Joey Sykes-Classic New Rock. Those of us in the power pop community have known Joey Sykes over the years for his former band New English and his fine 2010 solo album Human, Being Human (which placed #27 on my year-end list then). Lately, though, he's been getting more exposure as the new guitarist for 70s/80s hitmakers The Babys, and with new fans on board he's released another solo album. The title both sums up Sykes' sound and his career and this is top shelf power pop that recalls the likes of Badfinger and Wanderlust (as well as solo Rob Bonfiglio). Not a bad track here, but "That's American Life", the piano-backed "When Life Goes Right" and the midtempo "Finish Line" are the standouts. One of 2016's best out of the gate.
Johnny Stanec-Farewell, Sadness. Johnny Stanec is no stranger to this site, staying prolific over the last 6-7 years with numerous releases from his band First in Space, which broke up in 2014, and as a solo artist. His latest is another fine collection of Heartland pop/rock, somewhere in the sweet spot between Ryan Adams and The Gin Blossoms. So at one end you get singer-songwriter-styled tracks like the opener "Tired of Today" and the other there are quality rockers like "The Sky is Falling" and "Find Your Place". And "In Conclusion" is a perfect album closer, a wonderful track about finding humility in life.
The Four Chords-The Four Chords. I haven't been able to find out a whole lot about this band after finding them on Bandcamp, so I'll just let their music speak for themselves: Straight-ahead classic power pop that's implied by their one-chord-too-many name. Or as they put it, "The Four Chords have a keen pop sense and combine multi-part vocal harmonies with a large dose of over the top rock n' roll--power chords, big guitar solos and guilty pleasure arena rock." Just stream it below, and if you like you can name your price at Bandcamp.