The Posies loved Big Star so much that they became the band. Front men Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer became the backing for Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens when they reunited Big Star for the first time in 1993, and have just finished a new Big Star album with them. (Due out in a couple weeks, it will be their first studio album since 1978's Third/Sister Lovers.) Full of effortless power pop with jangling guitars, ringing choruses and bright, hummable melodies, the Posies are like Big Star's favorite nephew. Which isn't the limit of their craft, of course. Stringfellow is also a part-time member of R.E.M., and last year released his third solo album, the eclectic Soft Commands. Auer also has a handful of solo releases. Deathray Davies front man John Dufilho doesn't have as long a pedigree as the Posies, nor as close a relationship with his muse, the Kinks' Ray Davies, but his last two albums are worthy of comparison to either. (No small feat.) Dufilho's fuzzy power pop is a bit frayed around the edges, like Guided By Voices, with a bit of dark, ragged crunch in places, helping make The Kick and the Snare one of this year's best releases.