Things I missed in 2012

Well as we look upon the New Year tonight, I continue to reflect on 2012, a year that brought a ton of great music I have featured on the blog. As I do many years, I miss a lot of things, and with the slew of year end lists coming out, I have noticed many overlooked or under-appreciated gems. Those of which I mean to feature right here, right now. So read on!

Ari Shine
Songs of Solomon

This one I meant to blog about ages ago. A great album by Ari Shine, who on previous albums had more of a slicker pop/rock feel to it which I love. This album is a bit more subdued and acoustic, but just as strong musically, with great choruses and catchy melodies. Definitely a highlight of the year!


David Myhr
Soundshine

This album was covered here by Matt, but I also loved this album. Just about the poppiest pop this year, David is expert at creating these rhythmic bases for songs making them immediately catchy, dancy fun times music. Then his strong voice steps in and tops it off with excellent melodies and harmonies. So great!


Bill Lloyd
Boy King of Tokyo

The return of Bill Lloyd was much appreciated with this album full of crunchy pop songs with a twinge of country-rock and songs that sound straight from the heart and very honest. A classic sound, kept up-to-date and vital for today’s music scene.


Throwback Suburbia
Shot Glass Souvenir

Another fantastic record, too many killer hooks to count, and very well-produced and full of amazing songs that lift you up and make you feel good. You can tell they must have had fun making it, and they have a real passion for what they are trying to make.


Wes Hollywood
Fantasy Arcade

A slick, interesting power pop record. Some very strong songs here, a bit darker in subject matter, but still has all the pop trappings I love, great guitar sound and vocal style that is very unique and interesting. I like a lot of things about it.


Kurt Baker
Brand New Beat

I mean this thing just came out recently, so I would have gotten to it, but here goes anyway: Can’t go wrong kids, Kurt can’t go wrong. Another fun power pop explosion of awesomeness!

New Facebook Group!

I have created a Facebook group for this blog, for those who like that sort of thing! Feel free to drop by and join!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/popunderground

the children’s favorite time of year

hey kids, gather round, here comes captain santa to share your dreams!

Adrienne Pierce My HeavensAdrienne Pierce
My Heavens

Good easy-going pop that is very well made and interesting. She has a good voice, and is overall a great listening experience.


Jellyfish
Stack-A-Tracks

Awesome! Both albums without vocals! It really reveals some added flourishes from those heavy arrangements that make them so great!


Various Artists
Holidays Rule

Another thrown together corporate Christmas album. It’s got some good people on it, probably only worth it for the few artists you actually care about.


Further Seems Forever
Penny Black

I’ve been a Dashboard Confessional fan for a long time, but never got into Further Seems Forever. I was happy to see Chris Carraba was back for vocals, but musically, it is just a bit much and really lacked any melodic appeal.


Cardinal
Hymns

Great to hear from this band. More of the soft vocals and interesting song styling they are known for.


Swearin’
Swearin’

A rocky, gritty explosion of garagey rock that is a lot of fun. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and stays on a solid path all the way through.


ミラクルミュージカル
Hawaii: Part II

Excellent! This pseudo-side project of Tally Hall members is an eclectic mix of songs that go from retro to pop to electronic, etc. I really liked it, and think it will even grow on me.

Top 12 of 2012!

OK, here is my detailed account of my favorite albums of the year. I think what makes music great is that every person gets something different out of it. I realize as I look at other lists of this type, how much is out there, and there is something for everyone. I hope you can find something here for you!

  1. The Explorers Club – Grand Hotel

    This year has found me revisiting a lot of older records. I have been listening to a ton of “Come to the Sunshine” podcasts, The Kinks at the BBC box set, etc. So it doesn’t surprise me that this is my #1. It both borrows heavily from records of the 60’s and 70’s, and remains wholly original. Making songs as good as anything released at that time. It has hooks that are incredibly catchy, which is surprising these days. The record is well produced and professional. It is a triumph, and I love it.
  2. Gold Motel – Gold Motel

    This band was my top album of 2010, so I am a huge fan already. This album picks right up where they left off, and in some respects is better. It is better produced, and while it doesn’t have the immediacy and pull the first one did, there are many solid songs on here. “Musicians” may be the best song of the year. Each time I hear it, some other awesome part of it shines through.
  3. Air Traffic Controller – NORDO

