Friday, January 24, 2014

Weekend Roundup.

Bubble Gum Orchestra-The Discovery. A 2013 release I missed was the latest from Michael Hildebrandt, a/k/a Bubble Gum Orchestra. As there haven't been any hints of Bleu and Mike Viola reconstituting L.E.O., this is where you'll have to get your fix of new "ELO" music. As on his previous releases, Hildebrandt is anything but subtle with his ELO homages and the title of this disc alone indicates that. So it wouldn't be a surprise that the best track on the disc is an "Evil Woman"-styled proto-disco/rock track called "Evil, Evil Girl". Other treats include ihe jaunty "Lovely Days, Lovely Nights", which has a hint of "Mr. Blue Sky" about it; the frenetic "There Goes My Baby", and the catchy "Until You Say Go". Fun stuff, and since Jeff Lynne isn't going to be walking through that door anytime soon, a must for ELO fans.

CD Baby | iTunes

Baby Scream-Greatest Failures. Juan Pablo Mazzola has had enough releases as Baby Scream to warrant his first-ever compilation, which he's self-deprecatingly titled Greatest Failures. While they may be "failures" from a commercial perspective, there's no failure of quality here and for those who have until now been immune to the charms of his Lennon-esque musical stylings this is a great opportunity to catch up. Thanks to Bandcamp, you can visit (or re-visit) all these tracks yourself, but if you want to know my favorites they're the languid "Mars", the sneering rocker "Every Day (I Die a Little Bit)", the gentle and melodic "The Riots", and the twisty "Nicole". How does the old song go? "I scream, you scream, we all scream for Baby Scream".

Bandcamp | iTunes

Monday, January 13, 2014

David Bash's Best of 2013, Part 2.

Here are the remainder of the 2013 lists from David Bash. All comments are his:

III. Top 2 Compilations-Single Artist

1. The Grip Weeds-Inner Grooves (Rare And Under-Released Tracks) (Ground Up)
2. Ben Jones-Retrospective: A Collection (Self-Released)

IV. Top 5 Compilations-Various Artists

1. International Pop Overthrow Vol. 16 (Pop Geek Heaven)
2. Christmas Without Cancer (Vandalay)
3. Sweet Relief 3: Love Is Everywhere (Jam)
4. Power Pop Planet Volume Two: 30 Bands, 30 Smiles (Pop Geek Heaven)
5. Pop Garden Radio Presents The Rock On The Road Show Season 4 (Pop Garden Radio)

V. Top 4 Tribute Discs

1. Drink A Toast To Innocence: A Tribute To Lite Rock (Self-Released)
2. The Records Tribute: Starry Eyed (Zero Hour)
3. Skrang: Sounds Like Bobby Sutliff (Cool Dog)
4.. Pop Garden Radio Presents: Legacy/A Tribute To Rick Nelson Vol. 1 (Pop Garden Radio)

VI. Biggest Disappointment

Fitz And The Tantrums-More Than Just A Dream (Elektra)

VII. 2014 Releases I’ve Heard And Am Excited About (In Alphabetical Order)

Note: some of these have been available for download in 2013, but a little birdie told me that these will be released as physical product in 2014…so that’s why they’re in this category. I’m always going to favor physical product, and so if there’s a physical release, that’s the year in which they will be ranked. I want to do my part, small as it is, to keep the physical release alive and well. 

The Belltower-Day Breakaway
Adrian Bourgeois-Pop/Art
The Cry-Dangerous Games
The Fast Camels-Dead Rooms And Battery Dreams
Peter Fedofsky-False Ties and Nice Hoods
Jimmy Haber-New Bondi Hippies
The Hot Place-The Language Of Birds
The Len Price Three-Nobody Knows
The Brothers Restaino-Have Issues
Valley Lodge-Use Your Weapons

Reissue Categories

For this category, at least one of the following criteria must be met for the album to qualify:

a. those that are on CD for the first time
b. those that had been previously issued, but are now out of print or difficult to find
c. those in whose current issue have lots of bonus tracks, or some other unique feature
d. those reissued on LP where they never had been
e. those which were previously unreleased but are “old” enough to where they should be considered reissues.

