- David Myhr - Soundshine
It's almost too easy for David Myhr. Myhr is a great player, obviously has access to great facilities and can write pop hooks like falling out of bed. Though, "Soundshine" treads through familiar territory, it does so extreme;y well. Best PowerPop release of the year IMOP.
- Sunday Sun - EPs 1,2 and 3
I know its a stretch to treat three EP's as the second best album of the year, none-the-less by the time I downloaded all three EPs I had a collection of eighteen of the freshest tracks of the year. Great songs, nice harmonies. I love these guys and look forward to future releases by this new band from the Netherlands.
- The dB's - Falling Off The Sky
More than any other single event, 2012 represented the return of legendary band the dB's. This may not be the stongest of the dB's releases, still it manages to have a variety of tasty tracks by heroes Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey. Now that they are back together, let's hope they continue the magic....
- Kurt Baker - Brand New Beat
I'll admit that Kurt Baker takes me perilously close to teen pop punk. That said, listening all the way through Brand New Beat reveals an uninterupted string of great songs with solid hooks. This guy sounds like a young Butch Walker to me, and there are worse role models to live up to.
- Gavin Guss - On High
The second album by former Tubetop frontman Gavin Gus is a great one. Clever detours abound along with memorable choruses. If the instrumentation is a bit stripped down, this album is still very well recorded. Along the album by Mark Lane, this one rewards repeated listening.
- The Honeydogs - What Comes After
I'm an unrepentant Honeydogs fan, and I played the hell out of this one when it came out earlier this year. Its a solid ride start to finish. Honeydogs frontman Adam Levy is a genius and you need to listen to his latest work.
- Mark Lane - Something New
Sleeper of the year in my opinion. Every song a gem and a nice flow through the album. The first album from Mark Lane since 2003's Golden State of Mind, this is a very strong album indeed.
- Saul Zonana - Fix the Broken
It's getting redundant. Another great Power Pop album by Saul Zonana and yet more crickets from the press.I simply don't understand how a guy who consistently delivers such great albums, gets so little recognition. Well I appreciate this effort Go out and hear the latest output from a guy who deserves to be mentioned with Jason Falkner and Mike Viola. Very nice album.
- Throwback Suburbia - Shot Glass Souvenir
This is a great album that brings me back to the days of the essential Cheap Trick albums. Great rockers, great hooks abound from this Portland band. These guys keep getting better.
- Bill Lloyd - Boy King of Tokyo
I've been a Bill Lloyd fan since 1986's Feeling the Elephant. This is the best song cycle from Bill in years. A solid pop run with an Elvis Costello, Marshal Crenshaw vibe.
- The Breakups - Running Jumping Falling Shouting
After one earlier EP, the Breakups emerge with their debut album fully formed witha beautifully produced, terrifically written, well played effort that hangs together well front to back. Take a road trip and crank it in you car!
- The Honeymoon Stallions - Moonlighting
Andy Goldberg returns, this time with a band that doesn't share his name. Still we have the same well written power pop confections we've grown to expect from Andy Goldberg. This one features more synthesizers and busier production. Glad that Andy is back playing his great music for us.
- Bryan Scary - Daffy's Elixir
Bryan Scary is a mad genius and you can't got a minute into any of his songs before he knocks you over the head with it. This concept album is set in the Old West and manages to bring forth Queen/Jellyfish flourishes into a mini opera. Another great album from Bryan.
- Nelson Bragg - We Get What We Want
The sophomore effort by sometime Wondermint drummer Nelson Bragg get's off to a slow chart. I loved the last 7 tracks that showed off Nelson's sun drenched folk pop songs. Evokes the Hollies and the Beach Boys (of course!)
- Jackdaw4 - Dissectacide
The new one from Jackdaw4 is a nice effort. The British band continues very much as in the past with its poppy proggy sound. Tight arrangements take us through some pretty dramatic territory. By and large a more tuneful and easier to follow effort than their prior three.
- Paul Rocha - Crayons
I didn't know anything about Paul Rocha but his album Crayons is a fine effort. As "British" sounding as any thing I listened to this year. Interesting, for a guy from Massachusets. Great songs. Nice production. Very "Beatlley" What do you have in store next Mr. Rocha?
- Bleu - Besides
Yes. I know that Bleu's album for 2012 was in fact a collection of b-sides, some of which had been released years before. Still, its Bleu and even his scraps can be very very good. Looking forward to his 2013 effort "To Hell With You".
- Blinker the Star - We Draw Lines
I love Blinker the Star and find this project form alt rocker Jordon Zadorozny to be a convincing stand-in for Jason Falkner. Brave proggy lines punctuated by understanded pop refrains. This was a nicely packaged effort that represented a return to pop form for Jordon.
