Thursday, January 11, 2018

David Bash's Best of 2017.

As always the highlight of the year-end list-making in the power pop community is International Pop Overthrow's David Bash's exhaustive lists.

I usually reproduce them in whole here, but rather than do that I'm just going to link to David's Facebook post with them:

David Bash's Best of 2017

As always there's new stuff to discover that even obsessives like myself overlook (for example I had no idea The Virtues released a new album in 2017, as it looks like it was a Europe-only release) and of course it's helpful to get a somewhat different perspective (David's more into psychedelic, garage and 60s-ish pop/rock than I am for instance).

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Getting in gear with the new year.

Now the list-making is over (although I will share David Bash's exhaustive lists as usual), it's time to get 2018 in gear with a couple of releases, one that came out not long before year's end and one that came out just after and both of which feature artists you may be familiar with releasing records under names you're not.

Daydream Retrievers-Daydream Retrievers. Seeing as I often can't remember what I had for breakfast later that day, it's not a shock that I could have sworn I had this release in my top 100 last week but when I went to look up the rank I noticed it wasn't there. So better late than never to extol the virtues of the latest release from Ian Olvera, formerly of the Ian Olvera Band and Ian Olvera & The Sleepwalkers. Taking his name out of the equation entirely this time, Olvera nevertheless serves up a 9-song collection of catchy heartland power pop influenced by Tom Petty and Wilco. "Ballad of an Exit Strategy" and "Cars Can't Stop" have a bright but rootsy vibe not unlike Gary Louris' version of The Jayhawks, while "New Parade" rocks like Petty's Heartbreakers. Meanwhile, the 3-song run in the middle of the album of "Tuesday Night in America", "Right is Right" and "Hi How Are You's" channels Big Star, both in the rock stylings of the former, and the melacholy balladry of the latter two. And "Learning to Live With the End of the World" with its upbeat piano-based melody is Wilco meets Springsteen. Had I slotted this one on the year-end list, it would have been about #30.

iTunes




Rooftop Screamers-Vol. 1. Rooftop Screamers is the new project of former Throwback Suburbia drummer and songwriter Mike Collins, and its 8-track debut is the first top-notch power pop release of 2018. Collins isn't a singer, though, so to bring his compositions to life he's enlisted the help of various friends to sing lead including indie pop luminaries such as Kyle Vincent and Ken Stringfellow. "Sign Me Up" kicks things off, and it's a blast to hear Vincent sing lead on a rocker that's part Queen and part Cheap Trick instead of his typical soft pop. Stringfellow, who it seems lately has guested on more releases than Michael McDonald in the late 70s and early 80s, takes the mic on "Roses Again" and it's a melodic gem with Brian May-like guitars that comes across as a lost Posies/Jellyfish mashup. But even the tracks with the lesser-known Portland-area singers stand with the big names - Geoff Metts sings on "Have Mercy", a heartland rocker, while Andrew Paul Woodworth gives "Get Outta Your Way" a Beatlesque feel. This is a fun project as Collins is a top-notch power pop songwriter, and here's looking forward to Vol. 2.

CD Baby



Friday, December 29, 2017

The Absolute Powerpop Top 100 of 2017, #1-50.

Here's the top half of the list, and since I never did formally review the album at #1 I'll say a few words about it below. 2017 was another pretty good year for pop, and I say "pop" instead of "power pop" as 2017 was a great year for softer pop, be it 70s AM Gold-style pop or Bacharachian pop or more baroque pop. Albums from Brent Cash, Bill DeMain, Rob Martinez and Kyle Vincent held down spots in my top 50 (Cash and DeMain in the top 10), while Almost Charlie, Dave Caruso, Paul Steel and Lewis Wilson were in yesterday's bottom half, plus tomorrow's EP list will feature an EP tiled AM Gold.

1. The Nines-Colour Radio (American Transistor)
The Nines have been a long-time staple of these lists, and have released albums in the autumn of each of the last three years. But the previous two were soundtracks, while this was their first proper album since their self-titled 2013 release and it's perhaps their best to date. Steve Eggers & company tried on a lot of pop styles and wore them all quite well, from the ELO-influenced "Crazy Little Girl" to rowdy piano pop of "On and On She Gets By" to the straight-up 70s R&B Stevie Wonder-influenced "You Can Get More Than This" and "Don't Be Losing Your Game". And as always Eggers shines on piano ballads such as "Guess I'm Crazy" and "I'm Lucky". This album really is like listening to an American transistor radio circa 1975, and that's as high a compliment as I can pay.

