Friday, December 30, 2016

The Absolute Powerpop Top 15 EPs & Top 20 Americana Albums of 2016

The Top Power Pop EPs of 2016

1. Cliff Hillis-Love Not War
2. The Scheme-All the Time in the World
3. Preston Cochran-Sunshine
4. Fran Smith Jr-Mystic County
5. Mozley-8
6. Hector and the Leaves-Little Bee
7. Mozley-7
8. Eyelids-Slow it Goes
9. Kurt Raburn-Days of Vanity
10. Trip Wire-Seizureville
11. Pop Cult-Cult Classics
12. Ben Helm-S/T
13. The Dreaming Spires-Paisley Overground
14. Sunshine Bloom-Power Pop is Dead
15. The Matt Truman Ego Trip-AM 1670

Something new this year is my Americana list, since I listen to a lot of melodic Americana that really doesn't qualify as power pop. I already push the "power pop" label pretty wide to include a lot of stuff that's not traditional power pop so rather than push it even more, I've opted for this separate list.

1. Farewell Milwaukee-FM
2. Drive-By Truckers-American Band
3. The Jayhawks-Paging Mr. Proust
4. The Candles-Matter + Spirit
5. Jake Jones-From Time to Time
6. Andrew Leahey & The Homestead-Skyline in Central Time
7. BJ Barham-Rockingham
8. Beaver Nelson-Positive
9. Matt Joe Gow-Seven Years
10. Reckless Kelly-Sunset Motel
11. Blake Rainey & His Demons-Helicopter Rose
12. Big Shoals-Hard Lessons
13. Waco Brothers-Going Down in History
14. Faithless Town-Empires
15. Romantica-Shadowlands
16. Brian Irwin-The Fool
17. Chris Maughan & The Missing Ace-Be Happy
18. Nate Leavitt & The Elevation-Someone Send a Signal
19. Mark Huff-Down River
20. Caleb Caudle-Carolina Ghost

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Absolute Powerpop Top 100 Albums of 2016, #1-50.

As those who follow me on Twitter may have noticed, I agonized over picking a clear-cut #1 for the year, since the top 5 (heck, the top 10) were pretty much interchangeable for me. Rather than cop out and go with an unnumbered top five like I did several years back, I decided to honor the band I put at #1 for their lengthy career of quality music, not just quality power pop. It may not have been their greatest career album, but it was excellent and worthy of the top spot even though I can't say I liked it any more than some of the others I had ranked highly. Anyway, here's the top half of the list:

1. The Posies-Solid States
2. Ryan Allen & His Extra Arms-Basement Punk
3. Cheap Star-Songs for the Farrelly Brothers
4. Bryan Estepa-Every Little Thing
5. Seth Swirsky-Circles & Squares
6. Ken Sharp-New Mourning
7. Nick Piunti-Trust Your Instincts
8. John Macom-Unforeseen Circumstances
9. The Legal Matters-Conrad
10. Timothy Nelson-Words Like Young
11. Whitney-Light Upon the Lake
12. Tuns-S/T
13. Propeller-Fall Off the World
14. Sadler Vaden-S/T
15. Look Park-S/T
16. The Foreign Films-Record Collector
17. Erik Voeks-So The Wind Won't Blow it All Away
18. King Mixer-Hang On
19. Greg Pope-Guiding Star
20. Goodo-Better Than Millions
21. Hurry-Guided Meditation
22. Scott Warren-Good Love
23. Michael Carpenter & The Cuban Heels-Ain't Nothing Left to Say
24. Wesley Fuller-Melvista
25. Cupid's Carnival-Everything is Love
26. The Nines-Alejandro's Visions
27. Cotton Mather-Death of the Cool
28. Joey Sykes-Classic New Rock
29. Brett Harris-Up in the Air
30. The 88-Close to You
31. Carey Ott-Nocona
32. Kevin Devine-Instigator
33. Latvian Radio-Until Tomorrow Gets in the Way
34. Mark Crozer & The Rels-Sunny Side Down
35. Andy Bopp-Blisters & Thorns
36. Nada Surf-You Know Who You Are
37. Title Tracks-Long Dream
38. Dropkick-Balance the Light
39. Joe Giddings-Better from Here
40. Justin Levinson-Yes Man
41. Arvidson & Butterflies-S/T
42. The Well Wishers-Comes and Goes
43. Denny Smith-An Overnight Low
44. Michael Roberts-Suspended in This Space
45. The Person & The People-Dark & Low
46. Mark Crozer-Broken Bones
47. Swedish Polarbears-The Great Northern
48. Fallon Cush-Bee in Your Bonnet
49. Stay-The Mean Solar Times
50. Bob Evans-Car Boot Sale

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Absolute Powerpop Top 100 Albums of 2016, #51-100

It's the end of the year, so that means list time again. Here is the schedule for the year-end lists:

Today: Albums #51-100
Wednesday: Albums #1-50
Thursday: Top EPs of 2016 & my 20 favorite Americana albums of 2016.

