Thursday, April 20, 2017

Mid April Roundup.

Greg Ieronimo-Never Leaving California. Greg Ieronimo, who wowed us with his 7-track debut EP in 2014, doubles our fun here with his followup 14-track full-length release Leaving California. Ieronimo is Power Pop with two capital Ps, as his way with both a hook and crunchy guitars recalls many of the classic artists of the genre. Whether its the Matthew-Sweet-circa-100%-Fun blast of the title track or the bouncy staccato beat of "You Love Me" or the shoulda-been-a-theme-song-for-a-modern-day-Monkees-reboot "Best Day of Our Life", Ieronimo's knack for melody and eagerness to rock shine through. Elsewhere, "Outta Sight" is a better Weezer song than Weezer has put out in recent years, and "Beautiful Disaster" would slip in nicely on a Cheap Trick album. Another outstanding release in what's already shaping up to be a great year for power pop.


Gregg Stewart-Gregg Stewart. Speaking of Greg(g)s, Gregg Stewart, the former frontman of Americana band Stewboss, brings us his self-titled solo debut that he says is inspired by the year 1978, his favorite year in music. And with his blonde hair and beard, he's got the Andrew Gold/Jay Ferguson look down as well. Leadoff track "R is for Rockstar" is an amusing look at how to act like a hotel-trashing, groupie-loving 70s rocker, "Let's Go Find a Night" channels solo Mick Jagger, and the driving, catchy "You're the One" practically begs you to roll down the car windows and sing along. Also worth cranking up are rockers "Stone Cold Fox" (which Stewart says is a tribute to Joan Jett) and the soulful "Give it All You Got". So party like it's 1978, and be glad you don't have to wait in a gas line while listening to these tunes.


Bread & Butter-Bread & Butter. And speaking of 1978, Seattle's Bread & Butter comes out of the blocks with an album full of songs that you would have likely heard on your local AOR station had they existed back then. Even though you've pretty much heard it before, they make it fresh - "Worst of Times" kicks off the proceedings with a sound that's big enough and with enough swagger to make you feel like they've re-invented the rock wheel. "Desperation" and "Keys to the City" distill Kiss and Cheap Trick, and "Shoot My Mouth Off" shows their way with a mid-tempo rocker. These guys just have the sound of something bigger, and if revivalists like Oasis, The Strokes and Jet can hit it big, there's no reason this crew can't. (Other the general fragmentation of the music biz and declining market share of rock in the last 15-20 years, but who's counting?)


Friday, April 07, 2017

Early April Roundup.

Corin Ashley-Broken Biscuits. Corin Ashley has been through a lot since we last heard from him in 2013 with the wonderful New Lion Terraces. In January 2016, he suffered a parietal lobe stroke which left him unable to move the fingers on his left hand and with a paralyzed vocal cord. After some hard work with a neurosurgeon who had experience with musicians recovering from brain injuries, Ashley re-learned how to sing and play the guitar and was back on stage by the end of the year, and he's also managed to release a new album which may actually be his best yet. While his previous releases were more chamber/baroque-pop oriented (one of his albums wasn't called Songs from the Brill Bedroom for nothing), this one has a more immediate appeal, as though Ashley is seizing his new lease on life. The fairly raucous opener "Little Crumbles" recalls McCartney in rock-and-roll mode, the delightful "Wind Up Boy" (with vocals from Tanya Donnelly) is another upbeat pop treat and "In Appropriate Fashion" is straight-up power pop. But fans of the old Ashley have no need to fret either - "Magpie over Citadel", "Junior Partner" and "Powder Your Face With Sunshine" are pristine chamber pop numbers. A triumphant return, and one of 2017's best to date.

CD Baby

Danny de la Matyr-Crybaby. You can be forgiven if Danny de la Matyr's name doesn't sound familiar, but if you're a long-time reader of this site you might recall his band called The Sheers, who put out the fine Goodbye World back in 2006/2007. We haven't heard much from him since, although he's worked with Rhett Miller, Jesse Malin and more recently Luther Russell, both solo and with Those Pretty Wrongs, Russell's project with Big Star's Jody Stephens. During all that time he was putting together his solo debut, and it was worth the time. After a couple of lovely, Elliott Smith-style tracks to open the album, things perk up with the slinky melody and staccato guitars of the title track, the power balladry of "How Can it Be?" and the chiming power pop of "Lines". Other standouts include the Beatlesque "Skeleton Key", the rocking "Misfire" and the anthemic piano pop of "Fade to Grey". A solid disc from start to finish.


Wiretree-Towards the Sky. Kevin Peroni has been releasing quality indie-rock/power pop albums as long as I've doing this blog, and on his fifth full-length the Austonian comes through again. From the understated opener "Let Me In" to the driving, ELO-like "J.F. Sebastian" (an homage to the Blade Runner character?) to the classic Wiretree sound of "Dive" to the trippy title track, Towards the Sky is a welcome addition to the Wiretree canon. And "Didn't Know Your Name" might be the album's best track, with its steady build toward a driving climax.


Friday, March 24, 2017

Late March Roundup.

