Friday, January 30, 2009

CD of the Day, 1/30/09: Jeremy-Pop Explosion

Many of you in the power pop community are well aware of Jeremy Morris, but for those who aren't he might be described as the hardest working man in power pop. Aside from running the Jam Recordings label (The Lolas, The Ringles, Ed James, et al), Jeremy is an accomplished musician who probably releases more of his own music than anyone this side of Ryan Adams. It's a full-time job to keep up with all of his releases, so instead I'll point out his best release of 2008: Pop Explosion.

Pop Explosion has a decidedly retro sound, but the tunes are some of his best. The 60s guitar sound of the melodic "Come on Over" will appeal to those digging the new El Goodo disc; "Come Clean" is a treat as well, with its "Picture Book"-like guitar riff and Mersey melodies; "Time is Running Out" is all Byrdsian jangle, and "You're Gonna Get It" is garage-style Nuggets-y goodness. The ballads are no slouches, either: "The Perfect Love" and "Hand in Hand" are lovely, piano-based numbers that manage to stay just this side of cloying.

And like they say on the TV commercials, but that isn't all. If you act now, you'll get a bonus disc of 24 - count 'em, 24 - covers, ranging from Big Star's "Thirteen" to The Beatles' "It's All To Much" to The Replacements' "Here Comes a Regular" to Neil Diamond's "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You" as well as covers of Genesis, Yo La Tengo, the Bay City Rollers and many others. Between the two discs, you probably won't find a better bargain.

Jam Recordings
| MySpace

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Rockin' Wednesday.

Just so that we don't let things get too soft around here, here are three bands with some punch in their pop:

The Great Bandini-The Great Bandini. This Boston band cites Badfinger, Sloan and The Beatles as influences, and rocks a bit harder than them. In addition to power pop, they mix in an 80s new-wave influence as well. Choice cuts: the Sloanesque "Maintain Relaxation", the Raspberrieish "Are You In Love With Him?", and the driving "Testa Mia", which recalls Ted Leo. But my real favorite here is "No Reply", which captures the rocking side of Big Star's sound. All hail The Great Bandini!

CD Baby | MySpace | Listen @Lala | iTunes

Bos Taurus-It's Plain. This Delaware band adds their wrinkle to power pop by combining it with 80s college rock and 00s indie pop stylings, and it yields a fine brew. Plenty to choose from here, but the picks of the litter are "Dead Inside", which pulls off the time-old trick of matching dark lyrics with sweet melodies, the Bob Mould-influenced "Fool", the melancholy "What Comes Around" and the circa-80s R.E.M. drive of the title track. No bull here: Bos Taurus delivers the goods.

CD Baby | MySpace | iTunes

Suinage-Shaking Hands. Power pop comes from all over the world, and Italy is starting to make its presence felt. Last year brought us a fine EP from Radio Days, and now their tourmates Suinage have dropped their debut full-length, and a rockin' treat it is. There's almost a bit of late-70s punk influence here as well as frontman Pilli Colombo has an Elvis Costello/Joe Jackson-like sound to his voice (the angry young man version of these artists, not the "respectable" singer-songwriters they became). "Toothbrush" hits you right out of the gate and "Don't Pass Me By" (not a Ringo cover) brims with attitude. They can handle the slower numbers as well - "July" is a nice change of pace here. And you're no chump if you like the blistering "Chump", equal parts Green Day and The Hives.

Not Lame | MySpace

Monday, January 26, 2009

Early Week Roundup.

Chris Staig-Mary. Toronto singer-songwriter Chris Staig is back with his fourth solo album, and we were big fans of Davenport, his 2006 release. Staig, who has worked with Broken Social Scene's Jason Collett on his solo discs, offers up another collection of power pop and roots rock on Mary. The proceedings have a loose feel, as "Don't Decline" indicates right away, kind of a mix between The Band and Bill Lloyd. Other standouts include "She Haunts These Rooms", the inspiring "Remember to Breathe", the George Harrison-esque pop of "Our Last Chance" and the Dave Edmunds-inspired "Teardrops" (which reminds me quite a bit of DE's Springsteen-penned minor hit "From Small Things"). My advice: Staig the course!

