brothers In Stereo or Andrew Ledrew's "Ladies Lookout" from Not Lame. Brothers In Stereo is two brothers w/ the last name 'Ledrew" and now Chris has just released his first solo record in Canada and we wanted to let you know about it.

Here's the info:

Chris Ledrew - Stronger Man
Price: $15

2006 solo album from one half of the awesome Canadian jangle-duo Brothers In Stereo, whose album on this site is a `must-hear` without question. Chris and Andrew LeDrew each have their own solo albums(Andrew`s is "Ladies Lookout") and here Chris asserts a confident step into his own brand of jangled up pop, but "Stronger Man" has a more rootsy, un-dappled strain of Laurel Canyon roots-pop. Fans of Michael Carpenter, take note, as well as Tom Petty and Lloyd Cole. The sound of dusty, alt-ish country tinged pop highlighted by gorgeous harmonies, one moment sparse and understated, the next building to a triumphant roar of churning drums and jangled-up guitar. LeDrew blends soothing melodic lines with layers of acoustic and electric guitars strummed urgently, heartfelt lyrics, the just-right-amount of jangle in the guitar and the instinct to know when it might be getting a little too laid

back to kick into a slightly more rocking gear. A refreshing dose of intelligent rock music that does not sound like anything particular but, at the same time, warmly familiar. Very nice cover of Gerry Raferty`s "Right Down The Line". Extremely Highly Recommended!
Regular readers of this site will know that I've become a big fan of the LeDrew brothers, with Andrew's Ladies Lookout my #3 disc of the year so far.

Four tracks from Stronger Man are available for download on his myspace page, and the rest can be sample at CD Baby. On first listen, it sounds like another winner.

You can read about Chris's hard-to-find first solo disc here.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Today would be a good day... get an eMusic subscription. They added a massive number of CD Baby titles today that include many great discs that have been featured on this site in the past several months. (By the way, eMu is cutting the # of monthly downloads on each of its price plans in one week, but there's still time to lock in yearly subscriptions at the original plan rates, which can come to about 18 cents a track. The list in this post alone can keep you going for several months on the 40-download plan!)

First off, though, they added the new Saul Zonana disc, Love Over Money. As Bruce at Not Lame puts it, "Filled w/ the splendorous guitar, high energy hooks and expressive vocals found, the music falls into the schooling of such artists like Matthew Sweet, Rick Altizer, Michael Penn, Candy Butchers, Doug Powell , the Dotted Line and Greenberry Woods. It`s the type of power pop that would be right at home on most FM rock-oriented radio stations if radio played decent music."

And here are the rest:

Dave Stoops-Spill Your Drink. Bruce again: "Man, this album is so friggin` cool! Dave Stoops merges the a most interesting web of connection of cool, varied pop stylings with a most distinctive vocal style that evokes primo cool. Stoops sounds a lot like Karl Wallinger of World Party(and like Chris Bailey from The Saints), a very good thing and, in fact, much of the material sounds like the long, lost World Party album that fans have been waiting for the last 15 years or so."

Gary Henson-The Coast Is Clear
. One of the very first discs we spotlighted on the site, and you can read all about it here. #27 on our current top 33 1/3 of 2006.

Kit Ashton-Blindsided EP. My favorite EP of 2006 to date. Here's my full take.

Mike Schmid-The High Cost of Living (A Love Story). Featured this one back in May as part of a singer-songwriter series.

Parallax Project-Perpetual Limbo. I don't think I mentioned this one on the site, but many power poppers will remember this one that came out almost a year ago to the date. Just missed my best of 2005 lists, and here's Bruce yet again: "But you`ll hear echoes, vague, happy reminders of not only Cherry Twister(naturally) but The Nines, Redd Kross, Splitsville, Raspberries, Shoes and early 70`s AM Radio summer hits(think Gallery, First Class and Gilbert O` Sullivan, for those in the know)."

Patrik Tanner-Soft. I briefly blurbed this one earlier, and to save a link, here's what I wrote: "This is a 2004 release I picked up early last year, and it's a good one. With an album titled "Soft", you're kind of know what you're getting. And Tanner delivers the goods - this is quality singer/songwriter pop. My favorite track is the Beatlesque "Hello Tomorrow", complete with chimes at the end."

