Friday, January 20, 2017

Mid-January Roundup.

Caper Clowns-The Buca Bus. It seems that my first reviews of a new year are of albums I missed from the previous one, and 2017 is no exception. Had I stumbled on this pop delight from Denmark sooner, it would have made my top 100. As it is, you don't its placement on a list to give it a listen, as these Danes channel pop sources like McCartney and ELO. Jingly (and jangly) opener "Pockets" will put a smile on your face, "A Tale of Romance and Magnetic Trains" brings vintage-era Squeeze to mind, and "The Significance of Tea Cups" is sheer pop brilliance and probably my favorite song of the moment. It's finds like these that keep me going with this site after nearly 11 years.

iTunes | Kool Kat

Michael Roberts-Suspended in This Space. This smooth 70s AM-inspired record did catch my attention before I made the year-end list, where it placed in the top half, but I wanted to make sure I gave it the attention it deserves. Welshman Roberts here recalls 70s songsmiths like Gilbert O'Sullivan and Gerry Rafferty as well as obvious touchstones such as McCartney, with the leadoff track "What You Say" yet another example of something that would have been a big hit 40 years ago, and "When You Shine" defies you not to sing along with it. Elsewhere, tracks like "See the Old Man" and "I Think You're Very Ooo" would win you over on sheer charm alone even if they weren't as melodic as they are. And "My Angel" with its slow but inexorable buildup, falsetto chorus vocals, and muted horns literally screams 1972 in its retro-pop goodness. Listen to and enjoy the YouTube playlist below.


Tony Low-Rendezvousing. North Carolina's Tony Low returned again late in 2016 with Rendezvousing, another fine mashup of Mitch Easter-southern-styled power pop and Byrds-ian 60s jangle that's familiar to those who enjoyed his previous releases. This time around the standout tracks are "The Awful Dream" (which will turn your pants into bell bottoms while you listen), "Pictures of Your Son" (which has a Ray Davies slice-of-life feel), and "You" (which seriously brings the jangle). In fact, one could say Rendezvousing is an all-time Low, even if that doesn't sound like a compliment.


Thursday, January 05, 2017

David Bash's Best of 2016.

Mr. International Pop Overthrow, David Bash, asked me to share his best-of-2016 lists with the Absolute Powerpop readership so again I'm happy to bring you his lists as well, which are even more comprehensive than my own. He's gone 125 deep with his main list, plus you get reissues, compilations, etc. You'll see quite a few differences from my list as David is much more into psych-pop and 60s-style/garage rock than I am so if you ever felt I neglected those subgenres here's you're chance to see what's what there. Anyway, it's time to give David the floor:

Here are my lists of favorite albums of 2016. As is my usual custom, I've broken this down into several categories, as I'm just not comfortable ranking unlike entities on one list.

Those marked with an * are vinyl-only releases.
Those marked with an ** are cassette-only releases.

Contemporary Categories

I. Top 125 Albums

Disclaimer alert: I heard A LOT of fine albums this year, perhaps even more than 2015, which surprised me…but even paring it down to 125 was a daunting task. If your album doesn’t appear on this list, please trust me when I say that it in no way means I didn’t think it was good, so please don’t be hurt (assuming you even care what I think) if your album isn’t listed here (or, for that matter, if it received a lower ranking than you were hoping for/expecting). There were at least 50 more albums I could have included and still felt as if I enjoyed listening to everything on the list, but I wanted to keep it at no more than 125 so as not to overwhelm; with all the other lists I have here, there’s enough sensory overload happening!

