This World Fair: This World Fair

It appears the next incarnation of Aware Records is here, in the form of Los Angeles-based Ping Pong Music. Ping Pong manages Epic Records’ Augustana, and they are bringing us the next wave of very talented baby bands such as This World Fair, the London, and Windsor Drive. The formula of Ping Pong’s bands is similar to Aware, which launched the careers of artists like Train, Vertical Horizon and John Mayer. And that formula is almost a no-brainer – finding talented acts with hooky, melodic songs – but it’s in stark contrast to today’s hipster-driven music industry that mostly relies on gimmicks and fabricated street cred meters. Still, there is always a demand for great bands like This World Fair, and their debut album is an absolute sonic gift to those who dig the likes of Augustana, Better Than Ezra or Keane. Chris Kalgren fronts the band with a smooth tenor that effectively delivers a balance of driving rockers such as “Can’t Stop Falling” and “Drama,” or dreamy tracks like “This is All.” But among ten tracks that are quite frankly straight A’s, This World Fair scores an A+ with the pulsing, stunning piano-driven “Seven Letters.” Despite where the music industry is headed, there is no good reason why This World Fair shouldn’t be as successful as the rest of the world will allow them to be. (Ping Pong Music)

This World Fair MySpace Page

  

Bullz-Eye’s Favorite Albums of 2008: Staff Writer Mike Farley’s picks

Every year I wonder what my new favorite albums are going to be, and if the artists I follow will be able to live up to the lofty expectations I have for them (see Nada Surf below). I also wonder what artists will come into my life that weren’t there before (see most of list below, especially Gabe Dixon and Paddy Casey). Well, 2008 turned out to be pretty awesome music-wise, and while my list won’t match that of most critics, I made this list up based on my own taste, and I’m proud of it. And as you can see, I think some of the artists are proud as well…

Top 10 Albums of 2008

1. Gabe Dixon Band: Gabe Dixon Band
You know when you hear an album for the first time and you get that rush of excitement, kind of like the teenage crushes we all remember? Gabe Dixon Band’s debut on Fantasy Records is more than that. It’s like the cute brunette with glasses who you find out is also smart and watches football in her sweatpants on Sunday. Maybe that’s a weird analogy, but Dixon’s music is not only ridiculously addictive pop music – it also has a depth to which you hear something new every time you listen. And the songs? Well, this Nashville cat is right at home in Music City, but with these timeless tracks, he’s being mentioned in the same breath with the likes of Elton John and Jackson Browne as an artist. And that’s not something anyone should take lightly. “Five More Hours” is my favorite track of 2008.

Gabe Dixon accepts his award: “I am thrilled and honored to be included in Bullz-Eye’s top albums of 2008. The band and I put a lot of heart and soul into this recording, so it is gratifying to be named number one on the list! Thanks Bullz-Eye!!”

2. Paddy Casey: Addicted to Company
Okay, so I’m a sucker for ‘70s-style pop. Imagine Josh Rouse with an Irish accent, and you’ve got Paddy Casey’s latest. The melodies, vocal lines, arrangements and production make this sound like a summer day in 1974.

Paddy Casey accepts his award: “Very nice of you to choose my album, thank you…now if we could just convince the rest of the world!”

3. Nada Surf: Lucky
How does Nada Surf follow up their best album yet, The Weight Is a Gift? With Lucky, which sounds more like a continuation than a follow up. And that’s good news for us fans.

4. The New Frontiers: Mending
The New Frontiers may be the new Snow Patrol, Keane, or even Coldplay – dreamy alt-pop drenched in pretty harmonies. Okay, honestly, it’s a better album than the new efforts from the other three bands just mentioned.

5. Low vs. Diamond: Low vs. Diamond
Here is one of those American bands that sounds British. Not that there is anything wrong with that, because if you’re into the likes of the Killers or the Darkness, Low vs. Diamond is like an American version of those groups, with great songs to boot.

6. Snow Patrol: One Hundred Million Suns
Like Nada Surf, Snow Patrol had a lot to live up to after the huge success of Eyes Open in 2006. Thankfully, they have delivered yet again, with a set of anthems, driving alternative rock, and dark, moody ballads all wrapped together.

7. Kings of Leon: Only by the Night
I know that some true fans of Kings of Leon were disappointed with this latest effort, and to be honest I was never a huge fan to begin with. But there is something about Only by the Night that is absolutely intoxicating. The band’s psychedelic flavored, guitar-driven rock sound reminds me of going to concerts as a teenager in huge, pot smoke-filled arenas.

8. Benjamin Taylor: The Legend of Kung Folk Part 1
If James Taylor and Carly Simon had a kid, he would sound like this. Oh wait…..Seriously though, if Benjamin came around 20 or 30 years ago, he would be way more of a household name than he is today.

Benjamin Taylor accepts his award: “Well would you look at that: ol’ Breezy in the top 10… Top of the world, Ma. I’m off to Disneyland.”

9. Sarah Bettens: Shine
Former K’s Choice singer Sarah Bettens has lightened up a bit in her solo career, the music being more mainstream and mature, and not as dark as K’s fare. “Shine” is one of the year’s simplest, prettiest songs.

Sarah Bettens accepts her award: “I love being on a top 10 list! Especially when it doesn’t say ‘worst possible artist and most poorly dressed person in the whole wide world’. Thank you, Bullz-Eye. I feel honored being chosen among such talented people.”

10. Augustana: Can’t Love, Can’t Hurt
This kind of melodic, AAA-radio stuff never gets the critical props it deserves. Well, here are some props, Augustana.

Honorable Mentions

Amos Lee: Last Days at the Lodge
Jason Reeves: The Magnificent Adventures of Heartache
Jon McLaughlin: OK Now
Ray LaMontagne: Gossip in the Grain
WAZ: Sweet Bye and Bye
Coldplay: Viva La Vida
Uh Huh Her: Common Reaction
Val Emmich: Little Daggers

Album Released in 2007 That I Reviewed in 2008 and Would Have Ranked in Top Three

Jason Spooner: The Flame You Follow

Jason Spooner Reacts: “I’m thrilled to have been cited on Mike’s Best of list. He clearly works with a wide variety of quality artists & labels and it’s always a great feeling when your record is plucked out of the crowd.”

  

Related Posts