Rick Altizer-Blue Plate Special. If you don't know Rick Altizer, start Googling and find out. I think we featured his Dum Dog Run project, but his solo stuff is compelling as well. This one from a few years back is a good a place to start as any.

Sheboygan-S/T EP. Great 4-song EP, check 'em out at their myspace page.

Stingray Green-Hard Numbers. Stingrays may be getting a bad rap these days, but these veteran Minneapolis power popppers put out a fine album that I overlooked earlier this year.

The Everyday Things-Lighten Up, Francis. From it's adoption of a classic line from Stripes to the fact it was produced by Jamie Hoover and released on Not Lame's own label, you can't beat this batch of punchy power pop in the vein of The Figgs, The Romantics and The Plimsouls.

The High Score-We Showed Up to Leave. As Splendidzine put it, "They`ve got Superdrag`s keen sense of melody, Sugar`s propensity for lacing pop songs with blistering riffs and a GBV-ish sort of ragtag charm".

The Humbugs-Twist The Truth. Bruce sez: "The Humbugs sound a lot like Tommy Keene playing with REM, Swan Dive and the poppy side of The Kennedys, a unique sound. There`s hints of Prefab Sprout, Crowded House, Aimee Mann, more modern day Pretenders and Trashcan Sinatras, as well."

The Slides-The View From Here. I really like this album a lot, and it's testimony to all the good music coming out this year that it's not on my top 33 1/3 list (but look for it on my special superduper year-end top 100 come the holidays).

Third Floor Story-Lonely City
. I like this one even more, and it's #26 on the latest top 33 1/3. Great, great disc.

Wiretree-S/T EP. This was one of the great EPs of 2005, and a must-have. I elaborate about it here. Still waiting eagerly for the full-length.

So for any of you who have eMusic out there, bookmark this post in case you still have some leftover downloads at the end of the month, and for those who don't, it's still your most cost-effective way to legally get all this great power pop.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

CD of the Day, 11/13/06: My So-Called Friend - My So-Called Friend

Boston and its surrounding areas have been a haven lately for high-energy power pop, and it's kind of fitting we salute a Boston band today with IPO Boston in full swing at the moment. In the same vein as bands like The Cautions, Waltham, and with an element of the great Boston pop band of them all (The Cars) in their sound, My So-Called Friend is worth your acquaintance if this type of power pop is up your alley.

Their self-titled debut also has the "modern rock" sound of Weezer and perhaps a crunchier Click Five. Listen for yourself at their myspace page, or at CD Baby. What impresses me about the band is that they can do more than rock - midtempo tracks like "San Diego" and "House Arrest" are highlights, and closer "The Beating of Our Hearts" is a power ballad par excellence.

The disc is also available directly from the band for a couple of bucks cheaper than CD Baby.

Another power pop blog.

I'm pleased to report to emergence of another power pop blog. Mike, who's one of our readers, has started Powerpopulist, and I urge all of you to check it out. He has lots of mp3 links, and has been posting frequently (a lot more frequently than yours truly lately).

Sunday, November 05, 2006

CD of the Day, 11/5/06: Paper or Plastic-Best of Luck to Cody James

Paper or Plastic is a piano-based power pop band out of Portland, Oregon, and they've been doing this for a few years. Their latest is Best of Luck to Cody James and it might be their best yet. Sonically, they're somewhere between Ben Folds and Elvis Costello (they covered "Blame It On Cain" on their debut disc), or perhaps what it would sound like if Steve Nieve were the front man and Elvis C were one of the Attractions.

In any event, the songs are all killer, no filler on this seven-track release. The leadoff track is piano power pop perfection with "West Virginia" (as in "you have an unescapable dependence on"); "My Reputation is Better Than Yours" wears its attitude on its sleeve; "Neckties" rocks to a great melody; "Gay Bar" ("let me take you to a") is good fun and has a 70s vibe, not that there's anything wrong with that; "Street Lights" is a midtempo marvel; "I'm Not a Bastard" is right out of the Ben Folds Wiseass playbook; and closer "For The Money" reminds me a bit of Orson.