There may be a handful of albums on this list which appear to be from 2015, or in fact were “released” at the tail end of last year. As anal as I am about my lists and about the year in which releases should be placed, I also try to be sensible about it and take into account the fact that one needs a bit of lag time to become aware of several releases, especially those indie releases which take up most of my list. If you have any complaints about this, please keep them to yourself-I’ve heard ‘em all. ;-)

Lastly, I did not include download-only releases on any of my lists. I know this might seem a bit churlish, but there’s something about download-only releases that just doesn’t quite seem “legitimate” to me. While I like several of those I heard in 2016, and even love some of them, I’m still old school and still believe in physical product. Don’t get me wrong: I have nothing against download releases, but I believe that there should also be options to obtain physical product. Yes, I understand that printing up CDs and (especially) vinyl is costly, but these days it really is doable for every band because manufacturing houses are all willing to do limited runs of product, particularly CDs, so that a band can do as few as 100, which should be easy to sell out of at shows, via boutique sites like Kool Kat and Jam, CD Baby, etc…I am very troubled by the possibility (some might say inevitability) of the CD going by way of the dinosaur, but I feel like I need to do my part, as little as that might be, to keep them alive. I will say I am encouraged by the number of bands who did release physical product in 2015, so hopefully all will continue to be well with the world.  Note: if any download-only releases I’ve heard see physical release in a future year, they will be eligible for ranking in that year. There you are, bands: a little incentive to keep the physical release alive and well. 

Ok, without further ado, here you go!