The Tripwires-Fat City Let's Go! (EP). They're baaaaack! The Tripwires, everyone's favorite Seattle supergroup (consisting of members and former members of The Model Rockets, The Minus 5, Screaming Trees and Mudhoney) and who had this site's #1 album of 2014, return with a 6-track EP that will probably be my #1 EP of 2017. Nobody does pub-rock in the fashion of Rockpile and NRBQ better these days, and this EP delivers the goods with the chunky, bouncy title track as well as "Nothing of the Kind" (which adds a bit of Merseybeat to the mix), the raveup "New New New New New" (that's 5 "new"s, not 4 or 6) and the riotous "I Hear You Calling". John Ramberg & Co. have done it again.


Christopher Galen-The Master Plan. Christopher Galen (who also goes by the more anonymous-sounding Chris Smith) is a singer-songwriter from Colorado who's fashioned a fine album of mid-tempo pop/rock that should appeal to fans of Cliff Hillis, Rob Laufer and Bill Lloyd. The appropriately-titled "In the Beginning" kicks off the album with a driving and hypnotic guitar-keyboard riff and reminds me of solo McCartney. It's a bit long at 7:12 but I didn't mind. Other standouts include the Elliott Smith-meets-"Blood and Roses" Smithereens "Terms and Unconditions", the power-popping title track, the lovely, largely acoustic ballad "Too Late", and "Nothing Else", a fully-realized pop song that might be the album's best.


The Rallies-Serve. We return to Washington state with Tacoma's The Rallies, whose Serve is one heckuva debut album and answers the musical question "What if Tom Petty was part of Crowded House?". Mixing sweet melodies with jangly rock, they crank out one ear-friendly tune after another here, from the mostly acoustic opening "rally" "Don't Give Up" to excellent pop/rockers like "Whatever You Tonight" and "No One Knows", to the jangle pop of "So Right" and "These Are the Words". Serve's bright and shiny sound will serve as a perfect backdrop for the spring.



Thursday, March 02, 2017

Early March Roundup.

Hornal-The Game Begins With the Lights Out. Iain Hornal has been quite the prolific sideman over the last several years, playing with Jeff Lynne's ELO, 10cc and The Feeling among others. Now it's his turn to be in the spotlight as he releases his solo debut, and it's of a piece with the artists he's played with. "Staring at the Sky", with its spacey intro and light harmonies, recalls a Lynne ballad, while The Feeling's Paul Stewart and Ciaran Jerremiah with Billington & Quinn join Hornal on "Jennifer", which is bright and buoyant as much of that band's output. (They also join on the lovely ballad "Pictures of Past"). More friends help out here as well, with the legendary Graham Gouldman and Kevin Godley of 10cc providing vocals (and not a small bit of inspiration) to album closer "Say the Word", a wonderful slice of eccentric British pop complete with spoken word interlude from IT Crowd actor Matt Berry. But the top track here is one that doesn't have any flashy guests: the catchy "She Doesn't Have Anyone", yet another #1 single from an alternate universe. An early 2017 top 10 contender.


The Drywall Heels-The Drywall Heels EP. Power pop doesn't come more straightforward or more fun than this debut EP from Toronto's The Drywall Heels. "You Should Know"'s hooks reel you right in with its "oh-uh-oh-oh-oh" chorus and Raspberries-meet-Cheap Trick sound, "Richmond Hill" is a 1:31 blast of guitar pop, the ghost of Big Star haunts "Claudia" and "Lauren (Let Me In)" would make fellow countrymen Sloan smile. With all five tracks clocking in under 3 minutes each, it'll leave you wanting more. And the best part is that it's "name your price" at Bandcamp. (Technical note: this was released on December 23 but since it was so late in the year I'm counting it for 2017 list purposes)

Bandcamp (name your price)

The Lunar Laugh-Mama's Boy. Jared Lekites (featured here earlier as a solo artist) and Connor Anderson team up for their second album as The Lunar Laugh and like the first it splits the difference between power pop and folk/rock to fine effect. The title track is a rollicking pop tune that recalls the awkwardness and pain of growing up, while the midtempo "Sticks and Stones" wouldn't sound out of place on an Autumn Defense album. Elsewhere, Lekites shines on "Work in Progress", a great track reminiscent of Gary Louris's version of The Jayhawks and album closer "Nighthawks & Mona Lisa" (released earlier as a single) just might be their signature song with its warm mix of melody and harmony.

Bandcamp (digital, CD & Vinyl)

Friday, February 17, 2017

Mid-February Roundup.

Theo Katzman-Heartbreak Hits. My most pleasant surprise to date of the new year, Theo Katzman's Heartbreak Hits is unlike most of what I review here as it's not truly power pop or roots rock, but pop with a capital "P" which has enough grounding in the classic sounds of the 70s and 80s that kind of reminds me of 10 years ago when the likes of Mika and the Scissor Sisters were at their peak. Katzman, better known as a guitarist and drummer with the LA funk band Vulfpeck, brings on the fun here with a variety of styles. Opener "Hard Work" might be the closest thing to traditional power pop here with its loud guitars but brings in some R&B elements. Speaking of R&B, "Break Up Together" is a slinky tune with a simple hook that could have been a mid-70s hit, and speaking of hooks, the chorus of the Prince-esque "My Heart is Dead" is a true earworm. And then Katzman pivots from Prince to pedal steel with "Good to Be Alone", a wonderful low-key country-tinged number that shows off his versatility. Elsewhere, there's the rave-up of "As the Romans Do", the pretty ballad "Love is a Beautiful Thing" and the rare bonus track that's a real bonus, the catchy "Pop Song" which Katzman had previously released as a single. In the end, Heartbreak Hits is a real breath of fresh air and one that you can probably listen to with your teenage kids.