There will be links for each of the albums added throughout/later today.

51. Sam Vicari-Blunt
52. The Dots-Island in the Sun
53. Labradors-The Great Maybe
54. The Dowling Poole-One Hyde Park
55. The I Don't Cares-Wild Stab
56. Radio Days-Back in the Day
57. Butch Walker-Stay Gold
58. Gabe Dixon-Turns to Gold
59. California-S/T
60. The Penny Auction-Last Call
61. D Generation-Nothing is Anywhere
62. Val Emmich-Whatever's Chasing You
63. The Needy Sons-Vis-a-Vis
64. Gillwire-Silver Streak
65. Butch Young-Mercury Man
66. James Starflower-Pet Your Stereo
67. Armchair Oracles-In Machina
68. The Figgs-On the Slide
69. Happiless-S/T
70. Bubble Gum Orchestra-Sticky Love Songs
71. The Villas-Long Player
72. Colman Gota-Tape
73. Brian Jay Cline-Solid State
74. Automat-Turn the Music Up
75. The Nobility-Ashford Castle
76. Trapper Schoepp-Rangers & Valentines
77. Aspinall-Little Things
78. Will Johnson-Burning Neon
79. Clockwise-This is Now...and Then
80. Javier Escovedo-Kicked Out of Eden
81. The Stereotypes-Round After Round
82. Biltmore-Revolutions & Romantics
83. The Weeklings-Studio 2
84. Ebbott Lundberg & The Indigo Children-For the Ages to Come
85. Dum Dog Run-DDR2: Still Dum After All These Years
86. Johnny Chastain-Plot Points to Nowhere
87. The Roomsounds-Elm St.
88. Magic Eight Ball-Richest Men in the Graveyard
89. The Twilight Hours-Black Beauty
90. Baby Scream-Life's a Trap
91. The Favorite Things-Coming Clean
92. David Brookings-David Brookings & The Average Lookings
93. Champagne-Beach Closed
94. Gladiola-This Year's Storm
95. Dave Keener-Like an Animal
96. Johnny Stanec-Farewell, Sadness
97. The Spectacular Fantastic-Circling the Sun
98. Valenzuela/Wilde-Prairie Wind
99. Watts-The Black Heart of Rock'n'Roll
100. The Honeydogs-Love & Cannibalism

Friday, December 09, 2016

Early December Roundup

Timothy Nelson-Words Like Young. Aussie Timothy Nelson has been recording for a while as the frontman of The Infidels, who put out a couple of fine rocking records in recent years. On his solo debut Nelson trades in the sometimes raucous rock of his previous band for a more midtempo style that mixes power pop and alt-country to wonderful effect and recalls the likes of countrymen Michael Carpenter, Bob Evans and Bryan Estepa. The opener "Explain" is the perfect encapsulation of this sound, mixing a hooky melody, some pedal steel and a bridge that evokes Big Star. "Living Saloon" gallops along nicely and melodically, while the dreamy "It's a Shame" brings Teenage Fanclub to mind. In a recent review, I mentioned the sub-sub-genre of odes to New York City and Nelson adds one to the canon here with "New York (You'll Never Be Mine)", a country-tinged piano ballad that would make Ryan Adams proud. Throw in the catchy pop of "Darling No" and the anthemic closer "We Never Change", and you have one of 2016's best albums.


Kevin Devine-Instigator. Instigator is Brooklyn alt-rocker Kevin Devine's ninth album (!) but the first that crossed my radar and it's a power pop delight. Produced by John Agnello who's worked with Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr., you'd expect the album to rock - and it does - but it's also melodic in the style of Matthew Sweet or Brendan Benson. "No Why" blasts out of your speakers to start things off (recalling Benson's "Good to Me" minus that song's distinctive riff), and the crunchy title track follows to keep the momentum going. Other standouts include "Magic Magnet" and "Daydrunk" both of which put the "power" in power pop, and of note is the acoustic ballad "Freddie Gray Blues", which looks at last year's famous Baltimore police custody death with sensitivity to the police (Devine's family is in law enforcement) but doesn't let them off the hook.


The Unswept-Fake It EP. Could have sworn I wrote about one of this 60s-influenced Chicago band's previous releases earlier this decade but my archives tell me not. So it's time to remedy this oversight by bringing to your attention their new EP, the first new music from the band in a couple of years due to what they term "circumstances far too tedious (and oftentimes ridiculous) to go into" that prohibited them from releasing anything. But with their difficulties behind them, it's great to hear them back with Fake It, a 4-song EP that's actually 8 as it tacks on mono mixes of the 4 new tracks. The title track borrows the riff from "I Feel Fine" and transports you back to Merseyside with its groovy melody while "The Boy Who Wakes You Up" has it roots in the more contemporary, recalling Belle & Sebastian in a way. "She Just Knows it's Over" would fit right in on a Red Button album, and "SALLY" (in all caps for some reason) is 2:26 of catchy. Good to have these guys back.