On the Pub "15" is the new "20".
I didn't get around to writing full fledged reviews for all of these, so I will append little capsule reviews as needed.
1. Cliff Hillis - Dream Good
2. The Well Wishers - Dreaming of the West Coast
3. Bryan Scary - Daffy's Elixir
4. David Myhr - Soundshine
5. Secret Powers - More Songs About Her
6. Kurt Baker - Brand New Beat: Second verse, same as the first. Baker's solo punched up Costello/Jackson/Beat sound still delivers the goods in this too too short ten song spinner. Fun first note to last. Grade: A-
7. Bill Lloyd - Boy King of Tokyo
8. Redd Kross - Researching the Blues
9. dB's - Falling off the Sky: As warm and comforting as a favorite sweater, this is a polished and self-assured disc that compares favorably to anything in their catalog. So what if it isn't sexy as shit. Sometimes all you need is a good ol' timey sing-a-long. Grade: B+/A-
10. Lannie Flowers - New Songs Old Stories: OK, this may be a bit of an appetizer - a re-working of older tunes into more fully fleshed out versions - but it is undeniably tasty. "Another Weekend" can make a solid claim to being the best power pop song of the whole year. Grade: B+
11. P. Hux - Tracks and Treasures Vol. I
12. The Condors - Three Item Combo: Pop rock with a purpose; to kick some ass. At times power poppy, at other times rootsy, this offers plenty of listeners to chew on. Grade: B+
13. Gavin Guss - On High: This is a pop album with the emphasis on the pop. And being an album. It reminds one of the best Michael Penn material. (Very high praise in my book.) "Riga in the Fall" is a simply gorgeous tune. Grade: B+
14. Hi Electric - Hi Electric: Its gotta be hard to be a power pop band from Memphis. And damn it all if they don't evoke Big Star in their approach to boot. Talk about inviting the inevitable smack down. Still, the song writing is more than engaging enough to make this a fine first effort, and to hint there could be better to come. Grade: B/B+
15. The JAC - Faux Pas
I have to mention two releases which also graded out at the B/B+ level and can make the claim to deserving a spot in the Top 15 list as well:
16. Ex Norwegian - House Music
17. Shoes - Ignition
All in all, this was one fine year for new music. Here's hoping 2013 tops it!