Grab an mp3:

West Virginia

"West Virginia", "Gay Bar", "Neckties" and "Street Lights" are all streaming at their myspace page, and the rest can be sampled at CD Baby. It's also available at iTunes, which is a cheaper way to get it, especially if you grab the "West Virginia" mp3 and/or take them up on their free download offer on their myspace page.

And who is Cody James? Google says he's this guy, but for we all know it could be some local childhood friend of the band or a name they just liked the sound of. Anyone from Paper or Plastic (or who otherwise knows) can feel free to enlighten us in the comments.

UPDATE: See the band's cryptic response in the comments.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

New and notable at eMusic.

Some interesting additions today.

AM-Troubled Times. This is a re-release of the self-titled debut from AM, which was featured on Not Lame a few weeks back. It's pretty good singer-songwriter stuff, and reminds me quite a bit of Gus Black (who was once known as simply "Gus", whose 2000 album Word of Mouth Parade I highly recommend and which is available for 1 cent - plus shipping - in the Amazon marketplace).

The Blue Van-Dear Independence. These guys have been compared to a modern-day Kinks, and the comparison isn't half-wrong. Mark at The Rock and Roll Report raves about it.

Jason Collett-Idols of Exile. One of the better releases of 2005 that was finally released in the US earlier this year. I've discussed it earlier on this site, and all I can say is that if you have eMu and don't have this one yet, don't waste any more time here reading about it, get it!

It's also fast approaching that time of the year again - new Christmas releases from Aimee Mann and Epic Hero can be found on eMu as well.

CD/Video of the Day: Starter

Starter are a band from Madrid who recently released the fine disc "Through The Morning Sky". They have a real good Big-Star-by-way-of-Teenage-Fanclub sound to them, and the disc can be purchased here. You can gather up some mp3s from them:

Five Words
Clear Light
All Right

And you can stream those tracks instead plus one more at their myspace page. Here's a video for "Clear Light":

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

CD of the Day, 10/31/06: Champagne Francis-I Start to Daydream

From the first hooky chorus of "Old Vampires", the leadoff track from Champagne Francis' sophomore release I Start to Daydream, you know you're in for power pop goodness, and the rest of it doesn't disappoint. CF are from New York City, but they sound like they hail from somewhere more sunny like California or Georgia, as they have kind of a west coast pop meets Athens, GA jangle feel. Although neither are from California or Georgia, the closest analog I hear is a combination of The Merrymakers and The Connells.

The first five tracks on this disc are as good as any you'll hear this year, capped off by the rocking "Burned to the Ground". The rest aren't exactly chopped liver either, especially "High Comedy" and the jangly "Walter". Listen at myspace here, sample more tracks at CD Baby, and buy it at Not Lame. You'll definitely get a kick from this Champagne.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Damnwells are Damn Good.

I'm not going to write a full-blown review here, but I just want to point out The Damnwells' latest disc, Air Stereo, is really, really good. Damn good, I would say. Allmusic's review of the disc describes their sound as "somewhere between alternative country and alternative rock", and it's an apt description. The songs on this disc, which has grown on me over the last few weeks on random iPod play, are almost uniformly melodic, and I'd say they'd appeal greatly to fans of Del Amitri, Guster and The Gin Blossoms.

Since it's on a well-distributed (if not major) label, the disc can be found pretty cheaply used ($5-$6) on the Amazon marketplace. Four tracks from the disc are streaming at their myspace page. They're on tour right now with The Fray, so check em out when they come to town.

CD of the Day: 10/20/06: Lolas-Doctor Apache

Yes, boys and girls, the new Lolas disc is out, and Tim Boykin & Co. are back with another instant classic power pop album. When I saw the disc appear on CD Baby recently, I clicked on "add to cart" without even listening to the samples, so confident I am in this band to deliver the goods, and they didn't let me down.

Things start off with near-perfect jangle and harmonies of "Eye Eye". I should be comparing other bands to the Lolas than vice-versa, but this track might be the best Teenage Fanclub track they'll never record. "The Laurie Song" sounds like it could have come right off Revolver; "Me and Barbara Stanwyck" hails from Tories/Jellyfish territory (and I love its Disco Tex & The Sex-O-Lettes name drop); "Staying Inside" is 2:46 of textbook power pop; "The Selfish Song" effectively adds some new wave synths to the mix, and while "Nobodeh" may serve as the obligatory ballad, it's a damn good one. The disc closes as it begins, with the title track another perfect jangler, although a bit slower and contemplative in the Dylan/McGuinn mode.