- Chris Richards - Get Yer La La's Out
The sole entry from the Tommy Keene/Smithereens wing of the Power Pop spectrum in my top 25 this year. I found this album to be Richard's best ever. Solid jangle pop from start to finish. He's getting better and better.
- Mike Viola - Acousto El Perfecto
A fun side project for Mike Viola. This year he rerecorded some of his previous songs with a string quartet. A detour but a fun effort from a blog favorite. I also loved the new songs along with the old.
- Cardinal - Hymns
We didn't hear much about the much antipated reunion of chamber poppers Cardinal early this year. The reunion of coleaders Eric Matthews and Richard Davies produced a album with a vibe from another time. I could have used to hear more Matthews but enjoyed the effort start to finish.
- Rob Bonfiglio - Mea Culpa
The third solo record by former Wanderlust guitarist was a bit of a let down for me. Not as consistenly hooky as his first two, it seems a bit more overtly interested in commerical appeal. Even so, there are enough hooks throughout for me to recommend.
- The Afternoons - Fan Fiction
Another fine effort by the Welsh band "The Afternoons". These folks always manage to crank out jaunty jangly tracks that occupy the space between Teenage Fanclub and more twee bands.
- Jay Gonzalez - Mess of Happiness
Who would have expected this slight off center Power Pop epic by the keyboard player for the Americana band "the Drive By Truckers"? This one got a lot of press and deserved it. A very cool album.
- Anne Soldaat - Anne Soldaat
Self titled new solo record by the former lead singer for the Dutch band "Daryl Ann". This is the second album in a row coproduced by Jason Falkner and it has some incredible moments. He has a tendency to put his own twists on some very classic Power Pop themes.
Monday, December 24, 2012
Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Band leader Thomas Walsh has been busy this year and it shows. There is a new EP on the way with several newly recorded tracks. He’s also been generous sharing his rare tracks through YouTube postings. This compilation represents 2012’s Pugwash collector output. As usual, there are treasures galore collected here. Acoustic covers recorded late in the morning, Rare vocal mixes of official releases along with a suite of tracks backed by the Section String Quartet.
Listen carefully to these tracks and hear one of today’s Power Pop geniuses at work and as usual please let me know if I’m missing any other rare tracks.
1 Landsdowne Valley - Unreleased Demo
2 Apples - Early Mix
3 Us and Them - Pinkfloyd Cover with Section String Quartet
4 What Becomes of the Broken Hearted - Cover of Jimmy Ruffin hit
5 Here - Instrumental String Mix
6 If I Needed Someone- Live Beatles Cover
7 Brennan's Bread - Short Commercial Jingle
8 Ashes to Ashes - David Bowie Cover with Section String Quartet
9 Happy Again - Recent U.K. Bonus Track
10 Tinsel and Marzipan - Acapella mix of Christmas Single
11 On With the Show - Alternate Mix of B-side
12 Four Days - Acoustic Version
13 You're Like Manchester - Alternate Mix of John Shuttleworth Cover
14 Walter Reed - Acoustic Cover of Michael Penn Song
15 Portrait of Louise - Acoustic Cover of Bee Gees Song
16 Emily Regardless - Vocal Wulitzer Mix
17 Chinatown - Acoustic Cover of Move Song
18 Elisa - Acoustic Cover of Bee Gees Song
19 To The Warmth of You - Alternate Mix
20 Waltz - Live Cover of Gerry Rafferty Song
21 Dear Belinda - Live Acoustic Version
22 This Could Be Good - Live on RTE 2006
23 This Boy - Acapella Beatles Cover
24 Thank You All - Acoustic Track of Thomas Thanking Birthday Well Wishers
Monday, September 17, 2012
For me the biggest news is that the band is recording an album of new material. I couldn't be more excited. I loved the tunes that Robert wrote during his Future Clouds days, but there is something more compelling with them being performed by a premier rock band. The release is supposed to happen next spring. Until that time, we've been treated to an appetizer of new tunes, in the new digital and vinyl single release of:
1 I'll Be Gone - a classic Swedish Power Pop rave up originally written and performed by Ola Framby and the Girls.
2 Animal Show - a new slinky rocker. The band rocked hard on this one during their recent performance
I've pulled together a compendium of recent live Austin recordings from the reformed band. Thanks to the folks at KUT who broadcast the first five tracks. They are truly studio quality. Thanks also to the posters of the remaining four live performances on YouTube. The handheld recordings still capture the power of this classic quartet. Really looking forward to next spring's new Cotton Mather release.
1 Camp Hill Rail Operator
2 Panama Slides
3 Aurora Bori Alice
4 Amps of Sugarland
5 Homefront Cameo (incomplete)
6 She's Only Cool
7 Spin My Wheels
8 My Before and After
Sunday, August 12, 2012
3 Let All Mortal Flesh
4 I Don't Want to See You Go
5 No More Small Talk (Instrumental)
6 Valentine 85
7 I Send Up My Prayer
9 Valentine 86
10 Bangkok Prunes
11 Valentine 87
12 Hands of Time
13 Heal This Broken Heart
14 Valentine 88
15 O Sacrum Convivium
16 Valentine 89
18 Valentine 90
19 How'd You Get To Be 60?
21 Valentine 91
22 Peace on Earth
24 55 Gallon Drum
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Since the band itself has been spending its more recent years supporting Brian Wilson during his welcome comeback, I've been only able to put my hands on a hand full of tracks (many of them solo tracks by band members) that were not included in Kaleidoscopin'. This is obviously a work in process and I am not finished with the project. (This is the second version of this compilation. Thanks very much to some of our loyal contributors who helped me fill in the missing bonus tracks from "Mind If We Make Love to You".) Its summer and I'm enjoying this compilation - however if you have any other Wondermints tracks I am missing , please drop me a line. I'd like to add them in. Enjoy and stay cool.
1. Getting Better - Beatles cover recorded (but not used) for a Phillips commercial
2. Bionocle - Newer Nick Walusko track from his MySpace page
3. Surf's Up - Nice live cover version of the Beach Boys track. Probyn Gregory sings
4. Do You Have Any Regrets - Classic Darian Sahanaja cover of unreleased Brian Wilson song. Released as a single
5. A Time to Live in Dreams - Newer Probyn Gregory track from a Stephen John Kalinich (poet and Beach Boys lyricist) compilation
6. I Send Up My Prayer - Track written and sung by Probyn Gregory on an album by Dutch band leader Eric Van Den Brink.
7. I Wanna Pick You Up - Classic Darian Sahanaja cover of the Beach Boys track from Love You album. Released as a single
8. Valentunes - Probyn Gregory demos from the 1980's (and it shows
9. Our Prayer - Wondermints live cover version of Beach Boys Acapella hymn
10. Theme to the Family Way - Darian covers Paul McCartney instrumental soundtrack at a live McCartney tribute concert
11. The Bubbler - Short instrumental track from Probyn Gregory
12. Out of Mind - Demo bonus track from "Mind if We Make Love With You"
13. Ride - Instrumental version. Bonus Track from "Mind if We Make Love With You"
14. Time Has You - Demo bonus track from "Mind if We Make Love With You"
15. I Send Up My Prayer (Demo) - 1980s solo Probyn Gregory demo of track 6
16. Custome Machine - Live sounding beach party track
17. I Just Wasn't Made of These Times - From the earliest Wondermints tapes, Nick Walusko sings this version of the Brian Wilson track
Sunday, June 10, 2012
It was certainly scary about how long this album took to put together. One of the highlight tracks "World to Cry" was available in almost its final form on the dB's website back in 2005! The Will Rigby track "Write Back" as released for Record Store day in April 2011.
Rob on his must-read dB's fan shrine blog points out the dB's are the definition of a cult band. True enough, and as such I would have expected some official channel to distribute some of the great tracks evidently left off the new release. These have dribbled out over the years and die hard fans will probably have picked them all up by now - but for those who haven't, I've pulled them together in one short collection (Rob does a great job commenting on many of these tracks on his post here):
1. Picture Sleeve - Fine DB's track from the Record Store Day single on March 2011. Chris sings. "Write Back" was on the other side.
Monday, May 14, 2012
However the pick of the bunch in my opinion is the new version of Andrew Gold's Lonely Boy. Stalwart fans have already heard the version of that track that Mike performed in the studio on his radio session on WFMU (recorded with an extremely out of tune piano). This is an entirely new studio version that Mike cut earlier this year that he was kind enough to share with me (and gave me permission to share with you!). Listen carefully and let me know if you don't think this is one of the best Power Pop tracks of the year. Great arrangement of a classic song replete with Blue Swede style "oohs" and "aahs". This is real Power Pop magic.
Thanks to Andy at Power Pop Square who made me aware of many of these great tracks on this comp. I'm really excited to hear Mike's new album Acousto De Perfecto. Until then let me know what you think about these rare tracks (and PLEASE let me know if you have any I'm missing).