2. Pugwash-Silverlake
3. Liam Gallagher-As You Were
4. Corin Ashley-Broken Biscuits
5. Theo Katzman-Heartbreak Hits
6. Brent Cash-The New High
7. Bill DeMain-Transatlantic Romantic
8. Hornal-The Game Begins With the Lights Out
9. Plasticsoul-Therapy
10. Chris Lund-Great Event Syndrome
11. Derrick Anderson-A World of My Own
12. Terry Anderson-Jimmy's Arcade
13. Darryl Rahn-Everything is Fine
14. Brian Jay Cline-Hang Ups
15. Blitzen Trapper-Wild and Reckless
16. Scott Gagner-Pins & Needles
17. Wesley Fuller-Inner City Dream
18. Colman Gota-Fear the Summer
19. Eyelids-Or
20. Tommy Zamp-You Don't Know Me
21. Greg Ieronimo-Never Leaving California
22. Hemlock Pop-Crushing on What Might Be
23. Gospelbeach-Another Summer of Love
24. Koria Kitten Riot-Songs of Hope and Science
25. Rob Martinez-Today My Mind...Tomorrow the World
26. The Hangabouts-Kits & Cats & Saxon Wives
27. Trip Wire-Cold Gas Giants
28. The Safes-Tasty Waves
29. Matthew Sweet-Tomorrow Forever
30. The Lunar Laugh-Mama's Boy
31. Bret Bingham-The Well Curve
32. Dave Keegan-S/T
33. Marble Party-Sometimes a Great Ocean
34. Cotton Mather-Wild Kingdom
35. Kyle Vincent-Miles & an Ocean
36. Shane Nicholson-Love and Blood
37. Sitcom Neighbor-Shag
38. Paul Bertolino-Toy Box
39. Christopher Galen-The Master Plan
40. Ruby Free-Shades
41. Danny de la Matyr-Crybaby
42. Jesse Terry-Stargazer
43. The Rallies-Serve
44. Daisy-Ornament & Crime
45. John Rooney-Still Here
46. The Glad Machine-S/T
47. The Fisherman-Down
48. Dan Auerbach-Waiting on a Song
49. Rich McCulley-Out Along the Edges
50. Eric Harrison-Mercy Road

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Absolute Powerpop Top 100 of 2017, #51-100.

Let the year-end listing begin, with the top half of the top 100, the top EPs, and my favorite Americana albums of 2017 to follow in the coming days.

51. The On and Ons-Welcome Aboard
52. Gregg Stewart-S/T
53. Shake Some Action!-Crash Through or Crash
54. Almost Charlie-A Different Kind of Here
55. NHD-And the Devil Went Up to Portland
56. Ron Sexsmith-The Last Rider
57. Bubble Gum Orchestra-Sixthoverture
58. Latvian Radio-Pick Your Poison, Pick Your Blues
59. Crime Scene-Alter Life
60. Dave Caruso-Buddha Pesto Manifesto
61. The Mike Benign Compulsion-Kid
62. The Sighs-Wait on Another Day
63. Third of Never-Austerity
64. Brian Lisik & The Unfortunates-We're Sorry...
65. The Stanleys-S/T
66. Fallon Cush-Morning
67. Brian Jay Cline-Writer's Block
68. Smisch-The Story of My Life
69. Gentle Brent-Just Dandy
70. Bread & Butter-S/T
71. Justin Currie-This is My Kingdom Now
72. First Base-Not That Bad
73. Ryan Hamilton & The Traitors-The Devil's in the Detail
74. The Fags-I'm With Her
75. The Obleeks-S/T
76. Andrew Taylor-From the Outside Looking In
77. Richard Turgeon-In Between the Spaces
78. Paul Steel-April & I: Carousel Kites
79. Wesley Stace-Wesley Stace's John Wesley Harding
80. Drew Beskin-Cha-Ching Machine
81. The New Pornographers-Whiteout Conditions
82. Jere Mendelsohn-Old Sins, Long Shadows
83. Fernando Perdomo-The Golden Hour
84. Captain Wilberforce-Black Sky Thinking
85. Lewis Wilson-Grandioso Pop
86. Fastball-Step into Light
87. James Maddock-Insanity vs Humanity
88. Chris Church-Limitations of Source Tape
89. Burgess Meredith-A Dimension of Sound
90. Static in Verona-Secrets Like Shadows
91. Timothy Monger-Amber Lantern
92. Party Battleship-Cake + Flames
93. Chris Price-Stop Talking
94. The Wellingtons-End of the Summer
95. The Successful Failures-Ichor of Nettle
96. Propeller-Don't Ever Let This Let You Down
97. Wiretree-Towards the Sky
98. Goodman-The Vicissitudes
99. Wade Jackson-Crown & Cathedral
100. Mothboxer-The Secret Art of Saying Nothing