CD Baby | MySpace | iTunes

Dylan Connor-Breakaway Republic. Dylan Connor hails from the unlikely musical hotbed of Bridgeport, Connecticut, and he released a fine but criminally overlooked EP in 2007 titled Breakdowns & Hymns. Fortunately for us, he's reprised the best tracks on the EP as part of his fine new full length Breakaway Republic. Connor falls somewhere in between power pop and indie pop, but whatever label you choose to apply, he has a way with a melody. The 80s-inspired "Breakaway & Burn" kicks things off in high gear, and "Stunning Insights" recalls Robert Pollard. Other treats include the Nada Surf-style pop of "Don't Let Me Wash Away" (a highlight from the EP), "I Want Everybody to Know", and the rocking "Pave Me".

CD Baby | MySpace | iTunes

The Weightlifters-O My Stars EP. Adam McLaughlin & Co. are back at it, following up 2007's excellent Last of the Sunday Drivers EP with another extended play, O My Stars. Had you put these two EPs together, you'd have a year-end top 10 contender. O My Stars is of a piece with the first EP, so if your tastes run in the Pernice Brothers/Elliott Smith/Teenage Fanclub area, you'll want this one. Top tracks: "Perfect", "Belle of the Wrecking Ball" and "Battlesong".

CD Baby | MySpace | Stream @Official Site | iTunes

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Like they say on Sesame Street, this post is brought to you by the letter "J". Today we bring you two singer-songwriters named Jason and Jesse, and aside from their first names beginning with the same letter, they have a similar style that pop fans will find pleasing.

Jason Karaban-Sobriety Kills. LA's Jason Karaban splashed onto the scene in 2006 with his debut disc Doomed to Make Choices, and then issued another disc of songs not included on the disc titled Leftovers, which may have been even better than the proper release. Reminiscent at times of artists like Micheal Penn and Willie Wisely, Karaban serves up another quality release with Sobriety Kills. Highlights include the plaintive title track, the piano-based pop of "Middle of the Storm", the honky-pop of "Because I Love You", and the waltzy ballad "All In a Day's Dream". No sophomore jinx here.

CD Baby | MySpace | eMusic | Listen at Lala | iTunes

Jesse Sprinkle-Surrounded by Lights. Jesse Sprinkle has become a known quantity in the pop community, delivering introspective, thoughtful tunes with a spiritual underpinning, and Surrounded by Lights, his latest, is no exception. Opener "Where Diamonds Grow", likely inspired by his recent work in Africa with the Ugandan Water Project, is a stunning number that builds slowly and works its way into an Elliott Smith/Michael Penn-like buildup. Meanwhile, "Longing for the Ordinary" is an impressive midtempo rocker, "Better Places" is a fine jangly ballad, and "Wait or Want" is singer/songwriter pop perfection. Between this disc and the one above, you'd be hard-pressed to find two better albums of their kind this year.

CD Baby | MySpace | iTunes

Monday, January 19, 2009

MLK Day Roundup.

I doubt MLK was a power popper, but I had a dream - about the discs that had backlogged on my desk. So without further ado, here are a couple of late 08 releases that could have found their way onto my year-end list had they found their way to my ears before early December:

The Lund Bros-Songbook IV. This Seattle band (led, natch, by brothers Chris & Sean Lund) have gone for broke with their fourth album - a sprawling, 22-track double disc set that features everything from, among other things, vintage power pop, hard rock, instrumentals, a ballad about John McCain and a closing Dylan cover. In other words, something for everyone. Highlights: The rootsy "Such a Ride", the Beatlesque "Find the Sun" (which also reminds me of The Orchid Highway), the jangly Chilton-inspired "Magnifying Glass", "Listen" (positively Posies-esque), the 70s Sloan-style rock of "C'mon C'mon", and the laidback "Forget It".

CD Baby | MySpace
Lund Bros. - Songbook IV

Baby Scream-Ups and Downs. Proving there are no hard feelings from the Falklands War, Argentine Juan Mazzola relocated to England and brought Baby Scream with him. Their (his) debut disc, Ups and Downs, is a melodic treat that fans of Teenage Fanclub, The Pernice Brothers and Big Star will enjoy. The gorgeous "Away" opens, reminding me of Cotton Mather's "Baby Freeze Queen", and it's followed by the midtempo "Suddenly", which out-TFs Teenage Fanclub. Just to show they aren't exclusively "soft", Mazzola & Co. rock out on the raucous "Everyday (I Die a Little Bit)", but "Morning Light" and "World from Outside" reinforce their melodic bonafides. Like the Lund Bros above, they close with a cover - a nice version of The Replacements' "Skyway".

