Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Top 25 Power Pop Releases of 2013

Some great releases this year.  Notable return performances from prior year stars (though some larger established artist remained silent ).   All in all, a balanced set that ranged across the many subgenre's of Power Pop.  Here is my "Best of" list in order and here's looking towards 2014....

  1. Electric Soft Parade - Idiots
    I think I've already been pretty public about what I think of this terrific album.  Looking for Fountains of Wayne, Teenage Fanclub goodness?  Look no further.  A classic record, start to finish.  Get it!
  2. Corin Ashley - New Lion Terraces
    This one was a big surprise.  Former Pills lead singer Ashley already had produced one solo album music in the chamber pop subgenre. His 2013 release "New Lion Terraces" pushes all the Power Pop buttons.  Great songs with great production by Ducky Carlisle.  One of the year's best.
  3. And the Professors - Our Postmortem 
    I can't stop listening to this side project from the Honeydog's Adam Levy.  This one started as an engineering teaching project but the addition of strings turns singer Levy's pop songs in a new direction.  Thanks to Jenny McClintock for her post on the Jellyfish listserv that alerted me to this one. 
  4. Wyatt Funderburk - Novel and Profane
    Love this album from the former Second Saturday singer songwriter. Tight production and rockin hooks that never let up.  This album seemed as close to a classic Owsley record as we could expect in 2013.  More of this Wyatt...
  5. Adam Daniel - Pop, Baby
    surprise return to Power Pop from Adam Daniel after years producing folky AOR.  Lots of killer pop hooks on this one, some with a radio friendly gloss.  
  6. Eric Barao - Eric Barao
    I did not know the solo work from Cautions lead singer Eric Barao, but this effort grazes as far into Jellyfish territory as anything else this year.   From the credits, its obvious that Barao is chums with Bleu and Duckly Carlilse.  His solo debut is beautifully recorded as a result.
  7. The Nines - The Nines
    It sounds like the latest collection of great Nines tracks started life as another odds and ends collection, but Steve Eggers organized it into a wide ranging pop record. Great album.  Loads of great songs here. I never miss anything that Steve puts out.  
  8. Josh Rouse - The Happiness Waltz
    The Happiness Waltz as a welcome return to pop form from his generation's Paul Simon. This album had so many great pop songs that it made my Power Pop list.  I recommend this one even though the vibe is typical Rouse AOR.
  9. Joel Sarakula - The Golden Age
    Didn't know anything about Joel Sarakula, but his album was a surprise best for this year.  Sarakula belts out a variety of catchy tunes in a Bowie-esque baritone.  At times this album sounds like Parthenon Huxley left his stamp.
  10. Valley Lodge - Use Your Weapons
    Valley Lodge is back with a Cheap Trick style blast of Power Pop.  This one rocks hard though the second half of the CD seemed poppier to me than the first.
  11. Greg Pope - Popmotion Animation
    The "Pop Monster" returns with another brief but quality collection of twangy Power Pop tracks.   Always glad to hear whatever projects Greg is working on.  This was a yet another great one.
  12. Parthenon Huxley - Thank You Bethesda
    A Parthenon Huxley release is cause to celebrate. This one rocks hard as Hux moves back east from years in California. An over-the-top cover of his own 70's classic Buddha Buddha is the cornerstone of this release.
  13. Agony Aunts  - Big Cinnamon
    It seems that KC Bowman has determined that he needs to mix up his patented quirky Power Pop songs with vocals from other singers.  Agony Aunts is his latest project with members of the Corner Laughers. Lots of great KC Bowman fun here.
  14. Lisa Mychols  - Above, Beyond; In Between
    Lisa cranks out another collection of contemporary Power Pop meets 60's girl groups.  The hits never let up on this one. Each tune better than the next. An essential listen.
  15. Jim Boggia - Ample Seating Available 
    Boggia revisits his fabulous back catalog with this live album.  Great recordings and the songs!  The songs!  Don't know Jim Boggia, you owe it to yourself to pick this one up.
  16. Tor Guides - Lots Of the Pops Volume 1
    This is the best example of Swedish Power Pop this year.  Great album, I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly it was released after last year's "Strawberries & Chocolates".
  17. Mike Viola - Ghoul
    It's a trading card game! It's also a sampler of the super-prolific pop star's many projects in the music business in LA!  This virtual release by favorite Viola is frankly a bit all over the place. Still it's Mike and that means that there are lots of stellar moments here.  It's worth playing Mike's game....
  18. Bob Evans - Familiar Stranger
    The fourth solo release by Kevin Mitchell, lead singer of the Australian band Jebediah.  This one has a glossy synthy sheen of the moment but you find yourself humming the songs very quickly.
  19. The Contrast -  A Sinister Flick
    The Contrast always takes me back to the early days of REM and the first couple of albums by the Smithereens.   This latest release is not as concise as 2010's "God of Malfunction", still the Contrast specialty is producing 3 minute rock songs and there are lots of good ones here.
  20. Brendan Benson - You Were Right
    This year Brendan Benson released a series of singles.  This album collects them all and adds to them for a surprisingly coherent listen.
  21. Richard X. Heyman - X
    I've been a big Richard X. Heyman fan from the beginning and the latest song cycle from Heyman doesn't disappoint.  For fans of Costello, Nick Lowe....
  22. The Sun Sawed in Half - Elephants in Swan
    Always great to hear "The Sun Sawed in Half" pull together their unique brand of Jellyfish oriented pop. Always worth a listen.
  23. David Brookings - The Maze
    Former Memphis based singer songwriter David Brookings has relocated to California (there is a theme here) and has a new album for us.  This guy always brings me back to the days of early dB's, Let's Active, Don Dixon.
  24. Vegas with Randolph - Rings Around The Sun
    It seems like this collection came together over the last year and a half as a collection of pop singles.  That's the way it listens to me but it doesn't make it any less of an essential listen.
  25. The Grapes of Wrath - High Road
    Canadian band "The Grapes of Wrath" have reformed and released a new album.   It's still hard to secure a copy in the states but well worth trying to do so.  This one seems a bit over produced to my ears but there are some great tunes on it.


Jeff Shelton said...

Props on including Agony Aunts here!! Can I send you the latest EP from the Well Wishers?

Unknown said...

Good to see Ducky Carlisle work all over this list.
Looks for us in 2014.

Aaron said...

Great list. Most everyone you mention is on the list. I didn't add Mike Viola's Ghoul yet as it's not a stand alone LP, but it will be in 2014.

Haper said...

Jeff. Thanks for the offer. Would love to hear your latest EP. I'm a big fan. Any demos or rare tracks I could post? Regards. Haper.

Haper said...

Aaron. Thanks for stopping by. Your blog continues to be a check every day must check for me. Hope you have a great 2014! Haper

deano6 said...

If you haven't heard Sugar Stems - Can't Wait, you've really missed out this year. It's only available as a download or vinyl (which I have both). Get it from Dirtnap Records. My #1 of the year!