The only place I'm seeing this disc for sale now is at CD Baby, although the Not Lames and Kool Kats of the world will surely have it soon. Sample it there as well (if you're not quite ready to buy on spec like I was), and you can stream "Eye Eye", "Barbara Stanwyck" and "Staying Inside" at their (somewhat hard-to-find) myspace page. Expect to see this fairly high on my next update of the top 33 1/3 of the year (which might just be my year-end top 100 since we're late into October).

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Alpacas are Orgling on eMusic.

The LEO disc, which hits the street today, is also on eMusic as of this morning, along with an extra bonus track ("Money & Music").

Monday, October 16, 2006

Monday roundup.

We'll start the work week off with a handful of discs that are worth checking out:

The Lava Province-Strangeway. The Lava Province is actually SoCal's Laurens Vernot; the assumed name is probably a good idea, since the actual one sounds like a wine ("Yes, I'll have a bottle of your Laurens Vernot"). But perhaps it's appropriate, as his debut disc Strangeway will warm the palate of any power pop connoisseur, as it contains some vintage-sounding rock and pop tunes. It's not purely power pop, but it's not purely rock either. Standouts include the title track, "Back Here Again", "Let It Go On" and "Can't Keep Me Away". CD Baby | MySpace

The Atlantics-The Atlantics. The other day, we told you about The Ladies & Gentlemen, and about how they skillfully recreated the late 70s new wave/power pop sound. Well, here's the genuine article in the form of The Atlantics, who rocked the Boston area from 1976-1983. This disc is a collection of 13 tracks they committed to tape at the time, which finally get a proper CD release. It's high-quality material, and a great lost treasure. CD Baby | Not Lame | MySpace

Almost Charlie-Loving Counterclockwise. This German band certainly has an interesting backstory, which explains the band name:
To this day, musician/composer Dirk Homuth and lyricist Charlie Mason have never met. Yet they have still developed a successful creative songwriting collaboration via the Internet.
Gimmicks aside, this is a strong collection of dreampop in the vein of Belle & Sebastian, Kings of Convenience and others with a similar sound. Apparently, they've formed a more proper band and have a new disc coming out early next year, tracks from which are the ones featured at myspace. CD Baby | MySpace

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Brewing up some good tunes.

Walter Clevenger probably needs no introduction to most of you (and for those of you who don't know him, that's what Google is for), and he runs the Brewery Records imprint. Brewery has two new discs out: The Tickets, and Sugar Mountain's In The Raw. The former is a lost power pop band from the late 80s and early 90s, and it's just great stuff, while the former is a new band who bring the rock in the tradition of the Stones, Faces, Crowes and Georgia Satellites. Not Lame has a super special on both, complete with full streaming of both discs. I know I can't stop listening.

Friday, October 13, 2006

"New" Mike Viola & Candy Butchers at Not Lame.

Two new Mike Viola-related releases are being featured over at Not Lame for pre-order. One is "Making Up Time", a collection of ten unreleased Candy Butchers tracks, and the other is a CD release of Viola's "Just Before Dark", an acoustic live gig that was released only on vinyl last year.

Both discs are streaming in their entirety, so head on over and listen. Personally, I can take or leave the acoustic disc, but the Candy Butchers disc really sounds good.

Video of the Day: Sloan-The Rest of My Life

While I continue to try to digest the 30 tracks on their brand new release Never Hear The End of It (in random rotation on my ipod, nothing has really jumped out at me yet), here's a video for "The Rest of My Life", the standout track from their previous release, 2003's Action Pact:

CD of the Day, 10/13/06: The Ladies & Gentlemen-Ladies and Gentlemen...

Chicago may be dealing with an early season snowstorm at the moment, but they've had their own blizzard of rocking new-wavy power pop to deal with for a while now, in the form of The Ladies & Gentlemen and their debut album Ladies and Gentlemen....The Ladies & Gentlemen (at least we know they spend more time on their music than titling their albums).