CD Baby | MySpace
Baby Scream - Ups and Downs

Thursday, January 15, 2009

CD of the Day, 1/15/09: El Goodo-Coyote

There's a band from Pennsylvania out there named Unknown Mystery 60's Group, and the conceit behind them is that their albums are really lost artifacts from private tapes of a band that played in the 1960s and didn't go anywhere. It's an interesting concept that comes to mind when listening to Coyote, the second album from the Welsh band El Goodo (itself named after the classic Big Star tune) - because if the name wasn't on the disc label, you'd swear you were hearing a lost album from the 60s. (Of course with the trippy cover art, perhaps only the 2009 copyright would give it away.)

El Goodo borrow heavily from many bands of the era (Beach Boys, The Throgs, The Byrds), and right off the bat "Feel So Fine", with its dirty-sounding fuzzbox guitars and reverb-drenched production, takes you right back in time with its Kinksian sound. "Be My Girl" would fit right on Nuggets, while "Aren't You Grand" has a Spaghetti Western sound behind its Merseyside melodies. Elsewhere, the gentle "Don't Worry Marie" could be mistaken for a lost Peter & Gordon track, "Informational Overload" recalls "Pleasant Valley Sunday", the horns of "Talking to the Birds" are straight out of Love, and the jangly "I Can't Make It" is positively Byrdsian. Also of note is "Pete", which features vocals not unlike John Lennon's "captain's voice" in "Yellow Submarine" and a feel that recalls the mid-period Beatles' goofier moments such as "You Know My Name".

Coyote may be retro with a capital "R", but it's done so lovingly and painstakingly that it's also quality with a capital "Q".

MySpace | Listen at Lala

El Goodo - Coyote

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

More new David Mead.

Last month we gave you the link for the first half of the new David Mead album Almost and Always, and now here's part two:

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The David Bash lists, part 2.

As promised, here are the remainder of the year-end lists from International Pop Overthrow's David Bash:

II. Top Reissue of Recent Vintage

Richard Snow-Tuesday Music (SideB)

III. Top 5 EPs

1. The Avenues-Love, Life & The Giant Leap (Self-Released)
2. Stonecake-Always In My Mind (Self-Released)
3. Marykate O’Neil-mkULTRA (Self-Released)
4. The Simple Carnival-Me And My Arrow EP (Sundrift)
5. The Bobbleheads-Two Guitars, Open Fire (Poppop)

IV. Top 5 Compilations-Single Artists

1. Ross-A Collection For Enemies And Friends 1992-2002 (Perdicion)
2. The Gripweeds-Infinite Soul: The Best Of The Gripweeds (Wicked Cool)
3. Phamous Phaces-All Bashed Up: A Birthday Tribute To David Bash & The IPO Festival (Bink!)
4. Los Shambles-Desde Ayer (Blindspot)
5. The Eels-Meet The Eels: Essential Eels Vol. 1 1996-2006 (Geffen)

V. Top Compilation-Various Artists

International Pop Overthrow Vol. 11 (Not Lame)

VI. Top Covers Disc

The Shambles-20 Explosive Hits

VII. Top Tribute Disc-Various Artists

Beautiful People: The Songs Of The Posies Revisited (Burning Sky)

VII. Biggest Disappointment

Brian Wilson-That Lucky Old Sun (Capitol)

Reissue Categories

There are still some reissues I haven't heard which would probably make the list, but there's only so much time and $$ - ok, mainly $$; I'll always somehow find the time.