A CD or LP which contains exclusively previously unrelesed material which is not from current times is still considered a “reissue” in my ranking structure.

With the above in mind, while quality is the major factor in determining the rankings, other factors such as number and type of bonus tracks, liner notes, sound quality, etc…do come into play.

I. Top 50 Proper Albums

1. XTC-Nonsuch: The Surround Sound Series (Ape House)
2. Chilliwack-Lights From The Valley (Mushroom)
3. The Mamas & The Papas-The Mamas & The Papas (Sundazed)
4. Abba-Ring Ring: Deluxe Edition (Polar)
5. Tee Set-Emotion: The Album, The Rarities (Pseudonym)
6. Tears For Fears-The Hurting: Deluxe Edition (Universal)
7. Los Brincos-Contrabando (El)
8. Ian McNabb-Truth And Beauty (Cherry Red)
9. The Vogues-Sings The Good Old Songs And Other Hits (WEA International)
10. The Serendipity Singers-Love Is A State Of Mind: Deluxe Stereo/Mono Edition (Now Sounds)
11. The Sugar Shoppe-The Sugar Shoppe (Now Sounds)
12. Dave Edmunds-Subtle As A Flying Mallet: Expanded Edition (RPM)
13. The Supremes-Sing Holland, Dozier, Holland (Culture Factory)
14. Small Faces-There Are But Four Small Faces (Varese Sarabande)
15. Bananarama-Bananarama (Rhino/Edsel)
16. Chilliwack-Dreams, Dreams, Dreams (Mushroom)
17. The Mamas & The Papas-Deliver (Sundazed)
18. The Alan Parsons Project-I Robot (Legacy)
19. The Boys-Alternative Chartbusters (Fire)
20. Family-Bandstand (Snapper)
21. The Kinks-Muswell Hillbillies: Deluxe Edition (Universal)
22. Reggie King-Looking For A Dream (Circle)
23. We All Together-We All Together (Repsychled)
24. Nektar-Down To Earth (Purple Pyramid)
25. R.E.M.-Green: Deluxe Edition (Rhino)
26. Sandie Shaw-Reviewing The Situation (Salvo)
27. Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera-Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera (Grapefruit)
28. The Seeds-A Web Of Sound (Ace/Big Beat)
29. The Association-The Association: Deluxe Expanded Edition (Now Sounds)
30. FM-Black Noise (Esoteric)
31. The Gods-Genesis (Esoteric)
32. Hep Stars-It’s Been A Long, Long Time: Expanded Edition (RPM)
33. Richard Barone-Cool Blue Halo (Digsin)
34. The Seeds-Future (Ace/Big Beat)
35. The Primitives-Lovely (Cherry Red)
36. Bananarama-Deep Sea Skiving (Rhino/Edsel)
37. The Flaming Ember-Westbound # 9 (Solid)
38. The Boys-The Boys (Fire)
39. The Blue Aeroplanes-Beatsongs: Deluxe (Cherry Red)
40. Spirogyra-Bells, Boots, and Shambles (Esoteric)
41. The Gods-To Samuel A Son (Esoteric)
42. The Seeds-The Seeds (Ace/Big Beat)
43. Doris-Did You Give The World Some Love Today Baby (RPM)
44. The Bongos-Phantom Train (Jem)
45. Fairfield Ski-Fairfield Ski (Guerssen)
46. Kenny O’Dell-Beautiful People (Real Gone Music/Varese Sarabande)
47. The Headboys-The Lost Album (Pop Detective)
48. Sly & The Family Stone-There’s A Riot Goin’ On (Sony)
49. Barclay James Harvest-Turn Of The Tide (Esoteric)
50. Alan Munson-Good Morning World (Guerssen)