Room for Dream-A Little Taste. iTunes calls this a single while I'm calling it an EP, but the three-song release by San Francisco's Room for Dream is a fine debut however you categorize it. Songwriter and lead singer Nicholas Lyon-Wright has a knack for the Beatlesque here which becomes apparent right away on "Catch it for a Second", while the piano-backed "A Trace of You" boasts real charm along with some fine harmonies from Luna Fuentes and "Silly Dream" reminds me of Jellyfish in their less-frenetic moments. Lyon-Wright told me they'll have a full album later this year, so enjoy this "little taste" for now.


The Fisherman-Down. Greece's Tony Panou is The Fisherman and he's been releasing his one-man bedroom recordings for a few years now (Down is his fourth album). I'm glad to have caught up with him because if Down is representative of his output, we've been missing out the last few years. His songs have a 60s-pop type of charm to them, McCartneyesque to be sure but also reminiscent of other artists of the era. The breezy title track exemplifies this, and "The Guitar or the Girl" sounds like a title that should have been used in that decade. Other standouts here include "Girl With the Blue Eyes (and the Long Blonde Hair)", which has 1965 written all over it, the jangly "Rain" and the piano pop of "Turn Off the Lights". Groovy stuff.


Friday, February 03, 2017

Early February Roundup.

Brent Cash-The New High. Georgia's Brent Cash has made a name for himself over the past 10 years with a pair of smooth, sleek pop albums of superior craft. He's back with his third album, the first since 2011's How Strange it Seems, and The New High is a new high indeed, once again channeling the likes of Brian Wilson, Van Dyke Parks and Burt Bacharach in places. For openers the stately, mellow pop of the title track (reminiscent of Kyle Vincent) gives way to the glorious piano pop of "Out for Blood", a Brian Wilson-meets-Todd Rundgren melange. Meanwhile, "The Wrong Thing" wouldn't be out of place on a Seth Swirsky album, "Every Inflection" only needs a flugelhorn to quality as a lost Bacharach track and "The Way You Were" is McCartneyesque chamber pop. Fittingly the album concludes with a track titled "Perfection Comes Near", an apt description of the proceedings here if your tastes run toward soft pop.


Thorcraft Cobra-The Distance. Despite the name, Thorcraft Cobra is not 80s-styled hair metal band but rather the LA duo of Billy Zimmer and Tammy Glover. Their album here is kind of a "tweener", somewhat power pop, somewhat classic rock, and somewhat roots rock, but all melodic goodness. Opener "Carolina" has an anthemic buildup in service of a 70s Laurel Canyon sound, "Uncoupling" brings Michael Penn and Aimee Mann to mind, and "Caught in Between" reminds me of Gary Louris' Jayhawks classic "Smile" and the album of the same name as a whole. A great example of an album made by adults and for adults.


Smisch-The Story of My Life. Smisch is a singer-songwriter from Sweden, and his debut album The Story of My Life is kind of the "Swedish pop" version of a typical singer-songwriter album. The opening title track is a gem, recalling Neil Finn and "I Will Never" has its own breezy charm as well. Other standouts include "Together", which adds some piano to the mix and has an early solo McCartney feel, the sprightly "Summer Love", and "Break Yourself Free", a fine pop number that sounds like it could have come from Finn's band, Crowded House. At 15 tracks, there's something for everyone here in this quality debut.


Friday, January 20, 2017

Mid-January Roundup.

Caper Clowns-The Buca Bus. It seems that my first reviews of a new year are of albums I missed from the previous one, and 2017 is no exception. Had I stumbled on this pop delight from Denmark sooner, it would have made my top 100. As it is, you don't its placement on a list to give it a listen, as these Danes channel pop sources like McCartney and ELO. Jingly (and jangly) opener "Pockets" will put a smile on your face, "A Tale of Romance and Magnetic Trains" brings vintage-era Squeeze to mind, and "The Significance of Tea Cups" is sheer pop brilliance and probably my favorite song of the moment. It's finds like these that keep me going with this site after nearly 11 years.

iTunes | Kool Kat

Michael Roberts-Suspended in This Space. This smooth 70s AM-inspired record did catch my attention before I made the year-end list, where it placed in the top half, but I wanted to make sure I gave it the attention it deserves. Welshman Roberts here recalls 70s songsmiths like Gilbert O'Sullivan and Gerry Rafferty as well as obvious touchstones such as McCartney, with the leadoff track "What You Say" yet another example of something that would have been a big hit 40 years ago, and "When You Shine" defies you not to sing along with it. Elsewhere, tracks like "See the Old Man" and "I Think You're Very Ooo" would win you over on sheer charm alone even if they weren't as melodic as they are. And "My Angel" with its slow but inexorable buildup, falsetto chorus vocals, and muted horns literally screams 1972 in its retro-pop goodness. Listen to and enjoy the YouTube playlist below.


