Monday, December 31, 2007

Last post of 2007 - New Year's Eve Roundup.

With all of my limited (at this time of year) time for the blog being devoted to assembling the year-end lists, I've started to get a backlog of discs I've been meaning to mention. So before I head out for New Year's Eve (and before I spend tomorrow watching football), here are a few discs to consider while waiting for the big ball to drop:

The Janglemen-Tearjerker & 9 Others. The eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that this late-year release made the top 125 at #74 yet had no previous mention on the site. That oversight is remedied now, as this New York City band wins the Truth-In-Advertising Award; "jangle" is the operative sound here, and they'll appeal big time to fans of Bobby Sutliff, Walter Clevenger, Roger McGuinn, etc. In other words, Rickenbacker heaven. CD Baby | MySpace

Marco Joachim-Songville. Staying with our theme of NYC artists with a something-other-than-NYC sound, this singer-songwriter will appeal to anyone who loved Bob Dylan's stuff with The Traveling Wilburys. Opener "There" has a real "End of the Line" feel to it, and "Dream Away" will bring to a smile to anyone who enjoyed the Smith & Hayes disc. Great stuff. CD Baby | MySpace

Soft Gong-Pretend You Need Me. These guys hail from the power pop hotspot of Boise, Idaho, and have an interesting origin story. They started out playing cover tunes as the house band for a marketing company, and gradually branched out to doing their own stuff. Perhaps the absurdity of corporate life contributed to the wry lyrical perspective found in tracks like "Night School Sweetheart" and "My Sweet Embraceable Defeat". First-rate power pop here, and maybe David Bash should look into an IPO Idaho. CD Baby | MySpace

Dion Read & The Afterthoughts-The Shoes & Gloves EP. An impressive debut from this piano-based Aussie. He cites the Bens (Folds, Lee, Kweller - and Affleck) as influences, and you can hear certainly hear them (OK, maybe not Affleck). It's only four songs, but it's worth every penny as the quality is high. Had this one come earlier in the year, I'd have found a spot on the top 10 EP list for it. CD Baby | MySpace

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Absolute Powerpop Top Songs of 2007.

Here we go - rather than rank them, I'm just giving the whole long list of songs that stood out above the rest this year for me. I reserve the right to make additions to this list, because I know I probably left one or two out. In alphabetical order by artist:

Adam Bernstein-"The Poets of Avarice"
Adam Miner-"Fool"
Additional Moog-"El Guiro"
America-"Work to Do"
Arch Stanton-"Steady by Your Side"
Ben Forrest Davis-"This Is Home"
Bruce Springsteen-"Living In The Future"
Collective Soul-"Hollywood"
Crowded House-"She Called Up"
Dave Derby-"Come On Come On"
Deadstring Brothers-"Heavy Load"
Dean Owens-"Miss You CA"
Duane Dolieslager-"Carousel"
Early Edison-"White Socks"
Endrick Brothers-"Beautiful Rejection"
Everybody Else-"In Memoriam"
Future Clouds and Radar-"Build Havana"
Georgie James-"Need Your Needs"
Grand Atlantic-"Burning Brighter"
Green Peppers-"Honest Injun"
Hundred Air-"Makeout City"
Icecream Hands-"Anyway"
Jake Stigers & The Velvet Roots-"Girl"
Jason Isbell-"Dress Blues"
John Krueger-"Can't Take That Away"
Josh Fields-"Steal The Air", "Clock Keeps Ticking", "Photograph"
Keith LuBrant-"Too Late"
Kevin Kane-"Last to Know"
Ken Sharp-"Why Girls Cry"
Knit Delicate-"Bright Summer Sun"
Michael Harrell-"The End"
Mika-"Grace Kelly", "Stuck In The Middle"
Mitch Easter-"Sudden Crown Drop"
Morten Richter-"Pop-Up Window"
Myracle Brah-"Hurry Now"
OK Jones-"Electric Bed"
Pat DiNizio-"Any Other Way"
Pinto-"Here Comes The Love"
Romantica-"The National Side"
Rooney-"Don't Come Around Again"
Shake Some Action-"Someone Else's Friend"
Signal Hill Transmission-"Cherry is a Girl"
Smith & Hayes-"Nothing But Love", "Kaleidoscope"
Sono Oto-"Granny Smith"
Sparkwood-"Bop Bop Song"
Steve Robinson-"Wooden Hill"
The ACB's-"Windows Up"
The Amprays-"Levitate"
The Backroom-"Lost Without You", "'Loads of Love'"
The Color Wheels-"Green Means Go"
The Dirty Royals-"Cover Up The Sun"
The Fizzies-"In a House"
The Foreign Films-"Remember to Forget", "Polar Opposites"
The Holy Fields-"11th Floor"
The Hope Trust-"Mountain I Can't Climb"
The Incurables-"Lucky 7's", "Anytime Soon", "The Last Day of the Rest of Your Life"
The Lovetones-"Alone"
The Nines-"I Am Lost"
The Nobility-"Hallelujah Chorus"
The Orchid Highway-"Sofa Surfer Girl"
The Pearlfishers-"London's In Love", "Womack and Womack"
The Red Button-"Can't Stop Thinking About Her", "Floating By", "It's No Secret", "Ooh Girl"
The Silver Seas-"The Country Life"
The Stereotypes-"Butterflies"
The Storyboards-"Not a Love Song"
The Sunday Drivers-"She"
The Treasury-"Don't Look Now"
The Twilight-"Apple Pie Suburbia"
The Well Wishers-"Seashells"
Third of Never-"DJ"
Tor Guides-"You (and Everything You Do)"
Zombies of the Stratosphere-"Another Day"

UPDATE: Two omissions I had no business leaving off (thanks to the commenter for the first):
Wiretree-"Whirl", "Big Coat"
Jeremy Nail-"Paper Doll"

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Absolute Powerpop Reader Top 10 of 2007.

As promised, here's the result of the reader poll, and there's agreement at the top (first place votes in parentheses):

1. The Red Button-She's About to Cross my Mind 35 (1)
2. Jackdaw4-Bipolar Diversions 31 (1.5)
3. The Shins-Wincing The Night Away 30 (2)
4. The Nines-Gran Jukle's Field 28
5. Everybody Else-Everybody Else 23
6. John Davis-Arigato! 22 (1)
7. The Broken West-I Can't Go On I'll Go On 19 (1)
tie. Fountains of Wayne-Traffic and Weather 19
9. The Foreign Films-Distant Star 17
tie. The Orchid Highway-The Orchid Higway 17

Also receiving first place votes: Admiral Twin, Andrew Bird, Dinosaur Jr, David Celia, Endrick Brothers, Lewis Taylor, The Wellingtons.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Absolute Powerpop Top 100 125 Discs of 2007, #1-5

5. Smith & Hayes-Changed by a Song. This really was the McCartney/Wilbury/David Grahame-styled disc many of us have been waiting for; for the Beatleheads out there, this was the disc of the year. Somewhere out there, Jeff Lynne is wishing he wrote "Nothing But Love".

4. Wiretree-Bouldin. This was the first great disc of 2007, and it held up through the entire year. Kevin Peroni followed up on one of 2005's best EPs and proved he was capable of a quality full-length. He's managed to create his own idiosyncratic sound that might be best described as the Wilburys meet indie rock. "Whirl" is one of those songs that I can never tire of, and makes the hours spent in search of something new to listen worthwhile.

3. Josh Fields-Josh Fields. I enjoyed this so much that I felt it necessary to fudge the EP/LP divide. Clocking in at seven songs, it's probably closer to an EP than a full-length, but it's just long enough to compete with the big boys. It's a perfectly realized example of radio-ready popcraft with hooks galore and even pretty good lyrics for the genre. The opening 1-2 of "Clock Keeps Ticking" and "Steal The Air" is about as fantastic and dynamic a kickoff to a disc that I've heard, and the slower numbers like "Dragons" (a killer rewrite of "She Talks to Angels" and I mean that in a good way) and the lovely "(Take a) Photograph" are equally as outstanding. Someone get this in front of some radio PD's.

2. The Foreign Films-Distant Star. Very few discs truly blow me away upon first listen, but this one did (hence the siren in the original post). This was the Cotton Mather record we thought we'd never hear again, even moreso than the Mather offshoots, Future Clouds and Stockton (each fine discs in their own right), that were released this year as well. That Bill Majoros pulled this off in the context of a double disc makes it all the more of an achievement.

1. The Red Button-She's About to Cross My Mind. As has been well-chronicled on this blog, I originally gave short shrift to the disc when it came out (although not that short, given that I had it at #8 at midyear). But this was the one disc that I kept coming back to, and the more I came back to it, the more I loved it. Whereas a piece of pop genius like "Ooh Girl" was apparent to me at first listen, it took a few trips back to fully appreciate a track like "Floating By", which might have been the best example of the "McCartney sings the cheery verses while Lennon sings the cynical bridge" dynamic since "We Can Work It Out" with Swirsky in the McCartney role and Ruekberg as Lennon. That the track is filled out with a Alpert/Bacharach horn section accompanied by Ruekberg's "ah-ah-ah" singalong of the horn parts propels it into the next dimension. Meanwhile, the couplet "She holds my attention/she breaks my resolve/she poses more problems than I'll ever solve" from "Can't Stop Thinking About Her" brings a smile to my face every time I hear it, and then there's the closer "It's No Secret", which with its near-perfect melody, heartfelt lyrics and wonderful harmonies makes it the natural successor to The Beatles' "If I Fell". Don't make the same mistake I initially did - while it's easy to dismiss this as a tuneful pastiche or a genre exercise, there's a real depth to it that rewards repeated listens. While some may cynically refer to the entire power pop genre as an effort to remake The Beatles or Big Star or Badfinger, this is one disc that deserves to be called an equal to its forebears. Here's hoping this wasn't a one-off project.

The Absolute Powerpop Top 100 125 Discs of 2007, #6-25

A couple of notes: 1) the reader poll will follow this weekend after the top 125 is finished; I decided not to interrupt the top 125. 2) As you've probably noticed this is 6-25, not 1-25; a separate post will follow later today (early afternoon Eastern Time USA) for the top 5 that will include comments on each of them.

6. Romantica-America
7. Mika-Life In Cartoon Motion
8. The Fizzies-Contest Popularity
9. Additional Moog-Thirty Three & a Third
10. The Nines-Gran Jukle's Field
11. Adam Miner-Dangerous Eyes
12. Ben Forrest Davis-Roughs
13. Ken Sharp-Sonic Crayons
14. Deleted Waveform Gatherings-Complicated View
15. Steve Robinson-Undercurrent
16. The Pearlfishers-Up With The Larks
17. Keith LuBrant-Searching For Signal
18. The Twilight-Tempest in a Teapot
19. Steve Bertrand-Pain is a Megaphone
20. Third of Never-Moodring
21. The Broken West-I Can't Go On, I'll Go On
22. Everybody Else-Everybody Else
23. Frank Ciampi-Big Top Woman
24. Future Clouds and Radar-Future Clouds and Radar
25. The Zombies of the Stratosphere-The Well-Mannered Look