Sgt. Major, Seattle Powerpop Blog Anniversary, Sunset 6/29/07
photo by Chris Force
I recently submitted my votes on Three Imaginary Girl’s Best of 2007 Reader’s Poll and I’ll use my ballot there as the starting point for my thoughts on:
Albums of the Year.
1. (tie) The Tripwires – Makes You Look Around
1. (tie) Young Sportsmen – Death to Palaces
3. The Color Bars – Kairos at Infinity
4. Andy Werth – Seeing Stars
5. Kurt Hagardorn – Ten Singles
The Tripwires and Young Sportsmen each released albums that are not only among the best Northwest releases of the year, but also deserve to appear on a lot of national “best of” lists, especially those that are in anyway related to powerpop. Without exaggeration, I wouldn’t trust a powerpop best of 2007 list that doesn’t include these two.
The Color Bars‘ record came out of left field, smacked me across the cheek and took me out into left field with them. I’ve often described the record as “Matthew Sweet and the Beach Boys drop acid in the middle of a Hello Kitty store.” But, that really doesn’t give the full picture. It’s melodic, and it’s poppy. It’s danceable in some places and brooding in others, and it somehow manages to look backward into pop music history and forward into pop music future at the same time. It was also sorely overlooked by nearly everyone, which may be partially because the band lost a few members at the same time that the album was being release. Thus, no shows were played to support the record.
Of all the unsung songwriters in the Northwest, Andy Werth and Kurt Hagardorn are two of the best. Neither of them are “singer/songwriter” types, per se. But, they are both very driven by writing evocative and compelling songs. Andy sounds like he’s coming from a world in which 1970s AM radio is still the place to go to hear the sounds of today, and Kurt hearkens even a little further back, with seemingly-primary influences like The Everly Brothers, Buck Owens and The Beatles just about equally.
On the live-show front, thinking back across the last twelve months (and re-read my reviews, since memory is faulty), three performances really stand out for me. Coincidentally, they all took place at the Sunset Tavern in Ballard.
Live shows of the year
1. Sgt. Major headlining the Seattle Powerpop Blog anniversary show
2. Amateur Lovers reunion show at the International Pop Overthrow Festival
3. Young Sportsmen CD release release show
All three shows involved great energy from the packed house and inspired performances from the stage. The number one live set of the year for me was Sgt. Major‘s last show before taking a break of indeterminate length, and they came out with guns blazing and didn’t let up until the entire room was exhausted. Amateur Lovers were giddy from the audience love they received during their reunion set, which gave the room a great “group hug” vibe to go along with their sing-a-long pop. Young Sportsmen simply tore the roof off of the club with their energy, passion and volume to promote the release of their record, and with this show they finally had a sold-out crowd to match their enthusiasm.
I’d like to close out this “best of 2007″ post by declaring a song of the year:
“Song of the Year” is, of course, a completely subjective and debatable mantle. But, of all the great songs coming from the Pacific Northwest this year, this is the only one that grabbed me immediately upon listen and still shakes me by the shoulders after dozens of passes on my mp3 player.
Gary Miller runs the Seattle Power Pop Blog, which focuses on all things powerpop in the Pacific Northwest. SPB features album reviews, recommended shows, videos, mp3s and more.