Tony Low-Rendezvousing. North Carolina's Tony Low returned again late in 2016 with Rendezvousing, another fine mashup of Mitch Easter-southern-styled power pop and Byrds-ian 60s jangle that's familiar to those who enjoyed his previous releases. This time around the standout tracks are "The Awful Dream" (which will turn your pants into bell bottoms while you listen), "Pictures of Your Son" (which has a Ray Davies slice-of-life feel), and "You" (which seriously brings the jangle). In fact, one could say Rendezvousing is an all-time Low, even if that doesn't sound like a compliment.


Thursday, January 05, 2017

David Bash's Best of 2016.

Mr. International Pop Overthrow, David Bash, asked me to share his best-of-2016 lists with the Absolute Powerpop readership so again I'm happy to bring you his lists as well, which are even more comprehensive than my own. He's gone 125 deep with his main list, plus you get reissues, compilations, etc. You'll see quite a few differences from my list as David is much more into psych-pop and 60s-style/garage rock than I am so if you ever felt I neglected those subgenres here's you're chance to see what's what there. Anyway, it's time to give David the floor:

Here are my lists of favorite albums of 2016. As is my usual custom, I've broken this down into several categories, as I'm just not comfortable ranking unlike entities on one list.

Those marked with an * are vinyl-only releases.
Those marked with an ** are cassette-only releases.

Contemporary Categories

I. Top 125 Albums

Disclaimer alert: I heard A LOT of fine albums this year, perhaps even more than 2015, which surprised me…but even paring it down to 125 was a daunting task. If your album doesn’t appear on this list, please trust me when I say that it in no way means I didn’t think it was good, so please don’t be hurt (assuming you even care what I think) if your album isn’t listed here (or, for that matter, if it received a lower ranking than you were hoping for/expecting). There were at least 50 more albums I could have included and still felt as if I enjoyed listening to everything on the list, but I wanted to keep it at no more than 125 so as not to overwhelm; with all the other lists I have here, there’s enough sensory overload happening!

There may be a handful of albums on this list which appear to be from 2015, or in fact were “released” at the tail end of last year. As anal as I am about my lists and about the year in which releases should be placed, I also try to be sensible about it and take into account the fact that one needs a bit of lag time to become aware of several releases, especially those indie releases which take up most of my list. If you have any complaints about this, please keep them to yourself-I’ve heard ‘em all. ;-)

Lastly, I did not include download-only releases on any of my lists. I know this might seem a bit churlish, but there’s something about download-only releases that just doesn’t quite seem “legitimate” to me. While I like several of those I heard in 2016, and even love some of them, I’m still old school and still believe in physical product. Don’t get me wrong: I have nothing against download releases, but I believe that there should also be options to obtain physical product. Yes, I understand that printing up CDs and (especially) vinyl is costly, but these days it really is doable for every band because manufacturing houses are all willing to do limited runs of product, particularly CDs, so that a band can do as few as 100, which should be easy to sell out of at shows, via boutique sites like Kool Kat and Jam, CD Baby, etc…I am very troubled by the possibility (some might say inevitability) of the CD going by way of the dinosaur, but I feel like I need to do my part, as little as that might be, to keep them alive. I will say I am encouraged by the number of bands who did release physical product in 2015, so hopefully all will continue to be well with the world.  Note: if any download-only releases I’ve heard see physical release in a future year, they will be eligible for ranking in that year. There you are, bands: a little incentive to keep the physical release alive and well. 

Ok, without further ado, here you go!

