Marshall Holland-Paper Airplane. San Francisco's Marshall Holland is back with his first pop album in 6 years, and it's a welcome return. Holland's brand of winsome pop draws on bands like The Posies and artists like Brendan Benson and Ken Sharp. Some of these songs speak to our world today, like the driving, Attractions-era Elvis Costello stomp of "Our Fate" and the anti-Trump "Whatcha Gonna Do". Elsewhere he gives us timeless-sounding tracks like "When the Rain Comes" and "Waiting for the Peace & Love" which display his effortless-sounding pop as well as the McCartney-esque, largely acoustic "When a Hand Holds a Bird". And the sophisticated 70s singer-songwriter title track recalls Seth Swirsky. Another best of 2020 contender.
J.P. Cregan-Twenty. We've waited even longer for a new J.P. Cregan full-length as it's been 8 years since Man Overboard, and it's also great to have him back. Twenty is a concept album (or to use today's preferred term, a "song cycle") about his 20 years of marriage but you don't need to follow the concept to enjoy his sweet pop confections. "History of Man" is a great opener with melody and drive, and "In California" sounds like a old folk song brought to life with its martial beat and harmonica. "Pay to Play" is the kind of upbeat power pop you get from Michael Carpenter and Cliff Hillis, and "The Belle of USC" recalls the skinny tie sound of the late 70s. And "Fern, Destroyer of Worlds!" could almost be a lost Guided by Voices track. There's not a bad track here (I'm not counting the interstitial bits).
Robby Miller-Robby Miller EP. I don't know much about this guy and I forgot how I stumbled on to this EP about six weeks ago, but it's good stuff and "Lovesick Again" is the kind of silly pop that gets stuck in your head for good. "Freya" and "Take a Smile" are classic guitar pop, and "This Guy" and "Perfect Form" are perfectly fine ballads, but the gooey pop of "Lovesick Again" and its 80s-sitcom theme song sound is something else. You'll be hearing "Can't go in to work/whole body hurts/guess who's lovesick again?" on repeat in your brain if you dare listen.