I. Top 50 Proper Reissue Albums

1. Love-Forever Changes: Collector’s Edition (Rhino)
2. R.E.M.-Murmur: Deluxe Edition (Universal)
3. The Zombies-Odessey and Oracle: Anniversary Edition (Repertoire)
4. Dennis Wilson-Pacific Ocean Blue (Legacy)
5. The Searchers-Love’s Melodies (Wounded Bird)
6. Buster-Buster (Airmail)
7. The Spongtones-Beat Music (Air Mail)
8. The Millennium-Begin (Sundazed)
9. The Rollers-Elevator (7T’s)
10. Five Man Electrical Band-Half Past Midnight: The Staccatos and Beyond (Now Sounds)
11. Nick Lowe-Jesus Of Cool (Yep Roc)
12. Squeeze-Argybargy: Deluxe Edition (Universal)
13. Wednesday Week-What We Had (Noble Rot)
14. City Boy-Young Men Gone West (Renaissance)
15. City Boy-Book Early (Renaissance)
16. The Tuneful Trolley-Island In The Sky (Now Sounds)
17. Blue Ash-No More, No Less (Collector’s Choice)
18. Clovis Roblaine-The Clovis Roblaine Story (No Sweat)
19. Cat Stevens-Teaser And The Firecat (Deluxe Edition) (Universal)
20. Buster-Buster 2 (Airmail)
21. The Move-Looking On (Deluxe Expanded Edition) (Salvo)
22. Paul & Barry Ryan-Two Of A Kind (Rev-ola)
23. Squeeze-Sweets From A Stranger (Universal)
24. The Wind-Where It’s At With The Wind (Vinyl Countdown)
25. Elvis Costello and The Attractions-This Year’s Model (Deluxe Edition) (Universal)
26. The La’s-The La’s (Deluxe Edition) (Universal)
27. Sagittarius-The Blue Marble (Sundazed)
28. The Yardbirds-Roger The Engineer/Over Under Sideways Down (Repertoire)
29. Anthony Phillips-Wise After The Event (Voiceprint)
30. The Searchers-The Searchers (Wounded Bird)
31. Strawbs-Strawbs (Universal)
32. Buzzcocks-A Different Kind Of Tension (Special Edition) (EMI)
33. The Hollies-Hollies (EMI)
34. The Ian Mitchell Band-Suddenly You Love Me (Airmail)
35. The Magic Lanterns-Shame Shame (Airmail)
36. The Peppermint Rainbow-Will You Be Staying After Sunday (Rev-ola)
37. Wendy & Bonnie-Genesis (Sundazed)
38. Love Sculpture-Forms And Feelings (Esoteric)
39. Kristine Sparkle-Devil Woman (RPM)
40. The Walker Brothers-Images (RPM)
41. Cat Stevens-Tea For The Tillerman (Deluxe Edition) (Universal)
42. Brotherhood Of Man-United We Stand (RPM)
43. Kathe Green-Run The Length Of Your Wildness (Rev-ola)
44. Elton John-Elton John: Deluxe Edition (Universal)
45. Matthew’s Southern Comfort-Later That Same Year (BGO)
46. Alice Cooper-Pretties For You (Rhino)
47. Laura Nyro-More Than A New Discovery (Rev-ola)
48. Tina Mason-Tina Mason Is Something Wonderful (Now Sounds)
49. Free-Fire And Water (Deluxe Edition) (Universal)
50. Honeybus-Story (Rev-ola)

II. Top 5 Two-Fers (and Four-Fers): Proper Albums

1. Flo & Eddie-The Phlorescent Leech & Eddie/Flo & Eddie (FloEdCo)
2. The Lemon Pipers-Love Beads And Meditation: Green Tambourine/Jungle Marmalade (Rev-ola)
3. The Osmonds-Crazy Horses/The Plan (7T’s)
4. Michael Guthrie Band-Direct Hits/Banned In America (Self-Released)
5. The Impressions-This Is My Country/The Young Mod’s Forgotten Story (American Beat)

III. Top 10 Compilations, Single Artist

1. The Parade-Sunshine Girl: The Complete Recordings (Now Sounds)
2. Colours-Love Heals: The Complete Recordings (Now Sounds)
3. Tommy James and The Shondells-40 Years: The Complete Singles Collection 1966-2006 (Rhino)
4. The Spongetones-Always Carry On: The Best Of The Spongetones 1980-2005 (Loaded Goat)
5. The Blue Things-Let The Blue Things Blow Your Mind (Cicadelic)
6. The Mojo Men-Not Too Old To Start Cryin’: The Lost 1966 Masters (Big Beat)
7. West Coast Consortium-Mister Umbrella Man: A Collection Of Demos 1967-1969 (Wooden Hill)
8. Chris Rainbow-Waves (Vital Spark)
9. Jeff Christie-Outer Limits/Floored Masters-Past Imperfect (Angel Air)
10. The Finkers-Epilogue (Off The Hip)