1. Trolley-Caught In The Darkness (Easter)
2. Seth Swirsky-Circles and Squares (Self-Released)
3. The Explorers Club-Together (Goldstar)
4. The Nines-Alejandro’s Visions (TAS Gold)
5. The Junipers-Red Bouquet Fair (Self-Released)
6. Michael Collins-Last Laugh (Self-Released)
7. Ulysses-Law and Order (Black Glove)
8. Erik Voeks-So The Wind Won’t Blow It All Away (Hanky Panky)
9. Mimi Betinis-Music Sounds (Self-Released)
10. Rocket Bureau-Phantoms Ringing 67-73 (Kool Kat)
11. Coke Belda-Nummer Zwei (Rock Indiana)
12. The Jayhawks-Paging Mr. Proust (Sham)
13. Miracle Glass Company-Miracle Glass Company (Self-Released)
14. The Vow-Ghost Writer (Slug)
15. The Fast Camels-Tales of The Expected (Magic Optician)
16. The Monkees-Good Times! (Rhino)
17. Ken Sharp-New Mourning (Jet Fighter)
18. Diamond Hands-Diamond Hands (You Are The Cosmos
19. The Well Wishers-Comes and Goes (ThatWasMySkull)
20. Champagne-Beach Closed (Rock Indiana)
21. Faux Know-Tactics (Sonorous Conglomorous)
22. The Legal Matters-Conrad (Omnivore)
23. Michael Carpenter-The Big Radio (Big Radio)
24. Pacific Soul LTD.-The Dance Divine (Karma Frog)
25. Ebbot Lundberg & The Indigo Children-For The Ages To Come (Akashic)
26. Somerdale-Shake It Maggie (FDR)
27. The Chemistry Set-The Endless More and More (Cindi)
28. Nada Surf-You Know Who You Are (Barsuk)
29. Wade Jackson-Whiskey Alpha Delta Echo (Half A Cow)
30. Cotton Mather-Death of The Cool (Star Apple Kingdom)
31. John Macom-Unforseen Circumstances (American Nostril)
32. Octubre-Mouseland (Self-Released)
33. Greg Pope-Guiding Star (Octoberville)
34. Tommy and The Rockets-Beer and Fun and Rock ‘n’ Roll (Kool Kat)
35. Brian Curtis-Brain Circus (Electric Bozo)
36. Gothic Chicken-Lift The Cobweb Veil (Pink Hedgehog)
37. Men of North Country-This City (Acid Jazz)
38. The Dowling Poole-[One] Hyde Park (Self-Released)
39. The Flat Five-It’s A World of Love and Hope (Augiedisc)
40. The Mergers-With A Carrot and A Stick (Soundflat)
41. Cupid’s Carnival-Everything Is Love (Cherry)
42. Death By Unga Bunga-Pineapple Pizza (Jansen)
43. Dressy Bessy-Kingsize (Yep Roc)
44. The Hanging Stars-Over The Silvery Lake (Self-Released)
45. The Lemon Twigs-Do Hollywood (Self-Released)
46. Jeffrey Foskett-Classic Harmony (Vivid Sound)
47. Charlie Faye & The Fayettes-Charlie Faye & The Fayettes (Self-Released)
48. Green Day-Revolution Radio (Reprise)
49. David Brookings and The Average Lookings-David Brookings and The Average Lookings (Byar)
50. Stay-The Mean Solar Times (Rock Indiana)
51. Emitt Rhodes-Rainbow Ends (Omnivore)
52. Tuns-Tuns (Royal Mountain)
53. Gerry Beckley-Carousel (Blue Elan)
54. Arvidson & Butterflies-Arvidson & Butterflies (Kool Kat)
55. The Nobility-Ashford Castle (Self-Released)
56. The Jangle Band-Edge of A Dream (Off The Hip)
57. Ex Norwegian-Glazer/Hazerr (Dippy)
58. Paul Iwan-Reveal (Self-Released)
59. Garden Gate-Dark Harvest (Golden Brown)**
60. Cullen Omori-New Misery (Sub Pop)
61. The Lazy Lies-The Lazy Lies (Bird With Vertigo)
62. Those Pretty Wrongs-Those Pretty Wrongs (Ardent/Burger)
63. Stephen Steinbrink-Anagrams (Melodic)
64. Swedish Polarbears-The Great Northern (Sound Asleep)*
65. Ray Paul-Whimsicality (Permanent Press)
66. The Luck of Eden Hall-The Acceleration of Time (Headspin)*
67. Automat-Turn The Music Up (Self-Released)
68. Simon Felton-Return To Easton Square (Pink Hedgehog)
69. The I Don’t Cares-Wild Stab (Self-Released)
70. Nick Piunti-Trust Your Instincts (Jem)
71. Warm Morning Brothers-A Bunch of Weeds (Other Eyes)
72. Winterpills-Love Sounds (Signature Sounds)
73. EZTV-High In Place (Captured Tracks)
74. The Claypool Lennon Delirium-Monolith of Phobos (Prawn Song)
75. The Weeklings-Studio 2 (Jem)
76. Ryan Allen & His Extra Arms-Basement Punk (Save Your Generation)
77. Radio Days-Back In The Day (Rock Indiana)
78. The Honeydogs-Love & Cannibalism (Simon)
79. Jon Lindsay-Cities & Schools (File 13)
80. Kurt Baker Combo-In Orbit (Wicked Cool)
81. Mystic Braves-Days of Yesteryear (Lollipop)*
82. The Expected-One (Self-Released)
83. The Rebels of Tijuana-The Rebels of Tijuana (Le Pop Club)
84. Mari Wilson-Pop Deluxe (WG)
85. Joel Sarakula-The Imposter (Self-Released)
86. Jason Berk-Everything Old Is New Again (Self-Released)
87. Fernando Perdomo-Voyeurs (Self-Released)
88. Dodgy-What Are We Fighting For (Cherry Red)
89. John Howard-Across The Door Sill (Occultation)
90. Clockwise-This Is Now and…Then (Self-Released)
91. Latvian Radio-Until Tomorrow Gets In The Way (Belpid)
92. Propeller-Fall Off The World (Moving Wall)
93. The Minus 5-Of Monkees and Men (Yep Roc)
94. Quilt-Plaza (Kemodo)
95. Tommy Who-Love Fades Away (Lonesome Whippoorwhill)
96. Soft Hearted Scientists-Golden Omens (The Hip Replacement)
97. Gleeson-Curse My Lucky Stars (Almost There)*
98. The Armoires-Incidental Lightshow (Black Market Glamour)
99. Teenage Fanclub-Here (Merge)
100. Butch Young-Mercury Man (Little Christmas)
101. Cait Brennan-Debutante (Black Market Glamour)
102. Kirk Adams-Undertown (Sattelites Group)
103. French Boutik-Front Pop (CopaseDisques)
104. The Ratkellers-Beat & Roll Mit The Ratkellers (Marlowe)
105. Chris Bolger-No Promises (Self-Released)
106. Tommy Sistak-A Good Hat Indeed (Self-Released)
107. Michael Macrone-Icicles and Sand (Fiesta Red)
108. Michael Carpenter & The Cuban Heels-Ain’t Nothing Left To Say (Big Radio)
109. Cheap Trick-Bang Zoom Crazy…Hello (Big Machine)
110. M. Ross Perkins-M. Ross Perkins (Sofaburn)
111. Pauw-Macrocosm Microcosm (Caroline)
112. The Pynnacles-My Oblivion (Whomp!)*
113. The Jeremy Band-Hit You With A Flower (Jam)
114. Metropolitan Farms-Oafish Twist (Braxeling)
115. The Forz-Running From The Past (Self-Released)
116. The Urges-Time Will Pass (Self-Released)
117. Spygenius-‘Pacephale (Whammo Whammo Whammo Excellent)
118. The Reverberations-Mess Up Your Mind (Screaming Apple)*
119. Gretchen’s Wheel-Behind The Curtain (Futureman)
120. The Ace-Riot of Sound (We Dig This)
121. Dropkick-Balance The Light (Rock Indiana)
122. Speed The Plough-Now (Self-Released)
123. Twins-Square America (Maximum Ames)
124. Shennon and Lotton-PM Songs (Rock Indiana)
125. Peter Buzzelle and The Academy-Devil Love (Self-Released)

