- Tullycraft – The Railway Prince Hotel
If the makers of Sesame Street ever decide to make a special episode for gifted children with a very good sense of humor, they should ask Tullycraft to make the songs for this. That may be a strange compliment, but just like that episode, the music from Tullycraft, and therefore also the songs on The Railway Prince Hotel, is quirky, unaffected, clever and without unnecessary frills.
Sean Tollefson and the other members of Tullycraft create a world of their own, (also) like Sesame Street. Anyway, go and see for yourself and be amazed how Billy Joel, Meat Loaf and Heavy Metal are part of something that they have nothing to do with at first sight. The Cat’s Miaow in a Space Suit, Midi Midinette, and Lost Our Friends to Heavy Metal are the highlights.
- Ronny Tibbs – Lone Fry
The first very good pop album of 2019 was Lone Fry from Ronny Tibbs. Lone Fry does not sound like a complete whole and that is not surprising because Tibbs recorded the songs he had written in recent years. This results in a good-tasting mix that sometimes sounds like 10CC, sometimes as Neil Finn, Joe Jackson, The Divine Comedy or (even) an obscure French electro-pop duo. 30-Year Old Boy, Mona Lisa and Watching Annie Over are the songs that you should definitely hear.
- Paulusma – Somehow Anyhow
Jelle Paulusma has toured the Netherlands a lot in recent years with Her Majesty, a CSN & Y tribute group, but he is best known as a singer and songwriter for Daryll-Ann (1988 – 2004).
Somehow Anyhow is his fifth solo album and, just like the four above, this one is again full of beautiful indie pop, worked out to perfection, with great guitar work, in a while-my-guitar-gently-weeps- kind of way. If you like Bent van Looy’s piano, you will like Paulusma’s guitar. Say Goodbye has a wonderful solo and Singer Without Song is the hit with the catchy chorus.
- Telekinesis – Effluxion
Michael Benjamin Lerner started out writing pure Power Pop melodies. Check out his debut, Telekinesis !. His music has evolved but he still writes catchy pop songs but he has now spit out the bubblegum. Effluxion was released early in the year. Now it’s December and I’m still playing the record. That doesn’t happen to me very often. I would put Cut The Quick in the jukebox. Power Pop mixed with a little synth-pop / electronica.
- Project: Ghost Outfit – Project: Ghost Outfit
Project: Ghost Outfit is Adam Shoenfeld, Bill Lloyd, Tom Petersson, and Keith Brogdon. They write that they are influenced by ’60s and ’70s classic rock and pop. This makes them their own inspiration. Funny. 7 songs, no bullshit, all 7 better than just about anything you’ve heard this year. Somebody’s Heart is the best. That is an ‘Instant Classic’.
- Taylor Knox – Here Tonight
The discussion, within the Power Pop community, whether The Cars is Power Pop or New Wave, will never end. Totally unimportant of course but nice. In the same way, we could all worry whether Taylor Knox is Power Pop or Synth Pop? On Here Tonight, Knox’s 2nd full record, you can hear both genres.
Speaking of The Cars, I can imagine that Ric Ocasek would have liked to produce the heavier, Weezer-like tracks, such as Little Creature and Happening. He didn’t do that, of course, and maybe that’s a good thing, there is now some air left between the notes and that does Knox’s music a lot of good.
Be sure to listen to City at Night, The Trees and the aforementioned Litte Creatures.
- The Warhawks – Never Felt So Good
I like it when it is not entirely clear to me whether I am listening to a Punk Rock band or a Power Pop band. Last year Culture Abuse brought me this wonderful confusion, this year it’s The Warhawks. Fierce melodies and innocent harassment go hand in hand. Nine songs that make me jump every time I hear them. And I hear them a lot. Miracle, Your Touch, and Nothing To Do are irresistible. Irresistible!
- More Kicks – More Kicks
‘British Invasion played with a Punk Rock attitude’. It has been done many many times before. Still, if done right it is irresistible. More Kicks, a trio (Sulli – vox/guitar; Kris – drums; Paolo – bass/vox) from London, does it right. 11 short songs and an intro, what more do you want? Nothing! Whatever may happen, at least listen immediately to You Left a Stain on Me, She’s a Reaction and the superior Ain’t That Just the Way.
- Johnny Stanec – Things Were Better, When
Johnny Stanec should be the talk of the town. Things Were Better, When contains 10 songs and all ten are extremely good. It’s all about ‘harmonies and hooks’, comparable to, for example, the music of Nick Piunti, although Stanec is and sounds a lot younger. It is fresh, it is sparkling and irresistible. A lot of beautiful songs have been written this year, but I seldom heard 10 in a row on 1 record. Things Were Better, When is such a record. One to cherish.
- Extra Arms – Up From Here
“Lost my wife, lost my house, lost my …”. Ryan Allen pretty much lost everything he loved. Not so strange that he sounds pissed off. He does not hide his own misery. On Up From Here, you hear no restrained anger. A year-long setback results in eight super powerful songs.
Yes, Extra Arms sounds like The Replacements but I can never quite sit out a record of The Replacements and I have listened to Up From Here endlessly over the last few months. F.L.Y. (Fuck Last Year) is a confession that you must have heard and the title track should be a hit. That is the first and the last song respectively, but everything in between is certainly just as good.
- The Resonars – No Exit
You don’t hear that much real Garage Rock anymore. The term is often used but just as often it turns out to be about 10 polished songs. No Exit is a Garage Rock record. Garage Pop maybe. Garage Power Pop is perhaps the best description.
Matt Rendon is a more self-confident person. You hear on No Exit that he does what he likes best. And why shouldn’t he? He writes one catchy melody after the other. Very good is good enough and much better was not made in 2019. Gone Is The Road and Before Your Gone are huge outliers but they are only slightly better than the other 9 songs. Fantastic!
- Anyway Gang – Anyway Gang
Sometimes you want to roll through the snow in your bare ass, other times you prefer to put on that comfortable old winter coat that has just returned from your dry cleaner. Listening to Anyway Gang feels like putting on that jacket.
This supergroup from Canada delivers a great album. The nine songs together form a feast of recognition. Power Pop, Indie Pop, and a little McCartney. Last year you heard on Sloan’s 12 that four different songwriters can push each other to new heights, which is also happening here. The differences take care of the whole.
Anyway Gang consists of Sam Roberts, Menno Versteeg of Hollerado, Dave Monks of Tokyo Police Club and Chris Murphy of Sloan. I mean, that’s a real supergroup. Anyway Gang, that is both the name of the band and the name of the record, is great. 2019 was not my favorite Power Pop year but this record makes up for a lot, maybe everything.
- White Reaper – You Deserve Love
White Reaper is touring Europe in the spring of 2020 as the support act for Pearl Jam. That might be an example of how ambitious the band is. Another example of this was the title of their previous album: The World’s Best American Band, with the fabulously beautiful Little Silver Cross. That was also a great album. At that time White Reaper sounded like The Strokes on steroids. That sound has largely disappeared on You Deserve Love. I don’t think White Reaper will promote itself as a Power Pop band, but they are, and a very good one, perhaps the very best at the moment. At least they have made my favorite record of the year. This is how Cheap Trick would have sounded if Rick Nielsen was still in his mid-twenties. Real Long Time, 1F, and Might Be Right are three songs that define the power of Power Pop for me. It is catchy, good, tight, hard and incredibly melodic.