Thursday, December 30, 2010

The first of many 2010 oversights.

I'm sure I'll have many oversights from 2010 list, and here's one that comes to mind right now: Truth Is from Nick Young. Young's name may not be familiar, but the band he went solo from may be - Burning Daylight. Their 2007 Whiskey & Romances was a Popicana delight, and so is this album. I don't have time to give it a proper review, so just trust your own ears and give it a listen below:

CD Baby | iTunes

The Absolute Powerpop Top 10 EPs of 2010.

As promised but a little late, here is our Top 10 EP list for 2010. Also I'm proud to announce for the third straight year, David Bash's exhaustive year-end lists will be featured on this site. Look for 'em by mid-January.

10. The Young Tremors-Very Nice, Very Nice
9. Will Reid-Promises and Failures (This year's example of someone doing the Ryan Adams sound better than Ryan Adams himself)
8. Misfit Kid-Hellway to High
7. Creighton Doane-Pilot Error
6. Baby Scream-Identity Theft
5. Jared Lekites-Looking for Diamonds
4. The 88-No One Here
3. The Foreign Films-The Foreign Films EP
2. Justin Kline-Triangle
1. Beight-B8.

My #1 came out late in the year, so I didn't have a chance to get a review in. It's the followup to 2005's File in Rhythm for Brad Senne's side project, and it's excellent indie pop that has power pop elements to it. I can still hear "Cecilia" in my head as I type this. Here's an iTunes link as well:

Friday, December 24, 2010

The Absolute Powerpop Top 100 of 2010, #50-1

Without further ado, here's part two:

50. The Candles-Between the Sounds
49. Orange & Atlas-Euphoria
48. Brady Harris-Year of the Pug
47. Archie Powell & The Exports-Skip Work
46. Leo London-Leo London
45. Chris Abad-No Glory
44. Marc Danzeisen-Released
43. The Moving Parts-State Lines
42. Kurt Hagardorn-Leaves
41. Ian Olvera & The Sleepwalkers-The Reckless Kind
40. Marc Clayton & The Lazy Suns-Marc Clayton & The Lazy Suns
39. Smash Palace-7
38. Butch Walker-I Liked it Better When You Had No Heart
37. Buva-Not Scary! Friendly
36. Pernice Brothers-Goodbye, Killer
35. Joel Streeter-Matador
34. Neil Nathan-The Distance Calls
33. The June Gloom-Wonderland
32. The Great Affairs-The Great Affairs
31. Brother Slade-No Relation
30. Justin Currie-The Great War
29. Gin Blossoms-No Chocolate Cake
28. Oranjuly-Oranjuly
27. Joey Sykes-Human, Being Human
26. Huw Jacob-Higher Every Day
25. Aaron Fox & The Reliables-Late Too Soon
24. Graydon-Graydon
23. Brett Harris-Man of Few Words
22. Secret Powers-Lies & Fairy Tales
21. Farrah-Farrah
20. Title Tracks-It Was Easy
19. Taylor Locke & The Roughs-Grain & Grape
18. Joe Adragna-Fall Back
17. Sunrise Highway-Sunrise Highway
16. Dino-Fool's Gold
15. Seth Swirsky-Watercolor Day
14. The June-Green Fields & Rain
13. Eric Crugnale-Carol Was Here
12. John Holk & The Sequins-If You See Her
11. Slumberjet-Slumberjet
10. The Posies-Blood/Candy
9. Joe Reyes-Worry Row
8. Lannie Flowers-Circles
7. Bastards of Melody-Hurry Up and Wait
6. Billy Goodrum-Weightless
5. Timmy Sean-Music From & Inspired By Noisewater
4. Elvyn-The Decline
3. Edward O'Connell-Our Little Secret
2. Duncan Maitland-Lullabies for the 21st Century
1. The Autumn Defense-Once Around

A few words on my choice for #1. First off, it may come as a surprise to many of you since I never actually reviewed it on the site (although those who follow my Twitter feed saw me praise it more than once). The reason for this is that The Autumn Defense, being a relatively well-known act featuring two members of Wilco, don't exactly need a review from me to get noticed. Generally I spend my time on this site bringing to light the obscure and the overlooked and the independent, DIY pop artist.

Having said that, though, I'd be remiss not to point out what I loved so much about this album. It's the ultimate distillation of their sound - they finally embraced their folk/rock leanings and combined them with the melodic, 70s soft-rock sound they've cultivated over the last decade. Previously they had leaned too fair in one direction (folk/rock 2001's The Green Hour) or the other (2003's Bread-inspired Circles) or forgot the distinctive tunes altogether (I cannot recall one song from 2007's self-titled album). Here, they start off strong with possibly my favorite song of the year, the Beatlesque "Back of My Mind", continue strong with "Tell Me What You Want", the rare song where relatively unmelodic verses strengthen the powerful, propulsive chorus, add the Pearlfishers-like "The Swallows of London Town", the mellow and inviting "Step Easy" and the perfect chamber pop of "Every Day", which favorably recalls their all-time best track "Bluebirds Fall" (from a split EP with Hem). For 11 songs, John Stirratt & Pat Sansone finally live up to their potential.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Absolute Powerpop Top 100 of 2010, #100-51

Hard to believe this is fifth year of Absolute Powerpop, and the fifth year of making this list. I've had the privilege of listening to hundreds of excellent discs, and my iTunes library sits somewhere around 38,000 tracks, about 95% of which is from these five years. For today, here is the bottom half of the list:

100. Wild Bores-We Think Alike
99. The Mike Benign Compulsion-Rollicking Musical
98. Rob Laufer-Excruciating Bliss
97. The Offbeat-In Love Field
96. Miracord-In Water
95. Mark Bacino-Queens English
94. Phil Ayoub-Arrivals & Departures
93. Joe Moralez-If I Could
92. Crowded House-Intriguer
91. Snakehips-Month of Sundays
90. Free Energy-Stuck on Nothing
89. Zombies of the Stratosphere-Ordinary People
88. Picture Day-Wild Aim
87. Miles Kurosky-The Desert of Shallow Effects
86. Magic Kids-Memphis
85. Geoff Smith-That's Gravity
84. True Love-¡Pas Net!
83. Well Wishers-Post Modern Romantic
82. The Figgs-The Man Who Fights Himself
81. The Romeo Flynns-Masque of Anarchy
80. The Bradburys-Don't Pump the Swingset
79. The Bulletproof Vests-Attack!
78. The Tangerines-In Season
77. Scott's Garage-Soul Magnet
76. The Great Affairs-Ricky Took the Wheels.
75. The Young Veins-Take a Vacation!
74. Mick Rhodes-'Til I Am Dust
73. Jackdaw4-The Eternal Struggle for Justice
72. Knit Delicate-Fulton Hill
71. Bleu-Four
70. Matthew Pop-Reinventing the Cosmos
69. The Big Sweet-Shot of Bliss
68. The Sails-A Headful of Stars
67. Eric Miller-Half of Purple
66. Tom Fuller Band-Maristar
65. Ted Lukas & The Misled-Learn How to Fall
64. Teenage Fanclub-Shadows
63. Taylor Locke & The Roughs-Marathon
62. Willie Nile-The Innocent Ones
61. Gavin Guss-Mercury Mine
60. Freedy Johnston-Rain on the City
59. The Silver Seas-Cheateau Revenge
58. Any Version of Me-Wasted Sun
57. Rich McCulley-Starting All Over Again
56. Michael Behm-Eargasm
55. Ike-Tie the Know With All You Got
54. Three Hour Tour-Looking for Tomorrow
53. The 88-The 88
52. Damien Lott-Damien Lott
51. The Passports-Is it True?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Top 100 coming soon.

Just a heads up for those looking that my Top 100 list should be up starting Thursday, probably in two chunks with 100-51 first and then 50-1 on Friday. I do reserve the right to shorten or lengthen it once I've gone back through the year's releases. The EP list will follow between Christmas and New Year's.

A note for those wondering: Greg Pope's dominance of these lists (#1 disc of 2008, #1 EP of 2009) will take a pause this year as his new disc came out just too late for 2010 purposes (last Monday) and will instead be considered for 2011.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Two for Tuesday, 12/14/10

Eric Crugnale-Carol Was Here. Getting in under the wire for my 2010 year-end list (which is coming next week) is Long Island's Eric Crugnale and his excellent debut Carol Was Here. This is fully-realized mature pop in the vein of David Mead and Seth Swirsky, and the lovely, Bacharachian title track draws you in right from the start. "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" is smart guitar pop, and "I'm So Glad" has a soulful feel to it that recalls Scot Sax & Wanderlust. There's no doubt that the whole album sounds like something unearthed from the 1970s, and the production from Kevin Bents (whose The Means was a favorite of ours a couple of years back) is top-notch. Other highlights include the bouncy, catchy "Unreliable Friend", the McCartneyesque 1:39-in-length "Never Thought", and the gentle, inspiring "Leave Your Worries Behind", which sounds like an oft-covered standard but isn't. A mightily impressive debut that sounds more like the work of a 20-year pro.

CD Baby | Official Site | iTunes

Baby Scream-Baby Scream. Baby Scream is Argentina's Juan Pablo Mozzolla, and he's become a regular around these parts with a full-length, and EP and now another full-length in space of about 2 years. If you like the first two releases, you'll love this one, and if you missed them this is a good a place to start as any. The Teenage Fanclub-ish "Powerpop Crush" announces Mozzolla's intent, and the moody "Exile" is a treat. Additionally, the martial, staccato "Getting Better"-like beat of "Mental Case" is irresistible and the social conscience of "Watching the End of the World (on TV)" is backed up by its intelligent melody and structure. Mozzolla has been known to channel John Lennon in his vocal style, and "What About You" finds him channeling the snarling Lennon of "How Do You Sleep" to good effect. Another high-quality outing that wears its influences well.

MySpace | iTunes | CD/Vinyl (from England)

Monday, December 13, 2010

New Greg Pope album - free! (for a week)

Wow - a nice holiday gift for everyone: the new Greg Pope album Blue Ocean Sky, and it's free for the downloading until December 20th. I haven't had a chance to listen yet, but unless he's now into death metal or Yoko Ono-like screeching, it should be great.

Download it at his official site.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

CD of the Day, 12/7/10: Various Artists-A Kool Kat Kristmas

With Not Lame sadly out of the picture, Kool Kat continues to take the power pop ball and run with it and they've leveraged their impressive stable of artists to come up with what not is only the best power pop Christmas album you've heard, but perhaps one of the best albums of the year.

Each artist contributed an original tune, and they all play to their strengths. Maple Mars' "Christmas Time in the City" celebrates Christmas in LA, the lyrical opposite of "White Christmas"; The Smith Brothers give us their signature breezy pop with "Every Day is Like Christmas", and Mike Giblin and Parallax Project's "All I Want for Christmas is a Chance" might be one of their best tracks ever. Meanwhile, Keith LuBrant's "The Christmas Spirit" is an energetic highlight, The Strands' "The Christmas Gifts" is a Ramones-like ode to finding where your parents hid the gifts, and Frank Royster serves up his usual fine retro-pop with "Christmas is Fun".

The real standouts, though, are a couple of somewhat tongue-in-cheek tracks. The Britannicas go for some old-school country rock with "Chris Hillman Christmas", in which they'd "rather listen to Jesus than to Wilco" and they'd "rather go back to jail than to see the Eagles reform again". And closing out the disc is The Goldbergs' "Channukah Guy", in which Andy Goldberg professes his love for all the trappings of Christmas, and is catchy as anything he's done (which is saying something).

And not only does A Kool Kat Kristmas have the tunes, but its heart is in the right place:
$5 FROM EVERY CD SOLD WILL BE DONATED TO THE SUSAN GIBLIN FOUNDATION: The late wife of Mike Giblin of Parallax Project, Susan Kroah Giblin held degrees both as a Paralegal and as a Certified Veterinary Technician, a degree that she obtained after going back to school at the age of 35. As one of Central PA's greatest friends to cast-off and wayward animals, she was a 17 year volunteer at the Helen O. Krause Animal Foundation, and served as its medical coordinator for nearly a decade. She also maintained a fostering room in her home which was rarely empty, and was well-known for her compassion, empathy, and personal connection with both patients and their owners. The Susan Giblin Foundation for Animal Wellness and Welfare was formed to honor the memory and continue the work of Susan Giblin, a Certified Veterinary Technician and noted animal advocate, who passed away from leukemia at the age of 46. The Foundation's mission is to raise and dispense funds to support animal caregiving organizations, to foster awareness and education of complementary therapies, and to support the continued education of those in the animal medical field

Between the quality power pop and the great cause, this is the one power pop disc to buy this holiday season above all others.

Kool Kat | Kool Kat Kristmas MySpace Page

Friday, December 03, 2010

Latest from Kool Kat.

Two new releases from Kool Kat worth checking out:

Blank Pages-Absolute Uncertainty. These Jersey power poppers graced the pages of the site almost three years ago with On My Street, and now they've jumped from one Jersey power pop label (FDR) to another with their latest. There's nothing flashy about these guys (check out the album cover) - instead, this is the kind of straight-ahead, no-frills power pop we all know and love. "Let it All Out" might just be the best unintentional ode to power pop as frontman Greg Potter sings of "A stolen verse, a clever line/a borrowed story, a silly rhyme". "Help Me" is another fun rocker, the midtempo "This Way" knows its way around a hook, and "I've Said All I Can Say" says it all. If you pick this up from Kool Kat, they'll throw in a bonus disc titled "The Early Years" that features unreleased Blank Pages tracks from the 90s.

Kool Kat | CD Baby | MySpace | iTunes

The Sterling Loons-March to the Tune. Some of you may be familiar with this Seattle band from their groovy 2004 debut What to Do In Trouble, and six years later they're back with the followup. This is classic 60s Nuggets-styled pop (surprised that Rainbow Quartz didn't nab them) that mixes psychedelia, power pop and garage. Opener "Old Nick" is a good dose of Freakbeat fun, while "Morning Sunshine" channels the sound of what could be a slightly off-kilter Kinks. Elsewhere, the Loons show their variety with the somewhat C&W-sounding "Simple Life", the mod sounds of "Beauty's Eyeing the Beholder" and the Merseyside pop of "All Aboard". A 60s-inspired tour-de-force, this is one tune you'll want to march to. And yes, Kool Kat has a bonus disc for this one too with seven unreleased tracks.

Kool Kat | MySpace

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Free "new" Fountains of Wayne track.

For a special on NPR's All Things Considered, Fountains of Wayne took the circa-1890 poem "Song of the Passaic" and set it to their own style of music. The song is available as a free download from their official site, so go get it!