These guys have the classic high-energy new wave/power pop sound down just right, always sounding like they're ready to party like it's 1979. The Cars come to mind as an obvious antecedent, but they're a bit rawer and less stylized than Ocasek & Co. Standouts on the disc include "I Wanna Thank U", which has a "Stacy's Mom"-ish feel to it, in the same manner FoW were influenced by the Cars on that track; the opener "Nobody Home"; "Had Me at Hello", which takes a 90s catchphrase and adds some 60s harmonies to their late-70s sound; and the melodic "I Luv U, I Hate U".

The best thing about all of this is that you can listen to the entire album streaming at their site (click on "music"), so you don't have to take my word for it. And if you like it, it's ready for the buying at CD Baby.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Major label stuff I'm enjoying.

About 99.9% of the posts on this blog are focused on independent power pop; my primary focus is discovery of new or underpublicized acts, not as a review of all things power pop-related. Nevertheless, once in a while I feel compelled to tout some label releases of people you've probably heard of.

First off is Sean Lennon's Friendly Fire. I thought his first solo release, Into The Sun, was pretty mediocre, but I've consistently enjoyed this one. The sound here is somewhere between Jeff Hanson ("Elliott Smith on helium") and Elliott Smith himself. Of course since Elliott Smith's sound is derived in large part from solo John Lennon, you could just say that Sean is imitating his daddy. Regardless, the songs for the most part are really good, especially "Dead Meat" and "Parachutes".

Next is Ta-Dah, the sophomore (and somewhat sophomoric, but in a good way) effort from The Scissor Sisters. If "Take Your Mama Out" was one of your favorite songs of 2004 (it was for me), you'll like almost all of this disc, as the implied Elton John influence of the debut becomes an overt Elton influence (he helped pen one of the disc's standouts, the hit "I Don't Feel Like Dancin'", and "She's My Man" is a close cousin to "I'm Still Standing"). If you came of age in the late 70s (or even if you didn't), and didn't hate disco but appreciated some of its better efforts, then the Scissors are for you.

Finally, like many I thought that the Strokes' 2001 debut, Is This It, was a great disc despite all its affectations, and like many I've thought their subsequent two discs were largely crap. So it was with some trepdiation that I listened to Yours to Keep, the solo debut of bassist Albert Hammond Jr. But it was a pleasant surprise, much more in the power pop vein than the "new wave" influence in (what was at one point) the Strokes' sound. Right now, it's UK-only, but it's worth seeking out.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Comfies on eMusic!

Well, that didn't take long. The Comfies EP which I raved about a few days ago is now on eMusic. Great chance to snap it up for the equivalent of $1.75.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

New at eMusic.

Nothing earthshattering this morning, but a couple to mention:

El Goodo-S/T. I mentioned this one way back in the first few days of the site when it appeared on Not Lame. It's very retro-sounding, with kind of a Mamas & Papas-type feel. There were links to a few free mp3s in my original post, so check those out first if you're interested.

And Normal Happiness, the latest from Robert Pollard (who seems to put out a new album every month), is available, although eMu isn't a great outlet for Pollard, since his 1:15 tracks cost you one download just the same as someone else's 4-5 minute song.

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Alpacas are Orgling at Not Lame.

It's almost time for the unleashing of one of the top power pop albums of the year: L.E.O.'s Alpacas Orgling, the "supergroup" Bleu has put together to record a "lost" ELO album. I don't have much more to add from my previous posts on the album from earlier in the year when it was slowly unveiled on myspace, but now that I have a promo copy of the disc (rather than captured myspace streams), I can tell you that it's a sonic delight as well, fitting for the densely produced Jeff Lynne sound it pays homage to.

So what I'm essentially saying here is "BUY IT!", and now you have a place to plunk down your cash: Not Lame, who has one of their patented ultrasupermegaextravanganva bonus offers in connection with the disc, which of course features a media player streaming the entire album. Best $14 + shipping you're going to spend this year. The pre-sale offer ends October 17, the street date of the disc, so don't waste any time pulling the trigger.

EP of the Day: The Comfies-Close to Me

We're all about follow-up here at Absolute Powerpop, and some of you may remember a few months ago I touted a band called The Comfies, but they had only released a couple of tracks on a compilation disc (when they were known as Harper) and hadn't had their own disc out yet.