II. Top 10 Two-Fers, Three-Fers, Four-Fers, and Five-Fers: Proper Albums

1. Paul Revere & The Raiders-Something Has Happened! 1967-1969 (Raven)
2. Badfinger-Badfinger/Wish You Were Here/In Concert At The BBC 1972-3 (Edsel)
3. Greenfield & Cook-Greenfield & Cook/Second Album (Universal)
4. Paul Revere & The Raiders-Evolution To Revolution: 5 Classic Albums (Raven)
5. The Bee Gees-The Festival Albums Collection 1965-67 (Festival)
6. The Strawberry Alarm Clock-Incense And Peppermints/Wake Up…It’s Tomorrow (Tune In)
7. Little Anthony & The Imperials-On A New Street/Hold On (Soul Music)
8. The Swimming Pool Q’s-The A&M Years 1984-1986: The Swimming Pool Q’s/Blue Tomorrow (Bar None)
9. Lake-Lake/Lake II/Paradise Island (BGO)
10. Tommy James and The Shondells-Hanky Panky/It’s Only Love/I Think We’re Alone Now (BGO)

III. Top 25 Compilations, Single Artist

1. Michael Fennelly-Love Can Change Everything: Demos 1967-1972 (Sundazed)
2. The Beatles-On Air: Live At The BBC 2 (Capitol Universal)
3. The Beatles-Live At The BBC (Capitol Universal)
4. Pete Ham-Keyhole Street: Demos 1966-67 (Without You Music)
5. Big Star-Nothing Can Hurt Me (Omnivore)
6. Pezband-Dangerous People: Unreleased Tracks and Demos 1979 (Air Mail)
7. Del Shannon-The Complete UK Singles (and More) 1961-1966 (Ace)
8. The Three O’Clock-The Hidden World Revealed (Omnivore)
9. The Stained Glass-A Scene In-Between 1965-1967 (Big Beat)
10. Giorgio Moroder-Schlagermoroder Vol. 1: 1966-1975 (Repertoire)
11. The Paley Brothers-The Complete Recordings (Real Gone Music)
12. The Fourmyula-Inside The Hutt: New Zealand’s Pop/Psych Kingpins 1968-1969 (RPM)
13. The Aardvarks-Sinker, Line & Hook: The Anthology 1987-1999 (Cherry Red)
14. The Bee Gees-Morning Of My Life: The Best Of 1965-66 (Festival)
15. Neal Ford & The Fanatics-Good Men (Big Beat)
16. Jellyfish-Radio Jellyfish: Live Radio Broadcasts 1993 (Omnivore)
17. The Fleur De Lys-You’ve Got To Earn It (Acid Jazz)
18. Tim Andrews-Something About Suburbia: The Sixties Sounds (RPM)
19. The Primitives-Everything’s Shining Bright: The Lazy Recordings 1985-1987 (Cherry Red)
20. Honey LTD.-The Complete LHI Recordings (Light In The Attic)
21. John’s Children-A Strange Affair: The Sixties Recordings (Grapefruit)
22. Tandyn Almer-Along Comes Tandyn (Sundazed)
23. Lynsey De Paul-Sugar and Beyond: Anthology 1972-1974 (RPM)
24. Ruthann Friedman-Windy: A Ruthann Friedman Songbook (Now Sounds)
25. Athenor-Flashback (Guerssen)

IV. Top 15 Compilations, Various Artists

1. Mixed Up Minds, Part Seven: Obscure Rock & Pop From The British Isles 1969-1974 (Particles)
2. Book A Trip 2: More Psych Pop Sounds Of Capitol Records (Now Sounds)
3. Power Pop Prime Volume Three: 2000-2001 (Pop Geek Heaven)
4. Era Northern Soul (Kent)
5. Pop Muzik: The Stories Of 70s Pop (Universal)
6. Fading Yellow-Volume Fifteen: Sunshowers U.S./Canadian Pop Psych & Other Delights (Flower Machine)
7. Alice In Wonderland: The Great Lost Southern Popsike Trip (Charly)
8. Piccadilly Sunshine Part Fourteen: British Pop Psych And Other Flavours 1965-1969 (Particles)
9. Piccadilly Sunshine Part Fifteen: British Pop Psych And Other Flavours 1967-1971 (Particles)
10. Born To Be Together: The Songs Of Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil (Ace)
11. 94 Baker Street Revisited: Poptastic Sounds From The Apple Era 1967-1968 (RPM)
12. Sophisticated Boom Boom!-The Shadow Morton Story (Ace)
13. Mixed Up Minds, Part Six: Obscure Rock & Pop From The British Isles 1971-1974 (Particles)
14. Piccadilly Sunshine Part Thirteen: British Pop Psych And Other Flavours 1967-1970 (Particles)
15. Piccadilly Sunshine Part Sixteen: British Pop Psych And Other Flavours 1966-1972 (Particles)

