Another missed gem from 2008 that should not be neglected. I can’t say enough about Ness. An amazing masterpiece of a rock and roll. Ness takes it’s lead from 70’s classic rock and progressive pop sounds, but it combines the influences into a swirling mass of rock and pop sweetness. The opener “Where’s Guns?” floors you like a mix of The Posies and The Who full of hypnotizing riffs and harmonies. The follow up “I Intend” gets theatrical in a very Mick Ronson kind of way. Listen to it streaming and tell me you disagree. The track “Somewhere” sounds a lot like early seventies Yes, if you replaced Jon Anderson with Brian Wilson. This album manages to put layer upon layer of tracks, and “Weary By The Day” and the follow up “The Future Used To Be Cool” resembles a pop version of Genesis’ “Lamb Lies Down On Broadway.” This is the heart of the album, and it’s an amazing achievement (complete with organ solo fadeout). That would be enough, but the stellar “Losing Track (Of The Things I’ve Lost)” is another opus similar to Buffalo Springfield. “Petty White” is a Todd Rundgren meets Pet Sounds gem that compares well to Paul Steel’s “April & I” in technique. “Elena Margaret” is a fitting end ballad to the entire album. “Goin’ Home” is a jam that continues a general showcasing of instrumental prowess, with spoken band credits. This is one of the best progressive pop albums, I’ve heard in a long time.
Here is the top 20 from Bruce Brodeen at Not Lame Records. I haven’t listened to all of these (maybe I’ll get those I missed and review them later). I’ve included CD Baby links where it’s available to hear the tracks too. If you’d like to hear Bruce’s rants and the rest of the top 30, and top 75 just follow this link.
- Bryan Scary “Flight Of The Knife” – Not Lame
- Greg Pope “Popmonster” – Not Lame | CD Baby
- Josh Fix “Free At Last” – Not Lame
- Rose Hill Drive “Moon Is The New Earth” – Not Lame
- The Cute Lepers “Can’t Stand Modern Music” – Not Lame
- Higgins “Z” – Not Lame
- BigElf “Cheat The Gallows” – Not Lame
- Ness “You Can’t Afford To Feel” – Not Lame | CD Baby
- Class Three Overbite “Horses for Courses” – Not Lame | CD Baby
- Starling Electric “Clouded Staircase” – Not Lame
- The Pranks “Modern Communication” – Not Lame
- Frank Ciampi “Big Top Woman” – Not Lame
- The Rollo Treadway “self-titled” – Not Lame | CD Baby
- Secret Powers “Explorers Of The Polar Eclipse” – Not Lame
- Kelly Jones “SheBANG!” – Not Lame | CD Baby
- Khalid Hanifi “Pamplemousse Presse” – Not Lame | CD Baby
- April’s Rain “Stellar Transmission” – Not Lame | CD Baby
- Respectables “Sibley Gardens” – Not Lame | CD Baby
- Skybombers “Take Me To Town” – Not Lame
- Captain Wilberforce “Everyone Loves A Villian” – Not Lame | CD Baby
This latest Pillbugs album (always something to look forward to) comes with a bittersweet sense of loss. Vocalist/guitarist Mark Kelly passed away last May and the remaining band members put the finishing touches here with Mark Mikel leading the way. As with past releases, no other band has come close the recreating the spirit and sound of sixties psyche-pop better than the Pillbugs. From the opening riffs on “Life As It Happens” you’ll be sold. If you bleed day-glo colors then you have to own this one. Like a mix of The Byrds and The Now People, “Can’t Get It Right” is full of sophisticated rhythms and harmonies. “Greeting Committee” is a part McCartney, part Cat Stevens and is a classic mid-tempo love song with hand claps and a big fat melodic hook. “Soundman” gets a little harder in sound, a bit like The Who with some Lynyrd Skynyrd guitar riffs thrown in. Parts of this album do address Mark Kelly’s medical condition (“Hard Line”) with grim determination of an classic Jethro Tull song. Another highlight here is “Tragedy Ann” with awesome Roy Wood/Jeff Lynne-era ELO violins and cellos, with the Beatles long shadow over each Sitar strum and horn flourish. Although a few tracks seem indulgent (“Play the Hear Back”) consider me a raving fan here, and after a few listens you will bow at The Pillbugs altar.
Listen to “Life As it Happens”
Listen to “Can’t Get It Right (So I’m Loving It Wrong)”
This was followed closely by Class Three Overbite and The Lolas albums. Overall, not a bad year for power pop. Thanks for voting and we’ve also nearly doubled our vote count this year too. I expect a lot of great music for 2009!
You still have a day left to vote for the best power pop album of 2008. Just scroll on down to the poll on the right and pick an artist. If you think I left off a really good artist, or I never reviewed your favorite — just e-mail me. I can’t add them to our poll, BUT I can review them for 2009 as a “missed favorite.” The poll results come out Thursday.