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 2016 was no exception. A few of them came my way, regardless, and I will list those I particularly enjoyed.

1. Cabinessence-A Place For Playing Games (Self-Released)
2. Pezband-Women & Politics (Frodis)*
3. General Mojo’s-How Hollow A Heart (Self-Released)
4. Steve Ramone-Snowballs In The Summer (Blast O Matic)
5. B Leaguers-Death Of A Western Heart (Kool Kat)

III. Top 4 Compilations-Single Artist

1. The Anderson Council-Assorted Colours (Jem)
2. Bill Lloyd-Lloydering (SpyderPop)
3. Greg Pope-Favorites (Octoberville)
4. Fernando Perdomo-Picks (Self-Released)
5. Blame The Bishop-New & Used Collected Recordings: 2009-2015 (Self-Released)

IV. Top 5 Compilations-Various Artists

1. International Pop Overthrow Vol. 19 (Pop Geek Heaven)
2. Twelve String High: A New Jingle Jangle Adventure (You Are The Cosmos)
3. Pop Parade Vol. 7 (Rock Indiana)
4. Big Stir- Power Pop and More at CIA: The First Year (Minco)
5. Unsigned, Sealed & Delivered-No. 9 The Songwriters Notebook (Bullseye)

V. Top Tribute Disc

If It Feels Good Do It-A Sloan Tribute (Futureman)

VI. Biggest Disappointment

Look Park-Look Park (Yep Roc). It’s not that I don’t like this album, but I expect more than a late ‘70s James Taylor sound-a-like from Chris Collingwood.

VII. 2017 Releases I’ve Heard And Like (In Alphabetical Order)

Brent Cash-The New High
The Flywheels-I’m For The Flowers
Pseudonym-Pack of Lies

Reissue Categories

I. Top 50 Proper Albums

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.

What I did NOT include were “garden variety” reissues of popular albums (i.e. the ELO reissues on colored vinyl)

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. So, if you see a classic album ranking lower than one with less of a rep (or one you know I like a bit less), it’s because of the other factors.