1. Trolley-Caught In The Darkness (Easter)
2. Seth Swirsky-Circles and Squares (Self-Released)
3. The Explorers Club-Together (Goldstar)
4. The Nines-Alejandro’s Visions (TAS Gold)
5. The Junipers-Red Bouquet Fair (Self-Released)
6. Michael Collins-Last Laugh (Self-Released)
7. Ulysses-Law and Order (Black Glove)
8. Erik Voeks-So The Wind Won’t Blow It All Away (Hanky Panky)
9. Mimi Betinis-Music Sounds (Self-Released)
10. Rocket Bureau-Phantoms Ringing 67-73 (Kool Kat)
11. Coke Belda-Nummer Zwei (Rock Indiana)
12. The Jayhawks-Paging Mr. Proust (Sham)
13. Miracle Glass Company-Miracle Glass Company (Self-Released)
14. The Vow-Ghost Writer (Slug)
15. The Fast Camels-Tales of The Expected (Magic Optician)
16. The Monkees-Good Times! (Rhino)
17. Ken Sharp-New Mourning (Jet Fighter)
18. Diamond Hands-Diamond Hands (You Are The Cosmos
19. The Well Wishers-Comes and Goes (ThatWasMySkull)
20. Champagne-Beach Closed (Rock Indiana)
21. Faux Know-Tactics (Sonorous Conglomorous)
22. The Legal Matters-Conrad (Omnivore)
23. Michael Carpenter-The Big Radio (Big Radio)
24. Pacific Soul LTD.-The Dance Divine (Karma Frog)
25. Ebbot Lundberg & The Indigo Children-For The Ages To Come (Akashic)
26. Somerdale-Shake It Maggie (FDR)
27. The Chemistry Set-The Endless More and More (Cindi)
28. Nada Surf-You Know Who You Are (Barsuk)
29. Wade Jackson-Whiskey Alpha Delta Echo (Half A Cow)
30. Cotton Mather-Death of The Cool (Star Apple Kingdom)
31. John Macom-Unforseen Circumstances (American Nostril)
32. Octubre-Mouseland (Self-Released)
33. Greg Pope-Guiding Star (Octoberville)
34. Tommy and The Rockets-Beer and Fun and Rock ‘n’ Roll (Kool Kat)
35. Brian Curtis-Brain Circus (Electric Bozo)
36. Gothic Chicken-Lift The Cobweb Veil (Pink Hedgehog)
37. Men of North Country-This City (Acid Jazz)
38. The Dowling Poole-[One] Hyde Park (Self-Released)
39. The Flat Five-It’s A World of Love and Hope (Augiedisc)
40. The Mergers-With A Carrot and A Stick (Soundflat)
41. Cupid’s Carnival-Everything Is Love (Cherry)
42. Death By Unga Bunga-Pineapple Pizza (Jansen)
43. Dressy Bessy-Kingsize (Yep Roc)
44. The Hanging Stars-Over The Silvery Lake (Self-Released)
45. The Lemon Twigs-Do Hollywood (Self-Released)
46. Jeffrey Foskett-Classic Harmony (Vivid Sound)
47. Charlie Faye & The Fayettes-Charlie Faye & The Fayettes (Self-Released)
48. Green Day-Revolution Radio (Reprise)
49. David Brookings and The Average Lookings-David Brookings and The Average Lookings (Byar)
50. Stay-The Mean Solar Times (Rock Indiana)
51. Emitt Rhodes-Rainbow Ends (Omnivore)
52. Tuns-Tuns (Royal Mountain)
53. Gerry Beckley-Carousel (Blue Elan)
54. Arvidson & Butterflies-Arvidson & Butterflies (Kool Kat)
55. The Nobility-Ashford Castle (Self-Released)
56. The Jangle Band-Edge of A Dream (Off The Hip)
57. Ex Norwegian-Glazer/Hazerr (Dippy)
58. Paul Iwan-Reveal (Self-Released)
59. Garden Gate-Dark Harvest (Golden Brown)**
60. Cullen Omori-New Misery (Sub Pop)
61. The Lazy Lies-The Lazy Lies (Bird With Vertigo)
62. Those Pretty Wrongs-Those Pretty Wrongs (Ardent/Burger)
63. Stephen Steinbrink-Anagrams (Melodic)
64. Swedish Polarbears-The Great Northern (Sound Asleep)*
65. Ray Paul-Whimsicality (Permanent Press)
66. The Luck of Eden Hall-The Acceleration of Time (Headspin)*
67. Automat-Turn The Music Up (Self-Released)
68. Simon Felton-Return To Easton Square (Pink Hedgehog)
69. The I Don’t Cares-Wild Stab (Self-Released)
70. Nick Piunti-Trust Your Instincts (Jem)
71. Warm Morning Brothers-A Bunch of Weeds (Other Eyes)
72. Winterpills-Love Sounds (Signature Sounds)
73. EZTV-High In Place (Captured Tracks)
74. The Claypool Lennon Delirium-Monolith of Phobos (Prawn Song)
75. The Weeklings-Studio 2 (Jem)
76. Ryan Allen & His Extra Arms-Basement Punk (Save Your Generation)
77. Radio Days-Back In The Day (Rock Indiana)
78. The Honeydogs-Love & Cannibalism (Simon)
79. Jon Lindsay-Cities & Schools (File 13)
80. Kurt Baker Combo-In Orbit (Wicked Cool)
81. Mystic Braves-Days of Yesteryear (Lollipop)*
82. The Expected-One (Self-Released)
83. The Rebels of Tijuana-The Rebels of Tijuana (Le Pop Club)
84. Mari Wilson-Pop Deluxe (WG)
85. Joel Sarakula-The Imposter (Self-Released)
86. Jason Berk-Everything Old Is New Again (Self-Released)
87. Fernando Perdomo-Voyeurs (Self-Released)
88. Dodgy-What Are We Fighting For (Cherry Red)
89. John Howard-Across The Door Sill (Occultation)
90. Clockwise-This Is Now and…Then (Self-Released)
91. Latvian Radio-Until Tomorrow Gets In The Way (Belpid)
92. Propeller-Fall Off The World (Moving Wall)
93. The Minus 5-Of Monkees and Men (Yep Roc)
94. Quilt-Plaza (Kemodo)
95. Tommy Who-Love Fades Away (Lonesome Whippoorwhill)
96. Soft Hearted Scientists-Golden Omens (The Hip Replacement)
97. Gleeson-Curse My Lucky Stars (Almost There)*
98. The Armoires-Incidental Lightshow (Black Market Glamour)
99. Teenage Fanclub-Here (Merge)
100. Butch Young-Mercury Man (Little Christmas)
101. Cait Brennan-Debutante (Black Market Glamour)
102. Kirk Adams-Undertown (Sattelites Group)
103. French Boutik-Front Pop (CopaseDisques)
104. The Ratkellers-Beat & Roll Mit The Ratkellers (Marlowe)
105. Chris Bolger-No Promises (Self-Released)
106. Tommy Sistak-A Good Hat Indeed (Self-Released)
107. Michael Macrone-Icicles and Sand (Fiesta Red)
108. Michael Carpenter & The Cuban Heels-Ain’t Nothing Left To Say (Big Radio)
109. Cheap Trick-Bang Zoom Crazy…Hello (Big Machine)
110. M. Ross Perkins-M. Ross Perkins (Sofaburn)
111. Pauw-Macrocosm Microcosm (Caroline)
112. The Pynnacles-My Oblivion (Whomp!)*
113. The Jeremy Band-Hit You With A Flower (Jam)
114. Metropolitan Farms-Oafish Twist (Braxeling)
115. The Forz-Running From The Past (Self-Released)
116. The Urges-Time Will Pass (Self-Released)
117. Spygenius-‘Pacephale (Whammo Whammo Whammo Excellent)
118. The Reverberations-Mess Up Your Mind (Screaming Apple)*
119. Gretchen’s Wheel-Behind The Curtain (Futureman)
120. The Ace-Riot of Sound (We Dig This)
121. Dropkick-Balance The Light (Rock Indiana)
122. Speed The Plough-Now (Self-Released)
123. Twins-Square America (Maximum Ames)
124. Shennon and Lotton-PM Songs (Rock Indiana)
125. Peter Buzzelle and The Academy-Devil Love (Self-Released)