V. Top 25 Box Sets: Single Artist

1. The Beach Boys-Made In California: 1962-2012 (Capitol)
2. The Moody Blues-Timeless Flight (Universal)
3. Sparks-New Music For Amnesiacs: The Ultimate Collection (Lil’ Beethoven)
4. Nilsson-The RCA Albums Collection (Sony Music)
5. Four Tops-50th Anniversary: The Singles Collection 1964-1972 (Hip-O-Select)
6. Yes-The Studio Albums 1969-1987 (Warner Music)
7. Sly and The Family Stone-Higher! (Sony)
8. Fleetwood Mac-Rumours (Warner Bros.)
9. The Monkees-Present (Rhino)
10. The Shadows-The Early Years Expanded Edition: Their Complete Studio Recordings 1959-1966 (Parlophone)
11. The Zombies-In Stereo (Repertoire)
12. Scott Walker-Scott: The Collection 1967-1970 (Universal)
13. Family-Once Upon A Time (Snapper)
14. *Fleetwood Mac: 1969-1972 (Rhino)
15. Showaddywaddy-The Complete Studio Recordings 1973-1988 (Edsel)
16. Donovan-Breezes of Patchouli: His Studio Recordings 1966-1969 (EMI)
17. The Who-Tommy: Superdeluxe (Universal)
18. Marc Bolan at The BBC: Radio Sessions and Broadcasts 1967-1977 (Universal)
19. Van Morrison-Moondance: Deluxe Edition (Rhino)
20. Leo Sayer-The Complete Studio Recordings 1971-2006 (Edsel)
21. Duane Allman-Skydog: The Duane Allman Retrospective (Universal)
22. Stephen Stills-Carry On (Rhino)
23. Paul McCartney and Wings-Wings Over America: Superdeluxe (Hear Music)
24. Elvis Presley-Elvis At Stax: Deluxe Edition (Legacy)
25. Be Bop Deluxe-At The BBC 1974-1978 (Parlophone)

VI. Top 10 Box Sets: Various Artists

1. Lee Hazlewood Industries-There’s A Dream I’ve Been Saving 1966-1971 (Light In The Attic)
2. The Sound Of Young America: The Complete Motown Singles Vol. 12 A 1972 (Hip-O-Select)
3. The Sound Of Young America: The Complete Motown Singles Vol. 12 B 1972 (Hip-O-Select)
4. The Millennium-At Last (Sony Japan)***
5. Oh Yes We Can Love: A History Of Glam Rock (Universal)
6. Love, Poetry and Revolution: A Journey Through The British Psychedelic and Underground Scene 1966 to 1972 (Grapefruit)
7. Scared To Get Happy: A Story Of Indie-Pop 1980-1989 (Cherry Red)
8. Cooler Than Ice-Arctic Records and The Rise Of Philly Soul (Jamie/Guyden)
9. Los Nuggetz-‘60s Garage & Psych From Latin America (Rockbeat)
10. Looking Good-75 Femme Mod Soul Nuggets (RPM)

***was released in Japan only in Sept. 2012, but I decided to rank it in 2013 because nobody I know, including me, had been aware of it until 2013. I know it doesn’t look like a various artists box, but it includes all the solo issues by various members of The Millennium.

VII. Top 5 Reissue Labels

1. Ace/Big Beat
2. Now Sounds
3. Particles
4. Hip-O-Select
5. RPM

Saturday, January 11, 2014

David Bash's Best of 2013.

Once again we're happy to bring you the Best-of-2013 lists from David Bash, Mr. International Pop Overthrow. Today I'll run his top album and EP lists, and tomorrow (or Monday) I'll post his miscellaneous lists. As always, as comprehensive as I think I am, I can't hold a candle to David as I see numerous releases that passed me by this year, and so like many of you I have a lot of discovery ahead of me. I'll turn it over to David now, with this prefatory comments that I wholeheartedly agree with regarding late-year releases:

Those marked with an * are LP-only releases, those with a **are download-only.