1. The Hollies-Evolution: Mono/Stereo (Parlophone)*
2. XTC-Skylarking: The Surround Sound Series (Ape House)
3. R.E.M.-Out Of Time: 25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Universal)
4. Game Theory-The Big Shot Chronicles (Omnivore)
5. The Move-The Move (Esoteric)
6. Anthony Phillips-Wise After The Event: Deluxe Edition (Esoteric)
7. The Go-Go’s-Talk Show: Deluxe Edition (Edsel)
8. Barclay James Harvest-Gone To Earth (Esoteric)
9. Paul Revere & The Raiders-The Spirit of ’67: Deluxe Mono/Stereo Edition (Now Sounds)
10. The Hollies-Butterfly: Mono/Stereo (Parlophone)*
11. Crowded House-Woodface: Deluxe Edition (Universal)
12. Game Theory-Lolita Nation (Omnivore)
13. Soft Hearted Scientists-Uncanny Tales From The Everyday Undergrowth (Self-Released)
14. Milk ‘N Cookies-Milk ‘N Cookies (Captured Tracks)
15. Status Quo-On The Level: Deluxe Edition (Universal)
16. Crowded House-Crowded House: Deluxe Edition (Universal)
17. The Go-Go’s-Beauty and The Beat: Deluxe Edition (Edsel)
18. The Move-Shazam (Esoteric)
19. The Toms-The Toms (Burger/Frodis)**
20. Pugwash-Almond Tea (Sugarbush)*
21. Nelson Bragg-Day Into Night: 10th Anniversary Edition (Steel Derrick)
22. Spanky & Our Gang-Anything You Choose b/w Without Rhyme Or Reason (Universal Japan)
23. Crowded House-Time On Earth: Deluxe Edition (Lester)
24. Idle Race-Idle Race (Parlophone)*
25. Brinsley Schwarz-The New Favourites Of…Brinsley Schwarz (Parlophone Japan)
26. The Move-Looking On (Esoteric)
27. Barclay James Harvest-Everyone Is Everybody Else (Esoteric)
28. Otis Redding-Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul (Rhino)
29. Hudson Ford-Nickelodeon (Big Pink)
30. Crowded House-Temple of Low Men: Deluxe Edition (Universal)
31. Klaatu-347 E.S.T.(Conveyer)
32. Cotton Mather-Kontiki (Star Apple Kingdom)*
33. Eclection-Eclection (Esoteric)
34. Clear Light-Clear Light (Big Beat)
35. Benny Hester-Benny… (Moraine Music Group)
36. Spanky & Our Gang-Spanky & Our Gang (Universal Japan)
37. The Easybeats-Good Friday (Varese Sarabande)*
38. The Move-Something Else (Esoteric)
39. Crowded House-Together Alone: Deluxe Edition (Universal)
40. Status Quo-If You Can’t Stand The Heat: Deluxe Edition (Universal)
41. Hudson Ford-Free Spirit (Big Pink)
42. Anthony Phillips-Sides: Deluxe Edition (Esoteric)
43. Gary Wright and Wonderwheel-Ring of Changes (Esoteric)
44. The Remains-The Remains: Mono Edition (Sony)*
45. Madrigal-Sunshine (Axe)
46. The Kinks-Everybody’s In Show Biz: Legacy Edition (Legacy)
47. Paul Roland-House of Dark Shadown (Klang)
48. Judy Henske & Jerry Yester-Farewell Aldebaran (Omnivore)
49. Spanky & Our Gang-Like To Get To Know You (Universal Japan)
50. Tommy Roe-Dizzy (Universal Japan)

II. Top 30 Compilations, Single Artist

1. The Fifth Dimension-The Complete Soul City/Bell Singles 1966-1975 (Real Gone)
2. The Mamas and The Papas-The Complete Singles 50th Anniversary Collection (Real Gone)
3. The Turtles-All The Singles (Manifesto)
4. Grapefruit-Yesterday’s Sunshine: The Complete 1967-1968 London Sessions (RPM)
5. The Korgis-Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime: The Complete Rialto Recordings 1979-1982 (Cherry Red)
6. The Lee Kings-Bingo!! For The Lee Kings: Expanded Edition (RPM)
7. Cloud Eleven-Garden of Obscure Delights: A Retrospective 1996-2015 (West Coast)
8. Velvet Crush-Pre Teen Symphony (Omnivore)
9. The Beach Boys-Becoming The Beach Boys: The Complete Hite & Dorinda Morgan Sessions (Omnivore)
10. The Avengers-Everyone’s Gonna Wonder (RPM)
11. Andy Partridge-The Fuzzy Warbles Collection: Volumes 7-8 and Hinges (Ape House)
12. Jeffrey Foskett-The Best Of Jeffrey Foskett (Vivid Sound)
13. The Brotherhood of Lizards-Lizardland: The Complete Works (Captured Tracks)
14. Crowded House-Afterglow: Deluxe Edition (Univeral)
15. Steve & The Board-The Complete Steve & The Board (Playback)
16. The Ashes-Selective Amnesia: A Warmfuzz Compilation (Warmfuzz)
17. Andy Partridge-The Fuzzy Warbles Collection: Volumes 4-6 (Ape House)
18. The Bangles-Ladies and Gentlemen…The Bangles! (Omnivore)
19. Syreeta-The Rita Wright Years: Rare Motown 1967-1970 (Kent)
20. Harpers Bizarre-The Complete Singles Collection 1965-1970 (Now Sounds)
21. The Valentines-The Sound of The Valentines: The Complete Recordings 1966-1970 (RPM)
22. John Howard-These Fifty Years: The Best of John Howard Vol. 1 (Kid In A Big World)
23. George Usher-The End and The Beginning 1990-2009
24. Chad & Jeremy-Yesterday’s Gone: The Complete Ember/World Artist Recordings (RPM)
25. The Cats-The Golden Years of Dutch Pop Music (Universal)
26. Andy Partridge-The Fuzzy Warbles Collection: Volumes 1-3 (Ape House)
27. The Quick-Untold Rock Stories (Burger)*
28. Prix-Historix 1975-76 Ardent Studios (Hozac)
29. Ray Columbus-Now You Shake: The Definitive Beat R’N’B Pop Fever Recordings 1963-1969 (RPM)
30. Justine-Tales of Justine: Petals From A Sunflower Complete Recordings 1967-79 (Grapefruit)

III. Top 20 Compilations, Various Artists: Individual

I tried something new this year: separating the various artist comps into “Best Individual” and “Best Series”, as this year it was just too difficult to rank volumes in many of the series. If this seems a bit vague, it will become clear when you see the lists.

1. The Girls Want The Boys!: Sweden’s Beat Girls 1964-1970 (Ace)
2. Svenska Shakers-R & B Crunchers, Mod Grooves, Freakbeat and Psych/Pop From Sweden 1964-1968 (RPM)
3. This Is Fame: 1964-1968 (Kent)*
4. Let It Be-Black America Sings Lennon, McCartney and Harrison (Ace)
5. Move On Up Volume Two: The Very Best of Northern Soul (Universal)
6. Hallucinations: Psychedelic Pop Nuggets From The WEA Vaults (Rhino)*
7. Scratch My Back!-Pye Beat Girls 1963-1968 (Ace)
8. Kinked!: Kings Songs & Sessions 1964-1971 (Ace)
9. Girls On 45 Vol. 4: A Selection of Girl Group, Girlie Pop and Soulful Ladies 1962-1967 (Teensville)
10. Curiousity Shop Volume Three: A Rare Collection of Aural Antiquities and Objets D’art 1968-1971 (Particles)
11. One Track Mind-More Motown Guys (Kent)
12. Curiousity Shop Volume Four: A Rare Collection of Aural Antiquities and Objets D’art 1966-1969 (Particles)
13. Where The Girls Are-Volume 9 (Ace)
14. Love Hit Me!: Decca Beat Girls 1962-1970 (Ace)
15. Mixed Up Minds-Obscure Rock & Pop From The British Isles 1970-1974 (Particles)
16. Classical Gassers-Pop Gems Inspired By The Great Composers (Ace)
17. California Soul-Funk & Soul From The Golden State 1967-1976 (BGP)
18. Upside Down Volume Five: 1966-1971 Coloured Dreams From The Underworld (Particles)
19. Super Duper Love: Mainstream Hits & Rarities 1973-76 (Kent)
20. Northern Soul Weekender: Russ Winstanley Presents The Ultimate Weekender (Charly)

IV. Top 5 Compilations-Various Artists: Series

1. Cornflake Zoo (Particles)
2. Beatfreak! (Particles)
3. Warner Pop Rock Nuggets (Warner Japan)
4. Loma: A Soul Music Love Affair (Future Days)
5. Warner Girl Group Nuggets (Warner Japan)

V. Top 2 Soundtracks

1. The Beatles-Live At The Hollywood Bowl: A Ron Howard Film: Eight Days A Week The Touring Years (Universal)
2. Harry Nilsson’s The Point (Varese Sarabande)

VI. Top 30 Box Sets: Single Artist

1. Pink Floyd-The Early Years 1965-1972 (Legacy)
2. The Kinks-The Mono Collection (Sanctuary)*
3. The Rolling Stones-In Mono (ABCKO)
4. The Who-My Generation: Super Deluxe (Universal)
5. David Bowie-Who Can I Be Now?: 1974-1976 (Rhino/Parlophone)
6. The Beach Boys-Pet Sounds 50th Anniversary (Universal)
7. Elvis Presley-The Album Collection (Sony/RCA/Legacy)
8. The Monkees-The Monkees 50 Classic Albums Collection (Rhino)
9. Marvin Gaye-Volume Two 1966-1970 (Universal)
10. The Turtles-The Complete Original Album Collection (Manifesto)
11. Paul McCartney-Pure (Concord Music Group)
12. Lush-Origami (4 AD)*
13. Fleetwood Mac-Mirage: Super Deluxe (Rhino)
14. Todd Rundgren-The Complete Bearsville Albums Collection (Rhino)
15. The Cars-The Elektra Years 1978-1987 (Rhino)
16. The Ramones-The Ramones: 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Rhino)
17. Marvin Gaye-Volume Three 1971-1981 (Universal)
18. Graham Parker-These Dreams Will Never Sleep: The Best Of Graham Parker 1976-2005 (Universal)
19. XTC-Skylarking: Super Deluxe (Ape House)
20. Rubettes-The Albums 1974-1977 (Caroline International)
21. The Lords of The New Church-The Complete I.R.S. Collection (Real Gone)
22. The Archies-Sugar Sugar: The Complete Albums Collection (Goldenlane)
23. Led Zeppelin-The Complete BBC Sessions (Rhino)
24. XTC-English Settlement: Super Deluxe (Ape House)
25. The Long Ryders-Final Wild Songs (Cherry Red)
26. NRBQ-High Noon: A 50 Year Retrospective (Omnivore)
27. Sloan-One Chord To Another: Super Deluxe (Two Minutes For Music)*
28. The Association-Original Album Series (Rhino)
29. Jethro Tull-Stand Up: The Elevated Edition (Warner)
30. The Spencer Davis Group-Taking Out Time: Complete Recordings 1967-1969 (RPM)

VII. Top 5 Box Sets: Various Artists

1. Let’s Go Down and Blow Our Minds-The British Psychedelic Sounds of 1967 (Grapefruit)
2. Still In A Dream-A Story of Shoegaze (Cherry Red)
3. Another Splash of Colour-New Psychedelia In Britain 1980-1985 (RPM)
4. Looking Stateside: 80 Mod, Soul & Garage Nuggets (RPM)
5. C87 (Cherry Red)

VIII. Top 5 Reissue Labels (non-major)

1. RPM
2. Omnivore
3. Kent
4. Ace
5. Real Gone

IX. Top 5 Reissue Labels (Major)

1. Rhino
2. Universal
3. Legacy
4. Warner Japan
5. Parlophone

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.


Thursday, November 17, 2016

New playlist (and new look).

First of all, I have a new Spotify playlist over on the right. It's about half stuff I've reviewed here lately and half stuff I haven't, so of note from the latter are fine new singles from Reno Bo and Shake Some Action! as well as tracks from Kyf Brewer, Pop Cult, Matt Joe Gow and Kevin Devine, whose full-length albums I would recommend checking out.

And more obviously, I changed the template on the blog. Nothing fancy (one of Blogger's generic options), but I grew tired of the old look (as I'm sure you have), and now it looks a little less 2006 and a little more 2009 at least.