    The long awaited album was worth the wait. Another collection of melodic, hook-filled music. His unique voice really makes it; this is a record about singing your heart out, and saying what you mean. They are sincere, heartfelt songs that take it slow when they need to, and rock out when it needs that. It almost feels like a cathartic release of emotions in a pure pop package.
  4. Wanderlust – Record Time

    YES! The return of a great band, and not only that, they are better than ever. This record is a loud statement of we are here, and we have something to say. The record can be listened to at the surface level, and you hear great rock songs, with soaring vocals, crashing guitars, and can have a great time. Once you start delving into the songs, you realize there is substance here. These aren’t just kids rocking out, they are adults who have lived in the world, and are expressing their experience with it.
  5. Hidden Pictures – Rainbow Records

    This album came to my attention via Futureman Records, which has been releasing classic power pop records digitally, and they put this album up as a preview. It was a great move because it fits right in with all those classic records, yet has an appeal to today’s audiences. It uses the power pop mold, but run through a more modern indie rock filter. Making for an engaging and fun listening experience. After seeing the other records this band released previously, I see they’ve been doing this for years, but I think maybe this one tops them all.
  6. Redd Kross – Researching The Blues

    When a band hasn’t released an album in 15 years, you wonder if they still “have it”. As you hear the opening chord of this album, all notions of a failed comeback disappear. It rocks your socks off! They are back with a vengeance! It feels almost as if there was a kinetic energy building up for 15 years, and is released all in one fell swoop, leaving all others in the dust. It is both classic Redd Kross, and a new direction all at the same time.
  7. Missy Higgins – The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle

    This album stands out from Missy Higgins’ previous efforts. It feels a lot closer to the chest, more personal. I think bringing Brad Jones and Butterfly Boucher in the mix was a wonderful decision. It doesn’t take away from Missy’s sound, but adds flourishes that bring out a different side to the sound. In the end, it brings it to a place of perfection for me, and is almost a new start, that can actually grow and continue to make her the strong unique artist she is.
  8. Mike Viola – Acousto De Perfecto

    As long as Mike Viola is making new music, he will make it on this list. Something about him just always hits me just right. This might not be considered a proper album, but it does make a full statement and stands up well. It features about half new songs, half old, done in an acoustic manner, with basically guitars and a string section. It really brings out the lyrics and just the simple but effective songwriting style of Mike Viola.
  9. Chris Richards and The Subtractions – Get Yer La-La’s Out

    If you need one solid power pop record this year, this is gonna be it. It has all the required pieces put together in a way that flows well and mixes into a great sound. You’ve got your crunchy guitars, pulsating beat, background vocals (la-la’s!), and a great solid voice. Great melodies and interesting song topics make for a wonderful all around experience.
  10. Ruby Free – Introducing Ruby Free

    A unique and cool album that feels more relaxed and confident than his other band, Maple Mars. It has a retro feel to it as well, a kind of southern California hippie feel to it. Yet, it has a post-modern experience of that music, first as a reminiscing of the era as can be seen through modern eyes. I am unsure if an era like this even existed, but it comforts me to hear music that makes it feel like that kind of world is possible.
  11. The Corner Laughers – Poppy Seeds

    Lighthearted pop from this group, sweetly sung and well produced. It grabs you from the start, with its bright feeling, as something different and fun. Where I see it going to the next level is thematically, with the unique take on experiences that are both relateable and abstract. It seems to have a poetic quality where things are said lyrically, but with much more meaning behind it.
  12. The Murphy Brothers – Thick as Thieves

    Great brotherly harmony band. Musically, what I like is the soaring-ness of the whole thing. They kind of lay down a rhythm, and the vocals kind of glide around, always moving forward, then it comes to the choruses, which lift it into the stratosphere. It makes me happy, and makes me want to join in!

I couldn’t stop at 12 of course. So here are 13 more albums that made my year!