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Tommy Zamp / Latvian Radio

A couple of new releases to feature before the year-end lists hit next week.

Tommy Zamp-You Don't Know Me. This is the solo debut album for NYC rocker Tommy Zamp (who was a guitarist in the bands Fixer and Circus Life) and it fits squarely into the Butch Walker/Cheap Trick wing of power pop, which emphasizes the "power" part of the genre. Opener "Pretty Girls" sets the tone with its loud guitars, sharp hooks, "la la" backing vocals and rockin' piano, while "Tattoos of Stars" sounds like a lost Walker track with its combination of swagger and melody. "Beautiful Losers" and the closing track "Goodbye NYC" show Zamp's facility with power ballads, while "Time" and "Calling Mother Mary" rock with abandon. Rock around the Christmas tree with this one.

iTunes



Latvian Radio-Pick Your Poison, Pick Your Blues. Longtime AbPow favorites Latvian Radio return with their sixth album, and it's another collection of driving, buoyant pop that will get your toes tapping. Patric Westoo and company do mix things up a bit here - "Shake the Tree" is almost straight-up punk rock - but for the most part it's breezy, almost danceable pop in the vein of New Pornographers and (a more upbeat) The Shins with tracks like "Paranoia" and "Four Letter Word", while "Observations in a Major Key" has a laid-back 70s vibe.

iTunes | Kool Kat


Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Singles galore!

A whole bunch of artists featured on the site have released singles over the past month or two, so it's time to catch up.

Reno Bo-Smile Across the Universe. Rather than release a new album, Reno Bo's released several singles this year, and his latest is another melodic gem, with the A-side backed with the anthemic "Be the Change" and a mono mix of the A-side.

iTunes



The Zags-A World Away/Icy Red. Another two-sided single, this time from The Zags, who deliver their classic power pop in bite(or byte)-sized form this around.

iTunes



Wiretree-You've Got Tonight. Kevin Peroni has been releasing EPs and albums since this site began in 2006, but this a rare non-album single release for him. It's a catchy, piano-based number that's of a piece with his full body of work.

iTunes



Coke Belda-Operator (That's Not the Way it Feels). Fresh off an album covering the Bee Gees, Coke Belda mines the 70s once again with a power pop version of the Jim Croce folk/rock classic. Belda said when hearing the original it was a "clear power-pop song disguised as an acoustic piece" and he does a fine job of proving it.

Bandcamp



The Shazam-It's Doomsday, Honey! I missed this when it came out this summer in honor of the total eclipse, but this is the first new music we've heard of Hans Rotenberry & company since 2009's Meteor so it definitely bears mentioning. It's apparently from an upcoming album called Doomsday Hotel that's been in the works for a while so hopefully we see that soon. Meanwhile, enjoy this track which compares well with their classic power pop output of the 2000s.

iTunes



The Weeklings-Revolution Wonderland. In which these Beatles-loving popsters answering the question of what would a mashup of "Winter Wonderland" and "Revolution" sound like. So you get the Revolution guitar riffs backing the Winter Wonderland lyrics and melody and some Revolution 1 "shooby-dooby" backing vocals. Power popping holiday fun.

iTunes