IV. Top 10 Compilations, Various Artists

1. Thank You Friends: The Ardent Records Story (Big Beat)
2. Treacle Toffee World: Further Adventures Into The Pop Psych Sounds From The Apple Era 1967-1969 (RPM)
3. Realistic Patterns-Orchestrated Psychedelia From The U.S.A. (Psychic Circle)
4. Do Waah Diddy-Words And Music By Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry (Ace)
5. Sweet Floral Albion-23 Pop & Psych Gems (Past & Present)
6. Let’s Ride-20 Popsike Excursions From The UK & Europe: Faerytales Can Come True Vol. 3 (Psychic Circle)
7. Titan: It’s All Pop! (Numero Uno)
8. A Day In My Mind’s Mind Vol. 2-Fantasies, Polka Dots & Flowers: 27 Kiwi Psychedelic Trips 1967-72 (EMI)
9. A Day In My Mind’s Mind Vol. 3-Spinning, Spinning, Spinning: 28 Kiwi Psychedelic Trips 1967-72 (EMI)
10. Sing Me A Rainbow-A Trident Anthology 1965-1967 (Big Beat)

V. Top 5 Box Sets: Single Artist

1. The Kinks-Picture Book (Universal)
2. The Move-Anthology 1966-1972 (Salvo)
3. Split Enz-Enz To Enz (Mushroom)
4. The Swinging Blue Jeans-Good Golly, Miss Molly!: The EMI Years 1963-1967 (EMI)
5. Herman’s Hermits & Peter Noone-Into Something Good: The Mickie Most Years 1964-1972 (EMI)

VII. Top 5 Box Sets: Various Artists

1. Motown: The Complete No. 1s (Hip-O Select)
2. The Complete Motown Singles-Vol. 10: 1970 (Hip-O Select)
3. Flower Power: The Music Of The Love Generation (Time Life)
4. The Complete Motown Singles-Vol. 11A: 1971 (Hip-O Select)
5. A&M Records-History 100 (Universal)

Monday, January 12, 2009

David Bash's Top 125 of 2008.

One of the most eagerly awaited lists in the power pop community is David Bash's exhaustive year-end list of the top 125 albums of the year, and I'm proud to be bringing you David's 2008 list. Today I will post the Top 125 proper, and tomorrow I will post his ancillary lists (top EPs, reissues, compilations, tributes, etc.)

So without further ado, here is David's top 125 of 2008:

