Different Gear, Still Speeding
Riffing: Oasis with better songs.
Reference points: Beware of lame, self-referential couplets. Song-of-the-year candidate "Millionaire" is pure Beatles and Stones, and Liam Gallagher goes absolutely ape-shit pop on "For Anyone" and "The Morning Sun."
If you like: Oasis, Beatles, Stones, U.K. stadium rock made by millionaires.
Riffing: John Fante in folk-pop sing-along; Cole's an unheralded genius chronicler of busted hearts, (un)redemptive detachment, and life's ironic twists.
Reference points: "The Flipside" and "Why in the World?" wrench out the tears: "Maybe you were right/ Maybe I'm all dried up inside ..."
If you like: Aimee Mann, Tom Verlaine, Dylan, Raymond Carver, Chris Bathgate, any Aphrodite on a barstool.
Richard X. Heyman
Tiers/ and Other Stories
Riffing: The cult-adored Heyman ditched power pop convention for curves and beauty. Sexy, often sad arrangements that'd raise Jack Nitzsche's eyebrow.
Reference points: Two albums, 30 songs, and myriad instruments report on a life with and without love, with and without dreams. Brave, ambitious stuff.
If you like: Jon Brion, Ray Davies, post-Pet Sounds Beach Boys.
Hunx and the Punx
Too Young to Be in Love
Riffing: An eight-tit, one-dick (singer Hunx) quintet aping '76 CBGB aping '50s-'60s girl groups but with great, camp-as-fuck queer themes.
Reference points: Bubblegummy power chords, Phil Spector beats, teenarama melodies and gnarly unison harmonies.
If you like: Shangri-Las, Smith Westerns, early Blondie, Ronettes, Redd Kross
Riffing: Waiting-room song fodder: over-wrought dub, glitchy electro, Euro pop, fake soul, etc.
Reference points: Ersatz tease by a Calvin Klein-pimping 19-year-old. Her major label, five-song EP showcases hit songwriters and money-d producers, some of which is forgiven because "Haters Anonymous," sports a neat-o "skank" reference and an inescapable chorus readymade for high school hallways.
If you like: Robyn, Britney, Sia