1. Lonely Boy - New Studio version of the Andrew Gold hit
2. Be My Baby - Studio cover of Ronette's hit by Spector and Greenwich
3. 1000 Umbrellas - Cover of XTC's great track with the Section String Quartet
4. Round and Round - Menacing cover of Ratt's hit
5. Do it All Night - Studio rehearsal out take from WFMU session
6. Primary Caretaker - Original solo track from Radio Show
7. Start of Something - Cover of Steve Allen tune from 1955. Briefly the theme to the Tonight Show.
8. How Soon is Now - Cover of Smith's hit recorded with the Section String Quartet
9. Little One - Lullaby
10. Motel Mood - Solo Acoustic version of this great track
11. God Give me Strength - Mikes cover of the classic Costello, Bacharach collaboration. Recorded with "the Violas"
Saturday, May 5, 2012
In 2009 Gavin resurfaced with a solo record "Mercury Mine". One of that years best releases. "Mercury Mine" had it all. Clever tunes with unexpected hooks. Lots of songs I found myself humming days after first listen.
I've been waiting for his second release for a year and "On High" doesn't disappoint. The piano based songs are strong and the production is under-stated but clear. There isn't a weak tune on the album. Guss currently seems to be shopping the release to labels. As part of that process he's posted the entire effort to stream on his EPK (Electronic Press Kit) website. I want to support the project once it has it gets a proper release but until that time, I've assembled a short compilation of non-album tracks. Don't miss "On High"!
1. Every Other December
2. Wintertime (Once Again)
3. Voice Inside My Head
4. Place in France
5. Oceans Cracked
6. With You
Sunday, April 8, 2012
In order to celebrate what is certainly one of year's top releases, I'm attaching links to one of my favorite live sound board concerts by the band. The Honeydogs permit fan recordings and this live concert from 2005 is a great date with impecible sound. The concert features material from the 2003 epic 10,000 Years. If you don't know the Honeydogs, this is a great place to start courtesy of Archive.org. A great session by a great band:
1. Panhandler's Serenade
2. Dead Stars
3. Test Tube Kid
4. Poor Little Sugar
5. Rumor Has It
6. Red Dye #40
7. Heads or Tails
8. The Rake's Progress
9. Piece of Cake
10. For the Tears
12. Across the Great Divide
13. 10,000 Years
14. Sour Grapes
Friday, March 30, 2012
1. Ziegfield Station
2. The Blood Club
3. Mrs. Gracy's Revenge
4. The Number Game
5. Riding the Shadow
6. The Ceiling on the Wall
7. The Wicked Frontier
8. Song of Stab
Saturday, February 18, 2012
Thanks very much to the folks at WFMU for posting this great session at Archive.org.
Sunday, January 15, 2012
The Merrymakers were a Swedish Power Pop unit co-lead by David Myhr and Anders Hellgren. Their two albums "No Sleep till Famous" and "Bubblegun" were some of the best examples of Power Pop to come out of the Swedish Power Pop renaissance of the late 1990's. In my opinion 1998's "Bubblegun" is maybe the best single album from that scene, benefiting from the arranging, producing and co-writing of Jellyfish leader Andy Sturmer.
The Merrymakers were only together for a short time. They appeared on the scene in 1992 and released two classic albums (along with one hard to find early singles collection). By 1998 they were gone (The band continued to exist until 2010 but there was nothing released after 1998 - I wonder if there are any good unreleased material from that 1998 - 2010?). Here is a collection of their B-sides and compilation tracks for your listening pleasure. This compilation reminds me of how great this band could be (makes me anticipate David Myhr's Soundshine release that much more).
1 Feel A Whole Lot Better - Byrds cover From "Full Circle: A Tribute To Gene Clark"
2 Somebody Made for Me - Emitt Rhodes cover. Bonus track from "Bubblegun"
3 Parachute - B-side of "Monument of Me"
4 No More Lonely Nights - McCartney cover from Tribute Compilation "Listen to What the Man Said"
5 What About? - Bonus track from "Bubblegun"
6 You Get What You Give - New Radicals cover from the Bam Balam Explosion Compilation
7 Love (You Can Make it Alright) - B-side of "Monument of Me"
8 Still Someone to You - B-side of "Monument of Me"
9 Strange Kind of Girl - From 1998 compilation "Somewhere Down the Road"
10 High Horses - 1993 track from split flexi included with Swedish SOUND AFFECTS magazine
11 Saltwater Drinks (Remix) - B-side of"Saltwater Drinks"
12 The Prettiest Star - B-side of "Superstar"
13 Superstar (Remix) - B-side of"Saltwater Drinks"
Thanks to one of my Power Pop friends (you know who you are) for helping me pull this collection together. We would not be listening to all of these great rare tracks without your generosity.