1. Roger Joseph Manning Jr.-Catnip Dynamite (Pony Canyon)
2. The Doll Test-Mosque Alarm Clock (Unsmashable)
3. The Madd-Ongeneeslijk Beat (Excelsior)
4. The Junipers-Cut Your Key (San Remo)
5. Josh Fix-Free At Last (1650 Entertainment)
6. Adrian Whitehead-One Small Stepping Man (Popboomerang)
7. Three Hour Tour-B Side Oblivion (Martian)
8. The Resonars-That Evil Drone (Burger)
9. The General Store-Mountain Rescue (Brewery)
10. The Lackloves-Cathedral Square Park (Rainbow Quartz)
11. Big Kid-Big Kid III (Self-Released)
12. The Telepathic Butterflies-Breakfast In Suburbia (Rainbow Quartz)
13. Cliff Hillis-The Long Now (Tallboy)
14. Rob Bonfiglio-Bring On The Happy (Damask)
15. The Pop Project-Stars Of Stage And Screen (Suburban Sprawl)
16. Jeremy-Pop Explosion (Jam)
17. Bryan Scary & The Shredding Tears-Flight Of The Knife (Black & Greene)
18. The Hi Risers-Once We Get Started (Spinout)
19. The Dress Whites-My God, The Shame! (Self-Released)
20. The 88-Not Only…But Also (Island)
21. The Handcuffs-Electroluv (OOFL)
22. Greg Pope-Popmonster (Octoberville)
23. The Feeling-Join With Us (Universal)
24. The Royal Purple-The Time Element (Umbrella)
25. Tim Morrow-Back To Delton (Self-Released)
26. Pugwash-Eleven Modern Antiquities (1969)
27. The Gurus-Now (Rock Indiana/Rainbow Quartz)
28. Graham Day & The Gaolers-Triple Distilled (Damaged Goods)
29. The Galaxies-Here We Go! (Self-Released)
30. Mari Wilson-Emotional Glamour (Beehive)
31. Rob Smith-Trick Of The Light (Zip)
32. The Goldbergs-Under The Radar (Kool Kat)
33. Kelly Jones-SheBANG! (Good Morning Monkey)
34. Beat Hotel-Move On (Self-Released)
35. The Well Wishers-Jigsaw Days (Thatwasmyskull)
36. Brent Cash-How Will I Know If I’m Awake (Marina)
37. The Respectables-Sibley Gardens (Self-Released)
38. Smash Fashion-A Gentlemen’s Guide… (ElectricPudding)
39. The Afternoons-Sweet Action (Self-Released)
40. Lindsay Buckingham-Gift Of Screws (Reprise)
41. Paul Starling-Doors & Windows (Rockshot)
42. Foxboro Hot Tubs-Stop Drop and Roll!!! (Jingle Town)
43. Garfield’s Birthday-Let Them Eat Cake (Pink Hedgehog)
44. Marmalade Army-Johnny Cake and Moonpies (Modern Artists)
45. Laurie Biagini-Ridin’ The Wave (Self-Released)
46. The Wellingtons-Heading North For The Winter (Zip)
47. Andy Reed-Fast Forward (Kool Kat)
48. Alan Bernhoft-Beatlesque One (Jaxalon)
49. Chewy Marble-Modulations (SideB)
50. The Bye Bye Blackbirds-Houses & Homes (American Dust)
51. Daisy-It’s About Time (Elements)
52. Stratocruiser-Egg Shells (New Atlas)
53. Private Jets-Jet Sounds (Sparkplug)
54. The Sunshine-I Heard A Rumour About You Boy (Self-Released)
55. The Mop Tops-Ground Floor Man (Sound Asleep)
56. The Breakdowns-Heartbreak Radio (Rock Indiana)
57. Leave-On A Happy Note…(Self-Released)
58. The Parties-Can’t Come Down (Rainbow Quartz)
59. The Explorers Club-Freedom Wind (Dead Oceans)
60. Kaiser Chiefs-Off With Their Heads (Universal)
61. The Pleasure-Travel Inside (Rookie)
62. Sarah Borges and The Broken Singles-Diamonds In The Dark (Sugar Hill)
63. The Rhinos-In Rhi-Fi (Rainbow Quartz)
64. We Should Be Dead-Forget Romance, Let’s Dance! (Pop4pop)
65. The Simple Carnival-Girls Aliens Food (Sundrift)
66. Kai Reiner-Kai Reiner (Self-Released)
67. Service Group-Principles Of Electronic Circuitry (Squid Vs. Whale)
68. The Temponauts-A Million Year Picnic (Teen Sound)
69. Dave Dill-Follow The Summer (Self-Released)
70. The Pete Best Band-Haymans Green (EMI)
71. All Day Sucker-The Big Pretend (Self-Released)
72. Deleted Waveform Gatherings-Baby Warfare (Rainbow Quartz)
73. Pinto-Hook Me Up (Self-Released)
74. The Cheeksters-Movers and Shakers (Caterina Sounds)
75. Andy Bopp-This Guitar Kills Singer Songwriters (Rainbow Quartz)
76. Poplord-Full/Filled (Self-Released)
77. The Jellybricks-Goodnight To Everyone (Primitive)
78. Adrian Bourgeois-Adrian Bourgeois (C Side)
79. Hundred Million Martians-Marseille (Plastic Passion)
80. Your Gracious Host-Your Gracious Host (Self-Released)
81. The Human Statues-The Human Statues (Self-Released)
82. Philip Vandermost-Automatic August (Self-Released)
83. Panic At The Disco-Welcome To The Sound Of Pretty Odd (Fueled By Ramen)
84. Pris-The Kiss Off (Thistime)
85. Dropkick-Dot The I-(Taylored)
86. Dimebox-Five And Dime Waltz (Avebury)
87. Young Sportsmen-If You Want It (Unsmashable)
88. Sextus-Stranger Than Fiction (Dramapants)
89. Junebug-Fifth (Planet 8)
90. Monkeeman-Life In The Backseat (Cargo)
91. Captain Wilberforce-Everyone Loves A Villain (Blue Tuxedo)
92. The Pillbugs-Everybody Wants A Way Out (Rainbow Quartz)
93. Rinaldi Sings-Bingo (Tangerine)
94. The Higher Elevations-The Protestant Work Ethic (Time For Action)
95. Derby-Posters Fade (Green Submarine)
96. Norman Kelsey-A Talent For Loving (Self-Released)
97. The Eisenhowers-Film Your Own Atrocities (Serali)
98. The Brigadier-The Rise & Fall Of Responsibility (Self-Released)
99. Baby Scream-Ups And Downs (Recorded Recordings)
100. Lund Bros-Songbook IV (Self-Released)
101. Sloan-Parallel Play (Murderecords)
102. The Stems-Heads Up (Invisible)
103. The Spongetones-Too Clever By Half (Loaded Goat)
104. Class Three Overbite-Horses For Courses (Self-Released)
105. Peter Colours-Welcome To The Show (Bip Bip)
106. Only Make Believe-Message From A Mockingbird (GreenTree)
107. The Powerchords-..Think I’m Gonna (Screaming Apple)
108. Starling Electric-Clouded Staircase (Bar None)
109. Do The Undo-Do The Undo (Excelsior)
110. *The Ringles-Rickenbacker Ballet (Jam)
111. Readymade Breakup-Alive On The Vine (Self-Released)
112. Black Hollies-Casting Shadows (Ernest Jenning)
113. Frank Barajas-Better Times (Operation Big Beat)
114. Epicycle-Jingle Jangle (Self-Released)
115. Triggers-Smoke Show (Self-Released)
116. The Pranks-Modern Communication (Screaming Apple)
117. Michael Mazzarella-Folk Songs For The Curious Few (Self-Released)
118. The Major Labels-Aquavia (Self-Released)
119. The Smith Bros.-Restless (Toin Coss)
120. The Top Drawers-You’re So Fine (Indiepool)
121. The Spring Collection-In Between (Blindspot)
122. Sugar High-Let The Sunshine Out (Thousandaire)
123. Brown Line Fiasco-Superstar (Self-Released)
124. Khalid Hanifi-Pamplemousse Presse (Cerberus)
125. Gigantic-Gigantaphonic Sounds (Zip)
**The Orchid Highway-The Orchid Highway (Rainbow Quartz)
**Vibeke-The World Famous Hat Trip (Pop Detective)