Well, as you can tell from the title of this post and the pretty picture above, they do now, the EP Close to Me, which has an official street date of this Tuesday, October 10. Only two of the tracks ("Medicine", "Your Sunshine") were familiar from their earlier myspace offerings, so I'll highlight the "new" stuff. The title track is a great slice of power pop, and I emphasize the "power". I threw the Superdrag comparison around quite a bit in the previous post, and it continues to apply. They're also reminiscent of their label mates The Rewinds, and just might be joining them and bands like Edmund's Crown in the burgeoning subgenre of "Southern power pop". "That's What She Gets" follows the title track, and it's another melodic gem, a midtempo number rocks yet has a Posies/Teenage Fanclub to it. "In My Room" isn't a cover of the Beach Boys classic and doesn't sound like Brian Wilson at all, but it's yet another great midtempo track (that rocks in the middle eight), and features some nice female harmonies. There's really not a bad track on this EP, and the acoustic one-and-a-half minute track "Dear Miss Anderson" is a nice coda.

Check out "Close to Me" as well as the two older tracks at their myspace page, and you can order it here for the reasonable price of $6.98. I won't be surprised to see it popping up at Not Lame and Kool Kat before long as well. It's gratifying to see that my instincts on these guys were right, and they've come through with a true EP of the Year candidate.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

New release Tuesday on eMusic.

A few notables added this morning:

Pernice Brothers-Live a Little. You know where we stand on this one. Download it.

Also added were two Rainbow Quartz releases, one from an old standby and another from a new band. The vets are psych-poppers Outrageous Cherry, and Stay Happy is their new one.

The other is the self-titled debut of The Summer Wardrobe, who describe their sound as "ambient Southern rock" and who have "been compared to bands such as Pink Floyd, the Church, Mercury Rev and Luna", "yet has its own unique sound that draws from a diverse panoply of influences".

Friday, September 29, 2006

Not Lame Podcast.

I'm sure many of you already check it out, but if you don't, make sure you listen to latest Not Lame Podcast posted the other night. I have all of the discs listed except the Frenzy, and although I haven't featured any of them on the site, they're pretty much all good stuff, especially the track "The Royal Standard" from Corin Ashley. And the Russell Crawford is a yet another fine disc (actually an EP) off the Michael Carpenter-produced Aussie Power Pop assembly line.

Chris von Sneidern on eMusic!

eMusic today has added pretty much the entire Chris von Sneidern catalog, so it's time to use those downloads or buy some booster packs. I'm counting six discs, including his most recent, last year's California Redemption Value. CVS has been one of power pop's leading lights over the past decade, but if somehow you've missed out on him, head on over and start sampling.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Song of the Day.

Some of you may have noticed on my latest top 33 1/3 of 2006 that there was a disc I hadn't really mentioned that appeared on the list. That disc is Pop Is Art's Epiphany, and its closing track "Smile" is my new Song of the Day (more like Song of the Month, or Song of the Quarter considering how often I've updated it) on the Absolute Powerpop myspace page. It's a really, really great track and reminds me quite a bit of "Mr. Blue Sky". And needless to say, Epiphany is an outstanding disc as well.

You can buy it and read more about it at Not Lame, and if you'd like to listen to the whole disc, you're in luck, because the disc is available on Weedshare. I'm not going to get into explaining the whole Weedshare concept, but for those unfamiliar, the bottom line is that you can download the entire album and play each track three times. After that, you'll have to buy the downloads to keep listening. In whatever format you end up buying or not buying it, it's still a great chance to sample the entire thing. But do make sure you sample it.

Pernice update.

Just a reminder that Live a Little, The Pernice Brothers' best album since their 2001 masterpiece The World Won't End, is due out this coming Tuesday, and if you've ever been a fan or half-fan of them, this is definitely one worth picking up. All but three of the tracks are streaming in their entirety over at their site (just click on listen for the pop-up window). I'd peg it in terms of overall sound and songwriting quality as splitting the difference between The World Won't End and their almost-as-great debut, 1998's Overcome by Happiness.

Meanwhile, here's a video for one of the more perfect pop songs of the young century, "Working Girls (Sunlight Shines)", the leadoff track from The World Won't End, and the very first Pernice Bros. song I heard. This copy off YouTube is a tad choppy in the video department; if you want a higher-quality version, the same Pernice site link above has it, just scroll to the bottom.