13. Butterfly Boucher – Butterfly Boucher
        
14. The dB’s – Falling off the Sky
        
15. Shoes – Ignition
        
16. Regina Spektor – What We Saw From The Cheap Seats
        
17. Cliff Hillis – Dream Good
        
18. Eytan and the Embassy – Everything Changes
        
19. Young Fresh Fellows – Tiempo De Lujo
        
20. Tim Adams and Mike Viola’s Harem – Songs from the movie “That’s What She Said”
        
21. Dan Miraldi – Sugar & Adrenaline
        
22. Sweet Diss and the Comebacks – Emerald City Love Song
        
23. Dylan Trees – Three Times of the Day EP
        
24. Eleni Mandell – I Can See The Future
        
25. Kelly Hogan – I Like to Keep Myself in Pain
        

Thanks for reading! If you made it all the way down here, I’ve got a bonus for you: A compilation of all my favorite songs from all these albums!!!!!

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/16p82z3gs3n0o2t/ruuyVBTxEU

what makes a thing a thing?

here they are.

John LT
Suburban Superstar
Fun little poppy thing. I had not heard about this guy before, but it sounds like he’s got some good chops. A lot of just great fun pop/rock songs.


The Trews
Thank You And I’m Sorry
It sounds like all their other records. Very well polished, loud pop/rock with a soulful voice. Hey, I applaud consistency in all forms.


Tim Adams and Mike Viola’s Harem
Songs from the movie “That’s What She Said”
Mike Viola does it again! A collection of songs he and Tim Adams wrote/produced, all sung by the best female vocalists out there, including Kelly Jones, Rachael Yamagata and Nicole Atkins. Love it!


Tony Scalzo
My Favorite Year
The new album from Fastball’s Tony Scalzo. Very much in the same vein as that music, but a lot less polished, and seems more personal. I like that a lot.


Eric Burdon & The Greenhornes
Eric Burdon & The Greenhornes
Bluesy EP from former Animals lead singer and the Greenhornes. All parties seem to keep their authenticity, but it doesn’t really move me.

Extend-o-matic: Patterson Hood – Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance

I am going to try doing some extended longer form reviews every so often. Today, I want to highlight an artist outside of the pop framework, but you may like it. Patterson Hood’s album “Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance”

At first glance, this album is exceedingly simple. Very sparse, mostly just guitar and vocals, with soft accents all along the way. At its heart are the lyrics, both confessional and poetic. He is a storyteller of the sort where you don’t know you’re being told a story until its too late. So the album blooms from that. Where a standard approach would be to add more instrumentation, horns, strings, etc., Hood keeps it simple, sticking to the core of the song, highlighting the words. It really feels like a personal statement. The music itself is very basic, no complex chord changes or soaring choruses, he just lays down a rhythm, and rolls the words on top. it serves what he is doing just fine, so no complaints here. Highlights are Leaving Time and Better Than The Truth. If you love this type of troubadour songwriting, you can’t do too much better these days.

At least, put the money in my hands.

So another week has passed by, with only the melancholy of life to keep us going. woe is me.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61hrFllsImL._SL500_SS110_.jpgVarious Artists
A Tribute to Repo Man
An interesting album. A great LA punk soundtrack makes this film really great. So it is cool to hear some good bands paying their tribute. Well done, folks.


http://external.ak.fbcdn.net/safe_image.php?d=AQBQTBQOII4JHWNw&url=http%3A%2F%2Fi1.ytimg.com%2Fvi%2FHZXmIKTtV9I%2Fmqdefault.jpg&jq=100John & Brittany
Start Sinning
The new album from John Faye continues the greatness. His strong voice, and good rocking songs make for a great combo, and this album is a lot of fun.


http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51VQRDqB3TL._SL500_SS110_.jpgVarious Artists
It’s OK To Do Stuff
Funny parody album of Free To Be You and Me, features great comedic minds doing funny bits. Pretty short, but fun.


https://s3.amazonaws.com/static.noisetrade.com/w/d6fe46ba-1b0b-4113-a08d-63e8631260a7/ff_ep.jpegFiction Family
Holiday EP
FREE! Good stuff from Fiction Family, original Christmas music, it is pretty good and is keeping up the unique sound.


http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51CARkXsZOL._SL500_SS110_.jpgHey, Rosetta!
A Cup of Kindness Yet
Tons of Christmas music comes out, and much of it gets buried in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, this EP from Hey Rosetta is good, and engaging.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.