**The last two would have been high on this list, but they were ranked in 2007 when they were released on their previous labels

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday Roundup.

The Blue Sky Secret-What We Are EP. This was a delightful surprise from a place that shouldn't surprise anyone who's been following power pop lately: Nashville. Although the band members mostly come from a Christian music background, their EP What We Are is Grade-A (secular) power pop. "In Your Eyes" is a great Byrds by way of Teenage Fanclub opener, "11 Years" is dreamy midtempo pop that recalls The Posies' more reflective moments, and the playful "What Went Wrong" (complete with horns) comes in somewhere between Paul McCartney and Ben Folds. These guys shouldn't be a secret any more.


The Showgoats-Lift Off. Another burgeoning southern power pop hotspot is Charlotte, NC, and if you guessed that Jamie Hoover might somehow be involved here, you're right. Hoover produced this disc, and it's pleasing southern power pop (i.e., Americana-influenced) in the tradition of Let's Active, The Windbreakers, R.E.M., etc. "Change Your Mind" is a jangly treat that sounds pretty much like you'd expect off the description above, "Angel" gets good and greasy in a John Hiatt kinda way, the title track is a rocking delight, and "Ride" sits at the intersection of Americana and power pop in a style reminiscent of The Meadows.

CD Baby | MySpace

The Tearaways-Knackered. This SoCal band has been around for quite a while, and they're back with their first new music since 2005's fine Beat Yer Own Mersey. This is a three-song (plus bonus track) CD single or mini-EP, and the title track is the draw here: a catchy, ballsy rocker about playing England. Also present is "Not Gonna Make It", a punchy & poppin' track which appears a second time in acoustic form as the unlisted bonus track, and "Under the Bus", a jangly retro-sounding number that makes use of one of 2008's more overused phrases (as in "throw") but is still a fine tune. Looking forward to the full-length!

CD Baby | Official Site

Thursday, January 08, 2009

CD of the Day, 1/8/09-Leave-On a Happy Note...