New power pop blog!

I urge you all to check out and bookmark Powerpopaholic, a fairly new power pop blog run by a gentleman named Aaron who reviews recent power pop releases on a 1-10 scale. It's always great to see another power pop blog.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

CD of the Day, 9/26/06: Bryan Estepa-All The Bells and Whistles

Here we go again - another high quality pop disc from Australia, another one produced by Michael Carpenter - I tell you these reviews almost are starting to write themselves. The man with the tunes this time around is Bryan Estepa, and his solo debut All The Bells and Whistles is most definitely worth your acquaintance.

Estepa's sound can't quite be pigeonholed. The opener "By The Window" has enough honky tonk in it to pass a possible lost Grateful Dead/Band track, while "Your Best Night" is classic midtempo pop, much in the vein of his producer. The real triumph here is the 6-minute pop gem "Western Tale", which betrays a Beach Boy influence but also throws in handclaps, backing female vocals, and that's just the first three minutes. "Come Around" and "Sunshine" are wonderful ballads, and "Cars & AM Radio" and "Room Next to You" are high-quality alt-country tunes. In short, there's something here for everyone.

"By The Window" and "Your Best Night" are streaming at his myspace page, while the rest can sampled at CD Baby, where it can be purchased as well as from Not Lame and Kool Kat.

UPDATE: Now available on eMusic.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Weekend video.

Here's one of my favorite Neil Finn songs, complete with a giant woman straight from 50's sci-fi:

Thursday, September 21, 2006

eMusic Flood.

eMu added 680 titles today, and among them are several that are worth your allotted downloads:

Once For Kicks-In The Dollhouse. Bruce at Not Lame: "Like a combination of the best of Sloan, Superdeluxe for sure, a dash Fountains Of Wayne wrapped in some of the more recent sounds of The Fastbacks playing classic Guided By Voices pop stuff, New Pornographers with a bit more fuzz(think Nirvana on a Raspberries fix or something like that!) and The Model Rockets." Yeah, it's pretty good.

The Village Green-S/T EP. They've just put out a full-length, titled Feeling The Fall, which is OK but a bit trippy-sounding. Much tighter-sounding and much better is their EP from late last year, which makes its bow on eMu. Aside from the Kinks-dropping name, other influences they sport on this EP include T-Rex and Oasis. Had I compiled a best EPs of 2005 list, this would have been right up there.

Patty Hurst Shifter-Too Crowded on the Losing End. These guys from North Carolina are carrying on the tradition of a more rocking version of alt-country, kind of like the times when Whiskeytown really did sound like The Replacements and not a vehicle for Ryan Adams' solo career. This release from earlier this year is highly recommended.

Other notable adds include the 10th anniversary deluxe edition of The Presidents of the United States of America's debut disc (OK, you might not want to blow all 26 of your downloads on this, especially all the bonus track demos. But you can still grab "Lump".); Available Light, the latest from folk/pop singer/songwriter Willy Porter; and the 2002 debut album of indie popsters The Spectacular Fantastic.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

CD of the Day, 9/20/06: Ryan Coughlan-Are You Having a Good Day?

With its sun-setting-over-the-beach cover and its largely acoustic sound, Aussie Ryan Coughlan's Are You Having a Good Day? could be dismissed on first glance (or first listen) as a Jack Johnson knockoff. But closer inspection reveals a great pop record that is (as the self-provided descripton on CD Baby calls it) "disturbingly catchy" and which approaches the grace of another similar album that was one of my 2005 favorites, Graham Cousens' Living Room Sessions.

Coughlan starts off things off winningly with "Love Song", a very catchy number which wouldn't have been out of place on fellow Aussie Bob Evans' Suburban Songbook. The real standout here, though, is "A Good Day", which sounds like it could be a massive hit if the right TV show featured it, or right US record label executive heard it. It's almost an answer song to the Daniel Powter smash "Bad Day" and is cut from the same cloth. Other tracks worth checking out are "Butterfly", "What's Bugging You?" the slightly-more-rocking "1964", and the oustanding closer "My World".

CD Baby is place to go to listen to this disc, and of course to buy it if you're so inclined. There are a few mp3s here, although from the sizes described, they're either clips or very-low-bitrate full tracks.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

He's a Renaissance Man.

