Monday, December 26, 2011

Top 25 Power Pop Releases of 2011

Time to say goodbye to 2011 and in spite of the lack of any commercial acceptance to speak of, it was a year of great Power Pop releases. Notable by their absence are two releases that didn't make it out (in the states) this year. "Besides" by Blue and "Soundshine" by David Myhr. We've heard a lot of tracks from these two releases but still haven't had the chance to hear the entire albums. Oh well, these will represent a great start on the year in 2012. My favorite Power Pop albums of 2011 follow:

  1. Fountains of Wayne - Sky Full of Holes
    I love this album and think its a return to form for FOW. There isn't a bad track on the album and each track builds upon (and flows into) the next. On his album Electro De Perfecto, Mike Viola wrote a tune entiled "Soundtrack of My Summer", however "Sky Full of Holes"ended up being the soundtrack to my summer this year. Perfect summer pop album.

  2. Pugwash - The Olympus Sound
    Another collection of winning Beatlesque tracks by Irish Power Pop genius Thomas Walsh and the crew. Thomas can't seem to write a bad song and "The Olympus Sound" just raises the bar on an already high standard. Keep em coming Thomas. We are listening!

  3. Paul Steel - LL Cosmonaut
    This one just snuck in under the wire in December. Brighton Power Pop phenom Paul Steel is back with a new EP released under the moniker of "LL Cosmonaut". Yes I know that its just an EP (and one of the tracks came out on Myspace last year), still the material is so strong, the arrangements so rich that it ended up as one of the best of the year. You have to hear this one for yourself. No one working today is producing Brian Wilson influenced material of the quality of Paul Steel. Looking forward to hearing the rest of the tracks in 2012.

  4. David Mead - Dudes
    This fine album has already received a lot of great press (deservedly so). I concur that David Mead is back and Dudes is his best Power Pop album in years. The album flips between sweet folk ballads and rockers with strong hooks. Wonderful record!

  5. Mike Viola - Electro De Perfecto
    For 2011, Mike releases a more serious and rockin effort...and of course its terrific front to back. The songs mine familiar melodic territory but somehow achieve something new. Mike mixes in louder guitars, pares down the arrangements and deals with more serious themes and still produces a collection of memorable songs. A great effort!

  6. The Wellingtons - In Transit
    Australia's Wellingtons deliver another collection of smart, insightful pop songs. Check out tracks "Adamant" and "Baby's Got A Secret". No better tunes were released this year in my opinion.

  7. Popfilter! - Pop This
    Boston's Popfilter finally released the epic pop song-cycle they'd been working on and its a stellar release. This one sounds like the Cars meet the Sweet. Great production and a nice album all the way through. Listen to this one!

  8. The Red Button - As Far as Yesterday
    Seth Swirsky is one of the best singer songwriters working today and the sophomore release by "The Red Button" his band project with Mike Rukeberg delivers another album of mid period Beatles influenced pop.

  9. Greg Pope - Monster Suit
    The man is a phenomenon. For each of the last four years, we've been treated to an annual Greg Pope release. This year, its a soundtrack and a terrific collection of songs to boot.

  10. The Nines - Polarity
    In 2011, the Nines put out their own collection of B-Sides and Demos and the collection hangs together very well. Castaways from the Nines are better than efforts by most other bands. I will always be a Nines completest and I hear that there is another collection in the works for 2012!

  11. Captain Wilberforce - Ghost Written Confessions
    A new album from Captain Wilberforce this year continues his streak of three great prog/romantic pop albums. This one starts slow and serious but builds into sweeping rockers. By track five, he had me....again!

  12. An American Underdog - Always On The Run
    Personal favorite, Andy Reed released a great set of tunes under the band name "An American Underdog". This album features tuneful gems start to finish. Welcome back Andy Reed.

  13. The Genuine Fakes – The Striped Album
    The Genuine Fakes continue to carry the torch of Swedish Power Pop. Tunes are strong and the band plays hard. Hopefully this one plus the new one by David Myhr will help rekindle the Power Pop torch in Sweden in 2012.

  14. Brandon Wilde - Hearts in Stereo
    I've been following Brandon Wilde for years. Loved his earlier release "Songs From the Deep Sleep" and his band project "Black Bunny". "Hearts in Stereo" continues with an album of quirky insightful pop.