The Chicago band Leave has always been a favorite, featured on various IPO comps and for their fine 2005 album I'd Rather Not say. So it was extremely sad to hear that lead singer/guitarist Mike Murphy passed away last June. By that point, the band had done much of the recording of their third album, and they were able to release their swan song, On a Happy Note... late last year. As the title indicates, the album is an upbeat affair and an affirmation of, and tribute to, Murphy's talent and devotion to his craft.

Leave has always been one of the better "midwestern power pop" bands, the term indicating power pop with a rootsy influence. The breezy and infectious "Hope It Doesn't Come My Way" (featured on the latest IPO compilation) opens the disc and has a Merseyside-meets-Chicago sound. "Take the Easy Way Out" is a fine jangling track that recalls a poppier early R.E.M., and the garage rock of "Again It's Too Soon" is another highlight. Other standouts include the "On My Mind", reminiscent of "If I Needed Someone"; the bright, Gin Blossoms-esque pop of "I'll Get Mine", and the roots rock of "Your Eyes".

RIP, Mike Murphy - you may no longer be with us, but your music always will.

CD Baby | MySpace

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

CD of the Day, 1/7/09: Static in Verona-Be Quiet as You Leave (with limited time free download!)

Back in 2007, a band named Ash Avenue released a fine 90s-styled power pop disc titled And Then We Ignite. But that wasn't enough for lead guitarist and main songwriter Rob Merz, who by his own admission drove his bandmates crazy with all the new songs he had come up with. So with necessity being the mother of invention and all that, Merz started a side project called Static In Verona, and Be Quiet as You Are is the debut album, and a fine debut it is.

Whereas Ash Avenue was a little more "slick-sounding", Static in Verona leans more to the indie pop side of things, but is more melodic and accessible than a lot of what passes for indie pop these days. In fact, album opener "Drag Me Down", with its ringing guitars and big chorus, wouldn't have been out of place on And Then We Ignite, and "Unlucky Stars" has a bit of a Teenage Fanclub-meets-The BoDeans kind of vibe. But "Dead Bouquet" lets you known things are different: after a two-minute slow-building instrumental opening, it evolves into an Smiths-style 80s-influenced number. The title track is outstanding as well, recalling The Shins. Other standouts include the peppy "Sleeping Alone", which is perhaps the most traditional power pop-sounding track on the disc, and the Elliott Smith-influenced "Pretty".

Best of all (for the next week or so only) it's available as a free 256 kbps download from the Static In Verona site (just click on "music"). So go over there, grab a free copy, and Be Quiet as You Leave.

CD Baby | MySpace

Monday, January 05, 2009

CD of the Day, 1/5/09: Michael Behm-Saving America

We Americans may have elected Barack Obama for the job, but Canadian Michael Behm is Saving America as well - one power pop fan at a time. The Vancouver rocker's second disc is a great way to start off 2009, and its late 2008 release date means I have one slot on this year's top 125 list already filled.

Vocally, Behm sounds quite a bit like Tommy Keene, and a listen to the opening track "Don't Believe" will have you thinking you stumbled on a lost TK disc as he shares Keene's melodic ways as well. The title track follows, opening with a soundclip from JFK's inaugural address, and while its lyrical content may not please a certain (shrinking) segment of the US population, it's a tuneful number with a big chorus. Elsewhere, "If I Could Learn to Fly" is a fine 80s-influenced midtempo number, "The Art of Letting Go" would have fit in nicely on the recent Rob Bonfiglio album, and "Ticket to Heaven" has that Bleu/Mike Viola feel to it. Also of note is "Underground Epic" a nearly 5-minute song collage similar to those fancied by fellow countrymen Sloan on their last couple of discs, and closer "Take Me Down to the River", which in keeping with the Canadian comparisons has a Tal Bachman feel to it. While Behm may not end up Saving America, he will save you from listening to mediocre power pop.

CD Baby | Reverb Nation
Michael Behm - Saving America | Listen @Lala

Thursday, January 01, 2009

The Absolute Powerpop Top Songs of 2008 - Part 6

Happy New Year to all, and someone commented in one of the previous top songs threads that he could only hear about 20 seconds of each track. Anyone else having this problem?

UPDATE: According to the commenter below, the Lala embeds only work in full song mode if you're in the USA. Apologies to my overseas readers; if anyone's aware of an equivalent I can use that works overseas, please let me know.