That Bob Evans, not only does he have the #1 disc of the year on our site, but he makes a mean pork roast and mashed potatoes as well:

Where does he find the time?

Weekend roundup.

Here a few releases I've been meaning to tout over the past few weeks or so:

Rubber Clown Car-Make The Noise. Are you sick of emo? How about some emu? (check the cover) For those who like their power pop leavened by whimsy, this disc will be right up your alley. Here's an mp3 to sample:

Home In The Suburbs

You can also download "Living in Luxury" and "Vanity Affair" from their myspace page. I'll let them speak for themselves here to describe their sound: "a mixture of XTC, Bob Mould, the Damned, the Who, and Matthew Sweet.. the Beatles on Quaaludes". Maybe some Barenaked Ladies in there as well. You can buy the CD here.

Marty Rudnick-More Songs About Cars and Girls. With a title like this, you know what you're getting, and Mr. Rudnick delivers the power pop goods in classic fashion. And helping him deliver them in classic fashion is Michael Carpenter, who never produces (or records) a bad album. Sample his wares at his myspace page, and you can order the album directly from his label for $10 shipped.

Brindley Brothers-Filled With Fire. DC's Luke & Daniel Brindley aren't power pop in a pure fashion, but quality roots and Americana-based pop. Or simply "pop/rock". As the Washington Post put it, the Brindleys display "a natural ease with material that runs the gamut from Wilco-esque alt-country to bright Marshall Crenshaw-style pop and most shades of catchy song craft between." Judge for yourself - they have some mp3s available from their site:

Rise Above
Man on Fire
Late Summer

Additional tracks are streaming at the site, and the disc itself is available at CD Baby. If you'd rather stream than download, here's their myspace page.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Oh, Canada!

Two Canadian bands are in for a mention today.

First, Winnipeg's Novillero makes a bow on eMusic today with their fine 2005 release, Aim Right for the Holes in Their Lives. If I had to describe them in one sentence, I'd say they're a cross between compatriots AC Newman/New Pornographers and the Ben Folds Five with some indie rock sensbility. Definitely head over to eMu and take a listen.

And more excitingly, we're only days away from the new release by Sloan, Never Hear The End of It (at least in Canada; the US release will probably be months/years away, but I'll get my grubby little hands on it before long). Although I haven't mentioned it in this space much or often, Sloan is one of my all-time favorite power pop bands, and I've been meaning for months to write about how Navy Blues might be one of my 10 (if not 5) favorite records of the 90s. Anyway, there are a couple of tracks from the album streaming at their myspace page, and they sound pretty damn good.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

New on eMusic.

A few interesting adds to eMu today. They have a deal with Bip Bip Records, the indie Spanish power pop label, and two releases from a few years back worth noting showed up today.

First is The Pictures' Better Than Words. This is classic jangly power pop, and it includes a cover of Matthew Sweet's "Back to You". I'm queueing it up myself.

The other Bip Bip add is Art School's 3 Close Mates. This one is more mod-sounding than The Pictures, or what some would call skinny-tie pop.

The new Holiday With Maggie release, Welcome to Hope, is added as well. This Swedish band has a modern pop/rock sound and we've mentioned them on this blog before.

Finally, added today was a disc recently featured by Not Lame. Although it's more singer/songwriter/americana than power pop, David Wolfenberger's Portrait of Narcissus is a fine release, and "Vespa Girl" is pretty catchy. Wolfenberger's previous two releases were also added today.

Video of the Day.

Here's one of the top tracks from one of the top power pop bands of the 90s: The Tories' "Gladys Kravitz". Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Four new Nines.

The Nines' Calling Distance Stations is currently holding down my #20 spot for the year, although I never did get around to give it a proper writeup. It's been well-received throughout the power pop community, so it wasn't a release that I felt compelled to publicize.

What I do feel compelled to publicize, though, is a new 4-song EP of theirs titled CQDX: Transmission Files. It's an odds and sods collection including two tracks recorded during the Calling Distance Stations sessions, and is available download-only from their site for $3.99. You can try before you buy, though, as all four songs are streaming at their special myspace page set up for this release. The real keeper here is "Goodbye Janine", a gorgeous ballad.