Monday, December 29, 2014

The Absolute Powerpop Top 75 of 2014.

I was originally set to do a top 100 as I usually do, but as in 2011 I've pared down down the list to 75, as my first run-through of what I listened to last year only yielded 86 titles, and rather than pad it with 14 that I didn't deem "top 100 worthy", I scaled it back to 75. And it's a good thing that the last 3-4 months of the year brought us quite a few excellent discs because this would have been a top 50 around September 1. The top EP list will run tomorrow. Anyway, here's the list - I will annotate it with links as the day goes on:

1. The Tripwires-Get Young
2. Secret Powers-Secret Powers 6
3. Edward O'Connell-Vanishing Act
4. Adrian Bourgeois-Pop/Art
5. Sloan-Commonwealth
6. Linus of Hollywood-Something Good
7. Phonograph (UK)-Phonograph Vol. 1
8. Smith & Hayes-People All Over the World
9. The Well Wishers-A Shattering Sky
10. Latvian Radio-For Love & Spite
11. Marble Party-Plush Up
12. Greg Ieronimo-Bipolar Love
13. Joe Sullivan-Schlock Star
14. Old 97s-Most Messed Up
15. Marshall Holland & The Etceteras-S/T
16. The Ships-The Summer of Our Lives
17. The Dowling Poole-Bleak Strategies
18. Jeremy Messmersmith-Heart Murmurs
19. The Legal Matters-S/T
20. The New Pornographers-Brill Bruisers
21. The Jeanies-S/T
22. The Die Youngs-Nothing's Broken
23. Shake Some Action!-Catch the Sun
24. The Autumn Defense-Fifth
25. The Deathray Saints-S/T
26. Rob Bonfiglio-Freeway
27. The Pearlfishers-Open Up Your Colouring Book
28. First in Space-In the Red
29. The Sleepwalkers-Lost My Mind in Stereo
30. The Orange Opera-Land of Tall
31. Dropkick-Homeward
32. Ransom & The Subset-No Time to Lose
33. David Grahame-Toy Plane II
34. Aerial-Why Don't They Teach Heartbreak at School?
35. The Great Affairs-Dream in Stereo
36. The Rip Off Artists-The Intercontinental
37. The Jellybricks-Youngstown Tune-Up
38. J Scott Bergman-Beautifulordinary
39. Static in Verona-Everything You Knew Before You Knew Everything
40. Rick Hromdaka-Trippin Dinosaurs
41. The Baseball Project-3rd
42. The Tangerines-Turn on the Light
43. Nude Beach-77
44. Goodman-Isn't it Sad
45. Mitch Gettman-Stop Living Like it's the End of the World
46. Damp-S/T
47. The New Mendicants-Into the Lime
48. Sunday Sun-We Let Go
49. The Nines-Nine Lives
50. Jeff Larson-Close Circle
51. Mothboxer-Sand and the Rain
52. Doug Gillard-Parade On
53. Mike Barnett-Everybody Gets to Dream
54. Bubble Gum Orchestra-Beyond Time
55. Eugene Benjamin-Photograph
56. Andy Klingensmith-Bright Again
57. Watts-Flash of White Light
58. Chris Koza-In Real Time
59. The Blood Rush Hour-And Then...The Unthinkable Happened!
60. Wilder Embry-Smolderolderingpictureaid
61. Paul Starling-Suit of Armor
62. Pill Hill-It Tastes a Little Sweeter
63. Magic Eight Ball-Last of the Old Romantics
64. Fernando Perdomo-Girl With a Record Collection (no link, he discontinued this as an album)
65. The Paul & John-Inner Sunset
66. The Mike Benign Compulsion-Here's How it Works
67. Jeffrey Dean Foster-The Arrow
68. The Safes-Record Heat
69. Glenn Case-This Album Has 12 Songs on It
70. Fauna Flora-S/T
71. High on Stress-Leaving MPLS
72. Fremont-Trees to Stone
73. Sunrise Highway-Windows
74. Andy Kentler-No Love Lost
75. Kinematic-Kinecism

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Year-end list update.

