Jim Camacho and Chris Price


Jim Camacho “Everywhere” EP
Once again the talented Camacho gives us a bright shiny pop with flamenco styled jangle on “Big Little World.” His insight lyrically is like a power pop version of Jackson Browne, on “Hold On Ariel.” Next “Everywhere” has a big hook with an expansive chorus, then slows the tempo down for a the next two tunes. Highly Recommended.


Chris Price “Homesick”
Los Angeles singer/songwriter Chris Price is proof you don’t need Auto-Tune or even a recording studio to craft perfect power pop. Chris downloaded a four-track app on his iphone and like One Like Son, created a sophisticated vintage sounding LP. It also helps that the melodies are darn near perfect, similar to Mike Viola on the title track, and “Suicide” is a fast paced gem with jangling riffs. The ballad “For All We Know” is a lot like Big Star’s “Thirteen.” The gorgeously crafted “That’s Your Boyfriend” and “Up In Flames” are more timeless baroque compositions. I wish I found this last year, it would definitely make my 2012 top ten for sure. Get it now.

John Hopkins and Sam Page

John Hopkins “Sunlight Madness”
Arkansas based pop composer John Hopkins developed this love letter to The Beach Boys SMiLE era and its a wonderful eclectic pop album with bits of DIY folk, and orchestral dream pop. “Morning” starts us with Wilsonesque harmonies in a chant with an awesome a Capella rhythm. It leads in the title track, with effective vocal and guitar flourishes and a rich chorus, ending with rich orchestral interludes between each song. Each track fades seamlessly into each other, often reminding me of Paul Steel’s April & I.

Sometimes the unusual atmospherics (“Downriver”) can get in the way, but that’s a minor point. Each theme is impressive, big standouts include “As You Walk Alone,”  “Ceridwen” and “Sunny Sunday Afternoon.” Harmonies and melodies also recall The Association especially on “Clover,” the best track here. For fans of Sunshine or Baroque Pop this is a real treat. After a few listens the magnificence of this album will sink in, despite a few rough edges. This is a brilliant mood piece that would’ve made my top ten last year.

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Sam Page “Breach”
After his spirited EP debut, Sam Page has a full length album. He lists his influences as Matthew Sweet and Jack White but on his opener “I Don’t Want To Think About Her Anymore” I also hear some Southern Culture on The Skids and The Presidents of The USA.  The guitar melody of “Hold On” has a pretty strong Weezer influence and “Now I Know” has a steady hook that keeps it memorable. Page has a way with bluesy rhythms and lyric on “Pheromones” that make it infectious fun. The guitar skill and warbling vocal on “Thinking About Thinking” is another charmer that brings his background as Philosophy professor in play. This is one performer with potential you cannot ignore, so check it out.

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Mark Lane “Something New”

West coast singer songwriter Mark Lane has grown since his debut Golden State of Mind. The disciple of Jason Faulkner (Jellyfish) and Rusty Andserson (Paul McCartney’s band) knew his way around a great melody early on, rooted in classic hooks on the debut – now he adds more muscle to his compositions on Something New.

Explaining the title track, Mark says he’s “looking at all stuff you have in your life, the things you might take for granted or think are mundane, and fabricating something new from them.” The grand opening “For Whom It Concerns” slowly builds into a dreamy rock lullaby. “Back In The Swing” is a sweet Lennonesque piano tune that fans of Paul Bertolino or Ryan Lerman will hum along to. Each song is carefully crafted, the ornate “Her” is a dramatic action theme, and “The King Of Silence” is a ghostly pop gem with a killer guitar solo at the break. The album goes at a deliberate measured pace, so soak up each melody line. This is another 2012 album that deserves to be shoe-horned into my top 10 list somewhere.

John LT “Suburban Superstar”

Cockeysville, Maryland singer/songwriter John LT has exceptional storytelling skill only matched by his melodic instincts. “Lottery Ticket” tells us that the apocalypse is coming, but he’s got that winning lottery ticket (“someone’s got to win”), told with gusto very reminiscent of Billy Joel.

“Petty Angel” is a blues pop gem about breaking the ice with women. LT’s melodies really stick fast, “The Sound of My Tears” is a classic pop single that shouldn’t be missed. Those little Beatle-isms on “Nowhere To Go” keep things moving along,  even the slower ballads like “The Driver’s Song” sound like a lost Paul Williams hit, with its “Cheers” like chorus. It even does a good job at 70’s funk with “Mr. Wonderful” and triply narratives “Nothing But Nines.” This came out in December, and would’ve made my 2012 list.

Salim Nourallah “Hit Parade”

Texas based  singer/songwriter Nourallah was always a superior ballader, but on Hit Parade he hits paydirt. It sounds as if Ray Davies had joined The Beatles on a new White Album. It made the Absolute Powerpop #1 pick for 2012 and I’d squeeze it into my top ten at seven and a half. “38 Rue de Sevigne” opens slowly but expands with backing harmonies, guitars and drums into a rich tapestry.

It’s a concept album along chronological lines, when you’re young you feel “Unstoppable” but soon it becomes “This Goddamn Life.” While mostly downbeat, the album has some brilliant set pieces like the catchy “Channel 5” and the awesome title track with its rolling drum and bass line where Salim “used to be…”  Thinly disguised humor of “Travolta” reveals tragedy and “The Quitter” shows a maturity and humility that is rarely visible in music today. I’m grateful to those who brought this album to my attention.