Sunday, December 24, 2017

Top 25 Power Pop Releases of 2017

In 2017, it seemed that Power Pop albums were released in fits and starts throughout the year.  Still, after I reflect back on this list, there were quite a lot of great efforts.

1. Pugwash - Silverlake
The latest masterpiece from Thomas Walsh is actually more of duet effort with Jason Falkner than a full band record..    As such, it benefits from somewhat amped up sound and leaner more aggressive playing.   Simply the most consistent and talented Power Pop singer recording today...

2. Bill DeMain - Transatlantic Romance
The first full length release from Swan Dive co-leader Bill DeMain is chock-full of sixties pop references to seminal artists like Harry Nilsson and Randy Newman. An unexpected delight of an album.

3. The Nines - Colour Radio (American Transistor)
Steve Eggers releases a lot of music and though all of it is worth listening, some releases hang together more than others.   This years's album did it for me.  Lots of nice studio experimentation.   Some sounds like McCartney, others like Stevie Wonder and always great songs.   The first tune a passable send up of "Do Ya" by the Move.

4. Chris Price - Stop Talking
LA based pop singer Chris Price keeps some pretty ratified company.   He's played with Taylor Locke and produced the comeback release from Emit Rhodes.  His first album was a pop masterpiece recorded entirely on an iPhone.  This years sophomore release is a beautiful, somewhat more serious affair.   Some really gorgeous songs here.

5. Sitcom Neighbor - Shag
The third release by rocker John Murphy is the best rocker on this year's list.  This album rocks from start to finish with hooks galore.

6. Mothboxer - The Secret Art of Saying Nothing
The latest Mothboxer starts in a heavier prog mode than prior efforts.   However by the back half of the album, leader Dave Ody is back to his tricks planting ear worms deep into your consciousness.  This one is worth listening all the way through.

7. Charles Jenkins and the Zhivagos - The Last Polaroid
The new one by former Ice Cream Hands singer Charles Jenkins is a return to Power Pop form.  Its the most brightest, most rockin' release for a number of years from the talented Mr. Jenkins.

8. Corin Ashley - Broken Biscuit
There is a dramatic story behind the new release from Corin Ashley.  He suffered a stroke while recording it and had to teach himself to play again.  This effort is the result his journey back.   Its a fine pop release on its own merits. A true return to form for Corn.

9. Cliff Hillis - Many Happy Returns
I'm on record as a big fan of Cliff Hillis.   This year was a repeat of last year.   Another "almost LP" that I surrounded with demos and outtakes Cliff released throughout the year.   Some great tunes here as usual.

10. Derrick Anderson - A World Of My Own
The solo record by Derrick Anderson, the singer of "The Andersons" is solid Power Pop hit.  Some tunes evoke The Wondermints.  Others rock like the Smithereens.   Not a note out of place on this one.

11. Plasticsoul - Therapy
I've written about this one a couple of months ago.   Songwriter Steven Wilson produces out a strong song cycle of John Lennon influenced rock.   In the Cotton Mather mode but Plastcisoul puts out the better album this year.

12. Jesse Terry – Stargazer
MOR Americana crooner Jess Terry surprises with an immaculately produced album that contains several exemplary Power Pop tracks among the well produced Americana.    This one has Jeff Lynne influenced strings.  Terry's voice is almost too perfect, evokes Kyle Vincent for me.   Worth checking out.

13. Ruby Free - Shades
The latest effort by Power Pop stalwart Rick Hromadka is a solid album and may be the best things he's produced to date.  Not a weak tune on it.

14. Cotton Mather - Wild Kingdom
The second collection of tunes that Robert Harrison recorded as part of his 64 tune Songs for the I Ching series is an uneven lot.   Not nearly as consistent as the first group "The Death of the Cool".   Still, Robert proves he is ever the pop genius.  Some wonderful tracks in here.

15. Blinker The Star - 8 Of Hearts
Prog Rocker Jordon Zadorozny takes a slight step towards electronica with his latest but in so doing simplifies his song writing.   This ends up being the most poppy Blinker The Star effort in a several years.

16. Aimee Mann - Mental Illness
Though Aimee Mann's latest effort doesn't blaze many new trails, it's her first solo album in 5 years.  Always enjoy Aimee's output.

17. The Wellingtons - End of the Summer
The best "summer" pop music comes from down under.  The Wellingtons know how to crank out the hooks and this one doesn't disappoint.  Some of the year's best singles came from this one.

18. Captain Wilberforce - Black Sky Thinking
Actually this one is the final version of an album that Captain Wilberforce leader Simon Bristoll has been releasing over the last couple years.   This version boasts some new tracks and a new order.   Really nice effort throughout.

19. Richard X. Heyman - Incognito
A new album by Richard X. Heyman is always cause for celebration.  Heyman has released another incite-full set of earnest pub rock.

20. The Lunar Laugh - Mama's Boy
This is the second group album from co-writers Jared Lekites, Connor Anderson and Campbell Youngm.   This one is a slightly more folky affair.   Lekites pop chops shine throughout the album.

21. Eric Matthews - Too Much World
This album was actually recorded back in 2008 but finally sees the light of day this year.   Its a fine chamber pop effort from Matthews.   Nobody really sounds like Matthews and I'm a big fan.

22. Rob Martinez - Today My Mind...Tomorrow the World
I enjoyed the sophomore effort by Rob Martinez.   More than anything in my list this year, this one recalls the golden days of Not Lame records.

23. Doug Tuttle - Peace Potato
Boston based indie rocker produces his third solo release and like the others it has Guided By Voices low fi vibe.   But this one leans towards sweet pop hooks as the collection of short tracks progresses.   Very nice.

24. Fernando Perdomo - The Golden Hour
I do think that this is Florida based multi-instrumentalist Fernando Perdomo's most consistent effort.  It serves up polished hooks with terrific production throughout.   I wonder what it would sound like for Perdomo to join forces on with a crooner like Kyle Vincent or Jesse Terry?

25. Shake Some Action - Crash Through Or Crash
Always a reminder of how Power Pop can rock.   Shake Some Action shows us how its done.  Album after album.   Great band.   Another nice album.