I. Top 100 Albums

As always, I listened to a lot of albums this year, and there were significantly more than 100 which I thought were quality discs. I could have extended this list to 200 and still liked what I’ve heard, but after 100 I decided to stop as I had a difficult time distinguishing between, e.g. 101 and 110. Anyway, if you released an album this year and it’s not on my list, it certainly doesn’t mean I didn’t think it was good. 

There may be a handful of albums on this list which appear to be from 2012, or in fact were “released” at the tail end of last year. As anal as I am in making my lists, I also feel the need to be sensible about this issue, and rank these albums in 2013. As it is with most indie releases, it takes a few months for awareness to be created, and if I don’t follow what sense dictates, I am left with two alternatives, neither of which are viable to me:

a. I wait until June of a given year to post my list of the best of the previous year, when nobody cares anymore.
b. These albums simply never get ranked, which would be a damn shame.

So, I choose to do it this way. If you want to scream bloody murder that some of my fave albums of 2013 were “released” in late 2012 (“released” is in quotes, because often that means a download on the artist’s bandcamp page), then by all means, get your jollys. Me, I’m going to do what makes sense.

1. Mothboxer-Three (Self-Released)
2. Ben Jones & The Rifle Volunteers-Shangri La (Rifle Tone)
3. Nick Piunti-13 In My Head (Self-Released)
4. The Maureens-The Maureens (Self-Released)
5. The Grapes Of Wrath-High Road (Aporia)
6. Lee And The Lovedaddies-Lee And The Lovedaddies (Self-Released) *
7. The Resonars-Crummy Desert Sound (Burger) *
8. Neighbours-Prime Numbers (Get Hip)
9. Shake Some Action!-Full Fathom Five (Sattelite 451)
10. Alfa 9-Gone To Ground (Blow Up)
11. The Nines-The Nines (TAS Gold)
12. Glenn Case-Throw Money (Self-Released)
13. Wiretree-Get Up (Self-Released)
14. Miles Kane-Don’t Forget Who You Are (Sony)
15. Phenomenal Cat-Postcards From The British Empire (Self-Released)
16. Greg Pope-Pop Motion Animation (Octoberville)
17. Liar’s Club-Come And Go (Charlatan)
18. Surf School Dropouts-Summer Is A State Of Mind (Sunny Day) *
19. Eureka Machines-Remain In Hope (Wrath)
20. Ulysses-Kill You Again (Black Glove)
21. Agony Aunts-Big Cinnamon (Mystery Lawn Music)
22. The Cherry Bluestorms-Bad Penny Opera (Roundhouse)
23. Groovy Uncle featuring Suzi Chunk-One Vowel Away From The Truth (Trouserphonic)
24. Mikal Cronin-MC II (Merge)
25. The Sun Sawed In ½-Elephants Into Swans (Self-Released)
26. King Washington-The Overload (Self-Released)
27. The Connection-Let It Rock! (King Yum)
28. Brendan Benson-You Were Right (Readymade)
29. The Most-Auto Destructive Art (CopaseDisques)
30. Eric Barao-Eric Barao (Self-Released)
31. The Popdogs-Cool Cats For Pop Dogs (Self-Released)
32. Radio Days-Get Some Action (Rock Indiana)
33. Adam Marsland-The Owl And The Full Moon (Karma Frog)
34. London Egg-If It Takes Forever (Self-Released)
35. Michael Mazzarella-Love In Laureltide Green (Angelica)
36. The Bottle Kids-Such A Thrill (Kool Kat)
37. Vegas With Randolph-Rings Around The Sun (Caged Giant)
38. Dynamo Bliss-Poplar Music (Self-Released)
39. The Cherry Drops-Everything’s Groovy (Musick)
40. Jacco Gardner-Cabinet Of Curiosities (Trouble In Mind)
41.Stephen Lawrenson-Obscuriosity (Kool Kat)
42. Harper Simon-Division Street (PIAS)
43. The Orange Peels-Sun Moon (Mystery Lawn)
44. The Playmates-Soul Cookin’ (Green River)
45. Wyatt Funderburk-Novel And Profane (JollyRonnie)
46. Phil Angotti-Life And Rhymes (ouR House)
47. Lisa Mychols-Above, Beyond & In Between (Vandalay)
48. Paul Bertolino-Where The Buildings Hit The Sky (Self-Released)
49. Raymond Meade-Fables And Follies (Self-Released)
50. Schnauser-Where Business Meets Fashion (Self-Released)
51. Maxi Dunn-Edmund & Leo (Dabooboo)
52. Scissors & The Cuts-3 July (Trashy Creatures)
53. Gleeson-Gleeson II (Almost There)
54. Andy Klingensmith-Pictures Of (Futureman) **
55. The Mergers-Monkey See Monkey Do! (Soundflat)
56. David Brookings-The Maze (Byar)
57. Laurie Biagini-Sanctuary Of Sound (Self-Released)
58. Colleen Green-Sock In To Me (Hardly Art)
59. 8x8-Azalia’s Room (Self-Released)
60. Dana Countryman-Pop! The Incredible, Fantastic Retro Pop World Of… (Self-Released)
61. The Yum Yums-…Play Good Music (Screaming Apple) *
62. The Histrionics-Cannon (Self-Released)
63. Third Of Never-Downrising (Jam)
64. John LT-Suburban Superstar (Mother West)
65. Secret Friend-Time Machine (Odd Tunes)
66. Jackdaw4-Dissecticide (Too Many Robots)
67. Bubblegum Orchestra-The Discovery (Out Of This World)
68. Of Montreal-Lousy With Sylvianbriar (Polyvinylrecords)
69. Chris Degnore and The Black Drops-Cinema (Self-Released)
70. The Junior League-You Should Be Happy (Greenleaves)
71. Corin Ashley-New Lion Terraces (Murray Hill)
72. Sugar Stems-Can’t Wait (Screaming Apple) *
73. Smith Westerns-Soft Will (Mom & Pop)
74. The Temponauts-The Canticle Of The Temponauts (Other Eyes)
75. The Bye Bye Blackbirds-We Need The Rain (Self-Released)
76. Tudor Lodge-Stay (Cast Iron)
77. The Tor Guides-Lots Of The Pops! Volume 1: Caught In A Sweet Refrain (Digit)
78. Adam Daniel-Pop Baby (Self-Released)
79. Andrea Perry-Four (Self-Released)
80. Beachwood Sparks-Desert Skies (Alive)
81. Paul McCartney-New (Concord)
82. Fonda-Sell Your Memories (Minty Fresh)
83. Beady Eye-Be (Sony)
84. The 88-Fortune Teller (Self-Released)
85. The Beat Rats-Have Mersey! (Cavern/Kool Kat)
86. Magic Eight Ball-Sorry We’re Late But We’re Worth The Wait (Magic Cat)
87. The American Professionals-We Make It Our Business (Charlie In The Box)
88. Et Tu Brucé-Suburban Sunshine (Worldwide)
89. Joe Symes & The Loving Kind-Joe Symes & The Loving Kind (Truly Independent)
90. Esa Linna-This Is Who I Am (Teosto)
91. Richard X. Heyman-Richard X. Heyman (Turn-Up)
92. The Bamboo Trading Co.-The Bamboo Trading Co. (Self-Released)
93. The Contrast-A Sinister Flick (Angel Air)
94. Nektar-Time Machine (Purple Pyramid)
95. Goodfellows-The Name Of These Girls (Self-Released)
96. Blue Cartoon-Are You Getting On? (Aardvark)
97. JoDee Purkeypile-Messenger (Self-Released)
98. NRWY-Negatives (Self-Released) *
99. Mount Pressmore-Enjoy (Self-Released)
100. Pete MacLeod-Rolling Stone (359 Music)

II. Top 5 EPs

Disclaimer alert: I’m not a big fan of EPs, as they always seem to leave me wanting more. For this reason, I never seek them out the way I do full-length albums, and 2013 was no exception. At the end of 2012 I promised myself that I would more actively seek out EPs, but unfortunately I didn’t. For this reason, I’m limited to a Top 5 that I particularly enjoyed, but please don’t take this list as an end-all be-all; there are plenty of other fine EPs out there!

