1. "Calling Up My Bad Side" - Weather (2:44) I found this in 2005 and it was my favorite track of the year. I still listen to it. It's sort of a Who/Kinks hybrid but why this was never a top ten single is beyond my comprehension. Some great guitar band cover this - PLEASE!
2. "Pink Lemonade" - Unbunny (4:22) The hands-down winner of the "I can conjure up Neil Young better than you" award, Jarid Del Rio allegedly changes bands and names like we change our sox/sex. This is from a band called Unbunny on the indie Parasol label. It's not just the voice; it's the songwriting, the arrangement, the band, and the production. Everybody knows this is somewhere!
3. "Revenge Is Sweeter" (Than You Ever Were) - The Veronicas (3:42) There is a rockin' live version but I prefer this studio version. These are Australian twin hotties in their mid-20s with incredible voices and songwriting skills. They are GIANT in Australia and acquiring more American fans each day. The videos would triple their fandom. Most of their tracks are dance records with an eye on pop - sorta like the best of ABBA with an admitted tip of the synth to the '80s.
4. "I Know" - Sarah Hudson (4:08) Two weeks after I downloaded this, I actually unexpectedly met Sarah at dinner at a music convention. She was surprised I had heard and praised this track. In the shadow of her cousin, Kate Hudson, she could easily step in front if the cards went her way. This is a great pop ballad recording with a mesmerizing vocal by Sarah. Is it about an amazing boyfriend ... or Jesus? I don't know...
5. "Swing It Around" - Nikka Costa (3:15) This girl's father arranged and produced at least two of my early songwriting efforts in the '60s when Don Costa was one of the most famous in the pop record biz. So here comes Nikka in Sly Stone's footsteps instead. Ain't that how it always is? This is a well-done R&B dance track with specific nods to The Family Stone. You show, girl!
6. "Rich Kid Blues" - The Raconteurs (4:34) Jack White can easily sing the rich kid's blues and here he goes in this Zeppish foray. Lotsa guitars and Bob Plant vocal licks. When will this band work for a living and stop having so much fun?
7. "Sober Hands" - The Receiver - (4:35) Two brothers, Casey and Jesse, from Columbus, OH with the misspelled last name of Cooper. However, they did not misspell this wonderful sounding track. With an electric piano riff in 7/8 starting it off, you already got my attention - I love when tracks sound this great; add a great song and soaring vocals and you really got me. But your last name is still spelled wrong.
8. "Love On Me" - Paul Thorn (3:53) From the deep South comes the mighty Paul Thorn, son of a preacher man. Deprived of '60s pop by his strict dad, all this stuff comes fresh from Paul's mind. He is one of my favorite current songwriters and has a deep discography. I'm sure there'll be more Thorns stuck in future columns. Great backup band as well. Go see him live if ya can; it's a trip.
9. "Easy" - Barenaked Ladies (4:29) With a guitar lick that screams the original groove of Dolly Parton's "Jolene," they immediately go way left of Dolly to soft rock replete with a bit of dirt and determination. One of my favorite tracks by these guys. Well done on every level.
10. "Stained Glass Window" - John Davis (2:34) This is a reverential tip of the hat to Brian Wilson's Pet Sounds era. As that album is MY #1 album of all time, this caught my ear immediately. The Wilson details are carefully looked after and if you didn't know better, you might think the best. Congrats, John, on a job well done.