I had hoped to have the year-end lists up starting yesterday, but they will be delayed to between Christmas and New Year's.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Three Great Debuts.

Matthew Shacallis-Reach the Stars. Aussie power popper Matthew Shacallis has crafted an impressive debut EP, recalling another power popper with the name Matthew S., Mr. Sweet. "Summer Sun" is melodic bliss, buoyed by Shacallis' Brendan Benson-esque vocals, "Tell Me Girl" recalls his "Sweet" namesake as it wouldn't have sounded out of place on Girlfriend, and "Do You Love Me" has a Zombies vibe. Easily one of the top EPs of 2014, and you can count on seeing this in next week's year-end lists.


The Ships-The Summer of Our Lives. From Australia we travel to Spain, from The Ships sail with another impressive debut. This full-length evokes The Posies and Teenage Fanclub. Standout tracks include the jangly "Want", the uptempo "Second Hand Store" "Hipster"(in which they don't want of any them at their shows) and the relentless "Julia". Spain has always had a healthy power pop scene, and these guys are making it proud.

Amazon | iTunes

The Jeanies-The Jeanies. Rounding out our trio of top-notch debuts is Brooklyn's The Jeanies, who traffic in a more old-school power pop sound reminiscent of Dwight Twilley and The Plimsouls. "I Seen Her Dance" is a rocking gem that will get you in the mood right off the bat, "It's For You" could have been an AM radio hit from the 70s, and "Believe Me Jenny" sounds a decade earlier, almost like a lost La's track. As long as artists like the three featured today keep emerging, power pop will continue to be in good hands.


Friday, December 05, 2014

Weekend Roundup.

Various Artists-A Kool Kat Kristmas Vol. 2. Kool Kat's 2010 A Kool Kat Kristmas was the best power pop Christmas compilation in recent years, so Ray Gianchetti & company decided to greenlight a sequel. And while it may not be as consistently great as the original, Volume 2 is another fine collection of power poppers giving us original holiday-themed tunes. The Pencils' "Christmas is Coming Again" starts things off in majestic fashion, sounding like an outtake from Phil Spector's A Christmas Gift for You, and the Honeymoon Stallions (f/k/a The Goldbergs) follow with the suitably jaunty "Snowbirds". Other standouts include the Tor Guides wishing for "Beatles Vinyl", The Geniune Fakes with the Christmas power ballad "You Always Come Back Home", Shake Some Action's typically jangly "Christmas in the Sun", and Stephen Lawrenson's unmistakeable Jeff Lynne-influenced psych-pop sound on "Glad it's Christmas". As with the first volume, proceeds from the disc will benefit the Susan Giblin Foundation for Animal Wellness and Welfare. Good music for a good cause - you can't beat that.

Listen at Soundcloud | Kool Kat

Secret Powers-Secret Powers 6. Another early Christmas present for power poppers is the return of Secret Powers. I have to admit, I was getting a bit worried about them; after releasing an album a year from 2008 to 2012, Ryan "Schmed" Maynes & the boys from Missoula, Montana had gone dark for 2 1/2 years. But they're back, and what they lacked in imagination in naming the disc they more than made up for with the new tunes. For those joining us in that time frame, what makes Secret Powers great is their heavy ELO/Jellyfish influence and knack for the great melody. The epic ballad "Bitter Sun" serves doubly well as an album opener and a re-introduction, and that leads us into the frantic and hyper-catchy "Palarium" (the most Jellyfish-esque of tracks) and the ELO homage "Spare Parts", which is half "Mr. Blue Sky" and half "Yours Truly, 2095" in its story of an android. Elsewhere, "She's Electrical" glides along on a sweet melody with all the band's attendant bells and whistles, and the closing ballad "Ready to Get Old and Die" evokes McCartney. Great to have these guys back.

CD Baby | iTunes | Listen at Spotify