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November 2008
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New Power Pop from Nashvegas

Who knew that Nashville, Tennessee was a haven for brilliant power pop? I guess there's a bit of a history there, it's not all country and gospel. The list of power pop genius that resides in that area grows and grows with Rick Altizer, Ben Folds, Bill Lloyd, John Davis, Self and more. Now there are two more that I just discovered recently and they may be amoung the best. It never fails, I post my year-end Best Of List and then I discover some brilliant records. You can see my picks for the best CDs of 2008 in the post below, but I've discovered two new releases that are so good they should have been included.

First is The Blue Sky Secret. It is more than just a great band name. It is an album that defines power pop. This new EP is called What We Are and it is full of amazingly melodic and sweet vocals layered over hooks and instrumentation that will leave you wanting more...and more. Check out "In Your Eyes" (no, it's not a cover of the Peter Gabriel song) and "11 Years," you wil be glad you did.
CLICK HERE to go to their website.

Geoff Ones and Os
Somehow I missed this one. Geoff Smith has apparently been wowing fans in Nashville and all over the world via the net for awhile now. Thanks to his song that's a tribute to Leo Laporte's Geoff is an internet phenom' amoungst bloggers and the geek set, but I have a feeling he's going to be a hero in the world of power pop in general. His influences seem to range from Queen to The Beatles to Squeeze and beyond. His latest is called Ones and O's which is in keeping with the internet and computer geek theme. Quirky vocals and keyboards with real piano, layered vocals and handclaps abound, with sugary hooks and unforgettable melodies in every single song. Highlights include "Dig The Code," "Ones and O's," and "Hello Hello."
CLICK HERE to go to his site.

ObviousPop Best CDs of 2008

As the sub-zero wind whips across Minnesota and new release Tuesdays slow to a full stop, we labor over our year-end lists. Top 10 CDs, Best albums, concerts and more. After pouring over all of my CDs that came out in the past 12 months, I can officially declare that 2008 was a great year for music. Making this year’s list was a blast. I really enjoyed going back through all of these albums. Seeing everyone else’s lists is where the real fun is at, because each year I end up reading about things I’ve missed. So please click on the small comments link at the bottom of this list to post your own list.

The ObviousPop Top 20 CDs of 2008

1. Tally HallMarvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum

There is finally another major power pop group that can rival Fountains of Wayne. Tally Hall came out of nowhere for me when Rick Altizer sent me a link to their video and told me to check them out. This is for any fan of power pop. To use the clichéd comparisons, this CD is for fans of Jellyfish, FoW, ELO, Queen,Wings and The Beatles, yet they have their own unique style. This album is definitely fun stuff with hooks o’ plenty. This is easily the best power pop release and my favorite CD of 2008.

2. The FeelingJoin With Us

If you’re not on The Feeling bandwagon yet you have my sympathy because you are missing out on two of the best CDs of the past decade. After the brilliant Twelve Stops and Home they manage to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump with amazing songs and vocals. They wear their influences on their sleeve at times with heavy doses of 10cc and ELO, but this is a rip off or a cheese fest.

3. David Byrne & Brian EnoEverything That Happens Will Happen Today

This could have been just more meandering art for art sake or world music influences replacing actual melodies, but not this time! David Byrne of the Talking Heads and Brian Eno of production fame have collaborated to make an amazing album with well written songs and melodies that feature David’s best performances since going solo and Eno’s amazing production and sounds. Fans of both artists should love this one, but I am hoping it draws in some new listeners as well. The beautiful opening track, “Home” is one of my favorite songs of the year.


4. Bryan Scary and the Shredding TearsFlight of the Knife

Remember what I just said about Tally Hall? Dito that. This is power pop at its best. It is as if Queen had recorded Sgt. Peppers. Flight of the Knife has lots of quirks, hooks and instrumentation, with even more production. In this case more really is more. I think I came across this one surfing new releases on the iTunes store and after about 30 seconds of the first track I went out and bought the CD. You have to hear it to believe it. One of the best finds of the year! They have one other record but it’s not quite as good. This one is pure brilliance.

5. Josh FixFree At Last

Power pop fans need to get this album now! You can hear Jellyfish, Self and more on this great album full of hooks. The song “Don’t Call Me In The Morning” wins best hook of the year.

