(A) Essential (B) Recommended (C) For fans only (D) Avoid

Bring on the Hate
(Slow Burn) 
In the Afternoon
Psychedelic cowboy! Drazy Hoops (he's the artist not the band) brings a rough-edged rustic grittiness to the table with his dynamic repertoire. Imagine Buffalo Springfield or The Band backing Syd Barrett, David Bowie, Robyn Hitchcock AND Julian Cope (!) and you may begin to appreciate the sheer wonder generated by songs like the edgy "The Sun God's Laughing," the delicate "The Moon Lies," the C&W relective "Soul Like the Sun" & the vindictive title track. Weird yet warm. (A) L'altra expands on the soundscapes found on its Music of a Sinking Occasion debut with more examples of intricate arrangements evocating emotional depth. There is a cinematic breadth in its presentation, an undercurrent of contemplation in the assured "Traffic," the poignant "Ways Out," the hymn-like "Soft Connection" and the hypnotic "Moth in Rain." Vocalists Lindsay Anderson & Joseph Costa breath life into the "neo-classical post-rock" constructs with aplomb. (A)


Kiss N Ride - My Vanity

The Beautiful South - Solid Bronze: Great Hits

Pet the Pig! - Mothman & Other Twisted Tales

Various Artists - Lost Weekend
Ocean Colour Scene - The Best of Various Artists - Meet the Scene
Smoothy - The Shock of the Smooth Colonel Knowledge - Reconnaissance
Various Artists - Team Mint Vol 2 Roman Evening - Together Now
The Secrets - Time Will Come The Fantastic Idea Project - Demo
KISS N RIDE My Vanity (Self-released) 
Recorded by Million Yen's Andy Gerber, this EP favors the hard rockin' pop flavors that distinguished the likes of Cheap Trick & KISS. There is also a noticeable nod to the drone rock antics of the Velvet Underground and JAMC. High on the grunge quotient but not in a negative way.
THE BEAUTIFUL SOUTH Solid Bronze - Great Hits (Mercury) 
A 2nd 'Greatest Hits' collection to the Beautiful South's name is certainly warranted enough now that eight years has elapsed since the best-selling Carry Up the Charts. An excellent introduction to the sophisticated, mature & well-crafted work of this British pop institution and in particular to the solid songwriting of Paul Heaton and David Rotheray.
PET THE PIG! Mothman & Other Twisted Tales (Jam) 
Okay, so what exactly are these jokers ON? Pet the Pig are Grunt, Oink & Squeal and they utilize classic pop-rock soundscapes to narrate tongue-in-cheek (at least I certainly hope so!) conspiracy tales that would set X-Files junkies' pulses racing. With songs like "Pig In A Porsche," "Roadkill On the Information Highway" & "Alien Psychics From the Final Frontier" Pet the Pig! are in great danger of sacrificing potentially fine music for the sake of parody - The Rutles syndrome, anyone?
VARIOUS ARTISTS Lost Weekend (Pure Pop) 
As the blurb states - this CD is "a snapshot of powerpop in Australia now." By all accounts the music is in great shape whatever its mainstream visibility might be. Much of Oz powerpop takes its cue from the Scottish pop scene - Teenage Fanclub, BMX Bandits, Pearlfishers, Eugenius etc - and this compilation features premium stuff from P76, Pyramidiacs, Finkers, DM3, Michael Carpenter & more.
OCEAN COLOUR SCENE The Best of (Universal) 
OCS bore the brunt of NME's "Dadrock" diatribes but that tag does little justice to this competent working band who's only 'sin' is being faithful to their musical roots without dressing it up with angst and the cool factor. This collection is a testament to their craft - songs like "The Riverboat Song," "The Circle," "You've Got It Bad" and "Hundred Mile High City" will stand the test of time, mark my words.
VARIOUS ARTISTS Meet the Scene (Rhythm Barrel) 
The Swedish pop scene is well known enough but what about its Finnish counterparts? Well, this examination of the Finnish powerpop underground boasts stellar contributions from The Sugarrush, Ben's Diapers, Kevin, Big White Monkees, Spokane and others - choice slabs of pure pop with obvious West Coast inclinations. 18 bands that will surprise and delight.
SMOOTHY The Shock of the Smooth (PopGun) 
Smoothy, to its immense credit, fails to live up to the NZ indie rock tradition of emotional folk-pop (think: Neil Finn, Mutton Birds). Instead, Smoothy relies on the good old fashioned rock 'n' roll influences of the Rolling Stones, Buffalo Springfield, the Byrds & the Flying Burrito Brothers. Meaning songs like "Stoners," "Ear Honey" and "Can't Trust Myself" are bluesy, twangy, tuneful, rockin' and oh yeah smooth.
COLONEL KNOWLEDGE Reconnaissance (Self released) 
The complexity displayed on the material here belies the band members' conscious decision to present themselves as a group of secret agents! Seriously, folks, there is considerable pop craftsmanship going on here. The kind you associate with Jeff Lynne, Roy Wood, Todd Rundgren, Andy Partridge, Jason Falkner & Jon Brion. Check out "You Can Tell," "The Mother Song" and "Sex Is Boring Anyway" to see what I mean. Jazz, pop, funk, rock melded together into a pleasing whole. Good music!
VARIOUS ARTISTS Team Mint Volume 2! (Mint)
Canadian indie label Mint Records specialize in pop with a distinct punk edge which accounts for bands like Operation Makeout, New Town Animals & Duotang. That said, bands like Corn Sisters, Neko Case & Her Boyfriends and Carolyn Mark & Her Room-mates are decidedly country/western in focus. Pop-rock is stoutly represented by I Am Spoonbender, The New Pornographers and The Smugglers. A solid mix!
ROMAN EVENING Together Now (Bitter Stag)
Describing an album as "a meditation on dissolution and transformation" tends to conjure images of morose dirges to slit your wrists to. Thankfully, this debut album by SF-based Roman Evening (consisting of folks from Glasstown, AMC, Black Lab & The Sleepers) is at its core, thoughtful rather than angst-ridden, filled with ghostly ruminations of the nature of love, life and yes, death. Entralling.

THE SECRETS Time Will Come (Self released)
Pop music is a secret dream for many not fortunate enough to be able to live the life of a full-time musician. *Sigh* - I know this well. The Secrets (viz. Peter Rechter and Graham McCoy) started out as a ‘60s cover band about six years ago and since then their confidence has grown sufficiently enough to produce a 11-track CD of original material. Fundamentally, the Secrets specialize in early ‘60s fare and recall easily the work of Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, the Beatles and the like. The stilted drum machine is a little problematic but the duo’s honest to goodness vibe papers the cracks pretty decently.

Lo-fi, math rock with fragile girl/boy harmonies doesn’t sound like an exciting prospect for pure powerpop fans but this 19-track demo will surprise many. Soulful and pretty in parts, twee and acoustic in others, the songs presented by Liz Moyer and Matt Wagner (from Portland, OR) definitely need a whole lot more polish but as a statement of potential, it works.