II. Top 5 EPs

Disclaimer alert: I’m not a big fan of EPs, as they always seem to leave me wanting more. For this reason, I never seek them out the way I do full-length albums, and 2016 was no exception. A few of them came my way, regardless, and I will list those I particularly enjoyed.

1. Cabinessence-A Place For Playing Games (Self-Released)
2. Pezband-Women & Politics (Frodis)*
3. General Mojo’s-How Hollow A Heart (Self-Released)
4. Steve Ramone-Snowballs In The Summer (Blast O Matic)
5. B Leaguers-Death Of A Western Heart (Kool Kat)

III. Top 4 Compilations-Single Artist

1. The Anderson Council-Assorted Colours (Jem)
2. Bill Lloyd-Lloydering (SpyderPop)
3. Greg Pope-Favorites (Octoberville)
4. Fernando Perdomo-Picks (Self-Released)
5. Blame The Bishop-New & Used Collected Recordings: 2009-2015 (Self-Released)

IV. Top 5 Compilations-Various Artists

1. International Pop Overthrow Vol. 19 (Pop Geek Heaven)
2. Twelve String High: A New Jingle Jangle Adventure (You Are The Cosmos)
3. Pop Parade Vol. 7 (Rock Indiana)
4. Big Stir- Power Pop and More at CIA: The First Year (Minco)
5. Unsigned, Sealed & Delivered-No. 9 The Songwriters Notebook (Bullseye)

V. Top Tribute Disc

If It Feels Good Do It-A Sloan Tribute (Futureman)

VI. Biggest Disappointment

Look Park-Look Park (Yep Roc). It’s not that I don’t like this album, but I expect more than a late ‘70s James Taylor sound-a-like from Chris Collingwood.

VII. 2017 Releases I’ve Heard And Like (In Alphabetical Order)

Brent Cash-The New High
The Flywheels-I’m For The Flowers
Pseudonym-Pack of Lies

Reissue Categories

I. Top 50 Proper Albums

For this category, at least one of the following criteria must be met for the album to qualify:

a. those that are on CD for the first time
b. those that had been previously issued, but are now out of print or difficult to find
c. those in whose current issue have lots of bonus tracks, or some other unique feature
d. those reissued on LP where they never had been
e. those which were previously unreleased but are “old” enough to where they should be considered reissues.

What I did NOT include were “garden variety” reissues of popular albums (i.e. the ELO reissues on colored vinyl)

A CD or LP which contains exclusively previously unrelesed material which is not from current times is still considered a “reissue” in my ranking structure.

With the above in mind, while quality is the major factor in determining the rankings, other factors such as number and type of bonus tracks, liner notes, sound quality, etc…do come into play. So, if you see a classic album ranking lower than one with less of a rep (or one you know I like a bit less), it’s because of the other factors.

1. The Hollies-Evolution: Mono/Stereo (Parlophone)*
2. XTC-Skylarking: The Surround Sound Series (Ape House)
3. R.E.M.-Out Of Time: 25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Universal)
4. Game Theory-The Big Shot Chronicles (Omnivore)
5. The Move-The Move (Esoteric)
6. Anthony Phillips-Wise After The Event: Deluxe Edition (Esoteric)
7. The Go-Go’s-Talk Show: Deluxe Edition (Edsel)
8. Barclay James Harvest-Gone To Earth (Esoteric)
9. Paul Revere & The Raiders-The Spirit of ’67: Deluxe Mono/Stereo Edition (Now Sounds)
10. The Hollies-Butterfly: Mono/Stereo (Parlophone)*
11. Crowded House-Woodface: Deluxe Edition (Universal)
12. Game Theory-Lolita Nation (Omnivore)
13. Soft Hearted Scientists-Uncanny Tales From The Everyday Undergrowth (Self-Released)
14. Milk ‘N Cookies-Milk ‘N Cookies (Captured Tracks)
15. Status Quo-On The Level: Deluxe Edition (Universal)
16. Crowded House-Crowded House: Deluxe Edition (Universal)
17. The Go-Go’s-Beauty and The Beat: Deluxe Edition (Edsel)
18. The Move-Shazam (Esoteric)
19. The Toms-The Toms (Burger/Frodis)**
20. Pugwash-Almond Tea (Sugarbush)*
21. Nelson Bragg-Day Into Night: 10th Anniversary Edition (Steel Derrick)
22. Spanky & Our Gang-Anything You Choose b/w Without Rhyme Or Reason (Universal Japan)
23. Crowded House-Time On Earth: Deluxe Edition (Lester)
24. Idle Race-Idle Race (Parlophone)*
25. Brinsley Schwarz-The New Favourites Of…Brinsley Schwarz (Parlophone Japan)
26. The Move-Looking On (Esoteric)
27. Barclay James Harvest-Everyone Is Everybody Else (Esoteric)
28. Otis Redding-Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul (Rhino)
29. Hudson Ford-Nickelodeon (Big Pink)
30. Crowded House-Temple of Low Men: Deluxe Edition (Universal)
31. Klaatu-347 E.S.T.(Conveyer)
32. Cotton Mather-Kontiki (Star Apple Kingdom)*
33. Eclection-Eclection (Esoteric)
34. Clear Light-Clear Light (Big Beat)
35. Benny Hester-Benny… (Moraine Music Group)
36. Spanky & Our Gang-Spanky & Our Gang (Universal Japan)
37. The Easybeats-Good Friday (Varese Sarabande)*
38. The Move-Something Else (Esoteric)
39. Crowded House-Together Alone: Deluxe Edition (Universal)
40. Status Quo-If You Can’t Stand The Heat: Deluxe Edition (Universal)
41. Hudson Ford-Free Spirit (Big Pink)
42. Anthony Phillips-Sides: Deluxe Edition (Esoteric)
43. Gary Wright and Wonderwheel-Ring of Changes (Esoteric)
44. The Remains-The Remains: Mono Edition (Sony)*
45. Madrigal-Sunshine (Axe)
46. The Kinks-Everybody’s In Show Biz: Legacy Edition (Legacy)
47. Paul Roland-House of Dark Shadown (Klang)
48. Judy Henske & Jerry Yester-Farewell Aldebaran (Omnivore)
49. Spanky & Our Gang-Like To Get To Know You (Universal Japan)
50. Tommy Roe-Dizzy (Universal Japan)

II. Top 30 Compilations, Single Artist

1. The Fifth Dimension-The Complete Soul City/Bell Singles 1966-1975 (Real Gone)
2. The Mamas and The Papas-The Complete Singles 50th Anniversary Collection (Real Gone)
3. The Turtles-All The Singles (Manifesto)
4. Grapefruit-Yesterday’s Sunshine: The Complete 1967-1968 London Sessions (RPM)
5. The Korgis-Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime: The Complete Rialto Recordings 1979-1982 (Cherry Red)
6. The Lee Kings-Bingo!! For The Lee Kings: Expanded Edition (RPM)
7. Cloud Eleven-Garden of Obscure Delights: A Retrospective 1996-2015 (West Coast)
8. Velvet Crush-Pre Teen Symphony (Omnivore)
9. The Beach Boys-Becoming The Beach Boys: The Complete Hite & Dorinda Morgan Sessions (Omnivore)
10. The Avengers-Everyone’s Gonna Wonder (RPM)
11. Andy Partridge-The Fuzzy Warbles Collection: Volumes 7-8 and Hinges (Ape House)
12. Jeffrey Foskett-The Best Of Jeffrey Foskett (Vivid Sound)
13. The Brotherhood of Lizards-Lizardland: The Complete Works (Captured Tracks)
14. Crowded House-Afterglow: Deluxe Edition (Univeral)
15. Steve & The Board-The Complete Steve & The Board (Playback)
16. The Ashes-Selective Amnesia: A Warmfuzz Compilation (Warmfuzz)
17. Andy Partridge-The Fuzzy Warbles Collection: Volumes 4-6 (Ape House)
18. The Bangles-Ladies and Gentlemen…The Bangles! (Omnivore)
19. Syreeta-The Rita Wright Years: Rare Motown 1967-1970 (Kent)
20. Harpers Bizarre-The Complete Singles Collection 1965-1970 (Now Sounds)
21. The Valentines-The Sound of The Valentines: The Complete Recordings 1966-1970 (RPM)
22. John Howard-These Fifty Years: The Best of John Howard Vol. 1 (Kid In A Big World)
23. George Usher-The End and The Beginning 1990-2009
24. Chad & Jeremy-Yesterday’s Gone: The Complete Ember/World Artist Recordings (RPM)
25. The Cats-The Golden Years of Dutch Pop Music (Universal)
26. Andy Partridge-The Fuzzy Warbles Collection: Volumes 1-3 (Ape House)
27. The Quick-Untold Rock Stories (Burger)*
28. Prix-Historix 1975-76 Ardent Studios (Hozac)
29. Ray Columbus-Now You Shake: The Definitive Beat R’N’B Pop Fever Recordings 1963-1969 (RPM)
30. Justine-Tales of Justine: Petals From A Sunflower Complete Recordings 1967-79 (Grapefruit)

III. Top 20 Compilations, Various Artists: Individual

I tried something new this year: separating the various artist comps into “Best Individual” and “Best Series”, as this year it was just too difficult to rank volumes in many of the series. If this seems a bit vague, it will become clear when you see the lists.

1. The Girls Want The Boys!: Sweden’s Beat Girls 1964-1970 (Ace)
2. Svenska Shakers-R & B Crunchers, Mod Grooves, Freakbeat and Psych/Pop From Sweden 1964-1968 (RPM)
3. This Is Fame: 1964-1968 (Kent)*
4. Let It Be-Black America Sings Lennon, McCartney and Harrison (Ace)
5. Move On Up Volume Two: The Very Best of Northern Soul (Universal)
6. Hallucinations: Psychedelic Pop Nuggets From The WEA Vaults (Rhino)*
7. Scratch My Back!-Pye Beat Girls 1963-1968 (Ace)
8. Kinked!: Kings Songs & Sessions 1964-1971 (Ace)
9. Girls On 45 Vol. 4: A Selection of Girl Group, Girlie Pop and Soulful Ladies 1962-1967 (Teensville)
10. Curiousity Shop Volume Three: A Rare Collection of Aural Antiquities and Objets D’art 1968-1971 (Particles)
11. One Track Mind-More Motown Guys (Kent)
12. Curiousity Shop Volume Four: A Rare Collection of Aural Antiquities and Objets D’art 1966-1969 (Particles)
13. Where The Girls Are-Volume 9 (Ace)
14. Love Hit Me!: Decca Beat Girls 1962-1970 (Ace)
15. Mixed Up Minds-Obscure Rock & Pop From The British Isles 1970-1974 (Particles)
16. Classical Gassers-Pop Gems Inspired By The Great Composers (Ace)
17. California Soul-Funk & Soul From The Golden State 1967-1976 (BGP)
18. Upside Down Volume Five: 1966-1971 Coloured Dreams From The Underworld (Particles)
19. Super Duper Love: Mainstream Hits & Rarities 1973-76 (Kent)
20. Northern Soul Weekender: Russ Winstanley Presents The Ultimate Weekender (Charly)

IV. Top 5 Compilations-Various Artists: Series

1. Cornflake Zoo (Particles)
2. Beatfreak! (Particles)
3. Warner Pop Rock Nuggets (Warner Japan)
4. Loma: A Soul Music Love Affair (Future Days)
5. Warner Girl Group Nuggets (Warner Japan)

V. Top 2 Soundtracks

1. The Beatles-Live At The Hollywood Bowl: A Ron Howard Film: Eight Days A Week The Touring Years (Universal)
2. Harry Nilsson’s The Point (Varese Sarabande)

VI. Top 30 Box Sets: Single Artist

1. Pink Floyd-The Early Years 1965-1972 (Legacy)
2. The Kinks-The Mono Collection (Sanctuary)*
3. The Rolling Stones-In Mono (ABCKO)
4. The Who-My Generation: Super Deluxe (Universal)
5. David Bowie-Who Can I Be Now?: 1974-1976 (Rhino/Parlophone)
6. The Beach Boys-Pet Sounds 50th Anniversary (Universal)
7. Elvis Presley-The Album Collection (Sony/RCA/Legacy)
8. The Monkees-The Monkees 50 Classic Albums Collection (Rhino)
9. Marvin Gaye-Volume Two 1966-1970 (Universal)
10. The Turtles-The Complete Original Album Collection (Manifesto)
11. Paul McCartney-Pure (Concord Music Group)
12. Lush-Origami (4 AD)*
13. Fleetwood Mac-Mirage: Super Deluxe (Rhino)
14. Todd Rundgren-The Complete Bearsville Albums Collection (Rhino)
15. The Cars-The Elektra Years 1978-1987 (Rhino)
16. The Ramones-The Ramones: 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (Rhino)
17. Marvin Gaye-Volume Three 1971-1981 (Universal)
18. Graham Parker-These Dreams Will Never Sleep: The Best Of Graham Parker 1976-2005 (Universal)
19. XTC-Skylarking: Super Deluxe (Ape House)
20. Rubettes-The Albums 1974-1977 (Caroline International)
21. The Lords of The New Church-The Complete I.R.S. Collection (Real Gone)
22. The Archies-Sugar Sugar: The Complete Albums Collection (Goldenlane)
23. Led Zeppelin-The Complete BBC Sessions (Rhino)
24. XTC-English Settlement: Super Deluxe (Ape House)
25. The Long Ryders-Final Wild Songs (Cherry Red)
26. NRBQ-High Noon: A 50 Year Retrospective (Omnivore)
27. Sloan-One Chord To Another: Super Deluxe (Two Minutes For Music)*
28. The Association-Original Album Series (Rhino)
29. Jethro Tull-Stand Up: The Elevated Edition (Warner)
30. The Spencer Davis Group-Taking Out Time: Complete Recordings 1967-1969 (RPM)

VII. Top 5 Box Sets: Various Artists

1. Let’s Go Down and Blow Our Minds-The British Psychedelic Sounds of 1967 (Grapefruit)
2. Still In A Dream-A Story of Shoegaze (Cherry Red)
3. Another Splash of Colour-New Psychedelia In Britain 1980-1985 (RPM)
4. Looking Stateside: 80 Mod, Soul & Garage Nuggets (RPM)
5. C87 (Cherry Red)

VIII. Top 5 Reissue Labels (non-major)

1. RPM
2. Omnivore
3. Kent
4. Ace
5. Real Gone

IX. Top 5 Reissue Labels (Major)

1. Rhino
2. Universal
3. Legacy
4. Warner Japan
5. Parlophone