6. Sparks Exotic Creatures of the Deep

I love it! I think it’s a return to form for Sparks . Right now I may be alone in my love for this album, but if you would just give it a chance. This one needs to be owned, listened to and enjoyed. Tracks of layered vocals, keyboards and strings with super hooky songs with lyrics so witty and clever that you will laugh out loud. If you don’t want your music to have a sense of humor then this disc isn’t for you. But if you like They Might Be Giants or really clever lyrics, you will not find anything better. “Let The Monkey Drive” is a definite contender for song of the year for me.

7. ColdplayViva La Vida

Do I really need to comment on this release? If you haven’t heard the title track you haven’t been near a TV or radio for the past year. It’s an amazingly beautiful record with great songs and orchestration. This is easily the best Coldplay album to date.

8. Brian WilsonThat Lucky Old Sun

No, it’s not as good as SMiLE, but that is about the highest a bar could possibly be set, so to say this is ‘almost’ as good is huge. Anyone who loved SMiLE should fall in love with That Lucky Old Sun, a suite of music that has some of Brian’s best songwriting in decades.

9. Kyle AndrewsReal Blasty

Is Kyle Andrews an alias for Matt Mahaffey of Self? This record is full of that fun and jerky style of production with a lot of power pop thrown in. Yet it is also one of the most original and unique records to make the list this year. Keyboards, guitars and some serious production accent all the catchy melodies to make this one a must hear.

10. KeanePerfect Symmetry

For the love of the 80’s. Keane fully embraces the new wave and hooky pop of that decade while maintaining their trademark vocal style that makes me say “mmmmmm good!” It’s up there with their first 2 releases.

11. Starflyer 59Dial M

12. The KillersDay & Age

13. The Black and White YearsThe Black and White Years

14. The Submarines - Honeysuckle Weeks

15. Shiny Toy GunsSeason of Poison

16. Snow PatrolA Hundred Million Suns

17. Kaiser ChiefsOff With Their Heads

18. Senor CoconutAround The World

19. DetektivbyrånWermland

20. Midnight JuggernaughtsDystopia

Also loved…

Vampire WeekendVampire Weekend

Jeremy MessersmithThe Silver City

The Seventy-Sevens –Holy Ghost Building

OasisDig Out Your Soul

PendulumIn Silico

Phantom PlanetRaise The Dead

Best Reissue: Daniel AmosDarn Floor Big Bite

Best Live Show: Brian Wilson, State Theater, Minneapolis

(Was (Not Was) at SXSW in Austin, TX was a close 2nd)

Best Movie: Wall-E


Please post your own lists or comments by clikcing the "comments" link below...

Peter Himmelman Interview and Band Metrics

What's the Metrics? This week Michael Sean Wright of NiceFishFilms and I cover the latest news in music and tech. We visit with Duncan Freeman, the president of a great new site/service called Band Metrics and explore the "Google Analytics" of artist data. We celebrate Peter Himmelman's Furious World, the weekly live concert series from Santa Monica. Join us for the discussion of an ever changing music landscape as well as an interview with the great Peter Himmelman himself.

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Evolution VS Revolution

This weeks webcast of Are You Really Experienced is a great one! Michael Sean Wright of Nice Fish Films and I talk about the latest in music and tech. Warner Music Group reports strong but cautious numbers. While Atlantic is putting the spin on the news of good digital sales, is this the answer to the industry's problems? Not by a long shot.

We explore Strands with Drew Olanoff. Strands offers great ways to stay in touch with what your friends are listening to. This is the online social networking solution for music fans!

Sign up for Strands by using the beta code: Drew

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Suitcase Full of Dimes

SFOD10Songs A powerpop blog and podcast that must be heard! No, it's not a shameless plug for ObviousPop... I'm talking about Suitcase Full of Dimes, a great powerpop podcast and blog that I've been meaning to plug here for quite some time.  The kids often ask me how I hear about the bands and artists that I listen to and play on my show. The number one answer to that question is direct referrals from my network of musicologists, which loosely defined means my friends that are also music geeks with similar tastes. A close second is the internet. That "series of tubes" that we have all grown to know and love. One of the best sites on the web to hear about new, exciting and obscure power pop is Suitcase Full of Dimes. It's a regular podcast that features mainly independent artists, hosted by the superfantastical Ed Lynn (if I were Ed I would add an "e" to the end of that last name and claim I was Jeff's brother). His site/blog is a lot of fun too with a great look and it's super easy to navigate.

Check it out: