matthewsweet.jpg
Matthew Sweet plays Girlfriend in its entirety tonight and tomorrow at the Triple Door.
Matthew Sweet is in town tonight and tomorrow to play his

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12 Reasons to Fall Back In Love With Power Pop

matthewsweet.jpg
Matthew Sweet plays Girlfriend in its entirety tonight and tomorrow at the Triple Door.
Matthew Sweet is in town tonight and tomorrow to play his 1991 power pop opus Girlfriend in its entirety at the Triple Door. This news excites me, because I am an unabashed power pop addict. In fact, it may be my favorite genre, mainly because of the guitars. AllMusic explains its origins as follows: "The musical sourcepoint for nearly all power-pop is The Beatles... [with their] distinctive harmony singing, strong melodic lines, unforgettable guitar riffs, [and] lyrics about boys and girls in love." Other progenitors include The Beach Boys, The Kinks, The Who, and The Byrds. With its roots in the '60s, power pop is one of rock's longest-running subgenres, and at its broadest points incorporates everyone from Weezer to Tom Petty.

Yesterday, Telekinesis' Michael Lerner called out a Pitchfork review that began

"the gods of power pop are perennially unkind." It noted that "Bios of the guys who've devoted entire careers to multi-tracked harmonies, anthemic choruses, and Pete Townshend windmills all seem to take the shape of rocketships cocked for the moon but fatefully, eternally stalled on the launch pad." (Lerner, who knows his way around a pop riff, tweeted "Now growing a beard, playing acoustic gtr. Because, the gods are perennially kind to bearded neo folk bands...")

But the Pitchfork reviewer may have a point.

Despite deep discographies, many power pop acts, including Sweet, are perceived as one-hit-wonders by radio audiences because they admittedly only have one song that achieved mainstream success. And while there were many chart-topping power pop hits in the 1970s, the ubiquity of The Knack's "My Sharona," which topped the Billboard charts for six weeks in 1979, caused a backlash that had a negative effect on the genre as a whole. Most power pop records released after Get The Knack failed to chart at all, instead finding a home on college radio and maintaining cult status until today.

Of course, everyone knows Big Star (don't they?), but there's so much more worthy of attention. Narrowing it down to ten songs is a nearly frivolous exercise (I subscribe to one playlist on Spotify that has over 200 songs and they're all great. And it only has one Todd Rundgren song.), but in honor of Sweet's visit, here are a dozen of my favorite tracks, or, twelve arguments why power pop needs to get the love it deserves.

12. Bram Tchaikovsky - "Girl of My Dreams"

11. Shoes - "Hangin' Around With You"

10. Flamin' Groovies - "Shake Some Action"

9. Nick Lowe - "Ragin' Eyes"

8. Marshall Crenshaw - "Cynical Girl"

7. The Lemonheads - "Mallo Cup"

6. The dB's - "Black and White"

5. Teenage Fanclub - "The Concept"

4. The Posies - "Enewetak"

3. The Raspberries - "I Wanna Be With You"

2. Matthew Sweet - "Evangeline"

1. The Records - "Starry Eyes"

Got a favorite power pop tune? (I know you do. I could make this list every week.) Add it in the comments!

 
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