  15. The Turnback - Drawn in Chalk
    Mid period Beatles. Great albums released on the Rainbow Quartz label. The Turnback evoke them all. I couldn't stop listening to this one.

  16. The Bangles - Sweetheart of the Sun
    I had no idea that Bangles would return with a vital lively effort like "Sweetheart of the Sun" but here it is. This album pushes all the buttons. Lots of 60's influenced Power Pop, a strong cover in Open Your Eyes by the Nazz... and of course there are the harmonies.

  17. Cirrone - Uplands Park Road
    This is the rocker of the year. Evokes "The Shazam" or "True Love". Great playing. Great production and strong songs.

  18. Robyn Hitchcock - Tromso Kaptein
    Didn't hear about this one much in Power Pop quarters but it works very well for me. This is one of those well arranged Hitchock efforts (as opposed to those tossed off ones he releases - I like those too, just not as much). This one has strings, strong melodies and of course feature's Robyn's warped lyrics. The Beatles in an alternate universe.

  19. Smith and Hayes - II
    The second album by Smith and Hayes is another tribute to the Beatles. The thing is that Smith and Hayes write really good songs, have great players and produce a nice sounding album. I particularly loved the track "Turn it Up". A classic!

  20. Tommy Flake - Second Skin
    I didn't know about Tommy Flake but "Second Skin" his 2011 albums is a winner throughout. Reminds me of Tommy Keene or Adam Schmitt. Great effort.

  21. The Ditchflowers - Bird's Eye
    Sophmore effort by Brian Merrill (formerly of Barely Pink) and Ed Woltil. Just like their first, "Bird's Eye" helps evoke Jim Boggia and Jon Brion. Good songs that you want to listen to over and over.

  22. Michael Oliver & The Sacred Band - Yin & Yanxiety
    I really liked this one all the way through. Nice rockin effort with good power pop hooks. well recorded. A very strong album.

  23. Longplayer - Longplayer
    Miss ELO? Can't wait for another ELO tribute like LEO from Bleu and Mike Viola? Well Longplayer is the group for you. Very entertaining release. Nice new tracks in the style of Jeff Lynne.

  24. Meyerman - Who Do You Think You Are?
    Another rockin' effort. Meyerman knows the moves, has the hooks and plays em well. The Cars meets Superdrag. A great one for your car.

  25. Richard Snow and The Inlaws - Am I Really That Boring?
    Always enjoy the British jangle pop from Richard Snow. It's great to have a new effort to listen to.

Happy Hollidays and a safe happy New Years to all!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

David Mead - More Out Takes, Demos and Studio Performances

David Mead put out "Dudes" late last month and as promised, its a return to classic Power Pop form. Dudes artfully weaves the gorgeous folk pop he demonstrated on last year's "Almost and Always" with the same type of Beatle influenced tunes he explored on 2006's "Tangerine". Obviously "Dudes" is a serious contender for Power Pop CD of the year.

For new listeners, David released a free compilation of hits and out takes called "25 days to Dudes". If you haven't downloaded this collection, do so while it's still available and free. There were three "new" out takes made available on the collection. I've included them in my new collection of demos, studio tracks and out takes. The remainder were released on earlier version of Mead's web sites. Check out my previous collection of out takes, demos and rare tracks. Dudes is purchase it now. Also, check out this new collection of rare tracks and let me know if you have something I'm missing.

1 Lease on Life - out take from "Indiana"
2 Slow Night - out take from "Mine and Yours"
3 Hallelujah, It's a Girl - demo from "Tangerine"
4 Dudes - studio performance from the Ivy League
5 Bucket of Girls - out take from "Luxury of Time"
6 Girl on a Roof - studio performance from Ivy League
7 I Hate It When We Fight - duet with Joy Williams
8 Sweetheart Sorrow - demo
9 Rainy Weather Friend - demo from "Almost and Always"
10 From My Window Sill - studio performance from World Cafe
11 Nashville - studio performance from Ivy League
12 Hallelujah, I Was Wrong - demo from "Tangerine"
13 Didn't I Warn You - out take from "Mine and Yours"
14 Indiana - studio performance from World Cafe
15 Last Train Home - demo from "Almost and Always"
16 Little Boats - studio performance from Tune In at Home