1. The Junipers-Euphonious Trolley (Self-Released) **
2. honeychain-Futura (Self-Released)
3. The Well Wishers-Dunwoody (That Was My Skull)
4. The Head-Girls & The Yukon (Self-Released)
5. The Real Numbers-1 2 3 4 5 (Self-Released)

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Two for Thursday, 1/9/14

Marshall Holland-Marhsall Holland & The Etceteras. After returning to the scene in 2011 for the first time since 2004 with a new EP, Marshall Holland is back with his first full-length in a decade and it's the first standout pop album of 2014. Continuing in the same vein as previous releases, the San Franciscan offers up his winning mix of Posies/Brendan Benson-styled pop that also brings to mind the likes of Phil Angotti and Ken Sharp. "Take Me" is an amiable opener that shows Holland's songcraft at its finest, and the ruminative "At 65" is like a grown-up "When I'm Sixty-Four". Meanwhile, "Oh Please" is first-rate jangle pop, and the primarily acoustic "Fool Me" is another melodic gem. Also included here is "Radio Style", released as a single last summer, in which Holland decries the state of radio today and makes a well-earned plea to listen to more music like his, done so of course in the most melodic of styles. The album officially drops this coming Tuesday, but you can pre-order at Bandcamp.

Bandcamp / iTunes

Steve Judd-Sugarcoated. Ottawa's Steve Judd brings up a mix of classic rock and power pop from north of the border with Sugarcoated and he isn't messing around, serving up a collection of crunchy melodic rocking tunes with sugar coating. The title track kicks things off in fine fashion (even mentioning the Russian mafia!), and "Takin' Us to Task" is a melodic rocker that splits the difference between Tom Petty and The Replacements. Elsewhere, "Lost and Found" slows things down a bit yet still rocks melodically, "99%" boasts a chorus that'll stick in your head, and "Liquid Courage" boasts a high jangle quotient. And Judd closes things out nicely near the end with the power ballad "Testament". This is a fine rocking disc, and I'm not sugarcoating things.

CD Baby | iTunes

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

New Year's Roundup.

The problem with doing year-end best-of lists in December is that the music community doesn't stop releasing new material at any point during the year, meaning lists like mine (compiled in mid-December) will miss out on a few strong releases that come out in the latter half of the month. Typically I push these into my lists for the next year, and here are two excellent releases that didn't quite make it under the wire for my 2013 lists.

Cheap Star-Rosetta Stone EP. Although their name is a nod to Cheap Trick and Big Star, the French band Cheap Star sounds more like The Posies than either band (although the Posies themselves were heavily involved in the resurrected Big Star before Alex Chilton's death). This isn't a coincidence, as they've toured with The Posies and Ken Stringfellow produced this EP (as well as their 2009 debut Speaking Like an Elephant), and Stringfellow and Jon Auer play on the record. This time around you get six tracks that fit in comfortably on any Posies compilation, from the midtempo rocker "Crushing the Zeros" to the lovely, elegiac "A Song for You". If you like the Posies at all, there isn't much risk here.

CD Baby | iTunes

J Scott Bergman-Beautifulordinary. Calfiornia's J Scott Bergman has crafted a wonderful mixture of folk/rock and indie pop on Beautifulordinary that owes much to the singer/songwriters of the 70s. In fact, it reminds me quite a bit of the late 90s/early 00s Pernice Brothers records, especially The World Won't End. "The Exit" opens the proceedings in majestic fashion with an intricate melody and soaring choruses, while the uptempo title track is first-rate guitar pop. Meanwhile, having extensively mentioned The Posies in the review above, I'd be remiss not to point out that "On Earth as a Room" has a Posies vibe, while the rocking "Black Snow" is hands-down the catchiest track on the disc, and the Beatlesque "Old Songs" isn't far behind. I'm a bit disappointed I didn't catch this one before making the 2013 list, because it would easily be top 20 material. Wait until next year (er this year), I guess.

CD Baby | iTunes